Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sixx A.M :"Prayers For the Damned"

I still like the "Motley Crue" album with John Corabi on it and growing up the Crue was one of my favorite bands, though we parted ways when Dr. Feelgood came out and I still think that album is a little too happy for me. So I shameless will review this album even though I don't listen to much modern radio oriented rock, when I do it seems to be written with a team of marketing consultants who have done test studies and demographic research. Studies have proven to Nikki Sixx that Muse and Shinedown are safe bets when writing music that will make it onto today's limited rock radio. Granted middle of the road mainstream rock with harder leanings is a narrower path.There is not middle ground when it comes to metal, you are either heavier than Lamb of God or you are not. Sure Ghost slipped through the cracks, but their window dressing allows them to be more of an oddity. If they played in jeans and t-shirts rather than hooded robes not so much.  When I heard this band's first album back in 2008, it seemed more original. Some of these songs are well written and catchy, "Sick" the first one to be catchy enough to compete with "Life is Beautiful". There is a similar dynamic at work on the title track.

For what this is they are certainly doing it well and I buy it way more from these guys than I do Avenged Sevenfold. The heavy is heavy handed. They back off their version of the more balls to the wall rock for the not quite a ballad emoting of "Better Man". James Michael's voice certainly gets the job done, their first album was the only one I have really given a fuck about , and he doesn't really have any new tricks in his bag , though he might be smoother and slickers shooting for radio play rather taking risks as a singer.They get a little heavier on "Can't Stop", it's a more energetic performance than james normally gives.The turnaround after the chorus is a silly to me and it almost borders on nu-metal. I wasn't expecting a song titled "When We Were Gods " to be a whiny ballad even if it has a darker undercoating. The very fact that James can try to sing in a Muse like styling proves he has some pipes and this song does get heavier, so it's a dark whiny power ballad. Sixx lays down more of groove than he has in sometime on "Belly of the Beast" which is both bluesy and electronic.It's actually one of the album's best songs. The continue to try to play their version of metal on "Everything Went to Hell" which is more in the Avenged Sevenfold realm of the genre.The band knows which side of the iTunes chart their bread is buttered on as they lean more towards hard rock on this album than they did even on the first.

 The Last song, isn't bad it just didn't grab me and sounded like 30 Seconds to Mars jamming with Muse. It's pretentious, but that is what they were going for and has way more ambition in this song than Motley Crue does in their entire discography, though they do not rock as hard as anything from the first two Crue albums, not matter how many layers of processed guitar they slather on this mix. Of course this album sounds great and is masterfully produced, their singer is a producer. I'll give this one an 8, because it's on point and well executed, not always my thing due to the fact my idea of what is heavy has the bar raised a lot higher than this.



Youth Code : "Commitment to Complications"

Normally when I review an album I sit down at my laptop with ear buds and start typing as I listen to it for the first time. I could not wait to hear this album so listened to it before I got home so it won't be a track by track journey into it as most of my reviews are, but you are more than likely tired of reading them in that format anyway so lets jump into it. Production wise things have stepped up another level along with the song writing. After a melodic and perhaps dramatic synth intro the kick into the first proper song which kicks more like a rock song energetically than your typical industrial. Unlike your typical industrial there is not an obligatory layer of 90s thrash metal guitar over it. The synths are capable of summoning their own heft. This is in no way saying that there is not metal influence in place or this album isn't heavy. Ben from Goatwhore lends his snarl to the title track. It's interesting as he is not doing anything different from his normal delivery, but it's over a bunch of hammering synths.

Things get more dynamic on "the Dust of Fallen Rome" which was the first single off this that you might have caught on a few websites that ran it. There is a harmonizer effect on Sara Taylor's vocals that create the illusion of actual singing. Realistically she is sticking to the same staccato yell that is sometimes for robotic than other times. Through out this album, I was listening to she if and when she would vary what she does and tried to discern just how versatile a vocalist she is or isn't. Her approach is not as varied as Ogre's . She goes into a little lower sneer on "Anagnorisis", riding the the dark nasty groove. Some times her chants are layered to add a layer of intensity. Their drum programming has really improved and is as hammering as any metal album you might want. "Doghead" is the first song that I can really hear thumping in the current climate of goth night. It's the most straight forward, but sonically well layered toward the end.

The album's third act finds it really getting darker. The sample that leads into "Glass Spitter" collides with a pretty menacing throb. Things ebb down a little for "Lacerate Wildly", ...catch the little wink they give the Smiths there. She is talking more than yelling, in fact she drops down into a almost whispered hiss. The slithering groove have a little bit of Reznor to them, but that's fine with me since they sound good. They pick back up to a more militant dance floor terrorism soon enough. There is a pretty rabid pulse to to "Avengement" , but this sonic real estate I heard back in the late 90s. These kids are great at paying homage to it without being intentionally lo-fi in order to recreate some one else's sound. Things get both darker and more intense of "Shift of Dismay" which is the first song to have the chug of guitar. She screams at you that it's like a car crash and you can only assume she means these beats that are flogging you.

The end on what might be the most personal and emotional note. While the lyrics are not obscured by effect or screaming they don't always slap you in the face. While he vocal approach to "Lost at Sea" starts off more like spoken word and the song is more narcotic in it's pacing, things do build into a more emotional intensity on the " I'm moving backwards for you" part . I'll easily round this one up to a 10, I have already gotten a good deal of play out of it before I sat down to write any of this. These kids are the real deal and not just hipsters playing dress up.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Wrong : "S/T"

The band features ex-members of Kylesa and Torche, but worships at the altars of the 90s. All the Amp Rep bands come to mind at once, but these are coupled with a Helmet like stomp. Whores already does this kind of thing and an Unsane album on it's own merit can't keep me engaged for long, much less the second generation of that. It opens with this in a heavy  90s stomp that is just a brief burst like this is a grind core band...though they generally pound at half the speed of grind core. The vocals are barked at you in almost a hard core punk grunt. "Turn In" keeps the heaviness a mid pace that works better for them than when they speed up on "Read". "Entourage" is more sonically reckless and not as refined of a song as "Hum Drum". When they are playing off the groove things work best for this band even if it is not the most original sound.

"Stasis" is a little more melodic with a more sing song spoken chant to the vocals rather than the grunt. Their song can border on the band being a bit of a one trick pony at times. The are good musicians. The bass player has a nice tone, but by the time we are half way into the album on "Fake Brain" my brain can't fake interest and begins to tune this out. There is a guitar break that attempts to add some atmosphere and melody, but it's too little too late. The grumpy stomp of "Boil" is a cumbersome clunk. The title track is more of the same, but "High Chair" offers a ray of hope by taking a more melodic Hum like approach. These guys should have invested more time exploring this side of what they do as it's way more compelling.

If you missed out on Helmet in the 90s, then I would suggest checking out "Betty" before putting all of your eggs into this basket. This album sounds good for what it is, and is well played, but it's like these guys are a tribute band. I'll give this album a 7 which is as high as a tribute band could  score, as they fire on all cylinders, but need to show me more of who they are as I am where of who Page Hamilton is.

Discharge : "End of Days"

I'm not sure if the new singer is to blame, or the production, but this new album finds the band going from the leaders to the followers. One of my favorite hard core punk bands, I know it's not fair for me to expect another "Hear Nothing..." from them, but this just storms ahead with little of the endearing song writing, Harris or no Harris in the band. Tezz is now playing guitar instead of drums so it's all a little confusing for me. It's not until I get to the title track that I'm willing to accept whats going on here and move on. Are they heavier...yes. This album was released by Nuclear Blast and I am sure the band has to know they have a large following of fans like me who are normally metal heads, so this might be very intentional on their part "Broken Law" almost sounds like Motorhead. "False Flag Entertainment" attacks with a similar one track mind as the previous song. "Meet Your Maker" finds their singer putting his croaked chant over a similar pacing, and at this time I am beginning to believe that he is the reason this album is becoming boring as he does the same thing over every song. Not only is he monotone, but uses the same patterns."Hatebomb' could pretty much be any of the songs I have heard previously on this album and I'm only half way through so I can feel it becoming harder to make it through.

