Sunday, October 30, 2016

Night Riots : "Love Gloom"

Some people are confused as to why these guys are on Sumerian Records, which is a metal label. My answer as a die hard metal head is ...who the fuck cares. Now moving on, we can hear right from the first song "Nothing Personal" it's obvious we are going a more Gotye pop route with this. There might be a little more gain on the guitars, but don't fool yourself if you want to make this more rock than it is. I love pop music. This might come as a surprise, but after I have been sitting in front of a computer listening to death metal all day that is the last thing I want to hear on my walk to the gym. With that stand their is some excellent song writing at work here and vocal hooks galore. Despite the ode to vampires in the lyrics the indie rock of "Fang" works best off the bass driven verses, but the chorus doesn't do as much for me. The lead single "Contagious" has a quirkier side to it. The chorus might swing for the fences too hard with it's anthemic drive.

I can here Taylor Swift singing "Work It". The groove has a similar cool slide to it as "Style", but at the end of the day it's just a really well written song. The vocals flow really well and the bigger chorus doesn't come across like they are trying to hard. There is a very "Enjoy the Silence" like guitar to "Don't Kill the Messenger". The up tempo verses work well on this one as it ramps up into more of an indie rock thing going into the chorus. They back off a little on the more introspective"Breaking Free".  They fake you out on the bridge and allow things to build a little more. The lyrics are this songs strong point. The vocals are really well produced. They also get some pretty cool guitar tones on this album. "All For You" starts in a moodier direction than the more typical radio direction this veers over into. Vocally this guys has a brooding emotive tenor. It hits some lower baritone like notes and then wavers near a head register in phrase similar to many post- Arcade Fire influenced bands.

There is more of a noticeable turn towards electronica on "Pull Me Down". There is a more up beat under current on this one as well. "Everything Will Be Alright" leans are a beefier synth groove on the verse and then soars on the chorus. For it to be a song called "End of the World" it's really happy. It dances around some of it's new wave influence. "As You Are" is somewhat of a piano ballad. It is better than the bland shit Coldplay pumps out, but is also not one of this album's stronger songs. I'll round this one up to a 9 as it is a really fun album that is growing on me.

Wayfarer: "Old Souls"

This band from Colorado creates some dark brooding metal makes you forget they are from the States. Primarily they strike me as being a blackened death metal band with the vocals leaning them more in the death metal direction. When the pace picks up a little toward the end the shadowy feeling reinforces the looming black metal influence, but over all there is just a great mood and atmosphere coating this death metal which gives your ears the impression of black metal. There is more of a strum to the interlude "Frontiers" which strikes as just the intro to "Old Souls New Dawn".  This song begins much more melodically, sure their are some moments that might make you think this is pagan or folk metal due to the more epic scale they build this upon, but the same could be said for Unleashed who is a death metal band.

The songs are all on the longer side, tipping the scales at over ten minutes, but this is time well spent. Things get increasingly melodic, but never drone or grow stagnant. "Catcher" has an almost accessible groove to it. The song swings with the drums sitting back in the pocket.  Two minutes in things switch up with a cleaner guitar part that the drums play around rather than locking in with, however in this case it works. They really cram so much into this four and a half minutes it makes me wonder if they needed to use all ten of those minutes on the first song. "Deathless Tundra" backs off a little allowing a spacious bleak melody to form. They build the tension and then let you glide over in a very progressive fashion. They song throbs and pulses more than it tries to beat you over the head with the riffs which works much better for me.

"The Dust Lakes" steers them more towards post-rock. The guitars sound great so I am not complaining. It works better than when they blast into "All Lost In Aimless Chaos". They songs hit some ebb and flow into clean passages like old Agalloch, but it is much more kinetic.I'll round this up to a 9, I am not sure I'll put it on the iPod, but will give it some thought. This is great death metal with a touch of other genres enough to give it a well balanced sense of dynamics, these guys have a great dark guitar tone.


