Monday, July 29, 2013

Palms: S/t

This new side project of Chino, in some ways helps get him away from the time warp the Deftones seems to be in that keeps them dancing around the fur, but it is not too far removed from his old band either. I read a lot of comparisons to the Cure in this team up with former members of Isis and they are pretty much unfounded as most of it sounds like the more drifting ballads the Deftones began to dabble in by White Pony.

The opener "Future Warrior" does have a very post- rock Mogwai guitar riff, where if you think every guitar with delay on it sounds like the Cure then you will draw the same conclusion here, but being a huge fan of the Cure, I'll say it shows the Cure's influence on bands that came out in the 90's who didn't want to be grunge, but that where the comparison ends . The chorus has the quiet to loud dynamic that both the Deftone and mogwai have had...and Isis has mimicked. It is not as explosive as the Deftones and shows more restraint than they have used, bringing to mind A Perfect Circle, but Chino doesn't have the same smooth control over his voice that Keenan has so there is a more emotive angst to it. This album sounds great even though the drums are a little thin at times. It is also the first recording I have heard where I though Chino's voice sounded somewhat strained reaching for higher notes.

"Patagonia" is very Cocteau Twins, which is a compliment to the guitar sounds they created here, as I think Robin Guthrie has the best guitar sound in alternative rock. The vocal melodies don't sound as focused as they were on the previous song, letting the guitars do all the heavy lifting. This is a very Chino thing to do , but works better for the Cocteau Twins as Elizabeth Frasier floats around the guitar but maintains melody. they let the guitars create the melodies here and Chino wails around as if lost in his own world. The dynamic build the instrumentation creates is pretty powerful. It ebbs and flows very smoothly, the builds are more Sigur Ros , than Cocteau Twins as they have a more modern umph.

There is a very slow almost trip hop beginning to "Mission Sunset". The fact it doesn't build at the chorus tries to keep it from sounding like down tempo Deftones, but Chino's vocals are more White Pony here than perhaps any other moment on the album. He could almost stand to be further back in the mix here as the guitars are really the shine to spotlight. The build is awkward but the guitars redeem themselves , it took this  one more time to grow on me as it wanders a bit.

The albums most powerful song might be "Shortwave" that builds up from a Cocteau Twins rolling drone, into an almost metal climax. Chino launches into his trademark squeal, but in short restrained bursts, I think its one of the rare cases where not going metal works out for the best. He does find his feet on establishing the melody here , which is surprising that it hasn't been the focal point of the album so far.

They relish in the shoe gaze on "Tropics" . The guitar rings out in a very lush manner, but Moreno's vocals strike me as a little lazy similar to the lulling patterns that Billy Corgan tends to use. The dudes from Isis are holding back as well, but they could have gotten burned out on the whole proggy direction their old band had headed and opted for less is more. The sounds are immaculate in their delicacy.

The closing number " Antartic Handshake" has more of a Cocteau Twin shimmer, but is more ambiant than the rest of the album at the onset. The vocals use this space effectively to float along with the cloud rather than against it. The drone here is an acquired taste it eventual begins to feel like its dragging and not going any where after if lingers for what seems to long as the guitar takes it time to come back in and even then it takes the album out on a fizzle. . I will give this one an 8.5 as it is better than any thing the Deftones have done in recent memory.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chimaira: "Crown of Phantoms"

The singer of this band pretty much stole all of Daath to keep this going and is making an effort to shift out of being more of a mall metal sorta of thing into death metal. The opener is very straight forward despite some angular bleep and bloopers at the onset. The keyboard playing of former Daath vocalist Sean Z is especially pointless as it doesn't really bring anything to overall sound and the coolest effect employed are from post production. The guitar playing is the bands strong point.

They keep things out of the nineties with staccato riffing, and to the harder left hand of falling into the realm of being Meshuggah clones, the vocal line is  repetitive in an almost  Fear Factory or Pantera manner whose audiences this sort of thing might have more appeal, than a death metal crowd who unless they think In Flames is death metal is going to find this still to nu metal.

Like Machine Head they sometimes flirt with thrash like on the song "All thats Left is Blood' but it does have more of  a Swedish take on the sub genre, with more commercial death metal delivery, in the way of the vocal grunts and faux growls. The pitch harmonics keep the seas of cheese flowing though the drumming under the solos is impressive as the groove flows smoothly. It's well produced but very lowest common denominator.