 They get a half shade darker on "It Can't Happen Here". But the singer goes right back to belching out the same type of phrasing on this song. If you would like to make the excuse well it's punk rock you can't expect too much from the vocals, then you need to go back and listen to earlier punk where the vocals might not have had great pipes but attitude and personality.The first song where they break this terrible trend is "Infected". It's a song I would not mind hearing them play along side the classics. "Killing Yourself to Live" is not a cover a the Black Sabbath song. Instead it's much less catchy than the previous song and finds the singer back on the bland track. The guitar solos on this album are pretty on point."Looking at Pictures of Genocide" might please fans of d-beat, but standing on it's own two feet does little to set it self apart.Really the same could be said for "Hung Drawn and Quartered".

If you like your punk with a metal after taste and fast, then this might not bother with you if you are not that picky. The last two songs really don't do anything that the rest of the album hasn't covered. They are not too pleased with the current state of the union, but the lyrics could have been taken from any disgruntled post Cnn's Twitter feed. The last song does pull out a cool riff at the end, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone doesn't make a good song. The guys are old pros so they don't suck at pulling this off so I'll give it a 5, but I expect a lot more from them.


Rob Zombie " The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser"

 I love me some White Zombie, I was on for the ride the more Stooges like "Make them Die Slowly" so when "La Sexcisto" came out I was confused as to why they sounded like Metallica. The band hit their stride during the peak of my drug summer when "Astro-Creep" came out. I have caught Rob a few times live since the band broke up, but never caught on with his solo work cus I wanted White Zombie, the last of the Demons Defeated "Satanic Cyanide/ the Killer Rocks On" slows down and has more rock to it than the more electronic thump I associate with his solo work. "Well Every Body's Fucking In U.F.O" owes it country twang infused industrial to Ministry. Once you get past this fact it's fun a Butthole Surfers kind of way. The song titles are all way too long.The album has more textures and musical components in play than I would have thought going into it with several interludes.

"The Hideous Exhibitions of A Dedicated Gore Whore" has a sixties organ riff that accents the song, lyrically it's kind of stupid pretty much just describing her tattoos. The samples on this album are one of it's strong points in adding to the Narrative that Zombie sometimes reverts to a middle school level. There is a more White Zombie feel to 'Medication for the Melancholy". The album gets heavier here and stays strong on "In the Age of the Consegrated Vampire We All Get High". the interlude entitled "Super Doom -Hex Gloom" has more prominent psychedelic touches though they have been creeping around the entire album. The go for a more straight up rock kick on "In the Bone Pile". This also finds Zombie coming closer to singing than his chanted rap style."Get Your Boots On" is a more dialed approach that colors in the numbers to his typical formula.

 This album is a tons of fun. The songs are mostly under three minutes and ride the grooves with some window dressing, but adhere to the Kiss school of song writing by keeping it simple stupid. The last song breaks from this trend and breaks the five minute mark, it's heavier and more experimental than the joy ride you have been on for the rest of the album. Not sure if this is going to be the soundtrack for the "31" movie he has coming out. Either way it's fun and gave me more than I was expecting from him I'll give it a 9.5. so don't let the fact that at 51 Zombie looks like Gandalf fool you as he still has it .

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ancst : "Moloch"

These guys have been pegged with a few different sub-genres, but I'll make it really easy for you they are blackened Hardcore. From what I have read about them they are "anti" all types of stuff and while I can agree with the anti-religion some of it is a little too far to the left for my tastes, but all of this is screamed at you in a way that they might as well be ordering from the McDonalds drive thru menu, though they are most likely vegan, so perhaps this is why they are so angry. Originality is not one of their virtues. The album sounds good and the first two songs work well, but the third song bleeds out from the second and the album begins to become a blur that is less engaging. The vocals never change from their screamed shout and are the leading element to their mono-chrome sound . They really begin to bore me by the time we are at "In Decline" and I find myself wondering "how am I going get through this album?"

They get moodier on "Strife" which helps break things up, but midway into the song they speed things back up. They still manage to drape things is a dissonant shadow and give it a little personality.  They go for a more to the point blast fest on "Devouring Glass" that brings their more hard core side roaring out a little louder. Their drummer is the most bad ass of the bunch and this song hammers that point home. They stay on this same blistering path for "Turning Point", but for me having two songs like this makes this one loose it's impact. They do let up and perhaps a band that just goes for the throat all the time is what you look for in music as you needs for dynamic stimulus are very low. If this is the case you will be more impressed with this than I am. Closing in on the two minute mark the guitar on "Human Hive" gives you a little melodic breather.The vocals change a half shade to get into a lower death metal grow in an accent here and there, but it's one of the few variations I have heard.

"No More Words" comes across like a shade of blackened death metal is adding here but it's just a bash. If you have not had your ear blast beaten to the point of sonic numbness here then this might give you a slight urge to head bang. The final song doesn't really do much to add dynamics or give you anything you have not already heard them do on the songs that preceded it. They do it will, but it feels like a one trick pony at this point. I'll give this album a 6 as it's well crafted, though the song writing seems to be throwing the next heaviest choice at you rather than sharing any feelings aside from anger.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Dead Forest Index : "All That Drifts From a Summit Down"

Of course we are going to check out the band that is touring with Chelsea Wolfe. This duo keeps things dark and simple. The vocals are generally androgynous, giving these guys a much different sound than if they were just another band of Ian Curtis impersonators. The music drifts by you with the slow melancholy pulse similar to Chelsea Wolfe's earlier work hovers like a rain cloud over it.Both bleak and graceful, it often defies genres, sure indie rock is the broadest genre, there are more folk and western influences hinted at than writing these guys off as being post-punk. Slow-core bands like Low certainly would be a reference along with the likes of Sun Kil Moon to some extent in the lethargy that lingers it the heart beat of these songs. Some of the mesmerism lifts on "Cast of Lines" which doesn't feel as depressively taunt and works more off the layers of harmonies which might be impressive, but do not embrace the guitar as tightly nor give the song the same sense of movement. "Ringing Sidereal" is more minimal with the  haunting vocals well layered , this could be played in a more reflective scene of a David Lynch movie.

There is heavier feel to "In Greyness the Water" thanks to the more  foreboding accents of the drums. They roll around the vocals, creating pressure and tension without doing the typical post-rock build. The chant like melodies give a more droning sway to the song. Sometimes they are minimal to the point on songs like "Sliver Thread of the Sun" that is more of a breeze blowing by than a tangible song. This is given a contrast with the almost poppy "Myth Retraced" that reminds me of Coldplay.But this has enough shadow cast on it to win me over where Coldplay falls flat on me. Another more mainstream artist comes to mind on "Sand Verse" , the how the melody coasts over the guitar, Though it could be just as easily reasoned that this comes from an  Elliot Smith influence. For the bulk of the album the vocals do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping the songs together and this is really exaggerated on the folk balladic tone of "Upon Dark Hills". Here the vocals just sit atop a drone. The album closes with "Homage Old" in a fitting fashion for the singer's voice lifts the song as it soars upward with more power behind it to prove that while he has sung in a hushed tone for most of the album he has pipes to use if he so chooses.

