Friday, July 31, 2015

Solip : "Lack"




The shoe gaze revival looked like it was heading somewhere , but if we are going to be realistic , shoe gaze was pretty underground even at it's peak . The key for any genre to stay fresh is a diversity with in that. I can see where they could be compared to the likes of Nothing, these guys are less grungy, but a the same time heavier.For a shoe gazey band these Cali kids keep things at a pretty brisk pace and can pound the point home. The guitar sound is typically My Bloody Valentine worship and the vocals are buried under layers of effected buzz. "Impermanence" kicks into a similar driving though the bass takes to driving it through the wall of guitar sound himself. They accent certain parts with more power like a post-hardcore band might. It almost makes you claustrophobic as the walls of sound come closing in on you.  When they slow it down and let it drift the dynamic shift works really well. They are far from say Russian Circles when it comes to adding a more metallic beef.

"No Paradise" takes on a darker heavier hitting tone as separates it self from the previous song that seemed to drift around with nothing to set it apart from what they have already done. Though it is pretty dense and has a pound to it. The vocals come out from behind the guitar a little when they give them more room to breath on "Apophenia" .  It hits the loud to soft dynamic. They go into more of a 90s rock space, that bans like Hum and Failure used to float in. The end the album on an even heavier note, which they balance out with a swathe of spaced out guitar and laser feedback.

If you are a fan of the more modern wave of shoegaze  or like post-rock with a denser edge then this album is worth your time. I'll give it a 8, as the vocals are barely there and sometimes the song gets lost in the swirl. While that is an element of the genre, I think it can be better balanced which keeps this album from being perfect, but it is still pretty damn good.


 

Krallice : "Ygg huur"





Are these guys up to their same old tricks? If you mean churning out a  technically dazzling their almost math rock brand of black metal. In some ways yes, but the opener is more angular and shows they can do more than just blast at you. This is not to say they do not go into blast beats. They do . In fact those come on strong in "Wastes of the Ocean".  While I have always felt this band has been more invested in the math of  things than other bands such as Liturgy whom they have resided alongside on a similar sonice plane , on this album they have taken a step away  in favor of something more metal and technical in  the vein of what  tech death metal bands find themselves doing. The vocals are almost more like Converge in the fact they are barked out more like hardcore vocals than black metal.

There is more chaos to the angular "Over Spirit" which despite its adventuring guitar passages , can still blend into the second song if you are not paying attention. They have some interesting ringing guitar tones that do not clearly adhere to the metal rue book, and their bass player is clearly having fun. The song accelerates to a dizzying speed past your average blast beat. They cruise along at a bpm of slightly ore scenic speed to deliver the punches on "Tyranny of Thought". Racing along they begin to pass through the song at such a speed that you do not really get a good listen to all o f the sounds being thrown at you.

"Bitter Mediation" find the riffs more of a blur with the drums stirring up a storm behind them . The bass tone feels thicker on this album which has added to some of the heavier frequencies. While the execution of this sort of thing is spot on, does it do more for the song than provide masturbatory access? "Engram" really doesn't do a whole lot to distinguish itself from the other songs on this album, a few darker tones when the bass lingers on a more dissonant note here an there. Overall if you just like chaotic displays of technical prowess then you can peg and extra point onto the 7 I am giving this album as aside from typical faux metal anger, it loses emotion and it's a little disappointing from a band that has all the talent in the world to forsake song writing.


Faith No More @ the Masquerade Music Park 7/31/15



I was reluctantly indifferent to the thought of seeing the band again after being less than impressed by their last album. The show in contrast to the previous nights under sold Slayer show was sold out. So not liking crowds and hearing the horror stories of how packed the Scion Fest was few years ago , there was even more inner resistance. My fiance had already gotten  her ticket, so the problems to over come became the Refused management who was  less than responsive and the venue wasn't much help either despite having a previous working relationship with them, so I was getting prepared in my head to walk home. I had left my phone at home and my iPod is MIA, so along with being taken off one of my medications the inner world was getting bleaker by the minute. However our friend who bought a ticket from a scalper pitched in with my fiance and helped me gather funds to do like wise. We stood around in the humidity which was every thing you could expect from Georgia in July, the over cast sky did not empty. The crowd was a diverse mix generally older than not, some hipsters , some metal heads some fringe punks, the shirts worn ranged from black metal bands to Jawbreaker. The p.a. began playing 60s pop as the road crew dress like they were in a cult decorated the stage with flowers.

The band took the stage and opened with the first single of their new album, which came across better live than on the album. Then I got two songs from "Angel Dust" the playfully perverse anthem "Be Aggressive" and "Caffeine" which packed a little more of a punch though when compared to music of today Faith No More doesn't strike me as a metal band or even that heavy. Sure they rock and have an explosive edge to their dynamics which gave the show plenty of momentum. They were quick to switch gears on this jerking you back into the soulful " Evidence" where Patton's voice showed little signs of his age and proved him to be  one of the best vocalists to come out of the 90s scene. Sure  " The Real Thing" came out in the 80s, but the bulk of his career was realized in the rise of the alt rock movement. Speaking of the 80s "Epic" was next. He really nailed  the nasal tenor hook in the chorus. The first moment that was less than perfect for me was when they dipped into their new album and played"Sunny Side Up" one of the new albums less ballsy and not quite as focused songs. They bounced back from this with one of the shows better moments "Midlife Crisis" and "Everythings Ruined" from "Angel Dust" at one point Mike Patton asked the audience what they like to do since they seem to be able to do every thing in the Georgia heat, he reported back from the crowd response that some one said twerk, which lead to a him trying to twerk and  mention his enthusiasm for twerking.  In "Midlife Crisis" they broke the song  down into a more disco version. Then from "Album of the Year" came the well executed  "Last Cup of Sorrow" . The slow jams vibe was followed by their cover of "Easy" the first of two covers, the second being the cover of Burt Bacaharach's "This Guy's In Love With You", another b-side that is a live staple for them.  After "Separation Anxiety" off the new album came  came the "King For  Day Fool For a Lifetime" songs, "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" and "King For A Day".
Much like "Mother Fucker" , the song "Superhero" went over better live making it seem like it belonged along side Faith No More's other work. They closed with "Just a Man" which was dynamic enough of an ending, I would have preferred one more off " the Real Thing" perhaps "Surprise Your Dead", but that didn't happen. After beginning this Top 100 albums of the 90s I became  rather sentimental and Faith No More was at one point in time one of  my favorite bands, so it was good to have some of my faith restored in them after the disappointment their last album caused.

Nightslug : "Loathe"

The German band surprisingly digs up a very American sound in their dirty white trash version of the visceral sludge Neurosis used to churn out mixed with swampy trailer park blackness. They hold the riff and drone on it's pound for all its worth only letting up for the guitar go into a solo that more feedback than shredding or melody. They pick up the pace on the second song and gather an almost Celtic Frost momentum. There is fuzz and feedback over everything, including the vocals. they change guitar tones a couple minutes into the title track, but kick back in. The first two song what they do has really worked , but I begin to need something more by the time they are beginning to make my ears ring on the third song.

They drop into a lower slower riff. They return to their more punk roots on " Under a Bane", which had the reckless rumble of Motorhead being buried alive in a post-apocalyptic scrap yard.This is a little more straight forward than I prefer as it is dynamically flat and not amount of heaviness can really compensate for that. They descend back into a gloomier place on "Disease' that continues to foster some Eyehategod comparisons. This song is allowed more breathing room and sounds closer to music than some of the other outbursts. There is more of a syncopated pound closer to Godflesh on "Pure". The bass and the drums hold onto a minimalist almost industrial beat. The industrial comparisons could continue to flourish on "Tainted Throne" which has that churning almost "When the Levee Breaks " like beat that Ministry used on some of the more deliberate groove to the second side of the the "Psalm 69" album.

