Saturday, February 28, 2015
Asian metal has been more miss than hit with me, these guys how ever are pretty dark and I would say with all the Deafheaven comparisons , that they are darker than Deafheaven.The shoe gaze element seems to be set against more depressive black metal. The opening "Golden Number" uses more synths and piano than "Sunbather" had as an entire album.On "Happyhouse" the band makes it even clearer that the depressive elements are more important to them than the shoe -gazing. The drill into the blasting section with their drummer attacking with with more feral precision than Deafheaven.
The crystalline ringing of "Beneath the Shade Trees" guitars is darkly beautiful , though it is just an interlude that gives some breathing room before the first part of "the Sliver Tree". From this point on the album takes a turn away from more vocal centered music into atmosphere and ambiance being the emphasis and dragging you along for a melodic hypnosis before the blast beats kick you off the cliff. Single screams accent the doomy staccato build up the second part of the Sliver Tree goes into. When this riff begins it's triumphant gallop into the octave chords and sonic build the vocals are left behind, until they resurface later this time buried so low in the mix that I didn't catch them until my second listen. The kick of the cliff at the end of this one the vocals come back in for anguished cries, whines and blubbering gurgles.These are soon cascaded over by a the blatantly melodic guitar melody.
The final song "Death and the Maiden"takes a more metal approach. The guitar continues on with the in your face melodies as the drums take a mid-paced pound over the howling vocals which die down along with the intensity when the blast beat comes. This is a pretty cool effect for the drums to hit the blast beat and then every one else backs off and wanders around it. The guitars melodies almost seem to bright for black metal on this one. i normally need more dissonance in my black metal, but these guys have opened the floodgates for cool accents so it's hard to argue against it. The most Deafheaven moment of the whole album comes in the final big build of the song. The guitar melody almost sounds like it would be from the big clean sung chorus of a Killswitch Engage song, it's the whistling synth that sounds like the theme from the X-files that balances that part out and redeems the song.
I'll give this album a 9.5 as I like when they are playing the actual songs , some of the more ambient interludes eat up time better spent screaming at me. If you think Deafheaven sold out by playing Bonnaroo (you might not be wrong) , here is a band that has yet to do that and can fill that space in your heart, they are not just melancholy and introspective , but wallowing in their beautiful misery.
Elias Bender Ronnenfelt the lead singer of Iceage has launched a solo project which I having been juggling equal amounts of excitement and apprehension as I wondered if considering his singing style ,would a solo project it be able to find it's own identity? The answer is yes. This is due to the wild shift away from punk rock this album takes. Elias' emotive slur his still present. He moans and mumbles beyond the range of expression he uses in Iceage. The band features members of Lower(drummer/ bassist), Puce Mary(keyboards), Hand of Dust, Sexdrome(guitar) and Choir of Young Believers(Cello).
"Young Americans" feel to "King of Song". The steamy simmer of "Hungry For Love" has a dark jazz inflection lurking in the pulse of the music his disoriented ranting exudes over. These songs are allowed much more time to build and not the one, two, three punk-rock Iceage used to throw themselves into before"Plowing into the Field of Love". This album throbs , drones and hypnotizes more than the last Iceage album. The range of this albums touches on a scope of music that "Plowing the Fields of Love" did not even in it's more rock n roll direction. "Your Father's Eyes" brushes against Otis Redding styled soul in its final minutes.
The approach to songs writing with the project differs from his other band. At times it sounds like Elias was allowed to stumble into the vocal booth and just sing what ever came off the top on his head and the band came in and played around it. The more free form wandering is highlighted on songs like "Calling Out A Name". With "Every Child" they hit on a jazzy blues ridden groove that would not be out of place on a Tom Waits album.
There is a more Nick Cave like brooding to the slow western slither of "Up a Hill"The last song is more like an outro for me it never gains momentum and fades out on a rainy New Orleans jazz vibe. The last two songs ease the album out on a graceful note that puts the breaks on some of the momentum built up. This will more than likely continue to grow on me as I went this not expecting what happened. I'll round this one up to a 9 and leave it with room to grow on me. You can't call this post-punk, but saying it's indie -rock seems like a gross understatement as well, they have crafted some smoldering post-jazz blues punk I suppose.
Friday, February 27, 2015
The terms death-rock and post- rock have been tossed around frequently, but seldom earned. I am as much to blame as anyone, an addict by nature, there is the need to re-capture that feeling I found the first time I popped "Only Theater of Pain" into my Walkman. The insanity is there can only be one first time....Thanks for sharing. Anasazi have come the closest as any to taking me back there with their new lp "Nasty Witch Rock". Rozz Williams always said they were punks who liked Halloween and these guys have taken those words to heart. They stir up a chaotic cauldron of halloweenish punk recalling the Birthday Party rather than Christian Death. The lo-fi production causes things like backing vocals to become buried. It sounds like the band is trying to capture their live sound. The guitar on this album rings out with a more Cramps like warmth .
The rumbling garage rock of "Doors of Void" is a reckless collision of guitars. The vocal shout below the echo of it all. Perhaps they are slightly more sung than the bands previous efforts. The death-rock bass doesn't rise from it's grave until "Ash Wednesday". Anasazi seems to drinking from the same bottle as Iceage, from the slurred stumble this song takes. They are without question much darker than the Danish punks. It's not until "Hallelujah/ Memba Me"that the dynamics take a shift from the dirty punk that drips of last night's rock n roll to a more dissonant driving. Aside from "Ash Wednesday" they don't decorate the songs with the sounds you might associate with death-rock, but the attitude of the L.A. underground is there.