It will be interesting to hear what this sound like on a rock stage at full volume. I'll give this one an 8.5 and see how it grows on me, I am sure seeing these songs live will help further sway my opinion, I liked the mood the songs create even though at times some of the songs were almost too minimalist for my tastes. I would not be quick to peg this as goth, sure it's on the darker side of indie rock, but it often feels more like folk to me, and I'm not talking about Death In June either.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Fallujah : "Dreamless"

Here is the follow up to 2014's "The Flesh Prevails". While these guys are technical death metal, they pull it off in such a way that doesn't just come across as dazzling you with chops but create an atmosphere. The first song seems like a movement more than a song on it's own even though I like the fact the carries more ambiance than anything I remember from the first album. "Adrenaline" ebbs down into an almost jazzy landscape, but caters more to fans of death metal as it is about the propulsion. The vocals are forceful growls on the lower side of mid range. A more progressive color is added that creates a more Dream Theater like feel before they blast off into the more rapid fire attack. The drummer is really killing it coming off of fills into punching grooves. The bass player is not too far behind him in terms of prowess. The shredding solos of course reach out and grab, but it's the other textures like the female vocals of Tori Letzer, tossed into this one that make a difference.

These guys prove you can throw a lot into the mix without having to drag it out into ten minute songs. "Abandon" doesn't pull me in as much as the previous songs, but highlights the fact that these guys don't come at out you with the conventions of modern metal in the most expected ways. The female vocals also return for this song. They do flirt with some of the more conventional elements of prog metal, bands like Cynic will come to mind. The very mathy grooves that dance around your head rather than hitting you straight on. At this point if you haven't noticed the drummers feet you will as his double bass is beyond sick. The title track is the most melodic moment so far, it is almost an instrumental with the female vocals haunting it from the corners of the song. Lighter in atmosphere the drummer still keeps things moving. They get more hammering on "the Prodigal Son" it does lose me a little in the same places metal that is heavy on technique does. By offsetting the heaviness with the ambition invested in it. There is almost a more black metal feel to the beginning for "Amber Gaze" , perhaps if it was droned through a quantum hyper-cube. When the song gets to more of a roar than it's clearly death metal. If you are meat and potatoes metal head that doesn't like chugging more artful than Deicide then this might not be the band for you.

"Fidelio" is more of an atmospheric interlude than a free standing song. It feels like this interlude is going to lead into a build up more intense, then comes another fake out in the form of "Wind For Wings" which takes it's time getting wound up with a Tool like tension. When it kicks in it feels like marginally heavier Dream Theater with growled vocals instead of the Journey like warbling. The break for the guitar solo gives way to the first clean male vocals on the album. The sound of robots on acid is captured at the onset of "Les Silences" . The use of electronics lives up to the title progressive and takes their sound some where they have not gone before. This instrumental's only voice is an undercurrent of samples, it might not be metal, but it is good music. Did not expect to hear anything like that going into this album. If this was the first song I heard I would click back to make sure I was listening to the right album.So this puts the pressure on "Lacuna" to end the album on a heavy note. By this time death metal is another color being added to their sound than the totality of it. The prog acrobatics confirm this, before they do get down into some growling. I'll give this one a 9.5, I am not sure how much play I will get out of it, but it's hard to ignore what an achievement this album is and the growth it reflects on the band.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mur :"Heart Worm"

This album is an oddity. Slow depressing doom with interesting almost lo-fi production and guitar tones that avoid the ringing feed back most bands in the genre rely on as their life blood. The clean tones are fragile and almost indie rock sounding. This was not made from a stead diet of Evoken that's for sure. This is a one man band and the dude is pretty versatile as he goes from neo-folk to a more blackened take that opens the third song by sounding like this is the Strokes take on black metal. The sometimes fuzzy production could stand to be a little smoother here as jumbles the sound around some guitar melodies that are unique to the genre. "Migration Incantation" speeds up into a more punk flavored ball of punchy propulsion. Vocally it's more black metal than not. A few moments where the distortion on the recording obscures the song a little. The production is really a catch 22 here as it gives this album much of its personality, but hampers some of the guitar melodies which also give the songs a fresh perspective of where metal meets indie rock.

"Wyeth Shroud" finds the album going back down into a doomier place, before being blasted back off into black metal. The blast beats are not handled in the traditional way, nor is there tremolo picked guitar riding it. It does move trough several moods, which does more justice to black metal than the genre has heard in the past few weeks at least. There is more of a depressive black metal mood looming around the corners of "Snakeskin on the Lake". The screams come in over the clang of clean guitars and are as convincing as if it had been blast beats. This project gets a lot of credit for not taking the most obvious roads. "Limbless Frozen Monarch" continues the cleaner tones established in the previous songs and gets even more delicate with them. The song climaxes in the unexpected manner of the song twisting into funeral doom.

The last song finds it gracefully going into black metal. The song dives into a clean indie rock part that sounds like it very well be a Sun Kil Moon song. I'll give this album a 8.5, I'm unsure how much additional play this will get as the production is a little rough, but if you are looking for unique black metal and tired on the same old same old blast beaten path, then this is highly recommended.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Culture Abuse : "Peach"

Right from the first chords it's evident these guys are a ton of fun. They remind me of a hipster version of the Ramones by way of Mudhoney. Not in the same way the Queers remind you of the Ramones. The 60s boardwalk pop sound is there, but it's dressed in flannel and doused in bleach. Their Bandcamp page says they like to party and I think thats evident. This spark is not as bright on the second song "Jealous", which finds the dynamic so similar that it feels a little flat, while the first song hit me when their sound was fresh and new to me. They get a little more punk on "Dream On", which is not the Aerosmith song. It's peppy, perhaps too peppy for me to hear where this supposed hardcore connection is. The vocal melody is stronger on this one, though the singer is a one trick pony, so fortunately he has a lot of heart in his baritone slur to make up for what he doesn't have in his pipes. "Rainy Days" has a lazier swagger than brings to mind Queens of the Stoneage. At this point in the albums first act , It's the best song after the opener.

There is more of a punk sneer to "Don't Worry" with the vocals taking on a coarser punch until it gets to the more crooned chorus.  Partying must be the secret to "Peace on Earth" as it has a "Buddy Holly" bounce to the guitar melodies. The weird reggae turn that "Turn It Off" was what the album needed even if it gives them more of a Clash feel. I might be one of the few people who doesn't like the Clash, but I think this band did a good job of pulling it off.I was not expecting them to start strumming an acoustic guitar on the "Living in the City" interlude. This is offset by the booming fuzz of the bass before punching into "Yuckles". The chorus doesn't hook me in even though they have some decent momentum built up going into it. "Heavy Love" was just ok, you would think since it's more relaxed I might get into a little more but it sounds like every other indie rock band.

This is more punk than the Coathangers album I reviewed a few weeks ago. But at the end of the day the album is generally all painted with one color. The few variations are what makes this album work, I'll give it a 7, but it's too straight forward for me. If you like punk rock that leans more into the rock and when I say rock I mean no frills, meat and potatoes rock then you might not ask as much from your punk as I do.

the 69 Eyes :"Universal Monsters"

I grew up on hair metal and love goth so I am not sure why these guys never caught my ear. I was exposed to them by friends and girl friends, but there singer seemed a little weak. Why I am giving them a shot now, well I guess so people like you will click on this review and give it a read. I had to listen to the opener twice before I really paid attention to it. While the singer's voice recalls Iggy Pop on "Jet Fighter Plane" which was the first single from this album. It also sound more like Pop than the Sisters of Mercy they are going for. I think "Jet Fighter Plane" would have been a smarter opener, the guitar solo has more of a Steve Stevens fire to it. "Dolce Vita" didn't do much for me. Any hair metal band thinking about putting out an album needs to consider the dude who produced this record. He gets the arena rock sound, but with a darker grit to it that knocks some of the cheese off the top.

