Friday, January 31, 2014

Behemoth : "The Satanist"

I like Behemoth for what they are , it's entertaining, they have written some catchy songs with crushing riffs that have been worth a head band or two. To be honest I had to listen to the opener of their new one three times, to be able to pay enough attention, in order to discern if I liked it or not. When it comes to my cool riffs don't make for a good song, these guys sometimes find themselves on the rougher end of the deal. There are some elements that remind me of "Iowa" era Slipknot.

They try really hard and that is worth something. They are trying really hard to be black metal and some times this album makes me think I might have liked it more when they wanted to be more industrial or more like Dimmu and epic everything out. Their blast beats too often sound like a kid running faster down a hill than his legs want to agree with. There is a pretty mean almost At the Gates kind of gallops that hits in "Furor Divinus"

Lets talk about the lyrics. I was under the impression Nergal was a thelemite, so the very heavy handed upside down cross , in your face approach to the lyrics seems a little juvenile. Their earlier more ambiguous lyrics, held more occult to them, since by definition occult means hidden. They almost remind me of Deicide lyrics at times, and the Glen Bentonesque moments don't end there, they crop up in  moments in the rush brutality of the vocal phrasing in "Messe Noire".

The balance of dynamics in not as finely tuned as it was on "Evangelion", to some this might come as a good news as it's a heavier album and much more death metal. The hyper blast of "Amen" strikes me as an attempt to use the rapid fire pace to rush an otherwise mediocre riff past you, in order to get to the solos, which are the album most shining moments.

While this album is by and large a disappointment, it does have some moments of redemption on the creepy title track. Nergal comes close to singing here, and the song has groove, both elements contribute to better songwriting. The bass playing is pretty stellar on this song, so it makes the fact that these are talented guys capable of doing more frustrating as a listener. Their is a similar touch of melodious fury on "O Father O Satan O Sun" it hits a very Led Zeppelin like groove. I'll give it a 7.5, but wanted something different than trying to rush the songs past me, it does have some worthwhile moments and if you are a fan of the band round it up to an 8,



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Descend into Despair: "The Bearer of All Storms"

Starving for some new funeral doom, I jumped at this Romanian band, since after all they hail from Dracula's home land so they have to be good. They carry the plod into their first full length with exotic synth lines draped over the background, the syncopated part in the chorus of " Portrait of Rust" is pretty clever, but they sound like uber slow death metal more often than not.

Some of the guitar tone could stand to be thicker, or cleaner if they were going for more of a Loss thing. I can hear some Evoken influence. Midway in the first song clashing melodies snake around one another, the guitar line reminds me a little of Alice Cooper. The vocals are a low cookie monster growl, the bass player hides out in the back ground , which might effect why their sound is not as fulls it could be and gives the drums a weird hollow sound.

The keyboard add a lot to their sound, making this one of the rare exceptions to the rule when it comes to this sort of thing. The eeire almost circus like cadence of " Mirrors of Flesh" proves the point that these guys are adhering to any  funeral doom mold. The clean vocals come in the second song, low and mournful, set against  angular guitar creepiness. At time this shifts into a more Ennio Morricone feel.

These guys seem pretty content with the downward path the are treading, as they are solidly keened into their own style, no need to add a black anything to their sound. The synth frequently take on a symphonic string sound, this creates a more gothic feel, in the same tone as say My Dying Bride, just less melodramatic. They utilize ambiance to good effect at the onset of "Pendulum of  Doubt" the vocal remain in the lower death metal register, though the do not carry the same gurgling resonance of say Loss or Mournful Congregation.They are more layered as the song progresses. Four minutes into the song , more dramatic My Dying Bride like vocals bellow in. The delivery is not as refined, but I admire the effort.

In the album's second half the songs grow more sprawling clocking in anywhere from 16 to 17 minutes. There is a very interesting morose melodic nature to "Triangle of Lies", just when I think they are going to veer into territory more similar to their country men in Negura Bunget, they wind around into something more gothic. It's when the get into the meat of this song that their sound begins to click with me.

The dark pageantry continue to unfold, with the piano line and violins, that weep out from the cracks of "The Horrific Pale Awakening" that is the albums lengthiest track at almost 18 minutes. All the layers, while might seem over wrought to some, do keep the epic spanning songs from becoming dull. After the first four minutes the song begins to loosen up. There is an almost Esoteric abstraction, in the way the wandering jams of these songs branch out. Six an a half minutes in you begin to wonder how will these guys keep your interest for another twelve minutes. They let the keyboards take over and drift into angelic waves. They storm back in at a more occult death metal pace, before drifting off again in another direction, almost like prog. The song washes back an forth like a tide. The death metal influence takes precedence here, though sprinkled with some pretty chilling solos. The bottom totally falls out in the songs final three minutes breaking down to a whisper, where it becomes the first time I can really hear the bass, before the keyboards create a more pip organ sound.

The primordial sonics that bubble up from the lower depths of the graves the band crawls out of to find melody in the strangest place. Sometimes the clean vocals take on almost the ghostly groan of mid range King Diamond. The requiem's for humanity ache on, finding their most inspiration in the more melodic passages where they have room to flourish. The compositions are allowed to transition in a pretty organic manner, none of the changes are that jarring or forced sounding. The keyboard parts are designed to give the band time to transition. When the more suicidal black metal screams of anguish caw out, this is the only time I hear the dissonance found in black metal.

The more gypsy like feel of their homeland peek out from behind the toiling riffs. Overall they maintain the sound they have crafted, with only a wink in the direction of  Transylvania, even when creating keyboard landscapes that could double as horror movie soundtracks. The growls also begin to find more variety the deeper into the album you sink. "Embrace the Earth" wraps up this epic album with the organ keyboards. A minute and a half later the chorus of clean vocal chants beckons. The death gurgles growl up from under this dismal display off power. Some cool clean yet creepy guitar uncoils as the final moments of the album draw near, building up into a chug, that fakes you out when the band collapses back down into a more doomy pace. The dissonant strummed guitar seems like an odd choice to bring closure, to this but many weird choices have been made here.

I'll round this up to an 8 because, I generally like what these guys are doing, I thik with better production that would thicken the guitar sound , this album would be even better, but I hope I can hear this fully realized from the band in the future, some of the sprawling keyboard sections could have been reined in but overall I think this album works as they keep you listening as the songs shift slowly under your ears.



Have a Nice Life: "the Unnatural World"

The project some how manages to be weirder than the sum of it's parts , which is impressive considering it is comprised of members from  the black metal band Nahvalr, hard core act the Stranger Danger along which a ghost music...ultra dark ambient project Giles Corey. Droney and nosie ladden the influence of the latter can normally be heard the most, but this group morphs from song to song.

They flow from their stylistic changes gracefully, going from a more shoe gazey drone into the more Night Sins like "Defenstration Song". thats hollow cold , bass driven throb. The cryptic re-verb cloaked vocals croon in the shadows.The more electronic bent this project takes on takes itself known on "Burial Society", it has a lo-fi pulse, almost like really old Depeche Mode. The biggest improvement is the vocals. They are better sung, than from what I have heard from this projects efforts, with a greater emphasis placed on melody, though this doesn't compromise the experimental nature of what these guys do.