The guitars while the strong point can drag it down into that Swedish melo-death thing but with the mall metal  cheese whiz and none of the epic harmony parts. " I Despise" does stray into the realms of djent. The growls on the chorus are an improve because they sound like what I imagine Obituary might if they sold out and is a pretty solid hook.

A clean guitar tone surfaces on " Plastic Wonderland"  which shows improvement by creating a creepy intro that gets ruined for speed metal riffing and the vocals which remind me of Coal Chamber. There could be some Pantera comparisons here, but Devil Drivers seemed a better fit. It should also be said that the worse thing about this album are the childish lyrics which sound like they were written by a goth kid pouting at Melrose High, but that would give them more focus than some kind of pseudo angry poppy cock, they the came out of the book of spare metal clichés.

The little flash of clean singing on the title track makes this sound like Korn, the solo break sweeps in like the arpeggios it relies on to save the day.  "Spineless" start off with "these words will cut you like a knife " which is giving his lyrical ability to much credit. The Marilyn Manson like synth pads make it hard to take this seriously. This is a fine example how connecting  the dots to all things that should make a band heavy don't work if they are faking the funk.

"Kings of the Shadow World" the riff gets a little more interesting and comes closer to being real death metal than they have delved at this point. It seems like Werstler  could have established himself as a metal guitarist to be reckoned with is really dumbing it down on this album. If you want big dumb metal that equal parts 90's cheese cheese and angst posing than you have come to the right place.

The Adias jump suits are back on for the groove to "Wrapped in Violence" which is infectious for being as dumb as it is. " Life is chaos, wrapped in violence" are lyrics written by a full grown adult. The romance is one for "Love Soaked Death" that goes over the top in wanting to be Korn, the bass player is thumpin at his strings like an idiot, leaving the drummer to salvage their dignity til the solos.

If you are a Juggaloo you will think this is pretty mind blowing next level shit, if you are a fan of death metal ....real death metal like Deicide you will be appalled, if you still buy your cds at the Best Buy across from the mall you will love this as you have yet to find real metal on the Internet and aren't likely to even be reading this , so I'll round this down to a 4.5. Well produced some cool grooves here and there but for glue sniffers only.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Interview : Doris Yeh of Cthonic

Cthonic just released their most ambitious album to date ,  I was lucky enough to catch up with their bass player Dorie Yeh to discuss Bu-tik and every thing else that makes her band stand out.

What was different this time in the process of creating "Bu-tik?

Doris- The big difference this time was the writing process. This time we wrote the traditional pieces first and wrote the metal music around , so there is more melody and folk taste. The only draw back to recording in Sweden is the cold.

The video for "Supreme Pain For the Tyrant" is more involved and cinematic in scope than most videos coming out these days ,  what is the story behind that ?

Doris - The theme is an assassination thirty years ago  that occurred when the vice president visited New York in the 1970. He was pushed down by security and said "Let me stand and face this like a Chinese".  We wrote the song of that, but wanted to recreate the story making it more like Inglorious Bastards. Our friend who is a movie director discussed the script with us , the story originally came from me, he wanted to include the Nazi symbol . In 1930 the supreme ruler at the time was friends with Hitler, it never appeared in text book, the whole story and the way we used the camera were all made to look more like a movie and the band played the parts of the assassins.

The visual element of what you do seems to be an important par of what you do and has hanged over the years from black metal corpse paint to a more militant look to a futuristic thing you have going for the new album, what brought about this evolution?

Doris - We change to different outfits with the concept of each album. One reason is we are not only black metal, and don't deal with satanism or anti-religious themes, so we thought we needed to change. We are still wearing marks on our face, they are the traditional marks of a general, every year people and make these marks in the temple to the gods of the earth, but we don't wear the white make up.The guitarist complained it was to hard to take off after the show and guys don't always have the easiest time putting it one.

And it would be unfair to expect you to do that for them. Back to the new album,there are many elements like thrash and power-metal that can now be heard more distinctly , are those influences for you guys? I know Marty Friedman joined you on stage at a local festival , so are you guys fans of  Megadeth and early thrash ? 

At the beginning in 95  Freddie was influenced by Emperor. and bands like Exodus, Gorgoroth, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth then after some lineup changes we joined and brought in different influences. That is where the power metal elements came from.

