Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gallows: " Desolate Sounds"

On first  listen this album confused me so that I had to go back and listen to the band's first album "Orchestra of Wolves" to figure out what happened. It's a change to the magnitude of that AFI made. Several elements contributed to this such as the fact they now have Alexisonfire singer Wade Mcneil on the mic brought about some of the changes.The herky jerky guitar carries some sentiment of the band they used to be , despite the big chorus of "Even bad dreams are too good for you". The title track is very influenced by New Model Army  and a little more punk. The more screamed vocals have more of a metal feel to them and the distorted filter slapped on in post-production adds to this. They get heavier with "Leviathan Rot" its more metal than hardcore, despite the gang vocals that crop up, reminding me of the song from"Cry Little Sister" from Lost Boys. I like the darker turn they take on "Chains"  such as the inclusion of female vocals."Bonfire Season" returns to the rock n roll guitar tone. The vocals smooth over into actual singing again. Social Distortion is another reference point, though this strikes me as darker than what they do. A rough coat of grunge rusts the edges of the song.

'Leather Crown"  has a more punk drive to it. They give a Thelemic wink with 93/93, which is the secret hand shake of thelemites. They sing " love is the law, love under will" which is the most typical Crowley quote. But it's a decent song as well." Death Valley Blue" is a well written song, but when it comes to the big rock chorus I guess I am surprised these guys are as radio ready as Avenged Sevenfold, I seem to remember them being more actual punk. Cease to Exist is not unlike something Brand New might pull out. But it is well executed and written so it's hard to argue against it if you are not invested in what this band used to be. It closes with " Swan Song" that is harder and the drumming sounds like it could have come from the first album the main thing that has changed being the vocals and the more metal guitar tone. Overall this album sounds good and it has some songs on it that I really like and  more or less none that are fast forward classics. I'll give it an 8.5 and see if I feel the need to shift it over onto the iPod. If you are a fan of the direction the band has gone with Wade then you will like this one too and even round it up to a 9.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Author&Punisher : "Melk En Honing" review & "Shame" video

I finally got my hands on the new Author & Punisher. Following "Women & Children" the bar is raised pretty high. Tristan Shore has been a one man wrecking crew when it comes to industrial by making music using a a complex system of  home made machines fitting for the genre. The first thing I notice is the vocals are not as distorted as pervious albums. He still has Godflesh like grit to his voice. It is dark and doomy with something that sounds like Arabian wailing floating over the droning rumble. Shore gets closer to singing on "Cauterize" that has a more more down trodden Ministry like pound.

Things get darker with the more surreal sonic dirge that is "Shame". The vocals are layered and find Shore singing on the chorus , but not laying down your typical hook. "Future Man" finds Shore taking a step in a more melodic direction , but not letting up on the lumber even as he basks it in more atmosphere. The lyrics on this album are more in your face this time around as well. By the time the album grinds its way to "Disparate" it is evident Shore is not retreading ground from other albums. It feels like there is a more defined bass line to this song. It has a industrial trudge to the pacing and the vocals are throaty in a similar manner to Godflesh's heavier moments. I like how the lyrics "getting high on fumes" are spat out. While different this song come closest to what fans of the projects older work might want from him. Very dark piano passages creep out of the stark machine stomping.

While I like him growling about chaos reigning, I don't feel like "Callous and Hoof" really finds it's feet until that point in the song and it is a bunch of crazy sounds being thrown at you that are hard to absorb as a song. While it comes together with the post-apocalyptic thud at the end it's not the albums strongest song. The experimentation continues on "Teething" which lurches into abrasive electronics as he whispers over it, but it pays off when things pound themselves into place. The album stays heavy and pummeling as it ends on " Void, Null, Alive".  Though the songs final moments find a cool layers of sung melody injected into it. This album was worth the wait there are a few moments that have to grow on me, I think this album is heavier than his last. He doesn't make the same album twice and retains the sonic intensity and his way of doing things . I'll give this one a solid 9.5, no rounding up, lets see how it grows on me.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

No Omega : " Occupants"

This ep by the Swedish band No Omega came out back in April, so I am not sure how it slipped past me.  They take another step in a more metallic direction in their attempt to create darker hardcore, this how how thin of a line it can be between the two genres. Some post- rock influenced sections even float in on the first song. This is more melodic than what I have heard from the bands previous work. By the second song the lyrics which are encouraging the person to whom they are directed to "stay and face their problems" which is more of a hardcore lyric than a metal lyric. It is also more straight forward bordering on punk in the simplistic arrangement. It looks like "Man/Monster" that follows is going to use a similar formula until it collapses into a more post-rock atmosphere. This makes some of the hammering punches they throw at you stand out.

They have more a more expansive and sonic  rhythmic attack that is more post-hardcore than the other songs on this ep, as the guitars jangle and swell rather than jab at you. It shows a ton of maturity in their song writing and the expansion of tones at their command. They close this album out with a rumble of bass before exploding into the more metallic hard core of "Comfort". Midway into the song it goes a more Converge route, with a sample bridging the transition into a strummed and introspective section that is more indie rock in its melodic ambition, it might sounds like Explosions in the Sky if it wasn't for the screamed chant of the vocals . I'll give this album an 8.5, it eases back on intensity and darkness, but find the band taking a step forward in other ways. Not blown away by it, but it is a good album, if you are a big fan then round it up to a 9. I guess having grown up listening to Converge it makes you jaded when it comes to a hard core band experimenting, since there is no ground here they have not already covered.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pale Chalice : "Negate the Infinite and Miraculous"

This album starts off rather deceptively, and fools you into thinking that it is going to be some kind of slower black metal that doesn't lean to much on blasting. The guitar is prettier than it is ugly sounds like this would be Deafheaven. There is something more distant and cold about their music than Deafheaven and from the opener they seem to be more aligned with metal. On the second song "Shaking Nerves and Vacuous Spaces" is more traditional black metal in some ways it reminds me of old Dimmu before they got so symphonic. There is a similar evilness to the rasp of the vocals. The drummer is on it. There is a wall of double bass moving the song until they break it down to where you can hear the bass creeping up onto the accents.

By the the time you are at the third song they have pretty much proven they can bring almost anything you need from black metal to the table, even a Goatwhore like groove. With "Fragile Bones Cradling Tallow" they slip a little and begin just relying on speed and blasties , which can only get even the best of bands so far , the drums take and spin on an interesting break, but it only catches my ear for a minute. "Weltering Depth of the Carrion Wave" that a Mutilation Rites like melodies buried in the depth of the wave of tremolo picking. Some odd melodies drip out of the maggots spewed out by the guitars who pretty much save the day at every turn as the vocals are mean enough buy prove to be a one trick pony in anguish.Some of that anguish borders on DsBm so I like that emoting. They start playing it too safe again on "Bent By Carapace Chain". The final two minutes slow down and throb on the evil for a bit.

The last song finds the band pulling it together and writing a song rather than a collection of varied blast beats. The guitars are somewhat clean creating a more sonic sound. Towards the end it drops down to uncover the bass tone. I'll round it up to a 7.5, because these guys do hit all the marks that make a black metal band, but what I need from a black metal band is someone capable of doing that and can pull it out as needed but doesn't color in the line and breaks the rules more than follows them , because if black metal is about freedom then why conform to a sound so slavishly.