Body of Light : "Let Me Go"

I have been sitting on this one for a while now , so I should go ahead and review it. These two brothers from Arizona sound like they are Euro-trash. They look like a couple of kids from the straight edge scene rather than pumping out the up tempo new wave tinged dance found on this album. With the second list the song's groove began to sink in. While there are some of the quirky plastic coated staples from the earlier of new wave that spawned artists like Depeche Mode, these sounds move and flow in a very modern manner. If you listen close enough you can here the retro mood is deeply intertwined with a modern dance feel, leaving the croon of the vocals that steps out further in the mix by the time you get to the third song. These songs are fun listening, but don't really knock my socks off, they are almost too happy until we get to the title track. This sets to tone for the vocals to croon out something with a more introspective mood. I would not call this dark wave.

The dark vibes spill over into the more up-tempo "Last Breath".  The more distorted vocal that creates the call and response on this song brings them closer to dark wave. The mood get's poppier as the song progressive, but these added touches make this the first song that hooks me in at a hundred percent. "Moving Slowly" finds emphasis on the almost angular groove, but it has enough propulsion to sell me on it. At first "Felt" feels a little like "Enjoy the Silence". It gains some momentum. The synth tones at the beginning of"Tremble" are almost too happy for me a feel like they should be on the sound track of some random anime series. I prefer the more shadowy mood that fuels "Cold Gestures." Things get a little darker for "World Fall Apart". I have heard someone say this songs reminds them of the Crux-Shadows and I only marginally hear that comparison.

I'll round this album up to a 9, it seems to grow on me. Sure it could be darker, but it works well for what it is. The album sounds really good and has many layers. Some of the song writing is more inspired than other so there are some really strong ones that I felt on the first listen. I'll really have to sit with this one for a while and see if it holds up with time. If you are a fan of older Depeche Mode like synth pop and new wave that is not full blown retro then this is worth your time.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Krypts : "Remnants of Expansion"

Even at it's most cheese filled Finnish metal has a knack for darkness. There is not any cheese to be found on  the new one from this band from Finland. They dig up  all of the elements I need from death metal and puts them together in one nasty package. I like the painful ache of their throb that almost borders on doom. When they speed up into the faster double bass sections it makes more sense as we have been shown the contrast of what this sounds like when it is not coming at us with this speed to we can full appreciate the shift. On the second song this is taken to a further extreme and becomes a little more of a blur, so the opener has a little more impact on me. On a song like the title track these guys prove themselves no stranger to atmosphere, thought it is a song I had to go listen to again to see if it really went anywhere. There are some hints of melody ventured into as it swelled in volume, but seemed more like the intro to a longer work rather than a solely free standing song. Perhaps this is because it did not feel it really had the legs to stand on it's own as an instrumental.

The powerful beginning of "Entrailed to the Breaking Wheel" gives way to their urge to blast at you with a barrage of pounding speed. I am still on for the ride as I know that is what most fans of this genre expect. It is the weaving guitar melodies and the deliberate drumming that follows which keeps me hooked in and immersed in this darkness. The growls are low, but not quite a gurgle. They do go up into a few screams here and there. The bass remains pretty hidden for the bulk of the album.

There is a bleak ringing to the riffs of "Transfixed" that closes the album. This is another song that really rides the line between being death metal and doom. The guitar melodies are well balanced and these guys know when to follow things up with the weight of a chug. These guys are not blackened, but fans of black metal will find them sinister enough to appeal to the more visceral emotions black metal connects to. I will round this one up to a 9, as it hits all the right places for me. Some of the more bombastic moments might play it a little safe, but these guys are great at capturing a very hellish mood.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Crowbar : "the Serpent Only Lies"

I remember back when I first heard "All I Had I Gave" I thought these are some big ugly dudes playing big ugly music that was heavy as fuck. Going to back to listen to that song, it's still a good song, but not as heavy as I remembered it. But then again  the verses to "I am the Storm" reflect back to a similar tempo as "All I Had I Gave" , the chorus might not resonate like the song from the 90's did , but is still well done and is very much true to who this band is. The album opened really strong so I think the first two songs are more powerful and flawlessly crafted. I prefer when the band relaxes back into a more sludged out take on doom with songs like "Surviving the Abyss". When the vocals deliver the more husky melody that are tapping into something more unique than when they hit the more barked passages.