 Over all this album is dark and dirty with a nasty habit for smothering you in their suffocating pound. Not the most dynamic or original album of the year, but the pieces they have in place work well for what they are doing. I'll round this album up to a 7.5, if you are a big fan of sludge ridden hipster industrial then it might even be an 8 for you, I like stuff like Primitive Man, but this albums sticks to the few dark crayons it has to color with.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Top 100 albums of the 90s : 80 to 71

Here is another installment, you know what we are doing... winding our way down not the albums that sold the most or were even the most critcally acclaimed at the time but what has held up over the years. https://www.facebook.com/abysmalhymns/ 80- Godflesh- "Selfless" Justin reached a balance of industrial pound and musicality with enough room to experiment with more electronic elements. More daring and heavier than Helmet.

  79- Elliot Smith-x/o

If you were depressed and driven to drink in 1998 why would you have wanted to listen to anything else. This morose singer songwriter created the perfect soundtrack for the lowest of swings, was pretty good hangover music , if memory serves me. I got to catch him in concert before he died in 2003. I can't really imagine him doing anything else but dying of a self inflicted stab wound samurai style, take that Bright Eyes. >
&n 78-the Faint-"Blank Wave Arcade" They got darker and heavier and more grandiose, but this album has something sleazy about it that I like and was a sign things were changing in 1999. Brilliant lyrics they predicted the rise of the hipster. Many of today's new wave revival bands could take notes from this album. 77-Monster Magnet -"Dopes to Infinity" At one point in my life all my stories began with "Once when I was tripping..." My weirdest memory was the song below was playing while I was tripping and playing with a ouija board by myself in the hallway of an old apartment. My room mate's door was open and his fan was blowing out into the hall way. Not knowing this I assumed it was evil spirits blowing into my mind and turning me into the re-incarnation of a 14th century French Prince. Sure if had a radio hit on it, but that happened on their own terms. Literally mind blowing. 76-Life of Agony-"The River Runs Red" Their singer's river does run red now, but this album was gritty and desperate . Like if Stone Temple Piolots had been a hard core band before being influenced Pearl Jam influence, since any band influenced by Pearl Jam would suck, they had elements of Biohazard and Type O mixed, with a brilliant story woven into the album. 75-Tears for Fears- "Raoul and the Kings of Spain" If you weren't ready to let go of the 80s by 1995 , these guys released their 5th album, which holds a slight Latin undercurrent, but proved that they were not just a new flux and could make serious music when they weren't shouting to let it all out. 74-Primus- "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" The rubber bass of Claypool, slapped this album that was heavy due to the thick angular groove, but also managed to weave some hooks in with his nasal voice. 73-Lenny Kravitz- "Mama Said" Sure you would eventually go to get tired of hearing this guy all over the radio on the albums that followed, this one was diverse and soulful, pulling from every one from Prince to Lennon to Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone. Slash showed up on the album and it rocked in many different ways. 72-White Zombie-"Astro Creep 2000" When I first heard these guys it was during the 80s off an album called "Make Them Die Slowly" it sounded like a deranged horror version of Iggy Pop, so when "la Sexorcisto" came out I thought how the hell did they turn into Metallica. This album was a breath of fresh air and sounded pretty good when lots of drugs were ingested, the industrial turn worked better than their stab at thrash. 71-Pixies- "Trompe Le Monde" Their final album rocked harder than perhaps even "Doolittle" . It was a fitting swan song with it's incredible guitar tones and the band hitting the perfect balance between poppy and weirdness that flips onto an almost punk craze on a dime. They also cover the Jesus and Mary Chain.  

Horna : "Hengen Tulet"





Not our first rodeo with this Finnish black metal band, who at times has lost me due to the overly raw production and simplistic punk rock style of songwriting. Let us see where they have gone since then. The first tone is better, the vocals are a little buried by it , but for this song it works.  The default to the punk side  of blasty mc nasty, shifting gears to  slow into a good metal groove that thrashes midway into the opener. I might not be blown away right out the gate , but sonically notice an improvement, despite press releases saying they are going back to a filthier place. "Nekromantia" stands out as it slows to more of a creepy throb, but the song before it just blended in with the first song and there was nothing to clearly distinguish them from one another. There is a pretty powerful chug to "Nekromantia" . The song that follows is more mid paced with shouted vocals on the chorus to further the punk rock feel. The bass rumbles out from behind the drums and you begin to get the feeling they put a lot more thought into this one. They revert back to more straight forward blasting on "Saatanalle". They do slow give things a darker pulse and a hellish pound before blasting back into a flurry snare smacking.

The organ interlude that opens "Puhdas" allows for some breathing room, before they throw themselves into another rabid blast beat. This time there is a heavier chug sitting out the snare. The bass rumbles up and generally has more of a presence on this album. This adds to some of the more beefed up heaviness this album carries. They follow this up with more dissonant creepiness , that might serve them better to hang onto more then so eagerly revert back to the blast.As it begins to get tedious once you head into the second half of the album. You can rely on them to slow down just a little over each songs midway point. To the extent it begins to feel a little formulaic. This doesn't hinder the passion they play these songs with. The charge into battle with a triumphant syncopation that falls just short of being a Bathory like viking gallop, though this is slathered in punk influence.the change of pace makes this one of the albums best songs.

"Hurmos" starts of with drums and an anguished cry that takes a more ominous tone. The bass player once again shines on this song. It's almost like mid-period Shining in the down trodden pulse it carries. It carries a big sound that might remind some of Watain. The album ends with the pumped up pound of " Profeettasi" that shows the band using enough restraint to not fall back into blast beats in the first minute, after that its full blast ahead. The next minute that follows is a blur. This album is a step in the right direction for the band, but leans to much on blast beats. I'll give it a 7.5, if you are a fan and you just want blast beats then round it up. It comes out September 22nd.




The Top 100 albums of the 90s : 90 to 81



Here we continue with out Top 100 albums of the 90s a decade generally assumed to be dominated by grunge, while there will be some on here sooner or later its the open door to experimentation that alternative hitting the mainstream that brought out some of the interesting sounds we look at today in 90 to 81.


90- Entombed - "Wolverine Blues"
Continuing to be ahead of their time, this Swedish band also birthed the groove fill death n roll sub genre with this album that slayed things like "Far Beyond Driven". The title track alone was worth the price of the album.Yeah it was back in the days when you paid for albums.

89- Veruca Salt -"Eight Arms to Hold You" No, this is not the album with "Seether" on it. While that one is good, the song writing on this one is more mature , emotive and rocks out, with "Volcano Girls" having way more balls to it than "Seether' which fit more neatly into what was becoming expected of alt-rock at that time.

88-the Get Up Kids - "Something to Write Home About" Emo had been alive and well in the underground and this album pushed it towards a larger audience and prepped kids for bands like Jimmy Eat World who would later bring the word "emo" to mainstream audiences when things went wild with in on Myspace in the 2000s. But when this album came out it was just more thoughtful punk rock.

87- Judas Priest-"Pain Killer" Seeking to redeem themselves from being turbo-lovers, Priest came back to prove they could hit it as hard as all the thrash bands they influenced. A new drummer helped them pull this off and Tipton and KK, showed they had some impressive chops up their sleeves and could shred with the best of them. This album would be one of the last great metal albums before grunge.

86- Katatonia-"Discouraged Ones" They transitioned from being a gloomy doom ridden death metal band to switching over to clean singing and touching on more of a Cure like goth ambiance.

85-the Gathering-"Nightime Birds" Before the slew of symphonic melodrama that bands like Nightwish would be out of Europe, the Gathering brought a more majestic soaring to gloomy doom thanks to the vocals of Anna Maria van Giersbergen or Anneke as she would later be called. This album is way ahead of it's time.

84-Butthole Surfers- "Independent Worm Saloon" Gibby and the boys stopped clowning around and began rockin on this one , though it still retained much of their signature weirdness. Not hard enough to be metal, but to trippy to be punk. They would later really sell out with the album that followed.