The noisier more challenging elements of the bands sound wait until "Music Will Untune the Sky" to unfold their ominous drone.I no longer do the kind of drugs that makes a song like this as compelling as it might be if I were high. "Cropsey" which sounds to be inspired by the documentary of the same name, is  centered around samples of child mental health patients, is very Swans in this regard. The actual song this leads into is more of  indie rock take on post-punk, think a stripped down and darker version of Arcade Fire here.

The more lo-fi noise tinted electronica opens up the Joy Divisionesque "Unholy Life". This much darker direction that liberally winks at the 80's is a good turn for this project as it still leaves them lots of room to play around with. This song is heavier than the other, though not in a metal sense , but in the haunting swirl of sonics , that oozes out like My Bloody Valentine on a more introspective bad trip.There is even a smooth bass groove on "Dan & Tim, Re-untied by Fate". The strong melody that float on the verse , almost makes this the most accessible moment until the deluge of effects floods the build of what would pass for a chorus. The production this song is intentionally murky as it transitions into a more glitched out ending .

The album closes with "Emptyness Will Eat the Witch" which drones along on the vocal chants similar to those on "Music Will Untune the Sky"  so aside from these song which I see a more interludes the album is pretty spotless. So exluding the moment they get side tracked and let the drugs drift them way, I'd say this album is a 10.

Alaskan: "Despair, Erosion, Loss"

This Canadian three piece has heavy buzz surrounding their second full length. The bulk of this buzz is warranted for the churn out a dynamic brand of sludge core that flirts with drifts into post rock, though the emphasis of this album is density rather than ambiance. They open their album with one of the albums most diverse offerings in terms of the spectrum of guitar melodies that hover over the din.

They create that sweet spot balance off sonic space and hanging on a hypnotizing pound, showing their are more roads to heavy than just metal. This is not to say despite all the eerie drones, that this album doesn't deal out its fair share of punishment to your ear drums. By the second song "Fiend" the despondent chords give way to a more brawling brawling rumble, that is sometimes angular and jarring like the more bruising bands from the Amp Rep days. The bass player frequently kicks the door down and barrages in with an aggressive bottom end. This leaves the guitars to tow the line when it comes to providing a dynamic juxtaposition and take the more soaring sections.

The top notch production,pushes this album to the head of the pack. All the instruments sit right where they should, even though there are many layers, the pristine sounds are not cluttered. The thick wall of guitars on "Inferno" retains an organic warmth among it's battering ram power, it doesn't rely on over driven trickery, but captures what you might imagine their live volume to be. Tempo wise the songs don't crawl, but stomp ahead at a powerful mid pace. This allow the punches to stand out and the syncopated part to become more defined.

My only complaint with this album is that the vocals sound like the barking was an after thought, yet this is largely forgiven due to the music they sit atop. Though in some of the albums darker and more melodic sections, you can't help but wonder if another vocal approach might have maximized the effectiveness. Despite the lumberjack in a pain approach, songs like "Submerged" cause in to translate into more of a steroidal Planesmistakenforstars or a less soulful Hotwatermusic, even though these guys are no where near to a being punk rock. Even with the brief blasting sections , this album never tries to be blackened anything, and these guys are secure in who they are and what their end game is.

The Planesmistakenforstars comparisons are given more weight on "Guiltless" as chords ring out to bathe the song in dreary atmosphere. This reprieve is short lived, as the albums more post- hardcore moment brings the song to a crescendo. This album is like the hardcore version of depressive black metal.The heaviness is an emotional one and the mauling melancholy is what makes this stand out to me.

Assigning the myriad of Labels and adjectives to what is going on here missing the point that this album lulls you into the storm for countless listens. I'll give it a 9.5 as the vocal approach here holds it back from being perfect, as all throaty roars here sound the same.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Death Of Kings -Knifehammer 7"

Thrash has always been the marriage of punk to metal, with bands like Slayer serving as the entry point for punk kids to get into metal . Metal was once a bad word in the Atlanta scene until Mastodon broke big on the road, encouraging a cross over  that saw punk kids adding more metal to their sound. Death of Kings , comes from such a back ground when the band started as Das Manics it was more of a punk band  

This 7" is product of a refinement to the bands sound since it released it's first album in 2010.The guitar is very much in your face on both songs. The vocals carry a Udo Dirkschneider sneer melded to a more Kreator like aggression, though bands like Vektor also employ a similar gurgled shriek.When the gang vocals chime in, its clear the the band members retain their punk roots.Their chops capture the dexterity required of the genre with impressive interplay between the bass and the guitar dueling,

The frantic pace the thrash gallop lends itself to more nuanced accents in the groove of  "Beneath the Obsidian". The vocals take a similar approach  The solos have more of a rock n roll feel to them on this track. The vocals carry a more grit in their delivery at time, they sound as if they are being spew rather than roared, growled or screamed.

Around the two minute mark the band finds a particularly tasty groove amid the otherwise breakneck pace , that wouldn't sound out of place on an Amon Amarth album. The Iron Maiden influences that very faintly lingers isn't in the twin guitar attack, but in the way their drummer Amos accents certain phrases and then it's the rawer feel of  Clive Burr rather than Niko.  

In this particular release elements of  power metal or death metal are not particularly present, but this 7" inch feels like a much more accurate depiction of the live sound. If you like your thrash fast and chocked full of solo, then this will not disappoint.

Knifehammer was recorded at Ledbelly Studios, where other Atlanta bands Withered, Irreversible and Royal Thunder have all recorded.  The album was produced by Sam Leyja and Matt Washburn. Mixed by Matt Washburn.  Was released  November 2013 on colored vinyl via Boris Records.

Kampfar: "Djevelmakt"

I am more than guilty of dissecting something down under the genre microscope, to try and figure out  if it's black metal or not. The lines are sometimes blurred in a positive ways particularly with black metal project that have been around since the 90's, such is the case with Kampfar's much anticipated  Djevelmakt or  Devil power. It opens with a piano line and explodes into some pretty nasty grooves from there.

By most standards this would be considered blackened in the same way Vreid has crossed over, They do return to the blast and do so within the album first two minutes. They also include some clean vocals, which hold more rasp than what Enslaved does, but creates a similar mood. The drums are pretty amazing and the playing on this album is impeccable. Folk elements are still intact, though the forest the occupy is set on the songs outskirts.

"Kujon" or coward, tramples you under the double bass and the monolithic riff, as the vocals take on more of chant. Cleaner vocals chime in like a battle cry in the background. This one pretty much hammers you like their older stuff, just in a much more refined manner.The nuanced song writing is where most of the growth has occurred ,as despite the hype, this is just a logical evolution from "Mare", though not too far removed from it at all.

There are moments of straight forward in your face rocking , in fact they occur more often than not.The vocals generally stay in a similar harsh space. Keyboards on songs like "Blod,  Eder og Galle" are warmed up by the synths in the background, these moment should appease longtime fans who want something familiar.  