The vocals take on a crazed sneer falling somewhere in-between Jello Biafra and Lux Interior on two burst of "Black Leather Curse." 'Maniac in the Mirror bring's out the creepy, serving as one of the albums darkest moments. It should make all denizens of the bat cave pleased. They coast along the darkness with " Morbid Native', female vocals take care of the verses with the lead singer inciting the riot back to life on the choruses.Overall this album touches a place other bands haven't. The intentionally rough production took a little warming up to, but the album demands repeat listens as it has both the heart and the attitude needed to carry the torch, which in the end justifies the band leaving some of the other trappings behind. I'll round it up to a 9.5>
Thursday, February 26, 2015
O.k this is the last post-punk album with a female singer I am going to review unless they are really doing something fantastic. This has a more indie rock take on the Siouxsie styled vocals , but here they are given more of a punk edge. I can hear some Kim Gordon in her voice as well. The guitar and vibe of the album feels more like protomartyr to me. This album does get darker as it goes which wins points in my book and her voice makes me think more of Pj Harvey , Forget Cassettes or even Bjork.
"More' the punk in post-punk stands out, though some of the snarl makes Savages seem like on of this band's major influences. The synths are subtle. When they back off a bit on 'Act Natural" this is really needed. There guitarist shows range going from re-verbed out surf sound to more of a rock grit. The lyrics to "Seek Truth From Fact" are not the deepest, but this is balanced out by the gloomy guitar melody.The album ends with the stormy "Hannah". It is also their longest song at three and a half minutes. It almost might be the darkest song on the album as well.
Well these guys are better than the last Arctic Flowers album, and won me over more as the album progressed , because going into this I was over it when the singing kicked in. Not because she has a bad voice , she actually is better than most of the punk -Siouxsie imitators, but as I stated before this brand of post- punk is wearing out it's welcome. So they hard this hard fought 8.5 I am giving this album. Like to hear where they go in the future.
When you start going through the demos it means you are really digging to find something fresh in the genre. This is a "post-punk" release, I'll prolly scower my friends podcast blog for some other dark stuff. This band has strong shoe gaze element colliding with the Siouxsie like post-punk. Before I know it I am at the third song, the second song breezed past me as they are all running at similar tempo. the singer's melodies are very similar. The bass lines vary but hint at the same thing.This Canadian band has captures some great sounds particularly for a demo. It is not as lo-fi as I thought this one would be going into it.
"Fire" is the first song that really resonates with me. The singer asks you to fire walk with her, which is music to my ears considering I am re watching Twin Peaks. The bass comes to the fore front, sure the singer sounds more like Siouxsie when she sings in a lower register, but this song works.There is something soothing and Cure like about "Substance" the previous song was another breeze that blew past me, though when I go back I can appreciate the guitar melody.Her melody stays in the same zip code as everything else she does, her lyrics touch on vampires here which is a good dark goth topic. If anyone calls these guys death-rock they don't know what death rock is, this is content in being lullabies for the early morning.
For a demo this is pretty impressive. I think this band could grow into something, but it's premature right now. The guitarist is the bands strongest link. I think on a full length they would be forced to expand there sound or it would bore you to sleep. They have a lot of potential. I'll round this one down to a 7.5, since many of the songs sound too much a like , "Substance" stands apart the most.
I am not sure if you would call Lightning Bolt metal, but the influence they have had on Liturgy is undeniable, even from the first song on this new album which is their first album in six years. The thick distortion and the relentless herky jerk of the duo's attack, is almost every thing black metal should be. it does lack the key component being evil, instead these guys are mean. They are sonic bullies. There is a math rock element to what they do . This is given crystal meth. It finds a turbulence that blast beats create without ever having to play a real blast beat. There is a noisy color to the painting they are throwing colors at, but to call it noise rock misses the point.
"Horsepower" feels like it's stallion is being beaten to death in the way the simple groove is pounded home in a almost droning manner, that would be more obvious if the song was being played slower instead its the pulse of a manic heart being flooded with. endorphins. the bass takes more of the spot light here, giving a bit more boom to the static distortion. Sometimes these guys remind me of the Butthole Surfers at other times older Today is the Day, neither band would you be quick to associate with black metal. The more angular bass throb of "King of the World" some how manages to drone it's way into bleeding over into the following song with my attention diverted from the song. There is an element to the drumming that reminds me of Hendrix's "Manic Depression" a song that has always haunted ever since the night I was tripping and the CD player got stuck on that song and I was too fucked up to figure out how to change it or turn it off,so I had to listen to it for six hours. "King of the World' feels the same on many accounts.
There is a more tribal drive to "Mythmaster" that fights against the bass driving you into the closest thing to a blast beat. Their is a thick muscular rumble to the almost rock n roll paced "Runaway Train". This one seems to have deliberate noise and finds the guitar taking a noise solo midway in that sounds like Tom Morello. There is a stonerish sludge to the more locked in syncopated sections. In some ways it's the closest I have heard the band adhering to a more conventional approach, even if it is fighting against the noise.
They back off and take a breath for the more indie rock groove of "Snow White the Seven Dwarves Fans", they launch into a more Dead Kennedys styled punk rock. This album seems to be rougher than previous work the raw monster tone of "Dream Genie" finds the vocals that stay buried in the guitar's distortion for the entire album , heading in more of a Today is the Day direction. The drummer is insane often reminding me of homeboy from Hella. This album achieves the perfect balance of being lo-fi yet sounding good, so that factors in as I round this one up to a 9.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Rock Masters Band have nothing to with the Rock Band video game, instead they are a super group of sorts from Finland. The Finnish are no strangers to rock. Finland is in the the Scandinavian trifecta more known for metal, but with the amount of drinking they do it has made rock music is one of Finland's biggest exports. An impressive array of rock bands hailing from their shores Nightwish, H.I.M, Apocalyptica, Rapture, Lordi, and our favorites Beast Milk. They are more upbeat and lack to the gloom of the countries other exports.