83-Warrior Soul - "Drugs, God, and the New Republic" While they saw some popularity in Europe, they deserved to hit bigger in the States as they were better then bands like Tripping Daisy, who you won't see on this list. They toured with Danzig and Soundgarden, which is where I caught on to them.

82-Dj Shadow - "Entroducing" The drums sound is the only thing that sounds that dated to me, there are many other elements on this album they stand the test of time and find this to be an electronica classic.

81- Skunk Anansie "Post Orgasmic Chill" Another album that was an alternative to mainstream alternative.Skin their black lesbian lead singer has a set of pipes on her that take these songs to the next level. The songs held up well with the years as I can go back and easily listen to this one.

 

King Diamond & Slayer @ Mayhem Fest 7/29/15 in Atlanta

Mayhem Festival has been getting some bad press about poor ticket sales and I am here to tell you its not trolls or press trying to bad mouth metal, its the truth. Last show I saw at Aaron's Amphitheater was Iron Maiden who sold the place out, this was a harsh contrast, not even half sold I'd say a quarter sold, maybe thirty percent once Slayer came on. The doors opened at one in the afternoon and I had no intention of seeing bands like the Devil Wears Prada or Whitechapel...even Hellyeah is pushing it for me.
My girl friend's finals put us a little behind schedule so we missed the first three King Diamond songs..."The Candle" ,"Sleepless Nights" and "the Eye of the Witch" and got there during "Welcome Home". The first thing I noticed was King's voice sounded great. The stage up was a similar version of what King had when he came through in October. This is my 6th time seeing him so I had a few shows to compare it to. I have seen him in a festival setting before and did not remember the guitar tone sounding like your average wall of chug. Then I realized they had tuned down. At times this made King sound flat as the original notes transposed to the lower key sometimes better than others . King Diamond's set did not have the sort of sound problem's Slayer's had but we will get to that soon enough.
The theatrics were toned down a little no burning coffins. He mainly stuck to acting things out with the dancer who took on multiple roles from Grandma to Miriam. He hit the same songs from his October set, focusing heavily on his three best albums "Them" , "Conspiracy and "Abigail" with "Digging Graves" from " the Graveyard" and two Mercyful Fate songs "Evil" where like you might have seen on the inner webs Kerry King joins them on stage  and "Come to the Sabbath". The final three songs were all from "Abigail"..."the Family Ghost" , July 7th 1777" and "the Black Horsemen". King Diamond was in good spirits about the sad state of affairs, having been somewhat of an outsider from traditional mainstream metal due to his outlandish singing style being an acquired taste, he seemed to be glad to be playing in such a setting, if this had been in Europe it would have been a much larger turn out.
While waiting for Slayer we found some of our friends, and I looked at passing band shirts with the stand outs aside from your more typical fare  being Paradise Lost and Destruction. Then Slayer took the stage with a lot of bombast and pyro, but their sound was thin. It was my first time seeing them with Gary Holt in Jeff's place. The first half of their set was newer stuff which all sounds the same to me. "God Send Death" was the only song that stood out until they hit "War Ensemble". Up until then I was bored by the other Six songs. They had clips of  supposedly gruesome things , but hand's down the movies Morrissey had playing behind him during his show were way more brutal than what Slayer had going . It was during Mandatory Suicide" that  I turned to my girl friend and said "See now this finally sounds like music" and then as if on cue the guitar's cut out .  This was worth a laugh. They also hit "Chemical Warfare" where Tom proved his voice has no held up any where close to King Diamond's, but ignoring the high notes all together. We also caught "Ghosts of War" and left during "Dead Skin Mask".

Is this the state of mainstream metal? Would it made that big of a difference if say Motorhead had been added to the bill? I remember when Slayer would have packed the place out by themselves. Is it because they are pulling a Kiss and only have two original members? It doesn't effect Kiss that much. This was like a Cheap Trick level crowd, where the band is on a Spinal Tap like decline. Kerry King has gone on record blasting the promoters of the tour, but while we got free tickets from a friend, I would have been pissed to have paid money to see Slayer clock in and plod through a set where over half the songs sounded the same. Ticket went down to 7 dollars day of the show,  the cost of seeing a local band. It's a sad state of affairs. The first video I posted of the show in Arizona shows this was not just in Atlanta , who is notorious for low turn outs. At the end of the summer I'll take a look at the other big tours and show you how they fared when the numbers come in and see where metal is heading.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Top 100 Albums From the 90s : 100 to 91

Living up to my word here's the top 100 albums from the 90s starting with 100 to 91. The deciding factor on these albums isn't how many they sold or how critical acclaim they received , but how they have stood the test of time and how much I find myself listening to them decades later.


  100- Mogwai -"Come on Die Young" One thing I reflected upon in regards to the 90s while I was making this list is that they were a decade in which I did not take a sober breath. So one of the big questions asked of music during this time was... "How does it sound when I'm high? "...Here is a band that passed that test with flying colors, they are from the days when post-rock wasn't a thing, this dreamy drug soundtrack bubbled into my mind.

 

99- AFI - "Black Sails in the Sunset" I remember thinking , these guys kinda sound like LA Guns. They brought cock rock vocals into hard core punk, before inspiring Myspace bands to do the same a decade later.

 


98-Skid Row - "Slave to the Grind" 


A more metallic swan song to the days of hair metal and an album that helped us transition out of the 80s once and for all. These guys were always harder than other hair bands, I saw Pantera open up for them on this tour.

   

97- the Refused- "The Shape of Punk to Come" Little did they know how prophetic this album title was. More scream than emo.

 

  96-Agalloch - "Pale Folklore" 1999 ? Shit there are bands still trying to catch up to these guys. This displays more of their folk side than they currently embrace.

 


95-King Diamond- "the Eye" This came out on the heels of the first three albums, which are classics. It might not be the first King Diamond album I grab to listen to, but it has held up better than some that came after it.He never really fit into the 90s as the 80s epic Iron Maiden vibe drenched in Halloween was more of his thing.



94-Dimmu Borgir - "Spiritual Black Dimensions" The second wave of black metal might have come out of Norway in the 90s , but that didn't mean Americans were listening to no matter how cvlt they claim to be at best you were listening to Deicide or Incantation, I known I was working at a record store when this came out and it took blast beats a minute to grow on me. This is the first album that would cement what would become their classic sound.




93- Death Angel - "Act III" We might fondly think of these guys as old school thrashers carrying the flame now, but this album symbolized the nail in the coffin for thrash as it now only had a power ballad that sounded more like "Under the Bridge" than "One", but this was before "Under the Bridge" had even come out. It's what happened when the Anthrax skate -shorts wearing metal hit the West Coast.



92-Rammstein -"Sehnsucht" Yes... the album with "Du Hast", though most of the other songs on this album are better than that. These guys still party like its 1996. I prefer the songs where he sings and the whole stiff German thing doesn't do it for me like some of the more grooving parts. Held up much better over the years than Fear Factory.




91- Vast - "Video Sensory Audio Theater" These guys held up better over the years than Stabbing Westward and when you put this album on aside from some of the sequencing. When this album came out it took me a minute to get into it. "Touched" was their calling card and compared to what some other bands were doing it didn't seem all that heavy, but the songwriting proved to be good for girl friend metal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wailin Storms :"Shiver"









This is a re-release as the new album from this Texas born band is entitled "One Foot in the Flesh Grave" is coming out in time for Halloween this fall. My first thought was ok this is going to be like King Dude and there are similar elements in certain places, but generally has more of a Danzig like drive to it. There is punk influence , but they have a wider range of dynamics than punk bands generally do. There is more of a temper tantrum to the opening of "Which Way to the Grave" that had a good deal of sonic power to its pound. "Shiver, Shiver, Shiver" feels like it fell out of the previous song and throbs of the raging build for so long that it drones in right past me and I lost track what song I was on. The singer retains a similar Samhain era Danzig roar. He lets his voice crack into a scream more than he croons.

