Sunday, June 30, 2013

All Pigs Must Die : Nothing Violates This Nature



This Boston based  band  contain members of The Hope Conspiracy and Converge, and make me wonder if they purposefully named themselves after a Death In June song. From the first song the come on full force in a manner not unlike Converge or other hardcore bands from the 90's though there are flourishes of death metal found in the picking which often switches from tremolo picked to quickened chugs and gallops. The pace stays the same until the third song "Primitive Fear" where more of a groove is developed.

"Silencer' the tone remains the same, perhaps its a little less death metal in the guitars approach. The vocals are not a metal growl but stay some where around beings a coarse forceful hardcore yell. The moments where it does go into more of a scream they tend to fall lower in the mix.

The first hint of anything of a melodic nature is at the beginning of " Bloodlines" the chords are allowed to ring out in a manner somewhere between Slayer and Converge. The melody continues on " Of Suffering" as the guitar takes a cleaner creepy sound to lead into the song.  The guitars and vocals take on a more deliberate pace , calling it doom  would be an exaggeration of the term. The guitar tone here reminds me a little of Bloodlet. The chant of "who will wage the war" had the power of the riff behind it

"Holy Plague"  for the bulk of the song is straight ahead disposable hardcore until the song's last movement that takes on a more sonic punch, the one minute "Aqim Siege" and " Sacred Nothing" both  follow a similar but more abbreviated route.  But I think this band is more effective when they are powerfully paced with more thoughtful chugging. "Faith Eater" keeps things in  more punk tempo and the opportunity to put some heft in the song doesn't present it'self until the songs final min. " When Articles of Human Weakness" closes out the album the need for speed is numbed out making the straight snare hit more annoying than not.  

I'll give this album a 5 as the punk elements tend to bog the more creative moments. This album is well produced and they find some good guitar tones with a perfect blend of  grit and ambiance, but it boils down to do cool riffs make a song much less an album. Fans of  hardcore can give this album another point but I feel the most recent Integrity album does this better.  
5

Dax Riggs at the Earl 2013




Having seen the former Acid Bath front-man preform with a backing band in the past there was some trepidation when the show started with  Dax and his bassist sitting  in two chairs on an elevated platform. Dax was playing an acousticguitar  and  his bass player was plugged in.  They then launched into to an unheard selection of  songs with  no explanation as to if these were songs he was wood-shedding for the new album to follow up 2010's say good night to the world.

The  number of people in the crowd  who yelled out for songs from his first solo album "We sing of  only blood or love"  out numbered the stray calls for Acid Bath songs, which is a triumph for him to emerge from that shadow.

The first solo song to surface was  "Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain"  they got the general gist of the songs dynamics down  even  with the lack of a drummer, as Dax would put more into the strum of his guitar. Though there were no wailing solos coming out of the fray like the electric version has , so the rock was dialed back a bit. From the "We Sing of only Blood or Love" album "Radiation Blues" and "Night is the Notion" also made appearances. The latter was more powerfully preformed at the end of the set with Dax belting the needed parts with authority.  Of  course "Radiation Blues" was much less rowdy. The arrangement of " I hear Satan" was even bluesier than the studio version.

I can say of the new stuff songs like "Far from Bethlehem" peaked my interest in hearing what a fully actualized version of the songs might sound like, so from this perspective Dax succeeded in doing what he set out to accomplish. For the fans I suppose its a mixed bag even if they are content without hearing Acid Bath songs, though I feel songs from Agents of Oblivion or Dead Boy and the Elephantmen could have worked within his set and given the crowd an easter egg or two.

The draw back to the way these new songs were presented  was that in the context of being acoustic numbers they took on a similar feel. This was both a strength and a weakness as the set went on. The signature elements of Dax's songwriting were clearly intact, they were dark with ominous lyrical imagery walking the tortured line between sacred and profane. The problem being without other elements to flesh the songs out they began to all sound the same.

I can now say that I have now seen Dax Rigs preform acoustically in an intimate setting , so  if  this is something you need crossed off your bucket list then make sure to catch him when he rolls through your town. If you are not already a fan I would suggest picking up his two solo albums first as this tour isn't the most accurate representation of how some of these songs are best showcased. I willl be intrested in what ever the finished product turns out to be .

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Deafheaven & Marriages @ the Earl



I walked into the surprisingly crowded Earl as Atlanta's From Exile were playing. I like their 2009 album Monolith, not so much that it has to stay on my iPod but the time it was on there it was an interesting listen. While I am normally a fan of clean vocals , live there's come across bland and the melodies are somewhat static. In the studio when they sit back in the mix and are coated in effects they work with the music rather than against it. They seemed to be oddly matched for this bill considering their affinity for Dream Theater.

I saw Marriages back when they opened for Chelsea Wolfe and Russian Circles, while I liked what I saw that night there album wasn't easily hunted down so they slipped my mind. This time they were much more impressive and I hunted down their "Kitsune" e.p. the next morning, which is high praise for a band to inspire such a fervent need to have their music.

Their singer's voice held more power and worked with the delay slathered over her voice in a way that made it another instrument. The band played more explosively and the louder side of their dynamics held more punch. I would say aside from some of the wandering spaciness that segued the songs they played a pretty perfect set. If they roll through your town consider them to be highly recommended. Though they are not metal they are powerful and if you like darker music with dynamics and heaven on the haunting melodies then you will like them,

Deafheaven were also in fine more but maybe it was their volume in the larger room, but they did smack me in the face like they did when I saw them blow Alcest off the stage. Perhaps it's because of the more ethereal nature of the new album that floats along the post-rock border more closely than it does black metal.  Another factor could have been that vocalist George Clark and guitarist Kerry McCoy are the only original members.

Clark's stage presence should once again be noted , though it was high intensity it was less extreme than the previous performance, it was less rageful and more refined. He wore black leather gloves the entire performance and stalked the large stage of the Earl  rather than the explosion he gave on the more confined stage of the 529. He is more influenced by hardcore than black metal for sure, his interaction with the crowd  the most noted element of this. Clarke did add more snarl to some of his phrasing like he felt obligated to balance their more shoe gazing direction with metal.

