Thursday, March 31, 2016

Weezer : "the White Album"

This is actually a self titled album, the band's 4th self-titled album so now they are being reffered to by color. This is the band's 10th album and they should have chosen another color as their can only be one "White Album" and this is far from the ground breaking double album by the Beatles. The only Weezer album's I've either dug or owned were the first two which were pretty great. Expectations for this one could not be lower. I mean if people how launched a petition to put together 10 million dollars for you to stop recording in order to not further smear your legacy then Houston we have a problem. River's and the boys have more than likely kept this going to spite them. I'm shocked how much they have changed under the guise of staying the same. The guitar tone pretty much sounds like every other indie rock band that they paved the way for in the 90s. When it does come in it lacks conviction and leaves the bass layer to carry the song. 'Wind In Our Sail" is where things take a more shocking turn, the chorus reminds me more of the Shins. The vocal melody and how the vocals are produced suggests that this might not be by accident and makes me want to listen to the Shins more than this song, though if I never heard the Shins I might think this was genius.

Things get real silly and poppy on "Thank God For Girls". The lyrics are clever and the pop beat works wells and the chorus is pretty infectous and finds somethings that have changed actually working. "(Girl We Got a ) Good Thing" finds them back in Shins mode mixed with a little Ben Folds and some rock tossed in for good measure. This is a little too happy for my tastes, but above and beyond it feels like they just threw a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what stuck. My favorite song on this album is "Do You Wanna Get High", it comes the closest to reminding me of a band I once liked. "King of the World" has a party rock feeling, with River's personality coming through in a way that makes this passable as a Weezer song. This is one of the album's stronger songs, but years back it would have been their filler. They give a wink to the Pixies on "Summer Elaine & Drunk Dori". This is another song that works for what the band does but if you were to compare it to any song from the first two albums it would fall short.

"The Happy Days" era of 50's pop still influences the band on "L.A. Girlz", though even with wittier lyrics it's not as tightly written a song as the air tight "Buddy Holly".  A tad of auto-tune  might lurk on the falsetto notes in the song's build up. River's voice is generally on the better side of decent, though the production is so slick on this one it's hard to tell where it ends and he begins. The beginning of "Jacked Up" works for me, even as piano heavy as it is. This is much more pop than what I would call classic Weezer, but still has it's moments. The falsetto accents and generally frolicking of this song is more pop than rock.The closing "Endless Bummer" is a mix of folky pop with Beach Boys like intervals in the layered vocal harmonies. It sounds good, but has all the substance of cotton candy. I'm expecting too much from fun pop music, you say? Go kill yourself, these guys are making a living making music so just dialing it in doesn't work. If the entire album sucked then I would say"OK, those guys lost it a long time ago." But that is not the case. This album has some songs that are actually worth listening to but is weighed down by half ass bloat and expect more from these guys , this is good enough for a 6.5, which is better than the bulk of what they have done post- Pinkerton.

Ygfan : "Kod"

The first thing that strikes me about this band from Budapest is the production on this album is weird. Weird is not being used in the most positive light here. The main problem is where the vocals sit, though guitar tones could be a little fuller. The more black metal rasped vocals do not suffer from this malady. The guitar is playing pretty conventional middle of the road almost Tool like riffs. The drummer and bass player are killing it and every one else is riding along on riffs that sound like they are from the 90's. The second song has more of a prog thing going on. The black metal is long gone in favor of something more like Opeth. They use clean tones and sound effects, but that doesn't make this band Agalloch. Normally I really like these kind of dynamics, it is dark enough for me, but he heavy parts aren't hitting hard enough. The more hypnotic riff in the third song shows some improvement, I am not sure if black metal is in these guys blood no matter how hard they would like to wish it there. When the rasped vocals come back in the song builds into more of a Tool riff bringing this band closer to Enslaved's more user friendly moments.

The loud to soft thing is only made compelling here thanks to the drumming on the final song. This tests the old saying that a band is only as good as their drummer, because I don't think the guitar player is really keeping up with this guy. In Budapest these guys might be a big fish in a small pond, but in the state you can find a band playing in every state on every night of the weekend that sounds like this. The snarl of  the harsh vocals carries more of a black metal edge than most of these bar bands, but is that really a saving grace unless the rest of the band has gotten ugly with said vocals at some point rather than using riffs Katatonia has already grown out of before "Viva Emptiness"? With that said there are still enough interesting things going on in this tangled mess for me to give this album a 7. I think this band has potential, the clean vocals need as much love in the studio as the harsh ones. The production as a whole needs to be stepped up as they are far too ambitious to release and album that sounds more like a demo. If you want some dark metal that sounds like it hails from 90's  Sweden then this is a good bet for you.

Glorior Belli : "Sundown"

Here's the new one from the French"black metal " band that sounds like they are from New Orleans rather than Paris. Their sixth album blasts back with renewed blackness. They emerge from the storm with a pounding groove that undulates in a manner more akin to Watain than the Southern dipped blues encrusted blackened sludge they spat out on the bas two album. The bass player really flexes some tasteful chops with a keen ear for melodic embellishment on "World So Spurious" .  They delve back into the more black n roll side of their sound on "Rebels in Disguise". The meaty riff lumbers with bong boiling fury, This might be another step back away from black metal, but they pull it off so well it's hard to argue against it.  This is the album's only excursion back into the more swamp metal like phase of the past few albums so if you became a fan during that period because you are actually not a a fan of black metal then this might be the only song on this album you like.

It's go black or go home even in the dissonant brooding that opens "Thrall of Illusions"before the song finds the blast beasts back in action. There is a very dense darkness that makes this thick slab of speedy wrath so effective. I am not a fan of being heavy for the sake of being heavy. There might not be as much dynamic range to this album as the albums that strayed further from black metal, but whatever urges they needed to go explore provided lessons that keep them from sounding like every other black metal band. The vocals carry more of a croak than a growl the majority of the time and don't make attempts to actually sing. The bass player continues to be this band's unsung hero as he adds a layer of depth to the songs. The title track finds the band comings close to a more traditional black metal sound, but it is not attacked such an animalistic energy that the finer points of song writing are disregarded by the blur of sonic hypnosis that so often occurs.

The oddly titled "Satanists Out of Cosmic Jail" hammers at you with some impressive drumming and a groove hidden in the sonic density. This is broken up by a sample before they hit you with a maelstrom of blast beats. This is more about assaulting you than connecting to anything but a feral blood lust that finding the fangs of these riffs going for your ears. "Upheaval in Chaos Waters" gives the more croaked vocals room to breathe, still finding the band's spiked boots firmly planted in black metal. There is more of a cold tremolo picked eeriness before it's was in the flood of chaotic waters. The dense bass line provides more of a tangible back bone in parts of the song. If Abbath's solo album wasn't black metal enough for you then you'll appreciate this song. There is a similar intensity level to "We Whose Glory Was Despised". If you want a black metal band from France that isn't trying to be Deathspell Omega, here are your boys.I'll give it an 8.5.


Bloody Gears : "Shallow Remains"

I guess this Boston band meets somewhere at the cross roads of anarcho-punk and crust, though the edges are a little smoothed out for the latter, but there is a similar organic warmth to what they do though I heard plenty of Black Flag in their sound as well, which is nothing to be ashamed. The vocals even hold a Rollins like quality to them. They are punk without losing the songs in the snotty one to two , three...go tendency to race down hill and trip over their combat boot. The bass player and drummer are both too good to resort to that kind of thing. The second song is not as distinctive as the first while I like the texture of the guitar and it's well played it's a little too straight forward for my tastes. There is a darker ghost of a melody that haunts "the Killing Song" with a spirit that similar to the Murder City Devils. The vocals are still a throaty exclamation more than they are sung, but it works here.