Coffins: "Craving to Eternal Slumber"

Any thoughts that I might have had about this band being slow death metal rather than doom is given renewed credence on their new ep.It took a few listens to get over this but the power of their chug and the bass player's embellishments underneath the slugging sludge add more depth. The low vocal roars are complemented by the layers of higher screamy vocals and then into the low spoken section.  The second song "Tyrant" is more deliberate in it's pacing. It doesn't take long however before they head off into a murky speed. It sure the hell is not as interesting as the first song.  The chug doesn't grab you until midway through. The first real doom passage we come across on this album is on the title track. The throat scarping guttural vocals work their best here and the foreboding prescience that hangs over this song is what doom should sound like, it's not funereal doom, but solidly morbid none the less. The more death metal side of the band works when they kick into building heavier dynamics. On the title track they do this without fully crossing over into death metal, but more of a Godzilla lumber.This is not to stay the more Celtic Frost gone death metal chug they charged in with on the opener was good, it just was not the doom I was looking for. When it sped up past the tempo of the first riff it got a little muddy. While I know Celtic Frost influenced doom, I don't think they were doom, as they came out of the thrash era, but were less thrashy than say Voivod.

When the vocals are hatefully layered it makes the big eminently violent riffs hit harder.They descend back into the unrestrained pound of death metal on "Stairway to Torment", which might as well be an old Cannibal Corpse song. It gets better when it slows down at the midway point and the low spoken narrative comes in like a Slayer song. But as soon as he goes "ugh" they are racing back off. I'll give this ep a 7.5. Its heavy and raw, so if you don't need  much more and are already a fan then you are already all over this. If you are just wanting to check them out well you can do so below, it's good, but I am not sure that this is there best work.

Thy Art is Murder :"Holy War"

I am not sure what death core really is. I am even more confused if it includes the kind of Meshuggah herky jerky djenty chugging that the first song on Thy Art Is Murder's new album kicks of with. This is my first time hearing this band and I am only checking them out because they are playing with King Diamond on the Mayhem Tour. I known the Devil Wears Prada and Whitechapel are both playing as well ,but I don't feel the need to check either of those out as I think the glimpses I have heard were enough to tell me they suck. The opener to this album works for me, the second song "Lightbearer" is a little more tedious. There is some atmospheric sounds echoing in the background, but nothing is really grabbing me. The drummer is good. His double bass is on point.

It is not disparaging when the vocals rasp out all the things like christ and Allah that people die  on the title track ". The guitarist is trying to playing over the drummer rather than playing with him at some points. The converging chant and chug formula is in full effect. It's not terrible. The guitar solo uses more restraint than you might imagine something like this doing. If the name Winston McCall means anything to you, then know he is on the song "Coffin Dragger", which i not really distinguished much differently than the other. I imagine this McCall fellow is the singer further back in the mix who is gruffly barking like a hard core rap.

"Fur and Claw" is another tightly triggered chug fest about human parasites. The formula is pretty apparent sometimes they speed until , throwing themselves into blasting death metal more keen on technique than the crushing power.They do not shy away from the break downs. The guitar solos become more fluid and impressive. The groove to "Deliver us to Evil' is catchier at first as well as the when they the songs title. The guitar tone doesn't dramatically shift until the song "Emptiness". It become clear and hollow for the intro before they explode back into what they do. As metal goes this is more lower common denominator and all the thinking , which is not a lot is being done for you here. This is more accessible than black metal for sure. While heavy and abrasive due to the vocals , it is not dissonant are possess any real emotional ugliness.

"VIolent Reckoning" is a similar blend of feigned menace from the multi tracked vocals and mean technical chugging from the guitar. If drumming alone was enough to make an album then this one be one of the years best metal releases for sure. Instead we get some breakdown that fall somewhere between nu-metal and hardcore. There is some atmospheric growling at the intro of "Naked And Cold" that hangs on the chord with darker determination and breaks away from the sound they have over indulged in unti lthe songs takes off. But this little shift in dynamics doesn't bore you as if they had gone right into the chugging. The solo section floats into a slower melody that also helps switch things up. I'll count the bonus track "Vengeance " as part of the album since that is how I am hearing. It doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

The album sounds good, but eventually all of the songs begin to sound the same. I know death core gets called false by more traditional metal head and I can only imagine this is because of it's nu metal leaning, the clean production makes it seem less heavy despite the best attempts of the vocals which are as guttural as your average death metal band. My finance was playing Dark Tranquility in the car the other day and I can hear similarities. I'll give this one a 6 its not bad but not blowing me away either.

Fight Amp : "Constantly Off "

These guys have been around for a minute, this is their fourth album. By your fourth album you know what you are doing and doing it with perfected intention. What they are doing is Holy, Quicksand Rollins this album really brings it back to the 90s. The opener is much more Quicksand, I know some people get a little butt hurt when I compare them to other bands, but the solution is simple don't lean so heavily on your influences. "That's just what comes out..." is bullshit, sure things sneak into your subconscious. The grunge is every where it's colliding with Amp Rep bands.  There is some "Bleach" era Nirvana clunking in angst on "Leveling in a Dream". They pick up the pace for some more rowdy nastiness on " You Don't Wanna Live Forever", which is snarling violent punkish rock that finds a slacker melody to emote over the pummeling. This is a unique trick, but I don't think its my favorite one in their arsenal.  The heavier punches at the end of the song is that one's best moment.

The dirty metallic bass leads into the first guitar part that perks my ears up on " I Perceive Reptoids" . The angular nature of what they are doing here darkens things and the vocals benefit from the quivering effects they submerse them into. This is the first song I have been sold on from the get go. The vocals take on a Kurt Cobain yell before the song gives its last kick. This songs are short most under four minutes. "Happy Joyful Life" has a pretty powerful stomp to that hearkens back to Helmet, but with a more a dissonant shadow to the song.This album is really hit or miss. I think its a 7, but even then this is a little flat and drab for my taste.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Abyssal : "Antikatastaseis"

Here is an album I had to sit on and digest for a little bit until I really dug into to review. Some writers seem a little confused as to what genre these guys are, so I will tell it to you straight and say they are straight up black metal, but if you took away most of death metal's thrash influence out. You might want to add ample amounts of dissonance. Sure there is some tremolo picking here and there, but these guys fall pretty close to what was being called "occult death metal" as few years back. More in your face than hiding in the caves. They do start there second song with some ritualistic drumming and then blast into things, with plenty of quick accents and they possess what any good death metal band must have...a drummer who kills it. However on the thirds song things start running together a little and becoming a blur of heavy. They do slow it down and find some melodic passages that are often just hints that they pound out of existence in a temper tantrum.

Then things get a little crazy. "Veil of Transcendence " breaks down into a music box playing which they then allow to play in the back ground over the rest of the song that they are beating the hell out of to create a really creepy effect. The first time I heard this I had to check to see if a pop-up had opened in another window and was making that sound. "Telomeric Erosion" gets sonic but is tame in comparison. Half of "Casual Landscape" is an ambient synth pad that echoes out into the blasting feral attack that follows. They maintain this sonic sense on "Chrysalis" that finds the bass players really moving around and doing some great melodic work underneath everything.Its mid-way through the final song that they find a riff that grabs my attention. I'll give this album an 8, though now it seems like I am rounding it up to one as when I went back to listen to it thinking I had forgotten to rate it it, I found myself caring less about it than the first day I heard this album. It is still densely beautiful at times and the guitar tones stand out after further listens.  

Istapp : "Frostbiten"

After playing the hell out of this band's first album when it came out in 2010, the five year wait for this one had me wondering if they had fallen into the where are they now file. Things have changed. Right out the gate it doesn't touch on thrash as much as their first album and fall more in line with what you would normally expect from black. The opener is much faster than anything from the first album. The title track brings thing back closer to the first album with a viking chorus singing the clean vocals. The riffs are more refined and drumming more precise on "Kall" which pulls from a darker place of anger. There is a more berserker punk mania to the frantic pacing of "Skoll" that blasts off with the guitar melodies trying to keep up. These almost folk flavored melodies gave the first album more of a pagan feel, where this album is heavier and in your face with every chug meticulously in place.