The band pull from their new "Sunbather" album for the bulk of their set with "Unrequited" and "Violet" as the only two songs from " Road to Judah" . To their credit the new songs did eventually come across heavier live, it's just from the outset they didn't create the same onslaught.  The band ravaged their instruments breaking guitar straps and strings plagued the set particularly befalling their touring guitarist that often led McCoy to hold down the fort. There was a weird interlude in between a song where they allowed a back track of guitar to play.

At the end of the night when it was all said and well done, they connected with the crowd. It was not a black metal crowd, but one who appreciated the scope of what the band does and this duo has put into their craft all else was overlooked and became a muted point.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Huntress: "StarBound Beast"



When the heavier bands from this style of post-new wave of British Heavy started trying to appease their record labels, the bands from L.A. who didn't try to follow Slayers lead, tried to take cues from bands like Queensryche and write subtly more commercial music. That is what is happening here on Huntress' sophomore album, calling it a sophomore s;ump might be taking to critical line of thinking.

The Lemmy co-written " I Want to F You to Death"  I find it hard to believe that Mr. Kilmister had much to to with this as there isn't really anything that sounds like Motorhead except the title. There are frequent James Hetfeild "yeah yeahs" smattered about . The chorus reminds me of Lizzy Borden, right down to Jill's vibrato.


"Destroy Your Life" takes off on a straight ahead gallop, with Janus' vocals taking on a gruffer lower tone. The title takes on a more mid paced arena rock chug along the lines of Accept until the doomy undertones of the chorus give it a little more Candlemass like shading. The slicker production and the more deliberate pacing of the songs takes the thrash edge off of most of these songs.The riffing is at times smarter and catchier though the bass is lower in the mix which gives them an overall cleaner but thinner sound. The vocals do benefit the most from the production and the firmly place themselves as more of a metal band than say In this Moment.

"Zenith" is one of the exceptions to the dialed back thrash rule. It sounds like it was left over from "Spell-Eater" and feature one of her more glorious head register yodels, though the claims of her having a four octave range I still hold suspect. "Oracle" starts off in an aggressive power-metal stance, the melodies just don't hook me in and give cause to wonder of this album was a bit rushed in the writing process. Songs like "Receiver" showcase the fact the albums strength in the more thoughtfully written guitar parts are in fact having to carry the weight for the bland vocal melodies.

The closer "Alpha Tauri"  offers more dynamics in this one song than perhaps the album as a whole. I think this would have been a great album if filled with these types of bells and whistles rather than the no frills arena metal occupying most of the album. I'll give this one a 5.5 as it has it moments but doesn't come close to Spell-eater leaving to look forward to their cleavage filled videos rather than give this one as half as many spins as it's predecessor.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Peste Noire : S/T


The album opens with a four minute instrumental intro, which for the sake of rating this album I'm not going to count as a separate song. "Demonarque" is a long sinewy epic than runs the dynamic gambit much like their previous album, though this album is much rougher around the edges.  They occupy a similar place as older Sigh here, but with a wilder abandon. The dissonance in the guitar sounds like Burzum, but their is also a gypsy feel . In the last four minutes there are drunken choral sections and liberal use of acoustic guitar.

 "Le Beche Et L'Epee" barrels into a blasty intro  before it simmers down into something more like depressive black metal written fora spaghetti western. The raw quality of this album in some ways feels like a step backward for the band. After a few listens it somewhat grows on me as it contributes to the ambiance. They do hit some big moments of sound one being in first minute of this song, but the roughly produced layers of vocals sit abrasively atop it. They guitar work on this album is greatly improved there is much more computational detail in the more picked out chords. The drumming has improved as well on some of the double bass builds, though the playing through out is never typical metal.

"Niquez Vos Villes" has an unexpected  rock groove to it, the vocals are like Attila from Mayhem , in the sense he bellows and howls in every direction. They are  not harsh enough to be considered screaming but not comprised of actual note either. Midway into the song there is particularly heavy riff, the chug build gradually through out the song until it almost becomes a death metal like movement. Horns blare over the churn when it kicks in.

"Le Clebs Noir" the first  two minutes of this song they are winding up out of a murky disjointed congealing of guitars . There is a section toward the end of this one where it builds into what is more typically black metal.

This album doesn't take the Mr Bungle winding road their last did yet there are still weird blends of melodic embellishments on " Ode" a song that is largely acoustic based. This album might be stranger because on the last the herky jerky nature of the trips it took you on you knew that you didn't know what to expect but on this one the songs are more structured in the traditional sense but they have been put together with really weird ingredients.

Some of the riff take on a more rock n roll feel and this album has a lot more groove, particularly moments like "La Blonde" which reminds me more of Shining in the vocal wretchedness. The female vocals that surface here are sexy but have that awkward feel like the female vocals in Celtic Frost's " Cherry Orchards". I can hear other hints at Celtic Frost influence in the unorthodox way the song writing is approached, more so than any traditional black metal.

The album closes with "Moins Trente" and while I do miss the sleazy feeling that coated their last album, it has been replaced by a strange desert like emptiness which is what brings to mind a more depressive vibe. This song almost opens with a doomy feel  that is fleshed out by a string section. The song picks up speed in the final three minutes.

I'll give this album a 9, the songs are well written and conceptualized  but the rough production is a lateral move from a band who raised the bar for themselves on the last one and while I can understand not wanting to keep up that sort of spastic intensity and favoring ambiance, I think there are a few moments on this album that settle for just being good rather than always mindlbowing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wisdom of Crowds



This project is being called Bruce Soord with Jonas Renkse on iTunes and it might even be the officially name but I'm referring to it as Wisdom of Crowds, it sounds better .  Bruce from Pineapple Theif is the song writer and multi-instrumentalist on this thing, Jonas just sings and he does so very much in the similar fashion to what he does in Katatonia. I see this album as his Puscifer. Its very electronic based sometimes reminding me of Dredg's "Catch Without Arms" album, There are some real guitars layered over the programmed beats and synths.

Sometimes the songs makes them sound to happy for Jonas to be layered atop them, but once you get used to it. There is an interesting dynamic juxtaposition. There is a very 90's alternative sound to the opener " Pleasure", in the sense there is more of a sense of groove and melody , almost Everything But the Girl or Garbage but in a more rock direction. Guitars sonically power the second half of the song, though not in a metal sense.

The title track is what reminds me most of the Dredg album, as you can feel the California sun in it's grooves, this is strange since they hail from Northern Europe and I don't normally equate the almost goth Jonas with sunshine, so this is where the pairing feels the weirdest, but this is still a good song.    