"Viking Funereal" has more of a western ambiance in its saunter. The vocals sit back in the mix and are more sung than the more shouted delivery that dominated the first half o the album. This is a smart move on their part as it helps  this song to stand out. There is still a dense wall of sound echoing off each instrument when they converge upon one another. The guitar stands out more when you can hear the notes rather than just feel them as a vibration. I like the break down before the four minute make. There is a more of a sing song cadence to "Superstitious" that recalls more Misfits era Danzig as it is armed with that hooky sense for punchy melody. The music behind it has more of a boozy blues power to it.


After a while I realized this album has been on for an hour or so and though I could not tell the difference between many of the songs , what they were doing works so I think with a full length I am going to be interested in hearing how they can keep things varied enough to support more songs and what melodic elements will be injected into this .But for what we have now I'll give this one a 8.5. Fans of Danzig flavored punk should check this out.

Midas Fall : "The Menagerie Inside "

The dramatic piano intro was unexpected as I assumed this was going to be more of a indie rock thing than some weird progressive goth. I can hear a slight Tori Amos influence , but the vocallly are very over wrought and passionate and not so Kate Bush tinged.No the same time she she is not a goth singer in the vein of Siouxise either, but more along the lines of a less operatic Nightwish or the Gathering. Her influences seem all over the place as their is even a country tinge to her voice on "After Fall". It is draped in majestic elegance. The guitar twinkle around the song rather than going for the typical chug. These guys have assembled pieces of many genres and pasted them together into something that is very much their own. "Circus Performer" allow me to zone out and think it has just kind of fallen out of the previous song. The ballad "Countin Colors" is so delicate not much holds it together. Things get heavier on "Low". It soars off into a more sonic yet tender place in the stratosphere. They remind me a little of the new Marriages album , but with a ore lingering pop hook on " The Morning I Called " It really shimmers brighter than most Post-rock out today. They have a great guitar tone. In some ways "Tramadol Baby" is more rock. The drums play around the riff rather than sticking to your average rock beat until that is called for.This is the first song that I detected Elizabeth Heaton's Scottish. Some of her phrashing is almost poppy, which in this case isn't a bad thing but means some keen attention to detail when it comes to the vocal. "A Song Built From Scraps Of Paper" is aptly titled as it comes across as being fragile even when it builds. It strikes me like Tsylor Swift thrown in the past of sweeping post-rock, though from more of a country side and less of the anthemic sugar pop.There is more urgency to "Holes" that took a second lesson before this song caught, the mix seems weird even when I listened to it through head phones. I'll give this one a 9.5 as it's a real solid listen that grows on me with every spin and will make its way over the the sacred iPod, fans of bands like Marriages ...this is a must.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Drab Majesty : "Careless"








Out of L.A comes another band that finally gets the importance of elegance when bringing goth back from the dead. "Entrance and Exits kinda holds on the same groove and becomes a drugged blur out of the opening song. There is a Psychic Tv meets the Cure vibe to "Foreign Eye".  The vocals are smooth rather than a low baritone murmur most bands of this sort take on . "Everything is so Sentimental" seems to be set to the same drum program the previous song leaving the synth and guitars to fill out the frame work , thought the hit hat gets triggered into more of a disco beat toward the end of the song. A more new wave pop beat forms on " the Heiress"  like something Dead or Alive or Billy Idol  might have done in the early eights. This project retains a more organic sound than say Gary Numan, though the vocals are slathered in effects in a similar manner.

More ethereal guitar floats in for "Hallow" the guitar riff is cool enough but the song drifts by like a cloud. The vocals allow them selves to set back more into the music to create a little more of a shoe gaze effect.The hazy shoe gaze dream continues on" Unknown to the I" . His vocals lower into a breathier register not quiet a baritone , the first lyric that stood out to me on this album is the line "the cocaine was a merry go round". Which I think is a clever way of describing a drug problem. There is a very drugged glaze to many of the songs so it doesn't surprise me.  At this point the album has gone in more of a Death of Lovers direction as its at the cross roads between goth and shoe gaze.

The closing song "Careless" is less shoe gaze and more like the Cure's trippier moments though it wanders off with an incomplete ending and fades into nothing, like its an idea for a song rather than a free standing fully written song. Overall this album is a little like Cairo Pythian in the fact that it is so unique in its sound you are a little wowed by it, but this album was less surprising than Cairo Pythian as it eventually begins to conform to more of a shoe gaze sound. I do like that fact it steers clear of the post-rock revival rut, so I'll give it an 8.

6

Friday, July 24, 2015

Red Sun Revival : " Identities"





In some ways this  UK  band really gets it right on their second album. They don't try to be Joy Division , and pull from deeper roots like the Church,Mission UK and the Psychedelic Furs. This is a brighter side of pop goth, but not quite New Romantic. Their sound is upbeat enough to be dancey and brooding enough to not depress you.They nailed the dramatic baritone vocals , where the singer still actually sings. The guitars and keyboards are balanced and every thing is very crisp sounding rather than soaked in re-verb. They only thing about these guys is the hooks of their songs don't grab me like "Love My Way" or any of the goth that piggy backed in on the new wave scene to make it onto the radio. They are much more talented than the bulk of the hipster revivalist bands who are simply punk rock bands trying to work the angle.

They have some interesting guitar sounds on "Four Walls" , but the song is pretty straight forward and doesn't pull out any new tricks we have not yet visited in the first two songs. "the Reckoning" has a cool bass tone and truth be told I can nit pick every cool sound that comes out of this album , but part of the problem is the songs don't have the bull dog teeth they need to latch onto ...well me.The verse does improve on this song and makes its stand out from the first few and eventually comes together . "Fade in Time" has plenty of morose melodrama with synth strings keeping things elegantly tense in the back ground. While he is emotive Rob Leydon's vocals hover in a similar register for most of the album, this begins to make some of the songs sound the same once you are almost half way into the album.

The keyboards to "In Your Name" might sounds like the Cure , but I begin to hear other elements that bring to mind every one from Toad the Wet Sprocket to Marillion, bands that are significantly less creepy. They do get back on track with "Mistakes" which is classic dancey goth/pop. The slow things down into a lush symphonic landscape that sounds like it could be a soundtrack to a dream sequence from an 80s vampire movie.  While they conjure some good ear candy, neither part one or two of " The Condemned" really builds it much of a pay off and finds the band wandering around in that almost prog Marillion place. The end the album with more of a Cure like acoustic strum. But Leydon is far from Robert Smith when it comes to crafting hooky melodies, often coming across a little stiff. Overall it's a little bland for my taste , but there is not a lot else coming out these days that sounds like this so if you preferred more middle of the road goth this is for you , I'll call it a 7.


Lamb of God : "Sturm Und Drans" review & "Still Echoes" video





"Sacrament" was the last album I paid attention to by these guys , it sounded like were going in more of a Pantera direction . While this is heavier, it also sounds like any of a hundred bands who want to be At the Gates. I can hear a few trademarks of their sounds , but on the opener hear a riff that sounds like it is lifted right off a Slayer album. They go into a hardcore chorus with gang vocals on "Erase This". Randy Blythe does his low Phil like spoken word on "512" , that makes me think he is going go "Walk on home boy.." This is however the first song that really does much for me. I wonder how much of his stint in the Prague prison is reflected in the lyrics. The line " my hands are painted red" made me think of this. Blythe comes close to singing on "Embers" that brings the band back to Pantera's old zip code, as Chris Adler keeps the pace picked up. Chino from shows up midway in to the song and does what he does. It makes them sound a little more Myspace metal. The bass tone surfaces and is very 80s thrash inspired,  Anthrax comes to mind there.