With these guys the intangible x-factor as to what makes some songs resonate with me more than others comes down to two very common factors that regular readers might associate with my tastes darkness and melody. I'm not holding my breath for this guy to sing, so I know the guitar is what's delivering the melodic side of this equation. When they are giving you more of a punk finger banging then that takes a back seat, they sometimes balance these two things out without losing the punk power on songs like  "Ghost". Though when the vocals are shouted like every other punk they lose me a little. The guitar has a little more jangle on "Ghost" , but they take the easy way out by speeding up.  The bass drives "Burial Hymn" allowing for plenty of uptempo punches to throw while hitting you something with melodic merit in the form of the well layered guitars. I can hear a little of Planesmistakenforstars and Hot Water Music on this one.

They close the album on a strong note with "Disengage" which is one of the album's best songs touching on the bulk of the band's strengths. I'll give this album an 8 putting at the threshold of making it over onto my iPod or not, I think some songs would see more rotation than others, but that is why it's not a 10. The overall mood of the album is killer and this is how punk should be done. Look forward to hearing where these guys go from here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pyramido : "Vatten"

Is a Swedish metal band who created a hybrid style of heavy that wants to be doom, but ends up sounding more like sludge. The vocals are more from the sludge school as they are throaty rasp that gargles enough poison to have a  faint after taste of black metal to them.  The interplay and layering of guitar is this band's strength. The riffs coalesce into something with enough heft to please most metal fans. There is an emotional current running through the opening that might try to convince you they are a doom band, but if they are doom then that would make Neurosis doom. Metal has been pushed to such extremes that the melodic nature of what this band does threatens to give them a more middle of the road feel in terms of heaviness. To their credit it doesn't feel like they are trying to be all things to all people and the opener goes into each movement in the most organic fashion possible, Isis is a good frame of reference in where this is going sonically, but not the proggy Tool years.

They slow down to take another stab at doom on the second song. This one is a better argument in that direction, the guitar melody crying out in the background makes me think they used to be into indie rock at some point in time over the course of their musical development. By the second song the vocals become a little one dimensional for me. Some lows or highs to switch it up would be nice, after all growling is this guys only job. The shoe-gazing side begins to color the song. Something is amiss because on paper I should be more into this song than the first, but that is not the case. The post-rock bass line that starts off " Tempus" is one of the album's more memorable moments before the song goes on cruise control. The vocals at this point are just human static being voiced with the guitar in the driver's seat.

There is more menace in the sludge filled pound of "Aktion" . Midway into the song a melancholy and very metal melody surfaces as the song plods along. It's well played, the dynamics just don't grab me enough to really serve as more than background music. Funny enough everything I listen to a new band I think somewhere out there is someone who is going to say this is there favorite band. They must be between the ages of 12 and 16 to have not heard the bands this pulls from.  The closing song opens with clean jangling indie rock guitar before the distortion is stomped on. Two minutes in and it's clear this is the same formula different melody. This is a few degrees darker and I like how it ebbs back down at the six and a half minute mark, but it rides a similar groove until building back up. Overall, this is nothing new, but is well done and smoothly written sludge, if you are just itching for something new or too young to know the difference this is worth your time, I'll give it a 7.5, as it's ground I have already covered.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mamiffer : " the World Unseen"

It's been a strange mix of reviews the past couple days so I am going to keep the weird going. Aaron Turner is more than likely glad he is not in a band called Isis these days. That name alone is click bait. This project is much different focusing on atmosphere with Faith Coloccia handling the vocals. Synth and piano takes center stage away from the guitar, which is often just left to ring out from the corners. It is pleasing to the ears though the ethereal nature of what they do requires a little more glue in the song writing department, just ask Sigur Rios or the Cocteau Twins. Thus making this an album that is more of  pleasant back ground music as it pulses in waves rather than giving you anything to sink you teeth in. So if you are waiting for a riff or a groove then you will be waiting for some time as they are not coming.

One question you might want to ask your when approaching this album is how many drugs do you do? Or do you like to listen to music before you go to bed. Both options are helpful. The middle section of the album might make you space out and forget this is playing while you float around the room. There are really only three movements of this album that feel like real songs. When I say this I get emails from the bands all the time complaining about how they were using real instruments so that makes it a song. Once you get more spaced out than Tangerine Dream, then you are dealing more in wavelengths than you are music. There are some nice fey dreamy moments on this album, when they decide to make them more like a song I really like it, not something I need on my iPod, but it works for what it is. The fact the album cover looks like space is very fitting.

"Domestication of the Ewe" is the next song that finds the vocals helping to congeal the space into something like a song. This is broken up into three parts so I think it was the second part that pulled me back in.  I normally rate albums using a formula of dividing the albums good songs by the total number of songs, this album defies that form of measurement, so I am going to go off of what percent of this album was I interested in it or did it catch my attention so based off that scale I think I can give it a 6. The beginning was strong and then when the vocals came back in toward the album's 3rd act my ears perked back up. If you are checking this out because you are a fan of Turners other work then refer to the second paragraph of this review as it's nothing like Isis , Sumac or Old Man Gloom.
Mamiffer "Parthenogenesis" from Daniel Menche on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Coathangers : " Nosebleed Weekend"

California vibes have smoothed out the more abrasive garage rock band that I once saw playing out in the parking lots of Little Five Points. Vocally they have really improved and the jangle of their guitars is not more in tune. Some of their rough around the edges punk riot grrrl comes across in "Dumb Baby". The play a squeaky toy on solo the pop tinged drive of "Squeeki Tiki". This song fusing the punk energy of the band in a more compelling manner than the previous song. The drums and bass hold a pretty decent groove here. Vocally they go for a brattier also childish mocking. "Excuse Me" is a shade darker. The guitar tone has a hollow smoothness before busting into the more scarping feedback of the abrupt punk sneer of the chorus. It shows a great deal of maturity on the part of the band to use the amount of restraint that exhibit in their song writing. The more Joan Jett grit of the vocals on "Make it Right" work well.

On the title track the band take a step back toward their older garage rock sound. The catchy chorus saves the song, which is more can be said of "Watch Your Back" that finds them in the pitchy more reckless style of vocals that owes more to punk, especially in how the vocals are layered. The regression continue as they relish their immature with the more child like cheer leading the vocals take on " Burn Me". The surf rock guitars are the song's saving grace. The verse riff is mixed a little to far back leaving the drums to carry most of the song. "I Don't Think So" find the garage rock intact but the 60's girl group styled vocal lending more substance. Lyrically they also mirror 60's pop, though obviously on songs like the title track the drug references are sometimes more subtle than others."Down Down" manages to take the punk aggressive streak and meld it with something of more depth. I prefer this to the more upbeat bubble gum they blow on "Hiya". "Had Enough" takes the sleazy grit of Hole and marries to the more genuine rock of grunge jangle. The backing vocals provide a cool variation and the chorus comes pretty close to rocking. There is a more Sonic Youth like quality to the flavor of indie rock they serve on "Copy Cat". A song about band's ripping off other bands, which is fairly common in the scene they were originally spawned from.

I'll go ahead and round this one up to a 9. I enjoyed it a lot more than anticipated going into this. California is treating them much better than Atlanta did, even though they were the critics darlings there. I think they are in an environment where there creative juices are allowed to flow with greater ease out west. If you are a fan of indie rock with a garage rock vibe then this album is a must for you. If you are a regular reader here then you know these gals are not close to what I typically listen to , but this is done in such a way that it draws me in unless they are acting like kids.

Mutterlein : "Orphans of the Black Sun"

When I run out of music to listen to I begin to dig into the in-box and this morning I got a pleasant surprise in so doing. Mutterlein is a project out of France. This kind of music was tagged as a genre called "witch wave". Which makes sense though witch core might be more fitting as it's more aggressive than new wave. Though the traditional instrumentation of punk is not in play here. Synths and organs are being used, but in a manner suited for a 70's art school horror movie rather than anything to dance to. Marion's voice is gritty and carries a punch yet she can really sing when the song calls for it. Things stay dark for "BlackDog" which is not the Led Zeppelin song.This song is more emotionally oppressive and captures a sinister sound.Her voice carries more of a rasp on this one.
More horror organ sets the tone for "My War". The drumming goes for more of a ritualistic pound rather than any rock beat. The song eventually breaks down into more of a folk ditty in the final minute. The first two songs were stronger than this one. "Heirs of Doom" is more minimalist and down trodden with the emphasis being placed more heavily on the atmosphere. Guitar add noise in the background rather than trying to form riffs around what is going on. This works here because these songs do no lend them selves to riff rock. The first song that really has more of a rocking drive to it is "My Ghost Army". There is a dissonant droning to the more gloom folk of "Mother Black Sun". Her vocals seemed to have explored all of the colors in their spectrum as this point in the album.

