Sunday, July 31, 2016

Valient Thorr : "Old Salt"

This is not our first rodeo here with this band. I find myself questioning if they are a metal band at all on this album, there is some good punk rock that finds itself in the alleyway punk crawled from as rock n roll with the attitude dialed up to 11. Bands like the Stooges, Mc5, Dead Boys and Ramones  broke new ground in this era. Here is where this southern band finds themselves pulling from on the first two songs.  There is some punch to the oddly syncopated "the Trudge". Vocally it owes more to Rollins time in Black Flag, though the guitar carries a little bit metal chug to it. It's more punk in the same way Murder City Devils were punk rather than owing much to Sabbath or Priest. The southern rock thing is dialed back as well, there are hints of it in the guitar solos.

There is a weird angular Fugazi thing going on with "Worm Up". As whole this album indulges in being much more angular that what I have heard from them in the past, but without the beards these guys would almost be a southern rock version of Minus the Bear on this one. If Kvelertak is still to heavy for you then these guys might scratch the itch for quirky punk rock. "Spellbroke" might not be as focused when it comes to the songwriting, but the herky jerky energy seems to compensate. There is a more metallic attack to "the Shroud". It is not the album's most inspired song. There is some Mastodon like riffing on this one, coupled with a more old school Accept like fist pumping.

"Looking Glass" opens with very 80s sounding gang vocal. The album closes with "Jealous Gods" .  It's more of a relaxed boogie groove, with touches of math in the angular way the guitar interacts. Vocally Valient Himself is good for a punk singer, but holds a tune on the lower end of the scale of rock singers with a somewhat similar limited range. But he makes due since the showcase is really the guitars. I'll round this album up to a 9, it's a vast improvement for these guys and the arrangements make the stripping away of the metal trappings more palatable.

What is Good Death Metal?

A recent review of the band Altarage ....see the link below ...

brought the question up of what is good  death metal . Personally I don't believe in things like good or bad when it comes to moral choices and think of things in terms of being either effective or in-effective. How music is something that can be defined and measured, there are keys to be played in and time signatures to keep. Sonically what you are doing works in unison or it is noise. What keeps music from being noise ? Melodies and hooks, syncopation and dynamics. Without these you might as well be farting into a distortion pedal.If you think farting into a distortion pedal is music, then it's time for me to answer the question ...what is good death metal, since you do not know.

What would make we qualified to answer this question you ask? The answer is in 1988 I bought the album "Leprosy" by the band Death. 28 years ago.Ask yourself what albums you bought in 1988? Were you alive in 1988? Were you listening to the Sesame Street theme song? Maybe the first metal album you bought was in 1998, perhaps it was "God Hates us all" ? or "Garage Inc". The first metal album I bought when it came out was "Powerslave", sure my grand parents bought it for me and I was drawn in by Eddie, but it clarified for me that Kiss, Motley Crue and some of the other bands I was listening to as a child were not metal. They were good rock bands with a hard rock edge. So back to death metal, after buying "Leprosy" I proceeded to buy albums by Morbid Angel, Deicide, Unleashed, Cancer, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse,Carcass,Sepultura, Acheron, Nocturnus, Entombed,Incantation and At the Gates. So hearing these albums when they were released, set the bar pretty high for what is good death-metal. What makes these band's better than others, aside from the fact they already did what many band's today can simply imitate?

Well here are the factors mentioned above in action. Melody... this is where most bands fail because they put brutality to the forefront and miss the point you are supposed to be making music and writing songs, here is an album that proves you can have your bloody cake and eat it ...the key is balance and since the vocals are pounding at you along with the drums then the guitars have to carry the burden.


 Hooks ...this doesn't mean that you have to compromise heaviness and sell out it means you have to put thought into your song writing and write songs that bring the listener back to them time and time again, it's great you are into the new Anal Blasphemy, but are you going to be listening to it over twenty years later will it stand the test of time like this album...

 Syncopation...this doesn't mean you have to lock in on every punch like a stompy hard-core band, but locking in a playing as a relentless machine to create something that is memorable, here is where your drummer has to be a fucking monster and on point for every beat, if not then go play a sloppy style of music like punk.


 Dynamics ...Another place many bands miss the mark in the sake of being heavy. If you play fast all the time it loses the effect, in order to make me feel like you are playing fast I need to here other tempos...this album should explain the rest.

 But it's not fair to say if an album came out after 96 it's not good, well good death metal still comes out , the new Howls of Ebb is an example and several of other came out last year that cane be found on a list I made here...

 life is too short to listen to bad metal

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mystery Blood : "High On Death"

There is more of a rock vibe to the opening song of this album than the "I am the Sun" I first heard by these guys. There is an explosive dynamic that they are ready to go to, almost like the Stooges on steroids. They sail on to "Darker Water" a song that is more restrained while still holding onto the older punk sound even as it slinks around in the shadow. There is a groove that falls some where between the Pixies and Sonic Youth on "Lie" . We get a more spastic version of "I am the Sun" I prefer the earlier version as it's darker and the chaotic sax solo does nothing but make it seem like the Stooges.

The song title "I Fucked My Way Up to the Pizza" is almost better than the song which is more of a rock n roller boogie that might go over better live, but it's well played and I am not sure if the head phones I am currently listening to this album with are giving me the most accurate version of this mix. They kick things up into a rowdier direction with "God Of the 5th Dimension " . Things darken for "Today is the Day for Vengeance". This one rides on a hypnotic bass line with the guitar jamming around it until it's built up in a sonically intense direction. The female half of this band handles the vocals here and kind of creeps and purrs her way through the song.

I'll give this album an 8. So they create some really cool moods and I am glad they are fully commited to going all the way rowdy and angry when needed. I think these songs go over well live, but on this album they are presented in a similar jammed format. I look for to hearing them reign this in like they did on the second song.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Numenorean : " Home"

This album appeared to hold the promise of being the depressive black metal I was looking for. It did open up with crying which is always a good sign. The vocals carry a pained whine that echoes out into the distance. There are blast beaten sections and atmospheric sections. The sweeping guitars that injected what all assume to be the shoe gaze like influence into this music. Granted Deafheaven earned the biggest name for themselves but combining the two and Alcest let go of the metal all together so here we are with these guys.The nine minute title track that opens this album flows through the range of dynamics we have now come to take for granted in this brand of black metal. My only complaint coming out of the first song is that it could have been darker. Like the midget in Twin Peaks' Black Lodge, I want all your pain and suffering. As some one with a mental illness, you can not fake your funk with me.  So maybe these guys just need to develop a drug habit.

The second song confirms that they are really good at the one thing they do, but I do not hear anything that wasn't already done on the first song. So I get my hopes up for "Shoreless" , but alas it proves only to be an intro for "Devour" that hits a little harder when coming back into the fray from the post-rock interlude. It's a harder and angrier take on the range of dynamics they displayed on the first song, but no depression being expressed. At over 12 minutes they have enough time to explore a pretty wide range of dynamics. The last minute of which is wasted with ambiance that doesn't really add anything to the song. The opening guitar tone of "Laid Down" suggests a more introspective indie rock like post-vibe as it rips into blasting. When they come out of the blast and into the heavier chug its much more effective , but this doesn't stop them from going back into the blast for better or worse. I like the riff that comes at the four minute mark. Like the other more sprawling songs there is still a little fat that could have been trimmed here and there. There is also a cool breakdown where the bass comes more prominent, I'll give this album an 8.5 as it's  well executed and sounds great, fans of Deafheaven looking for an entry point to take them further into real metal will find this to be an easy transition.

