Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Woebegone Obscured : Marrow of Dreams

This Danish band has been around for ten years and finally offers up their second album of their decade together. This delay is credited to the same subject matter of this album that initially caught my interests as it was written during one of the members struggle with mental health issues. While it isn't more melancholy than any other funeral doom I have heard, it is well written and preformed.Draining the same vein as Ahab, there are a variety of diverse vocal colors on the album. The vocal variety  makes it a worth while listen, not just droning on the low guttural  death vomiting of most funeral doom, though the low roars are there.  

Like most funeral doom the songs creep at a long winded pace. The opener is 13 minutes, they don't take too long bringing their dirges to life. It only takes a couple of minutes for the vocals to moan in and a plodding groove to develop. The vocals often remind me of a less soaring Pallbearer, though at times they do gracefully go into a more tenor register.  The guitar harmonies take on a more traditional metal approach, though contrasted by clean guitars and periods of ambiance.

There tends to be more movement, with the band staying a few bpm's ahead of their peers in the genre.The clean vocals create most of the atmosphere here. The hesitation to create the kind of deathly stagger onto the next chord typical of funeral doom doesn't show up until the final third of the first song, but their is also no shortage of Candlemassive riff to chug through this graveyard.The guitar solos take a more classic metal approach, not overly reliant on shred.

"Vacuum Ocean" begins with the sounds of waves lapping at the shore. The guitar is delicate and distant, until it punches in with depressively slow chugged punches. Here they are more like Evoken or Mournful Congregation, though I would say less sonic and more metal than the latter.The vocals on the song spew more acidic almost black metal like vomit. After the first four minutes it dies down into a passage much like the intro but with clean vocals over it. I like how they will switch into harsh vocals for a phrase and then backing into clean singing very smoothly. I think when the wave sounds are reintroduced for a third before the song dips into a more Celtic Frost like section, the effect has been overused. The tempo picks up almost to a thrash pace on a build in the songs final five minutes, but slows back down to the pace the band employs the most often.By the fourth time the water theme shows up the point has been beaten to death. It doesn't ruin the song for me but diminishes the effect.

Sometimes the only changes to what they do is an added dissonance on "Crystal Void". The pace picks up into less of a funeral march and more of a lumbering stomp.Their is a section in the first seven minutes that goes a more progressive route like Genesis or Trevor Jones' Labyrinth score. The guitar solos are given more space to wander. The more angular elements of the opening riff take a harder form midway through.The vocals take on a mourning Mayhem like croak, before the albums builds into its most death metal like moments.

There is a powerful roar to "In Suffering Darkness Dwell". This song seems to take longer than the others in finding it's footing to set out on new ground. It might be one of the albums heavier tracks, but sacrifices their knack for eerie melodies in order to claim that crown. The guitars create the most melody as they take on harmonized layers.Sure the growls are meaner and the punches in the song have more bite to them, but I am not convinced it's their strongest suit.Its seven minutes into the song before the reverb drenched guitar comes in to bring more darkness. The momentum does build nicely by the songs final act though almost more sludge like in it's weighty intentions.

The album closes out with the second longest song"Into the Mindcloud". Like the bulk of the album it sorts more delicately. The build begins to brew by the three minute mark.The lower death metal vocals on this album that this song returns to are par far the course, but well executed.The pace chugs to life six minutes in, with clean vocals floating in along with guitar solos a minute later. More death metal elements gurgle up on this one as well. More melodics moments to see the bleak light of day, with deliberate solos weaving out of them. There is a lot of ground for the band to cover here and they take every opportunity to paint this song with a wide array of guitar textures. They even come to jazz like place further into the song. When you write twenty minute songs you better have some prog in your background.

Hopefully there will not be as long of a wait for their next album as these guys help support the funeral doom genre with some tremendous guitar playing and a welcomed addition to the genre. It combines many of the elements which have worked well for their peers and collected them into this shining slab. I'll round this up to a 9 as I can see it growing on me.                      

Saturday, December 28, 2013

the Weekly Shuffle- Winter Solstice Edition

Here's the first Shuffle of the Dark Season, so I would like to promise this will be the darkest version yet, but since I just press shuffle on the battle weary iPod Classic and review the first ten songs that pop up I can't promise anything. So here we go...

"the Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" by Dead Can Dance

This got moved to the top of the list as one of my favorite DCD songs after seeming them preform it live, it has all the exotic elements I want from them and Brendon Perry sounds phenomenal on it. You tell me that I dream too much...

"Blasphemer" by Darkthrone

This is thrashier than you normally expect from them but is a good argument for mid-period Darkthrone, even if the riffs are very Slayer.

"Who Killed Mr. Moonlight" by Bauhaus

I often find my self playing the opening piano riff. A great song even if it's not the first one that comes to mind when you think of this band.