"Black Bird Pie" has more a Cult vibe, though when it gets to the chorus I feel like Iggy Pop is covering "Cherry Pie".  They are much less goth-metal than I remember and going for almost Rolling Stones like rock n roll here. The Iggy thing is still out of hand and the funny thing is it's Iggy Birthday as I am writing this, didn't realize it fell so close to Robert Smith's birthday until today. That's is actually the most goth fact about this review. I am beginning to wonder why this album is call Universal Monsters. For a song called "Lady Darkness" it sure is happy. The "TV Eye" rip off  "Miss Pastis" has it's moments, like the more melodic section leading into the guitar solo. They get a little darker, but sounds like Iggy Pop with Alice Cooper's backing band from the 80's on "Shallow Graves".  I like the more electronic element to "Jerusalem" even though the lyrics are really dumb. They song loses it's punch at the chorus for sure , but the verses are alright.

I'll assume the song called "Stiv and Johnny" is referring to Stiv Bator and Johnny Thunders. It has the singer digging down into more of a Fields of the Nephilim like croon with more sand papered edge. It's one of his better performances on this album, making it one of the rare songs I really like on this album. They stumbled over some long lost Billy Idol b-sides starting with "Never". The guitar playing on this one is better than average, but yet another stupid chorus. These guys need a Desmond Child to stop giving their love of music a bad name. You might think this album would be weighed down with power ballads, but aside from less dynamic vocals this is what separates these guys from H.I.M, "Blue" does come pretty close to being one. The close this with another "Cult " moment with "Rock N Roll Junkie". Lyrical 'your just a rock n roll junkie, and every guy surrounds you like a monkey" has to be the worst lyrics of the year so far. I have to round this one down to a 6 and suggest the last Iggy Pop album or the new Cult over this, but it's not terrible despite some of the lyrics.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rest In Purple : The Top 10 Prince Songs

Up until Christmas of 1984 the only albums I owned were Kiss, Ozzy, Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister, the first album that I owned which was not metal...yes even before Bowie for me was Prince's "Purple Rain". While this doesn't hit me as hard as Bowie, since "Crystal Ball" was the last Prince album I was really spell bound by I still caught him a couple of times in concert and continued to be one of the best if not the best guitarist I have seen live. Rather than rattling on about what he did for music or who he was I'll let his music do the talking and give you my top ten Prince Songs. Given the Purple One's rigid control of his songs, in some cases the original versions of these songs could not always be captured, so we are going for covers in some cases.

10- Something in the Water Does Not Compute

Off "1999" in any arrangement this song works, though the new wave funk of the album version is always the best in my book.
  9-"Thieves in the Temple"

The vocals and the groove are what push this to the top of the heap. The beat is pretty heavy. This was when he started getting into more conventional pop ad became less guitar oriented. 8-Raspberry Beret

 Around the World in a Day was heralded as his Sgt.Peppers as the follow up to Purple Rain the bar could not be any higher. Lighter in tone than "Purple Rain" it sounds a little dated, it's impossible for me not to get this one stuck in my head when I hear it, as it stuck with me over the years.

  7-" I could Never Take the Place of Your Man"

 One of his more straight up rock n roll songs, he was one of the few soul/funk artists who could convincingly cross over into rock and really rock.

  6- "When U Were Mine"

Sure "Nothing Compares 2 U" could easily be on this list, but lets face even the songs Prince wrote for other people be it Joan Osborne, Kate Bush, TLC or Sinead O' Conner feel like Prince covers because they have his finger prints all over them and when he decided to play them after the fact they became Prince songs.


  5-"the Cross"

 Off of Sign O the Time, It might be surprising one of his Jesus songs, made my list, but I never considering him going from masturbating with a magazine to saving my soul being too preachy in this context nor did I ever take it that seriously,I was always like you are going to get all church on me after I just saw you in a blouse and a jock strap? Any way Chino from the Deftones had his side project Crosses ironically cover this.


  4- "Anna Stesia "

 The best song off of "Lovesexy", this live version finds him really killing it and showcases his under rated guitar playing that all of you mother humpers are now on Facebook saying you have always been a fan of since he died.

  3- "Darling Nikki"

 This was some down and dirty next level shit , I had no clue what masturbating was or what lil Nikki was starting to grind, but the intention behind his words reminded me of when Ginger would whisper naughty things in Gilligan's ear. Even teaming up with Cee-Loo Green this is not something that the Foo-Fighters could really capture, but this version is worth hearing. "

  > 2- If I Was Your Girlfriend Androgyny was his thing as much as it was Bowie's and that fact wasn't conveyed any more convincingly than on this song, which is another example of his immaculate song writing.

2- "If I Was Your Girlfriend" 

Androgyny was his thing as much as it was Bowie's and that fact wasn't conveyed any more convincingly than on this song, which is another example of his immaculate song writing.While the cover below carries strong elements of the original these girls can't capture Prince's raw sex magick that oozes from his voice.

  1- "When Doves Cry"

It might seem cliche that number one is off Purple Rain, but that album is in my top 10 albums of all time and while the bulk of his work is strong up until he started bat-dancing, "Purple Rain" can't be touched. This song is what first caught my attention and has everything I could want from him from the wildly passionate guitar playing to his falsetto.

Dalek : "Asphalt For Eden"

Here is the 7th album by this hip-hop duo, I would call them experimental, but they are doing it right and everyone else is lazy.They come on strong with a dark dense sound, that might be argued to offer a shoe gaze take on hip- hop, but Massive Attack already does that. They continue to get darker on "Guaranteed Struggle". The Mc has skills, but unlike mainstream hip hop where the backing track is often uninteresting the lyrics sit back in the music in a manner that has more in common with punk or metal production that pop music. "Masked Laughter" offers a more space age atmosphere. This gives the song a dreamier sense of melody to set the frustrated lyrical flow against. There is a dirtier abrasion to the more upbeat lyrical flow of "Critical".  Except for the chorus it feels more free-styled in the verses.

The balance of atmosphere and groove is well struck on the instrumental "6db", though it still feels like more of an interlude rather than an actual song. The use of samples works well as an introduction to "Control". There is a surreal murkiness casting it's cloud over the sonic sea of "It Just Is". This could be a Jesu song until the rapping comes in and sets atop of it more like spoken word than having anything in common with Drake of well even Common. It's a raw prose that cares little for hooks and thus creates a more abstract chorus.I'll give this one a 9.5 as all the chances it takes pretty much pays off, the instrumental is not required listening that has to make the journey over onto my iPod, but hip hop needs more of this forward thinking attitude when it comes keeping things fresh instead of the plastic sheen most of it is mass produced with today.

Dälek - Guaranteed Struggle (OFFICIAL VIDEO) from deadverse recordings on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Behexen : "the Poisonous Path"

These guys are the real deal when it comes to Finnish black metal or any black metal for that matter. The album hits you with a dark blast that blurred past me and it wasn't until the second song that I really began to tune into this. They have been around since 96 and have ties to most notably Sargeist, who almost all of the members have played in but also bands like Horna, Nightbringer and Kult ov Azazel. They seem to prefer playing at the more thrashing speed of "Cave of the Dark Dreams" which also finds them conforming more closely to the sound brandished by a hundred other black metal bands. They come across as being heavier on the more deliberate " A Sword of Promethean Fire". The vocals are a lower more death metal rasp. They tune lower than your average black metal band so this is fitting. Two minutes in they erupt into blasting and lose this groove. The gang like chant that chimes in add a cool snarl to the song. They keep up the pace for "Umbra Luciferi". Its dense and dark with the cavernous boom of death metal, but relies on sheer heaviness alone.