I know these guys started as a hard core band, but when they return to a tempo with more in common with their roots they begin to lose me as I do not feel that is where there strength lies. They do this in a manner than recalls old Type 0 on the title track which works a little better for me. The roar of "the Enemy Beside You" to me sounds like every other post- Pantera band. There is more depth and weight to "Embrace the Light". The sung vocals work much better as well. If you were never into Type O Negative's goth side and miss their take on heavy music then these guys are decent replacement.  Being that the goth side of Type- O is for me just as important then I can't say these guys are as good as Type- O.

The chug closer to doom with "On Holy Ground". This song is emotionally heavy as well as pounding so find the band back at the top of their game. Lyrically I can feel where they are coming from and it's not just metaphoric metal garbage. "Song of the Dunes" comes across like a W.A.S.P power ballad. "As I Heal" is a pretty strong closer, even though when it speeds up I feel the song kind of slips into the status quo. Overall this album is pretty solid and impressed me. I have never given the guys much of a shot after their first album so it's good to hear they are still holding it down. Fans of the band will love this as much as anything else they have done.

Helmet : " Dead to the World"

Well I just got finished reviewing the new Whores album so the opener feels almost more like Weezer in comparison. The pounding drums sit back and the vocals are too forward in the mix are my first thoughts, when thinking about what made Whores punch more than this. Going into the second I turn up the volume to see if that's the problem. The vocals really leave something to be desired as the melodies are not as locked into the rest of the song as their earlier work. The more lead like passages of guitar are mixed way back in the distance. The stompy parts that were once their calling card seem to be dialed in and obligatory.  Even with the more Beatles like vocal "Bad News" feels a little more like Helmet to me. If the vocals were more forceful on "Red Scare" it might feel more like Helmet as well.

The bass adds a little more weight to the title track, though the vocals undermine this effort. I am not sure why the guitars are sitting that far back, the mix is a hug problem on this album as it takes all the balls out of it. I think what the fuck when we get to "Green Shirt" it might as well have been titled "Green Shit" as Everclear is heavier than this. Page needs to stop listening to the Kinks. Things improve a little when "Expect the World" kicks in. It feels more like a 90's alt-rock power ballad to me than what these guys are best at. It often sounds like he is not committed to the grit needed to get mean and crack heads. He tries to juggle two different directions on "Drunk In the Afternoon" and it comes across like L.A. Guns.

The last song "Look Alive" works better with it's more relaxed vibe as it comes across more like Jawbox or one of those early slacker indie rock bands. For my money...if I was going to pay for this album, this would be a let down, I think despite the few moments this album does have even for Helmet fans this has to be a let down, the really bad moments are really bad and the stronger songs don't really compensate for them< so I am rounding this album down to a 5.5, mainly because the vocals are so bad. If you want something more in line with classic Helmet go check out the new Whores album. br />

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Top 10 Goth Songs of All Time

It's time for Halloween so here are the top 10 goth songs of all time.Sure some of the more popular artists are missing, while they make great pop songs to dance to, I am talking about what has the two main elements of goth...passion and darkness. The EDM that you wave your cyber dreads to has very little of either. So You can cry about the fact that "Headhunter" is missing, but you should also consider suicide as your next major life decision.

 10- Fields Of The Nephilim- "Submission"

Maybe it was the cowboy hats, but I think this band is criminally under rated in the goth scene. The reason for this more than likely the grit in their sound is too much for the girly boys more into the fashion, but that's why the Crux-Shadows exist. The song is very powerful and high lights every thing there is to love about this band.


9- Type o Negative-"Be My Druidess"

You were expecting "Black No. 1". This is not the top 10 most popular goth songs. These are the best and the refrain of "I'll do anything to make you cum" is enough to earn it's spot here. I did wrestle with a few different songs of their's but this one shows so many sides and has a wide enough dynamic range to elevate it above the others.

8-Dead Can Dance - "the Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove"

Sure they have darker songs. More exotic songs.Spookier songs, but this one is Perry singing at his most passionate, with a good slinky groove under him that puts all the pieces together in a more regal manner than other projects can muster.