Hollow Sunshine : "Bible Sea"

The drugs must have really kicked in on this one as gone is the last shadow of the band they used to be on the previous album and now there is a more electronic vibe taking over. Things grow a shade darker on "Masks of Saturn", though the vocal melodies don't have as much invested in them. With each song it sounds like the album is slipping into a deeper and more distant lethargy with the delicate hesitancy of the title track making a project like Massive Attack seem upbeat in comparison. There is more focus to the song writing of "Jewel After Another" that floats out of the more trip hop feel into something closer to a sedated Cocteau Twins.

The pace picks up rather marginally with a distorted synth that reminds me of the backing track to "the Hills" by the Weeknd. He verses seem very clear cut in their direction. Lyrically it's all rather vague. Most of this is due to where the vocals sit in the mix. This keeps the album from coming across poppy, but also keeps the lyrics in a veil of secrecy. Things become more obscured in a misty murk on "Hades" that closes the album. The vocals become another texture thanks to the opaque production which really only provide clarity to the more tribal beat layered over the song. I'll give this album a 9. I quit doing drugs years ago so I am not sure how much use I would get out of some of the moods created here, but I'll likely give this a shot on my iPod. Fans of forward thinking shoe gaze will like the new direction this duo has taken and it's a good lazy album to nap to by the pool this summer.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Altarage : "Nihl"

Sure this is brutal, but can these guys write a damn song? All the fuss about a death metal band ? The production does give this album some grime and grit, but is it hiding what's really going on ? By the time we get to the second song it's beginning to just sound like noise to me. Maybe these guys are the heaviest band from Spain, but unless they start showing me they care about making music it doesn't really matter. By the third song we get some dark dissonance that adds a little bit of texture. Any substance ends up getting lost in a wall of blasting. I have heard better melodies made by the roar of a vacuum cleaner. The songs are rather compact. Though they all tend to sound the same. You can almost make out the words being growled on "Baptism Nihl". There is almost something more head-bangable on this song as well.

The blasting loses it's effectiveness as it all becomes a flatulent blur on "Vortex Pyramid". There are a few moments here and there, but they are dulled down by the incessant barrage of distorted noise. This album becomes something to be endured rather than enjoyed once I make it to the 6th song. I can not understand why any one would see this as anything but overbearing death metal. Yet doom has even been thrown around in conjunction with the band. They do eventually offer sparse breathing room when the drums go into a more tribal beat, while slower than their brand of death metal, this doesn't make them a doom band. "Altars' almost sounds like a black metal band covering Pantera's "Walk". This is actually the album's best song. The last song is some random roaring that hopes to be redeemed by the big chugging, which is powerful, but lots of empty sonic calories. I'll give this a 5.5 , maybe it's for you if you have really been wanting a death metal band to bring the noise.

Belgrado : "Obraz"

These guys are now old pros at giving old goth a new spin. Right from the first song i can hear the production value has stepped up from their last album  released three years ago. This band from Barcelona sings in their native tongue which I am unsure translates over into this style of more melodic darker punk well. They skip into a more new wave direction, almost touching upon Madness like ska on the second song. I like this groove as it's different from every other wanna be post-punk band. It seems like they are trying harder on this album to fill the shoes bands like Bahaus and Siouxsie have left vacant.

The slinky bass lines and spider webs of guitar weave around these songs. Upbeat in the same manner as some of the Cure's older yet more dance friendly punk anthems, the x-factor that works for the Cure is not as firmly in place. It might be the vocals sometimes sound unsure of themselves. While this album is more upbeat and almost more dance punk, the song writing often fails to really snare me in. In the past I have talked about how the cultural current of many bands doesn't always lend itself to a particular genre of music. It seems like it worked better on their previous album, so was that a flux or are they just dialing it into the dance floor on this one?"Raz Dwa" has more to the guitar melody, but still feels like filler compared to the band's best work that lies behind them.

The songs begin to feel the same by the time we get to the 7th song on this album. The guitar sound has improved, it more taunt and jerks with a pulse similar to Gang of Four in place. A slight darker touch is added to " Na Ten Czas" making it one of the album's better songs. There a couple of songs that are actually more like interludes than actual songs. The album wraps up with a more melodic yet similarly upbeat number. The vocals are not any more inspired than any of the singers other performances on this album.I'll give this album a 7.5 and hold my breath for another Bellicose Minds or for Arctic Flowers to get their groove back.

Old Graves : " Long Shadows"

No new ground for Old Graves, is my first thought going into the project's latest release "Long Shadows". This album sound great, there is a lot of depth in the mix, but the sounds and the sweeping manner they are being presented here are nothing new when it comes to black metal. It's not until the third song "To Die Or Bear the Burden of Death" that I am impressed. The first two songs are sonically pleasing it is not until this moment in the album that I hear something that strikes me as unique. There is a sorrowful yet soaring melody that is not encumbered by constant blast beats.

"Slave to the Boiler That Heats the Baths" splits the difference between a sound that is all this projects own and adhering to the conventions of black metal. When unfettered by expectations some beautiful sounds are captured. It is hard to say how much of the fault lies in the genre or the song it self, more often than not it pleases my ears despite itself. Half the songs are compact and powerful, with a few excursions into almost post-rock in some of it's shimmering corners.It's the more reflective moments that stray from the raging cries of agony that are this album's best.

The long and winding "Teeth Pulled From Gnashing Jaws" takes it's time. It's not a bad song, but at the same time what I am listening for are the moments that stand out from every black metal band I have heard this year. The second take on "Aethernaut" has some cool moments, but it feels more like an outro. I'll give this album an 8. It's good for what it is, but don't expect the wheel to be reinverted here. Fans of very sonic and atmospheric black metal will be won over by this one.

Hammers of Misfortune : " Dead Revolution"

Sure it harkens back to the earlier days of metal, but the first song off Hammers of Misfortunes new album is much more aggressive than what I remember hearing from them in the past. The more prog moments haven't gone any where. The production sounds more organic and helps to give the guitar a rougher edge and a little grit to the otherwise smooth vocals. Joe Hutton who also sang on their "17th Street " album is manning the mic again. He sounds pretty strong and on the title the band continues to keep the chug alive as it falls somewhere between Deep Purple and Motley Crue's "Looks That Kill". 'Sea of Heros" retains the hard hitting guitar riffs this album has been dishing out, but the multi layered vocals compromise some of the edge.

The edge is then thrown out the window on in favor of organ heavy prog on "the Precipice". Weighed down by the jammy soloing, all of which is very Pink Floyd and well played the songwriting doesn't have the glue of the previous songs. The lunatics continue to laugh in the strawberry fields of "Here Comes the Sky" which is more relaxed and psychedelic. It builds into a very "in the Court of the  Crimson King" like crescendo. They continue to wear their influences on their sleeves, this time it's Rainbow on "Flying Alone". The most original song on the album is the folk metal shanty "the Days of 49" .

This is another fine album by these guys and I might like it better than their previous work so I will round it up to a 9, though I am unsure how much actual play time I will get out of it myself, but if you are already a fan of the band then you find it a must. If you just like prog rock that is heavy on the retro then this is also worth your time. If you have likewise pined for these guys to be more of a metal band you have also gotten your wish, if your definition of metal includes bands from the 70s.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dawn Ray'd : "A Thorn, A Blight"

This trio out of England first strikes me as been more aligned with black metal than other genres . They have a raw anger to their sound that is balanced by atmospheric undertones and melodies. The songs are short bursts of this snarling, all running around four minutes, so you are never numbed out by long droning excursions. Their formula for songwriting is keen throwing darkly melodic sections in the middle of these songs that are typically bookended by the more ravaging sections. Though some variation lies within this formula, such as the ending of the second song, where the vocals  also show a little more range , but are typically screamed in a dry rasp that still allows the lyrics to cut through.