> Now you might tell me that witch wave is a thing and that all witch wave bands sound like this, but from the clicking around I did, it doesn't seem to be the case and seems to have fallen out of the whole witch house thing, so it is safe to say that what is being done here gets points for originality. I can easily hear this album appealing to fans of Swans and Jarboe.The spooky organ sounds set this apart from Swans oriented projects. I'll give this one a 9 and see how it sits with me, some of the more atmospheric pieces might not get as much play as the more solid structures, but over all this deserved to be rounded up for many different reasons quality of sounds and the mood captured being at the top of that list.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

O' Brother : "Endless Light"

Are a melodic rock band from the ATL. They a moody enough with a slight dark streak, dark enough to appeal to me. When it comes to heaviness...they are more middle of the road along the lines Vast, Ours or 30 Seconds to Mars. The drummer is pretty creative and they give the vocals plenty of room to breath. Calling them a post-rock band or even progressive, might be an exaggeration of those terms I suppose Dredg is the closest they come to prog. The arrangements are interesting, but not challenging. There playing serves the song rather than getting adventurous and wandering out into something sprawling and cinematic. The first song really grabbed me the first few listen the second and third didn't have that big of an impact. They are easy on the ears and it's not until "Complicated End Times" that another song really grabs me. The vocals are very relaxed falling somewhere in-between crooning and all the other Jeff Buckley worship that haunted the early 2000s. Lyrically they paint some unique pictures with their prose.

 "Burn" finds the band digging into their more brooding side with the bass leading the way. The candles are all lit at the altar of Jeff Buckley on this one. What at first seemed like the drummers creative streak is now settling into a formula being employed on a few songs where he keeps the groove on the toms, it's not a tribal shuffle, but similar in feel."Bloodlines" find the atmosphere making it drift and taking some of the balls out of their attempts to hammering into the build up. The indulge in a slower atmospheric power ballad on "Endless Light". Vocally this song is well preformed, but is very dramatic by way of Muse, though with out  all the Queen like layers of harmonies. "Black Hole" drifts are the more concrete melody of the vocals. The tempo of the drumming underneath gives it a sense of movement, but it doesn't go far.

The go for a more over driven guitar tone at the onset of " I Am ( become death) " but it doesn't feel like metal. The vocals return to the spotlight. This leaves the rest o the band to just hold the groove down and establish a baseline for the dynamic swell that they go for on the choruses. They do finds a more powerful dynamic to build into after breaking down into a more Radiohead like middle section. Here is another review where the names of other bands are being thrown around, rather than expanding upon what this band does on their own accord, but the truth is it's no body's fault, but their own as the influences are worn on their sleeves at times and I' m trying to listen through the cracks to hear where they stand on their own two feet. By definition "Realm of the Physical" lends itself to be labelled a power ballad, but this not gone about in the arena rock manner.

I think they do capture some excellent guitar tones. The album is well produced and even the moodier sound have a warmth to them. I'll give this an 8, because they do what they do well and this album hits more than it misses. It might not be the most ground breaking album of the year, but it's ear candy that goes down pretty easy.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Metal Church : "XI"

The Metal gods of yesteryear are coming back strong this year, with Anthrax delivering the goods and pending albums from the likes of Testament waiting in the wings. Things have changed since  Metal Church's electric steeple was held high. While well written I don't think "Killing Your Time" is actually metal and falls on more the the hard rock side of the coin. Chances are if this is your idea of metal you too have failed to change with the times. The strum of an acoustic guitar starts of the more aggressive attack of "No Tomorrow". When "Blessing in Disguise" came out the band as actually thrashing, but here they are only marginally heavier than W.A.S.P.

Mike Howe's voice sounds great. He has a good blend of grit and singing actual notes. His melody on the chorus of "No Tomorrow" couldn't be more solid. "Signal Path" has more of a classic metal vibe, that most of us think of us power-metal these days. It doesn't pack as much of a punch. Some of this is due to the production which could stand to sit the vocals back against the guitars that could be louder. The guitar tone is more rock n roll, as the gain is warmer and organic. The interplay with the more melodic passages works well. Speaking of rock "Sky Falls In" has a solid groove, but comes across as a heavier Def Leppard without the bloated arena rock anthem to the chorus."Needle and Suture" find the band back firing on all the cylinders that work best for them. Driving ahead with a heavy chug and Lowe bringing it a convincing snarl.

The riff to "Shadow" sounds like it got left off of 'Operation Mindcrime". I think Howe's performance on this song is brilliant and he has secured his place as one of the most under rated metal singers. His voice has held up better than Joey Belladonna's. "Blow Your Mind" finds things darkening. Howe has an almost post- Fear of the Dark Dickinson croon in some sections. This song works well as it's just the kinda of dynamics I need from my melodic metal. "Soul Eating Machine" goes back to the kinda classic metal Saxon and Maiden dished out in the 80s. Granted that has a little less edge that what Metal Church did in the 80s, but these guys are pulling it off like the pros they are.  The bass mellows out for the groove of "It Waits". Another tune that darker than what I'm used to from these guys, but I skipped the Ronny Munroe years, so maybe they started doing this kind of thing then. It's certainly very different from what I have heard from Howe before and he is proving himself versatile on this album. When he goes up higher on the end he brings back the grit as the tempo changes.

"Suffer Fools" has more drive though not really thrashing it. This would have been one of the more middle of the road moments on "Blessing in Disguise", but it's one of this album's heavier ones. There are some chugged punches that pack a little more weight behind them.The guitar solos are much more rock n roll on this one. On "Fan the Fire" the meet between a hard and hard rock place mixing Zeppelin with Queensryche. The guitar riffs are kind middle of the road so it's Howe's vocals who save the day once again. At times if it wasn't for him this song and a few others would not sound like Metal Church at all. I'll round this one up to a 9.5, it's not a 10 because I know they have hit it harder. The vocals and songwriting make up for the more matured sound which dials the aggression back a bit with age, but they really shocked the hell out of me and proved they have weathered the years better than many of their peers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Genki Genki Panic : "Spooky Fingers"

To say this is straight up surf rock would be an exaggeration as it attack with a more metallic propulsion than Dick Dale or Link Wray, though both guitarists have been mentioned in talks regarding where did metal come from. Music aside I love the fact this project uses one of the screen from the game "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" as the background of their Bandcamp page. I once had a very diabolical experience playing that game on acid, so props for that. Horror is an inspiration for what they do, but an instrumental entitled " Two Girls, One Casket" is certainly clever it feels a little upbeat to be telling that story. Things get darker for "Desecration". The guitar is more atmospheric and adventurous taking on more of a solo in places. This is one of the albums strongest songs.

There is more of a "Wipe Out" shuffle to "Phantom III "37" for some reason the groove midway into this song reminds me of Secret Chiefs. It is a little more Twilight Zone like than the previous songs. They first riff I hear that is actually eeire is on the last song "When Bats Cry" it descends into something more rock n roll. Granted when it comes to creepy you are talking to someone who is an old goth from way back, so you better really bring the Halloween if you are gonna come at me like that bro. When you say horror around me, you have to realize the bar is raised pretty high. They might have Famous Monsters adorning the banner of there page, but I have heard plenty of records more steeped in horror than this one. I think that this band could benefit from the use of some Monster Mash like vocals to really connect to the horror if that is where there fiendish hearts truly lie. I appreciate where they are going with this and while this is not an album that is normally in my wheelhouse, I think they did an excellent job in pulling these songs off even if they didn't give me a chill, held my attention and entertained me. I'll give this one a 9.