The bass coils into melodies of its own when the blur of riff relents enough to provide such breathing room. The baritone chanted vocals call out from the background and never demand the spotlight. They maneuver tricky syncopation and summon pretty epic passages  to come flying out at in speeds twice as fast as their debut. The melodic section in "Primum Frigidum"doesn't come across as being contrived, but a needed shift in dynamics. The touch on the thrashy side of their previous album on "Polcirkelns Herre" or the Arctic Lord. They do slow for the punches on the chant that would be a chorus of sorts. "Fimbulvinter" fall back into a more blast beaten form of  frosty black metal, though the bass playing wanders out from under the drums and continues to be one of the albums strengths.

They reclaim their melodic pagan sound capturing a hooky groove as they scale to epic new snow covered heights on" Ma Det Aldrig Toa".  The barbarian men's chorus chimes in again on this one. The continue to show their keen ear for arrangements here as the song takes plenty of twists and turns without feeling cluttered. The speedy guitar sticks to its melody on the rapid palm muted gallop of
"Vinterland" that finds the vocals carrying a convincing snarl and going back to the place I liked so much on their first album where they are still growling but following the intervals of the guitar melody in such a way that it comes across more like singing.  They close out the album with the catchy chugging that dominates "Vit Makt"  or "white power that from the lyrics sung in their native tongue are more about the power of the white snow and NSBM. They don't have the same manic feral thrash as their first album, they have matured into a darker more punishing machine without compromising their melodic nature. This is going to be one of the best black metal albums of the year. I will round it up to a 9, as there are a few moments where they sound like every other black metal band, the gravitational pull of the genres confines don't mar the quality in the big picture of the album, there is just some dissonance it hearing this at the same band whose first album I wore, but the high bar I had for them might settle for me after continued listens. Granted listening to an album about frosty winter in the dogs days of summer can be hard, this will be more appreciated when things cool down. Hot months call for more death metal which is why Tampa was such a hot bed for it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bringing the Blues Charlie Sayles

If it was not for the blues, not only would metal not exist, but neither would any rock n roll of any sub-genre. The first Black Sabbath album has more in common with Robert Johnson than Darkthrone. So here is a taste of the real deal. You know it is real just when the first few notes of the first song hits you and they are  playing the kind of dirty dive bar blues that inspired the likes of Tom Waits whose booze splattered odes carry the ghosts of that era. Charlie Sayles knows those ghost first hand from when they walked the earth. The sound is so raw it could very well be a mic on stage.  the funk to "Green Peace" gives it the gumption to look at the bigger  picture than just lamenting at a bar. The guitar is a little low in the mix with  the drums  carrying the groove. He gets into more of a road house blues shuffle on "These Chains" which also has slight gospel undertones, as the song reflects on the pit falls of addiction. His harmonica solo sit where guitar solos typically would in this kind of music and are a welcome diversion, after all how many times can you take some one wanting to be Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Though "Laughin and Grinnin" is more what you would it expect it, still carries more swing than stereotypical blues and really gives Sayles the space to cut loose . They break out some classic twelve bar blues walk downs on "Arella". The vocals go down into a steamy whisper. This album continues to take you on a tour of the varied moods of blues taking on a more easy going lounge feel on " I Don't Want to Die" which finds the harmonica trading off with the guitar. The song "A New Day Coming" reminds me of a more breezy and easy going take on something Hendrix might have done in one of his less drugged funk moments. There is more of a Texas blue phrasing to the soulful ballad "Vietnam". Sayles doesn't just blow into his Harmonica with a rhythmic intensity and hope for the best like many do, he has a very lyrical quality to his playing that can caress a melody. If you are hungry for some real blues and want it light on the guitar solos , but heavy on having it's roots firmly planted in the real shit them this is your horse to bet on.

The album closes with " Those Things of Old" which fitting with the title carries a honky honk twang to it. The groove to it is not unlike those used by Howling Wolf or Albert King that would later be bastardized by Led Zeppelin. However many bands from the British Invasion pulled liberally from this period of blues. Its evident that Sayles is plugged in directly to the roots of the music. If you are hungry for some real blues and want it light on the guitar solos , but heavy on having it's roots firmly planted in the real shit then this album will not do your wrong. It's being released on Fetal Records , check out a taste below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Refused : "Freedom" review & "Dawkins Christ " Video

They have been some what reunited since 2012, but they are still active in side projects, which had altered the over all sound.Dennis Lyxzen's voice is more refined as he has learned how to actually sing and polished his pipes since "The Shape of Punk to Come". So this is not going to sound like the same band in some ways. They are still liberally experimenting. By the second song things begin to get weird. The bass sound on this album is incredible, is the first thing I walked away with. At times the bring their electronic interests into the mix with them. They flirt with metal on "Dawkins Christ", some of the riffage would not feel out of place on a Tool album. A chorus of children chanting "exterminate the brutes/ exterminate all the brutes" is chanted before the funky "Francafrique" kicks in.

There is a slight post-punk element to the electro mixed into "Thought is Blood". It's upbeat up a little darker than I remember them getting back in the day. The electronic elements work for me, but I can see fans more attached to their earlier work having a problem with them. There is a weird cock rock element to "War on the Palaces". Sometimes the vocals saunter like the Rolling Stones. then there is a weird new wave break that sounds like they are about to break into Corey Hart's "Sunglasses At Night". Some of the trickery stands out more than the others and at sometimes it even seems more like window dressing on the Rollins like rant of "Destroy the Man". "366" stays on a similar more straight up angular math tinged post- hardcore. The chorus of "thats some one's sister/ that's some one's son" sticks with you. Another Tool like riff sneaks up towards the end of the song. There is another funky riff this one sounds like it could have appeared on a Mars Volta album. The vocals are strong on this one and show a wide range. The album closes with "Useless Europeans". That highlights Lyxzen's voice and lets him croon in a lower range in a brooding apocalyptic ballad. It builds and ebbs back and forth much like a Faith No More song would, back when they had some balls to them so it's fitting that they are touring with them.Better than I thought it would be I'll call it a 9.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ken Mode : "Success"

I sometimes forget that there is an entire generation of kids coming up now who missed out on the 90s . So this will sound like this album just came out of nowhere. They have Steve Albini on this album, which should take their post-hard core tinged noise rock to the next level. They drum sound gets pretty big and the album opens with some unique placement of its instruments. The guitars grunge out like the are from "In Utero". Vocals aside I can already say I like this better than their last album. It almost sounds like Rollins comes in on the end of the first song. The vocal narrative begins to gnaw on me on the second. There are some cool guitar sound, the bass kinda disappears, but the mix is odd all the way around.