"Radio Star". has very commercial lyrics and for some reason reminds me of Peter Gabriel. It backs off on the chorus and reminds me of the song "Praise You" by Fat Boy Slim, yes you did just read me reference that."Frozen North" works for me in keeping the dancey electronic feel but with some moments that rock. The plaintive approach to melodies that is one of Jonas' signatures worked well on this chorus  though some times hi voice sounds very naked with out the use of certain harmonies

There is a Depeche Mode vibe to "the Light" even when the harder electronic elements bridge the song. His voices sounds much more suited over this though the melody seems less melancholy than what we are use to and he is forced into using a little more conventional phrasing.. Musically I like where this goes and the guitar work is pretty close to perfect.

This album really has some excellent songwriting to win me over, considering how it's not a dark album by any means. Its a rainy afternoon while the suns out. "Stacked Naked" has some Pink Floyd elements to it, even though the fuzzed out tremolo picked guitar at the choral crescendo ass a little intensity.

By " Pretend " I find I'm ready for the pace to pace up out of the balladry. The programming here is almost acid jazz like in it's simplicity.Things pick up with the closer "The Centre of Gravity"  which moves its groove onto a European dance floor the way some of Placebo's more electronic efforts might.

The solid songwriting it what keeps my attention and draws me back for further listening, as well as some of the curiosity in regards to some of these melodies lay on the outskirts of what we normally here from Jonas. Is this his best singing to date? No, but it is something we haven't heard from him before and to his credit Bruce Soord has crafted some excellent back drops for it to sit against.  I'll give this an 8 as it sounds somewhat dated and there are some weird generic commercial grooves here that sound like drum presets.  

6.6

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekly Shuffle

o,k you know the deal I click the ipod and review the first ten tracks that pop up, This one should be a little more upbeat than last weeks.

"What in the World " by David Bowie

Oh, Dave you get so wacky when you hole up in Berlin on a bunch of cocaine. His voice sounds great even singing over a bunch of video game bleeps. He's high and happy. The guitar on here is pretty crazy and sounds like a precursor to Scary Monsters.

" Is it Really So Strange" by the Smiths

Wow, two weird love songs in a row. Moz wants you to punch and kick him. He also got confused and killed a horse. Love does crazy shit. It's strange. Is it their best song? No but it's fun,

"God" by Prince

It always amuses me how he goes from singing about masturbating to god at the drop of his purple hat. He hits shrill fucking not at the beginning but this one he mainly wanders and gets self indulgent on the gospel number of sorts.

"Start of the Breakdown" By Tears for Fears

This must be my all 80's installment, Which I don't care asthe best pop music came out in this decade. This songs deviates from the radio hits you know from this band. They have some darker moments than this but this one is pretty good, the keyboards are oddly all over the place and the vocals hold it down the bass line is pretty awesome.

"the Evil that Men do" by Iron Maiden

Well here's some metal but we are still in the 80's even if its 88. I  think Seventh Son is awesome and if you think you are too cool for it you don't know shit about shit so I can careless but if you can't play air guitar to this you are taking life too damn seriously.

"Warm" by Swans

The beginning piano line almost sounds like the Fray to me of course when the song fades in it of course doesn't as this is the best band ever even when Jarboe is singing. I miss her in the mix live, but they are more about the sonic pounding these days. I like here how the drums hint at building but let things float by until the last two minutes.    

"Lorraine" by King Dude

I haven't given this album as solid of a listen as I should. I am certain this guy is stoned out of his mind while he recorded this . It borders on alt country . It kinda has the Ween thing going in the sense where this is not being done in any sense of seriousness. Don't see this lasting too much longer in my ipod .

"Lepers Among Us" by  Dimmu Borgir

The verse riff is worthy of the top fifty metal riff of all time. Now that I have typed it I have to follow through I know . They Keyboard break where the sample comes in is pretty awesome and I love the effects on Shagrath's voice after that section.

"Playing With Dolls" by Slayer

One of the few songs I like off of "World Painted Blood" . The serial killer songs are my favorite by these guys and this one isn't as dark of a power ballad as say "Dead Skin Mask" but it is moody enough, there is some pretty innovative guitar on here and they are not defaulting to playing punk rock. There are some uptempo sections but overall I think this song is pretty balanced.

"Circumstances" by Rush

One of my favorite Rush songs, the chorus has a lot of bit to it and Geddy gets in your face with it . The vocal syncopation is what has the punch as they aren't really playing  2112  heavy/ The bass is getting busy and Neil is pretty tasteful here.  The end floats towards the realms of elves but that's Rush for you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Interview: Tristan Shore of Author&Punisher




When you hear the stark robotic juggernaut that is Author& Punisher, you would never guess the master mind behind the machines is one of the most down to earth and friendly science geeks you could ever meet. Well, he was and here is the conversation we had with him.

Abysmal Hymns-The new album "Women and Children" inhibits a much different sonic space than "Ursus.." did. What place were you coming from to invoke this kind of evolution?

Tristan-It's a mix of  all the sorting of the past couple of years. Sorting through drummers and switching to machines. I wanted it to be pure and able to reproduce it live. It id frustrating to only be able to play four songs live then have to have another set up with a drum kit. So I wanted to play the whole thing pure, returning to that idea with no guitars to mix.

As far as the lyrics and melody, life is a mess, I'm hustling in every way possible. Its not going into some cabin and be able to work. Some of it I came up with doing art show in galleries where I played with synths and no machines, forced me into other sounds.

Abysmal-You have really been embraced by metal audiences.Is it something that you have a background with?

Tristan-Absolutely, Godflesh,  more stuff rooted in hard core. Melvins and Neurosis and graduated into more extreme stuff like death metal. I listen to a lot of Drum and Bass as well as dub at warehouse parties I throw which sound great through a sound system, that's more of my social scene.

Abysmal-So your are touring with Phil Anselmo's solo band. What are your thoughts on that? Is there any concern there might be a bunch of rednecks just there to hear Pantera songs who might not get what you do?

Tristan-I'm not so sure about that, from what I have heard of his new album it sounds more like Deadguy. I think that will change the crowd. I came from headlining 100 capacity rooms with local support, so it will be good to play through real sound-systems.Its the best way to hear what I am doing, rather places where it's more d.i.y sound.