Cpy6 : "Песни Злых Цветов"

There has been little in the way of good Halloweenish goth coming out so this project was discovered just in time. Very dark wave in the sense that all of the beats that open us the album would get a dance floor moving. The operatic vocals are full of drama and a well departure from another band just trying to rip off Sisters of Mercy. The lyrics are all in Russian which makes the vocals sounds like they are being used as an instrument than moping about lost love. The second song backs off from the dance heavy impact of the opener and finds the vocals whispering. Two minutes actual singing comes in. It's not as graceful as it was on the opener and there is a slight neo folk weirdness going on. It's like a darker version of Psychic Tv. The third song is more melodic in a similar vein as older Cure, though Vhs or Beta's less disco moments come to mind as well. The vocals less over the top than they were on the first song.

Leaving no dark corners of the goth world unturned, They go into a more Siouxsie direction on the 4th song. It's up beat and more of a fun party mope song. The vocals remain very strong and even though its a male baritone, the melody makes it easy to hear the Siouxsie reference. The drama returns after this song and the pace picks up. The guitar tone continues to be beautifully creepy no matter what direction they are going in. After this they return to a more brooding brand of neo-folk. They are not directly ripping off Death In June, but doing their own thing which is more atmospheric. The acoustic guitar picks out the riff rather than being content to just strum it.

They plug back in and embark on a more sonic fare . The cool thing about the Russian folk influence that dominates this album is the choice of intervals used in the melodies doesn't go with the typical vocal lines you expect from a dark wave band. There is enough spooky in their choices to resonate with most bat-kids. The guitar is very icy and the bass might be more audible on some songs than it others, how ever how many goth band have you already heard that roll down Fascination Street booming in that way so I'm good with something different. The album is well produced with the re verb echoing in all the right places. There is a fuzz of synths on "3o6a" and the drums take on a more 808 like electronic feel, while the vocals dance around it. This succeeds in sounding like nothing I have really heard before though if I was pinning this tail on any donkey it would be early Cocteau Twins. The last songs skips back to a more upbeat place similar to Siouxsie in the pacing though the vocals couldn't be more dramatically different in tone. I'll round this one up to a 10 it hits all the right dark places in me, now to hunt down an actual upload of this. If you are a child of the night, this is worth your time .


Walls of Jericho : "No One Can Save You From Yourself"

17 years ago I caught this band live. Since then they got caught up in the whole Myspace metal thing, though this just gave them a bigger budget to work with. The band seems to have maintained their integrity and sound very similar to how they did 17 years, even after their singer appeared in the hottest chicks in metal issues of Revolver.Their first album in eight years  opens pretty much just like any metallic hard core album with a stomping declaration of anger. When it speeds up they lose some of the fury. The title track that follows stays close to this formula with plenty of gang vocals chiming in. The chug of the riffs works a little better here and they hint at breakdowns.They don't really hit their stride until "Militant". Hardcore has taken after Converge's footsteps and moved in a darker direction, this is not the case with Walls of Jericho they are following a path more closely related to Sick of It All. "Fight the Good Fight" checks off all their obligations as a hard core band with a more metal production value.

Vocalist Candace Kucsulain barks with the best of the boys. "Cutbird" finds the band indulging in their more metallic side, though her vocals really only vary in where she places her bark, up until she actually sings to some extent. This little melodic tweaking to her delivery makes all the difference in the world. They bring a pretty powerful beating to "Relentless". The verses find it in the run of the mill hard core temper tantrum. The drummer proves him self with the hammering here. Lyrically it's pretty typical struggle vs strength with a cheering section of tattooed tough guys. The opening riff to "Damage Done" has a Anthrax like thrash feel to it, but then takes off into more of punk tempo and the rest of the song reminds me of something off of a post-90s Slayer album. Well done but not really breaking any new ground. The bass sets the stage a shade darker on "Reign Supreme", the guitar makes the mood rather short lived as they take back off into the stompy thrash.

One of the common themes to this album is the intros to these songs offer a really good set up, but by the time they kick into the verse, half the time the air is let out of the tires by speeding up into what every other hardcore band and their brothers have already done. Walls of Jericho do a good job of perfecting this formula, but it's way too familiar. "Anthem" is not a cover of the Rush song. Instead it's a speedy shout out that throws the mic out into the audience while the lawn mover dance kicks in. The gang vocals get crazy, but actually add to the dynamics of "Beyond All Praise". But like Spinal Tap says "Once you are at ten where else is there to go?". She sings again when they close the album with a convincing cover of Concrete Blonde's "Probably Will". I'll give this one a 7.5, they pull off their era of hard core with a masterful touch, but a little more growth aside from the excellent would have been good, if you are a fan this will be a welcome return, I've just been here and done that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mike & the Melvins : "Three Men and a Baby"

This album was supposed to come out 1 years ago, so it's a little late. When I clicked on this I hoped the Mike they were talking about was Patton, but no such luck this time. The Mike in question is Kunka from the band Godheadsilo, yeah, I know if this album came out 16 years ago you might still remember who that is. Doesn't feel much different than what you normally expect from the Melvins. There is a similar pace to "Limited Teeth". Kunka's voice is a crazed croon, that seems even more nuts when placed out some of the Melvins more metal moments. There is a straight up Kiss like riff in one section of the song. I can say I do like this right from the get go more than the Melvins last studio outing. There is more of a 90's grunge...think Mudhoney, meets the Butthole Surfers feel to the more chaotic pulse of "Bummer Conversation". The vocals get a little obnoxious at the onset of  " Annalisa". The song itself is a pretty straight forward Amp Rep style stomp. I prefer the darker turn they take on "A Dead Pile Of Worthless Junk" , even though as a song it's less tangible.

They bring the rock out on "Read the Label" a song that plays to everyones strengths. The grit on this album might be attributed to Mike Green of the Fucking Champs who recorded this. Kunka's bass tone really carries the song. "Dead Canaries" sounds like if Primus was possessed by Nick Cave. "Pound the Giants" is like a more metallic take on the Dead Kennedys. It lives up to the title but is pretty straight forward. "A Friend in Need is a Friend You Don't Need" is an interlude that is a drum solo mixed in with some crowd samples and rallying narrative. They get into the kind of rock I want from something like this on "Lifestyle Hammer". The melodies work hand in hand with what the rest of the band is doing. "Gravel" finds power in it's noise rock rumble, with vocals smoothly flowing over it until it's time to be abrasive.

This album closes with the spastic burst called "Art School Fight Song" that finds them engaging in the same kind of crazy ape-shit silliness that grind core and power-violence bands of today  make common practice.  I'll give this album a 7.5, it hits more than it misses and makes for an interesting pairing that is not too far off the mark from what the Melvins normally bring you.


Unru : "Als Tier ist der Mensch nichts"

Here's the first full length from the crusty German black  metal band Unru. It sounds like it was recorded in a cavernous basement that was being flooded. The blast beats are caught up in the torrent of water rushing over them. The distortion pedals are shorted out with a fizzle leaving the bass to hold the heavy down. This production value becomes endearing to their sound. The distortion that does come across is more sludge driven that crusty. The second song is over twelve minutes song and congeals into a sound that sonically has more in common in terms of pacing with what you expect out of black metal. Maybe not what you expect out of German black metal that normally has a militant stiffness and rolls over you like a Panzer brigade.  You eventually find yourself numbed into the sonic drone that runs together and finding the song coasting on a blur of white noise. The screaming in anguished enough to be convincing, but from a song writing point of view seems to be more obligatory here than have a defined purpose.