As for Marty Friedman, we had invited Megadeth to play a festival in Taiwan, it was their their first show in Taiwan and Marty wasn't in the band at the time.  He now lives in Japan and his manager has connections to our Japanese record label so it was networked that way and we were really lucky to get to play with one of our all time idols.

So what influenced you to pick a bass and start playing ? Was there a particular band?

Doris - In the beginning there were not many opportunities or rock clubs but I really wanted to play in a band and had been planning on playing drums. I put up fliers in the bathrooms at school, and found guitarists and keyboards, vocalist and drummer but no was was playing bass.  My dad played bass and the guys I was playing with said well you don't have to buy one you can just barrow one of your dads. There was a long connection to bass, when I played piano as a child my dad would sit by me and play along on the bass. So my dad was my biggest influence. I remember picking up the picks as a child. I love the powerful deep sound, the resonance and frequencies of it.

Tell me bout the work you have done for womens rights with the Awakening Foundation?

Taiwan is conservative so , there aren't laws to protect womens rights.They had asked me to endorse this event ,I  think the laws are not changing at the speed they should.

Your persona in Cthonic is at odds with a conservative concept of women in Taiwan as it is sexy and strong at the same time , though not like a  Britney Spears thing where the sex element id in the forefront , So how's the perception of that in the homeland? Any acceptance or just judgment? 

Doris- It's natural born personality , I always played with the boys back in kindergarten. I'm not girly. Being involved in photo shoots in sexy outfits, I think women can be brave, and strong and sexy at the same time. I don't want to be just one type of elder and relatives don't understand , they say why do you show you body, but that comes from grand mas and grandpas, people under forty are accepting, it is changing. I find it better not to care, if i care what people say then i am just wasting my life and not doing the things I want to do. .

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Anagnorisis: " Beyond All Light"

 There's a l ot of black metal coming out from the states these days and the current trend no longer seems to be to pull out your Godspeedyoublackemperor albums , but to sounds like you are not from America, so its a catch 22 , but these guys have succeeded at defying their geographics.I did not expect the  was a sonic sprawl that sounds like whale songs in space before we went into the blasting. The mix is very cavernous and re-verby, though there playing is very tightly focused aggression like older Watain.  Its impressive that this came out of Kentucky, as they are not trying to pull out any southern rock influence or anything sludgey, there is some melody in the guitars but the dense mix keeps them in the background.

this album really only sounds awesome when turned up to ear ringing levels, which on my first listen through head phones on my computer gave me a good over view but I had to turn this up to get the full picture. There is generous attention to detail , in what could be a steam roll of brutality that could easilly become white nosie, I can hear a little similarity to Bastard Sapling.

"This Cursed Blood" finds the band launching into mach speed blast beats, that vary in blurs with keyboards passing it by in the rear view mirrors. Things get noisy and hectic almost like Sigh as saxophone gets tosses into the chaos, this tempo gets a little tiresome but the whole middle section is rather interesting when things get spastic. They switch the dynamics on "Death Mimics Life" is rumbles in with a slow majestic swell with the after taste of an apocalypse, not unlike the sonic scope of more recent Nachtmystium. The vocals also have a similar rasp to that of Blake Judd, the production on the vocals here really plays into that as they have a dirty distorted feel.

Things slow down and get more sonic on "Abyss" . It takes on much more of a depressive feel though going big with the atmosphere, the soundtrack to the last robot on Earth having an emotional melt down, you know a mic of Wall-E and Requiem For A Dream. It's very big sounding but kind of drones so if you are wiating for it to go somewhere its a waste of time.

They jerk you in the other direction with the gallop of  "Bountiful Godless Life". The acoustic break feelsa little weird though, the very Pink Floyd guitar solo sounds great, the build up doesn't punch enough when it blasts back in but it sounds more like a an issues in the mix rather than there playing. The tone of the growls takes on an unique harshness, and the saw floats up to the surface again, though the reliance of the blast to achieve these dynamics sounds likea cop out based on what I hear them capable of doing ,

What I like about this band is how they keep things dark and the melodic territory they move into on "Forver Night" that sounds like it could be the intro to a Feilds of Nephillim song, not to mention the  piano breakdown in the middle of the song is really cool but feel they could have built it up a little differently. I'll round this one down to an 8 as you know how I am when it coes to using blast beats as they easy way out, the more exploration they  infuse into their use of atmosphere on here.Sometimes they get the more furious side of what they do right in the sense it captures their own personality, why blast away like all the other bands when you have your own signature you can add to it . They hit more resounding notes than not and have a original sonic take on things , though the influences that do bleed through are ones I like so no complaints on that end. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cthonic : " Bu-tik"