"Footprints" is aptly titled as Adler's feet control the song with his swift footwork. The chorus is nothing special and the song idles in a circle pit of thrash riffing. The blues lyrics and clean vocals make "Overlord" stand out. It does bust into some mean Mastodon like riffing.The go for straight ahead thrashing on "Anthropoid". More gang vocals show up and these guys prove they are a machine at this point. The palm muted chug is in full effect on "Engage  the Fear Machine" which has a mosh inducing groove. The lyrics are pretty clever which goes along ways to compliment the riff. There is less thinking to be invested in the thrashy groove of "Delusion Pandemic" which comes across like filler.

Dillenger escape Plans singer Greg Puciato shows up on " Torches". His clean vocals provide a very Mastodon like element to a songs whose darkly melodic nature comes across like one of Mastodon's less prog powered moments. This album is better than I expected, though if you are not a fan of macho trash and find such "Panterrible" then this isn't going to change your mind despite the more melodic moments. I'll give it an 8.5.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Symphony X : "Underworld" Review & Lyric Videos





While I grew up on classic metal like Priest, Dio and my favorite metal band Iron Maiden I am pretty picky when it comes to power metal. Kamelot is pretty much my mainstay, though I really loved 2007's "Paradise Lost" in the past eight years my taste in metal has shifted more towards black metal and doom so even their heavier moments don't make me bat an eye.Is it me or does Russell Allen sound more like James Labrie on the opener? Its your typical busy groove that they race along with a little more thrash to them than Dream Theater, but not by much on this one. They pull out a bigger synth heavy sound to the chugging title track.

Right off the bat I like this one better than "Nevermore". Russell sounds more like himself on this one. The riff after he says "Demons and death" is a must head bang to. Drummer Jason Rullo is really getting it done on this one. In bridge Russell soars high like Coverdale era Deep Purple. If you are into progressive metal of this ilk then the interplay of the keyboards with the guitar solo will give you wood. With a song title "Without You" you know there is going to be a power ballad coming. This is not untrue however its more upbeat, with a spry strum leading into your typical power metal chorus. While in some ways this is color by numbers, they color in those numbers well and its hard to fault them for pulling it off so well. The song flips into rock from bridge to bridge, verse to verse. The chorus hooks you in by the second time they hit it and I'm somewhat embarrassed to say sells me on it. This might be because over the past year I have given Deep Purple's Coverdale years more of a shot.
They get back to heavy on "Kiss of Fire" which has a similar punch to the golden Barlow years of Iced Earth. While it does rock it's not bringing anything new to the table. If this was any of the bands playing at Progpower this year, then this might be acceptable , but the bar is raised a little higher for these guys. Micheal Romeo is still shredding, but do you expect for him to play any other way now? "Charon" is another straight ahead metal anthem that weighs in on the metal around the same cruiser weight as Kamelot, so much so that Allen's melody reminds me of something Roy Khan would have done. Then they back off into Journey territory on "To Hell and Back" which finds the synths overtaking the guitar. Allen's vocals go towards Whitesnake's more radio dominate days. He sounds great but these synths aren't doing much for me as they are brightening things when they should darkening them. This is one of Romeo's better solos, so if that sort of thing turns you on...then take note that he rips into not one but two of them on this one. The second seems like it is way up in the mix.
"In My Darkest Hour" is not a cover of the Megadeth song. It's slower bass driven song that would be heavy as fuck if this was Dream Theater, but since it's not you might wanna have some fries with the cheese. After the solo it's evident that anyone who is really ranting about this album is going to be a guitar player. Romeo does take his place next to all the metal shredding heavy weights here.They take of on a speedier Dream Theater rock n roll path on " Run With the Devil". For what it is the bridge has a decent groove, but the chorus is pretty 80s arena rock. The epic quality of the power ballad "Swansong" will make you want to grab you twenty sided dice and ride into ballad. The bass player is the only one not cock rocking it out here. To Allen's credit he is doing an admirable job carrying on his wayward son. He would of doing be a good replace for Coverdale in a Whitesnake reunion. One issue that does need to be addressed is the fact the lyrics on this album are like something a high school kid who listened to much Kansas might write.Romeo saves the day with his solo, which is tasteful yet shreds your face off. I'm not normally impressed by that sort of thing any more as I have long out grown Yngwie. They take the album out on a prog note rather than power metal on "Legend". I think this side of them is their better half. When the bass player moves up in the mix they are also going in a better direction. It's like heavier Deep Purple which I am fine with. I'll give this album an 8, if you are a fan of some of the cheese sprinkled over this then you might round it up.

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Rosetta : " Quintessential Ephemera"







This is the 5th full length and first as a 5 piece from this Philly based band who describes their music as being" music for astronauts". The first song "After the Funeral" is an instrumental with some very spacey guitar tones so you can see how this description might apply right from the get go. The they go int a series of untitled songs, on the first  when the vocals come in the coarse nature sounds like it could have come from any sludge meet post rock hybrid. I liked the way they step back and can space things out to allow the song breathing room. The clean vocals are smooth and not forced , sure they have an element of old Myspace emo to them, but they work, sometimes better than the bands efforts to get heavy which can feel like they are trying to hard and it is not being done organically. The vocals go higher they begin to remind me of the Used.


The second untitled songs starts the same way the next ended so on a cd this will be a smoother transition , but also might lead to you wondering which song you are on.Until the syncopated part and this effected guitar melody line that soars out of the song it stays to a similar bag of tricks. The fourth song is more of the same change some accents here and there, the bass line that emerges from the break is cool and they begin to take on a drugged out night on the beach  Janes Addiction like feel. The transition into heavier tones is the first that really works well for me and this is the first song where every thing seems to be clicking to my ears.The guitar melodies soar above the fury and have well placed purpose.

 The fifth untitled song is really more of an interlude as it's a twinkling little instrumental that never builds into any kind of solid beat to become a song.The sixth untitled song is pleasing to my ears as it gets darker, the vocals melody makes me think of the Deftones more melodic moments. When it gets heavier I can hear some Thursday influence as well. They build of the heavier dynamic going into the song that follows. They drop down into some post- Myspace girl friend metal, that keeps the heaviness off set by the sugar soaked melodies. The last real song of the album before the two remixes which I am not going to bother with is "Nothing in the Guise of Something". Its a dreamy post rock with a shoe gaze glaze to it that coasts along on the clouds.While there are some cool sounds captures they are not doing anything new.  That can generally be said for most songs on this album, however I'll round it up to an 8 since their song writing tends to distract you from that fact. https://www.facebook.com/abysmalhymns

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moonkight : " Valinor"




I was drawn to this one man project out of California, due to the fact it was called depressive suicidal black metal, which is true to a certain extent. Its a dense grinding drone that is carried on an under current of double bass. The vocals have the distant dryness to their rasp putting them in a similar vein as An Autumn For Crippled Children, along with some of the guitar melodies though the are more rooted in dirty unrepentant  Celtic Frost like metal which which the vocals dip down into a more death metal sound. The blown out production of "Bright Knives made things too fuzzy to really look through the ringing of cymbals mixed with distortion becomes a blur.

"Acotinum" is a reverse of the previous as the vocals become fuzzy with distortion, while the music gains clarity and develops the kind of  beautifully bleak melodies that dsbm is supposed to have. The first lyric I can understand are the words " disgust you" that pour of the rabid screaming that comes curdling out of " Helplessness", they go for bigger epic thrash riffs on this one like a more chaotic version of Bathory if the viking bombast was replaced with grind core agony.

It sounds like tape feedback that is squealing all over " Pleasure Funereal' and distracting from the throb of what might be an otherwise decent song. It almost makes the song unlistenable, but I push through as I like the ideas just not the presentation on a production level.Things clear up for "Broken Blade" which focuses on the ringing guitar that eventually finds itself in a Burzumy drone with roaring vocals in the distant caverns. There is a cool melodic guitar part that crawls out from where it is buried in the drone. Horus messes around with some atmospheric droning before going into the title track.There is a slower paced majestic soaring to "Valinor". The vocals find a more fitting space to occupy. The main guitar melody hangs around popping in and out of the song. Clean guitar finally adds another color to the sonic dynamics.