Some of the melodies from the first two songs seems to carry over into the other songs. "Strident Voices" tends to rage in a more typical blasting fashion. They hold off on their more melodic leanings until 'At the Still Point" which finds a better balancing of the two dynamics. The vocals hold off until the storm builds back up. I can hear fans of Agalloch's heavier side finding these guys as a suitable replacement for the void that band has left. They only flirt with the more folk side and use it to color bridges rather than full committing to an entire song taking that turn. "A Colony of Fevers" further relishes the agony their sound embraces. It's not until midway into the song that they relax on the blasting to add other textures.

The album closes with "Darken the Door". While this band uses many mournful melodies that are flavored with folk, I would refute any claims that they are doom. This is however a very interesting album, that is a breath of fresh air instead of listening to the normal barrage of blasty mc nasty that I sort through every week. Some of the songs do however sound somewhat the same so I'll give this an 8.5, and consider if I really need this in my iPod, but you might if you need new black metal in your life and still find yourself pining for Agalloch's more brutal moments. This album was released earlier in the month by Halo of Flies.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Horseback : "Dead Ringers"

Things have continued to evolve for this one man project out of Chapel Hill. The guitar sound that made the album "Half Blood" is dialed back and doesn't appear until three minutes into the first song. It is well played and this time around have grown into more of an "Obscured By Clouds" like sound. Which coming from me is high praise as next to "Animals" its one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums. Guitar leads off the title track to invoke a sound that will comfort fans of the projects earlier work. The 70s synths still haunt the song like a soundtrack from an early 80s lo-budget horror movie. The vocals take on a darker whisper. The synths go full on kraut rock when it's time for them to take a solo.

If you are going to drone, this is the way to do it as layers weave in and out of these hypnotic jams. It's back to the space age as the drugs really kick in for "A Bolt From the Blue" to help solidify this as one of the year's best albums to do drugs to. The vocals begin to make me think of Psychic TV.  They are a little less androgynous and a little more indie rock. There are less layers to this one. The last vestiges of metal seem to have been shed on this album. There is a more fuzzed out guitar tone on "the Cord Itself", but it is far from being heavy. He takes his time actually developing this one in a song and instead opts to indulge more in bathing you in the sound. "Lionkiller" is a more formed song and catches an appealing dreamy groove. The first song that has a more rock edge to it is "In Another Time..." then there is the drifting daydream of "Larkspur" that reminds me of a more chilled out version of the "Half Blood" era.

The almost 17 minute "Descended From the Crown" closes the album. The hushed vocals come in  behind the jammy atmosphere of the guitar. It fuddles and bubbles around for the duration. While the first thing was easy to write off as an interlude, when you devote over 16 minutes to something you are committed to it.I'll around this album up to an 8 , even though no hints of metal are anywhere near it. This album sounds good and if I still did drugs I would find it even more impressive. Not something in my current phase of life I would put in regular rotation, but it still needs to be acknowledged for the piece of work it is.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dinosaur Jr : " Give a Glimpse of What You're Not"

I have had a respect for this band , but I am stuck on the one afternoon, I went to Criminal Records too high to be in public and J Mascis was playing an it  was just to much for me. They come back strong and rocking out of the gate. It sounds like a slacker version of the Foo-fighters holding no aspirations of gaining radio play and more power to them for this attitude. They surprised me on the first song, but will they be able to hold the momentum is what I wonder during the jangle of the second song. They let up on the attack in favor of a more garage like sound, that still holds hints of the more sonic barrage of alternative rock this band is known for. I'm o.k with them letting up off the gas for the more introspective "Be a Part". Both J Mascis' voice and guitar playing sound great on this song. There is a grunge like ramble that fights against the twang of "I Told Every One" . I can hear where these guys might have influenced Ryan Adams.

Mascis is not the world's greatest singer... He knows this. He works well with what he has and there is an endearing honesty to it. I suppose that is Lou Barlow taking over the vocals on "Love is..." which has more of a 60s strum to it. "Good to Know" taps into some of the energy they hit you with on the first song. There is a heavier lumber to "I Walk For Miles". It's easy to hear how these guys hail from the same era as Nirvana.  The more country twang returns on "Lost All Day". He lets his voice crack into a falsetto on this song. The tighter rock chugs that drive the song coming out of the chorus are the high light of this one. They relax back into " Knocked Around" that recalls the 90s, when pop music didn't seem like it sucked as bad. The lyric "give a glimpse of what you're not" hides out in this song.The build up on this song is pretty awesome. The production on this album is generally on point, lets face it these guys are old pros so they are not going to let that slip. The guitar tones is great and Mascis really cements his place as one of modern rock's best guitarists on "Mirror". The song carries enough a groove to create the illusion it's not as melancholy as it. The last song is pretty dynamic, while also being some what laid back in it's solid groove. I'll give this a 9.5, it's my first pass through it so it has yet to have a chance to grow on me, if you are already a fan then this will be on endless repeat.

Salem's Pot : " Pronounce This!"

It was their name which made this band from Sweden seem like a joke to me. Their name turns out to be misleading as it is not bong headed stoner rock, but psychedelic with a great deal of depth to it. The album dips into a darker and more cerebral mood than the more rocking boogie of "Just For Kicks" , which takes them in more of a Pentagram direction. Lyrically they are not pondering the bong water, but very cynically looking at the big picture and problems in the world. Though this does come from an occult garnished filter. The doomy sections sound more like something Alice Cooper would do. I can appreciate these guys ability to jam, but on albums I want to hear more song and then get the jam live. I am sure it would transition well live.There is no question these guys worship at the altar of the rock gods and have taken much inspiration.

 They drop back into a country tinged ballad that sounds like something Neil Young would do.Not something to take as seriously as if King Dude did something similar. There is darker tone to the 9 minute desire that closes the album. This might appeal to fans of Ghost, though it certainly had more balls than what Ghost has been doing the past couple of albums. They do not have the pop slickness and more of a fiendish late 60's Coven like sound. The vocals have desperation to them, but don't fall over the guitar as well as they did on the first song.

I'll give them an 8 which seems to be the score I give albums that just fall short of being something I need to have on my iPod. There is not really any faults, but some of the jamming could have been better spent solidifying the songs. These guys are not the joke they make themselves out to be and a band that is now firmly on my radar.

Abigail : "the Final Damnation"

The 6th full length from the band who proclaims themselves to be most evil band in Japan. The bar is pretty low for that title. They like to think of themselves as black metal, but they are more of a raw thrash. They have been around since 92, so they Slayer and Possessed influences make sense. Both of those band's were often seen as the first wave of black metal along with Venom. Their attitude is similar to Venom as this is pretty much party metal. The vocals remind me a a mix between early Exodus and Megadeth. Guitar solos that would be shredding on a punk album seem to crawl out from every corner of these songs.

They get more melodic for "Whiskey Coke Bitch". The solo section that consumes the middle of the song is much more rock n roll. The more melodic embellishments continue on " Sex& Metal". There is some attempts to sing on this one that are similar to the attempts made on some of the latter Darkthrone albums. "Open the Gates of Hell" is kind of bland and comes across as filler . "No Pain No Limit" is more of a punk song with obligatory gang vocals chiming in. They invoke "Bonded By Blood" era Exodus on "Sweet Baby Metal Sluts" , which I am not sure refers to the album of the same name or the band of school girls? Things don't get blasting until the last song. There is a melodic little solo section than works well to darken things up and overall this is the most black metal song on the album. So there evil intentions are somewhat suspect and childish at worst.