"Raise Her Hands" by Wovenhand

This project might even be better than 16 Horsepower. This is very dark and tribal, I like organic yet very sonic throb of this song.Its great for this season.

"Red Moon Foreboding" by Cara Neir

Was not long ago that I reviewed this album, so in a few clicks backwards and you can hear it for yourself. Pretty impressive blackened metal that sticks close to its hard core roots.

"Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie

And no one should be surprised this is on my iPod if you follow this blog. The most mainstream song well will see on here today, but great despite it's radio rock leanings.

" A Tower" by Holograms

Very punk post-punk. Short and to the point even though the vocals give the intro some breathing room. The punchy melody is what you would want from this sort of thing.

"Anxiety's Door" by Merchandise

Looking forward to the day the release a full album of this quality of songwriting . Very 80's new wave meets shoe gaze , with some hooky crooning layered over it.

"Fainted Eyes" by Celtic Frost

A classic metal band that doesn't get enough lip service on here despite the fact I have been listening to them longer than many of you have been alive.On this song I can hear why they get credited as being first wave black metal.

"Sea Talk" by Zola Jesus

Her voice on this song is pretty heartbreaking. This holds up against pretty much anything any female singer has done, even Kate Bush in terms of emotive power.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Caina : Earth Inferno

From across the pond  Andrew Curtis Brignell returns with this e.p. that is a collection of 3 unreleased songs and one new one. This focuses more of a return to the project's rawer black metal sound. There is a darker shadowy place where the song is allowed to breathe at the midway point of the opener. The blasties work for this song at least, most under-produced cvlt black metal bands can get away with it for the shock value of the tempest hitting for at least the first song, but it's allowed to slow into more of a half time feel.

The vocals retain the croaked rasp on "Conqueror Worm". The song itself has a slower looser feel than the opener. There is an element of "Deathcrush" era  Mayhem to this song. The melodic section at abut the same time here, though it is darker and creepier. The riff are powerful here even in the murk.There is a good sonic balance achieved until they revert back to the blasting.

There is a more deliberate pacing to the chaos of "Death Posture". If the guitar was layered with more attention to detail in the final mix it would have created a really eerie melody, but it is heard only as undertone of the idea in this dirtier mix. It does create its own ambiance ,and I have been listening to black metal for some time and understand why this is done. This has long been my point of contention with the genre , as feel plenty of bands have proven you do not have to sacrifice sound quality for this sonic effect.

"Teeth Eating Teeth" closes out the album and it's another nod to Mayhem. After the first minute and fifteen second the experimental side of the band that I hoped would see itself more fully realized here, peeks out in a rather creepy passage.The savage gnashing of teeth reemerges from this and stirs up quite a din. While I understand the need for this side to be indulged again after weirdness delved into on "Litanies of Abjection" I want this project to strike a perfect balance between these two polarities. I'll give this one a 7.5 and keep hoping for their perfect album.  

Ceremony: Distance

This might get confusing, but this is not the post-punk band from the west coast but an east coast band . This band has almost of more psychedelic garage swirl. with a dab of shoe-gaze, think a more lo-fi Beastmilk and you are close. Right from the opener the guitar which carries more of a surf-rock sound than post-punk, is what sets this band apart.

The vocals are not Joy Division like but more like a depressive take on garage punk, with elements of old Sonic Youth at times.There more of a traditional almost dancey post-punk sound to "Sun-glasses Girl" . It reminds you of when early Cure was also considered punk.There's a very A Place to Bury Strangers or Jesus and the Mary Chain feel to "The Summer , the Sun." The bass line keeps the song coasting along a dark road.

They do hit the gas and head full speed into more punk zip codes on "Send Me Your Dreams" but the vocals offset this by becoming more relaxed almost like The Smiths.  

The vocals find a monotone drone on "On Holiday" , this is closer to death rock but it still has more of a garage rock feel. Sixties pop is hinted at in a similar way the Ramones once paid tribute to it on " I Want to Kiss" but it is done much darker here. There songs well hold variety and dynamic through out the course of the album are all pretty much what you hear is what you get. There are no surprises once they get started.
The A Place to Bury Strangers meets sixties garage rock continues on "Shining Light and Star" it makes you surprised that this Ceremony isn't from the west coast and the California band isn't from the U.K.

The garage rock stays the course in variation on the theme as the album winds down.At times the vocals remind me of Psychic T.V in their relaxed delivery. It gets murkier on they smoke filled creep of "Throw Your Love Away" which is one of the albums darkest songs, and it gets more pounding coming out of the chorus. I have no problem rounding this album up to 9 as it has grown on me.      