There is a swing to the angular "The Owl..". The drumming is impressive, but does this make it a good song? They find a rowdy punk rock energy to kick into "I Just Liked Fire' that sounds like Black Flag colliding with At the Drive in. The annoying vocals lament about how we live in a privileged world on the more somber drive of "Management Control". By "A Passive Disaster" it is beginning to sound like a Rage Against the Machine b-side with out the solos. The song "Failing at Fun Since 1981" really lives up to its name. It is hardly worth paying attention to. The vocals stay the same though a more enjoyable tension is built on "A Catalogue of Small Disappointments". The get a little darker when they close out the album with a brooding bass line driving the song. This album's main offense aside from sometimes boring me, was the annoying spoke to yelled vocals. They stepped out from behind the Amp Rep bandwagon, but have move into a much less flattering era of the 90s. I am surprised Steve signed on for this, but hey you gotta pay the rent some how. They have moved away from metal and that doesn't bother me. I'll give this album a 4.5, some times it was OK back ground music , but after the first song never really grabbed me again. The album cover displays how I felt about it overall.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Watain : "Tonight We Raise Our Cups and Toast in Angels Blood"

Live albums and  cover albums are what artists use to buy them another year before they have to put out something new, so normally I am less than thrilled about them. Here Watain is giving us both at the same time. But I love Watain and if any body is going to put out a live tribute album to Bathory then it should be them. Truth be told I prefer Bathorys viking metal over Quothon's  more punk first album and this tends to lean in that direction. They open with "A Fine Day to Die" which they nail as they are considering Bathory is one of their main influences , people have always said Watain sounds like Dissection and I've been listening to both bands for some time and aside from some moments on the last album I haven't really heard it, I have always heard more Bathory who is of course an influence on both bands.  They follow it up with the thrashier  " The Return of Darkness and Evil" . "The Rite of Darkness" is the first song that I would have rather they chose some else, it sounds to much like Venom. I like Venom as Venom, but when I want to hear Bathory I prefer the viking days.

Then comes" The  Reaper" from rawer more punk influenced first album which listening to them rock it here doesn't annoy me as much and there is a very tangible Slayer influence at work, "Show No Mercy" has been out for a year by the time Bathory's first album dropped.  One of the best songs on this album is "Enter the Eternal Flame" that carries a powerful and deliberate chug. It becomes even more evident how much common ground Bathory shares with Venom, which I had not really though about until now. If I had to pick a band I would pick Bathory over Venom as there is a wider musical scope being tackled there where Venom was like a punk rock band in spandex with pentagrams. They return to  Bathory's beginnings  going into the equally raw and barbaric "Sacrifice" that hits like most of the early thrash from this era.It's pretty straight forward. Erik does a convincing job, but it's not out of his comfort zone. Another song from The Return is cranked out in the form of "Born for Burning". This has a more determined chug to it  and even though it comes from the time in  the 80s where the lines between punk and metal where blurred, this is distinctly metal in that it owes enough to a more classic metal side.

Overall I like this more than I don't and the stuff that I normally don't like from Bathory comes across as having better production on this live album than it did from the studio in 82. I would have liked to have heard more of the viking metal , but it works to scratch a Watain itch and if you are a Bathory fan it's worth checking out as you can imagine when it comes to idol worship they are going to do it right. I'll round it up to an 8.5.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Delta Deep : s/t

This new project is a strange marriage of unlikely partner it finds Stone Temple Pilots bassist and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen digging down to play some Mississippi blues with Debbi Blackwell Cook who made a name for her self as a backing vocalist for the upper tier of jazz and r&b stepping into  the spotlight. One thing interesting about this album is that you really hear that Collen's chops go beyond pouring some sugar on him as his fills are perhaps more fluid than when some like Jeff Beck has dipped into similar territory. He does use more of a rock gain on the solos. You do hear hints of his more typical  rock playing "Down In the Delta" , which also has a big arena rock chorus. Cook's tough alto works similar to Tina Turners over rock. But hearing even Collen's rock playing out of the context of  his hysterical soccer mates, shows that he is a seriously under rated player. There is a smooth groove and vocal exchange between Cook and Collen on " Treat Her Like Candy". The  Stevie Ray Vaughn like strut to "Miss Me" is one of the albums most radio friendly moments.

The tackle some roadhouse blues in a manner more authentic than even Led Zepplin's first two albums. The organ flowing under this song gives them the edge to accomplish this. David Coverdale shows up for the duet on "Private Number" without it sounding like a Whitesnake song. Its funny that they also cover a Deep Purple song  later in the album since Coverdale did a stint with that band as well. Collen lends his voice to "Shuffle Sweet" resulting in something that sounds more like it could have appeared on one of the more recent Def Leppard albums. Collen begins to take over the mic on "Black Coffee" with  he and Cook sharing equal time on "Feel It".

Since Deep Purple is one of my favorite classic rock bands I had high expectations for "Mistreated". Their version hits with the same hard rock pump. Joe Elliots steps up to the task and clears the bar that was set pretty high by the mighty Ian Gillan, before Cook does take hold of the second verse to grant the song the more fitting vocal acrobatics.If you were a fan of that Badlands supergroup that Jake E Lee was a part of you can find a lot of common ground here. It makes sense that this era of rock would come to the cross roads with blues, there has been a lot of common ground as far as playing is concerned to this feels pretty natural and considering the caliber of musicians has to deliver if you are a fan of any of their previous work , it is worth your time and if you are skeptical but love the blues it is worth checking out to make you a believer.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Up From the Underground : Magnificent Birds of Prey

The opener  of this Philly based oddity's new album is both more surreal and heavier than I anticipated.  While many genres come into collision over wandering the course of the album, they lean towards more of an 70s acid- rock feel to mixed with some of the atmosphere indulged upon by the more cerebral grunge bands that didn't hit the radio the 90s like Mindfunk or Scatterbrain. At times the vocals have a tender quality bringing to mind Genesis era Peter Gabriel.  Despite the sometime angular jangle to "Icon"  the vocals that go into a throaty roar and the driving bass line keeps this in a firm hard rock vein. They walk an odd line between traditional rock and Police like new wave on "Can't Wash My Soul"with slight punk inflections in the vocals, but the guitar solos are straight up rock.

The vocals return to the more tender place on "Writing Every Thing Away" while the guitar jerks around the vocals and the drums roll more adventurously around the proceedings much like a prog band, until it returns to bouncy up beat verse. The first song where the lyrics really stand out to me is "Stormtrooper Blues" which is written a from the perspective of  one of Darth Vader's minions who finds himself having second thoughts after his vacation request gets denied. The guitars tend to be slathered in an i array of digital delays creating an almost bubbling quality. This keeps a dreamy juxtaposition to the vocals that always gravitate to a huskier blues based rock tone.  The use of backing vocals is the most punk element to most of the songs, since punk rock never indulges in the sort of effects that makes up sound of these birds of prey.

I am more entranced by the smooth surreal jazzy undertones they take on during  "Statue". This allows the vocals more room to wander and allowing their chops to flourish. "Seven" is a more modern take on Jimi Hendrix, until the vocal croon comes in and the rest of the band goes off into funk dabbling prog punk. This is one of the album's harder songs and gives the drummer room to flex his talents. They glide on cruise controlled groove with "Collide O Scope", before the  vocals yet again tense up and add grit. The reflective jazz tone drifts into psychedelic dimensions on "Drive" but with a dose of Spanish castle magic funk in the mix. Their idea of a lullaby sounds more  like something Sublime might have concocted in a stoned moment of inspiration.

If you pre-order the album you get the bonus track "Sharpie" which is one of their more upbeat moments. This album comes out August 18th. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Brother/ Ghost : "Buried"

This Texas band plays a dark and spacious form of post- rock that lingers in a cosmic cloud of opium. They pick it up a little on the second song "Harpies" , but this is only in increments and the bass player tend to wander forward. The females vocals that opened the album are replaced by male vocals that slide around the riffs. Not the greatest singer, reminds me a little of Sebadoh, but with a few more notes on his lower register. The guitar weaves around the often angular and ghostly flow of the bass and drums. They hit the sonic sweet spot where they get heavy without being metal.