The Helsinki based band formed in 2007 and features members from the bands Species and Spiha. They already have a couple of albums under their belt, are taking an approach becoming increasingly popular with artists who are faced with the Pirate Bay generation, recording a song or two at a time. In the case of Rock Masters they are using this to serve them creatively. Bringing in a fresh batch of musicians to back them and different producer with each session, to explore other perspectives to approaching their songs and discovering new sounds.
The singer's more T-rex like tenor owes more to their country men in Hanoi Rocks that the glam fixation some of Finland’s other exports like H.I.M, and 69 Eyes have taken in more melodramatic direction, making this sound rather stripped down in comparison. This is not to say the song is not heavily layered by guitar, some take a more casual Stones saunter others blaze out soloing with their foot on the monitor. The second song is much heavier. The vocals flex their elastic pipes on the chorus. From a song writing perspective it's wham bam thank you mam, the songs are both three and a half minutes , but it's a fine testament to their song writing prowess that they are able to marry both memorable melodies.
Rock Masters occupies a unique place in today’s musical landscape that has been vacant for some time. They are not the first band to touch on wave of post-David Bowie British Glam that came out of England in the 70s, they are just the only ones currently having a go at it. Bands in the 90’s ranging from Space Hog to Shudder to Think brushed shoulders with the sound left in the wake of Marc Bolan. Artists more often swing for the fences and attempt to use Pro-tools to achieve the grandiose layers that Queen was able to pull of without the benefit of such studio tricks, but Rock Masters goes for a much more stripped down and organic sound.
From the more Rolling Stones like swagger of "Hit the City" to the more gaudy androgyny of "Diamonds" the band doesn't really wear their influences on their sleeves as they have been assimilated into the DNA of a sound that is familiar , yet very much their own. This is not retro stoner rock, but a celebration of rock n roll no matter the era they are paying tribute to. You are drawn in. Despite the chorus to "Diamonds" having a hook that digs a little deeper into you than "Hit the City", but both songs are worth checking out below if you are a fan of 70s glam along the lines of T-Rex, Mott the Hoople and Sweet.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Despite the fact that I generally don't like instrumental music , I have been looking forward to checking out Sannhet's new one. The lushly intense post-rock with easy on the ears , but with out vocals the songs tend to run together and to be honest all sound the same. The drumming is one of the albums strong points as is the effects drenched guitar tone what really has to do little more that let a few chords ring out. These guys have been called black metal before, but even calling them metal at this point is a bit of a reach, but the taunt syncopation and soaring ethereal bliss of the guitar does grow on you with repeat listens.
There are some moments where the intensity builds to a point of heaviness falling somewhere in-between Russian Circles more recent black metal infatuated moments and Deafheaven. But never gaining the kick of the latter. The bass tone goes for more of an Isis like thump when it steps back in the mix to hide behind the drums and a burlier tone when coming to the forefront. The meaner tone could have made this album heavier if it was more predominate. This does have some shoe gaze like qualities , the main one being the liberal doses off effects that can at times sound like My Bloody Valentine.
The blast beats begin to crop up on "You Thy" which gets off to more of an indie rock start before the drums really converge in on it. The blasting sections don't feel all that dark, so while it's played in a black metal manner it doesn't feel like black metal. They let go into a spacey swell of "Sinking Forward" that feels like it is ending before it was allowed to get any where, never giving the pay off you sensed it was building toward.The first stabs toward metal feel like they are being made in the intro of "Atrium". The intensity is a little more oppressive with the melody moaning, but it's the dusk not the darkness. Even when it stomps down like heavier shoe -gazed sludge.The following two songs run together even after repeat listens. "Empty Harbor" takes a more Twin Peaks approach to it's almost jazz like lead in, this leaves "Mint Harbor" to stand revealed as pretty much a intro for the closing song.
"False Pass" finds the band reaching into the most black metal moments of the album. With the astral shimmer of guitar splashed upon the blast beats.The spills out into a more sonically scathing climax. I am still looking forward to catching these guys when they open up for Liturgy, however I think there is an ample amount of hype attached to this album, which will more than likely end up on the end of the year "metal" list for hipsters all over. No new ground is being broken broken here. Still they captured some sounds that drew me in and made this enjoyable back ground music , but not something I just have to have. Give it an 8.
Break out your matches it's time to torch churches as I think we have direct link to the black metal sound of today first from the first song of Bathory's " 1987 album "Under the Sign of the Black Mark". Blast beats and all . The vocals are way more rasp and wretched than any thing Tom Warrior grunted out. Now does that make this a good album? We shall see as we put this one under the microscope and see how well it stands the test of time. The keyboards paved the way for early Dimmu and help switch up the dulling pound of the drums that gets rather repetitious . I have always like the rather simple phrasing of the catchy chorus to "Woman of Dark Desires". Even more melody is injected into the darker and more atmospheric "Call From the Grave".
Things get angrier on "Equimentthron". Then comes the sound that influenced bands like Primordial. It has a epic majesty to the way the chords are allowed to ring out.This is a much reduced speed than the previous song, but much more powerful.by "Eternal Flame it's back to the blast beats, the vocals take on the kind of croak that Immortal imitates to this day. "13 Candles" exudes more of it's influence on what we think of as pagan metal, the sung vocals sit back into the mix.The riff is simple almost , like the punk rock rawness of early Celtic Frost. Though when the screams start it pounds even more heavily.