Buioingola : "Dopo L' Apnea

The Bandcamp page of this Italian band assigns themselves labels as reaching as neo-crust, they have craft dense sonic metal that is very shadowy and foreboding.They delve into blast beats on the second song, but as a general rule they feel more sludge driven. The layers of weighty riffs doused in reverb tremolo picking that sits back further in the mix creates an eerie ambiance.

Fans of Tombs will enjoy how the lines are blurred here. Tremolo picking comes back into play to create another sonic layer, but much like when they dip into blast beats, they seem  more like dynamic tools than this band being black metal. Like Tombs there is a very cavernous element to their sound. It sometimes condense it more of a claustrophobic mess, namely "Candida" which is the only song I really here this crust thing and also the most noisy and least musical of the album, but it makes up for this abrasion in the sonics.

"Rigurgito" has a more ambient intro, allowing the song to swell into a more goth like throb. The vocals roar in the distance, before it explodes into their normal bludgeoning. The song does allow for plenty of breathing room in it's ebb and flow, my only real complaint is the vocal stay with the same lower coarse bellow. The guitars sounds are left to compensate for this monochromatic delivery.    

The industrial interlude in "Oceano" helps set this band apart from the rest of the roaring sludge out there. The industrial undercoating is hinted at in the metallic clang assigned to various snare hits and fuzzed out distorted beats throughout. The song build after five minutes into a steady beating and jack hammers the point home in it's juggernaut fashion. The fact they are able to keep your attention for fifteen minutes with this ebb and flow, says something about the band. Sometimes the more straight forward assault that comes later in the song seems almost like they are taking the easy way out and feel obligated to get heavy after they have shown you a wider spectrum of sonic. Overall I like this album I'll give it an 8.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Culted: Oblique to All Paths

It's impressive after hearing the twenty minute opener of this album, that these guys have never been in the same room with one another. Blackened doom might be the best description of what is going on here. It is drenched in dark ambiance. So these monolithic riffs were never meant to be preformed live.

The opener does giving you breather of chords that ring out dissonantly, often fooling you into thinking the song is over before they lurch back in. The vocals stay on the lower end, a scowling howl rather than the black metal rasp. The sonic ugliness is really where I hear the black metal on this one, and death metal is too focused on the aggressive pound, though I am sure they have listened to an Obituary album at some point. There are impressive layers of guitar often with criss crossing melody lines, leaving the bassist and drummer to tie it all together.

The intro to "Illuminati" remind me of a Neurosis song, it stomps into the song in a much more sludge like manner than the previous song. The experimental sonics woven into the fabric of their song, is a much a part of the song as the crunch of the riffs, not unlike Blut Aus Nord, who employ similar terrorism tactics on their sound.A murky darkness of ringing chords floats underneath a coating of samples for the majority of "Intoxicant Immuration". Round the five and a half minute mark it rumbles into an actual song. This section reminds me of Dragged into Sunlight.

"March of the Wolves" moves in a more fluid straightforward fashion than the album has up until this point, though it is more sludge than doom as the deliberate chug. The 11 minute "Transmittal" is the albums second longest song. It is more doomy, like the other songs layered with samples more than vocals. This is pretty grime ridden doom.Midway through a pretty powerful riff stumbles into the wreckage. Its builds into a more double bass driven section.

The album ends with the filth en-coated plod of "Jeremiad". It still feels more like sludge to me than doom.Its been clear in the past year sludge has taken more influence from industrial, there is a riff at the beginning that comes close to the drone of shoe gaze but it thickens up and drags it self into tenser places.It stays pounding on the same riff for the remainder of the song.

I'll give this album a 7 , it's mean and dirty but the more experimental elements are what  makes it a worth while listen, the sludge elements make it drag a bit and of course I prefer funeral doom when it comes to slow sonic metal .

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mogwai: " the Rave Tapes"

This feels like their stab at making a Daft Punk album as it's very synth heavy. The drugs have kicked back in for these guys for sure. The opener just kinds breezes in very unassumingly and twinkles it's way through the five and a half minutes of it's drone. Things shift into a more Air like sound with the angular moogs on "Simon Ferocious". They space out but dynamically don't dial it up, though a guitar solo simmers on the back burner of the mix. The songs coasts on the crest of a wave I rode on many times when I was doing drugs a would have been in awe of this song. Now its a more casual ...mmm thats alright.

The guitars bring a taunt creep to"Re-murdered" the stand off between the guitar and the synths is brewing. The keys win out in a Tron Odyssey like riff, dense fuzz coating the bass line. "Hexon Bogon" returns to more familiar dynamics. Sure there is still a thick layer of synths draped over everything but the playing is locked in and not made lethargic by this.

A more prog rock feel unfolds in the syncopation of  " Master Card". The synths round out the edges of the song. The bass line  transitions the song out of the section they were riffing on, but the dynamics here are not as sharp as some of the albums other moments.      