Of course the albums darker moments are the highlights for me. "Swarm Norvegicus" has a creepy throb to the riff, the bass comes up in the mix . The vocals are really well produced, creating a cavernous sound for them to roar out into with out them getting lost in the black hole they occupy. The call and response section is some fine tuned song writing on every front, making the vocals a priority to this album rather than just the icing on the cake.

They tend to not relent on the speed factor, especially in the latter portion of the albums, though things like clean vocal chants do crop up, but I don't think this should repel long time fans or even make them doubt if this is black metal. The symphonic interludes are nothing older Dimmu hasn't employed, they really add more kick to the sections when they punch back in.There momentum can at times propel the album at such a thundering blur, until it fades into the rumble of the background.

The closing track "Our Hounds , Our Legion" offers a respite from the pounding , by opening up with an acoustic guitar.The song roars back with a lot of groove to it's accented intensity, before reverting back to the blast. So to compare them to Rotting Christ in terms of straying from black metal is not accurate at all. This album is pretty fucking good, though the song writing is more innovative in the first half , I'll give it an 8.5 and see how it grows on me.      

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Weekly Shuffle

Yep... here we go again, I hit shuffle on.. well iTunes as my iPod has bitten the dust, if anyone know a spell to resurrect an iPod classic please hit me up and let me know or how to get the volume to work after the Apple store cleans lint out of the head phone jack then hit me up.  So with that said reviewing the first ten songs that crop up.  

"Back Door Man" - the Doors

They take a simple blues jam and turn into something drunkenly great, most of this lies on Morrison, but the drumming and guitar playing on the song is pretty classic as well.

"Her" - Swans

Gira's voice sounds great when he lays back and croons.Sounds like it was at its peak on the "Love of Life" album which had the band at the perfect balance of punishing and melodic.

"Diamonds and Rust"  - Judas Priest

They now own this Joan Baez cover. Halford is more restrained her and really serves the song in more of a mid range croon. It has more of a Heart like gallop in this incarnation.

"Unearthly Kingdom" - Immortal

This band really find powers when they slow down and find a groove like this. The croak of the vocals form a creepier narrative at this tempo. When it does pick up the pace its more double bass driven than blasty.  The guitar playing on this part sounds mean as hell

"What She Said" - the Smiths

This is an underrated song by the band , because it's not played at 80's night or Brit Pop night or where ever kids are dancing to "Girlfriend in a Coma" and "How Soon is Now". It kicks pretty hard so it's not for the pop minded.

"How Does the Grass Grow?" - David Bowie

It holds the quirky sensibility of  Scary Monsters mixed with the almost doo-wop of Aladdin Sane. The bass is killing it on this song thanks to Gail Anne Dorsey. This songs holds up to the rest of Bowie's work which says a lot.

"Curse of the Pharaohs" - Mercyful Fate

 Why Metallica ever attempted to cover this with James singing I don't know, as King owns it even thought the majority of the song is in his more crooning voice, which I have grown over the years to appreciate almost as much as his shattering upper register.

"Flying High Again" - Ozzy

As far as the songs on Diary of a Madman, this is one of the cheesier platters on the album, steeped in the sounds of the 80's from which it came. Most of this is on Randy Rhodes, whose playing is the most dated element to the song. I think Diary is a much better and darker album than Blizzard, though Blizzard has it's moments, It's Ozzy we are taking about so even at his worst he is endearing, if you are a total metal guitar geek then this song can do no wrong.

"Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" - Thin Lizzy

It took me a long time to get into this band as the singers sounds like a cab driver from Jersey. It came down to me hearing some of their deeper album cuts to really appreciate them. These guys are clearly a guitar players' band, they have incredible tone and are pretty versatile songwriters, even if you don't like their more beer commercial efforts like the "Boys are back in Town".

"Black Dragon" -Dissection

I'm not sure why Reinkaos gets so much flack, sure compared to Storm of the Nights Bane its a little on the cock rock side, but these songs are all awesome, this one might have its black wings raised above the rest. Awesome riffs and groove with a great sense of dynamics.      

Death of Lovers: "Buried Under a World of Roses" EP

This band features members of the shoe gaze act Whirr. This is a side project the started while on tour with Nothing, and it is pretty accurate stab at post-punk/ goth. They tackle their songs with more wild abandon than any type of romantic pageantry that would would be more fitting of the goth side of things. So the Cure influences tend to reflect back more on when the band was closer to their punk roots and the dark tension recalls Joy Division more than it does Sisters of Mercy.

The opener "Cold Heaven" is aptly titled ,  the music captures and cold cavernous landscape. Going into the chorus the synth sounds create that darker "Pornography" era sound and at times Bauhaus could be heard haunting the belfry here and there in the creepier moments . The chanted refrain of " who played this joke on us" is very effective and the song pays off with a very sonically heavy climax.

What the synths in "Shaken" lack the vocals make up for. This is preformed more like Depeche Mode but feels like shoegaze, which makes for a rather unique collision.  Dynamically.... this song drifts. In its defense its more of an ambient mood builder like the Cocteau Twins.

They strike a perfect balance of their shoe gaze influences with the more cold wave / goth sounds they are going for here. The bass carries the bulk of the song, but the vocals melody is put to good use and fits over the floating shimmer of the dusk the song conjures. The vocals are lighter and not the typical baritone moan you expect from this kind of bat cave worship.

"The Blue of Noon" sounds like one of Fields of the Nephilims' mellower moments or even Love and Rockets. The guitar sounds great on this song as well as the entire album, the bass is fluid and holds things down leaving the synths as the only weak spot through out, but the songs marry such interesting sounds that this largely goes unnoticed. The final moments of the album finds it slipping away into a drone in the night. I'll give this EP a 9.5, and look forward to hearing what they can pull off on a full length.    


Avichi:"Catharsis Absolute"

The 2011 "The Devil's Fractal " was pretty impressive , so this one man band out of Chicago has the bar set pretty high for it. Aamonael also works with Lord Mantis and played guitar for Nachtmystium so it more than capable of creating some next level blackness. The album opens with a piano ditty, before bursting into "Flames in My Eyes" which sees this project taking a darker, rawer and more chaotic turn.

The big change is the use of more clean vocals which are a lower baritone chant or croon. This gives the album more of an Emperor feel and more ritualistic element. "Light Weaver" is blast heavy but finds a more melodic guitar phrasing, that is pretty damn catchy when the drums latch onto the the groove. Aamonael does not feel the need to really pay much homage to his past associations as this song feels more like Watain to me than it does Nachtmystium. Though coming out of the chorus there is a slight Nachtmystium feel to the triumphant march the guitars take.

A doomish lurch hovers over the opening passages of " Voice of Intuition". The guitars are notably melodic and smartly played , though not as much emphasis is played of jarring technique. The pace picks up and the vocals drone on chant in the background. The  vocals do return to a roar for a moment here and there.The guitars are dense and well layered with subtle melody.