This is the root of music I love so I can appreciate the elements that provide the inspiration, however , the drums sound like shit and the production over all is iffy at best, sometimes it does touch on atmospheric moment in the winds of the heaviness not unlike the early Darkthrone it inspired, but it take the later albums like "Hammerheart "to win me over, I'll round it up to a7 as it is way ahead of it's time.Give me Quorthon's more epic Lord of the Rings styled albums any day ending in y. He does the whole pagan/ folk metal thing right with a darkness the bands that came after who are more preoccupied with swilling beer never have been able to obtain.
Monday, February 23, 2015
The first thing that makes this band really stand out are the vocals that are belched out in a froggy gurgled croak. The first song impressed me with synths adding to the melodic qualities with out compromising the heaviness. This works in a similar manner to Mortuary Drape, who these guys might remind you of from time to time. Italian bands are supposed to be obsessed with the horror movie soundtrack thing and I suppose if that's what you want to hear, then there is enough evidence to justify that case, but I also hear some Emperor influence. Put through the band's filter is comes out much slower, despite the fact they are able to hit the blast beats when the notion hits them.
I prefer the more deliberate doom pacing of the third song. You would think the vocals would have grown old for me by the third song as they are pretty much one dimensional, but the music keeps you distracted from them. The horror movie elements continue to pile on the creepiness almost to the point of making sound more like doom than what we might typically think of black metal, so there is a strong depressive element to this. "Soul's Poison" finds this taken to extreme and the synths droning you out until the drums build the song back up in the final minute. They break from this with the more Darkthrone paced "Circle of Stones". Compared to what they have thrown at you earlier in the album tihs sounds like they are taking the easy way out. "Wine of Sabbath" splits the difference taking the middle road between the Darkthrone route and the horror doom.
They keep a more deliberate pace , but with plenty of drive on " The Chant of the Owl".At over eight minutes things need new life they break down into a more ritualistic atmosphere three and a half minutes in. The album closes out with pipe organ , it comes across more like the Phantom of the Outro rather than a free standing song. I like the feel of this album, the step backwards into the more black n roll roar of the Darkthrone like song, is the only song on this album that didn't totally gel with me, so I will give this album a generous rounded up 9, as I think much like Mortuary Drape it will grow on me.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Going through some of the black metal albums that are building up in my in-box .When you name your album "Grinding Christian Flesh" there is no playing around. So this album is a thick as any death metal album, but is still blast heavy. The vocals are a higher rasp so not deathly, like Archgoat, though the two bands seem to be coming from a similar place. These guys might not have as much of a death metal influence. The punches though to come across more like a death metal band so it's hard to tell what is coming from where in that regard.
These guys can play their instruments brutality be damned. There melodic guitar at the beginning of "Worms of the Casket" makes this fact known , before they default into blasting the mc nasty out of things. There is a wink to Dissection in how they go back into clean guitar. The haphazard need for speed when not tempered with melodic sensibilities , will only go so far for me. the thrashing of "Pagan Warfront" is not full embraced with it feel like the gears are stuck. It is shocking to find out these guys are from Portland , as they have really embraced the right feel. I was thinking they were from Finland.Speed is handled well on the grinding of "Candles, Horns and Tongues". There are some very Slayer moments, in the drive of the chugs they hit from time to time.
The revert to relying on raw speed for "Sodomfeast" until the bass breaks things up and they reach into their bag of tricks. The song that follows also relies , perhaps to much on speed and I was unaware the song switched over. It's not until they catch up with the more punk rock if the riffs that they have my ear. It seems an unspoken trend with these uber brutal bands that to combat the fifteen minute song some of the hipster black metal bands engage in and instead the condense the songs down to in and out lashings. "Hang the Gutted Christians" find the vocals going into a more Inquisition like croak, before the slowed chunked out riffs hits.
The albums final two songs begin to wrap the album up with the passionate sounds of goats being defiled. They cash in their speed chips once again. "Whore of Christ" , is paced in a almost continuous manner as the previous song. The vocals are spit out more like something Venom would do, though considerably faster. They also hit a Horna cover and an Inquisition cover, but we are just going to focus on the album at hand, which focuses on one dynamic for the bulk, but the other shades of black they paint with work as well. I will round it up to an 8.If you like either of the bands they cover add another point.
I think not enough people gave this album a chance, so lets see how it holds up when put under the microscope. "Never Ending Hill" kicks the album off , it's the single and the solos rip it from the word go, the main riff if is a still straight forward for him , but it works. He hits a pretty good note when he sings"Magic"...it's his cat's name. This is a concept album...of course and the lyrics sometimes work better than others, so the key is for a song like to use it's momentum and rock you in such a way that you don't notice.
"Is Anybody There" is about adjusting to the dark and feeling some one is watching you? The riff is staccato and doesn't have the kick that the first song had , the "help me" mid section is kinda cool. The song is well put together and the solo sections are once again the strong point. The riff to "Black of Night" is even better than the riff to "Never Ending Hill" , this is King back in classic form. The drummer is earning his keep on this one, while Andy continues to set his guitar to kill. "Mirror Mirror" is a mixed bag, it gets better as it goes along at the 2:20 it gets really heavy, but before that it is a little too rock n roll, for what I want from the King. The chorus riff reminds me of "Ride the Lighting " era Metallica.
The thing with King Diamond is he has the bar raised pretty high, so filler won't work as it has to hold up against Abigail and Them. The riff to "the Cellar" has the neo classical romanticism and Gothic overtones, which in that sense brings it closer to his classics. The production factors into this as the album is produced with a much brighter feel, less distance and re-verb.The "give me your soul please" line is pretty strong as is the chorus, which wins me over. I am however no a fan of when he uses a female back up singer. The title track handles this is the best possible way. the chorus has been stuck in my head more times than I can count.