The album title comes down to being roughly translated to "as an animal, man is nothing". This sentiment is felt on the crushing death metal gloom of "Hedonee" .  It pounds you into the ground with more distortion than the previous songs, building into something more blackened around the six and a half mark. They speed things up for the last song. This is a very chaos blast with layers of atmosphere that seem to be happy accidents.They blast away with reckless disregard for the fact this is supposed to be a song for the bulk of this six and a half minute feral display.I'll give this a 7, as I think they are onto something with the sonic formula of their sound tonally , but as songs this needs some fine tuning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Plebeian Grandstand : "Low Gazer"

This album is going to push this band to the forefront of whatever scene they have been bubbling underground in. There is a bounty of  dissonance and angular fury coloring the opener. Blast beat boil beneath the crazy, but these guys are still smart enough to give you room to breathe even amid the scathing vocal screams that seem to have no other intention than lashing out at you. This balance of chaos with brooding atmosphere is not as tightly coiled around the song on "Endless  Craving" as it is the opener. There is a foreboding sense of emotional disturbance lingering here. After the four and a half minute mark things begin to get darker. "Flail in the Bliss" feels like Converge getting mixed up with Deafheaven. I get midway into "Lowlifer" and I still haven't formed an opinion of it. The myriad of styles colliding include hardcore and grind core, but their is a Deathspell Omega influence twisted around it.

The guitars reach out like jagged fingers desperately clawing for you on "Svn in Your Head". The low punishing punches pave this descent into hell and the tempo is perfectly paced for it. It never really congeals into an actual song , but it pretty powerful of a statement in it's own right. The more unbridled storm of "Aimless Roaming" doesn't hold the same urgency in it's whirl wind. They have more of a blackened hardcore anguish roaring into this one. The screams are very emotive and not just a monochrome hatred being spewed. The spastic speed of "Mvrk Diving" goes straight for the throat and throw all the nuance they have displayed up until this point out the window. This song doesn't reach for redemption until four minutes in when it hangs on the chords. They blast they throw in at the end feels like overkill to me, because by that point you get what they can do.

There is a lot of promise in this band. The drummer is a possessed monster of a player, which really gets pushed into view at the end of the final song. The guitar players are more about serving the songs with the tones they paint them with. At times it's like evil inverted shoe-gaze because of the sonic quality. I'll round this up to an 8 as I like what these guys do. I to hear the creepy melodic side pushed to the forefront of their sonic sprawl.

Amon Amarth : "Jomsviking"

If you make so called "viking metal" and consistently leave me feeling luke warm about what you do then there is a problem. This Swedish band who now finds themselves on their tenth album is not the only offender when it comes to this. It's not unlike how I felt when I went to the Norway exhibit at Epcot, they would leave you to believe there is nothing more to the culture than sweaters, trolls and Frozen. Granted of all the Scandinavian cultures the Swedes often come across as if they are overcompensating for birthing Abba and are the most welcoming of western culture. This album doesn't remedy that problem, but they continue to fine tune what they do.

What Amon Amarth does is use the twin guitar attacks makes up for the vocals by carrying the weight of the melodies . Amon Amarth also makes me feel like what they do has already been done by Unleashed, just with bigger production and a tad more Iron Maiden in the guitar harmonies. They also have a sense of hooks that appeals to kids who grew up on Lamb of God. "First Kill" is well written and executed it just doesn't give him the empowering feeling that really good metal normally bestows upon me when it touches my ears. They come off very arena rockish on "Wanderer" The vocals are the only thing that keep them firmly planted in death metal rather than power metal. As the song begins to live up to its title and wander it also loses my attention until the melodic breakdown that gets ruined by the spoken word section.

"On a Sea of Blood" picks up the pace, meeting  at the cross roads of thrash and death metal.When the vocals dip into the lower growl to join the more chugged groove the results are rather impressive. "One Against All" has some powerful riffing, but loses it at the chorus even with the gang vocals.Lyrically it's all Dungeons and Dragons foolishness. The vocals are well produced and I like it when he goes into the deeper growls. "Raise Your Horns" is equally parts 80's cheese and catchy modern metal. The accents adding by the layers of backing vocals are the songs' strongest quality.  When the speed up into the chorus it turns into the more typical viking metal drinking song. I can hear it going over big at festivals like Wacken.

"the Way of the Viking" feels like filler to me.  It's well played and they are hitting the right punches, but it's like LARPing vs a real battle. No manner of shredding solos can convince me otherwise. There is more of a thrashing attack to "Dawns First Light". The guitars sound bigger than they are heavy. The fact that there is more aggression to their sound than darkness is one of the x-factors that sets these guys in the middle of the road."One Thousand Burning Arrows" benefits from a more melodic backdrop and offers a little more emotional depth. These guys are no doubt riff machines many of them sound similar, but the chug always falls in just the right place. "A Dream That Can Not Be" is a little darker, touching on some meatier intervals with the lower growls helping to lower the mood before the female vocals come in. It's not Maria Brink, but the vocals have a similar quality.

In someways this album is an improvement for the band, but it's really splitting bear hairs as they are not really doing anything differently than they have before, unless we are talking their earlier work, as they now sit firmly in the middle of the road for where mainstream metal is at today.I'll give this one a 7.5.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Woman is the Earth : "Torch of Our Final Night"

 This South Dakota band caught my ear with their last album"Depths" and have returned with a new that only takes a mere moment after pressing pay to display its more spacious sound. The drumming is quite intricate for black metal, but it's this subtle attention to detail that continues to set the band apart. The vocals howl with a guttural rasp before unexpected turns into atmospherics. They have many more tricks in their sonic arsenal than they displayed last time around. The guitar playing weaves melodies in the dark storm of fury with the grace of a post-rock band. That doesn't make this post-black metal or any of the shoe gazing forms of blackness as their is way to many layers of motion here. At seven minutes they are not out to waste your time, by lulling you into a trance like state. On "Broken Hands" their is tangible soul running through the interplay of of guitar. With out a blast beat in ear shot, they explore other ways to throb with a melancholy heaviness. This is a lesson a vast number of black metal bands coming out these days could stand to learn from. Some riffs find themselves as the dark chasm between doom and black metal as they wail with oppressive sorrow.

 You might have notice there is no need for me to dig for their influences. This is because they are buried so far below the surface and what the band does has such an immediacy such a excavation holds no point when describing their sound. They churn out a more conventional metal rumble on "Sorrow and the Floods". They roaring vocals almost have a sing song quality to their bellow. This is what atmospheric black metal should be. It has movement and flows as a solid wall of sound forward.There are some arpeggiated nuances to the guitar playing that add a more progressive tone. It begins to race with more of a black metal like momentum, before falling into a more melodic section. When the blast beats do come, then this band sounds just like everyone in their approach to handling them. The title track holds onto this momentum, but drives itself into a much more sonic place. They apply a good deal of restraint to this and allow the guitar some breathing room so it play a jazz like tenderness, before the return of the roar. They winds through some turbulent transitions  with grace, though there is so much going on in the din of this song that I had to listen to it a couple times to take it all in. This album does a excellent job of putting guitar solos to good use to create the mood rather than just a chance for them to blow their wads on the fret board.

there is a surprisingly tender touch to the first two minutes of  "Lungcrusher", before it swells into a slow tremolo picked wave of sorrow. I can hear this having the kind of sonics that fans of Deafheaven would enjoy. It doesn't sound like it's as fully realized of a song as it could be with a little more of a pay off coming from a bigger ending. It does however take you some where so is more than an outro and maybe a few more listens would make it really click for me. Overall this is a pretty impressive little album so I'll round it up to a 9.

Explosions In the Sky : "the Wilderness"

This Texas post-rock band is back in better form on their 7th album. At least on the first track they start off with  more of a rock feel to it than their 2011 album which didn't do much for me. Even on the first song there are more electronic sounds in play and this is even further delved into as the album progresses, but the band is still playing to their strengths. The have already made four soundtracks in addition to their studio albums so it's no surprise that there is a cinematic ring to these songs. Unlike many of their peers, these guys don't feel the need to make sprawling epics and rein in all the atmosphere to serve the songs.