The 12 minute "All Gods Fall" is the album obligatory epic, which all black metal seems to have these days. From the drone , unfolds a sinister riff that recalls the more depressive side of black metal. The vocals have a very Emperor feel to them, so in some sense that would be by proxy a King Diamond feel, to the mid range moan. Surprisingly the song stays on the one epic riff the drone builds up to, which seems to work though I would expect a more dynamic range in twelves minutes ,particularly after the ever shifting landscape of riffs "
"The Devils Fractal" explored.

Oddly the seven and a half minute title track that closes the album is just a piano ditty that serves more as an outro than an actual song. So this album when stripped down to the actual songs is pretty to the point ,as a songwriter Aamonael  keeps it simple focusing more on the layered guitar melodies and vocal nuances than trying to show off. I'll give this one an 8.5, as its quality melodic black metal that's not afraid to warp the mold.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hexis: " Abalam"

This is the first full-length from the Dannish band who gathered together in 2010. Abalam is in fact the  name of the demon from the last exorcism the title references, though in the Goetia it's really Paimon, in case this album inspires you to conjuring it up, which is a possibility as its just that dark .  The line between hard core and black metal is murky here. They pound the point home pretty relentlessly, the vocals morph into more of a hardcore shout on "Exanimis".

The songs hit like sonic shrapnel, the double bass pounds this harsh vomit out in a dense sonic stream.If you thought Nails were heavy then put on your neck brace. The song got right for the jugular in a similar manner as grindcore. This is more like a collection Seizure like bursts of  vileness. At this point it's ritualistic punishment as much as it is song writing "Sequax" forms the first thing on this slab that resembles melody. Normally I would complain, but this is so dark and futile sounding it pull all the right strings in my evil heart. The instrumental title track also carries a melodic bleakness to it.

Like anything else the band is aware too much punishment can lead to decadence. The back of at the being of "Immolabant" building back up into a furious toxic waltz. The vocals stay in a similar raspy midrange, barking out of the whirlwind. There is almost a breakdown feel toward the end of "Exhausit" , but these guys are not coming from a place of any macho posturing. Obviously with a 53 second song like, "Timor" there is not much time to really establish much in terms of song writing.  When they take more time on songs like "Neglexerunt" and "Infernis" more mood is established. Not that by any means they are laying back to ponder their feelings.

Normally we place a high value on  being sonically heavy here, this band put their foot on the gas so hard when it comes to metallics until it comes full circle and creates and album of  sonic density. The black metal elements which come by way of the dissonant tremelo picked layers of guitar that often sit in juxtapostion to a more grind core guitar part, add enough texture to keep this album from being one dimensional. In fact this album demand repeat listens to be fully digested. I'll go ahead and give it a 9, as they have succeeded in creating a blistering monster here.Its an album that will clear the room and separate the men from the boys.

Woods of Desolation : "As the Stars"

The colder it gets out side the more black metal I want to listen, so its surprisings this rather frosty blast of cascadian black metal comes from Australia, On their third full length the project has matured to achieve a much fuller sound.They are not merely trying to recapture Transylvanian Hunger here, but have captured a hypnotic drone, more like Deafheaven, but carrying more majesty in their metal mesmerism.

The album still retains the raw sound of their early work, but they have expanded the dynamic range of the guitar which reaches for more of a shimmer on songs like "Unfold". At times this more expansive focus on the guitar comes with the sacrifice of the vocals, that in turn get buried into the music. The vocals when they become audible sometimes take on more of a Bathory or Mayhem like quality falling somewhere between a gurgle and a drunken roar, which is a needed change of pace to keep them from becoming Deafheaven clones.

The sonic growth this project has made sometimes requires furthering listening to soak in. "And if All the Stars Faded Away" the pace slows and the guitar takes on a jangle of delay and octave chords before throwing the songs final minutes in a bath of blasty mcnasty. They charge forward with a heavier attack on "This Autumn Light" , which is more straight forward and less apologetic to being metal.

There is surprising groove to "Anamnesis" that is not unlike some of the more recent Enslaved, though without the prog leanings.The album's greatest strength the is range of moods presented and sonic colors these songs are painted with.Even the vocals vary their harsh approach slightly from song to song, taking on a more desperate snarl on "Withering Field".

The albums closes out on the triumphant blast beats that swell up at the end of "Withering Field" but this seems  a well earned outburst after the journey this album has taken us on. I'll give this album a 9, it was a pleasant surprise and provided a perfect balance of  being heavy sonically as well as being heavy metal.      

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Xiu Xiu : " Angel Guts- Red Class Room

The San Franciso band spear headed by Jamie Stewart returns, finding a darker and more brooding place to emerge from than Stewart did with "Always". The album often forces you to ponder the line between experimental and music. Do they sacrifice song writing for sonic freedom? The second track on the album " Archie Fades" is more of a song than the opener. Stewart's voice retains it's fragile tremble and I appreciate the mood it creates ,but  tends to drone on the one idea rather than really going any where.

Without question " Stupid in the Dark" is the album's strongest song on it's chorus hook catapults it to the top of the heap as far as the band's body of work goes.The lyrics are smart, the line " you taught me a lesson , people are stupid in the dark" is the same kind of passive aggressive stab Morrissey would take. From this point on the bands tends to flirt with an almost industrial feel like some of Skinny Puppy's less dancey moments. When I think of the album in this way I can appreciate the forsaking of melody, song structure and dynamics more.

"Black Dick" is the next track that sounds like a song. The beat has more movement and the sparse synths creep around it. The vocals act more like abstract spoken word around it. They continue to wallow deeper into a hole of self loathing on "New Life Immigration" . The vocals take a more melodic approach, though the beat becomes more shapeless. "El Naco" feels almost like a witch house or rape gaze song. The vocals are more crazed and the entire presentation feels like a mental break down

A clearer rhyme and reason emerges on "Adult Friends". The remains experimental but the song is more effective in creating a sense of dynamics. Similar can be said of " The Sliver Platter", though it might be even darker than its predecessor. The desperate tenderness to "Bitter Melon" is executed well and shows they are capable of blending experimentation with conveying emotion.

"Knife in the Sun" sounds like the soundtrack to Dallas Buyers Club if it had been a horror movie. It's abrasives but counters it's self with a groove. The noise indulgence returns on "Cinthya's Unisex". "Bontanica de Los Angeles" returns to the more industrial laced murk of synth noise for Stewarts pleading to bleat over, and it works pretty well, leaving the title track as an outro that sounds like a farting chainsaw.

I'll give this album a 7.5 for now though it's darkness might speak to me more in a low swing and allow the album to continue to grow on me , if you like a lot of dark noise to go with your desperation then round this up to an 8, but I think Stewart is too good of a song writer when he actually tries to write a song.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra : "Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything"

Right off the bat I like this album better than what I have previously heard from this post- rock collective. The vocals sounds like a drunk and rowdy Robert Smith. The song is darker , though it has a parade like fee, though much more like this marching band stumbling out of the loony bin.The Godspeed You Black Emperor ! connection is much clearer.