"Repelish" has a hilarious sample running through it of some sort of youth group freak studying the backwards masking on Led Zeppelin albums and it is spliced into the song in a way that does a call and response with the song. "Deesh" finds things getting a little darker, the guitar and keys float off into more uplifting melodies leaving the bass line pounding away by itself as a downer. Thing are brought way down to a ballad like place on "Blues Hour" and the rare vocals sneak in. It sounds like Elliot Smiths' lost jam with Daft Punk. The effects of the sedation lingers on in "No Medicine For Regret" . This would be the perfect music to go get high and stumble around amid X-mas lights or in the snow.

The album closes on the rippling drone of "the Lord is Out of Control" which has a strange harmonized robotic vocal.This is extremely easy listening, as I can leave this one on and fade into the background with it, so I'll round this up to an 8, but if you do drugs, then go ahead and round this up a full point.

Suffering in Solitude: "A Place Apart"

This started off a solo project in California and members .... keyboardist and guitarist joined in a culminated into this  album  that opens with more ambiance than I expected. Going into this under the assumption is was going to be more of a dsbm type thing with some synth washes. There is they grey melancholy feel to the album, it is much more minimalistic is it's initial approach and lighter on the metal than say Cold World, though the vocals that gurgle up, they are from the same sphere of black metal.

The production is very lo-fi and raw. The blast comes by the second song, though there a minute and a half of build into and the don't stay locked into going into a more Alcest like half time feel. The album is largely instrumental. Suppose it comes from a sub-genre's era that I liked so it makes me more sympathetic to production faults. No new ground is being forged here, but it invokes fond memories.

At times some of the fuzz to the recording makes this sound like home demos. "Exit" crashes to life in a blast nasty spew, evened over by the ringing chords. The song return to mood calm before the storm sections , that erupt back into the furious anguish they are trying to capture here. The song named after the project ,which is alway weird to me, is one of the more straight forward yet shoe gazing exploits. The instrumental "Distance" is more of an interlude. The title track that wraps up the album, is slower paced and dreamy with the Gullom like vocals croaking over the trancey chords.  

 I like what going on here , the production holds it back as the lushness that could have been is scaled back for what sounds to be recorded in a bedroom. I'll round this album down to a 9 and look forward to when what they hear can be translated back  to my ears in a more refined manner while still embrcing the raw black metal elements.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching Up With 2013- Silent Scream : "Public Execution"

The Helsinki trio released their second album in September , so we aren't too far behind on this one. They reach back into the pre-industrial era of post-punk. The album opens with a tribal pounding that's as post-apocalyptic as it is post-punk. The vocals take on angry chant like the Swans first few albums. These guys are dark and angry enough for me, which is a task considering the depressive vacuum that is my soul and all the angsty sounds it takes to fill it on a regular basis.

"Rotten Days" finds a more Killing Joke like drive to the jagged guitar attack. The vocals militantly howl  and the keyboards, provide a surreal under coating . There an angular quality to "Last Living Witness" that reminds me of  Pornography" era Cure.

If we are counting black straw here I think album will appeal to fans of both industrial and death rock, there are even touches of New Wave on "Spirit Invocation"? I really like how the vocals have a great deal of variety tackling each song with a different flair rather than just doing an Ian Curtis impersonation. Not too say there are no shadows of Joy Division, they creep in on "Haunted".  One of the albums more "goth" moments comes from "Nine Black Sunrises" which has saxes bleating desperately in the background.

The angry early industrial march gets rallied on "Skull Faced Child". While I appreciate these more abrasive moments, this band has a good ear for melody and songwriting that these more mechanical drones don't allow for their talents to be fully realized. "The New European Sun" is a better balance of the two elements, serving equal portions of melody with crunch, despite the vocals rallying cries on the verses.

Bassist players are often the most crucial component , and theirs proves his worth on "Dying Dreams" which pulls of a Bauhaus like thump. The punk in post-punk is accented on "Revenant", which is one of the albums more straight forward songs. "Meat" doesn't let up on the punk attitude the previous song started, here it reminds me a little of Crass.

The less straight forward moments I can see growing on me and perhaps the punkier ones will as well so I will round this up to a 9 because I like the fact this bands paints in different colors of dark to capture the elements of a few sub genres.      

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Catching Up With 2013 : Queensryche - s/t

I was afraid to check out this Geoff Tate -less version of Queensryche , as his yodel was always been their calling card. While it is not something I see myself running to listen to on a regular basis , its not as bad as I feared it would be. In all fairness I should Tate's version of the band a chance as well to see which is better, though  I've grown too far from this brand of commercial prog metal to be able to take both in one day.

It doesn't wear on me until the fourth song, which is almost too happy when it gets to the chorus. He does unleash some old school metal high end. "Redemption" allows itself to forget this is not the late 80's with pounding groove.  