With their earlier albums I was certain that their drummer was into metal and he just smoked too much pot to have any desire to play faster yet was not depressed enough to join a doom band. On this album things have gotten weird on his end. He sounds almost like a drum machine meets Fugazi on songs like "Tangle Formations". Guitar wise, these guys have always had perfect tones. The riffs they jam on are a little more involved at this point in the game. They do let some distortion ring out to create a more cosmic tone than a heavy one on "Logic of a Dream". The creates a sound wave for the drums to build around. It does have the surreal dream like quality to it. There is also a droning noise quality to it, but in light of having reviewed albums by the Body and Merzbow, the musical pay off here makes it worthwhile. "Logic of a Dream" is impressive, but not as solid of a song as the three previous.

Even though it's beautiful weirdness, the intro to " Disintegration Anxiety" has a symphonic feel before it goes into a space age groove that is like the Police's more progressive moments . They band takes a step backwards into what I didn't like about "Take Care, Take Care, Take Care" with minimalist playing and more atmosphere than solid songwriting, this song might even have more of a pulse than that album. They continue to float out into space on " Infinite Orbit" which as the title suggests means they are not clueless to this fact and intentionally stray from the loud to soft dynamic swell they are known for.The drift into the cosmos continues on "Colors in Space". I had to listen to this song three times before I could pay close enough attention to form a conclusive opinion about it. The guitar playing is great , this is not up for debate, how well written of a song is up for debate. It's more of a ghost of song. Never becoming tangible enough to leave its impression on this plane.

The album ends with "Landing Cliffs". It's another shimmering wonderland. Until the drums come in at the four minute mark the song almost becomes a lullaby. It has me thinking "the next time I heave trouble falling asleep I'll just listen to this." When I used to play albums at bed time, I am sure this would have been in heavy rotation. This album is an improvement over the previous one, but I am not sure if finds them returning to their most classic state. Nevertheless I'll give it an 8.5 as the moments they so strike are just incredibly ambitious as they are beautiful.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wyrd: "Death of the Sun"

This Finnish Pagan metal band has a very black streak to them. This is the band's 9th album so they know what they are doing. If you were to judge this band by the first song you would assume they were going to be another black metal band. They go in a more Agalloch direction on the second, that has more of a subdued croak to the raspy vocals and acoustic guitars to create an almost dsbm feel. I like the fact these guys are so dark, When the clean gothy vocals chime in its something I was not expecting. Production is this album's only weak spot. The guitar tone on "Man of Silent Waters" sound like its coming from a transistor radio when they stomp on the distortion. There is more of a traditional pagan metal gallop to "the Sleepless and the Dead". The guitar gets trashier than what you might normally associate with pagan metal. The clean vocals are mixed in a little weird on this one and detracts from the over all quality.

"Pale Departure" finds them back in the mode of old Agalloch. They are a little more depressed than Agalloch and sometimes the harsh vocals sound like an angry Gullom. This was released by Moribund Records. "the Pale Hours" is full blast ahead with a side of frolic hidden in the blur. Even when the folk element sneak out to do a little dance out of the cloud of dust left by the full speed ahead black metal, it doesn't do much to switch it up until the last two minutes of the song. Even then it's built back up to the same hyper intensity. "Inside" is weird as it finds them trying to go for more of a Bruce Dickinson vocal. Musically the song is on point, but this sounds more like "Wicker-Man" era Bruce as the energy in their singers voice is waning. The growls to make a comeback when the song builds up into a heavier section toward the end.

This is not the band's only excursion in to more straight forward metal as the onset of "Cursed Be the Man" is pretty much no questions, take no prisoners head banging. "When Spirits Walk the Earth" finds them back using the Agalloch template with the soft to loud dynamic. The acoustic guitar tone on this album is often better than the distorted tones, though here the more aggressive guitar sounds find so not sure why the inconsistency. This formula is also intact on "Rust Feathers", though I like the sudden bursts of heaviness here that foreshadow where the song is going. The muffled clean vocals don't really add much to the song. Really the production issues could have smoothed some of the little awkward quirks that kept this album from really blowing me away. It's a pretty solid piece of Agalloch inspired pagan metal any ways I'll give it an 8.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cvlt Nation Sessions : Dead Kennedys "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables"

To celebrate their 5th anniversary  my friends over at Cvlt Nation are releasing the next installment of their Cvlt Nation sessions, this time they pay tribute to the Dead Kennedy's classic "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables".  Haarm starts off with a rough around the edges version of "Kill the Poor". This finds the singer with the mic crammed into his mouth for a burlier take on the vocals. Going into this I had to tell myself to get over the fact that no one was really going to go Jello on this. The lo-fi hard core attack continues as Plagues savages "Forward to Death". The first band whose singers captures a more Jello like feel is Hive with their rendition of "When You Get Drafted". This is a good balance of being themselves and paying tribute to their forefathers. Guilty Parents have some big shoes to fill as it hard to top Faith No More's version of "Lets Lynch the Land Lord". This version pays more respect to the song's punk heritage. While they recorded this in equally rough hewn fashion as the other bands, everything falls in place in a more cohesive manner.

I appreciate that Dethfox goes to a darker place for "Drug Me". The vocals are a little buried in the mix, but it works here. Secret Cutter is the only band on this compilation whose albums I own. As expected they pack more of a punch with their chaotic take on hardcore while bending over "Your Emotions" and throwing in a little Jello while they are at it.They are the heaviest thus far .  Good job guys. Rabies is snotty old school punk, so they kick out all the right jams when it comes to "Chemical Warfare". PS Fuck You has to know the pressure is on when it comes to "California Uber Alles". The vocals are more of a metal growl. They deliver the goods in the sense they hit on all the key moments in the song that connect with you. I even went and looked up their Bandcamp, but they haven't done anything since 2014, so here's hoping for some new music from those kids soon.

Piss kicks up some crazed punk spasms with a feral version of " I Kill Children". Dark Circles delivers a more metallic snarl on "Stealing Peoples Mail" with feed back squealing out in more a grind core fashion from the corners of the song. The burly bass line on Bou Quet's  version of "Funland at the Beach" lends a more muscular Black Flag like take on the song. A noisy blackened bile is spat out of Purge's  more brooding "Ill in the Head". It almost comes across like the Doors freaking out on acid in hell. The pressure is on Fever Nest in a big way to come correct on "Holiday in Cambodia". It's a darker version than the original for sure. The Coltranes are cut out to pull off "Viva Las Vegas" and the pretty much do while adding a dash of zaniness. I'm impressed that they pulled out the acoustic guitars. They close it out with the rough and rowdy "Police Truck" that Mower collides with like they are attacking a Motorhead song.If you are Dead Kennedys fan then you might just discover some new bands here,as more often than not the originals are respected and done justice.

Ihsahn : "Artktis"

Ihsahn has brought back the metal is back in a big way on his 6th solo album.  You won't forget Ihsahn was in Emperor. I suppose he felt he took the experimentation as far as he could without losing sight of where he came from. This makes for an album that is in line with his earlier solo work. Captures more of an Opeth like feel...that is when Opeth actually played metal.The electronic elements are still there just set back behind the guitars. The guys from Leprous are still around with  Einar Solberg, helping out with vocals . I really like the melody that closes in on the song's three minute mark. If you are going go from growls to clean vocals this is the way to do it. "Mass Darkness" finds Matt Heafy from Trivium stepping out of the where are they now files to lend a hand in the shredding department.  It's a darker more ominous song. He is back in full force with the harsher vocals.

There is a punchy almost Deep Purple like riff to "My Heart is of the North" . It really goes into an unexpected place, that almost made me think it was another song. If you think prog is about wanking then you need to learn something and give this album a listen. That's not to say Ihsahn doesn't flex his chops and he has them as one of metal most under rated guitarists. I'm not even going to tell you what happens at the three minute mark. The keyboards on this album are on point and production wise everything is dialed in perfectly. Things take a much darker turn into more Skinny Puppy direction on the incredible "South Winds" which still finds electronica in play but being used in context of what Ihsahn does best. The Opeth like clean vocals do show up, but somehow it all meshes. "In the Vaults" finds more of a tug of war between the influence of black metal and prog metal. The prog wins out.