The female vocals return on "Cripple" which drips with simmering sonic syrup and hits a sweeter spot at the six minute mark, when it brings an omnious heft to the transition. Her vocals are wailed under a filter of effects. The trade off of the vocals between male and female continues on "Causeway" there are early emo hints of Death Cab and earlier Remy Zero as the guitar soaks in reverb. There are great tones coming from all the instruments on this album and they are perfectly placed amongst one another. The males vocals continue as the guitar takes on a more rock on going into "Freedom". The drummer attacks his kit with the same deliberation as the drummer from Explosions in the Sky used to on their early work, big cymbal crashes ringing out like razor blade bombs. They hit some really powerful accents that have hints of metal to them.

There is  more of a grunged out lumber to "Pendalum" , while it begins to pack a punch it's my least favorite song of the album. That is not to say it sucks it just lacks the x-factor that makes the other songs work so well. They take a more relaxed tone on "Blackdog" and not the Zep tune leans in a Murder By Death direction, the vocal croon is an improvement and the bass player struts his stuff on this one too. While some of the heights this album reaches are not always maintained, the song writing is solid and this impresses me enough to round it up to a 10. One of the best sounding albums of the year. Big things should come this bands way so keep an ear open for them and give this one a listen.

Tidemouth : "Velvet and Stone"

The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter when they roar out into "Vaccinate". They marry the two sides in an emotive manner than find them treading closer to more organic introspection characteristic of Brand New. The tender melancholic tone that opens "Memories of You" is closer to the conventional goth that emerged out of the 80s before it is pounded into a more angered demeanor. It carries an angular jerk in some ways like that of At- Drive In, but with more malice and dissonance. They make you think they are always on the verge of  returning to a more melodic nature. "Clearing the Forest" its dips and drags back and forth like a bi-polar tug of war. The tightly picked guitar work add a creepy slink to the songs drugged momentum.

The first song that their more punk roots takes time to grow on me is "Sunlight Sonata". The almost sung break downs in the verse helps to smooth this over for me. The tension reaches more metallic proportions on "Abyssal Blessing" that gives more of a dirty chug to things and finds them taking on a more Black Flag like anger. It took a few listens to distinguish "Pepper Tree" which finds itself wedged in between to other songs like an interlude. The vocals are more amorphous as this ditty doesn't fit neatly into what you might expect from a song. There is a jazzy slink to the sleazy punk narrative of "Downtown". The brings things down to a crawl with "What's Needed". It  balances melody with the angst.

This is an incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. I'll give it a 10 no problem. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Pregnant Light : "Neon White"

Damian Master is back with some more purple metal. This was labelled as a demo, but the demo released for Record Store Day was called St. Emaciation. The first song has more of a hard core feel, with some punchy moodiness thrown in towards the end.Being a demo the recording is pretty raw and more than a little rough around the edges, the guitars sound like they would benefit from more effects rather than such a dry sound. "Horse Head" is in the same hardcore influenced zip code, some black metal like guitar appears midway through it, I suppose if you are just desperate to call something black metal. There are some nice guitar melodies mixed in on this one.

The guitar tone changes for " Guess" , but the song carries a similar post- hardcore stomp to it. There is a good deal of hook to it and I like the very emo guitar break down. Of the three originals on this album, this one is the best. Even the hard core parts have melody and catchy vocal arrangements that are shouted out. The weird eighties sung part which is bathed in odd effect elevates the song into a more awesome sonic realm.

He closes it out with a cover of Nick Cave's "Abattoir Blues" . The vocals are buried beneath the guitar , which for Nick Cave that is a crucial element since his post- Birthday-Party work is so vocal driven. So it is a little underwhelming. Like most of his work there are more hits than misses, though it doesn't consistently hit the mark. So I will give this a 7.5. Maybe this is a demo and the finished product will really wow me, but production wowing me to make this a ten is a little far fetched.

Valdur : "Pathetic Scum"

They are back and bringing it harder. If you have been hung up on the False album, here is the really shit you need to check out. Cavernous and roaring. They have more than one way to crush you. The vocals are low both tonally and in the mix. They are not the prominent element to their sound, but serve the purpose  in the depths of this pit of primal power.  Crushing is often over used description of extreme metal, here it is actually fitting , though they still have ghostly echoes of atmosphere in the distance. The jack hammer start of "Impending Doom" can be migraine inducing. I don't feel it's as nuanced song writing as the opener, the vocals shift into more of a coarse cry. Then the blasting really starts on "Blessings of the Goat". The drumming gets really thundering, but it's it's not until everything slows in the final two minutes that it really finds its footing. The vocal variance is subtle and can get lost in this storm but it's there.  The chanted part really works well.

The title track kinda becomes a blur until the synths soften the back drop a little and the drums go into the more tribal pound. The militant beat it opens with goes unnoticed until the second listen. Once the song really kicks in the double bass to blast momentum takes you away. While it's more of an interlude the synth break down in "Incantre pt2" is very creative and a nice touch. It's bookended by to metal sections so it might be one of the oddest black metal instrumentals. The album closes with the somewhat more straight forward "Morbid Emanations" though it does have a layer of creepy guitar running along side it's more traditional metal path, there is one riff that reminds me of old Morbid Angel. They use atmosphere well in this song to throw you a sonic curve ball and it envelopes the metal swallowing it.

This is a step forward sonically for this band, sometimes it gets so heavy until its more of a vibration than a song, which is the only pit fall to daring to be that heavy you sacrifice musicality though I think they proved on the first song they could do it which set the part so high for the rest of the album I'll give this one an 8.5 for that reason. If you wanting something that kicks your face in and willing to disregard the finer points of musicality then round it up another point.

This monsterpiece comes out June 3Oth on Bloody Mountain Records.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

False : "Untitled"

I have been hunting for this album for a few months now. It was being hailed as been the best American black metal album of the year and it very well may be just due to the fact there is not much worthwhile black metal coming out of the states this year. On the very song the vocals didn't sit well with me .They don't sound screamed as much as they sound like someone if gasping for breath really up close on the microphone there is no power at all to them. So when I find out they have a girl singing for them the lack of power and gasping for air makes sense. The guitar tone and keyboards sound well layered and the grit to the guitar has their own sound. The drumming sounds a little thin, like the drummer is barely touching his kit with his sticks.There is one part where they lock in for more of a galloping chug that works well. But the album is going to need to pull it together to impress me as from the first song I am underwhelmed.

 Harsh vocals in any genre might not be sung, but they do need to serve the song. Here the vocals are not placed anywhere. They seem to have not thought put into them in regards of how they should work in the context of the rest of the song. The guitars have some little punches on "the Deluge" but are not really weaving together much in terms of songwriting. This is not to say they aren't working hard to try and do this , its just not happening. The cool riffs alone don't make a good song theory is in full effect. The synths on this song remind me of how the keyboards accent "Altars of Madness".

There is a tighter attack to the title track, the vocals actually work with the song, so I am not sure what they were doing the first two songs. When she rasps the word master it reminds me of Gullom. Her lyrics are just intelligible enough to create goofy misunderstandings, at one point it sounds like she says "the master is a gnome". Yet even at its best this album doesn't seize you attention and I still find myself tuning it out.They get off to a good start on "Entropy". In the final six minutes they touch on a melodic section that shows promise. It's sections like these they need to expand up in order to propel their song writing towards awesome.