I think my inability to embrace the band fully was caused by the same type of prejudice black metal purists have with Dimmu Borgir who many see as putting their grandiose image before staying cvlt and leading to them becoming more of a symphonic metal band. Dimmu for me got grandfathered in so I saw them as just evolving even when they lost members and slowly began to look even more like super-villains.  I think the double whammy for the band in this regard is how  bassist Doris Yeh  gets pushed as a sex symbol on magazine covers, not to say she isn't hot, she is... but in metal circles this causes the band taken less seriously marketed So giving this band the same benefit of the doubt I think others should give Dimmu and just focusing on the music being good metal, however non-black it is, I have gone about listening to this album and it seems to band has grown just in time for willingness to accept them as just metal.

 After some cinematic fanfare the album gets underway with the first single " Supreme Pain For the Tyrant", it  has more groove and the riffs have a thrash fine tuning to them so there is less pretense here that this is black metal in any sense aside from perhaps the screech to the lead singers voice. The guitar solo is pretty impressive, who knew there were these kinda chops hiding behind all that make up. "Sail into the Sunset's Fire " is solid  in execution, the guitars sound big and great, the drum sounds is equally massive in scope. It's a great sounding record though this make it's all the more aligned with the symphonic label though would be heavier than any other symphonic band aside from Dimmu, who despite their pomp are darker, comparison's can be drawn, though when it comes to shreddy guitar Cthonic wins.

When it comes to "Next Republic" its seems the riff speedometer plays against them slightly until the vocals help out in the syncopation, but there is a similar relentless speed in the first three songs , though it accelerates here until the solo section. " Rage of My Sword" befalls a similar blur of speed, the chorus shows some potential for melody but it's like running down hill with double bass sneakers on. Not to say it doesn't touch on my cool riffs don't make a song rule, so guitarists in particular might might look some of the dynamic flatness, they is colors with some of the ethic instruments.

"Between Silence and Death" stays the course with the speed but reaps the benefits of a Amon Amarth like intensity to the hook of the verse riff that powers past the similarities in tone and they match this by getting more majestic in the chorus. "Resurrection Pyre" has a more up beat almost power metal feel to the intro that roughens up on the verse. The redundant tempo starts to irk me and then I hear a little melody layered in a way like alot of folk metal bands who are black metal bands in disguise did a few years ago. The blend of the mix isn't as keen here even the guitar solo kinds sits back in the murk. Good guitar playing, though the song is on the flat side of the dynamic rainbow.        

"Set Fire to the Island" has a little more melody to though the jagged riffs often clash with one another, until the spot light gets turned back onto the lead playing which deserves every bit of spot light it catches from the mix. " Defenders of Butik Palace" takes a sweeping turnin to a symphonic thrash, though they don't let up on the gas until they congeal into a chug. The chug prevails to guide this song to glory, despite its rapid pace that by the end of the album doesn't seem any faster than anything else. To their credit it does have a less mall metal feel than the overt grooves of some one like Behemoth. I'll give this album a 7.5 as it sounds great but could use a little dynamic pacing though fans of straight up symphonic metal looking for something different can call it an 8. 

Philip H Anselmo & the Illegals : Walk Through Exits Only

Pantera is more like a guilty pleasure for me they are one of those bands I like a lot as a teenager, at the time when Far Beyond Driven came out my tastes were going in another direction, then I got back on board for the first Down album and Great Southern Trendkill, but fell off for other Down albums and the whole thing he did with Hank the 3rd, so I'm not going to co-sign every thing he does.

The opener sounds like cruder version of some of the more hardcore influenced moments on Far Beyond Driven, though with much less dynamic guitar playing. I know he has good taste in music but this sounds more like he is reaching into the Pantera years than his other solo works. Perhaps because this is more of a solo effort than his other side projects. The second song "Battalion of Zero" has a little more to it in terms of song writing though in it's attempt at density it loses all dynamic sense. But is is heavy and if that is all you need to make yourself happy you might be in luck.