"Until I Too Dissolve" finds him fighting off the Dream Theater temptation. The awesome chorus of "Pressure" is what really brings it all home and pulls the twisted verses together. "Frail" really takes the concept of being a musical oddity in the right direction.  The Nordic Shining's Jorgen Munkeby to chime in on" Crooked Red Line" . It's cook to hear him play something less spastic than his band, there is more straight up jazz to the melodies here, though it's worked smoothly into the type of dark thinking man's metal that makes up this album.  They balance is tipped into straight up balladry on "Celestial Violence". It kicks in right on time a minute and a half into it, which any longer would have wandered into power ballad territory. When the clean vocals come back in they prove you can really sing in 2016 and still have a sense of commanding power without coming across like you are in Primal Fear. For the sake of this review I am not going to count the bonus track which is the weird spoken word "Til Tor Ulven", it sounds like something from the Metallica & Lou Reed "Lulu" album. The rest of the album kicks ass and finds him back in fine form I'll give it a 10.

Rotten Sound : "Abuse to Suffer"

I went into 2016 saying this is the year grind core is going to break bigger and here is a band that will help lead the cause . Even"Cursed" was the first album by this Finnish band that I really paid attention to, these guys are no strangers to the game.  How much of a song can you establish in 47 seconds? Not much it just sounds like someone is demoing song ideas to the rest of their band to write something off of. It takes at least two minutes to get into the brutal groove of these guys which "Fear of Shadows' does a better job of accomplishing. These bursts of songs are very punishing so its hard to image not being numbed out by the type of beating a song like "Trashmonger" dishes out if it were to have go over the two minute mark.

The production is very dense. The guitars hit you like a wall, with the drums sometimes getting lost in the storm of distortion.The vocals are mid to low range growls. There is a cool riff in "Crooked", but you know the rule here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. The first song that breaks the two minute threshold is the slower grinding pulse of "Time For the Fix". This allows for the song to feel like it is more fully realized than the songs that proceeded it. The most effective under a minute burst is "Slave to the Rats". It goes from a blast to thick neck crushing groove in under 52 seconds. They hit two minutes again with "Brainwashed" which is more straight forward for these guys. The drumming is impressive throughout the album, but this song might be on the album's high light reel.

At times the more hard core side of the band comes out as displayed on "Cannon Fodder' that also find the band adopting an almost Entombed like thickness to the riffing.Without question this is heavy as all fuck. Sometimes this heavy get's the benefit of varied tempos on the more sludge like trudge of "Yellow Pain". The vocals on this one go up into a higher curdling shriek. The mood over all on this song stands out from the nine songs before it. A song like "Machine"takes the album title literally. It's pretty effective even into the spastic out bursts of insane speed. Burly bass leads into the beastly blast of " the Clerk" that possesses a mammoth rumble, the following song "Caged" could have been the next logical progression if this was a more adventurous genre .

The minute long "Retaliation" is all teeth, which works if there was somewhere else to go, but their economic sense of song writing leaves the band frequently painted into a corner. "Inhumane Treatment" finds the band much more effective at crushing you when given two minutes to work with. When they kick up the gears too fast for their own good the song does stumble a little.The last song has a cool ending, but this song is the exception to the rule and the band doesn't make the most with the time they are given. I'll give this one a 7.5. Some of these little ditties are compact grenades of heaviness the rest are cool riffs here and there, but need more to them. If this is your thing and you are really ADD, then not only has this review been to long for you, but you can round it up.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Grave Miasma : "Endless Pilgrimage"

This band from the UK, once had their name thrown around when the sub-genre occult death metal began to crop up on the inner webs. This was characterized by a very cavernous sound and lots of eerie atmosphere, the bulk of these bands also owed a lot to Incantation's earlier work. The atmospherics are still in play they are just handled differently this time around. It's been three years since first full length and for an ep this clocks in 35 minutes making it an album in my book. The first song find them locking into a more machine like hammering that evokes more mainstream death metal bands. They still have enough weirdness at the fringes to keep their sound relatively intact. there are some twists and turns on the opener which might be one of the album's most atmospheric songs, but even then this is more about mauling you with power than smoke and mirrors. The second song "Utterance of the Foulest Spirit" is even more straight forward with it's groove before the ambiance comes haunting around the 3 minute mark. It has a pretty solid stomp with the undercurrent of double bass keeping the song flowing like a ride down the river Styx. The vocals cry out from their guttural bowels with more intelligible roars on this song.There is also a blackened edge to things.

The pounding "Purgative Circumvolution" has more of an old Morbid Angel feel to it. The drummer is still a monster and this fact might be highlighted even more by the fact he is playing some more conventional metal grooves. There is some ranting about Shiva , but the song doesn't really stand out to me and feels like everything else in the land of death metal. There is more spastic chaos to the blast that kicks off "Glorification of the Impure". The verses stick with me a little more the Shiva thing is a theme to this song too. It turns into a blur of blasting . A very dense and foreboding on, but doesn't really show the band's identity.Things get better on "Full Moon Dawn" but the band finds themselves falling in the same mire that most death metal bands waddle in. Being such a big fan of "Odori Sepulcrorum" it feels like the band has conformed to closely to where death metal already is rather than living up to the promise they seemed to make on the first record of taking it somewhere it has yet to go. This album is still an enjoyable listen, I think they are capable of more. I'll give it a 7.5.

This is being released on Profound Lore Records May 6th.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mantar : "Ode to the Flame"

The German duo is back with their dense brand of often blackened metal. It's equal parts dark and raw with the grime stained sonics of sludge. This is my first go at these guys and I like the fact these guys don't  try to steam roll you , but  are able to stick and move rather than just hit you like a tank. Sure make no mistake heaviness that is clearly their stock and trade. "Praise the Plague' is more metal in some respects in others it has a crusty roughness. "Era Borealis" has a rough hewn groove to it with echoes of punk stomping through it's veins. The vocals stay at raspy bark. They let the chords breathe allowing the song to develop a sludgey seething. This vibe carries over in to "the Hint" taking a steady chug and riding it out into a more stacatto punched verse. The vocals  are layered so an more sung vocal line lies under the rasp. There is more of a bong bubbling stoner groove to " Born Reversed" . They return with more of a punk punch on " Oz".

The drummer plays with a lot of restraint very careful to serve the song which benefits songs' like "Oz" where the groove is such a focal point. The whole Entombed brand of d-beat is an undercurrent that runs under these songs, but they don't really join those bands to create something with that kind of thrash drive. "I Omen" has the raw power of Motorhead, but churns in more of a throb than just banging away with the band on of a punk band. They pound out a pretty powerful brand of black n roll on "Cross the Cross". When placing more emphasis in beating your ear drums into submission on "Schwanenstein" they lose a little of the menacing charm that gave personality to the songs earlier in the album.  "Sundowning"  closes out the album with more of a doomy slumber. They pick up into a gallop before dropping back down into the shadow of the valley of deathly beatings.

I'm pretty impressed by this one. They are going to need a few more listens, but as of right now I'll let it sit at an  8.5  and see if it compels me to return for more listens. If you need some sludge filled black n roll in your life this German band is certainly onto something on their sophomore effort. Nuclear Blast is blasting this out April 15th.

Surgical Meth Machine :"s/t"

Al is back, this time with a new project that is not under the Ministry banner, though the end result is something not far from the land of rape and honey. He doesn't dip into politics as much this go around and takes jabs at today's internet culture. "I'm Sensitive" looks at thin skinned world of social media, before exploding in a fury of industrial strength blasting, where he exclaims' he doesn't fucking care and he will un-friend you. Littered with samples their is a similar brisk pacing to "Tragic Alert" with almost a gang vocal chiming in. The riff to "I Want More" opens the song with the kinda creepy serial killer love song vibe that Slayer uses before accelerating . "Rich People Problems" is dominated by a chant of the song's title with solo from the late Mike Scaccia tossed in. "I Don't Wanna" has a Jello Biafra like rant to it where Al says he doesn't want to  be a be a rock star he wants to be a beer ad. "Smash and Grab" is still pounding but finds Al in more of a Killing Joke like chant and electronic waves crashing around him. It's the first song where the production really wows me.