The album continues to race and ramble down the same left hand path it began on with monochrome shades of leather. There are some punches and accents that stand out more than others. The chorus on some songs are more defined than others. If you have ever complained about Watain being too melodic or not cvlt enough for you then this should not overwhelm you. That is not to say they do not develop any melodic tendencies as they do occur in an atmospheric context.They care more about speed, but are capable of chasing that dragon without resorting soley to blast beats. The beatings continue until morale is improved "Chalice of Abysmal Water" only flirting with the darker melodic black metal chord voicing. They continue to dig deeper into the more musical abyss on "Pentagram of the Black Earth".  They throw this to the hot winds of the underworld on "Gallows of Inversion" which is more of a blast fest. It is more along the blackened death metal side of black metal to me, but these guys came to be at a time when those lines were not fully drawn. By the time we get to the last song it's understood that these guys are good at what they do, but I'm lost as to who they are with their own original sound, however it's as good as color by numbers black metal gets so I'll give it a 6.5.

Up From the Underground - Vivi Vex

Here I am prying my mind open with a crow bar and asking  is this future of goth? It's no mystery it has known many incarnations even in the genre's golden years during the 80s. Goth describes a feeling and not a sound. Industrial music the more abrasive punk blooded cousin of goth has acquired a rather incestuous relationship with goth along with metal and in some cases all three have bee mixed up like a flavor of Ben & Jerry's that only comes out in October. Goth is in a pretty good place now, the post-punk rival, darker shades of edm and the rising popularity of acts like Chelsea Wolfe and Youth Code keeps the casket from closing. As the sands in the hour glass turn with the days of our lives the generation of goth I grew up with  makes less frequent trips to the club to ensure that "Headhunter" is still being played. Spotify be damned, there is a whole generation with no clue who the hell Front 242 is and Combichrist holds that place in their hearts. These club kids are now growing up and into prominence in the scene. Vivi Vex is a product of this. So giving this project a shot is me allowing goth to continue on even if it looks and sounds different than what I grew up on.

 When I first gave a listen to to the new single by Vivi Vex, the resistance to change began because it really sounds a lot like a soundtrack to a post- apocalyptic video game.   Vivian Vex aka Vivi Vex is the leader of has a crust industrial group called the "Rust Punk Tribe". With a collaborative album coming the first single was released last week entitled ""Outlet" like the rest of the album to come it features some guest musicians here most notably Sin Quirin from the most recent era of Ministry plays guitar on the song "Outlet". Quirin has had his hands in a little bit of every from playing with American Head Charge and a new project called Supermaniac, he later dipped his toes in EDM by releasing some aggro tech tracks and this music has much more in common with that. Micheal Lubert of Distortion of Events adds to the sound manipulation. Quirin's tone is very distinct but is dialed pretty far back in the mix.I think there is potential here but it falls in a weird purgatory between being edm and industrial, without vocals there is not much to really pull me in on merit of the beats alone. I'll say I might take this "rust punk" thing over the turquoise Tumblr versions of goth from girls who have no clue who Skinny Puppy or the Cocteau Twins are and actually just like the look and listen to Kayne West.

Nothing : " Tired of Tomorrow"

It's important to listen to the band's second album in sequential context rather than on a shuffle for a few songs when you first hear it. Failing to do so will give you spoilers in regards to the changes in their sound you might not want. Though by not hearing the opener "Fever Queen" there is a little more truth in advertising in regards to what you are actually going to get. "Fever Queen" has more of a pound to it's drone than the bulk of these day dream lullabies are going to muster. "The Dead Are Dumb" is very well put together and unlike the opener, the vocals are sedate, but not as sugar smitten with out the extra layer of harmonies. The more grunge tinged sound eluded to on the first album returns on the first single they released earlier in the year, the more uptempo "Vertigo Flowers". The drummer is well showcased on this song. It almost sounds like a more care free version of Hum. The production is a little over the top in terms of how clean all the tones are. It does pay off to give them an almost Pink Floyd like tone in the solo like section of the previous here, but when it comes to getting heavier sonically, the lushness twinkling more than it sweeps you away.

 The first moment that really rocks and connects with me is "ACD". There is almost a emo feel to the vocal melody, not Sunny Day emo more like Appleseed Cast or Mineral's more post-rock moments, if they were coiled into a more solid grunge groove.The shift in slicker production does benefit the drum sound that opens "Nineteen Ninety Heaven". They come back with a more solid drive behind "Curse of the Sun". Though this puts them in the neighborhood of Sliversun Pickups and Smashing Pumpkins, with the turn around on one riff almost sounding like Collective Soul.This album is without a doubt more accessible then "Guilty Of Everything". Some of the more shoe gazey and experimental guitar tones surface on this song, so it's a well balanced compromise. I remember when "Eaten By Worms" came out weeks ago, but wanted to hear the album as a whole so didn't check it out and I normally avoid pre-release singles. I want to hear the album or ironically nothing. This one is straight ahead alternative rock, that sounds like if Elliot Smith was covering "Creep" with the Catherine Wheel. They do add some noise around the edges when the song builds up to give it more sonic punch.
 It's time to dive back into to clouds of cotton candy on "Everyone is Happy" even super sweet textures here are more easily digested after a couple of listens. There is an increased presence of piano.This gives it a more post-rock pop texture. The guitars are perfectly recorded so that evens the score a great deal to make up for some of the changes.The winning drum sound once again leads the way into "Our Plague". There is a more pop sense to the song writing employed in this song but bathed in such stoned apathy that you almost don't notice. They step back onto the distortion in the final two minutes. The album's most questionable moment comes on the last song which is piano and vocals that are up close on the mic yet barely there, it reminds me of all the things I don't like about Smashing Pumpkins. It's the only song that won't make it cover onto the iPod, so I'll round this up to an 8.5, which puts it behind their first album. There is some growth in how they capture the sounds and this is a more subtle album. It might still grow on me over the course of the summer .

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lord Vicar : "Gates of Flesh"

Going through my in-box and checking out any and all doom oriented music that might be hiding out there. That is when I this diamond in the rough. Former Reverend Bizarre guitarist Kimi Karki is wandering the graveyards of Finland to conjure up something that is more gloomy than down, in fact it sounds like really depressive stoner rock. On board are former Count Raven vocalist and the drummer from Centurions Ghost. The second song is more rock n roll and not as dark as the smooth opener which drew me in with an almost Katatonia like quality. The darkness rolls in for the interlude "A Shadow of Myself " to pave the way for the next proper song "Breaking the Circle". This one carries more weight to the fuzzed out guitars. The vocals are like a more fluid version of what Lee Dorian does mixed with a little My Dying Bride.

These guys made a concerted effort to keep the songs to around the six minute mark, so if you are like me and done with the whole 13 plus minute droning style of doom that became popular over the course of the past five or six years then you'll find these songs more focused. They capture all the melancholy you could want from doom even touching up the mourning funereal doom like sadness in spots, though the more conventional rock infused beginnings of the genre is where this is bred from. They march on into the moderately more up-tempo "Accidents" that lurches back into a more solemn pace when the verse kicks in."A Woman Out of Snow " finds the vocals doing their best My Dying Bride impersonation for what is more of a ballad, falling closer to Pink Floyd than "Home Sweet Home". This does create a more powerful dynamic for when they kick back in and makes it one of the albums more interesting songs in terms of the colors they paint with here. Rather than go the typical way with the heavier build it's used as a bridge for the solo and the vocals do no return until things die back down.