At times it feels more like I am listening to Kamelot, as they some times veer into more of a modern almost nu-metal guitar tone. Sure the riffs are better than most of what they have been doing in recent years and it makes me think if they had used this producer for the last few Tate albums they would have better. The main problem is in the writing, this new guys doesn't have the talent in writing the same type of chorus' Tate did.In fact the chorus to a song like "In This Light " is straight up pussy shit like Warrant. This comes from some one who prefers melody in metal and is o.k with Skid Row.&

There is a cool darker turn taken on "A World Without" . While Torre takes a dip into a lower register it doesn't feel as convincing as Tate. There is a slight Mindcrime feel to the beginning of " Don't Look Back " , but the riff goes to straight ahead from my taste. This is only slightly better than some of the stuff on Sliverthorn, due to Torre yodel, but the problem is I am comparing them to a band influenced by Queensryche rather than their legacy.

"Fallout" gets a little heavier, but goes into the typical prog-powerisms. The reason I don't like most modern power metal or prog metal is that it is often too happy for me. This song might have a heavier riff but the song writing is blander. The album closes out with a fitting power ballad. It was about time for one. Torre's voice handles it well as far as power ballads go for this band the bar is raised pretty high. It might be one of the albums better tunes, but fails to take hold of the flame.  >I'll round this down to a 5.5 because even without Tate the remaining members should be held to a higher standard, but it is not as bad as I was afraid it might be. &

Pinkish Black :"Razed to the Ground"

The Texas band comes back weirder with this one. The angular prog bass line of the opener starts the space rock off. I mean the term death rock gets thrown around at times with these guys but on this album I hear more cosmic stuff like Hawkwind. The vocal are more of a swirling galactic chant than the type of singing from the first album an the drumming is running in crazy circles all over the place. It's a sonic feast, but the song writing is then given room to wander into more of jams than actual songs.

"Ashtray Eyes" takes a good minute to land. The keyboard start building up the riff in the distance. This is way more Pink Floyd than I remember the last album being. It more Obscured By Clouds Floyd though, which is good as that was my favorite album to get high to back in the day. The vocals take on a more focused croon here, and we have the making of a real song. When the drum really kick into a groove , I am pretty sure its not metal but something of a more more perverse beauty.

There a more Killing Joke like stomp to "Kites & Vultures". This builds into drum spasms and the tribal throb marches on. Though this album is less metal it still carries an attack to it that would appeal to metal heads, especial those who like industrial. The title track carries the charge forward , the groove is almost more Tool like, the synth sound and darker vocals that bubble up from the nebulous realms create a hypnotic  tapestry of sound while forming a web-like song structure.

The bleak piano lines that open up " Bad Dreamer" create a lingering  mood  that almost feels more like an interlude,  as the crushing doom like bottom end doesn't smack down until two minutes later letting the piano trail in behind it.The baritone moan of the vocal heps create an almost Swans like mood. As the song goes into a more doomy place ,the vocals soar over it with a surprising amount of power.

"Rise" gets even darker with tribal pulse to the drums. The song kicks in and feels like a death rock version of Tool for some reason to me. The album close with the 11 minute "Loss of Feeling Loss" . It doesn't begin to bubble to life from it's dark depths until a minute and a half into the song. The song mainly drone on one pounding throb. Overall the band seems to be more focused on droning space rock, than the line the teetered towards darkness, but they continue to be great in the face of these changes, I would have preferred more dynamics from a few of the more droning moments so I will round this up to a 9, as this keeps the album being perfect, but it is still an inspiring listen.    


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Return of the Weekly Shuffle

What the fuck is a weekly shuffle you ask. Well I hit shuffle mode on my iPod and review the first ten songs that pop up. It is back by popular demand so here we go.

the Last of the Famous International Playboys by Morrissey

This song is golden, smartly written though not as mean spirited as some of his solo work, but it is tons of fun none the less. People always call Moz depressing, but this song makes me smile every time.

Bulletproof Cupid by Placebo

Sure its a cool riff, but that doesn't make this a song . It feels more like the intro to the Sleeping With Ghosts album.

Ups by Cocteau Twins

This song flutters like fairy birds. She rolls her consonants strangely on this one and is speaking in tongue most of the time here , but that is the great thing about Liz is  she uses her voice more like an instrument rather than just the tired old verse chorus radio rock.

Saturday's Child by Brendan Perry

The male half of Dead Can Dance whose voice once reminded me too much of Neil Diamond, so I used to fast forward past his songs most of the time and now he is one of my favorite singers. Live the man is  an unsung powerhouse. I like this song because the way he transitions up into falsetto is very endearing.