 Lyrically it's hard to say if the spastic "Un-listenable" is about pop music or not, until they start asking Al about Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Nickleback and then he says he hates industrial bands. The Cure, Morrissey  also get shot down but Devo rules, so we have a slight difference in taste. There is more punk and less metal on "Gates of Steel" which has an "Anarchy in UK" feel mixed with multi-layered party chant of a vocal."Spudnik" is a guitar soloing transition out of "Gates of Steel" and feels more like a jammed out extension of that song. This preps you for the come down that closes out the album."Just Go Home" is more of a glitched out version of Revolting Cocks as the samples play a very dominant role in the song. The electro experimental continues at more of a break beat on "Just Keep Going". Then "I'm Invisible" closes out the album with a David Lynch like take on trip hop. Al's voice sound great when He decides to take a stab at actually singing.

I'll round this album up to a 9 and see how it sits on me. The second half does take an odd turn so it lives up to Jourgensen's claim that this album is bi-polar. Even though it comes close in terms of aggression it's not a Ministry album and in many ways is more like a punk infused version of Revolting Cocks as the production is not as dense as a Ministry album. Nuclear Blast is releasing this April 15th.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Arkhe : "A"

If you are a fan of the Hungarian ban Sear Bliss then get ready for something that is a big departure from what that band. The whole point of this in the first place was for them to try on sounds they had not been able to delve into with Sear Bliss. Bands such as Sentenced , Opeth and Katatonia can be a reference point for this brand of melodic metal with a progressive edge to it. there are plenty of clean vocals and the angrier vocal tones are not at a full growl rather Celtic Frost like exclamation. Some of the vocal melodies are pretty impressive and then don't come in the most expected places. There is an almost 90's pop industrial tone to "Meditation in the Woods" .  "Ferteg Hava" has more of a an alternative metal feel. It's more of a European thing then a descent into nu-metal, almost like a metal version of Inxs. The chugs that do come in are catchy and well placed.They are more fully committed to industrial on the darker "Lelekolok". The vocals take on a more KMFDM like grit.

The atmosphere on 'Space Derelict" shows this willingness to experiment with different sounds pays of in a big way, even though it's more of an instrumental interlude. It marries jazz to space rock in a very original fashion. The pull of a very interesting cover of "Scum" by Napalm Death. It's much slower than the original and has clean singing rather than rabid barking, the pre-verse riff is really the most recognizable factor from the original. "Eredet" continues this breeding of electronic sounds with melodic metal in a fashion that grows increasingly dark as the album progresses. The trip hoppish ballad " Alom Hava" is not a shabby song it carries a slight Pink Floyd influence, but it is not the album's strongest song. The also close with a similarly paced dream filled ballad. This one is a little closer to Porcupine Tree. I'll give this album a 9 it's darker than most progressive rock coming out these days and melodic in a similar sense as Killing Joke, which puts it right up my alley.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Reckless Love : " InVader"

I grew up listening to cock rock. So I have been there and done this.  With band's like Vains of Jenna in early 2000's it threatened to make a comeback, but that had the breaks put on it and even Buckcherry has since been forgotten. These guys are making a more blatant pop stab at the genre. It's more like Pop Cock or even Pop Tarts here than Motley Crue. They have some arena gang vocals and shred solos. The song writing feels like Def Leppard, who is fun music, so these kids are onto something. My only qualm is the sheen of sterile plastic that gelds some of the sleeze from these songs. I can't complain with the Britney Spears influence that surfaces on "Monster", because I don't hear much fusion of boy-band pop with 80s hair metal.

It makes sense that they hail from Finland which is the same country that brought us the love metal of H.I.M. So if you took all the goth out of H.I.M and replaced with Britney Spears you would have these guys. Granted a sound that is not for everyone. The lighter tone to "Child of the Sun" is too One Direction, even with the few tastes of Aqua like Euro pop that are thrown in."Bullettime" finds the closer to the Sunset Strip circa 89. Def Leppard still being the most obvious influence despite the slick chorus.  The keyboards that open "Scandinavian Girls" sets the tone for them to head into a much poppier place. Lyrically it touches on the place spoken of in Spinal Tap... the fine line between clever and stupid. The odd coupling of pop dynamics works for them on "Pretty Boy Swagger". This formula really varies on a very fragil song by song basis , as the balance of pops tips the scales on "Rock It " and it doesn't work as well.

Some of the elements are in place on "Destiny" but then they go and blow it on the chorus. However  if you are a typically a fan of Steel Panther, then it might work for you. But the production strikes me as being a bit Linkin Park. They hit their most metal moment on "Let's Get Cracking", but then the chorus is too happy which is the same reason, I'm not the biggest Van Halen fan either. I can also hear some Ratt mixed into the vocals, but the Van Halen wins this tug of war. The riff to "Keep It Up All Night" sounds like it could have been played by Zakk Wylde, but the almost Jap-pop glee of the chorus flushes  any hope down the toilet. Sometimes this hybrid works, but it's more often too happy for me than no I'll give it a 6.5.

Friday, March 11, 2016

25 Kanye Producers Needed to Screw in A Light Bulb

The internet is a black hole. Facebook sometimes tries to suck you in and pull you down to it's level of uncommon sense. There was discourse I engaged in about the meme below.

This was obviously created by someone who has never heard of the song "Ogre Battle" or really any brains at all as those Kanye lyrics are still pretty terrible and were much better stated by Chuck D 20 years earlier. I think the problem with music "then" vs "now" started in 1998 with the dawn of auto-tune, first used for effects by Cher to later become a crutch for entertainers who cannot sing. Since he doesn't play an actual instrument and relies on a team of producers to create for him, Kanye tends to fall along side other pop "artists" as an entertainer. I like my share of pop music, but it's like eating fast food occasionally vs a balanced diet. I was shocked to learn Kayne West's new album has 25 producers on it. We are talking multiple producers per song. How many Kanye producers does it take to screw in a light bulb? This brings new meaning to the term "over-produced". In all fairness I looked up Taylor Swift and the Weeknd to see how many producers were on their albums. On 1989 Taylor Swift had 8 and the "Beauty Behind the Madness" had 13. Still despite this gross excess is still combined less than the number West rolls with. An interesting side note, only one producer worked on "A Night At the Opera", so they obviously didn't need as much help.

So what gives Taylor Swift and the Weeknd the edge over Kayne? Well it goes back to 1998. They can actually sing if required to do so. Swift can even play an instrument, edging her out of just being an entertainer, though she is embracing the pop queen role which is obvious if you have seen any of her videos. But rappers are poets you argue....if that's the case, then they need even fewer producers. How many producers did Allen Ginsberg need? The flow of lyrics on "Beauty Behind the Madness" has more heart in it than Kayne has ever put into any of his albums. West's real talent is being a media whore. So Taylor, watch your step or you won't be much better no matter how classy of a Grammy speech you give. At the end of the day if your music doesn't matter more than the brand then you are in trouble, trouble trouble... Go ahead, make all the money you want, as PT Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute".

Ask Quincy Jones how many extra producers he needed for "Thriller". If you don't count Suge Knight's role as the executive producer, which means money man, the role that Kanye is assigned to on his own albums, then Dr. Dre was also the sole producer of "the Chronic". So if you are wondering what's wrong with hip-hop, how hard can you be if your shit has twice as many producers working on it than the team that puts together a Katy Perry album? If you are just making a circus then pack as many clowns as you can fit into your car. With that said I think Charlie did a wonderful job with the song below which is without a doubt Kanye's best work since "Gold Digga" .