Abysmal- Haha, yeah and the monitors are blown out.

Yeah, So I'm excited about that , though I'm sure there well be those who see what I do as gimmicky and think its some type of Hipster Metal.

Abysmal-Have you ever toured or thought about touring with Industrial bands?

Tristan-  Seems more of a thing in Europe. Its big in Belgium and the Netherlands, all though there is a lot of break-core and heavy noisy dance music coming out. We have had the leather industrial kids with the dreadlocks come out and I think they were disappointed there was no sequencing.  We were going to tour with a lesser known industrial band that I like, but cancelled  that to do the Phil tour.

Abysmal - So have you ever been into stuff like Skinny Puppy ?

Tristan-No, though I like Ministry though they were always more of a metal band. I think  that crowd is torn because they want to like it but what I do isn't flashy, though they see it as a gimmick. When I built every thing to be efficient live so no computer crashes and I can control drum trigger with my mouth.

Abysmal-Hows the response in Europe been?

Tristan-Good , though it has started to even out. You can play with a doom band and a D.J spinning break core all-night. The U.S. has begun to loosen for us there are more crossover festivals. It gets to be a little annoying when you are always playing with doom bands that have Orange amps stacked to the ceiling. The Life Once Lost tour was more than we could have hoped for.

Abysmal- I think a band like Atriarch or Pinkish Black would be a good fit for you.

Tristan- Yeah, I know those guys.  We are on the same label. There has been some talk of a little Seventh Rule Festival. Its cool there are more bands using industrial and electronic elements.

Abysmal- Like Wreck&Reference.

Tristan-Yeah we have reached out to each other.

Abysmal- Well there you go. Lets get on the phone and set up the tour  You , Atriarch, Pinkish Black and Wreck&Reference.

Tristan-laughs 

Abysmal- Aside from control, what do you see as the plus side for being a one man band and what is the draw back?

Tristan-I am pretty confident in what I am doing so it's not like being in a band where you might be second guessing yourself  and you start to sound like other bands because some of the wackier more experimental ideas which you know would sound cool get trampled in democracy.  Draw back is you are doing every thing yourself, the website , the merch, getting a van. A lot of people have some one who works for them and I don't know how they afford it. I mean you play a club and if that's split between a band it comes out to less than minimum wage For this tour though, I'm bringing another guy to do video. So you can see what I'm doing as well as conceptual video. He will also handle extra sounds and sequencing where I will be playing the main lines.

Abysmal-What were the lyrical themes for the new album?-

Tristan-Personal stuff, there's one song about drinking, its comical. A lot of it is unconscious. Then the song "Women and children" is referring to the downfall of humanity and wildlife, but you would not know that by reading the lyrics. Some of it is more simple , my family live far away so there's that isolation.

Abysmal-So I know you juggle working a regular job with making music , how is that ?

Tristan- I am lucky to work in a field  closely on the engineering side. I like getting exposed to new technology, it gives me ideas to take back to what I do. Its an academic environment so not many musicians and creative types that leaves me working in a vacuum.




   

   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sigur Ros: Kveikur




With The 2002 album ( ) being so incredible, it  defined for me what they were. They continued down another path with latter releases and I stayed enamored with that particular album in such a way it was hard for me to give the following albums a fair solid listen . So that is what I set out to do with this one.

There are no whale sound symphonies of the womb, there is a post-industrial shoe gaze sugar coating that unwraps the album that follows. The child like counter tenor vocals of Jón Þór Birgisson  hover with cherubic ease over everything. They do not sound like Bjork trying to communicate with elves and seem to follow a verse chorus pattern. Some of the angelic vibes might have to much hope in their Hopelandic delivery if you are not on your meds.

Compared to their earlier work the songs have taken on more form to the point of where they conform to  traditional pop songwriting at least in the sense the hooks are more defined . I can see how they have grown into a larger audience, as the most Kate Bush quirk and dreamy grandeur occupies the edges. Songs like "Yfirbord" keep their cinematic quality in check while holding a lucid dreaminess to provide a sound track to a hallucinogenic morning wake up.

There first album as a trio, there isn't a feeling that they are being forced to scale things back due to the departure of their Keyboardist. "Stormur" in it's breezy fairy wonderland chorus is more straight forward but   if alternative radio still exists in america , this is still to abstract.

The darker murk to sonic gateway into the title holds a post-apocalyptic weight and the band has admittedly state this was going to be their most aggressive album. Birgisson's voice keeps the tone from becoming too  ominous, though the element of  down right bliss they normally soar with is trod over by the giant robot who seems to be pounding the drums.

As the sky empties its tears outside my window, the album unfolds more with each listen though the romantic recollections of  the band I heard 11 years ago surface but followed by a more upbeat propulsion. The whole lazy post-rock label might be applied in the broadest definition but there is to much crystalline sparkle that harkens back to the Cocteau Twins for it to really fit. Shoe gazing elements are present though while the album remains as sonic or more so than the more recent album , it never loses you into a drone and uplifts more then lulls the listener into a hypnotic state.

There is little doubt in anyone's mind they are capable at their craft, the harsher electronic elements  and some hefty fuzz added to bass lines of songs like "Blapradur" have expanded their dynamic change and adds more color for them to draw from without diminishing the ethereal nature of what they do. Does it impact me as much as their 2002 album, no the emotional frequency on this one is different, but they are pretty flawless at the soundscapes they have crafted and there isn't a moment that sounds unsure of it's intentions , so as it has continues to grow on me with each listen I'll give it a 10.  


 <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/57644101?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ffffff" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/57644101">sigur rós live 2013 (brennisteinn)</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/sigurros">sigur r&oacute;s</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
6

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Black Dahlia Murders : "Everblack"



I have very little experience with metal-core or what gets called scene metal these days, which if you are keeping score is different than hipster metal, because scene kids are throw backs to myspace who live in the suburbs where hipsters are urban and they go for more obscure artists. So Black Dahlia is too commercial for them, and many metal purists shun this sort of thing not even accepting it as metal, which seems weird to me because when this album opens my first thought was these guys are trying to sound like Cradle of Filth.