The rawness of this album might make every one happy who wants this to be art and too cool for school, which I am not sure is the intention of this project, but rather made by some one who has learned from the Vargs of the world to get the worst mic possible. It works better when its a happy accident. Some times its hard to tell which is which here. The production in a couple of place makes the album almost unlistenable and you really have to force yourself through it.  Overall there are good ideas buried in the often messy compost heap. I'll give this a 7.5 as it works more often than it doesn't but when it stinks its foul.






Antlers : A Gaze Into the Abyss"



Antlers shows that they are capable musicians  right from the intro  of their album " A Gaze Into the Abyss" , but when they blast into " A Carnival of Freedom and Betrayal" they sound like every other band who races into their blast beats. To me I have been there done that and got the t-shirt so I wan to hear how this is worked into black metal in a new and interesting way. There are some mighty roars that bellow out of this. Around the two and a half minute mark there some punches that stray from blast beats then it finally gets a groove at the three minute mark.They pullout a guitar solo and then I am beginning to get impressed since they are far and few between in black metal. "Hundreds' slows it's in a more sweeping cascade of hypnotic black metal making itself much more interesting than the unabashed one direction of the blast beat. They prove themselves to be pretty capable songwriters on this one and are able to hold a steady groove that is dark with sonic power. The vocals stay in their mid range rasp for most of the album sometimes going tino more of an extended growling bellow. The song retains its mean churn, but doesn't wear out its welcome as these guys keep most of the songs in the eight minute range, the longest being ten, but the stay on task and don't wander off .

They blast off again on " To the Throats" They remain at a rabid pace for the first half of the song then slow down to let it ring out in a Burzum like drone. Watain gets a lot of crap for coping off of Dissection, but they give the Dissection worship the full blown Thulcandra treatment on "A Jail of Flesh".They sprawl out for the final song "Memories of the Extinct". For these guys to be a German band they are not as stiff and militant as most German metal. The hit this on hard and fast staying in an unrelenting blitz mode for the first three minutes. These guys are pretty solid for the whole cascadian sort of black metal sound though they infuse a lot more Swedish styled sounds into the mix , I'll give it a 8.5. 4.2

Nostalgist : "Of Loves and Days Ago"




It's hard to argue against this Seattle band. The baritone vocals like if the singer from Bellicose Minds sang for a shoegaze band. They have an incredible guitar tone and have combined an interesting array of elements, I can hear touches of every thing from Hum and Failure to the more shoe gazing side of black metal. Not that they go any where near a blast beat but they have a similar atmosphere. Being a product of the 90s I enjoy any band that can use samples as a narrative in the songs and they really contribute here. Vocals retain a similar tone on "Dreaming in Celluloid" , but chose different intervals that have more of an Agalloch feel in some ways. The guitars are masterfully layered to create sonic bliss in the bridges. The vocals harmonies are not over done and well placed when used.

 There is more tension placed on "the Derelict" and it bursts into heavier punches like some of the shoe gazey metal from the 90s, though in some ways it also brings to mind the they keyboardist from Type O Negative's other project Pist-on.  There is an almost Smashing Pumpkins like cadence to the guitar in the bridge going into the chorus. the vocals smoothly arranged in the verses and the more grunged out sections are still well blended into the bands overall sound. They actually have guitar solos."Still Frame" gives a grunge chord progression the more casual slacker swagger  and sets it to the soft to loud dynamic of  against harder indie rock. They dip closer into what bands like Nothing are doing on the more ballad like" Unbroken Take". That is not to say the ghosts of Failure are not still haunting this album as they are, but they are far from a Failure tribute band and infused their own shades of grey into this. The vocals are not an afterthought , but find melodies as centerpieces."Blast of Silence" is much more upbeat than what they have shown up on this album thus far. It retains their smoothness while taking a step toward more conventional rock. Their lyrics seems to be about the dark side of romantic entanglements. The bass player really shines through out the album, but displays his chops on the break.

As for the last song , the tom work leading into " the Void at My Feet" reminds me of "The Hanging Garden" by the Cure. It takes another turn, with the bass relaxing and wandering melodiously around the astral guitar riff that converges into the fuzzed power chords. Luckily with a little clicking I found the band's "name your price" as life currently has me too broke to pay the 8 bucks, though it would have been worth every penny and one of the few albums I would have put on my forced to buy list. It only took a couple of listens for me to give this one a 10. Good Job kids.

 

Ego Likeness : "When the Wolves Return"





My primary experience with Ego Likeness has been from Dragon-con and some of the State of the Goth Scene panels, their music taps into a very dramatic and romantic vein of darkwave. One thing that gives them the edge is the use of of guitar to give the pulse of the songs more drive. "Darkness" pumps and seems like it would be a fun song live with its more industrial drive, the vocal line is a little on the repetitive side. Things tak a harder kick from the guitar with each passing song. There is almost a KMFDM feel to "En Rogue", the singers more Siouxsie side is delved into , but not exploited.   I like the Marilyn Manson like groove to "New Legion" , the lyrics to the chorus really sell this to me. Things get almost as epic as Night Wish on "Oracle".  They sultry syrup of her voice drips off the banging synths.

For some reason the more spoken vocals of  "Mercy" reminds me of "Vogue".  These guys sow you how big and adventurous dark wave can be when you don't limit you self to simple 80s casio beats. There is an ebb and flow to the dynamics of songs like " I Let You" which lets the beat bubble with cautious restraint, before unleashing a big chorus. Donna's alto is more smooth than it is powerful, but she chooses some interesting phrasing. The 90s slink to " Crossed" really works for me as it is pretty dark. "Treacherous Thing" would fit on the dance floor of any goth night, with it's trembling pulse. It builds up in an almost nu-metal fashion, that adds to the dynamics.Their is slicker Knight Rider like groove to the verses of " Persona Non Grata"which has one of the harder hooks to its chorus and you will remember them. The final couple of song balance out their more rock side with the driving form of dark wave that will be a breath of fresh air to any goths missing what made the 90s such a great era for the genre."Someday" doesn't do as much for me as some of the previous songs, but like all the other tunes here they are well produced and thoughtfully written. The title track is a brooding ballad that floats on an intangible cloud of ambiance.It feels more like a dramatic outro to me rather than a song that stands on it's own two feet. If you are into dark wave their is more to like than not on this album, I give them big props for not just ripping off Faith and the Muse or Siouxsie , but still acknowledging those influences. I'll give it a 9, if you are fan it might be their perfect album.

9

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Diving into the Ghosts of Goth Past with Lebanon Hanover's "Besides the Abyss"




Was going to break this spooky streak, by reviewing the new Cattle Decapitation, but I just don't feel like listening to it this morning, so here we go with this German band. They are very faithful almost to a fault of the classic goth sound and don't totally rip off Siouxsie which gets them points, the problem that plagued the new She Past Away is some what present here in the fact that using programmed drum causes things to drone on one riff for the whole song and not allowing for progressions out side of this. True in 1982 this is what this sort of thing sounded like, but why not take those sounds and marry them to today's technology and give your self a bigger sonic world to write in. You can still keep it in the bat cave without allowing it to drag on.

The vocals to "Fall Industrial Wall" are smooth enough in their melody to make the song coast along with out making me look at the clock. They do experiment some with their sounds the beginning moments of "the Chamber" could have just as well come from a Chelsea Wolfe album until the Joy Division bass line comes in. The guitar that is mixed way behind the both the bass and the vocals seems like it might have something interesting going on to  make it stand further apart from the previous song, but we will never know. It takes " the Moor" to break things up a little , the sax in the song gives a more 80 touch than the boring drums that drag this album into drab. This sounds like it should have been on the "Lost Boys" soundtrack  and is the direction this sort of thing should go in . The vocal are a little higher and not the register she is most comfortable in , but she proves she can switch it up and making this perhaps the album's best song.