They close on their most metallic note with "Leper, Leper".  There is a more morose lethargy draped over this song. The vocals are at the forefront of the mix, which in this case takes a little weight off off the riff's impact, I think if they sat back further in the guitars this would not be the case. Here I can understand the argument against clean vocals in metal, though for the bulk of the album they have proven this to not be the case. Overall this album is a solid piece of conventional doom that keeps a solemn course along the post-Sabbath path adorned with gothic finery like something from a Hammer Horror movie so I'll give it an 8.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Basement : "Promise Everything"

Here's a band that walks the line between the grunge of the 90's and indie. There were band's like Sebadoh who were walking that line back in the day and these guys have smoothed some of their awkward edges out to give a slight emo pop sheen to this. The hook in the chorus of "Hanging Around" waves its hands for attention in a more obvious manner than the casual cool of the opener. They reclaim some slacker ambivalence on "Lose Your Grip", however they already set the bar pretty high for themselves on the first song so that is what I am asking them to aim for. Though there is more of an emo introspection on "Aquasun". I think it's the first song that comes close to being as well crafted as the opener. The wall of jangling guitar over powers the drums on this one, but it's alright. They step up their rock game on "Submission". It's pretty simple stuff, but played with just the right energy and conviction.  The singer lets his voice crack to emote more, which is there version of a more aggressive singing style.

They take their foot off the monitor and stare at their Converse on " Oversized".  It gets sugary in a way that sounds like it's a lost Weezer track. "Blinded Bye" is where they started to lose me , which is unfortunate because they do have a lot of potential. But the song was just bland and too middle of the road for me. This is the same quality I don't like about the Foo-Fighters as well. To this band's credit they don't write songs that sound like beer commercials. They gain some traction on "For You the Moon". The guitar riffs feel like they are more thought out than the vocals, but the song has enough momentum to gloss over that. The add a stiffer kick to their brand of emo rock on the title track. The bass is more driving on this one and eventually allows the guitar some room to play around. They dial it back a little for "Halo". It glides along the more emo power ballad landscape that makes this feel like 2002. There ends up being more ballad and less power to this one. These guys are good at what they do, I would like to hear them head in the direction this album started out on , but regardless I'll give this album an 8 as they achieved what they set out to here.

Doused in Mud, Soaked in Bleach : A Tribute to Nirvana

It's Record Store Day, since I haven't bought a physical album in 5 years, I'll at least review one that the few thousand of so of you who do might be thinking about purchasing. This is third and final Nirvana tribute from Robotic Empire takes on the debut album "Bleach" which was Nirvana's heaviest and darkest. Thou takes a blackened stab at "Floyd the Barber" which was the first Nirvana song I ever heard. The vocals are really the only change here as it's hard to make this one any heavier than it already was. Grind-coring it out would have not been a wise choice as it would have ruined the song's initial intentions. Philly rockers Beach Slang, do "About a Girl" justice, but it sounds like the Foo-Fighters covering it do to the singer's vocal range/inflections.

Boston's Basement rocks out a convincing version of  "School", one thing about album's like these I like is it gives you the chance to check out some bands that you might not have heard otherwise. One of the more mainstream band's on here is Circa Survive who cover "Love Buzz" . My band in high school also covered this song so it has a soft spot in my black heart. I think at 16 I prolly sang it in a similar tenor. Musically they ape this one almost too close for me to hear them as a band, though their emo Yes thing is toned down here and haven't listened to this band in about a decade. This Will Destroy You are not really an underground band any more, though the are closer to being than than post- My Space Circa Survive. They wised up an didn't try to make this just an instrumental or get too post- rock with it. The vocal sound like they weren't mic'ed but picked up on one of the drum mics as they recorded it. They come too close to being too hip for their own good here, but it all manages to work out at the end of the seven minutes.

Young Widows , who I have confused with True Widow more than once throw their instruments into "Negative Creep" and come across like Sonic Youth making some kind of drunken joke. The fun and games doesn't end their as Mean Jeans goes a smirking rendition of "Scoff". I suppose the irony in them scoffing at the song should not be lost.  Rob Crow from Pinback of course kills "Swap Meet".  Last year Crow said that he was quitting music so I guess not and can begin this is the gateway drug to another Pinback record. One band I'll gladly sacrifice in order to retain Rob Crow is Fall of Troy who covers "Mr Moustache". They have the right energy for this, but don't really bring much personality to the table. Speaking of energy there is a deficit of that in Big Hush's take on "Sifting" . Daughters come back and redeem this album with their on point version of "Big Cheese", which hits the right balance between being true to themselves and capturing the song. The Saddest Landscapes is more of themselves and less like Nirvana on "Downer'. Overall this album hits more than it misses, though some of these flubs I wouldn't want to listen to more than once, But I'll give this an 8.5 .


Friday, April 15, 2016

Hawkwind :" the Machine Stops"

Here's a rule... if you are going to throw around a band's name when it comes to influencing other artists you like , then you must review their albums when they are released or you are very simply a poseur. You don't have to like it. As not all band's can keep up the kind of streak that the likes of Bowie and Zappa had. Things have changed since their days Lemmy was in the band. The sci-fi element was not toned down, instead it was allowed to run wild. If you do drugs and are not doing them when you listen to this album, that needs to change. This concept album is based on the Em Forster book of the same name .The first actual space rock goes down on the second song "the Machine". At it's core the band's sound has retained it's roots and there is not threat of them isolating the cult following they have garnered over the years.

Of course Dave Brock is setting the controls for the heart of the sun on "King of the World" , the only other original member along for this rocket ride is Tim Blake, who also played in Gong. From the Nik Turner camp Dead Fred is aboard with violin in tow. "In My Room" is not a Beach Boys cover , but a song that starts off as whirling psyche rock before turning into rain sound effects. One of the more bizarre turns I have ever heard a song take. The song that it wanted to be certainly sounded pretty cool. "Thursday" wants to have a harder rocking to it's siren drone. If you think your indie rock band is "psyche" then you need to check your self and listen to this album because these drug sniffing dogs still have it. I can tell midway into this album it's blowing the last Pink Floyd out of the water even with half the production value. The brighter more upbeat vibe the beginning of "Synchronized Blue" goes for is not my favorite sound from them, but they do make an attempt to rock it a little harder, to the point of touching upon metal. They even get proggy and go off on a meandering keyboard solo.

Space rock might be the crown they wear, but it doesn't stop them from dipping into almost trip hop like beats on the more subdued"Hexagone" that finds the vocals tip toeing around a 60's mod melody that would go well with a cup of tea. Cosmic synths set the stage for "Living on Earth" that has one of the album's more interesting vocal melodies". The keyboards wander around over this song , but some how they jammy quality that it floats on makes it work. Jamming is what goes down particularly after the break at the four minute mark. They glide around the bubbly yet exotic path of the Milky Way on " the Harmonic Hall". This finds the band stepping even deeper into electronica. This song is more of an instrumental, with the breathy chanted vocals sounding more like another sampled layer.

They return to more straight up rock on "A Solitary Man". This song brings the band back down to earth, and perhaps too much so. It's not a bad song, it doesn't seem to play to the band's strengths. They do however shine on like the crazy diamonds they are with the up tempo dream bath of "Tube". This opus comes to a close with "Lost in Science" . It sounds like droids are robbing a bank before the band goes into their legendary brand of space punk. I'm not sure how much air play this will get from me since I no longer drop acid ...or do any drugs, but if I am going to relapse on the more mind expansive drugs then this would be on tap. I really like how they maintained their sense of identity while dabbling in newer sounds. I'll give this one a 10.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

the Small Hours Society : Hunting Season

When I think of Greece this is not the kind of music that comes to mind. Granted Rotting Christ was the first band I thought of when it comes to music being exported from there. But they do have other music aside from metal, This band for one who sounds like if the Verve were desperate drug addled depraved cretins then they might be able to make something that sounds like this band. These guys might be upstanding citizens, but that would smash my rock n roll fantasies that needs might rock stars on the brink of death and the edge of a dirty needle. "Black to the Core" is punchy rock with punk leanings, it doesn't have the same heart of darkness the first song had but isn't bad. The vocals shift in 'the Captive" carries a more taunting monotone with a shade of post- punk to it.The guitars pick up the slack and are willing to slam on some sonic dissonance in a second. There is more of a slinky Morphine like groove to "bossa".