Not sure that "Austerity Blues" is really blues, it is more stripped down and centers on the vocals that are bathed in dissonant guitar that builds in intensity around the four and a half minute mark, not unlike mid-period King Crimson. Comparisons could also be drawn to Wovenhand in the way the song carries its droning groove, though the bass line is more in your face.It does feel like there is a whirling dervish like jammy feel to the songs.  

They take another stab at their middle eastern version of the blues on "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" that is like Robert Smith sitting in with Swans. Its powerfully preformed and hits the sweet spot being as sonic in its heaviness as it is bludgeoning. This being said it is not metal by any means.

"Little Ones Run" is more of an interlude, before the very moody lament of "What We Loved Was Not Enough" though the vocals take on more of a whine they sounds less like Robert Smith and more like Arcade Fire. This album doesn't know its a goth album but it is. The use of a string section is done more mournfully here than with Godspeed. The song breaking down to end with the ebbing chorus feels very Arcade Fire as well to me.

"Rains Through the Roof of the Grande Ballroom" feels like an outro rather than a song that is meant to stand side by side against these other magnificent compositions. I'll go ahead and give this one a 10 as I am not counting the more interlude like songs for the purpose of scoring this as it lives up to its ambitions in the big way and creates music that is largely very original.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Iskald : "Nedom og Nord"

Iskald means ice cold in Norse, and as far a Norwegian Black metal goes forming in 2005 puts these guys as being newer kids on the block. They play melodic black metal, that is well written and has enough dark and creepy ring into the guitars to draw my ears in. It's well produced not unlike Immortal in this regard. There is nothing cult here, the blasting is kept to a groove laden middle gallop. Much like Immortal this is very thrash laced and would be a good entry point for someone trying to find a listener friendly gateway into black metal.
The opener uses more restraint than you would expect from this sort of thing, and in a year where their doesn't appear to be a lot of black metal on the horizon, I think this album is going to be welcomed among the fans , and the timing of it's release is going to play into this band's favor.

"Underworldy" is a nice frosty blend of propulsion and speed , balanced out by the melodic nature of  the riff-age here. While the Immortal comparison abound, there's touches of older Enslaved and Vried is lacing the edges. The vocals stay in a midrange rasp dipping down a note here and there into more of a death metal growl.The cool riffs don't make a song rule is still intact though these guys take a swing with their maces at crushing the theory.

Not a big fan of bands that name songs after themselves, it's done here and the song dips into a more contemplative melodic side at first before springing back into the furious blackened thrash that seems to gain momentum as the album progresses. When the band gets caught up in the blur of speed they create, they tend to loses me until the guitar find more meat to stick to. These guys are no doubt great players, the guitar playing here is where this band shines, though the very melodic phrasing of the bass is welcomed as bass tend to not make it's presence as known in this sort of thing. The synths at the end are well used to create the dynamic build.

"The Silence" comes out of the gate with mcnastiness. This diminishes the dynamic capabilities of the band as the first minute and a half of the song is a blur.The riffs that shift almost endlessly in these songs are very intricate in their arrangement. Composition is the strong point to the song writing here. The lyrical content being the weaker polarity. The band retraces its steps in the snow to find the more epic strengths in "Nidingsdad" the double bass here handles the under current of speed allowing the guitar to soar over it.They continue to hit you with a lot of detailed riffage. The guitar playing on this album is some of the best I heard from a band of their ilk since Enslaved. The vocal patterns are on the other hand rather bland. They do layer clean vocals with the harsh vocals ,to create an even more Enslaved feel, this is not idol worship as it captures a sound of their own.

The title track closes out the album, it holds off on some of the speed, instead weaving the web of riffs.They don't hold off too long on the blast but as a brief interval for the solo to lay over it works. Its when the clean guitar floats in under the harsh vocals for a minute that I'm surprised and this is something I wish they would have built upon rather than defaulting to a more traditional approach. The folky guitar close to the seven minute mark is a nice touch and gives a more Moonsorrow feel.

I'll give this album an 8, it might grow on me, the vocal patterns and the default modes it sometimes reverts to were the only draw backs on my end, in a time where you are starving for black metal, this goes above and beyond just being satisfying into some excellently crafted black metal.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Up From the Underground: New Mongrels "Raised Incorruptible"

The idea first hit Haynes Brooke during the heyday of the Athens, Georgia music scene in the 80's where he stumbled across his grandfather's musical legacy. Now he has gathered this musical collective players ranging from the theater's of  Hollywood to the folk dives of  Atlanta to breathe new life into this legacy. It makes calling this band underground a bit of a stretch as Atlanta's contributions includes the likes of Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls and Michelle Malone. Their celebrity status however doesn't dominate the album.Ray's harmony vocals cut through the voices gathered here, but never does it lean back to much into the more hooked oriented singing that once cemented the Indigo Girls into college  radio play lists. The only moment that recalls the Indigo Girls is found on "Two Trees".

Brooke and drummer Ken Palmer demoed out the skeleton of these songs which the layers were latter fleshed out as this  creative collective captured an organic free flowing batch of Prairie songs tinged with Appalachian roots. There are moments when this album reminds me of the Grateful Dead's " Old and In the Way: album, not that it wanders off into jams, but it has a similar spirit to it.I can also hear Neil Young's influence haunting some of the more western campfire moments.

The albums benefits the most from the lush accompaniment of mandolins, ukuleles, accordions and trumpets, whose flourishes color the other wise stripped down acoustic instrumentation backing these songs. The albums touches on bluegrass, but never wanders into country.If that seems like a fine line, its made much clearer in the rambling nature the guitars roll with. The current hipster folk trend doesn't hold much common ground with this more effortless excursion, with the opening "Time" being the only really indie rock radio song here.

Lyrically these songs become thick with emotionally heavy story telling, the first half of the album has an almost old time gospel feel, before the become more revolutionary . The lyrics feel like beat poetry written by a stoned Tom Petty rather than a drug ravished Ginsberg  Less abstract than some of Jerry Garcia's musings, but full of similar scenery .    

I think the high point to Brookes musical ability shines in the jazz embellished piano part to heal my heart, there is a rock guitar that emerges moments later and the song takes on a more Arcade Fire feel. Though not a rock album by any means its influence is an undercurrent as the male vocal continues to hold lingering David Byrne delicacy  to them on "Palm Point".  I think fans of Neutral Milk Hotel would find this album hits many of the same quirky sweet spots on songs like "Love it Madly", that also has a melody with hints of Supertramp to it.

The album closes with the instrumental " Tuborg Gold". It provides a scenic closure closure to an album that dips into a diverse mixture of sounds. This album would be the perfect sounds track to driving out of New Orleans headed to Hollywood while nursing a bottle wine and April morning buzz.If you have been cutting your teeth on the likes of Mumford and Sons and are ready to try something slightly more genuine this album is for you.        

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stomped and Stammered

If you live in Atlanta and took a  glimpse at social media this week and are in any way connected to the local music scene then you are aware of the Great Jeff Clark debacle of 2014, and the reaction the community has responded with to show we are living up to the name of Hate City or Hatetl, on multiple levels.