Why am I even listening to this ... well I wanted something heavy and stupid, it seems I have succeeded , the guitarists are pretty decent. They have a song called "Goat of Departure" on here and that's half the reason I checked this out.  There is a thrashier vibe on the Goat, the breakdowns aren't as in your face as I thought they would be. I'm sure you have seen their t-shirts , as they have been around since 2001, and are from Michigan which seems like an odd choice for this sort of thing.

"Into the Everblack" sounds like typical death metal to me, they claim to be influenced by Carcass , but I don't really hear it, there appears to be more rhythmic punches in this sort of thing than death metal,. but I'm sure where else the core is supposed to be, they must have crossed all the way over. The Keyboards that come in on this one was the one element on the first two songs that kept them from sounding like Cradle of Flith all the way and now it's here as well. The solo that pops in is very heroic, I don't get the feeling there is any foreboding sense of devil simmering underneath any of this , so it feels like they are going through the motions bu don't believe in any of it. It's executed fairly well and the production value might be to clean for this sort of thing if dirtied up around the edges I might be more likely to believe them.

"Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorn"  sound from the title to be inspired by Evil Dead , a scene which in the remake I found disappointing because it was sexual enough for me. The chorus kinda chants this as the guitar noodles around, other than that pretty typical I'm sure what the fuss is about, either way they don't suck but aren't anything to write home about either. "Phantom Limb Masturbation" is a great song title but sounds like Dethklok to me. The bouncy part about a minute in is a little too happy for what they are trying to convey here. I do like the modulation that occurs during the wanking section.

Songs like "Control" don't exude any personality to me , this could be one of a thousand bands out now. This particular song sounds like Children of Bodom to me.  "Blood Mine" isn't any different the formula is set in stone at this juncture and maybe they are just dialing it in.  It wasn't until "Every Rope a Noose" that notice any sort of groove develop.It pretty much circle pits the same drain. Sure "Their Beloved Absentee" is pretty pummeling when it kicks in there's some doodling guitars that are a little distraction. "Map of Scars" finally shows some melodic smarts as the switch the pace to pick out the chords before ripping back into more of the same so if you are really stuck on one dimensional thrashy death metal this might be for you. I'll give this one a 4, if this is what death core is then it's nothing I haven't heard before.




Lycus: "Tempest"



In the shape I have been in the past few days , I had lost all interest in music.When I  did try to listen to it I became annoyed , because I feel like I left My skin hanging up in the bathroom. After I did the weekly shuffle column, I found a few things tolerable so decided to give this Lycus  album a shot . They are a  funeral doom  band  from Oakland California ,  formed back in 2008 , so have been crafting this for some time. The drummer used to be in Deafheaven and also plays in Temple of Saturn. Though aside from the occasional dissonance of a chord here and there the connection to Deafheaven is not apparent.

The songs... and there are only three are on the long side, the first "Coma Burn" is eleven minutes, it has the funeral doom sound I like h in the same ambient sonic scope as Loss and Mournful Congregation. There are clean moaning chants layered behind the low growl. The needed balance of melodic beauty and morbid dissonance is there filtered through a cathedral like decay. The guitar tone is organic like Pallbearer but there is even less Sabbath influence present, as every thing is held together in a more angular fashion that sets them apart from their peers in the genre. It doesn't take on a more conventional Metal sound until about for minutes into it and them it brings back memories of old My Dying Bride. This is what it sounds like when the abyss stares back at you.

"Engravings" has a slight bit more of a chug to it than the first one which drifted like a ship in the night. This is the shortest song on this album which would be an e.p but it clocks in the same running time as most albums. The pacing is so similar this almost feels like an extension of the first song, the melodic embellishment on the guitar lead lines the most marked difference and the punches come at different places, there are some almost black metal vocals that haunt the reverb drenched back end of the mix. Which has a big cathedral gloom to it  as sort of thing should have so this album sounds great.It captures the moment I have often noted where the line between funeral doom and depressing suicidal black metal becomes thinnest. There is a cool creepy post- whatever moment at the end, where the bass adds some distortion and cut through over the more lethargic airy guitars.

"Tempest" has a very beautiful brooding to its intro. At a very ambitious twenty minute running time it comprises half the album what you would expect more from a prog band though it is an increasing trend in metal these days. The chants precede the growls this time though both are layered once the song begins to find form from the ambiance. The drumming is pretty impressive there are some jazz chops frequently hinted at particularly as it circles the place the song drifts. At about the five minute mark it sounds like Celtic Frost in collision with King Crimson before a full on blasty mc nasty part rears its ugly horned skull. This doesn't dominate but a minute of the song leaving the vocals to take on a more black metal screech in its wake. In the songs final eight minute they hit a groove similar to bands like Pallbearer before they fall into an ambient void . This is more abrasive a change than the possessed contortion into black metal. This closes out the album and it adds to what could have been a more stream lined experience the drone element intended to hold the challenging element .

I'll give this one a 9 it hit the right spot this morning but holds a very unique sound that is not hit by other bands in this genre though the key elements to make it funeral doom are there , which is becoming a genre that rivals black metal in its willingness to experiment. If you are a fan of funeral doom this album is a must have and might be the best doom album of the year so far,

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Amon Amarth: Deceiver of the Gods



This is the Swedish band's 9th album and I can there appeal just as I can see they might be viewed as too commercial by those who are trying to stay brutal with their death metal as there are a fair amount of power metal influences sprinkled in a this isn't what gets considered pagan metal or viking metal despite all their lyrical references and well.. their beards, it has more in common with Dethklok or Arch Enemy, though they are rolled 20's to notch the epic factor up.

I  have always heard these guys in passing I think there last album was  the first I loaded on the Ipod to play all the way through and I remember then doing a god awful cover of a System of a Down song.  They take a little getting use to out the gate with the opening title track because you almost forget the days when metal didn't have a blackened something to it so with out any dissonance , darkness , tremolo picking of blast beats , it sound joyfully triumphant which depending on your taste can be a good thing or a bleh... thing. It keeps at a very thrash pace. When it comes to finding common ground with fellow countrymen  and these guys come closer to At the Gates than Dissection.

"As Loke Falls" is for better or worse your average thrash affair with some harmony guitar flourishes, sure there a good chug here and there in between it all but does that make for cool riff or good songwriting?