I'll round this album up to a 7, it's fun. There is not much depth to it, but if you are punk rocker who is trying to get into metal then I can see how this would be a pretty solid entry point to you if you have already skipped out on early Slayer. This album is being released August 15th on Nuclear War Now !

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Predatory Light : "s/t"

Here is the first full length from this West Coast based black metal band. They feature the guitarist from Ash Borer, but are a darker and more savage brand of the genre. "Laughing Wound" opens the album and proves to be less about the sonic wall of atmospheric sound that Ash Borer created and have more of a cavernous old school sound. They do not build their brand of black metal on blast beats alone, which is refreshing, but they have also fused doom and death metal into their sound so they are far from finding themselves relying on the conventions of the genre. "Lurid Hand" finds them closing in on a more conventional metal sound despite the guitar waltzing around the drums. Vocally they owe more to death metal.  So far my only complaint is when the drummer speeds up, it seems like his playing reverts to a more rudimentary approach. There is a cool creepy riff in the song's mid section.

They are more deliberate on "Path of Unbeing" until it storms off into the blast beats. The guitar dips into some angular acrobatics in places.It takes a minute for them to really get into " Divine Membrane". It feels more like a darker death metal song . They get creepier on "Sacrum" which has a doomier tone. I really like the guitar melody it opens with. When it blasts off into the tormented acceleration it loses the mood. It does return to this later in the song, but I wish there was more of this almost death rock presented here. the build from the slower throb of the more doom tinged riff into a blackened stomp is more organic on "Born of the Wrong Blood". I'll round this up to a 9 and seriously consider moving it over onto the iPod as it has a very dark mood, and some solid songwriting. No samples were available, the clip below will give you an idea what these guys are about.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Russian Circles : " Guidance"

The sixth album from the post-rock trio Russian Circles, carries a sense of maturation to the more nuanced playing showcased within these 7 songs. There is great restraint sometimes almost to a fault as the opening song highlights guitarist Mike Sullivan's chops but feels more like an intro piece that what I was expecting for this album to bust into. "Voral" finds the band locking back into the kind of thundering sludge rumble they are often noted for and really throw in your face live. This album is really well recorded and has a great guitar tone. The bass is a little more buried in the mix on  "Voral" than I would expect from them when they are firing on all cylinders. I'm more impressed though by the balance of ambiance and restrained groove they develop on "Mota". It sounds more like Tool jamming with Mogwai in the way everything is balanced in terms of tension and ethereal breathing room. If you more typical find your self into prog rock, where the emphasis is on the rocking then this one should draw you in. They don't get totally lost in shred geeking, but enough chops are flexed to appeal to that demographic.

The first metallic moment also occurs on "Mota", it's not black metal, but closer to Deafheaven than any other extreme metal band. "Afrika" has more of a floating post-rock atmosphere to it. This makes it less ground than the first three songs on the album. The excellent drumming serves as the glue on this one. Things continue on this same track with "Overboard", almost to a more Explosionsinthesky extent. It might even remind you of when that band got into making soundtracks for televisions shows about high school football, as the melody become much more defined. The bring back the heavy for "Calla".  Even then their understanding of riding the groove for all it's worth is what really drives this song. It's sonically sound and has plenty of grit, but won't go down as being the trio's meanest song.

"Lisboa" brings the mood back down to a more introspective stare into outer space. They are able to pour a convincing amount of emotion into their instruments. They soar into a beautiful climax, but it's not really anything new they are hitting you with. The drumming pounds the point home, but I would not say this is a metal album though it will appeal to the thinking man's metal head. I'll give this album an 8.5, as their fans will not be disappointed unless they were ready for them to take a hard left turn into something really experimental.This album comes out August 5th.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Naga : " Inanimate"

The  third album from this Italian trio opens up with a throb showing that it's possible to still be a doom band and not have to crawl along, it's about as fast as a band wants to be without crossing over into sludge. Very hateful mood carries a darker attitude than many black metal band who lose the mood because they are so preoccupied with blast beats.These are ten minute songs, but there is not much in terms of fat to trim so I can hang with that. "Hyele" some how manages to get even heavier than the first song. The verses give the sog a little room to breathe and a slight atmosphere, but they return to crush you. Production wise there is a very raw and dirty sound that still sounds big without feeling like they are crowded into their practice space recording this. The guitars are very nuanced with melodies rather than just beating you with a slab of distortion.

 They do summon up a denser rumble and pick up the pace on the more sludge like "Loner". The pace causes this song to clock in at only four minutes. It's much more straight forward with the dry midrange harsh yells mixed back into the guitars. This falls somewhere between Motorhead and Hell Hammer. I prefer when this riff slows a little mid way into it before churning back up the momentum. They are back to an uglier and burlier groove on their cover of "the Money Will Roll Right In". They lock in on this one and ride it into a chaotic darkness, that owes little to it's grunge roots. I;ll give this album a 9.5. It's what I want out of bands that go in this direction. Dark as it is dense and not so rough around the edges that it loses it's ambiance and kills the mood. If you like doom with teeth and devoid of Black Sabbath worship these guys got ya.


Sunday, July 17, 2016


This Review is from my horror blog Swallow Your Soul which you can check out here... You would think a metal horror movie would win me over without problem. It had some enjoyable moments, most of these in the front end of the film when the characters were being developed, but once things hit the fan, then it became almost the equivalent of a zombie movie , but with eyeless demons running around. I don't like comedies so this movie had that going against it. There was lots of senseless blood spaying every where, like something from the Tokyo Gore Police. But for me gore is more effective when it makes you squirm and when it is in such an over top manner than it loses this effectiveness. This is not nit picking is this just looking at what makes good horror movies or doesn't. If someone told me they like Deathgasm I am going to assume the prefer comedy. It takes a sharper writer than the one who wrote this script to make comedy and horror work in the keen manner it does on a movie like "Cabin In the Woods". Sure they name dropped both King Diamond and Slayer, but so did the Clerks movies and than is not horror. Truth be told "River's Edge " is a better heavy metal movie, and even for all it's 80s cheese, you pretty much have to say the same for "Trick Or Treat". This movie lacked an effective big bad, a few ere hinted at and killed off, then the buddy movie took a sour turn, which had been set up via the tension with the love interest. I like how she was converted into a metal head, but the tension between her and the protagonist with not substantial. I'm over thinking this you say?  Why can't I just let this movie be dumb fun. I am all for horror movies being fun, it's the dumb part I have a problem with. How about a grim serious heavy metal movie? Obviously this is going to come from a movie called "DeathGasm". The acting and effects were lacking and the winks they did at black metal and the 80s horror movies were more effective in some places than others. The movie started off with a lot of heart that made me return to it but once it got bogged down in the tired running around town with zombies or demons taking over things then it felt stale. If all you need is monsters getting killed with dildos, then you must be under the age of 17 as that must be this movie's demographic. It could have been smarter and that would have made up for the low budget blues.  Maybe one day I'll get that serious horror movie or make it myself.