The gritty conspiracy theory rant of " Betrayed" comes in and kicks the door open to show bands like Nails, how it's done. The syncopation is pretty sick and while it's one dimensional, it excels at  what it does. "Usurper  Bastard's Rant"  goes into some very Pantera like chugging, fans of meat and potatoes metal bands like Lamb of God will be pleased. I would say overall this is more sludge influence hardcore than any thing like thrash, the tempos when they build are denser than thrash. The vocals are the most produced thing on this album and the guitars are left dirtier than would you would have found coming from Dimebag.

The title track blasts ahead in a more furious manner than the album has seen so far, not black metal but heavier than  the songs that came before it , its about how people have ruined music , not just him, he admittedly yells. Most of the vocals on this album are so if you are a fan of Phil's actual singing voice, then there is not much of that though if you are a fan of his in any way then you can appreciate what he does here. There is a Black Flag/ Rollins element in some of the vocal phrasing on the chorus. The power of the chug can not be underestimated on this album as it flexes it muscle full force here.

" Bedroom Destroyer" is pretty musch what I anticipated the entire album to be , but so far beyond driven I'm surprised that has not been the case and it's a more modern harcore take on Pantera, rather than Eyehategod worship. There is a good dose of punk rock in this one but it makes it rather stupid, like punk for suburban redneks. " Bedridden" must be the part two to the last song with a few syncopated chugs to differentiate it from the last song , though it does end up plowing into a more rapid pace, the lyrics could be a bout rape or sloth  or a combination of the two.

"Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens" seems like a lash out at the hipster blogverse metal has become, I guess I am a part of this, it seems like there is a great divide in the metal scene to which most of the metal heads this album will appeal to could fall into the white trash borderline Juggaloos who like Lamb Of God and most other mainstream metal, that have yet to venture into the internet to search out new music beyond what they find on Juggaloo dating sites and the often closed minded metal purists that this song seems to target. When it comes down to the music, this had a thick wet cement groove to it. Overall this album is not as bad as I thought it might be and if you like Pantera or any of Phil's other work you are going to like this unless you never evolved past Cowboys From Hell and then go back to listening to Painkiller.   So I will round this one up to a 7 for surprising me, I doubt it will get much mileage on my iPod but for what it is he succeed at doing what he set out to make, so I will give him props , Pantera fans round this up to an 8.          


Friday, July 19, 2013

Cat Party : S/T

What strikes me off the bat about the Costa Mesa band Cat Party is that while they are obviously a part of the 80's post-punk, death rock revival they are not trying to be the next Joy Division or Sisters of Mercy, they don't shun their influences but they don't seek to imitate them either.

They opener "Tar and Feathers" has a lot of  drive and doesn't shy on the melody. You could put them in the same graveyard as  New Model Army of even Alkaline Trio but really in a feel sort of way more than any direct comparisons. 'Jigsaw Thoughts" is heavy on the punk of post punk and is the first song where the guitar phrasing sounds like someone you can point directly at and that would Christian Death. Though the other elements present keep this from being too obvious. Sure, there are genre staples like the bass leading the way and the drums floating between being a dance beat and a punk beat.

They really stand out on their own when they take melodic explorations and let the chords ring out like in
"Further into the Ordinary", where they bass and guitar have the type of interplay that made the Smiths so catchy but delivered more like Echo and the Bunnymen. The guitar tone on this album is incredible, the bass is npot shabby either. The vocals might win over those who are on the fence and often feel other death rock bands are too over dramatic...I know thats the point of goth, but not everyone gets it or is into picking up dead flowers in October so I can see where Cat Party might have an appeal that goes beyond this.

"Still Life" has more of a punk grit to it and is the dirtied up junkie sounds you commonly think of with this tragic affair. It is almost like the easy way out for these guys to step into this role as it fits the genre almost too closely and doesn't play to what I hear as their strength. "Entitled" is dark and a more straightforward chug but the vocals go into a more Jesus and the Mary Chain place. This works better than the previous song as the melody is more relaxed and sways on top o the guitar rather than being a slave to the riff. The bass line is haunted by Sisters of Mercy but no a seriously as some of Night Sins riffs.

"A Product of the Eighties" sees the band stray back towards the more punk side of what they do . They
do name check Pee Herman in the song, so they get a point for that alone. There is also a 90's indie rock vibe to this song and creeping around the edges, as in Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth.  " the Aftertaste" allows their guitars to float into a more reverb drenched place for the melancholy to be sans any trace of black eye liner and take on more of the 90's slacker vibe. I do admire the fact they go about this retaining the shadow side to the melody. The song does take off into almost a Mudhoney like grunge bent for a sec here and there in the build.