The Acoustic guitar on "Broken Characters" might started in just like "Space Oddity" but this is yet another change for the better that begins to pull them out of their rut.The bass player plod in the tense post-punk manner behind it showing that diversity is not their stock and trade, when a more melodic bass line might have benefited this song more. "Chimerical" would not be a word I would use to describe this band, it is the title of the song that follows returning them back to a more traditionally dark wave sound. The vocals pretty much carry this melodrama.It's not surprising that "Dark Hill" continues to darker things up. There are some interesting synth wounds that swell up. Male vocals which sound like Bellicose Minds, take over on this song, and you have to hand it to them that this is switching things up even if he is not as good of a singer as she. They end things on a mediocre not with the boring closer "Spiral" that takes all the goth cliches and does little with them.

Overall I think y thoughts are easily known with this one so it stand that I'll round it down to a 7.5, they are capable of creating some nice dark sounds and know their goth, I just think that they should add more to the mix and get a real drummer or at least cut and paste in more varied drum patterns.




Saturday, July 18, 2015

She Past Away :" Narin Yalnizlik"





The first thing that strikes me about their new album that the more emotive and elegant trappings of "goth" have been toned down in favor of  tenser more Joy Division like drone. Though after taking the entire album in I began to appreciate it more.The mutter of the vocals remains pretty much the same for the entire album it's the sounds around it that change . "Asimilasyon" takes a more 80s night feel to the dance floor and the dark wave begins to creep in here until it eventually over takes the album. The sounds and the grooves are cool enough if they actually went some where with it. There is a more upbeat Cure vibe to the backing instrumentation to  but the vocals remain a static low. The guitar on "Uzakta"balances out making this is first song that pulls me int on the first listen. I think a real drum would also benefit this album as the casio sounding drum programming, might get the 80s feel, but it also limits where the songs can go leaving that saddled on the guitarist.  the vocals  take a softer touch, but  other continue to stay monotone . "Hayaller" takes on a more dark wave feel and brings back some of the more elegant sounds that I associate with this project. I think enough of these revivalist bands are doing to joy division thing so goth with beauty and melody is needed.

There is a strong 80s groove to "Katarsis". The vocals remain in the same monotone baritone, sometimes slightly emotive in their pout." Utu Belirsizlige" takes on a more ballad quality, while digging  deep into their Sisters of Mercy influence. The guitar work continues to be their strength as it redeems what would other wise be a overly simplistic song. The album begins to steer away from the Joy Division thing and into a more dark wave direction. The upbeat "Gercekten Ozleyince" balance the organic guitar with the stiff electronics, the mumbling gravel of the vocals is the main thing keeping it dark here, they continue to press further into more dancey Tron territory with "Yanimda". Aside from the guitar the song is flat on the dynamics and one dimensional. The groove remains almost the same as the previous two song, though the tone of "Kuruyordu" is darker by a few degrees. The mutter of the vocals retains it's hushed gravel, the singer seems to have a four note range.

There are some cool sounds on this album and if I didn't demand more from dark wave then I would be ore satisfied , I liked their previous album better it had more passion to it , I'll give this one a 7, if you are just dying for dancey goth and can't find anything then this will scratch that itch and can provide some pretty decent background music if you tune out to the fact aside from the guitar everything pretty much stays the same.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Return of the Steam Punk Queen Rasputina's " Unknown"





A long time fan of these gals, to the point that  I am actually trying to get them to play my wedding on Halloween, it works out that their tour comes close by at the same time, so fingers crossed and I'll post a link to our Hallowedding fund page to raise the scratch for them as well as our Disney Honeymoon...now to the music. I'll be as objective as possible. The first song has all the elements that you could want from them. The smart lyrics and overlapping harmonies. The album was recorded in three weeks and is about how Melora was hacked and stalked through the Cloud.



Things get weird quick on the theatrical "Pastoral Noir" , it has a bluesy chug to it and a strange narrative, before you are placed under a spell by the dizzying Phillip Glass like cello work of " Unicorn Horn" this sung also has more of a narrative to it than sung vocals , but it works well against the more classical back drop. Her singing voice comes to forefront of "Bridget Manners". Showing she can hang with any other female singer going today.  The melody is more traditional pop than some of the more quirky vocal lines that she uses her voice to dance over the orchestrated backdrop. It's a masterfully written song that is compact and makes use of every second. She puts a chug to her bow on " Indian Weed" and captures the classic Rasputina sound. For the first time in the vocal arrangement I hear traces of a Joni Mitchell influence. The Title track is a mournful instrumental interlude.



More zany tales are narrated during "Emily Dickinson's Trophy Envelope". The cello work once again sets a darker classical tone even with a horror movie tension arising when the wizard poisons himself with his toxic collection at the four and a half minute mark. There more  of these mourning instrumental pieces  like "Steady Rain" and "Untitled" than I remember being scattered about their other albums  . "Psychopathic Logic" is tense and urgent as Creager lyrically sizes up  the mind of her stalker. "Sensed" is a balance of spoken word and singing to break up this story two lovers last day on earth, which is creepy enough to suggest it might also involve murder or making love to a ghost.
There is rambling freak folk jangle to "Taken Scary" that is a look at her frightening Internet experience, it's disjointed and honest enough to pull you in like classic Rasputina has the tendency to do. The albums closes out with the gracefully angelic instrumental "Hymn of the Wormwood Women" .  It floats things to the end like more of an coda or outro than a song that stands alone.


When she really has her songwriting keenly tuned when it comes to some of the less vaudevillian pieces, when the theatrics are set aside to focus  more on music and less on storytelling, generally over the years these have been my favorite moments from this " band" though I like when the are balance like the opening song. Overall its a fine return for Melora and friends. The songs are accessible enough to draw those not as familar in , but still retain the sound long time fans want so I'll give it a 10. Unless you find it otherwise this album is only available on cd and there are no bandcamping or sounds on clouds for it.


Atavismo : " Desintegración " Album Review & " Kraken" video


This album by these space rockers launches off into the cosmos with a very "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" vibe creeping up, it's dark and trippy which are two of my favorite qualities in music, so lets see how long they can keep it going. Spain is dipping into some pretty good drugs on this one.  They retain this vibe by keeping the song instrumental and while they move onto the more folk side of Pink Floyd, like something from say "Obscured By Clouds" era for "Kraken". They back off even further and drift into a more hippied out vibe on " Oceanica" which towards the song's final three minutes begins to swell into something closer to post- rock.

They actually have melodic and thoughtful guitar work. The album sounds great from a production stand point.   Their is a darker prog rock feel to "Meeh", but it is a looser song though darker than the previous song.  This was first released on CD last year and this year is seeing the vinyl release of this album. These guys are great at what they do and if you are going to use Pink Floyd as an influence then they certainly picked from the best time periods to do so. It's a well played album that is easy on the ears and can be left on for long periods of time, as their songs sway with a very hypnotic drone, but still have dynamics and a destination.

I'll give this album a 9, while I love Pink Floyd there could to be a tad more balls in places for it to have the perfect sound for me, it would give some of the high flying drifts  past the doors of perception more glue and come across slightly less jammy, however this is what the band set out to do and they accomplished what they set out to do so you can only applaud them for that, while I enjoyed letting this album set the tone of the waning hours of the afternoon it's not something that would really sit well in my iPod, but I have a deep appreciation for what is going on here and highly recommend it to fans of psychedelia that want something a little darker than Beatles worship.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Skepticism : "Ordeal"





Of course I am always on the hunt for more doom, funereal doom being my favorite form of the genre. The vocals have a weird monotone gurgle that sound like Cookie monster trying to sing rather than just the coookkkiiiieee growl, that most metal  vocalists do. Though the guitar melody reach a beautiful place of melancholy I am not able immerse myself in it as the vocals keep spoiling their music for me."The departure " has more of a funereal drone to it. The guitar lines that come out from behid the keyboards  are cool , but could stand to have a place in the mix that provides More punch. They ebb down on "March Incomplete" the minimalist drumming and hesitancy found in the guitar playing are the most characteristic elements of funereal doom. They are as oppressive in their sound as most other funereal doom bands.