 The opening riff of "Father of the Wolf" is pretty much classic metal dialed in from 1987 with the only big difference being the vocals, if they were sung in the operatic yodel it could be Armoured Saint or somebody like Helloween  though at several points in the album I am reminded of Unleashed,  The riffs are melodic and hooky enough for most not saying they have really drawn me in until I am like "Oh there's an Iron Maiden riff"

"Shapeshifter" the riffage sounds darker , has more of a death metal feel, more powerful and less power metal gallop to this one, call and response chorus is a little different in the vocal panning than other songs. His voice over all seems to have two modes of growl mid to low.

 The chug to"Under Siege" is one of the few songs where I am won over by the power of the riff alone, though the arrangment certainly helps the placement of it have more impact , as I am seldom won over by chug alone. The guitar sounds on this album are very big and everything here is highly orchestrated in the mix, which gives it the slickness that causes some people to be turned off.  One of the other solid riff in your face songs is " We Shall Destroy" . This one invokes that Unleashed field and is more legitimate death metal.

" Blood Eagle" cranks up some Slayer like riffage this one is much thrashier, the chorus riff in particular and the chorus benefits from the slick production in how the vocals, the guitar could cut through more in places some times it seems to take on an obtuse wall of volume and it seems like a mix issue, should have taken some of the effects of and given every thing a more in your face sound like "Reign in Blood".  " Coming of the Tide" follows a similar trajectory. It's pretty straightforward the riffs charge ahead , fans of Skeleton Witch are probably already listening to these guys but if not they are missing out. The double bass switches up it's pattern here but they use that really straight ahead snare hit which ruins it for me though the riff in the last two minutes steers the song in a better direction.  

"Hel" is a treat for me as I had  been waiting for former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin to make his appearance , it's a pretty straightforward not heavier than any thing off "Nightfall" .Messiah is a little low in the mix for me layered underneath the lead growler. Messiah does sound as if his pipes have held up fairly well.

There's a pretty effective riff at the two and a half minute mark of "Coming of the Tide"  the song it self becomes a little bland in its momentum and some times default to what would sound good to solo over. There is a slight mosh waltz to a riff here and there in "Warriors of  the North". This album sounds great , the song writing well... this sound has been time tested but also overdone leaving it feeling a little bland , I generally prefer stuff that's darker and more experimental, so it's not really my thing as it's presented here, still they are good at what they do and fans of the band could even round this up an entire point as I'm giving it a 6.5

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Friday, June 7, 2013

The Weekly Shuffle: Even the Abysmal Get the Blues


I know there hasn't been a lot from me this week, it took a turn for the worse and I am struggling to keep my head above water, I know I'm in a bad spot when I start to not want to listen to music. So consider this a version of the weekly shuffle.  I'm going to find the first ten songs on shuffle mode that describe how I feel, its funny how most of the music I listen too would be described are dark or depressing but when I'm in a bad place I lose interest in it.

"You Fail Me" by Converge-the lyrics from Jacob aren't the most decipherable of his work but the feeling is there, the crunch of the guitar feels like the churn of my stomach so that resonates with me as well as the chords at the end feel like the perfect soundtrack.

"Undo You" by Katatonia-lyrically they are always in the ball park the airy ambiance of the intro is almost to happy, the "fate brings you down for the count /with broken promises to amount" line hits the spot well. this rides the fine line to being to happy but it's raining as the sun shines as I type this so that is fitting

"I Remember Nothing" by Joy Division- yeah I feel like hanging with Ian Curtis,  his almost out of key plea that we were strangers for way to long isn't how I feel I relate more to the guitar on though the me in my own world and you there beside hints at it.

"Where the Wild Roses Grow" By Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-this is pretty soothing I guess I need to listen to more Nick Cave there is a reflective yearning to this one. The melancholy of this one is like a peaceful place I would like to get to though there is a desperation brought on by other life situations that makes this song sound almost too hopeful to the point of being unattainable. Gods grant me the serenity to be Nick Cave.

"Protect me From What I Want" by Placebo- this seems like a wide angle lens on life right now, the detached observer taking notes on the past and projecting them into the future, the guitar chords I hear in my head with out music so I can relate to this one , for some reason I have an urge to hear the o.k computer album, so that's a good sign there is something I would like to hear.

"the Oldness" by Xiu Xiu- yes this music is reading my mind, his tone of voice is how I feel, the lyrics are in question a little to vague, but I can relate to how they are delivered, when I was a teenager lyrics always had to be dead on like a diary, now i'm more empathetic.

" Hi " by Xiu Xiu, here is the resent turned in and cynical as I feel the jading of the lily gilding. The out look being fucked is what I get from this song, even though it's dancey as hell the fact my head isn't bobbing means I get it.

" I Remember Who You Are" by Swans- Normally Jarboe songs aren't my favorite but its really comparing George Harrison to John Lennon, though she came and went and they stayed Swans, this is on the more the glass is half full side to me, and the lyrics seem like words to live by. The you remain unchanged is sinister as change is need to thrive and being stuck and stagnant lead to death. The last verse to bittersweet for sure.

"Manifest Destiny" is PERFECT -  
  I don't have a reason to go back home
So what am I supposed to do?
I only know one place where I have to be
And it's gotta be with you
I'm on my way now
So you gotta help me out
You gotta make it out for me

How could we survive?
Yeah I'll think about the kids
Just let your speed arrive
Yeah don't worry about the rest

There is a fire that burns on my tongue
So what can I ever do?
I see them at you feeling your loss
And I wanna feel it too
I will find you and roll out the fire
So you gotta help me out
You gotta make it out for me

How could we survive?
Yeah just think about the kids
Just let your speed arrive
Yeah don't worry about the rest

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/manifest_destiny_lyrics_zola_jesus.html
All about Zola Jesus: http://www.musictory.com/music/Zola+Jesus 

"lick the palm of the burning hand by "Zola Jesus- she is reading my email
I'm the only one that sticks aroundWhen they call your name out of a crowdAnd you say it don't hurt when I'm going aloneAnd you know it don't hurt but I keep it strongSo I don't try to goI just won't and you knowThe need to know it takes you overTakes you overThe need to grow it take you underTake you underIt bares the keeping of resistanceTo the listen again and againIt takes you over again and againIt takes you over[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/lick-the-palm-of-the-burning-handshake-lyrics-zola-jesus.html ]I'm the only one that makes you stopAnd I know the plane is going downWhen you say you don't see the red in my eyesDo you really want to bring the fire outsideI don't want you to goLose my eyes I'll never showThe need to know it takes you overTakes you overThe need to grow it take you underTake you underIt bares the keeping of no resistanceTo the listen again and againIt takes you over again and againIt takes you over