"no relapse" rang it's drone below my radar on the first listen and had to be revisited. Like most of their songs finds a release for the tension, here is a building jangle. The vocals don't demand to become the focal point and work more like some of the more punk influence moments of 90s alternative. There is the kind of  hypnotic pull to "river" that I am always hunting for in music. it lulls you in but still has ample balls to it. If Sonic Youth and Wovenhand somehow managed to get the guys in Fugzai high and convince them to star playing again the results might be similar to 'second hunting" , so in other words pretty fucking awesome. I think fans of the Afghan Wigs will also find common ground with this band. There is more of a brooding indie rock vibe to the anger underlying "the Dare". Some of the iconic sounds from the early 90's noise punk can also be found here, though noise takes a back seat to groove in this urgent narrative.

There is more of a rock energy to the more upbeat "sour water". This doesn't mean they forsake their tendency to drone. It's explosive with the shadows of their demons haunting it. I would not at any point reference these guys as being shoe-gaze, nor would I say they are grunge , but the influence of the two genres touches on some of the attitudes found in the music they are making. I would not call "control" a ballad, but it has a less aggressive strum to it than the bulk of the album, yet has a folk punk drive. Overall genres be damned this album is a lot of fun and might make you remember what was so fun about the explosion of alternative music in the 90s without insulting your intelligence. I'll round it up to a 9.5.

Private Pact : " Purity"

Mass Media just released this band from Copenhagen's album "Purity". On their Bandcamp there was something suggesting this had been around since 2014, but the record label was just now putting it out of vinyl, but for the sake of this blog we will consider it released this year instead of wasting any more of my afternoon trying to track down those stats about this obscure band. on the more neo-folk side of post-punk, but there are swathes of many dark sub-genres at work here. The baritone vocals are hesitant and delivered like the singer isn't too sure of himself. There is more of an industrial stomp under the heavily effected vocals which work better than the vocals on the first song. More minimalist than Ministry and not as abrasive as Skinny Puppy, I think of the two songs I have heard thus far from the band this is their strongest side. The title track finds the industrial taking a more dark wave turn as the singer does his best Riff Raff impersonation. This one drones on the same groove the whole time.  "God's Secret Army" finds the vocals more spoken than sung as this song marches on.

"The Wall" find the band dying back in June, there is a somewhat militant march to the weird parade through this dark forest. The vocals continue to be more spoken than not here."Bound By Blood" brings back the synths and a stiff dark wave beat. The tentative vocals go back to a melodramatic goth croon. He just needs to commit to belting it out. When he does go a little more Bela Lugosi with it his voice sounds stronger. The drums build in with more of a tribal dance while the guitars feel more western on "Natural Father".  The elegant ambiance that is needed to earn the title goth floats in on "Everything".   It drops down to a more minimal pulse when the vocals come in. Some impressive guitar textures are layered over this. the vocals even attempt to become more engaging without forsaking their cold detachment. There is a Current 93 feel to "Creature". It has an industrial clanging , but a heavy Brit narrative.

 There is more melodic engagement on the closing "Violence" when the vocals are layered they work really well. The odd punches on the chorus are a nice touch too.I'll give this a 7.5. It has a ton of potential. I think if the singer steps up his game they will be there, because the arrangements don't really allow for the vocal to not handle all the heavy lifting when it comes to the story telling. I suppose if the instrumentation rocked it out more it might put them closer to say Cult of Youth, but where they are at current is a good start and another name in my data base of projects to keep an ear open for.

Alaric : "End of Mirrors"

I've been a fan of this band since the whole death rock revival came into my consciousness. Now five years later, my fears that they might have broken up are put to rest making this a very welcome return. All the things that have made them work in the past are in place here. Like a doomed out version of Killing Joke the band plows into the post- apocalyptic wasteland their music conjures. There are varied levels of gloom ridden melody thanks to their bassist. The opener drones on a little from the onset but it all pays off when the song kicks in. While it has a brooding under current the tribal drumming gets a little more upbeat on "Wreckage". It doesn't grab me with the same urgency as the first song, but grows on me with repeat listens. It took three listens before I really wrapped my head around it's hypnotizing groove.

"Mirrors" has more of a cool goth slink to it. Shane Baker's vocal commit more fully to the desperate croon than we have heard from him in their previous releases. The guitar melody is hooky and the bass player continues to to kill it. "Adore" begins with a more balladic brooding and slowly swells with layers of despairing pleading. It eventually picks up into more of plodding punk drone before the noise crazed wave of atmosphere over takes it. "the Shrinking World" continues to drift down the dreamy desolation of a paranoid urban landscaped described in the lyrics. This is dark story telling along the lines of Tom Waits or Nick Cave.

The title stomps back into motion. Heavy and driving as metal, by most definitions derived after 1988 this is not metal, unless Hawkwind falls within your bounds of metal.  It is as heavy sonically as it is aggressive. This line of though taps into a key component of their sound this aggression, even in the albums more passive moments it's still bubbling under the surface like a serial killer staring at themselves in the mirror. While this band might have come into my consciousness along when the death rock revival rolled into the inner webs, I think a song like "Angel" makes it clear that to dismiss this band as death rock is dramatically over simplifying it even at the most morose. The ghostly quality to this song doesn't make you feel like you are sharing needles in West Hollywood on Halloween night. It is more expansive in the way it haunts you. It's going to take a few more listens before this slow working drug is fully in my system, but it lives up to the legacy they began so I'll around it up to a 10.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Haxen : "s/t"

O.k here is some straight up black metal. What's going on in Rhode Island because shit is getting grim up there. It sounds like it was written in a shack out the in woods. Raw, but not to the point that it sounds like a bunch of metal trash cans are being tossed out into a storm. There is atmosphere to this and is pretty much a blast fest. These guys are from Rhode Island, but they don't like most American project and are more convincing in their blackness. That is the good news and the bad news as it also means they are sticking to the same worn out formula so many black metal bands who have come before them have trodden. The vocals sometimes drop into a lower death metal gurgle which gives as slight shade of their own to things. They almost lose me on the senseless blasting of the third song before slowing down to capture a more sinister mood.

They don't indulge in long drawn out blasting drones and keep things pretty too the point as that is very much how these songs are written to it would be blast beating a dead horse to do much more. Sure "Cryptic Fire" is brutal and if that is all you need from black metal then this might be your new favorite band. It begins to bore me and begins to become background music rather than capturing my attention. By the following song it doesn't matter if they are slowing down or speeding up tonally it's all beginning to sounds the same. The more black n roll drum beat does offer a little hope and the guitar finds a dreary melody to layer things with. The vocals even taken on a cleaner moan before the bast beats blitz any cool creative thoughts that were developing out of the water.