The riff to "the Floating Head" is heavy in almost a Pantera manner. It's all tightly chugged, I am still unsure where I am at with the vocals on this one. It's a famous case for him where the concept albums lyrics become slightly cumbersome. So I am having to rate this one off of feel and how it feels as a King Diamond song. there is groove to this album that I do not normally associate with King. It works on " Cold as Ice". His vocals following the guitar melody some how fits , where if any other singer tried pulling that off it would have more cheese than Wisconsin. The harpsichord to "Shades of Black" give it a more conspiracy feel.
"The Girl in the bloody Dress" proves to be more propelled by keyboards and bass, before a pretty strong chug meets them half way there, it also finds king knocking the highs back out of the park. The album closes on a mellower note , but not with out the merit of Andy's shredding, the song takes on an almost power ballad feel. I think I put the pressure on this list so I 'll go ahead and round it up to a 10. If you did not give this a fair enough listen when it came out click below and do so .
We break away from Black Metal History month for some doom/gaze, at least that is what they have led me to believe ,but it chugs in more like hardcore . They flip back and forth from the clean post- rock guitar sound, but are punchier and more energetic than doom and are not rough enough around the edges to be sludge. I'm a little surprised that my homies over at Cvlt Nation have gotten so excited over this but didn't want to give Primordial any love , as these guys have taken many more trips to the mall than Primordial. I am not hearing anything doom or shoe gaze about this. They throw some Mudvayne like prog bouncing into the second song. They are tight, but too testosterone fueled.
"Fuse" is a little more thoughtful, but even calling this post rock is a wild exaggeration. It sounds like the might have been listening to early Mastodon more than Mogwai.The clean vocals begin to sound kinda like Brand New. The speed up in section of the muscular mathematics of "Red". These guys are clever song writers and are not just recycling tire old metal riffs. At the three minute mark they take one of their more thoughtful laid back guitar breaks, but I doubt this is really going to sway the album. This is not djent, but it gets across the same vibe Meshuggah has in some of their angular acrobatics. They do get to Neurosis by way of Mastodon on "Detached"."Volatile" doesn't do anything to change the course this album is headed on, in fact it engages in even more guitar heroics.
The Chicago bashers bring things to a head with "Ornaflux". Like most of the songs it's sung/ screamed in a husky bellow. The guitar keeps shredding from riffs to riff, some of these are pretty clever . This really didn't do much for me. I already own Mastodon's albums and Neurosis' for that matter, the more mall metal parts are to bro'ed out for me. I'll give this a 7, if you like more mainstream metal then go ahead and around it up a point as it's well played and well produced. The vocals become a little boring after awhile and this is an area they should experiment more with , but for a debut it's decent enough.
Friday, February 20, 2015
The devil shoulder obviously is not only the most interesting element lyrically, but lends itself to having a darker backdrop musically. It is not like Bone Thugs when they got high and played with their ouija board but a much more internal element. They should get credit where it's due int their innovative arrangements that challenge how hip is supposed to go. They shift the beats around mid song, giving an almost bi-polar element, sometimes this takes an Outkast like alien slant. These guys care about the music as much as they do being on point at the microphone when it comes to laying down the freestyle verses.
Singer Juju helps the boys out with the vocal hooks adding a slick Bruno Mars pop cadence to his hooks. These more melodic and thoughtful moments that proliferate on the first half of the album are the groups strong suit.The sample in "Psycho Woman" reminds me of witch house , which works set against the dirty south a ghetto mash- up say the Nappy Root and the Three Six Mafia.The gangsta lean returns for songs like "Sic the Dogs on 'em" Juju helps smooth out the hard hitting "War" , which helps out as gong hard doesn't seem to be 832's calling card."The Showdown" employs some interesting edm influenced synths despite the regression back into hood mentality of the rap schemes, the chorus is despite this still catchy. The electronic elements flourish like the Tron soundtrack on "Victory" though in final act of the album they are playing it safer and blending in with the current crop of rap, despite their ear for innovative new beats.
Wilson the V shows up for "the Crown" taking it back to 90's Dungeon family styled Atl rap. If you want to hear it then some of the raps s construction might feel like Kayne .This is one of the best produced underground rap albums I have heard in a while. The tug of war between the devil and the angel can also be seen as metaphor for the thematic tug of war of enlightenment vs going with the same old krunk gangsta lyrics that is lowest common denominator mix tape fodder. They do pull from the last great days of rap in terms of their influence and in doing so make something that is head and shoulders over what is being passed off as hip-hop today.
I was a fan of Karyn's band in the 90's this was back when the only other female fronted band that played dark and heavy music was Fear of God. So i was looking forward to this album. First thing that stands out is Her melodies sound more assured and her voice is even more powerful now than it was on the first Crisis album. "Alchemist" is the first real song following the brooding intro piece, showcases her She assemblage of great music guys from Tombs, Vaura, and Danny Walker of Intronaut sitting behind the kit. Her husband Epel Duath guitarist Davide Tiso handles the bulk of the guitar on this album. This was not what I expected as it carries more of an organic big rock sound Her melodies slither between the chord placement. The more organic rock feel of "Ancient Ways", sounds more like Intronaut than any of the other components making up this band.