Read more: ZOLA JESUS - LICK THE PALM OF THE BURNING HANDSHAKE LYRICS 


the Smiths ended up being  too happy for me, in reflecting there's is always the satisfaction in  fact that any good music they listen to is going to make them think of you , though I can't listen to Abigail right now as it was a car song but if i take the big pciture of everything into consideration car songs are small peas 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Black Sabbath; " 13"



We put the Masters of Reality up on a pedestal due to who they are but have forgotten their Hands of doom have been very human and very flawed in the past.   Unlike David Bowie , Sabbath’s body of work was pretty spotty after Sabotage , with Never Say Die and Technical Ecstasy  being downright silly but having a few good moments, the Dio years were strong and I think I wanted dehumanize to better than in fact it was , we won’t even get into How bad the album Forbidden was, then take into consideration how bad Ozzy’s solo work has been for over a decade Ozzmosis was really the last album worth a shit and the deck is stacked against them as far a my expectations, if you couple this with the lack luster single “God is Dead”.
Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine is the drumming on this and it goes against his normal style but her adapts well, I would have chosen a more metal drummer but oh well…

 the Opener which is the second single that premiered on CSi, which was a very metal choice for them, but thank Sharon for her dedication to besmirching the Sabbath Legacy.  It’s not a bad song, is it color by numbers for them? Yes and with Rick Rubin producing it, there is a very organic warmth to it think somewhere between a Danzig album and the in your face dryness of Reign in Blood.  It sounds like heavier solo Ozzy because of his worn out vocals don’t have the bite they did of the original albums. I think the multi tracked  chorus effected production of his vocals on his solo albums does his voice more justice. But this song passes for what I will expect from a Sabbath reunion of sorts.

“God is Dead” gets another listen to me an here’s hoping the media player I first heard it on was compressing the shit out of it as they tend to do. The vocals sound better than I remember so that helps and I like what he is doing on the verses. The lyrics are reheated cliches I think Geezer should have overseen then more than Ozzy, the melodies are more solo Ozzy than Sabbath.

“Loner” has more of an arena rock swagger to it than I would think they would take , almost going back to No Rest For the Wicked  cock rock Ozzy if it was produced with a Queens of the Stoneage faux sludge. This would be good solo Ozzy and as I have predicted better than post-Born Again Sabbath, but not classic.  The solo is the most concerning aspect of this one because it sounds like Mick Mars not Iommi, who I have long considered to be one of the great under rate soloists.

“Zeitgeist” goes to quick to the Planet Caravan balladry for my tastes, but I the effects on Ozzy’s voice and Geezer showcases some very tasteful melodic playing on his part. Iommi does whip out a cool solo toward the end but overall it’s a little too “ Momma I’m Coming Home” for me. “ Age of Reason” once again reminds me of the one song I use to like off “Ozzmosis” but is not on par for Sabbath but isn’t shabby for an Ozzy solo album, which for practical purposes this is just with Butler and Iommi on the payroll. Which is how Sharon sees it I’m sure and IT would sell more in this day and age with the Sabbath brand rather than as a another solo Ozzy album which most metal fans as a reality tv buffoon who use to be in a really awesome band but tolerate like a crazy uncle.

“Live Forever” sounds like pretty generic metal riffs, that sure at one time they might have left their thumbprint on but it would put them in the same boat like band such as Motorhead who only rips themselves off. The same could be said for “Damaged Soul” but it does so with more conviction and the vocal production works better. Once again there’s too much of a wink at bands they have influenced , in this case Down or bluesier Pantera, with Iommi on  autopilot until it comes to letting it rip on the solos , however on auto pilot these guys are better than the bands they spawned. The vocals on the bridge also sound more like Sabbath and less like solo Ozzy which is a plus in my book.  The closer “Dear Father” has a doomish creep to it and Ozzy’s voice is well aware of its limitations is shielded by suitable production. Is this going to win over any new fans? I doubt it , it doesn't exactly school the kids on the magnitude of influence the originators of metal have had but for old timers it hits enough of a sweet lead spot on the nostalgic heartstrings to satisfy the black masses, but really how many of these songs will they really try to put up against the classics live ?    I’ll give this an 8 as it’s more like a 7 as a Black Sabbath album but the best shit Ozzy has personally done in 15 years .   

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The World is a Beautiful Place ... :" Whenever, If Ever"





One  of the things I  learned to today after drifting for hours in the rabbit hole that is music blogs is that emo and hardcore did not die with myspace but thrive on a underground of there and one of the most raved about bands in this circle of blogs is The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die... thats their  full name ,  back in the nineties I was a fan of Sunnyday Real Estate,  Hot Water Music, Mineral and the all the other spawn of Fugazi. These emo kids are even more hipster than the ones I grrew up with because theres already a huge fan base for a band whos debut album doesn't come out til June 18th .

The vocals teeter on being in key and are  more Modest Mouse than sunny day. They are the element that took the most gettting use to for me. As a whole the album is more heavily orchestrated than I imagined it would the riff in the last minute and a half is pretty cool, they do capture some more post rocky space exploration

The trumpet at the beginning of "Fightboat", is one of the touches that helps keeps their sound left of center the more hardcore backup vocals aren’t the strong suit , I thought this was going to be closer to screamo. I can hear where they might have grown up on a steady diet of Brand New. The female vocals smattered on the ending work for what they are going for. 


"Picture of a tree that doesn’t look okay", has a cello low in the mix and floating guitar lines slightly morose , no where near as dark as sunny day dips on how it feels to be something on they stay well away from dashboard confessional territory even in their more sentimental sections.Melodically the closest relation seemed to be the Get up kids in where the melodies want to go. I would say if you didn't listen to the first wave of emo then their influences are more obscure and they are going for their own sound and are not just a tribute to nineties indie rock. 

"You Will Never go to Space" tends to fall on more of the post-rock side of what they do. I like this side to the band as its darker and more cinematic than the optimistic take on emo. " The Layers of Skin we Drag Around" is more straight forward and has to be to the point as it's only a minute and a half long, so never really develops.