"Hedgecraft" really has its work cut out for it if it is going to tip this album towards being decent.They go full blast ahead and the vocal work better with the music than earlier in the album. One of their strengths that they displayed earlier in the album where they lock into a chug resurfaces here. Her vocals have a more convincing snarl to them as well. Earlier Nachtmystium might be a good point of reference to some of their more grooving sections. Their attack is More one dimensional than not, which is ok unless this is taking place in a song that is over ten minutes long. They hold off yet again to introduce any melodic elements until the final few minutes and even those are short lived when they give way to blasting. The hype is almost heavier than this album. Sure it's a novelty to have a girl singing in your black metal band, but who really care if she can barely hack it . This album is not a good argument for women being equals when it comes to playing metal. Or maybe it is cause the drummer is a guy and almost on part with her. The guitar sound is pretty mean, so if that is all it takes to sell you on a band then you are in luck, they do have some moments and have promise, enough promise that I'll round this up to a 7.5, but if this is on someone's album of the year list hold them suspect for being false.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Morrissey @ Symphony Hall 2015

If you are only a Smiths fan, this might not be the tour for you. If you only like Moz' greatest hits this might not be the tour for you. After thirty minutes of video ranging from Tina Turner, Jefferson Airplane, the Ramones and the New York Dolls , He took the stage apologizing for being two years late. Referring to the fact he has cancelled more than he has played here. While review of the first couple of shows in the tour said he pushed his politics to heavily, he didn't say a word other than express his thanks and let the videos playing above him do the talking.The touring line up consisted of  the line up from the world peace is none of your business session , old timer Boz  Boorer and Jesse Tobias handling the guitars . Matt Walker on drums along with multi-instrumentalist Gustavo Manzur, who was Moz's new ace in the hole. He handled, trumpet parts, spanish guitar, additional drumming and back vocals. It was the few minutes he took the mic himself that inspired me to take a bathroom break.

His stage set-up was a step up from previous tours with more emphasis put on the LED lighting on video screen above the band. At times the videos which pushed Moz's agenda, repulsed fans  by showing cops beating people and killing dogs. Then there was the video which accompanied "Meat is Murder" that showed what goes on inside of a slaughterhouse. This was one of the most intense things I have ever seen shown at a concert, beating out all metal bands and leaving only Skinny Puppy as a close second. I was surprised this song didn't get a bigger response since it is a Smiths song, and one of my favorite's since it's so dark and the closest the Smiths come to playing metal. The crowd was evidently also only interested in the Smiths greatest hits as well as they sat this one out. Of course the energy leaped up for "Stop Me If You Have Heard This One Before" and "What She Said", both of which are on the Smiths greatest hits compilations.

The set was heavy on "World Peace Is None of Your Business" .  While I would have liked to have heard a slightly broader range, maybe one song from every album, it was my first time hearing any of these songs live. For the most part they held up well "Istanbul" and the title track perhaps at the top of the pile. The more recent hits included "Throwing My Arms Around Paris" and "First of the Gang to Die". He touched on some of his more classic solo work like "Everyday is Like Sunday" and "Now My Heart if Full". Morrissey's voice sounded great. The high and low croons alike came across with power and he even floated into his head register. The only qualm I had was it didn't seem loud enough. Now I know my hearing has had a toll taken on it from going to see Swans alone, much less all the other shows, but the energy exchange between the musicians and the fans was not as intense as other times i have heard them play at higher volumes. This could have been a volume restriction place on them by the venue since it was at Symphony Hall.  The mix was good, with Moz's voice way out front, since it is his show. From a performance standpoint if you haven't see him yet, this tour seems to be a fine opportunity, but a word of warning this is not a greatest hits tour so it would be wise to make sure you check out his latest album if you haven't done so yet or you will be out of the loop most of the show.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Nevoa: "The Absence of Void"

Portugal is starting to really pump out the metal. This album is surprising due to it's clean production.The guitar tones are very crisp and the mix leaves room to actually hear the bass , which is rare for black metal. One thing that is impressive with these guys is even when they fly into the blast beats every thing is still clear and musically and it gets doesn't sounds like a bunch of pots and pans are falling out of a closet. They are atmospheric without losing all form and function. They touch on a chilling drone that doesn't just become white noise and numb you out. Due to the Scandinavian roots of black metal bands they tend to get referred to as having a coldness, despite the geographical difference there is a similar starkness to the riffs that are more emotionally cold than musical translation of the physical nature of the cold lifestyle that haunts other black metal. "Wind and Branches" has more dynamic dips than the opener which is more static and rigid.I think the initial sound of their crisp guitar work really grabs your ear making you think there is more to the song than there actually is.Though this is not to dismiss the melody buried in the swirling din.

 "Alma" is the first song to drop the distortion on let an acoustic guitar ring out.A female vocal sings over this. Up until this point I would say the band obscures their influences, but this section reminds me of something Agalloch would do.This is more of an interlude than a song as it doesn't build from what it is. They do get a lot nastier when they come back in on "Below the Celestial Abyss"it drops down in a more sonic almost post-rock cloud of melancholy.At eleven minutes it's the first song they really get indulgent in musically excesses, but it pays off and they storm back into things in a more thoughtful way that most who seem to only know one way to attack a blast beat. The put to use most of the fourteen plus minutes of the title, they have a knack for gloomy riffs that have a angular melodic quality to them. The only disappointing thing is how they go into the blast beat toward the end like every other band, then they redeem themselves by slowing it down under the tremolo picking.

This might be one of the best black metal album that you came close to not hearing if you had not clicked on this review. I have no problem rounding this up to a 9.5, as it encompasses most of the elements I want from black metal of this ilk. Fans of Burzum, Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room will all find something that will resonate with them here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Communions : s/t Ep

Things are changing for this band from Denmark, one change being The vocals are so androgynous that I had to check to see if they had switched singers.They do have a the tones and touches from the 80s pretty much nailed , though there is a certain indie punk apathy to it.There is the typical 80s beat to "Forget its a Dream". It has a pop streak to it , but it's an 80s pop streak to that is much better and the guitars are pretty solid even when they step on the wah. There is more of a "I'll Stop the World" rock feel to "Where ever" making it a more reluctant anthem.

By the time it gets to "Restless Hours" I'm sure it's a chick singing. They are never as dark as most post-punk, though I would say the label still applies to them. The guitar rings out like a cross between the Cure and the Smiths. There is a more longing tone to "Summer's Oath". The vocals despite being gender fluid try to be neither Siouxsie or Ian Curtis, so these creatures are doing their own thing. This song has movement, but enough restraint to keep it from falling into punk rock. I have notice traces of Sonic Youth cropping up in many new bands lately and it's here to in "Out of My World" it's mainly a guitar tone thing  and not how they play their instruments. I think there are both male and female vocals doubling on parts of "Out of My World". The vocals for seem reason seem more childish on this song and it grates on me a little. I don't mind how the phrase "you're so out of my world " is sung and the guitar melody is pleasing its just not my favorite song on this album. In some ways I might like the earlier work better , though these vocals are a bit more unique. They have really refined their guitar sounds which makes this album really easy on the ears.The vocals when they sound too much like a little girl or what Courtney Love might have sounded like in her high school band take away from what this album could be , but what it is is still impressive and the guitar playing really puts it over the top and sells me on this so I'll round it up to an 8, who knows how many more plays I'll get out of this. If you are tired of the same old same old from the post-punk revival this is what you need.

VNV Nation: "Resonance"

An orchestral dark wave is better than you would think. You are taking often anime soundtrack like synths and replacing them with a lush orchestra. Where it plays into VNV Nation's favor is it really show cases singer. Ronan Harris' voice.  While this album takes from songs from the bands back catalogue which goes back fifteen years. Obviously with anything that is a dramatic departure, like an acoustic album the dramatic stylistic shift eases the first couple of tracks and then from their you really see how the bands song writing talents hold up when you take away the dance beats. The Babelsburg Film Orchestra lends their talents to accompanying them here. The lyrics to "Solitary" stand out with this arrangement and lend power to the song.