If  missed out the post  in Clark's Mag which spurned the Campaign to boycott Stomp and stammer is as follows...
Most Overdone Memorial: The ongoing posthumous deification of Ria Pell. She was a nice woman who opened a restaurant that helped revitalize a stretch of Memorial Drive. She was also unhealthy and met with an early death. Had she not been lesbian, had she been a straight woman or man we would have seen but a fraction of the reaction. Instead, she was unrealistically elevated into something she wasn't: a symbolic figure."

This sounds to me like it was written while sitting at the bar of the Yacht Club after having one to many. In fact for the pushing fifty crowd of has been hipsters who still gather at the Euclid Ave watering hole, this type of sentiment is just another Sunday night.While many might think of the pseudo bohemian neighborhood, as being more progressive or open-minded, it is still located in Georgia. Drunks speak with sober mouths. Give someone a few drink to lubricate their smiling facades and find out what they really think.So the hip zip codes of East Atlanta might be more open minded than those living by the Mall of Ga, the south is conservative and repressive when it comes to thinking beyond traditional  American family values. Atlanta has caught up to how Los Angeles thought in the 1980's perhaps.

What we now are faced with is this city big enough for having more than one opinion. Is speech free, or do we need to start up a campaign when ever some one has a different perspective than hours. Based the facts that Clark is critical to anyone be it Morrissey or Ria Pell, then is this consistent with who he is.          

Clark apologized and used the words crude, hurtful , disrespectful and deeply regretted them. To me it felt like he said "I'm for getting caught", I suppose it was the polite southern gentlemanly thing to do. I would have preferred him to take a clearer look at what he was trying to say which seemed to be ....Atlanta loves to make a big deal when it comes to the death of people they never knew. Someone dies and everyone is broken up about it on Facebook , even if they were acquaintances through a friend of a friend.

I don't see anything on Facebook about the Boycott Stomp and Stammer club, accepting Clark's apology, because people want the drama and excitement with having a cause to justify their anger. The Stomp and Stammer zine will live on after this because while people who loved Ria will always remember her, the band wagon will forget why it was rolling in the first place, when the next big outrage of 2014 shows it face on social media in a week or two.

The government has trained people to become this ADHD , when it comes to social causes, because we are too distracted by who said what to care about real issues and attitudes that are allowed to flourish behind the scenes. It's much easier to support an online boycott, that start real change in world which means taking personal responsibility for our own ineffective and outdated whys of flawed thinking.We are creatures of comfort and that would take to much work.

My therapist  once asked why do I allow people to rent space in my head? At the time I felt justified in caring about what other people thought about me.Now I see it it as empty energy wasted, I have things to worry about like taking care of my side of the street, with the realization most people are insecure and afraid , so their opinions of me have nothing to do with me. Though we were friends of friends, I hope Ria and others who are in pain find the peace they are looking for be it in life or death.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Alcest : "Shelter"

Based on the first look I got of the album cover, my suspicions were dead on about the turn I suspected the band was going to take. To have been the torchbearers for what was being called "blackgaze" this album has none of the black metal elements to it. It's as bright and shining as the cover suggests it is.

The first real song and not the ambient intro, starts off the album sounding like Sigur Rios or Mew. It's not bad, it has movement to it, the vocals are improved, there is just a total abandonment of any metal elements, black or otherwise. So I am sure I can accept this as being a good album once the initial shock of how not metal it is. Not to say this band was every brutal by any means ,black metal was just a color they painted the sonic fairy lands with.

This is the soundtrack for a desert sunset and not the ethereal fey wonderland their earlier work was. This album sounds great, the guitar tones are richer. The drumming is the only set back as the playing is more minimal and less impassioned and dynamic. Neige even sings in English on the ballad "Away".  I am glad he sticks to his native tongue for the rest of the album or it would have stung like a sell out.

The distortion doesn't really cackle to life until "Voix Sereines" which has a more familiar swell to it. The guitar tone is warmer and  more organic, not to say there aren't liberal coating of re-verb and delay on them. There is a darker almost western feel to "L'Eveil de muses". They experiment with several shades of dreamy and shimmering, I think the only song that doesn't hit the mark as firmly as they other songs is "Away" which is too straight forward of a folk ballad, its like something left over from David Gilmore solo album. It falls into the same realms as they cool riffs alone don't make a good song but more along the lines of cool guitar tones don't make a good song.

The ten minute "Delivrance" closes out the album with a thoughtful drone that slowly builds as layers of guitar are added. They still capture a transcendental soaring, but it like the power behind it. I went into this knowing this was what would happen, "Les Voyages de L' Ame" was a stepping further away from black metal , so this is part of a logical progression. This album is almost more dream pop than shoe gaze, as it doesn't carry the opaque sonic quality one might associate with shoe gaze, as it breezes by more than it drones.

I'll around this album down to a 9, which still means it's pretty impressive and will wear on me, eventually I might even forget that I resented them for turning their backs on metal, but were they really that metal to begin with? There is a lot of growth vocally and tonal in the warmth of the albums overall sound. It is kinda of like the last episode of Dexter for me, there is something bittersweet about this album.    

Up From the Underground: Monks of Mellonwah -"Turn the People"

This is the full length follow up to the "Ghost Stories" e.p. the Sydney based band released last year. All three of those songs reappear on this album with "Ghost Stories" and "Vanity" leading off the album, but it doesn't take long for the band to shift from the soul inflected alt-rock we were introduced to last year, as the electronic syncopation and the floating vocal line of "Tear You Hate Apart" reminds me of Depeche Mode.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers here, that I prefer when they take darker turns and find the falsetto vocals to have a more alluring quality than the more standard pop vocal, that almost borders on having a Justin Timberlake tinge of r&b to it."Tear You Hate Apart" give me hope for the rest of the album as I think it's stronger than the song's from the "Ghost Stories" EP.

A dancier more soulful return the older sound occurs on "Pulse" though to the band's credit their grooves are darker and more electronic, they shed the late nineties Incubus feel and move into an almost more Daft Punk territory musically, which should have a longer shelf life. The darker disco groove of "Alive For a Minute" shows their bass player really has a gift for holding down their songs with catchy low end. Here the singer uses it to indulge his Micheal Jackson flirtations. This doesn't lend much credibility to any pretense of being a rock band,but these guys are talented song writers.The do give Muse a wink or two on the rock climaxes they do launch into.

The opening riff to "Escaping Alcatraz" sets it up as pretty dynamic rock song. The singer has pipes, but not the grit of a rock singer.This is not to say that this won't still fit on modern rock radio like Maroon 5 and Muse. They find more unique musical sparks on songs like the title track, where they are just writing good songs rather than placing the emphasis on rocking.The solo that explodes out of the title track like Jennifer Batten on Dirty Diana, lends enough rock to th song without overdoing it.

It is on songs like "Downfall" where the blend is a little more awkward and if the rock elements weren't given such a college try and the band allowed themselves to go where their strengths seem to lie. Even the more fluid swagger of  "Afraid To Die" seems to know which muscle to flex and when. The melody is given precedence and that is where is bands works best.If some rock comes about as a happy surprise , because that is where the song wanted to go then the end results speak for themselves.