Any issues with the mix have to be seen in the light of rather than going into  the studio  and tracking everything this album is recorded live in front of an audience, who you hear in-between songs. Things pick up on "The Road" the droning chaos in the attack bring older Burzum to mind. The zone it creates at one point put me to sleep with my finger on the keyboard. "Closing Music" touches on some really lush sounds that if coupled with something more oppressive might draw me in more. They begin to head in this direction with "Pouring" that finds the annoying element in the vocals either not as prominent or I got use to it and tuned it out.

"The March and the Stream" touching on the more despairing sonics that I want from this genre. The organ sound is dramatically creepy. There is a riff that sounds like it is building towards a chorus that is never going to come. Once I got over the vocals the album improved for me and lulled me into a trance. Once in this trance I could listen to the album rather effortlessly and for this reason I will round it up to a 6, the reason it's not higher is because the album could stand to pack more of a punch , since it's metal.
4.5

Gnaw Their Tongues : "Abyss of Longing Throats"





The dutch Noise metal project Gnaw Their Tongues is back with a full length. If you are thinking about opening a haunted house this year make sure to have this album playing in the background.  Heavier on the atmosphere than the metal it is one of those rare cases where the atmosphere is as heavy as metal. "Through Flesh" forms into a somewhat more cohesive song, a bass line takes form. The croaked and gurgled vocals cry out like frog demons from the swamps of an HP Lovecraft novel.Samples are well use as a narrative on this album, the title track adheres to a murky void that more closely resembles what is expected from black metal. Blast beats stir the sonic storm.

"From the Black Mouth of Spite" has more of a doomy throb to it than any hopes of melody. The vocals rant in the distance. Tribal drums sound like an army of orc is plotting from the distance , but they never strike. There is a more cavernous nightmarish pound to " The Holy Body" which displays the first dab of industrial influence which this project is often credited with. This is yet another moment that is more doom than black metal as it moves at a dirge like pace. Keeping the doom pace, " And They Will  Be Cast Into Utter  Darkness" lives up to its name with nothing but chaos. Vocal croaks bleed into the thump of the bass.

"Up Into The Heavens, Down Into the Circles Of..." has drumming that could be on a normal black metal song it's just the sounds that surround it come from every angle. There are many alluring sounds captured on this album, there are not many alluring songs, but it does lull you into it's arms. It serves as beautiful back ground music , but is not something I listen to as it is a collection of great songs, so I will give it a 6 on the merits of enjoying the mood it creates.  Crucial Blast is releasing this piece of aural madness August 7th.

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Enabler : "Fail to Feel Safe" review & "By Demons Denied" video






There is a good bit of drama surrounding this album, which has nothing to do with the music , but has bloggers speculating as to if this album will even see release. The drama involves accusations made against the singer by his ex-girl friend who also played bass in the band.Truth be told only the people involved know the truth, so I don't give a fuck about anything but the music. The music in question is a dark style of very metallic hard-core that crossover past the point of being able to see what which genre is which. Jeff Lohrber , who has played in Today is the Day and Trap Them is the ring leader creating something that falls closer to Myspace metal in some ways than say Converge, but I like the prophetic title track "Fail to Feel Safe". There is an chaotic element to their sound that is still confined to the context of the song.
There is a more punk feel to the beginning of "By Demons Denied"where the singer exclaims that there is a hell for him that he is living in. The album carries hefty momentum as it over powers you, yet the band doesn't forsake melody. The clean vocals are set back in the mix , in some ways this reminds me of a less down tuned Drop Dead Gorgeous ."Euphoric Revenge" is full of hate as he wishes someone the worse and has a front row seat to watch them suffer. "Isolation Sickness" is the first song that comes up on the more lukewarm filler side. The coarser vocals dominate until the layered chorus, and there is some sonic guitar playing that helps the song out."Sinister Drifter" doesn't bring anything new to the table that we haven't heard from a thousand bands before. The more melodic side returns on "Sailing the Sea of Fire". "Haunted" has a cool chorus , but the first verse is a mush of chugging. The chug coming out of the chorus works better in that context. The more punk side of hardcore is shown on "Drownage". It has some thrashing riffs thrown in. The metal elements feel better to me on "Demolition Praise".

In some way the purging of demons done on this albums makes me think of these guys as a hardcore version of Nachtmystium. Another band whose front man brings upon a fair amount of controversy and negative press. However when you are playing metal shouldn't that be the case ? "Malady" opens in a haunting melodic manner. The song kicks into and soars with a vengeance. He announces on this song that he is singing for their loss and sorrows. The clean vocals are well placed and don't just stick to the good cop bad cop dynamic. "La Furia" keeps a similar sonic unease, but throws it at you at a more upbeat pace, with gang vocals tossed in as accents. The song slows down and builds intensity. They slow down and pound into "Sabotage Within" and churn it into a more sludge ridden form of hardcore.

Overall this angry album is more emotionally rawer  than most  of the other more mainstream slanted metal Century Media will be releasing  will hear this year. I think it is still rough enough around the edges so that fans who have stuck with the band up to this point will dig it, I like it better than some of their more underground peers like Xibalba as there are more layers and melody kicked into the density. I'll give it a 9, I am not sure how many repeated listens I will get out of it , but I can not help but acknowledge it is a well crafted addition to the genre is represents.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Die Krupps: "Metal Machine Music"




If bands like KMFDM have become to edm for you, here is an industrial album that makes no bones about it and kicks you in the teeth like its 1990. Before you try to compare them to Rammstein, take note that these guys beat them to the punch by ten years.  I first became aware of the band after they put out a Metallica  tribute album in the 90s . Then in the 2000s when it seemed every year another industrial tribute to something was coming out , these guys showed up on their fair share of those. There riffs have remained just as tough, and benefit from better production today's technology allows. While the initial assault is powerful it's  the ode to 911 and other terror from the air of "Fly Martyrs Fly" that really grabs me , sucks me in and weaves a sonic world around me that finely tuned, well composed industrial music can. These guys are not just pushing buttons and tossing samples around.

Some actual singing bubbles under the dark robotic veneer on" the Truth", much of the vocals are the low whispered baritone narratives. The beginning of "Road Rage Rider" begins to take on a similar sounds that is dramatically altered at the chorus, as it takes on a more  melodious nature like Killing Joke might employ.   "Vampire Strikes Back" hits pretty hard, the guitars thrash but with the militant stiffness industrial is known for. They back off on " Alive in a Glass Cage" that has more of darkwave feel. Smart move as it gives the album a needed shift in dynamic range. The songs does build up into a metallic riff on the bridge.

Its back to harder hitting metal on "Branded" which blends the electronica on the verses. This song has an excellent groove and falls somewhere between head banging and dancing. Many artists have been giving a wink to Lars Von Tier on throwing in a "Chaos reigns" , but it is pretty fitting on "Kaos Reigns" that is like White Zombie on meth. "The Red Line" is another head banging groove fest.
" Bonded By Blood" is almost an  anthem .  The verses are dark and tense expanding to big rock at the chorus. The album ends on a straight forward industrial metal, that while heavy could have stood to have measured up to the other experimentation and atmosphere that colors the rest of the album.

Overall there is not a ton of industrial coming out so it is good to see in the lack of quantity we are making up for it  quality. I'll give this a 9.5, give it a shot on the iPod and see how it sits with me if you are a fan of classic industrial then this album is a must.