Be'Lakor : "Vessels "

Right from the onset of the new album by this Austrailian death metal band I knew something was different. All too often the term melodic death metal means something is going to go very wrong and we are going to be more concerned with clean singing and shredding than kicking your ass. I would not say this band is really concerned with kicking ass. They have the synths and the clean guitar tones. Which in and of themselves if placed in the right hands can be valuable tools to create metal with. The vocals are a low growl that has been dipped in effects, which is fine by me it gives it a little bit of a Morbid Angel edge.

This is their fourth album so they clearly know what they are doing. I had to listen to the second song several times to really take it all in. I think these guys are more progressive death metal, but by progressive it doesn't mean that they are wasting your time with a bunch of wanking. By the time I am at the third song I've resolved myself to the fact this entire album is going to be listened to several times to absorb it all. The intensity is taken down a notch on "Withering Strands". The jam out into some interesting places similar to Tribulation, but without the wink to 70's rock. If you are going to make 7 minute songs then these guys know what it takes to make every minute count.Things take a lighter mood on "Roots to Sever" with the growled vocals remaining the only death metal element. It begins to remind me of some of the late 90s Euro-metal in this regard, but this isn't your typical Swedish melo-death. I can hear where fans of older Dark Tranquility would like this.There is a little more frolicking to "Whelm" even amid it's more aggressive ebb and flow.

 "A Thread Dissolves " finds them getting a little darker and even adding a somewhat more sonic approach to the initial attack. Then there is the soaring and more conventional approach to metal taken on "Grasping Light' with an almost goth vocal touching the verse. The song winds around some adventurous passages, some flexing the shred factor of the guitars more than others. The album ends with the I'll round it up to a 9 as it sounds great, my only qualm is in the second half it beings to have moments that sound the same, but otherwise it's a great balance.

Meek is Murder : 'Was"

The Brooklyn trio returns and the first song is about a minute making it almost as grinding as it is hardcore. Almost like a more spastic and less powerful version of what Nails does . The next minute and a half of "FlagShips sounds like these two were part of a longer song that got chopped in half to make two songs. Even though the winding dissonance of "Hands Down" can be more appealing, the fact it's only a minute never allows it to establish into an actual song. There is a catchier punk jangle to " the Same Mistakes" that make this song work where the others have fallen short. While these guys are not as dark as Converge, you can hear their influence on "We're Only Ghosts". The guitar player proves himself to be pretty decent on this one. There is a little more groove to "Crows by the Bay" and the guitar tone on this song is pretty awesome. This is what separates this album from your average grind core band, the album is actually well produced and not filled with haphazard feed back.
There is more of a frenetic energy to "Worth" and it runs of this more than songwriting until the cool riff comes in at the minute mark to challenge the rule of "cool riffs alone do not make a good song". They take a more metal approach to " a Prison, a Life Raft". "Save Your Voice" almost goes by too quick to be a song. When the band commits to writing a real song, they are pretty good at it, this is proven on "Full Hearts , Empty Rooms". The title track sounds like it is an extension of the previous as it attack you more effectively with a slow chug. They take things into a more spastic direction for the raging chaos of "Victims and Builder". The vocals become more emotive on this one. I'll give this one an 8.5, these guys are pretty impressive when they commit to the results.

Friday, July 15, 2016

ACxDC : " the Oracles of Death"

Anti-christ Demon-core thinks of themselves as more of a hard core band, but they are on the punk side of grind core. "Heretics" is more like a grind core version of Minor Threat as they scream about "fuck religion, it's all shit". Not giving a fuck is a common lyrical theme that continues to be espoused on "Death Rattle". It took a few listens for their sound to wear on me. Sometimes it falls a little flat, like with "Abuse" which I wasn't as feeling as much as the first couple of songs. A song like "Abuse' which is 47 seconds just falls between the cracks. "Complex" is more metal in it's intentions, but I am not sure that it equates to their strongest suit. But it does work better than the 42 second outburst of "Shoot First".

"D.I.O" is a spastic minute of abrasive lashing. "LightBringer" and the other under a minute explosions that follow really don't have anytime time to develop into anything. This album reminded me to go download another copy of S.O.D's "Speak English or Die".Of all of the under a minute songs on this "Asocial" is the best.It is much better than "Prometheus". "Acedia" seems like a sprawling epic at a minute and a half.  The part where he is yelling about wishing he was fucking dead is pretty cool, not sure about the rest of the song.  I think Nails stomps these guys, though the more I listened to this album the better it got. I'll still give it a 5.5, that's the thing about this kind of grind , they never turn any of these ideas into full fledged songs. It's not surprising they fit 14 of them on a 7 inch.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Caїna : "Christ Clad in White Phosphorus"

The album opens with some sample of machine like noise,"Torture Geometry" is more of the harder black metal expected from this project. This song is not too over bearing on the blast beats and is pretty hateful, so very timely as this had been hate filled week in the world so good to have music to set the sound track. There is an industrial clanging to "Fumes of God". The songs are short angry spews. The musical value could be called into question due to the very raw and ragged production quality. More experimental ambiance unfurls on "the Throat of the World" which sounds like metal cables being struck as growls are rasped in the background.Other noises begin to build in a chaotic fashion around it. This never turns into a real song. The next actual song is "Gazing on the Quantum Megalith" which has an almost crude punk attack while being more conventional in terms of the form the song adheres to.

It feels like they are diving down into the darker reaches of the sonic world to capture sounds I more commonly relate to as black metal on "God's Tongue as an Ashtray" , but this mix is so crazy and the cymbals ring out oddly over everything, so it is hard to decipher at times. The band claims that this album is a representation of the dystopian nightmare we are already living in, so it's easy to draw this image from what they are creating. There is a blinding blast fest on "Entartete Kunst", only the chanting that sits back low in the mix really adds anything to make this more than a frenzied outburst before the drums break it down. The album is littered with weird interludes some are almost jazz like in the John Zorn like zaniness. The instrumental "Pillars of Salt" feeling to me more like an interlude than a song. "The Promise of Youth" returns them to this raw unhinged form of black metal, that I would say this project has been perfecting, but it sounds like progress is something this album rejects in favor of abrasion. The vocals on this song shift to a more yelled exclamation sometimes going as far as to be sung.

The weirdness that is "Extraordinary Grace" is a long droning prayer of sorts that sizzles over the other worldly static crackling off the edges of this sprawling 11 minute piece of sound exploration. While it explores it never lands on an actual song. The title track is actually lo-fi darkwave, which works as well as any of the other hipster goth revivalists. In fact the vocals are almost as good as Night Sins, I did say almost. This builds into a more industrial pounding as the guitar rings out in the cavernous distance. Four out of the eleven pieces that are listed as song are actually some kind of experimental excursion, so I'll give this an 8.5, because it's angry and they are pretty convincing in their experimentation.


Coldworld : " Autumn"

It's been 8 years since this German project put out an album so it's kinda a big deal. The sound has changed. Everything is bigger. It's more of a Briskworld than a cold one as the sound is not as stark and chilly as the earlier releases. This is more of an atmospheric black metal album than it is a depressive black metal album. There is something hopeful in chords propelling the scowling vocals. The clean vocals that appear in the first song are also more refined. A female vocal is layered into things on "Void".  The layers of synth are still present and set the stage for "Woods of Emptiness" which has a very emotionally charge pulse to guitars, but it never fully commits to being dark. Instead the song is painted in a hazy dream like gray. When the clean vocals come in the songs takes a turn from black metal and more towards a Porcupine Tree like prog, though I suppose "Wildhoney" era Tiamat could also be a reference point. There is more double bass than blast beating when the song swells up into a heavier dynamic. The song does accelerate into more of a black metal blur, but it numbs me out.