There is a "Dust In the Wind" feel to the balladry of  "I Belong To You". I think this proves they work best on the move, with a beat to propel them. If they were going to do a ballad I think something more like a "Purple Rain" would work better for them. They take another swing at a slower pace on " Sky and the Dark Night pt 2 Control". It's darker and with a more creeping pulse to it more along the lines of the Police meets 30 Seconds to Mars. The vocals are allowed to be soulful with out tripping over themselves and their taste for rock gets satisfied in a more fitting portion.

There isn't a "bad" song on this album, just songs that capture what these guys to best better than others. I think these guys are ready for the masses with this. There is a market for this sort of thing, and if you are a fan of Muse and have some "guilty pop pleasures" on your ipod then these guys are worth your time, they are capable musicians with an excellent sense of catchy melodies.          

Monday, January 6, 2014

Up From the Underground : Chuckie Campbell-"More Die of Heartbreak"

Honesty is something you can't fake.  Most rappers these days are driven by an ego persona.they play and have nothing to say, because they are writing in character.came out So a rapper who is just being himself and putting back the pieces to a life that has been broken and created using his art form is rare. This rarity just became reality on the new album by Chuckie Campbell.
<>The opening track "Speak" holds a dreamy quality to it ,the song is string heavy, allowing  Campbell's lyrical flow to hold more of a poetic quality than commonly found in hip-hop today. The darker under current bubbles out from the smooth backdrop on "Behind Her Eyes" . The beats continue to be understated, the strings turn to a more minor key not unlike some of the soundtrack work Phillip Glass has done.

Lyrically these bleak vignettes are snaps shots  of pain that is behind the closed doors or the big city. I don't think I have heard a rap album that is this intimate, Atmosphere is the closest that comes to mind when measuring the raw emotional honesty.  Unlike Marshall Mathers who adopts a victim role to over-dramatize, the sense of theater here is subdued. The hooks on the chorus of  "All I Meant" keep the mood established, rather than trying to steal the show and turn this song into a pop hybrid.

The pace of  his lyrical meter picks up a brisker pace on "How to Know When". The urban narrative shifts to a more introspective autobiographical  tone.  Producer Willie Breeding handles the vocal hook here and the song balances the propulsive flow with a dreamy quality.   
The backing tracks have a more organic feel to them than any rap projects since the Roots or A Tribe Called Quest. The piano chords ring out mournfully under the social commentary of "Synesthesia" keep a gray cloud over the speculation of color in today's world.

The pulse of "Father's Hands" is the album's  first electronica laced moment. The synth melodies build the album's most memorable chorus. Here the family dynamic is explored in a similar manner Tupac's ode to his mother, but Campbell looks the greater impact of  ripple effect to this relationship. The album gets more adventurous as it progresses , the piano riff to "Deus Ex Machina" brings a centerpiece to the more abstract elements of the song. Campbell's lyrical approach becomes more aggressive to create an almost trap music like element. 

The album's most anticipated moment the guest appearance by Wu-tang's Cappadonna, lives up to the spot light and is a tightly woven song, that doesn't rely on the rap royalty with Campbell's rap holding it's own against the veteran's, which if there is any justice in the universe should solidify Campbell's place among the rap greats of today. He has a life full of  experiences and observations to rap about rather than just ego based exhalations.

The strength of what Campbell does is highlighted on " Ancient Astronaut Theory" is his ability to create a seamless flow over unconventional rhythmic patterns and sounds. This sets him apart because he brings to the today something that is not already being recreated on every corner of the ghetto, but a desire to push his message forward in a innovative fashion. \

The jangle of indie rock guitar gives way to an almost Yeah Yeah Yeahs like groove, this is fitting giving the song's hipster trend call out. These are my favorite lyrics because it takes me back to when rappers would call each other out to create a sense of quality control so every one who stepped up to a mic kept their game tight as to not be drawn into ridicule for creating a faulty product, which is one of the elements missing from the industry today.

The lush organic elements that started the album come somewhat full circle on the title track that closes out the album, until an almost country hook surfaces on the chorus. I think it's a perfect way for the album to close. I'm pretty impressed with this, Death Grips was the last hip hop artist that did anything for me and this album is like a breath of fresh air for hip-hop and I hope it receives all the accolades it has earned from being so masterfully crafted and honest.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Weekly Shuffle

OK we have been back at this for a few installments , so we are re-acquainted  with me hitting shuffle on the old iPod and reviewing the first ten tracks that pop up.

Deafheaven - Unrequited

Now that they have broken into the mainstream we can't forget what put them on the map and when they were more black metal than shoe-gaze or post rock. The song still rips pretty good and this album has stuck with it on my iPod to stand the test of time.

Alice Cooper -Who Do You Think We Are

Like disco Kiss  and Vegas Elvis , I have a thing for New Wave Alice Cooper, it much better than the cock rock years. Its smartly written , surprising as when these albums come up in interviews he claims to have been too drunk to remember making them.

Watain - I Am the Earth

Some older Watain , Erik growls a little more here than the more shouted Bathory style approach he began using more after this album. I can hear the Dissection in the guitar melodies.

The Mission - Naked & Savage

The Mission UK marched on with this album which retains every thing that makes them great , the emphasis being on the guitar tone, the drums are a little thin and programmed sounding here. The background vocals oohs, remind me of Sympathy For the Devil.

The Smiths - This Charming Man

I would go out tonight, but I haven't got a stitch to wear, is a classic line to a classic song that shows both sides to the enigma that is Morrissey and the bands skips along with him , creating the juxtaposition that is often the Smiths.

Alcest - Les Voyages De L'Ame

This is barely metal if at all and I have a bad feeling the new album will step away from this even further. Though this might play to the bands favor in record sales. For post-rock a genre that forsakes vocals , this makes a good case for them.

Tears For Fears - Women in Chains  

A great song , but the title is more exciting than the lyrical content of this soulful ballad . One of the bands greatest performances. It's chill inducing when he belts out the "and I feel lying in waiting is a poor man's game " line.  

Thin Lizzy - Killer On the Loose

Sometimes the singer reminds me of a cab driver from Jersey. They are full of great guitar playing even if this song is straight ahead rock a shade lighter than Motorhead.

Dissection - Night's Blood.

I could give myself a head trying to count straws and figure out if this is black metal or Swedish death metal. They have the very melodic guitar but unlike their limp wristed country men in the genre, the give it more teeth and attack. Jon's vocal's have a meaner sneer than death metal in it's rasp. These guys are awesome anyway you slice and Watain is the only band that has been able to carry their flame.

Wreck & Reference - Winter

I think the fact these guys are still in my iPod attests to the fact  I have gotten over the fact they are not called No Youth and I am able to embrace the dark sonic wasteland they call songs.The agony in this guys singing voice is great and adds to the song's bleakness.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums: 10 to 1

Here we are at the final top ten of our The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.

10- Dissection-Strom of the Light's Bane

This Swedish band bridged the thrash with black metal.