A piano and plucked strings subtly in the background form this version of "Further". For some reason this reminds me of a Irish Folk song. The first listen to this album I was found myself listening for songs that could be on the mix for my Halloween Wedding, I know "Perpetual" was not one of those. The strings on this song dip in and out of the vocal melody. Harris' voice is pleasant, but I feel this is not giving him a chance to show the full range as it feels like he is holding back do to these arrangements. There is a honest sweetness to the lyrics of "Illusion", despite the fact it touches on some many break up song cliches.Without the dance beats pumping to these songs it does become more obvious there are no surprises when it comes the arrangements. "Nova" sounds like they are about to go into "Hey Jude". It becomes more of a chamber music piece than a goth song. One thing that is clear is Harris is an excellent lyricist.The first song that feels dark to me is "Sentinel". It is also the first song that really displays much of a dynamic range.

The melancholy returns on "Beloved" which retains the darker feel established by the previous song. The title track feels hopeful like a Neil Diamond song despite the lyric being about rage consuming some one. "Teleconnect" is the bonus track He sounds like Micheal Stipe on this one. .I'll give this album an 8 ,  even though it's technically a compillatiuon, but these songs have almost been rewrittnen.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Khemmis: " Absolution"

Pallbearer might not be the first metal band to put clean vocals to doom, but they are the most lauded for it today. There were bands like Solitude Aeturnus, Trouble and Candlemass who have been at it for some time. So maybe it's time those bands are getting some recognition. Or not...the  spurts of harsh vocals are one thing that keeps these guys from sounding like a Pallbearer tribute. Some time they go a more obvious metal route than what Pallbearer would do. It's going to take a few listens for me to get past this comparison and dig into the album.I will say these guys are doom, but not funereal doom. They do not have the mournful quality that some one like Evoken conjures.

"Serpentine" slithers, but I think I favor "Ash, Cinder, Smoke" over it. They have the sound. The melancholy yet powerful guitar harmonies. They are more in your face with the metal on "Antediluvian". The chug to "Burden of Sin" is more horns in the air than anything Pallbearer would do. The growled vocals dominate the first half of this song, until the singing comes in for what would be the chorus. The one thing these guys have going for them in regards to be more straight up metal is they don't drag their songs out.

"The Bereaved" finds them shifting start the song off with a more contemplative guitar tone before the stomped on the distortion on powered up.They seem to show their true face on "The Bereaved". The guitarists pull out some sweeping shredding. The melody shows their lead singer's personality. I would like to hear more coming from this direction. While the comparison to you know who abounds, these guys have chops and with more listens it's easier to hear where they stand on their own two feet. While I am on the fence as to if I need these guys in my iPod since I have you know who already there and that void filled, I think think credit is due to what they have crafted so I will give it a 9 as I said to myself I like this more than the Goatsnake album and they got an 8.5 so it only stands to reason they would be scored so.

No Joy : " More Faithful"

 I have been anticipating  this new full length from No Joy. I have always liked the glimpses I have gotten of this project in the past , but have never gotten a solid taste of what the band could really do  so now we get the big picture. The show you many side right from the first song which has the driving post-punk bass pumping under dreamy vocals. The guitar doesn't come into clearer focus until the second song, which conforms to more indie rock standards than the opener. The vocals smooth out and glide over their brand of dream pop, that comes across with vocals more in the forefront than their previous work. They veer off into something more upbeat , but not quite dancey on "Hollywood Teeth" that feels like it shaded with equal dabs of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth.

From a production the guitars have a lot more varied sounds to work with. With this comes more expansive range of emotions conveyed. Sometimes these create a sound bordering on electronica on songs like" Burial In Twos" . This is juxtaposed against the almost punk "Corpo Daemon". It's there more introspective grooves like those of  "Bolas" that prove some of the albums more compelling moments. When something more rocking organically pours from those clouds it carries more of a punch. The distortion on "Chalk Snake" is pretty convincing. It's lethargy stumbled beneath the narcotic nature of the swirling vocal above it. Then they skip into jangly dream pop. Male float to the surface of the shoe gazed out "  I am an Eye Machine". This is one of the album's best song. The ethereal nature is balanced with soaring chords.

The close out the album on more of amped up Cocteau Twins drive. But with the bass and drums hammering under the verse at double time. The vocals of a drugged out angel circling the earth in a stoned bliss. Like I said I have always like what I have heard from this band and they have given me what I needed to hear from them. Sure they can gleam like fragile crystal, but can also rock out when they feel like it. I will round this one up to a 9.5 and see how it grows on me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Algiers : "s/t"

I have been searching the inner -webs for this album for sometime now, so happy to finally have my hands on it. Matador records is releasing it but not doing much else to promote it. Good thing for the band they have a unique sound that should set them apart.  They formed in Atlanta, but like most other good music Atlanta doesn't know what to think of it so they relocated to varied parts of the world meeting up again in New York. They do take string synths that are slightly goth and set them as a backdrop to the gospel dirge. The singer's husky soulful voice has more rawness to it than I expected and it sits in a bizarre juxtopostion to the noisy industrial clanging that it emotes over. Sometimes it sounds like the rest of the band is going to go along with him and start busting out some 60s soul from within the din.

Sometimes the gospel takes the focus and the dark electronic elements just haunt the background, with the groove of "And When You Fall" making it seem like this lines are more defined than they actually are. I has previously heard the chain gang pulse of " Blood", which was one of the song that sold me on these guys in the first place. They pick up the pace for "Old Girl". It's another song where it's hard to hear where the gospel and electronica begins and ends, though here the mixture comes across more rock n roll. One of the other songs that sold me on this band is frantic funk kick of "Irony, Utility, Pretext". The shadowy cloak this electronic gospel is draped in varies in shades from song to song. One of the darker shades paints "But She Was Not Flying".
"Black Eunauch" is the only song that has taken several listens for me to still not have formed a conclusive opinion about. The albums only ballad "Games" gives the album a wider dynamic range. A fitting comparison to this band would be they fuse dark electronica to gospel in the same way Chelsea Wolfe has done it with folk. The big chorus filling up the background of "In Parallax" pushes the gospel in your face, but lyricallY I think any religious imagery is being used as a metaphor. If you have any inkling in regards to my spiritual path based on my writing for Cvlt Nation then it should be clear that if this was a christian band I would not give them the time of day. The album ends with a untitled piece that is an outro combining noise with what sounds like a gospel radio station. Without a doubt this is an excellent piece of work that was well worth the searching. It gets a 10.


Algiers - "Blood" from Algiers on Vimeo.

Monday, June 8, 2015

High On Fire : "Luminiferous"

I have never been huge into these guys. they have been too meat and potatoes for me. I caught them back in 2004ish when Planesmistakenforstars opened for them, and was less than impressed. I  have grown to appreciate them more as their musicianship and song have grown over the years.The opener reminds me of "Leave No Cross Unturned" by Darkthrone. Matt Pike seems to be singing more than roars, but this is marginal. The song hammers like a freight train. There is more a sludge groove to the second that is more rock n roll n the same sense Clutch is rock n roll. Thick stoned distortion too up tempo to be doom. On their last album they reminded me of a mix of Motorhead and Venom, here it is more like old Mastodon with out any of the guitar tricks.