The singing continues going into "Autumn Shades". If you are not a regular reader of this blog then you should know 'm a fan of actual, despite the fact I write for No Clean Singing , who actually doesn't have that big of problem with it themselves, I am not sure how the modern black metal fan will feel about the more Opeth like direction the vocals are taking even though the shoe gazing shimmer of guitar is pretty stellar. This is a much more melodic direction for this project. With the title "Climax of Sorrow" I felt assured that if any depressing shit was going down then it would be this song. The vocals are pretty agonized and it is a little darker, but if you are supposed to belong to a genre title depressive black metal than that means you need to be darker than an already bleak genre of music. Things do get more emotive and nastier on this song. I guess what I miss is the project's personality that seems to have waned in the compromise between the lo-fi charm of the earlier album versus progressing into a bigger sound. This makes "Nightfall" sound more like every other atmospheric black metal band. So the give and the take on this album is sonically things have improved and perhaps this is what had to happen.

The album ends with another blur of atmospheric black metal that feels like it more of shimmering white light than the despondent last flicker of hope this project once sounded like. Just taking this album for what it is rather than weighing so heavily on a by gone era that might have me complaining about stagnation if this had sounded like everything else this project has done. I'll give this album an 8.5, it might not be what I wanted it to be, but it can't be denied as a majestic step forward into a more epic sound.

Helen Money : "Become Zero"

This is the solo project of cellist Alison Chesley. Chesley is not stranger to metal, so even though you will be surprised when she steps on the gain, you should be considering she has played with Russian Circles , Anthrax, Agalloch  Jarboe and Shellac.  Even with me giving you this heads up, You won't expect the more metallic turn the cello takes on the first and even when you are more prepared for it on the second song it is still impressive. A more droning and experimental approach is taken on the more post-rock like swathe of sound called "Radiate". The cello collides against a piano with the stark "Blood and Bone" . It is not unlike the work of Philip Glass, except there is none of the hypnotic drone. The cello is allowed to wander about more morose melodies. "Vanished Star" feels like chamber music for a ward treating major depression. Once again Philip Glass comes to mind, this time his sounds track to the movie "the Hours".

There is some sound manipulation to some of the trippy sonics played with on "Machine" it is a much more tender piece that brings a contrast to the heavier pound of the ominous "Leviathan". The more black metal like tremolo effect achieved here is pretty impressive and brings to mind Russian Circles last album. The Drummer from Neurosis & Sleep plays on this album, so the more tribal elements to this song make sense. More atmosphere swells out of "Facing the Sun" though the distortion doesn't wait too long, yet it never gain the thundering climax that it would if this was an actual metal project rather than a project influenced by metal. Either way the results are more often than not gorgeous and this is dark enough to hold my attention. I'll give this album an 8.5. I like the mood it creates, but it is not something I need in my iPod for daily listening. Having an appreciate for classical music certainly helps going into this album, but is not a requirement if you have an open enough mind. Fans of post-rock and more atmospheric sides of heavy music will find the most to sink their teeth into.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Swamp Witch : "the Slithering Bog"

 The hunger for new doom awakens just in time for me to dip into the new album from Oakland's Swamp Witch. The vocals are a low death metal growl, but everything else paints the perfect picture of doom. From the first song I am delighted to hear that the album cover perfectly matches the murky darkness being dragged from these sonic waters. The first song is just under seven minutes, but blends atmosphere with out relying on drone to compensate for a lack of songwriting chops. The vocals are more of an abrasive layer of white noise, with the guitar carrying the serpentine melodies that are draped over the other wise dirge like plod. On "the Marsh of Delusion" they begin to fall into the more conventional realms of death doom. That is not to say it's not powerfully expressed as it is, it's just that the balance they achieved with atmosphere and melody is not as apparent so it loosens the grip on the more original sound they carried on the first song.

The pace picks up for "Slither Into the Circle' which is growled in a more powerful manner that makes you wonder if this is just perhaps slowed down death metal. Then the more melancholy guitar line reminds you what separates the two genres. By the time you get to "Bayou Tomb" everything is beginning to get the same kind of sluggish chug, but to their credit the band doesn't drag the songs out to excess, almost making it feel more sludge like in places. Midway into "Dead Root" the atmosphere they touched upon on the first song is rediscovered. They close the album out with a more melodic passage that leads into " Lost Symbols". The vocals keep at the same attack they have delivered for most of the album with the guitar really carrying the song on this. There are a few places throughout the album where the bass or the drummer have been impressive, but the guitarist is clearly driving the car here. I like the mood that is created here, I'll round it up to an 8.5, but I'm not sure if I need this in my iPod. Still if you are looking for some new doom, these guys are more than worth your time, one of the best doom releases of the more death metal tinged variety that I have heard this year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mos Generator : " Abyssinia"

This Washington based band is pumping out fun rock n roll. There is metal influence and I have seen these guys mentioned as a doom band, perhaps they once were and then they discovered Clutch, but this is my first time giving them a spin so I am going off of what I hear here. The lose some of their partying hard momentum on the second song that just doesn't pack as much of a punch. Granted "Catspaw" doesn't rock like the first song, but it is very well written. In some ways these guys are like Kyuss on less drugs. They are less metal in their attack than Kyuss as well. "Easy Evil" glides along a stoner groove, and is a cool jam that I am sure would work well live, while listening to it on my computer, it kinda becomes background music.The singer who stays in a somewhat smoky mid range, begins to make all the songs sound the same with his very straightforward delivery that came across as being a little more soulful on the opening song.

The band's twin guitar work makes it clear that they are obviously influenced by Thin Lizzy. They go for a little grittier guitar tone on " As Above So Below" . It lumbers with a heavier foot step, but unless you are going to call Mountain's "Mississppi Queen" doom then this song isn't either. I do like the melodic middle section that adds dynamics that have been needed. They pick up the pace into more of a boogie on " Red Canyons". The first stab at metal comes with "Theres No Return From Nowhere". This carries a sludge like stomp, until everything drops out for a Pink Floyd vocal passage. There is more of a 70s prog rock feel to " Time and Other Thieves". These guys are not shabby musicians at all, I just think they could use a little more balls. But instead what we get is to be floated out by the mellow Pink Floyd worship of "the Outlander".

I think they are trying a little hard to be psychedelic and that is not what I am feeling from these guys. So I will give this album a 7.5. They can play the intervals Pink Floyd does, but I think there is a more surreal and atmospheric way to capture that sound that would have proved to be more effective. This album does have it's moments it is just a little too middle of the road to me and the prog passages are great , but set against a heavier dynamic might have held my attention more.

Sodom : "Days of Retribution"

Before I listened to this I went back and gave "Persecution Mania" another listen. These guys guys would be on my top ten bands that influenced black metal list for sure. The German thrash band's were always a little darker and meaner than way was coming out of the Bay Area. They are back to thrashing and you have to think Tom Angelripper who is the sole original member of the band, has some self awareness to the fact they are lauded as being influential to the rise of black metal as there is a slight blackened feel to the opening track. His voice sounds great. These guys are not just dialing it in. They go back to their more Motorhead influenced sound on "Murder One". His voice sounds a little more strained hear, but this might be due to the fact he is trying to "sing" a little more" . Speaking of Motorhead influence they are in no way trying to hide this fact by covering "Ace of Spades" . It has the bass tone and the energy right. This song is pretty easy to play so , some old pros like these guys should obviously nail it without question.