There is there a weird blend of alt-rock and thick chuggy metal on "Aradia" . It has hints of System of Down, in the tight slickness. The songs are smoother rides than Crisis. She jumps around from register to register and focuses more on singing than she did in Epel Duath. There is a slight nu-metal meets doom element to the creepy feel of "Mother". Ross Dolan of Immolation's backing vocals are most effective in the chorus of this song. Logically the next branch on her family tree is "Father". Rather taking the Jonathan Davis route she goes a more spiritual route looking at some of the father figure deities. There is a power ballad quality to "Goddess of Light".
She displays her keen sense of making odd angular melodies work in her favor and the entire sound finds just the right balance in the process on "Howl at the Moon". At three minutes "Pillars" proves to be timed for rock radio and it's not too crazy that it wouldn't fit along side Flyleaf or the Gathering. The almost pop hooks is not what I was expecting, but the songs are very well written, so it has an almost an A Perfect Circle quality in that regard. I find my self pretty forgiving of commercial qualities when they are handled this way though, I am not sure if it would fly with the kids over at Cvlt Nation or even No Clean Singing.
Despite the excellent vocal performance "the Secret" feels like it is more of an interlude/ intro into "Salem's Wounds". It would not be either fair nor accurate to compare the song to Chelsea Wolfe even though they both incorporate dark electronics and ghostly vocals. The guttural vocals serve as a good cue for the song to build with a throb. The flow of double bass on "The Sword and the Stone" off set the almost shoe gazey glaze that throws more of this dark pop against a more ominous Cocteau Twins dynamic.The vocal melodies are sugary sweet even with deathly gutturals as the undercurrent beneath.
It ends with a slow dark drift layered with more of her subtler , yet still amazing melodies, she lets the guitar do more of the heavy lifting here, at times making me feel like I am listening to a satanic version of Muse. Karyn's vocals continue to go from a belt into a growl as needed . I'll go ahead and round this one up to a 10 and see how it sets with me , because all of the songs are pretty much perfect , I was just caught off guard at how un-metal some of the melodies are, but they work and it's great music no matter what genre it is or isn't . It's hard to be a marginal fan of hers , but if you are familiar with her work in any way or that of the musicians backing her then this album is worth your while.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
There is a pretty raging Black Flag meets Converge attack to "Time". But not a tremolo picked string or blast beat for miles. The only dissonance still comes in the reckless Amp Rep noise rock of "Blind and Bent". The great thumping bass bangs back into the intro of the very "Bleach" era Nirvana tribute "Waiting". Noisey even said these guys dipped into post-punk, but I guess they don't know the difference between post- punk and grunge. They do get a little darker on the ominous " Martrod" but it is more sludge like than coming any where close to black metal.
They take to old school hardcore, which they do excel at , on "Blissless" which finds the first thing that could be construed as black metal but it lasts for less than ten seconds. If you have a second with a ten second blast beat does that make you black metal? There is more punk ruckus on "Here Comes the Man". It makes me think of what Fugazi might have sounded like if the did drugs. The chords are more sonic, but not black metal just fast indie rock. If you read my interview with Ritual Butcher from Arch Goat then you know this debate would have already been over since in his mind black metal has to be all about Satan, and not this Black Flaggish take on a hipster Motorhead. I'm a fan of Satan, but I think there are many fine black metal album that have branched into other topics. These guys are concerned about someone watching them while they are watching them. There is no darkness, a little shading no darkness .
They make no attempt at black metal , but just all out straight ahead hard core punk on the last song. Not even a wink at black metal. This song is alright in some of the punchier sections, but the ranting it lets go wild is not my favorite. If I was going to score this album as to how black metal it was it would get a 2, but for overall musicality I'll give it an 8 as it has some strong moments. I might have liked this album better if I had gone into with different expectations rather than just waiting for the black metal and post- punk parts to show up which are just not here.
This project features members of Cult of Fire, the songs studies in the various death ritual around the world they start this tour with Slovakia. It is a very dense death metal like pummel when it kicks in. The double bass kicks through the chaos. Guitar solos are leaking out from the holes within the metallic wall of sound. There are some punches that almost have an early Metallica feel to them. The synths and organs might just coat the back ground , but they are well placed. This density that sells the first song numbs you into a trance with it's attack becoming white noise in the second song, despite the slower pace of the intro switching it up a bit.
The Mexico themed song has a more established sound with the keyboards raising the sonic stakes.When venturing over to the Czech Republic they speed into a more black metal section. The blast beats of off set by the keyboards that are actually one of the albums saving graces rather than just a textured after thought as they are for many bands. The riff that closes out the song touches on arena rock as it comes across as sounding very Judas Priest inspired.
India's "Towers of Silence" finds a more progressive hinged melody driving it as the album becomes more melodic as it moves along. It's an instrumental, but the lack of vocals won't have you looking at your watch. The journey ends in China with "Hanging Coffins". A more morose and introspective excursion. The songs are well preformed, the concept is interesting. The songs did not really draw me into them and leave me wanting to hear the album again, when it was streaming on a loop, it was pleasant, but I haven't found myself thinking"Damn, I can' wait to hear that album again."So I'll give it a 7.5, if you are a big Cult of Fire fan it's a slightly more melodic direction than that band so you might dig it and round it up to an 8.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
They are taking a darker more modern take on the fairy tales with junkies and whores in the leading roles. This is done with flare similar to Dimmu, just more progressive and symphonic in different ways. This formula works better on some songs than others. At times it defaults into some more like Cradle of Filth, though the mid range rasp of the vocals might be monotone , but they are less annoying than Dani Filth's. Some times this snarl bobs around the riffs in a way that reminds me of mid-period Carcass.These guys are tight as a coffin nailed shut. The lyrics are discernible and actually one of the albums strong points, which is a rarity in this genre. Some of the string sections are just as lavish as anything Night Wish might do , but have enough snarl to them that off sets this.