9- Dio - Holy Diver

Last In Line is a great album and it set Dio apart from the other bands he had sung for, but Holy Diver is tighter more dynamic song writing.

1988-Hatross Cover

8- Voi Vod- Dimension Hatross

Light years ahead of it's time this sci-fi based Canadian thrash band took a turn to

7- Slayer -South of Heaven

Sure Reign in Blood is a great album, but this is where thrash got it's groove back .


6-Ozzy Osborne- Diary of A Madman

Blizzard might have the hits but Diary is darker and harder. The title track alone sets it apart from his first solo album.


5-Mercyful Fate-Don't Break the Oath

The vocals on this blow the other Fate albums out of the water and the guitar tone is fuller.


4-Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny

They go beyond just rock to more dark and progressive place here.


3- Black Sabbath- Sabotage

Not the tired old greatest hits, but a drug band who dabbled in rock.


2-Iron Maiden - Number of the Beast

For any one who wants to say Dianno era is better, none of the songs could have seen the light a day with him singing them.


1-King Diamond - Abigail

This album has every element you could want from a metal album, blazing leads, amazing drumming and some of the best vocals ever recorded with the power of Halford , but delving in much darker places. The heaviest of his solo work.

The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums: 20 to 11

We now enter into the sacred circle of the top twenty albums in our Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time list. We haven't been looking for the most albums sold but quality over quantity.

Watain - Lawless Darkness

20- Watain-Lawless Darkness

This Swedish band picking up the torch Dissection had carried. While their earlier work might have been rawer and more cvlt , this album found a thrash influence seeping into to polish the songs.


19-Celtic Frost-To Mega Therion

This album is the perfect middle ground for these guys, it retains the rawness of Morbid Tales , but gave them room to grow beyond the simplistic song structures of that album and add other elements.


18-Morbid Angel - Blessed Are the Sick

The best death metal album ever. The kids crying for Altars of Madness which might be an angrier album weren't even born when this one came out. It takes evil and makes it a seductive sonic animal.


17-Pantera -Vulgar Display of Power

It's a tough call between this one and Cowboys, the songs on this on might have slightly more staying power. The riffs are bigger and better here, though this album brought many half ass imitators.


16-Emperor-In the Nightside Eclipse

From the first wave of Norwegian black metal, these guys didn't compromise sound quality in order to adhere to an aesthetic.


15-Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses

This album took the best elements of goth and married them to Black Sabbath style doom.

wp_black_sabbath_heaven_and_hell_logo_1280x1024px_100420153136_2 14- Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell

We have limited it to one entry per band, though the exception to this rule should be Sabbath, lets face it Dio Sabbath is like an entirely different band anyways.


13- Queensryche- Operation Mindcrime

One of the greatest progressive power metal albums not made by Priest or Maiden. Sure they have their cheese elements, but one of the few bands of this ilk who is worthy of having their name mentioned next to Priest or Maiden.


12- Anthrax- Among the Living

When crafting one of the best metal albums ever this band didn't give up powerful melodies for the sake of thrash.


11 - Metallica - Master of Puppets

Between this and Ride the Lighting it was a tough call for me but songs like " The Thing That Should Not Be" are darker than anything of Ride the Lighting so this won out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Warfather : "Orchestrating the Apocalypse"

I guess Culted was the first release of 2014 I reviewed on here making this the second. This band is the vehicle of Steve Tucker the one time replacement for David Vincent, and more often than not this reminds me more of Deicide than Morbid Angel in its straight ahead attack though by the middle of the first song I can begin to hear it. It is pretty one dimensional, I guess I have been spoiling myself by listening to such experimental death metal that when it comes down to really meat and potatoes fare like this. The riffs are mean and this is not sloppily thrown together by any means.

Like Deicide the songs are tight and to the point a quick brutal blast and its hit and run from there. The drumming is pretty decent as death metal has to be , the drums could have used a little more boom in the mix. "Legions' has a pretty good groove towards the second half and Tuckers sticks to his lower Vincent impersonation.  They tend to go right for the throat not really dabbling with the sonics of their attack until ' the Shifting Poles". The riff here is the most intricate in the albums first half and the swells of siren like keyboards sweeps in to haunt the song. This is the first song that I really like on here where the others seem like they would have to grow on me. This does sound more like Morbid Angel than Morbid Angel currently does.

The fast and furious "Waltz of the Solstice"  beats the bloody meat of it's raw snare hatred. I can hear the Behemoth influence on this song, the riffs break down and the choral synths ride over the groove, but the riffs are not as thick and groove heavy as the Polish bands. Hearing this for the first time  I find myself looking forward to the new Behemoth. The lyrics sound like Tucker is just growling off a list of black metal album titles. I do like how the shifting riffs modulate to allow room for the solos so they sound like they are a part of another movement and not just blasting out over the riffs for no reason.

The speed is maintained on "Ageless Merciless" , the thing that stand out about this song to me are the effects on the vocals , which sound like Tuckers find his own voice using them rather than filling Vincent's shoes.The vocal layering in the songs final minute is pretty cool and sounds like someone is falling down a long hole to hell.  

He is not the only fan of Morbid Angel in the band as the guitarist learned those weird harmonic sweeps that Trey does. "Gods and Machines" does capture enough strangeness in the periphery to no come off as much of a Tampa clone. The guitarist begins to forget his voice that I heard earlier in the album as his solos kinda sound like stock death metal from the 90's.

The more Formulas Fatal to the Flesh sound really doesn't bubble up until "Ashes and Runes". The blast happy drumming feels like it is all over the place and the solos seems to flow free . The angry chant that brings the song back together comes midway through. This song is more technical than what we got from Morbid Angel. Some of the riffs don't sound like they have had enough thought put into the process of arranging them as the rest of the album. Their is a more cohesive and angry tone to "We Are the Wolves".This also reminds me more of decide , particularly in some of the more straight forward blasty masturbation.

 Overall this tends to be too straight forward for what I normally listen to so I'll give it a 7.5 , but if death metal is more of your thing you can round it up to an 8. No new ground is tread upon here, but they are pro's at what they do.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What We Learned in 2013

Here's where we crunch the numbers and see where music headed to this year. After all what are all those top 15 or 10 lists good for if not for data. Sure from a pop culture perspective twerking and auto tune continue to keep the sheeple entertained, so heres a look at where music mattered.

Metal broke down as follows

40% of the best metal was black or blackened in some way.

 the following sub-genres each captured  13% of the best metal out there
progressive, death, post-rock, and retro/occult

and not flourishing but still holding 6% were doom and sludge

leaving thrash to pretty much suck this year

On the dark side Post-punk led the way by putting out 33% of the best bat-cave sounds.

Industrial Music pumped out 26% of the best jams. With the ethereal cloak of goth covering 20 %. Edm still has a little life in it  yet with 13%, leaving  cold wave on life support with 6 %.

Rock n Roll and all its bastards fared as followed.  Indie rock dominated with 33%.  Occult and post-rock both earned 20%. Rock and Punk are both not dead as they both earned 13%.