There is more groove than I anticipated coming from these guys going into "Kamikazie Terrorizer" .  This is short lived as the bulk of the song focuses on racing forward at a high thrash velocity and hints at how Sodom might have also influenced a few hard core band's along the way. "Waterboarding" is a pretty powerful song. It is not as preoccupied with speed and takes the time to pound the point into your head. This EP also includes liver versions of " Wachturm" and "the Saw is the Law", but since they appear on other albums and are more of just a bonus, I will not include them for the purpose of this review, but will say they sound good and are pulled off really well, making me want to check out Sodom should they ever hit the States. I think they would make a good opener for Slayer, not that Death Angel and Anthrax are bad choices, in fact I would rather see Anthrax than Slayer, but it would be nice for a band like Sodom to get more exposure. Thought Slayer might be a little intimidated by them. I'll give this album an 8, and check out the full length to come in August.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ringworm : " Snake Church"

It opens with a creepy sample that sounds like something from a Rob Zombie movie. The band find themselves once again torn between their hard core roots and metal leanings. The title track is driven by the relentless momentum of punk. Sure some guitar solos slip out between the cracks along the way. The energy is maintained as they race into the second, but by the time we get to "Fear the Silence" despite the more metal drumming their is not much else to really set these songs apart from one another. Half way into "Fear the Silence" there is some groove developed and some what of a break down  towards the end. I guess the sticking point that the roars of vocalist HF aka the Human Furnace, begins to turn him into a one trick pony. There are some nuanced punches on "the Black light of a living Ghost" but nothing else really changes, until the bass jumps out to the front of the mix. In the final moments of this song there is no denying it is heavy as fuck, but what about songs?

The bass drives the lead in to "Destroy or Create".  There are smatterings of gang vocals, but nothing else really distinguishing the song."Shades of Blue" When they slow down to get creepier on "Shades of Blue" it's more effective than just racing the songs by for the sake of being fast since hardcore bands should be fast. They start off a little more metal with  "Innocent Blood" but the vocals drag them back into a rougher street smart hard core holler. "the Apparition" is more thrashing. The drummer is a serious monster on this album and from a production stand point the guitars a re pretty massive as well. The songs are short and to the point, which is one thing the more hardcore attitude is bringing to metal that is much needed. There Slayer influence is pretty evident on "Believer" though it sounds like "God Hates Us All" is their favorite Slayer album.

There is a more melodic section in "the Razor and the Knife" that helps to vary the pounding they come at you with , this is important or this album would just give you a pounding headache.The attack to "Angel of War" is similar to that of the rest of the album. Very direct and in your face. This also gets filed into the more monochrome songs. They Slayer like onslaught continues until they close out the album. The same rules apply to Slayer as well, who has been off their peak with everything that has followed "Divine Intervention". Both band's could learn a little hook and groove goes along way to making their songs more memorable as they both have hit the mark with it in the past. This leaves Ringworm to still chase the spark they had on "Scars" which remains their best album to date. I'll give this one a 6.5, if you jsut want confrontational hardcore metal then this is the album for you.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Slow Bloom

This band from Santa Rosa is going to have a hard time convincing me they are not just a punk band after the opening track of their new ep. Sure they have samples to bring to the party, but how much of the rowdy ranting does that change? They have a great deal of energy, but tend to hover around a very Refused like marching. Some times they also remind me of a less prog minded At the Drive In, as the carry the same explosive frenetic impulses. There are some darker undertones to "Final Heaven". The only draw back is the yelled vocals get a little old by the third song and start to make everything sound the same.They stomp around at more of a mid pace, and go into a sing song chant, but it really doesn't stand out much from the previous song. So while they have their own sound it would pay off to have some more diverse and dynamic textures within that.

 "Phantom Tantrum" bleeds into the same tantrum they have been having for the majority of the album, it is not until "Obscura Vision" that things switch up a little and the At the Drive In influence really comes at you full steam. The last song get a half shade more melodic, but stays pretty close to the one trick they have perfected .  To have been recorded live in their practice space the sound is pretty impressive. I'll give this one a a 6 since I used to really be into At- the Drive In, so I can see how kids who were not around for that might be impressed, they are good at what they do this album just didn't score higher , because I need my music to generally do more than this. How ever theya t least deserve props for doing this.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chevelle : "the North Corridor"

OK, here is one that is a little more main stream than I normally go, but oh, well...Chevelle has always been a pretty decent Tool cover band. At this point Tool might not ever see the light of day so I though I would check in with these guys and see if these have progressed beyond "Undertow". There is a very Helmet like stomp to the opening song. This might be thinking man's nu-metal so I don't really hear where these guys fit as they are too hard for the radio, but not hard enough to be metal. A similar quandary faces Tool, who happens to be more infused with prog rock so they have all of those nerds, who never discovered King Crimson or Genesis getting ready to transcribe all their songs. Chevelle doesn't have as much going on in that department so they are just left to straight up rock. There is an annoying punk pace with the very stiff snare hits on "Enemies" that I was very tempted to skip ahead on. A temptation that I gave in to when this obnoxious tempo did not shift.

These guys have written songs I have liked in the past so I know they are capable of that. The bass line to "Joy Ride" feels more like Filter trying to hard. Much of the fault fall on Pete Loeffler, who could take the melodies in more interesting places as he has done before, rather than relying on vocal overdubs and harmonies to do all the heavy lifting. Many of the riffs found like Godsmack b-sides that never surfaced. There is a little more groove to thick bass of " Last Days" , but the repeated screams about catching the witch make me able to take this as serious as post Black Album Metallica. "Young Wicked" harkens back to their older work only it's a few degrees less inspired. It does have a more convincing groove than the other songs thus far.

"Warhol's Showbiz" is more radio ready as it backs off of some of their stomp. The while of the vocals should be emotive to keep most kids who grew up in the 90s convinced. The chorus to this song is really weak, to the point it almost is not there. This could almost be Sixx A. M. or any bland rock band at this point. "Punchline" seems like it will have a more interesting pulse, but it won't be the first time I have gotten hopes up for this album only to be let down. It is darker, and the vocals are a lower whisper until the build for the chorus that you think you can feel coming a mile away, but it never comes.  "Got Burned" should answer the question as to why this band is no longer relevant. At this point I am beginning to think I will feel the same way about the new Tool album if they don't bring it harder than this. All of things you used to like about bands like Filter are on display on "Shot From a Cannon" just with out any of the hooks to make it worth while. I'll give this album a  5.5 as I'm sure it's better than stuff band's like shine down are making and there are few worthwhile moments, but color me underwhelmed.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kel Valhall : " New Introductory Lectures On The System Of Transcendental Qabala"

Hunter Hunt Hendrix is putting the guitar down and stepping away from even the metal trapping that clung to the last Liturgy album "Ark Work" to release the first album from his electronic project. If you are a Liturgy fan there is two ways this will go. Either you like experimental music and appreciate Liturgy as more of an experimental project than a cvlt as fvck black metal band, if this is the case your were more than likely not really phased by their last album and can proceed into something stepping even further into left field. If you like the first couple of Liturgy albums, but feel more at home when they are blast beating and heard "the Ark Work" had "rap" on it and cringed away at the sheer mention of it. In this case you are wasting your time by even bothering to read this review and go check out the new Fistula or Nails. Ok, not that we are moving along into this album. It does take a few listens to absorb it so I'm going to dip my head into it a third time before I can really describe what I am listening to.