Day of Lords -by Joy Division

Damn, the Weekly Shuffle returns only for my iPod to pump out a bunch of goth, "Where will it end" laments Ian Curtis. This song is heavy even though its not metal. The bass really pumps nicely into the drums on this .

Obedience by Wreck and Reference

O.k something closer to metal. I am still not over the fact this band's name is not No Youth. This was a great almost industrial album that shows  much like Pinkish Black that you don't have to have guitars to be heavy. The tormented vocals that come close to screaming with out screaming are brilliant.

The Earth is My Witness by the Gathering

The golden years from these guys and ..gals. There is a dark yearning to this album that feels like snow to me. This was my first exposure to this band and really stuck with me , despite popular opinion their other albums fall short of this one.

Whiskey Funeral   by Darkthrone

The black and roll years of this band are sadly under rated much like Kiss' disco days or Vegas Elvis. I am a champion of the under dog when it comes to bands getting away from their comfort zones to find something else that works just as well as the sound you expect from them.

Christine Sixteen by Kiss

Speaking of Kiss...there's no use in pretending. I like Gene's creepy moment when he is talking to himself about how he has got to have her. The Lolita weirdness continues on Goin Blind. Musical it's catchy I'm not sure the under current of the Elton John piano line really works but thirty years later the song is in my iPod.

Into the Coven - Mercyful Fate

That intro is sweetly played as the calm before the storm. The riff is metal up to 11 no question. Fate is rawer than King's solo works and this appeals to people who are really into the first two Maiden albums as well, as long as they aren't pussies about becoming Lucifer's Child.


Catching Up With 2013: True Widow: Circumambulation

This album came out back in July, but I just found it. This  Texas band calls themselves stonegaze, and it's a fitting label as any, as the guitar playing is too clean to be sludge and the doom is more in the feeling, but I suppose calling them doomgaze would be like calling Chelsea Wolfe doom folk.

After seeing this band live, I was pretty hopeful about this album. The day dreaming drone it carries causes you to wake up in the middle of it and realize you are half  way done. The singer guitarist, seems like a clean cut well adjusted guy, to the drug addle shoe gaze that glazes this album is odd indeed. The songs all carry similar pacing, the dreary nature of the desert coldness that radiates from them , creates the most infectious atmosphere .

The opener "Creeper" no doubt references the type of weed, at least the druimmer was partaking of when these songs were conceived.The vocals often border on croons and whispers , when the two singers harmonize. Their is a David Lynch quality to their songs, that reminds me of the long drives on dark roads his films seem to take.The drums do have less pound to them on this album than they held live. This takes away some of the metal under currents.    

The second song sees a little more distortion added, but this is a casual fuzz, nothing I would deem metal as far as the tone goes. The males singer's voice often reminds me of Sonic Youth in it's lazy approach. While no strangers to their re-verb pedals , this album is not soaked in the same amount of effect like say Slowdive, their is still a doomy rock element. The songs are very simplistic in composition, though not minimal, the over all sound is pretty full figured. Their bassist contributes the most to this quality.

" Four Teeth" has the catchiest melody on the album, it almost has a sweet after taste to it. It feels like 60's girl group pop, but with a stoned fuzz to it. The vocal blend on the chorus is really smooth. The fuzz reaches a another level of fullness on the more robust " Numb Hand" . The song meanders around the same lagging mid tempo. The bass has most of the beef leaving the vocals between the buns .

The album's lengthiest venture is the often noise ridden " Trollstigen". It also might be the the heaviest song on the album. Bassist Nicole Estill allows her voice to haunt the top soil of this one. The guitar finds some extra creepy chords to ring out some where post-chorus , though this song walks a narrow line and drone in a similar direction the duration.

There is a more delicate sound to their thunder on " IMO" . This shows the more shoe gazing side, but it also reminds me of Sonic Youth, some of the more shimmering moment from Daydream Nation perhaps. Slim Stacks takes on a more conventional melody when he picks up lead vocals, the bassist balances him out with yes still a very Sonic Youth feel but there a western feel to it.  

 Their is less dynamic in terms of fast to slow or the often over done clean to heavy. They stay on the same despairing waters they sail on for the course of the album, though at times the guitar sounds more western, think almost old Chris Isaak meets surf rock.  By " Lungr" the album begins at the same dynamic it began with. Their is a sluggish drug shuffle to this one, and a dark cloud hanging over the song, like the one that keeps me in the bed when I am depressed.

I really like this album, it fit my mood the past couple of days and I can see this earning its keeping the iPod, even though when I break it down song by song it doesn't really sound as impressive as I score, partly because of the lazy drone throughout. So I will round it up to an 8.5.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vaura: the Missing

This is the  sophomore album by the New York band that features members of  Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Kayo Dot, Secret Chiefs 3 and Religious to Damn

this album finds the band heading in an even more melodic and progressive direction.I am not sure why I was so reluctant to check this album out after having like the first one so much. It is not as dark as the last one.The crooned vocals are pretty much the mainstay of the album they are not as low an Ina Curtis like as they were on the previous album.