It takes the dark and dismal riff of the depressive "Abismo" to get my attention and I find myself asking why haven't they been doing this the whole time.The guitars are capable of playing actual melodies.There is a more bestial roar to "Kvnnt". While powerful it doesn't offer much in the way for song writing aside offering a more death metal shade to what this project does. There is more thought to the songwriting of "Apparitions". It may not be as dense as the previous song, but this allows something closer to a real song to form.Not the album's most dynamic moment, but in light of the song that came before it there's improvement, yet not what the band showed they are capable of delivering earlier. When the bass stops to rumble by itself, it's too little too late as I am not sure what they point of that was. The atmosphere and melancholy sense of melody that I want from this project returns on "Ceremonial Wounds, though this is not nurtured as they explode into a more wrathful temper tantrum. The last song kind falls flat for me to as it rushes by with little in the way of texture.I'll give this one a 7 it has some cool moments just loses some consistency in the second act.

Bog of the Infidel: "Asleep in the Arms of Suicide"

The little intro ditty from this Rhode Island bands offers the hope that this  album might have more thought put into it and suggests more of Dissection direction than the rawer blast fest that follows. I am willing to keep listening and give these guys a shot as there is more of tease toward traditional metal on "Congregation of Judas". It's evident that 1349 is an influence on these guys and they have given their Iron Maiden records a spin. The guitars are the stars of the show here.The drummer keeps up, but perhaps it's the production it feels like he is really having to hustle to keep up. Tonally the drums sometimes sound like trash can being beaten on. The vocals have a dry rasp and sit behind the guitars and sound like muffled growls. Why is it the interludes sound better than the actual songs? Why don't they take that more nuanced sound and combine it with what they do ?

The fact they eventually slow into more of  gallop improves "Coils of the Noose" and the chanting under the less restrained return to acceleration helps stop some of the bleeding. But this artery bursts  soon enough and finds the song reduced to a blur of riffs haunted by the ghost of good ideas. More Maiden influence surfaces this time filtered through the burn of crystal metal in the drumming as we enter "Unravelling the Bracelets of Fortune". Another speed fest that could be any other black metal if they tortured their lead screamer enough. The lead work continues to impress, though the rule around here is "cool riffs alone don't make a good song" this goes double for solos. The bass cuts through on " Eden", but the song remains the same in many ways even with the sped up flourishes of "Phantom of the Opera". The chanted cadence in the background returns, but it's buried deeply in the fuzz.If you get impressed by guitar solos and guitar harmonies then you might want to good ahead and check this album out before I am even done reviewing it.

The closing song "Black Awakening" is 11 minutes long and finds me beginning to tune it out as I am so numbed out to their blasting at this point in time. That two minutes in I find my self being very thankful for the more galloped riff even when they have to bog this infidelity down in color by numbers NWOBHM interplay that is just pumped up and high on speed. The drummer finds himself pulling off some of his best moments of the album on this one, but it's still the guitar players show.I'll round this one down to a 7 because the last song begins to feel very tedious to me. The color by numbers metal is well executed and this album touches upon some fine moments, carrying the torch for traditional metal , but giving it the teeth of black metal.

Dark Blue : " Red White"

The members of this Philly trio has played in the who's who of hip modern punk, with members contributing in such bands as Ceremony, Clockcleaner, Puerto Rican Flowers, Paint It Black, Purling Hiss, and Strands Of Oaks.This is a collection of their old singles, but it pretty much feels like an album to me as the production is very consistent throughout. Off the bat I like the fact these guys are dark, and balance out the noise dusted edges. The singer's plaintive baritone carries more of a resonance on "Delco Runts" that reminds me of the guy from Crash Test Dummies. Side note if you think Peter Steele is the singer for Crash Test Dummies go ahead and give a gun a bloody kiss of your own. While I like the vocals on the second song compared to the first it seems like the guitars are dialing it in. The dirty over drive of the bass line to "...Just Another Night With the Boys", give the song more heft to off set the casual croon of the vocals.There is more of punk tinged rock n roll feel to the more straight forward "Hungry For Love". This song serves as proof that the singer's voice can't turn every thing to gold without some cooperation.

 "Subterranean Man" has more of an Iggy Pop feel to it. Think his post- Stooges more mid-tempo "Idiot" days. The vocals hint that they want to get a little wackier than they are. "Dear Iris" is more melodic and a few shades slower and more introspective. It does allow John Sharkey the chance to flex his pipes a little more. This causes him to be a little more emotive, but it's premature to label that as death-rock. "Skinhead Wedding in Canberra" is a little more upbeat in it's post-rock swagger. The song does cruise through some of the conventions of 50's rock. I suppose they could have been hoping for more of a Morrissey vibe on the acoustic "Chaos" that closes the album, but it further exaggerates the comparison to Crash Test Dummies I noted earlier. Maybe "God Shuffled His Feet" is going to become the new template for "Post-punk" to come. Another song where skin heads are the subject so these guys must be ex skin heads? here is a Merchandise feel to many of the songs,as this is the sound of punk kids growing up to become sad young men. I'll give this one a 9 and anticipate it making the move over to the ole iPod. If you are looking for some post-punk heavy on the punk but with some smarts to it ,then here's an album for you. 7.2

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Undead Viking Mafia : "No Trials for Traitors"

Not a silly as their name, this Atlanta plays a beefy hybrid mix of sludge and middle of the road death metal...think Amon Amarth without the epic galloping. The vocals are generally a sing song scream mixed with well produced death growls. Sure there is some Pantera influence mixed in these guys obviously picked up on "Far Beyond Driven" era. The vocals belt out more melody on the second song at the times it feels like early pre-prog Mastodon is being mixed with Devildriver or some other Velveeta dipped mall metal.  By the time we get to "Stones of Morax" I'm getting little bored with rambling through the backwoods until the song slows down. These riff begin to all conform to their corrosion to tightly you have to pull them apart with Crowbar. The "I'm Not a nihilist" chant in the chorus of the fourth song gives it some redeeming qualities.

They needed the banjo at the beginning of "the Cosair" to break things up with the more Clutch like groove the song goes into , which makes the fist song so far to resonate with me. This is a dynamic I doubt is being replicated live and song that grabs me is not enough for me to leave my couch to go find out. The fuzzed out bass opening "Hatfields and McCoys" gives away to more late 90s tinged metal. Most of this sort of thing came out of grunge and has seen another resurgence, but is High on Fire really treading any new ground either? The big chorus that swells up is the songs saving grace, a female voice is buried in the mix and loses the dynamic impact it should have had. The production is pretty good on this album until too many things are put on the table without room to breathe. "Downhill Blues" brings another death metal tinged boogie out. What does this one have that different from what we have already heard here? I waited until I was past the two minute mark to declare... nothing.

From what I remember from catching this band years ago is they are were more spastic and came out of left field in a manner owing more to power violence or grindcore, here they have clearly honed their song writing chops into something more polished, but pretty predictable. There is more rock n roll on "For Four" to create more of a Kvelertak feel. But I own Kvelertak's albums and will listen to them when I want to hear Kvelertak. In Atlanta much like every big city with an over flow of bands, has one of everything. It's almost like the city's geek culture convention Dragon-con, you can expect to see someone dressed up as every comic book character. Sure one guy might be Dr.Strange one day, then Nick Fury the next, then enter the costume contest as the Comedian, but you will have seen them all. The bands are like that these guys might be Atlanta's Kvelertak, or they might be their Devildriver, but I want to hear a band as themselves. I want to hear something new that is why I prowl the inner webs looking for new music.

The more nu-metal take on doom explored on "Doom's Year Eve" finds the band getting down and dirty into some nastier death metal, though the keyboards are so far back in the mix that any ambiance they are attempting to add is negligible. The riff on the closing song "Serpentborne" reminds me of the riff from "Abigail" that Mastodon ripped off on "Crack the Skye" so it's recycled recycling, but it's a cool riff to rip off if you are going to steal something. I'll give this album a 6.5, this is more polished than most Atlanta metal and the highest score I can give something that's not all that original, but if you are young enough then that might not matter much to you.