On "Oblong Blue" the band steps back into the more introspective side of melody and I think as song writers this is where they flourish in finding the most complete picture of there identity. The closet thing I find the guitar on the verse to sound like is Chelsea Wolfe. There is the smattering of rust and grunge on the chorus, but nothing feels contrived in the execution.

The chords to "Dead Weight" have a Cure like ring to them , but the vocals off set any comparisons that could be made and the bass heavy mix is the only thing that justify any of these Joy Division comparisons I see liked to the band. The bass playing is really stellar as a whole and on this song it offers to melody to create a cool sonic layer against the guitar. The nineties post- grunge indie feel is really predominate on the closer " Let the Bullets Fly Through".  Overall I'll round this one up to a 9 and see how it grows on me , I think the song writing it bound to fit my normally glum mood and its not too dark for summer listening.


Varg is Free

After spending two days in a French jail Varg Vickernes is free. He was arrested at his home in the French village of Salon-la-Tour, basically for having a copy of the manifesto written by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway two years ago.
Vikernes is of course a nationalist , but has not shown any ties with Breivik in the past nor has he really had anything positive to say about him. The only thing I find strange is that Varg was in France in the first place other than the fact his wife is French,  since he is so proud of his homeland why go to France  or is the right wing more relaxed than when I left and we are no longer trying to rid the Homeland of the christian influence from back when the corrupt kings decided to adopt christianity in order to gain the favor of England and open the trade roads. Rulers have been using religion not only to manipulate their people but influence diplomatic relations, America does it. What President has claimed to be a member of some flavor of Christianity? Obama was even a member of a radical pentacostal church whose pastor was a racist, though in America racism is o.k if you are the member of a minority  that is seen as having been oppressed. 
So ...Varg is with his wife in France, she buys four rifles, and she is  part of a gun club in France so has a thing for them, but after the purchase they are suspected of stock piling weapons for some sort of mass terrorist action and labelled as being Nazis. The Paris prosecutors office admitted they found no evidence Vikernes was plotting a terrorist attack .The charges are now reduced to inciting racial hatred.
Now... if those charges were enforced here in America, almost every Rapper would be in prison, but most main stream sites are still quick to call Varg a Nazi. Norway was allied with the Nazi's in World War 2 , not that they had a lot of choice in the matter, but when you are an entire country that embodies Hitler's racial ideal, they weren't going to just give Norway a pass because of Hitler's Viking envy. Even metal sites like the Jewish run Metal Sucks are going to be quick to label Varg a nazi and make snide commentary because they don't know the difference between national pride and racism, or even if we were going to say Varg is racist, does that make him a Nazi?  Does Germanic Neo-Paganism make someone a Nazi just because there is some shared mythos. 
We can debate this all we want but this whole thing stinks like a witch hunt to me. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Eight Bells : " the Captain's Daughter"

This Portland trio that formed out of the ashes of  SubArachnoid Space likes to call themselves expressionistic experimental metal. They are experimental enough, but at times not what I would call metal . The album opens with an angular shimmer, that is not short on groove or grace. Not what I expected at all , it is somewhat like Marriages but more progressive in the way it accelerates. The opening piece is well played but it's purpose unclear when set against the rest of the album.

"Fate and Technology"  features very psychedelic guitar that drips from the walls behind the breathy cadence of the female vocals, that I have warmed up into after repeat listens. The first six minutes of the song are very different than the more Kylesa like heaviness of the songs final minute and a half.  The production on the vocals is a lot cleaner a mix mix during the clean parts and then roughens when they do dynamically . I am unsure if this is an effect to make it seem like she is screaming more harshly than she is. I like the inclusion of  melody in the first half and the heavier part gets points for catching me by surprise as it darts out of the shadows.

The 12 minute epic title track starts off with a slinking groove that wouldn't be out of place on a Tool or Mastodon album. Shortly after the two minute mark it disintegrates into an ambient drone. I understand if this was executed like the Swans and done from the abrasiveness for its dramatic effect but it lacks the organic wandering their songs have and for an album that is only four songs to begin with a little over indulgent . The song begins to congeal back together around the six minute mark. There is a Hendrix like solo that bubbles up from the murk.  It dips back down into an even more minimalist drone though with a bit of a sonci swell to it, the sort of thing that Locrian album was full of.  Fans of drone might really enjoy this song to me it's a bit of a bore and eats up time that could have been used for actual songs.