Many instances the band remind me of a mix between Junius and Vast, as their is a much more middle of the road element to their sound at borders on being radio friendly alt/ rock. The feel is more like many of the alternative metal bands in the late 90's. The song "Incomplete Burning" really stays in the safe middle ground, though it sounds good as far as their performance and  songwriting though this and the opening title track don't really grab me. Though after a few listens the vocals on the second song sit better with me.

It's not until "the Fire " where the band brings back any elements of black metal.Though the first song has a blasty element to it, but its more along the line of newer Enslaved.The lower monotone vocals are coated in effect to give them a more melodic quality than they held on the first album.

The dark moment creep up on "Mare of the Snake" it has almost a cold wave feel despite the strum of the clean guitar. The chorus isn't as catchy as you would expect the songs pay off to have but over all it creates a sufficient mood. A prog Rush sort of gallop kicks off "Pleasure Blind" before the slinky bass line takes the song away.It's an interesting transition and spotlights the playing which is the band's strong point.There are many col parts that dip out from the shadows of the song, the build and where the song ends up don't seem to be as dynamic and sonic as they did on the first album. The verses often coming across as catchier than the choruses.

"Passage to Vice" has a subtle David Bowie element the production on the vocals reminds me of I'm Afraid of Americans. "The Things That We Hide" finds itself in a more 80's post-punk throb of electronics. The vocal layering on this song is well done , but the vocals on this album never seem to find their hooks. Some industrial strength abrasion  is added to "Abeyance". The vocals that are not distorted in the chaos of the song haunt the back ground.There are some cool sounds coming from bass and guitars but wouldn't say its an actual song.  

There is a cool Cure like bass line to "Braced For Collapse" with 90's goth drenched vocals crooning in the spaces between. This song lets itself feel the anguish and build into the emotion rather than just coasting on it like most of the songs seem to. The album closes out with the moody "Putting Flesh to Bone" .The vocals limit this song as they stay in a robot effected monotone. Overall this is a well played and great sounding album but the writing is the only weak spot in terms of the dynamic potential that was not quite achieved here.Never the less it still manages to earn a 7 out of 10 .    

The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums: 30 to 21

We continue counting down these numbers of the beast in our Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
shout30- Motley Crue- Shout At the Devil

The most metal of all the hair metal albums. Anthems of the 80's.


29- This is Spinal Tap Soundtrack

While a brilliant parody, they also made some great songs by mistake.

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28-Solitude Aeturnus- Through The Darkest Hour

Epic doom with soaring vocals, the song are catchier than you would expect from a band this ominous.


27-Angkor Wat-Corpus Christi

Members of this band would eventual populate the ranks of Nine Inch Nails, this album saw the industrial elements begin of sprout from the the Texas thrash.


26-Ministry-Filth Pig

Other albums might have sold better, but this is the densest and ugliest , which are the elements making this one inarguably metal.


25-Godflesh -Street Cleaner

This album came out in 1989 so to say it is way ahead of it's time is an understatement, considering the influence it has had on bands today.


24-Rainbow- Long Live Rock n Roll

This seemed less like a Ritchie Blackmore solo project and more like it's own concept that stood against  any Deep Purple album and Dio's voice shines like a rainbow in the dark.


23-Killing Joke-Pandemonium

After influencing the industrial genre Killing Joke came back in 1994 to reclaim their crown and make one of their  heaviest if not best albums to date.


22-Tool- Ænima

At one time this album might have made it to the top ten but over the years as the bar gets set higher for heavy, this power of this album wanes, yet the songs are still great.


21-Deep Purple- In Rock

Ritchie Blackmore blisters on this album, which takes hard hitting blues jams and blows them up to epic proportions for Ian Gillan to have some of his finest moments on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums: 40 to 31


Thrashing through our Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time, we now enter the top 40.

40- St Vitus-Born Too Late

These guys showed bands how to rip off Black Sabbath before every one else was doing it.


39- In Solitude - the World the Flesh the Devil

Ghost might have used their gimmicks to get bigger than this band, but In Solitude does the most fitting tribute to the Euro-metal of the 80's.



They open doors for themselves and other bands to bridge more progressive elements into the pagan heavy black metal evolution.


37-Burzum- Belus

Of his post-prison albums this one hit the best of both worlds, the black metal sounds with a more ambient drone.


36-the Gathering-Nighttime Birds

They hit the sweet spot before transitioning over into a more alternative direction.


35-Fear of God-Within the Veil

One of the great under rated bands that was ahead of their time. Singer Dawn Crosby unleashes a cathartic performance.