"Two flies Caught in a Black Sugar Cob Web" is a tale of Hansel and Gretyl whose, mother commits suicide and "the dark becomes thicker , thicker, thicker...". Clean vocals are used sparsely. They are pretty effective when they do float into the songs. When they singer goes into a more spoken narrative the song begins to feel like something off a King Diamond album. This gets even more dramatic as it progresses with the Hansel and Gretyl story. The strings begin to slowly play a more predominate role, set against the harsh vocals. The timing becomes a jagged waltz. They hammer themselves back into a heavier place with "Possessed By a Craft of Witchery". His drummer's double bass is seriously sick and he handles these time changes very gracefully. The piano sections trickles lightly between the thundering drums. At times this is Emperor influenced as well, but the Carcass influence me the most. The vocals become more versatile, dipping down into some lower growls.Some of these riffs which are the most killer often are just popped into the song for a few phrases rather than being milked for their head banging potential.
They continue to throttle in the midst of this unravelling yarn. "Killed and Served by the Devil" has the double bass rolling like a tank and the guitar tightly chugged within it's thunder. You know how this is going to end and they don't stray with the second to the last song being"the Witched Perished in Flames" which has a very Dimmu like crunch.They go out on a more Cradle of Filth like note with "Tragedy ever after". The vocal patterns have a much more angular cadence that any thing Dani Filth would do. This album is a lot of fun it sounds great and these guys had their thinking caps on as well as their corpse paint when they made this. The slick Cradle / Dimmu element with all of it's respective pretense will turn off those you only listen to Darkthrone on vinyl.I'll give it a 9 and see how it stands the test of time this year.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Another entry in the we are going to make more concise black metal is this band from Anchorage Alaska, who released the four song cassette early this month. Raw and feral, the drums are a rough piece of work , but you can still make out what they are going for here. There is a slight Burzum element here. They are capable at playing at various tempos so the blasting one "Exsanguine" doesn't seem overdone as they guitars cascade in behind it.
The vocals are scream in the kind of tortured manner as many depressive suicidal black metal bands. Almost seeming like an after though as the guitar which dominates the mix is obviously the focal point. There is a point in the second song where it runs together, but these guys make the effort to be as dynamic as they can without letting go of the furious tempos. There is a darker buzz of distortion on "Into the Turnagain Bore". they throw in some pounding accents which are followed up with an almost punk like aggression.
They end this ep with the title track that slows things down to an almost doom like tempo. The guitar is ugly and jagged , with a bitter sweet after taste. his is only maintained for the first two minutes before they break down into a another swarming section.The chugs they lock onto are pretty effective as is the almost Black Sabbath meets Ac/Dc by way of hardcore riff that the songs stumbles upon. Sure this is just an ep but an entire album of this might be draining.I'll give this an 8 and keep my ears open for what these guys do in the future, but I am not sure that I need this in my iPod. If you like your black metal raw and primitive in it's punk fueled angst, then this is an album you want to check out as you will probably round it up a point.
Monday, February 16, 2015
What makes something blackened ? There is nothing satanic about this band, the closest connections you might draw to their sound in order to throw the blackened sludge doom tag on them is the dark ugliness and the dissonance it carries.has a sludged out groove, that hesitates as if waiting for the gurgled vocals to catch up with it. It's not what I expect to hear coming out of Lexington , Kentucky. They like fucking with you sonically, not fitting their sound neatly into the confines of today's metal. So much so that the first song almost feels like a intro fake out. They congeal into a denser and more focused rumble on "Wretched Earth" The rambling mad men in the sample running through the song serves as more of a lyricist that the vocals that are spewed out.
"The Earth is a Nest " carries some of the moments which come the closest to blackness. It purposefully throws itself down the stairs to fall apart. They pound into a more plodding and punishing doom on " the Womb is Barren in a Feral Light". So much so until it feels very abortive, rather than allowing the song to fully develop. To their credit they do not waste any time lulling you in with extended atmosphere or any drone. This cuts their songs down to solid three and a half minute assaults that they shove full of jagged little pieces to cut your ears with. The bits of doom they do touch on here are effective and make me want to hear what it would sound like it they took those riffs and ran with them.
The album ends with clean guitar leading up into another dirty pounding, like a graveyard gang bang, but is not content to wallow in the grave instead it pounds and roars as it staggers along.I'll give this one an 8.5, I like where these guys are heading the sound they pound out lends it self to a more lo-fi fuzz driven approach. I would say sludge is the dominant ingrediant.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Some of these might straddle the fence between metal and hard rock, but love songs are always more sensitive, which is why there are so few in real metal, and the harder the song the broader the definition of romance.
10 - Starry Eyes- by Motley Crue
9 - Flesh Eater by- Lizzy Borden
8 - Thrills in the Night -by Kiss
7 - 120 Days by Genitorturers
6 - Welcome Home by Coheed and Cambria
5 - Magdalena by A Perfect Circle
4- Soul on Fire- Danzig
3 -"Sleeping in the Fire" by Wasp
2 - Love You to Death by Type O negative
1 - Here Come the Tears- Judas Priest
Friday, February 13, 2015
After another "True Detective " sample which is what all the cool kids are going to be sampling this year, the project finds it's self kicking into some of the more harder hitting metal than has touched upon in some time, after dabbling in many other elements the past few releases. The bass carries a denser and more powerful punch than what's been put out from the sole sonic conspirator Andrew Curtis- Brignell previous to this. This seems to be just the right blend of the sounds they have been playing with over the past few years. It carries a deep echo that might remind you of Nachtmystium as it charges forward.