The song "the Sunless Years" blunders by with volume and fury, but is otherwise rather dull. There is more thundering overblown rock n roll being pounded out on "Slave the Hive". Some typical yet well played guitar solos crop and I am beginning to think their last album was better, as it had more sonic depth. What you hear is what you get . There are no surprises. A break down here and there, but more meat and potatoes. The rule cool riffs alone don't make a good song hits these guys hard. Though the chug to "the Falconist" works well with the almost Thin Lizzy like swagger of the vocals. At times I begin to wonder if this more streamlined and accessible song with an emphasis placed on the vocals is their stab at following in Mastodon's footsteps. What this band does best is fully realized on "The Dark Side of the Compass". The riff is big and driving, but it works well for the song to form around it. The chorus has grit, but also tangible melody. The drummer pulls all of this together with his best playing to date.

They pulls a surprisingly melodic song out of nowhere with "the Cave" that sounds like Neurosis playing an upbeat version of "Planet Caravan". They dynamics are just right. While some of their older fans might balk at this, there is no denying this is a good song. The album does seem like it is improving as it progresses. The drum come in with sweeping tom rolls on the title track. It drives ahead like newer Slayer and is heavy, but also one dimensional, with a ridiculous solo. They bring the album to an end with the more Sabbath like doom of "the Lethal Chamber", that finds it's way into a more Celtic Frost groove. I like the effects that show up on the vocals from time to time. They loose what is working when the song speeds up, but it's still listenable. I might stick around when I go see Pallbearer open up for them, but I'll give this album a 7.5 these guys are still a band I will only catch when they have openers I actually like, but they have show some improvement when it comes to writing actual songs.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Flesh World : "the Wild Animals in my Life"

Some more ex-hardcore/ punk kids have crossed over to the dark side.They come from the bands Limp Wrist, Needles and brilliant colors. The vocals are androgynous , but they get props for not trying to sounds like Ian Curtis or Siouxsie. The guitar is the balance of taunt and tender. By the second song I'm pretty sure its a chick singing. They lean more toward the Cure than any other band from that era, so in some ways it's similar to the Organ, who sounded like the Smiths with a chick singer. Here's early Cure with a chick on the mic. There is a little more Sonic Youth in the guitar to the title track. There is a noticeable "Goo" vibe to "Shaved Head". But the vocals are much sweeter than Kim Gordon.

 There songs are subtle.Almost to the point of being shoe-gazey at times. Sometimes to the point they breeze by and I zone out and have to go back and listen to it again. So it doesn't grab you by the collar and demand you listen.On "Pool Side Boys" they guitarist begins to experiment more and even busts out a feed back filled solo or sorts. They use a lot of restraint and don't descend into punk rock until one of the final three songs. When they do they sounds like every other band that does this sort of thing. They continue to bang it out like this on "Your Love Is Like a House" that is a better use of punk as they still retain the other sounds from earlier in the album, but they just step on the gas with them.They stick to their guns with the punk thing and drag it out into the closing song. I think iam being generous to round this up to an 8, but they get points for being original and at least taking for odd places. The punk stuff I am still unsure about as most other bands are going more of that route they are bringing a little more fuzzed out sound to it though here. This is being released on Iron Lung Records.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chelsea Wolfe : "Abyss" Review & "Carrion Flowers" video

Did you really think I was going to be able to wait until August for this? A smile crosses my face when the industrial pound of the opener "Carrion Flowers" brings it's pounding beauty. This is way heavier than I had even hoped. She stays true to her ethereal vocal style which works well over the hammering beat. Though "Iron Moon" seemed surprisingly heavy when the song was first released in the context of the album she is giving you are breather. Even more experimental than "Pain is Beauty" the fuzzed out bass to "Dragged Out" rumbles over her ghostly plea that sits back into the dark background. The chorus builds into a more industrial din as the song expands and contracts. One the second verse she flexes her pipes more and sings out over the bass line that she is losing her mind and she is so tired.

 The goth folk has not been thrown out of the window. "Maw" is a more dreamy take on it. Almost a ballad, it's equally haunted as it is tender. She harmonizes with herself with angelic grace. The song eventually builds into a more plodding rock. "Gray Days" hits a groove in this pained ode to lost love that compare it to opiate withdrawal. She never ceases to astound with her keen sense of how to place each note she sings so perfectly into the sonic pictures she paints. The beat to "After the Fall" sounds like its being pump through a blown out speaker, while the rest of the song spirals around it with a spectral purity. Then the song falls somewhere in-between trip-hop and industrial for a bridge to her hushed vocal and winds around into another stab at electronica.

She delves back into more "Unknown Room" territory on "Crazy Love". What would be the chorus if she felt the need to adhere to formula is a descent phantoms wails and viola. While the hordes of singer songwriters out there will re-tread similar chord progressions and melodies , even on the more stripped down folk, Ms Wolfe never copies herself. She tries a little tenderness on "Simple Death. She sweetly sings lyrics like "We looked around / and all was dead / our rotting bodies so deeply in love".  Lyrics that only her voice is the perfect fit to sing. This album not only has some of her most abrasive work , but also her most accessible. There is an even darker stab at shadow side of folk on "Survive". Lyrically this is reluctantly Wolfe at her most hopeful. Don't think I am not listening to this thinking ..."Hmmm, which one of these songs can I work into my wedding mix", because obviously I am. "Survive" is not content with just being another grim folk song as the drums build up around it .

The vocals on "Color of Blood" are layered with the octave shifted voice in the back ground that takes me back to 2010 when I first stumbled across her scouring the inner webs of "Witch-House". Half way into the songs it's pulse accelerates into double time. While there is a more metal element to many of the songs, this is generally coming from the bass not the guitar.  The title track closes out this monster piece. A toy piano ringing out, before it's enveloped. While one of the more sedate songs on the album the lyrics are more biting when she sings lines like " it hurts to love when I remember / we were born unto chaos". She has not disappointed, in fact exceeded expectations  and the bar was raised really high. I didn't think she could beat "Pain is Beauty" , but that is what has happened. Normally I rate albums 1 to 10 with 10 being perfection, I need to pull out the rare 11 for this .

King Crow : "Eidos"

From the onset the tricky syncopation seems to have more in common with Mars Volta than Kamelot. The vocals are filled with the kind of refined power that is required for progressive metal. They are soulful and more along the lines of Pain of Salvation than any operatic bellowing. They have some mathematics to some passages. The switches between the acoustic passages and the heavier riffs is well executed. This album's production all the way around is pretty spot on for their ambitious playing. They are melodic with out pouring on the cheese. Opeth and Porcupine Tree and both fair reference point, if we are talking about Opeths non-death metal days.

There is a slithering Tool groove set against the vocal melodies of "Slow Down" before the Kings X like prog sets in. They wait to slow down and get introspective on "Open Sky". There is a slight 70s prog tone to the keys. The singing is both emotive and original on this one. Its mid way into the song until any metal undertones begin to simmer up. These are kept at an more Led Zeppelin like intensity. They step into almost a folk metal place with the strum of the guitar on "Fading Out". This is not the only odd flirtation with other genres as I hear traces of 80s pop on the verse to "On the Barren Ground". They get closer to the Queensryche worship most prog-metal bands are all about on "At the Same Pace". They funny thing is they seem to be taking more cues from post-Empire Ryche than taking hold of the flame.

The title track finds the band getting a few degrees heavier, before flipping over into a more Porcupine Tree like acoustic verse.Honestly after reviewing the new Muse album earlier today I would say Kingcrow put more work into fine tuning the vocal melodies than Muse did. Sure Matt Bellamy might be the better singer, but when you are just dialing it in it doesn't matter. The end on a more introspective note than the album began on with delicate vocals and acoustic guitar that leads into a gradual build until it only goes metal for the final minute.  While this album is not metal in the strictest sense it has enough balls to appease fans of the proggier varieties. I'll give this one a 9 since it is so well crafted.