7- the Smiths - "Unloveable"

 When Morrissey sings "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside, and if I seem a little that because I am". I think it makes more sense to have them here than say Joy Division, because even though Ian Curtis and friends often use darker tones than Johnny Marr, there is more of a romantic elegance in the music of the Smiths, with Joy Division coming across more like depressed punk.

6- Swans - "Killing For Company"

A creepy song about serial killers that has an almost erotic darkness to can this not be on the list. It hits that sweet spot I love in music where it is so dark that it's heavy even though it is not metal. Gira's voice sounds great.

5-the Cocteau Twins-"Blue Bell Knoll"

 It might not be as dark as what they were doing on the first album, but I think that this serves as the best example of what they did at the peak of their musical powers. This has the ethereal side coupled with a hypnotic pulse for the angel that is Elizabeth Fraser to sing over. It has enough of a shadow side to earn it's place here, despite the dream pop tag this often gets, Siouxsie was either doing punk or pop, so this has enough of an edge to keep it from becoming 80's night fodder.

   4-Christian Death- "Deathwish" 

Another case of this might not be their most popular song...yes, I'm talking about you "Romeo's Distress", but this is their best one. It has more drive and balls to the guitar riff and captures the dirty junkie feeling of 80's Los Angeles.


3- Skinny Puppy- " Love in Vein" 

The best song off their best album. This also the best song off the best industrial album, so if I was going to thrown in one industrial song then this had to be it.Darker than Ministry or the bigger more poppy projects could ever muster no matter how many inches they had.

 2- David Bowie- "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"

 Of course this genre would not exist without Bowie, he touched on many sub-genres from New Romantic to Industrial, in fact I could make a list of Bowie's top ten goth songs, though aside from maybe "Outside" and "Low" I would not say he has put out an entire album of goth, he just colors some of his songs with darker sonic colors, this one being the darkest.


1- the Cure :  "One Hundred Years"

While Robert Smith would not want himself to be over Bowie, we are not saying the Cure is better than Bowie as a whole, so there is no need to get your little black knickers in a bunch, as far a goth songs go this one just happens to be the best. It's moody, but has balls. You can dance to it, shoot dope to it or fuck to it. Most of all it is so dark you can feel it.

Whores : "Gold"

This Atlanta trio has been gaining some buzz. They are devout followers of the path paved by the Amp Rep bands like Unsane, Helmet, Jawbox, the Jesus Lizard and Killdozer. Back in the day when this noise-rock or post hard-core movement of band's emerged they were for hipsters who wanted something with more teeth than Sonic Youth. Whores carries this torch. The opener is impressive in it's out burst of energy. I where the vocals sit on the verse going into this it reminds a little of older Today is the Day. They lock into kicking up the dirt in a more syncopated manner for " Baby Teeth". Sonically it stays in a similar place as the opener with waves of feed back and plenty of punches.

The song titles have tongue in cheek irony to them and it's all very clever. I have never really thought of this sort of thing as metal as it owes way more to punk than say Iron Maiden. It is very dense and well produced for the sound they are going for. The vocals are yelled in an angry monotone bark. When it comes to this sort of thing I like the Jesus Lizard because there is a darker chaos to what they do. Here a manner of restraint is employed, though the noisy bits of feed back around some of the sharp riffing creates a little sonic ambiance. One of my favorite song titles on this album is "Mental Illness As mating Ritual". This one allows the vocals to lament a little more over the verses.

"Ghost Trash" goes more Helmet with it's groove. At time it bares it's teeth more than Page Hamilton and the boys have lately, though I am going to review the new Helmet album "Dead to the World" when I am done with this so I guess we shall see. There is a more straight forward punk attitude to "Charlie Chaplin Routine". It comes clawing at you full throttle to the point of almost becoming a blur of white noise. The vocals serve more purpose on "Of Course You Do" that balances out a mean bass tone with some breathing room to give a little more dynamic range. My second favorite song title on this album is " I See You Also Wearing a Black T-shirt". This one is another more punk ditty. At this point in the album the vocals are beginning to bore my a little as they retain a similar snarl throughout, but the drumming on this song is impressive.