"Yellowed Wallpaper" wraps up the album. It's a sprawling instrumental that displays their prowess as players but not as songwriters because it sounds like just a jam. This album leaves me thinking they would be a great band to catch live but writing actual songs could be a weakness as only one of these pieces I consider an actual song. The one song that is on here I like an would be interested in hearing an actual album from these playful boys and girls. I'm not sure I understand  the hype Cvltnation is putting behind them but I have also yet to see them live so maybe this is a souvenir of  that experience which I am missing out on in order to appreciate this to the fullest.  I will give this album a 6  though fans of drone might want to go ahead and round it up, as they might enjoy the middle section of the album that I felt to be filler that was stalling for time yet no songs emerged after that .      

Sofy Major: Idolize

After hearing a lot about these guys I decided to give them a shot as they were supposedly experimental and progressive in their approach though , I can't say either of those are the best descriptions of what this French Post-hardcore band does .

The tightly picked opening for " Aucune Importance" gets things off on the right foot. When it shifts into the half time groove at the end of the first minute the math starts creeping out, though the emphasis despite what I had read going into this that eluded to the fact they were more progressive than they are, at best they touch on the Jesus Lizard territory. The vocals ranges from a raspy baritone sung to some growling but at it's harshest falls short of being a metal tone.

The guitar has a grunge like tone similar to that of Helmet, who I would say this ban has the most in common with. Though they jerk you around where Helmet would beat the point home by going into a staccato riff m there is a sense of nostalgia when I listen to this as it takes me back to that place in the 90s. The slow pound of " Steven the Slow" really makes the Helmet comparison glaring, though it does lurch into a little more of a Melvins feel. The vocals take on a wackier rasp , like falling into Butthole Surfers Territory. The vocals take on a slight Eyehategod phlegm in the screams on this one. A similar groove but accented more like Clutch "bbbreak" picks u where the last song left off. The playing is dead on, the song writing is where they tend to fall flat. There are lots of cool riffs but

Another Jesus Lizard groove emerges on "Umpkk pt 2", the vocals improve a lot here as there are actual notes being sung, I can see where comparisons to Queens of the Stoneage can be drawn here. I have read several blogs  trying to label these guys as being progressive and while I can hear touches of Torche and Mastodon in their sound , I don't hear anything as challenging as say Botch.  One "Coffee Hammam" there drummer displays some hefty chops before they drop into a more stoner section. The vocals show more promise on "Slow and Painful" as well, they stay in a rough baritone similar to Baroness and use similar builds to that bands more recent work.

For this band to be from France their is a very  lazy stroll to "Seb" that invokes a long stoned drive through the desert. It only serves as an instrumental interlude with some samples drifting over it.  "Plantini" is another straight up rocker that benefits from a driving bass line.

The chug of  "Frost Forward" moves things in a more metal direction, but more along the lines of an angular Quicksand. " Power of Their Voice" despite the feed back around the edges of  the noisy intro has almost almost similar tension to the drive of its groove. Here the more mathy leanings is at this point forgotten in favor of the driving chords. It slows in the last minute but I was expecting something more drastic.  

I'll give this one a 7.5 as it's well put together, there are some cool riffs that have a lot pf powerful movement but cool riffs doesn't make a classic album when there is nothing really new here that I haven't heard before , I am guessing this is a more commercial step for the band as it feels they are adhering to more tried and true formulas that have show success breaking out of similar markets.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Exhumed : Necrocracy

This California band has been following in the footsteps of Carcass since 1992 playing what they call gore metal. This is their sixth full length album and marks the band showing many signs of their own personality in their ability to blend elements of grind core and death metal together in a way that will appease the hipster metal purists but still manages to sound fun when you crack open a case of beer to it .    

It rips out of the gate with some fairly run of the mill death metal that relies on its aggression and the cool thrash groove of the verse riff, but cool riffs alone does no make for a good song. They follow up on the second song with more originality, some of this is on the production end , but the use of rawer almost grindcore like abrasion makes " The Shape of Deaths to Come" stand out and renew my hope for the rest of the album.

The title track has drums that pound like this sort of metal should and a good groove to it balancing out the almost retro thrash feel with death metal brutality. The vocals which spew what could be the chorus hook have an old Carcass feel to them. The Carcass comparisons don't stop as the groove from "Dysmorphic" has has a Heartwork vibe  going, in the harmony guitar parts. The smoothness of style is just a dynamic for the band as they can vomit up some raw brutal viscera on a song like "Sickened:, though their more musical moments help give the songs more identity.