34-Dimmu Borgir-Death Cult Armageddon

Not Cvlt enough for most fans of black metal, they still captured a better symphonic sound than Cradle of Filth, if you are going for over dramatic metal, these guys do it right.


33-Alcest-"Écailles de Lune

They almost single handed solidified the marriage of shoe gaze to black metal with this album, but touched on a dreamier place than others could drift into.


32- Neurosis - Souls At Zero

This album was head of it's time and still puts the band a few paces in front of the pack, Through Sliver and Blood might be denser these songs are darker.


31-Converge-Petitioning the Empty Sky

Sure Jane Doe gets all the props , but this album had less chaos and more refined songs that captured more emotion.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums: 50 to 41

Diving into the top 50 of our Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time


50- Nachtmystium- Assassins:Black Meddle pt 1

Blake Judd and Friends redeem American Black Metal.


49- Opeth -Deliverance

The Swedish death metal band takes another step forward into the perfect blend of prog and heaviness, which they later get carried away with.


48- Life of Agony - the River Runs Red

This album defined the Road Runner era of metal in the 90's. It hit the perfect blend of darkness and groove where they others drifted into mall metal.

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47-Helloween- Keeper of the Seven Keys

While they borrowed heavily from Maiden, this album influenced power metal for years to come.


46-Kamelot - Ghost Opera

Their fans might suggest albums preceding this one, but the songs on this album are flawless with the band at their peak.


45- Iced Earth- the Dark Saga

This 1996 album by America's beefiest power metal band, was based on the Spawn comic.


44- Diamond Head - Lighting to the Nations

The album Metallica stole most of their earlier riffs from.


43-Agalloch -Ashes Against the Grain

They hit the sweet spot on this album finding the perfect cross roads for their folk, black metal and post-rock influences to all meet at.


42-Mayhem- De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Written in 1987 murder and suicide delayed this albums release until 1994.


41-Katatonia- Viva Emptiness

Bleak and depressing as it is full of melodic beauty, this Swedish band carved their niche with this album.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Top 15 Albums of 2013

Here is the cream of the crop from 2013


15-Tribulation - the Formulas of Death

For a death metal band to have made this list, it says something about the fact they aren't afraid to drift into jamming.


14-Voi Vod- Target Earth

The Canadian metal masters did it again. Why they beat Tribulation for this spot ? These metal veterans are more refined songwriters.


13-Altar Of Plagues -Teethed Glory & Injury

Sadly the project's swan song right when they found the perfect sound.Why it beat out Voi Vod?  Has more kick.

12-Savages- Silence Yourself

These gals take the Siouxsie influence and meld into into their own punchy sound. Why it beat out Altar of Plagues? Tighter songs that demanded more listens.


11- Skinny Puppy - Weapon

More synth driven with with EDM friendly beats. Why is beat out Savages? Cooler grooves


10-the Black Heart Rebellion-Har Nevo

Dark and primal, heavy but not quiet metal , this former hard core bands matures in the best way possible.Why is beat out Skinny Puppy? More organic warmth that bred more feelings.


9-Loss Of Self- Twelve Minutes

If you  compared these guys to Deafheaven and dismissed this band , then you have really missed out.  Why They beat out Black Heart Rebellion? Heavier and more  anguished, yet ambient.


8-Merchandise-Totale Nite

Normally I don't like e.p.s , but I will take whatever I can get from this Florida band. Why they beat out Loss of Self? They would have ranked higher but this is just an e.p.


7- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Push the Sky Away

Cave keeps it classy, respecting his legacy. Why it beat out Merchandise? It was a full length album.


6-Sigur Ros - Kveikur

The Icelandic band comes down from the clouds to add some balls to their new album. Why it beat out Nick Cave? They songs had more movement to them them.


5- In Solitude -Sister

These Swedes grew into their own and put the Merciful Fate comparisons to rest. Why iy beat out Nick Cave?  Rocked harder.


4-Beastmilk -Climax

They took the whole post-punk resurgence and made it more balanced from every end of the sonic spectrum. Why it beat out In Solitude? Catchier songs.


3- Watain - the Wild Hunt

How could they out do themselves after Lawless Darkness? They didn't try. They took the next logical step forward in their spiritual journey.  Why it beat out In Solitude?  Last Fm said I listened to it ten times more.


2-David Bowie - The Next Day

It's not Bowie's best album, but it's pretty impressive that he still has it at 66. Why it beat out Watain? Well this is David Bowie, so this singing chops are better than everyone else on this list.


1-Chelsea Wolfe- Pain is Beauty

Wolfe goes even darker on this painfully beautiful album. She knows how she wants her voice to haunt the songs, then wails like a desperate siren detoxing off dope.  Why did she beat David Bowie? This was a tough call, but in terms of who took more chances and evolved their sound it goes to Wolfe.