"Bloody Like the Day Your Were Born" feels more solidly written and nuanced,  it might be my favorite song on the album. The first dynamic ebb in energy is on the more deliberate crunch of "I Have A Prepared Statement". I like this side of the band more than the relentless frantic beating they give your ears for the bulk of this album. It has some strong moments, but not as varied in mood as most of the music I listen to. I hated their cover of the Cure's "Jumping Someone Else's Train" so this is a vast improvement. I'll give this album an 8, though I personally don't see myself returning to it, if this is your thing then it might give you things the new Helmet album won't I guess I'll find out in ten seconds.

Hail Spirit Noir : "Mayhem in Blue"

I loved this band's last album, so I won't lie it's a surprise to hear them go from progressive black metal into groovy 60's tinged black n roll.Some blast beats do crop up, I am not sure I would say they give the end a more black metal feel, I do not that this is going to be a weird ride. The title track finds them bringing back more of the prog feel, and going all out into the wake of Poseidon with Opeth like melodic section before bring some smack down.The sung vocals are well executed and these guys are incredible musicians so it's hard to argue against any of their creative choices so far.

There is a more straight ahead rock vibe to "Riders to Utopia", despite the vocals have more grit to their gruff cadence. The keyboards on this keep the 60's psychedelics going, bringing "Inna Gadda Davida" to mind.  It's not as strong as the first two songs, but it is not bad by any means. A circus like ambiance colors the beginning of "Lost In Satan's Charms". The vocals are smoothly sung as the song builds. The build is very subtle and it hovers in more of prog gallop than getting actually metal.  When the more metallic elements, such as the growling comes into play they create a feeling similar to that which Enslaved has invoked in their more recent albums.

"Cannibal Tribe Came From the Sea" has the kind of ominous throb you would expect from a horror movie of the same name, if such a thing existed. The build on the song is great and feels as heavy sonically as it does metal. The close the album with the more Moody Blues like prog of the dreamy "How to Fly In Blackness". Not the strongest song on the album as it is more of a jam, but I can appreciate where they are going. I'll give this album a 9. It's very strong but tends to wander, those all who wander are not lost here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Obscured : " Desolate Wanderings"

Atlanta is a city almost a good ten years behind the times when it comes to music that is not hip-hop. So these post-punk revival bands that have already transitioned onto shoe gaze or new wave in citities like New York are just now beginning to surface in the A-Town. This duo does it with more conviction than the others I have heard, but being the gate keeper of goth for Cvlt Nation the test is can they get a stamp of approval from someone who was their for the real deal. The only draw back I hear to the opener is the lack of punch to their drum machine. The second song sounds like it is using real drums. They are dark enough to be convincing and the despondent vocals sound like Rozz Williams mumbling to himself after nodding off. The song builds up into a heavier dynamic that makes me think these guys are also into metal. The end is a little lacking as it just fades into ambient noise.

 There is almost an Atriarch feeling to the heavier build of the second song as a more doom tinged vibe thickens the mood. The vocal performance on this song is far more incoherent than the opening song, leaving the oppressive atmosphere to do most of the heavy listening until it builds into more of a glum death rock thing. I like all the sounds summoned here I don't think they are assembled in the most thoughtful fashion. The jangled strum of guitar on "A Solemn Grace" sound like they are taking the song seriously. The production is murky at best which sometimes gives their sound some charm. After they drone on the same riff for five minutes without going anywhere the problem is clear. These guys know how to get the desired sound but once they get it don't know where to go with it. The title track closes the album. Two minutes in and the song doesn't have a clear entry point.