Songs like "Ravening"  are a reminder how they are more effective when their speed is kept in check as this one reaches the upper limits of  the beats they can clock in and still keep things varied enough to be interesting even though they display how when they slow down into a groove the riffs benefit the most.  "the Carrion Call" takes on a more straightforward death metal feel, though the vocals loosen up into a more punk attack making the lower guttural coating on top stand out more. The title of the song is chanted in a way that sticks to the corpse's bones.

"the Rotting" starts off with a chug that gradaully builds momentum into a death metal blast, that has punch but is not their most effective weapon when over done as it can be on this album. Here is the plight of most death metal which doesn't lend it self to progression and melody as well as other metal sub-genres. When its time to solo they soften the ground to plant their shred, however many of the songs could have benefited from this kinda of texture.

Every thing from a production stand point , sounds great there is enough rust where needed to create the sound of instruments in distress that I am sure has to be a pretty accurate depiction of what these guys are like live. As far as playing going the execution is dead on and the guitar playing exceeded my expectations going into this. I feel they took the easy way out though when it comes to the big picture  and it seems like they are playing dumb for the sake of their audience that I suspect to some degree would be open to slightly broadened horizons musically and defaulting back to the dumbed down color by numbers grinding death metal is the easy way out so I can only give this album a 7 as it gets old after while and is only kept alive by their more adventurous takes on songwriting. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Locrian : Return to Annihilation

This marks the Chicago band's first release on Relapse Records. They have been labelled as being experimental, drone and black metal, but on this album its not clear how fitting some of those monikers might be. Sure they have a hypnotic element to their music that lulls you in but I tend to think of drone being more of a minimalist art form than the texture and layers they have simmering over one another on this album.
The opener has almost a Cure vibe, though the production of the keyboards sounds almost identical to the last Circle of Ouroborus album. The vocals have an almost black metal scathing to them and are the heaviest part of the song. The vibe of  " Visitation From the Wrath of Heaven" feels more like a jammy post-rock band, it recalls those moments the Greatful Dead would hit live where they were waiting for the spirit or the acid to move them in a more congealed direction.The direction this band finds just happens to be varied shades of heavy.

There are more elements of sludge than black metal which is becoming more of a comfortable blanket for all things dark and heavy." Two Moons" swirls it's self awake with over driven synth swells . The embellishment of the guitar never allows anything to carry you a away like white noise. If drone means not allowing it to fully develop dynamically then I can where on a song like this is might apply.

The band apparently likes to claim Kraut rock as an influence and if you want to get fancy and hipster with what you are calling goth then I can see how that might get thrown around with the title track. The low moaned vocals ringing out from the distance help color that vibe. Midway they hit a metallic swarm of bees that hits they drone place they are going for. It does challenge the listeners endurance which I think any music of this ilk should do . It becomes heavy but not in a metal sense , when when the drums kick up dust. There's  few second here where it sounds as if they might let go into some genuine black metal, but they are never maintained for long.

"Exiting the Hall of Vapor and Light" creeps in on a visceral swathe similar to mid-period Swans. This creep doesn't begin to take off until three minutes into this five minute long song, so maybe I'm wrong but drone is coming across like wearing a chastity device ,  deprive your self from the release , limit the pay  off because that would be the easy way out ,  it makes for cool sounds but not a good song here.

The kraut rock tag I can see only in the sense that the song " Panorama of Mirrors" feels like something from an eighties sci-fi soundtrack, though less Tangerine Dream. This does build into some rather minimalist drum hits and black metalish screaming. Once again we get the benefit of some cool sounds that turn into ideas no fully mapped out. I understand  the tension in not resolving  and like the hypnotic elements but I need  more pay off.

The fifteen minute monster that is " Obsolete Elegies" begins with more melody than most of this album has show, though there is enough ambient noise to satisfy those who obviously must think conventional song writing with hooks is not abrasive enough for them. The intro section is the first five minutes then there is more sci-fi sounding stuff with some post- rock single note swelling. Then song then devolves into some feedback before going blasty The blasting has a very programmed feel to it .The albums best moment is the melody in the final minute and a half of this song.

Some of the more minimalist stuff on here isn't my thing but its well done so I will give this one a 6.5