My first thought with "Tense Stage" was this is like a white light version of Skinny Puppy. By that I mean everything after "the Greater Wrong of the Right".As it has plenty of glitch to it. Things weave around both forwards and backward. The beats are more on the lo-fi side and... Yes, you read right in the title of this review that the album is called "New Introductory Lectures On The System Of Transcendental Qabala". I'm not sure what the sing song rap of the lyrics is really about, but I think I heard mention of Jesus. When it comes to actual songs, there are only three real ones, the second of the three being "Ontological Love" . This song takes the first five minutes to get started so some of the fat could have been trimmed for sure. At six minute mark trap styled rapping comes in and is quickly washed away by synths before the song builds back up into some more trap styled rap. Wouldn't say Brooklyn has the hardest dope traps so will not call it trap rap, as it seems likes it more of a commentary on the current state of affairs, he does chant something about the bees losing their honey. "Karios" which is Greek for the supreme moment, is more like an interlude than an actual song. "Bezel 2" is the third of the actual songs though the most disjointed and challenging of the three. The vocals are glitch riddled mumbles of metaphysics. The final minute of "Bezel 2" is just a bleeping and blipping bunch of crazy droning on. My wife asked for me to wear headphones when listening to this album, so it's not for everyone. I'll give this album an 8, which is a lower score than what Liturgy album's have traditionally gotten.

nothing,nowhere : "Who are You?"

This is some weird emo-rap. Yes, you read that right. I have always been a sucker for those Punk Goes Pop compilations, so this falls along those lines, but with less of the Myspace attitude and something more honest to it. Not much to tell about these guys as they give away their albums on Bandcamp and leave little clue as to who they are. This is the right kind of anonymity as it keeps them from being to ego pop focused and lets the music do the talking. The self deprecating side of the lyrics is one of the things that really helps to sell me on this. "Gutter" is more along the lines of Atmosphere, with the rap side of what this project does at the fore front. While the white boy rapping  is better than most who attempt this, when they try to go a little harder lyrically it loses the honesty factor that they have going for them, still it's not too bad for what it is . The guitar to "Everything" has a dreamy quality to it that reminds me of earlier Modest Mouse. The vocals have more of an auto tuned pop feel. The lo-fi production is what separates this from Justin Bieber along with the fact there might be a guest producer on this Oilcolor, but not a whole team of producers and I never get the feeling these kids are trying to be something they are not.

There is a interlude that features samples from various movies before going into the last song "Fair Trade" that hovers over a guitar riff that reminds me of Metallica's "One". I'll round this one up to a 9, the bordering on more tough guy rap that crops up is a little too b-boy for me and they need to drop the 'tude and just do what they do best as there are some pretty awesome song on here if you like more chill melodic hip-hop inflected emotion. Not what I normally listen to, but it does appease a certain side of me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Terminus Cursus : " On Of"

What the hell is going on in Florida? These guys from St. Pete are killing it. Here is a band that came out of no where and really got weird in an original fashion. They are heavy, but not metal, so you know I am going to be a fan of that. the vocals really take it into a more feral place, when these guys explode they come closer to a more garage rock version of the Refused, though the bass line recalls Fugazi. The vocals are more punk than not even when coasting on more of an angular groove. They really get wacky and math rocking on "Haunted" , which from the title of the song, it's not as dark as you might expect. The lower more spoken word vocals are interesting and these guys keep pulling things out from left field, to keep their sound astonishingly fresh. Staying on a more prog-minded course "Enthroned" has more of groove even for all it's weirdness. A more dynamic song than "Haunted", even though I'm not sure that the vocals are as interesting as it's more of a post- hardcore howl trying to morph into singing. The refrain of "is this what you wanted" is very effective.

There is more of a Jesus Lizard like noise rock to "Exit Strategy". The vocals are as crazy as David Yow and these guys really give bands like Pop 1280 a run for their money. The bass line winds around the song in a very dizzying pace. The last song is the longest, as the almost eight minute "Master's Ladder" closes out this album. The instrumentation might be impressive on this one, but it doesn't feel like the vocals were given as much thought as they were on the songs before this one. The guitar plays a more prominent role where the muscular sinew of the bass lines had been holding the other songs down. The lock into more of a chanted vocal that sits well against the angular build they rise into, but I think over all this song is the weak link compared to the other more awe inspiring works earlier in the album. I'll round this up to a 9.5, even though the last song didn't do as much for me I think this album as a whole is excellent and look forward to hearing where this path leads this band of very talented players. I'm a fan now.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Big Business : "Command Your Weather"

One half Karp and on half Murder City Devils, there is more of the thundering noise rock that Karp made and less of the dark punk the Devils dealt out. Their newest album finds them leaning more in a hard rock direction. Like if you took all of the beer commercials out of the Foo-fighters. Their songs are compact like punk rock and rumble with burly fuzz. The vocals are a mid register tenor that remind a little of Blue Oyster Cult. "Father's Day" rocks out a little harder, but is not what I would call metal. The drumming gets more articulate on "Blacker Holes". The vocals come across a little more crooned. The songs begin to take on more of a throb and begin to become not as carefully written, but seem like a series of jammed ideas that happened to get recorded. When "Popular Demand" doesn't know where to go, it fades into droning noise.

They do stream line this into a more taunt form of rock n roll on "Own Throats". The Sabbath influence is more apparent here and makes sense why people want to file them under doom or sludge, but I don't think one song where things begin to head in a more metal direction makes them a metal band. Things do reach an impressive level of intensity that metal fans will be able to appreciate, then they drop down out of the range of metal into more  dreamy 60s pop. It's well sung, but hovers over the same thing for too long.There is a little more groove to "Diagnostic Front" and then some of the bluster drops out for the more soulful horses. While it's well sung it works off one idea and doesn't progress much beyond that. I'll give this album an 8.5, as they capture some powerful sounds and more melodic than I thought they were going to be going into this, but their songwriting skills are more along the line of hopeful jams which can be a gamble in regards to how they come together to form actual songs and not just ideas of what might sound cool if they were part of an actual song.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ghoul : "Dungeon Bastards"

Meeting somewhere between death metal and thrash, these attack the songs on this album with a brisk aggression. There are a few vocal styles on the actual song, ranging from a dry rasp to a lower gurgle to more of a punk gang vocal. These three vocal styles seem to be a staple of their sound. There is more of a punk energy to "Shred the Dead", making these guys a perfect band for punk kids who are beginning to get into metal and looking for an entry point past Slayer. The title track seems to be more about terrorists. It's another almost more punk than song. The dual guitar parts are the most metal element. The bass player shines on this song, but generally remains lost in the mix. Aside from this the album is generally well produced.

"Ghoulunatics" is a more metal song. These guys are far from re-inventing the wheel when it comes to originality of their sound. Slayer is often the biggest influence, but you can also hear traces of bands like Anthrax and D.R.I. The rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song , so this really hits these guys hard. While they are very capable at their instruments, when it comes to actual song writing they take at stab at it, but generally end up hacking up their best ideas. Like Punk they keep these songs compact and in the three minute range. Sometimes the vocal take on a more Gwar like character to deliver the narrative. This is done in a more rapped manner on the verses of "Word is Law" where the character is a cop. While it's silly this is also one of the best songs on the album. There is less though put into "Death Campaign" that is a little too one dimensional even for death metal.

Even though "Guitarmaggedon" relies on samples it's still one of the album's better songs. The album closes with "Abominox" in some ways it's chug is very much like several of the other songs on this album. The bass carries them into the verses in a very Megadeth like manner. The vinyl of this comes in two different colors slime green or blood red with a gate fold that opens into a board game. So that is their target market. I am not sure I am their target market as I typically require more dynamics, but these guys are good at what they do and this album is dumb fun so i'll round it up to an 8.