The title track carries a similar delving into the deep dissonance. The vocals low and throaty against blast beats, this one is a little more death metal in feel along the lines of Ulcerate. "Vow Bound" picks up where the blast from the previous song left off and continues to mutilate it. There are so cool punchy of time accents that creep up into this.There is much more ebb and flow with dynamics for this song to play off of than the previous song offered which seemed boring in comparison. The vocals take on more of a choked croak that gives "Applicant Supplicant" more of a black metal feel. There is a single note melody the guitar plays that carries a little bit of a punk edge to the chant of "We are the damned..." which precedes the blast fest. The you hear of clean vocals which have been predominant in some of this projects other releases doesn't surface until the cool break down around the three and a half minute mark and then it's a single not chant.
The actual sung vocal return on the final song "Orphan", they are oddly mixed in, falling out of the first three minutes of feedback and noise. The song takes a more doom turn and the vocals have goth like pleading that reminds me of My Dying Bride. Right before the six minute mark the croaky growls come back to scare the singing away. There is a dreary feel that works of the disjointed nature of the chord progression. You can hear a little Pallbearer in the angular nature the chords are worked against one another. I am most impressed by the final fifteen minutes of "Orphan" and thinks this is a much more accessible take on metal than Brigell has taken on previous albums. I will give it a 9. The influences are worn on his sleeve a little more , but he continues to grow as a song writer.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Not to be confused with the doomy band that did a split with Graves at Sea, this west coast black metal outfit has blasted out an impressive first outing, that catches you ear more as the album moves along. The first few songs are blast heavy takes on raw Marduk styled black metal. There is a rawness to the album , but it sounds very dense and polished . All of the instruments stand where they need to be and no one gets buried in the distorted blur of some necro sound. They band even in these more straight forward full frontal assaults still display skill with their instruments. In some of the stomp you can hear a bit of grinding Carcass influence mixed in.
The snarling vocals have a wide ranged of anguish to them , from a demonic squeal to a more death metal grunt. At times they become even as emotive as the vocals in Depressive Black Metal. The pace slows a little on the somewhat Dissection influenced "Heaping Praise Upon a Cataract Sun". The vocals have a harsher rasp to them and the song possesses a powerful pound. This pound continues with an even greater menace though more single minded in it's dynamics on "Knives Coated In Pitch of Terror" that follows. It's not until the following "Sulfurs Cross" that the band really embarks upon more entrancing sonic blasphemies. As dark sense of melody comes in beneath the vocals that are screamed with more conviction.
After a swelling interlude of feedback they soar into "Bared Teeth of the Fog" which sees the band continuing down a more melodic path. Though the song eventually descends into a tempest of blast beats, but manages to stay afloat. There is more of a punk kick to the drive of "Part thy Flesh, Call his Name". That includes backing vocals that features members of Woe, a band Sovereign holds as an influence in some of the more punk like sections.
The darkest moments come as the album closes with the title track that shares much of the same torment as depressive black metal and where that type of emoting is most felt. Overall this is a very dense and heavy piece of American made black metal that latches onto what makes European black metal work so well, leaving most of their punk rock records and Godspeedyoublackemperor albums on the shelf so they can focus on the misanthriopy and spiritual chaos it represents. They do default to blast beats a little too often, so giving it an 8.5, but other than that this is pretty powerful stuff and worth a listen.
There is no shame in my game. I play D&D every Sunday night making folk metal is not a bad word to me even with the Middle Earth theatrics . The problem with the genre is I have to really dig to finds bands that quench my thirst for darkness as the bulk of the bands tend to be way too happy for me. I don't drink so growled drinking songs with a polka back beat is not going to get it no matter what kind of chain mail they are sporting. Harrow gets that and are on my wave length. The album starts off in the same part of the woods Agalloch likes to frolic and then shit gets real. They carry an intensity and attack similar to that of Woman is the Earth. There is something a little darker and more hypnotic in the sounds they have gathered here. Opening you album with a fourteen minute song is a bold move unless you can deliver the ebb and flow of dynamics these guys have packed into it.
The clean vocals and somewhat seventies prog vibe leads you into 'Through the Gray" is done so with a very narcotic gracefulness in it's throb. These guys cover a lot of ground in the album's first two songs and they are not cascading black metal like Wolves in the Throne Room were once crowned I can see fans of that band digging these guys at well. They use restraint on the blast beats, never allowing it to be the only weapon in their sonic arsenal.They manage to always keep pulling out the unexpected, even catching me off guard an impressive feat if you consider the fact I which listen to a flood of new music ever day that pours from the unending deluge that's my a seem caught in-box that is a pretty impressive feat, to catch me off guard. The harsher vocals get into a pretty nasty scream at times.
There might be more clean vocals than expected, but that shouldn't deter you from this album. The neo folk that drips out of title track has a wonderful dissonance to it's melancholy that almost gives it a doom feel. The layers on this one come in the way of oboes and strings as things pick up into a more furious strum, never becoming actual metal. The use of strings is one of their staples as violinist Alexia Horozian is a member of this Canadian band. They close out the album with the 11 minute "Awake Before the Dawn" that takes it's time in awakening the metallic beast under the surface of the almost post-rock acoustic drift that glazes the first nine minutes of the song. The vocals have a fragile Neil Young like reediness to them and build in desperate yearning up until the climax that has more in common with Godspeedyoublackemperor than it does black metal.
This album is maybe forty percent metal and the rest is a lavish mix of spacious post-rock and neo-folk which work well together. I'll give this album a 9, I kept waiting for more metal to crash this party, but after the second song it wasn't happening. If any one is going to be going with non-metal elements in metal it will be me so I am not going to fault them for that there were some droning sections that might have been better spent adding intensity.