They are going more for the atmosphere here and once again throwing song writing out of the window. The problem with this is if you like any of the classic goth or death rock, those mother fuckers knew how to write songs. If you don't have songs then you don't have a coffin to piss in. They never find anywhere to go. I think it was all summed up with they can get the sounds, but do not know where to go with them. I'll still give this album a 6 because, I like the first song and they have a few moments. Not that I would listen to this album a second time, but getting decent sounds and creating sonic darkness is more than most Atlanta can muster.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Oathbreaker : " Rheia"

Not sure why I waited around to check this album out. It's only been out a month, but I really feel like I have been missing out on something only three songs into it. This band from Belgium opens their third album with an acapella vocal before blasting into a more furious take on black metal. A minute and a half in it ebbs back down into a similar vocal to the one that opened the album. The vocals continue to be one of the things that makes this album sound out. Sometimes the go spastic at other moments like the song "Being Able to Feel Nothing" they are very emotive. Sometimes her delivery reminds me of Karyn Crisis since it is less refined than a singer like Julie Christmas. I can here these guys busting into something with more of a post-punk edge to it even against the shimmering tremolo of the guitar she is give to scream over here.

There is more of a gloom folk to the acoustic intro of "Stay Here". This draws comparisons to Chelsea Wolfe and proves that Caro Tanghe can really sing when she wants to. This is important to me as I think it is a quality all screamers should have in order to provide music with the needed dynamic range. Not being able to sing is the equivalent to a guitar only able to play the three lowest strings of their instruments, that makes them a bass player not a guitarist. "Needles In Your Skin" starts off with them going down the more darkly somber path of the previous song before blasting into something more abrasive. They prove they are not limited with just hitting you with blasting as powerful chug is summoned in this song's strongest moment.

They hit you with a very gripping melody on "Immortals". When it turns into a more pummeling maelstrom the stage was already set for this explosion. They dive back down into what proves to be one of the album's darker moments, it's pretty fucking breath taking.After an interlude of weirdness comes another sonic sprawl in "Where I Live". The melody is once again gracefully wedged into the raging storm of guitars around the vocals. "Where I Leave" is darker and more melodic, but not without menace. This song shows their ability to use restrain and allow the song to have a life of it's own. If you ever wanted to know what it means to serve the song this is an excellent example. The album ends on a more atmospheric side. This album deserves a 10 without question.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Order of the Owl : " We Have Come to Collect Our Crown"

It is dark enough, the vocals are slathered in effects and fall closer to a whispered growl. The pace is set a more of a hefty chug bookended by a more doomy mood.  'Wolves of True Diamond Hate" has a more venomous Celtic Frost like menace to it, but despite the warbling atmosphere that is laid on thickly here it is not as focused of a song as the opener. They engage in more Electric Wizard worship than simply following the Black Sabbath blue print.  There are equal parts lumber and thunder to the more up tempo "Hell Ride".  When these guys are at their weirdest they are find their voice rather than trying to match their brawny peers pound for pound in terms of heaviness.

Yarbrough is more than a decent guitarist with jammy solos that are probably crowd pleasers in a live setting, but don't seem too over indulgent on this album. The more melodic vocals that are sung in layered harmonies are an effective switch in dynamics. The melodies drones over the big sinewy riff. I can hear touches of bands like Jesu in the murk this creates. Things get weirder as they veer off into 60's flavored psychedelic. Acoustic guitars are broken out and it begins to sound like something Charles Manson might have written back at the Ranch. This is not the best recording of acoustic guitars, but the rougher mix gives them their own personality before the drugs really begin to kick in against the ambient noises. This song ultimately hits me as more of a noisy outro, while I am proud that they have heard of Boyd Rice, I would have like to have heard a little more actual music.

The noisy final piece aside I like this album. It starts strong and has another solid moment with the more melodic "Resurrection", it's not a perfect album, but worth rounding up to an 8.5, I would like to hear them continue their journey further out into the realms of the psychonauts as the darker more psychedelic sections are where this band that features former members of Zoroaster is at the peak of their musical powers. If you like stoner tinged doom with a blend of ball and cerebral trickery.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dope : " Blood Money pt 1"

I used to the like the song "Bitch", I know one of the girls in the video and that was my first exposure to this band back in the early 2000s. Acey Slade who plays bass for Joan Jett as well as Murderdolls backs Edsel, along with Lords of Acid guitarist Virus and long time drummer Racci Shay. They come on stronger with a blend of industrial strength hard rock that could have rolled out of the best moments of 1997.Edsel sings more on this album that the more nu-metal liking shouting I recall from other songs like "Bitch". They back off into the darker "Lexapro" that is really more of an interlude than a song. This is a shame because I find it more compelling than the run of the mill metal of "Hold On " that feels like a Bullet For My Valentine b-side. Granted these guys are going for a more mainstream take on metal than what I normally listen to.