"Ultimate Steve" warms up from it's post-rock shimmer, into a slow steady upward climb, to the point of where the build is a long as the actual song which has almost a choral sing along feel as layers of vocals with a live  feel roll in before the song simmers back into atmosphere, they get credit for original arrangments here. I think the strongest melodies are on the song " the Gig Life" it starts off like a Bright Eyes b-side but when it reaches the chorus finds it's own place. 

"Low Light Assembly" sounds more like an idea of a song which could have been the part of one of their shorter songs, it has a post-rock piano opening and a pretty enough guitar part, the chorus of layered vocals has a more subdued sing along feel. It hovers around the one waking melody and feels like it needs to build from there and is incomplete on it's own two feet.          

"Getting Sodas" has a more apathy to it's pondering , the guitars go from crystalline into a synchopated punch the attempt at hard core vocals returns with the same effect, but the guitars go to some intresting places with their jerky punches. 

I think this will continue to grow on me and I have like it much more than I expected, with some of the incomplete thoughts in song writing and the inconsistant vocals which still try pretty hard at what they do but keep it from being a perfect album , though there are some really pretty guitars that compensate for them so I  will give this one a 9.     


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Saturday, June 1, 2013

the New Flesh: "Reality"


This Bay Area band puts the emphasis on the punk in post-punk.So rather than going all in at the grave yard, they lean more towards the darker direction bands like T.S.O.L and New Model Army dipped into. Their songs move much more like punk than death rock which still keeps more of a serpentine slink to it.With that said and to dispel an talk of them being goth or dark wave this is still a fun album. It's dark enough for me to rock it as we know  most punk rock is too happy for my liking.

It's until the 3rd song "Gravity" that I can begin to hear where the goth label might be warranted and the singer's voice also takes on a more death rock moan than the shouty baritone which was more like Joey Ramone in pain than say Bauhaus. So far on my first listen it was the first one that really perked my grim ears up. The drums take on more of ominous pound like the Damned on " Only to Fall" and the vocals themselves fall back into more of  shout crooning more on the chorus. The bass player who needs to be further up in the mix for the sound they are going for does have the goth tone dialed in ala Pornography Cure, but the guitars crack a dominant whip over them.

It gets darker on "Age of Reason"  and I'm sure the tug of war the band is fighting with themselves but they need to cross over to the dark side for when the lean in that direction it certainly does them more favors than sticking to what I suspect are their punk roots.  I heard metal being tossed around in relation to the bands and I'll set the record straight and say there is nothing metal about this album, not to say it won't appeal to fans of metal that listen to punk as well, in fact I would suspect that's their target audience. "Age of Reason" does carry some tension to it , but it's never released in  a metal manner.

The descent into shadowy alley ways continues on "Systemic" which carries a similar tension, but the drumming and guitar are really intent on this being punk, though they have a pretty open mind as to what punk is , yet it still fits in with what the definition was in the eighties. The lower ranged mush mouth vocals are actually the bands weak point as they tend to give the songs a similar feel. The bass finally emerges to it's rightful place on " Kneel and Pray", the vocalist loses some of the mush in his mouth on this , though not dramatically, maybe he's fucked up or lazy , this could also be a hipster apathy, but they seem pretty genuine to me so I'm guess fucked up laziness.

Though the guitars aim for a similar bull's eye on most of this song there is something clever interplay and though put into the craftsmanship of the way the two parts mesh together leaving most of the hooks hidden  in the guitar parts. There is a great kinetic energy to these songs which I'm translates well live and pretty solid songwriting which could have benefited from  a better vocals mix, unless they leave the vocals buried in the monitor mix which wouldn't surprise me. I'll round this up to an 7.5, I appreciate the energy and where they are trying to go I think they could have benefited from a better vocal performance and production, which becomes a chicken or the egg riddle when trying to figure out which would have bolstered the other. If you have punk leanings are are already into goth/ death rock revivalists check this out for sure.    


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Integrity: "Suicide Black Snake"


I was very aware of Integrity when they came out in the whole Victory Records hardcore wave of the nineties, the fact is all of those bands but Bloodlet I assumed where straightedge and at the time I was doing life threatening amounts of drugs so straight edge wasn't some that resonated with me like mmm...Psychic T.v , Swans or Neurosis who were all my my drug soundtrack. I  think if I focused on what a charismatic nut their lead singer Dwid is and some of the things we have in common like Lavey, serial killers, aliens and the Church of the Final Judgement I might have given them a closer listen. Their newest effort is not for nostalgia , it is every bit as relevant a hardcore album today like the scene finally caught up to him and dropped the b-boy thing to embrace the darkness of the real world.

The distortion on songs like "There is a Sign" is thick and dirty with a sludge like density to it. I think this album would appeal to of fans of crust core in it's grit. There are break downs which only have 90's hard core in their shadowy review mirror.The really short punk bursts , weren't my thing then and they aren't now so songs like the barely over a minute  "Orrchida" which is almost half a guitar solo doesn't really appeal much to me. But when they pulls off things like the abbreviated "All is None" they do what Nails does better than Nails , but of course Dwid wrote the book on it. I will give him credit for going beyond just screaming even though he maintains an aggressive coarseness to his vocals at all times there are variation which come close enough to singing to make this approach work for me.  

Songs like " I Know Where Everyone Lives" and "There Ain't No Living In Life" have a bluesy  undercurrent in the latter it drags on a little longer than I might like but the guitar playing that follows is pretty stellar and sounds like an under produced raw version of something from Lucifuge. The harmonica is something I was not expecting or even noticed the first time I played the album . The albums best moments are the darker more experimental... well for this brand of hardcore they aren't trying to be the Black Heart Rebellion or even Children of God here, this is when hardcore had much closer ties to punk rock than it does now.

 So more punk moments have varied result with me something like "Into the Night" works better than "Detonate VVorlds' Plague" just because their is a more crazed element to it, similar to a Converge album where a know the bratty bursts of punk are more of a regressive wink backwards when they are capable of making more interesting music and if you are capable of making more interesting music then by all means do it , who cares where this causes you to fall in the definition of being punk or troo or cvlt for that matter. The production is inconsistent and then there are the couple of regressive moments and a few stale riffs here and there but overall it's dark enough for me and has gotten repeat listens so I'll give it an 8.