The blast at you with a more militant bulldozing typical of post- 90s industrial, ironically the lyrics of the chorus are "I never though I'd be alive after 1999". The  vocals go into a higher auto-tuned sounding emo on "Razor Blade Butterfly " that sounds like the might be trying to bring back the more sugar coated ghost of H.I.M. It's hook and well crafted cheese. "Drug Music" reminds me of Strapping Young Lad's more restrained moments. They put on more of a tough guy act for the Static X like "Hypocrite". "X-Hale" turns down another dark corner, but this too is another interlude. There is more of a 30 Seconds to Mars feel to "End of the World". Sure there is more of machine like bump and grind to it, but the way the melodies are handled seem like something Jared Leto would do. So Edsel has become a much better singer over the years.

"Selfish" has more of a groove to it though the riff re-hashes a great deal of 90s metal. The auto-tuned vocals to "Numb" remind me of Weird Al. The song itself is pretty decent. Over al despite sticking to the conventions of modern radio rock and coming across as more accessible than what I have heard from these guys in the past, this album is pretty decent for what it is. I'll give it a 8.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Leonard Cohen : "You Want it Darker"

Aside from his 1967 album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” the only other album with Cohen on it that I have owned is the “Natural Born Killers “ soundtrack. I bought his ’67 album because it has the song “ Sisters of Mercy” on it which for a goth in 1997 seemed like something I needed to own. His influence on darker music goes well beyond that. When you hear his new album “You Want it Darker” his influence on some like Nick Cave is obvious. He is storyteller first and foremost. His gravelly baritone is weathered, but recites the lyrics with conviction that makes up for what age does to one’s voice. There is a bitter sweet tenderness to his delivery on "Treaty". Palm muted guitar opens on the level. Before the songs rises into a more gospel place.

These songs of heartbreak are a little hard to hear at where I am at right now, but the lyrics are pretty powerful. "Leaving the Table" is another solemn song that feels like country. The mix of this album is weird. His voice is close up on the mic almost whispered. The guitar is giving him at times almost too much room, stepping up into the spot light for a solo. It's very tasteful and well layered, but I could use more instrumentation getting more up close and personal with him.

While it's a well written song "If I Didn't Have Your Love" is your blue print love song that barrows from many of the conventions of country music. "Traveling Light" might remind you of the weary road he walked upon on the song "the Future" from the previously mentioned soundtrack. This song has a little more movement. "Steer Your Way" finds the lingering pace of this album picking up a little.  The strings lighten things where they have been darkening them. It's very pleasant and good change but doesn't blow my socks off. The stringed reprise of "Treaty" is more of an outro than a free standing song. I'll give this album a 9.5, because he is such a masterful song writer and has a power over his words. With that said I am not sure this is an album I will get a helluva a lot of play out of as it is not something I would put on my iPod, but I don't have any classical music on my iPod either.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mortualia :"Wild Wild Misery"

As life shits on me I think all I have the taste for is  depressive black metal and funeral doom. So this album is a breath of fresh air. At least the first song. I might get annoyed by the rough production mid way into this. This is being brought to us by Shatraug the master-mind behind Horna and Sargiest. While this doesn't do anything to re-define depressive black metal it hits all the same sorrowful notes you expect. If An Autumn For Crippled Children is too refined for you then this might be your jam. His third album with this project the vocals are suitably agonized.

The drums are this project's weak link. The are buried under the guitar and you can only hear the cymbals. "Out" finds this album begin to wear thinner on me as the songs begin to sound the same. The accents change a little but it drones on the same pulse of feedback for most of the six and a half minutes. At almost ten minutes "Emptiness of All " better expand the dynamic range of this album or it's going to drag. At the five minute mark it's still holding my attention with a throb similar to the first few post prison Burzum albums. There is more attention to detail on this one even if it's more moody vibrational shifts with the shitty garage like mix. 'Stolid" is a more feral fare, but it really doesn't do a whole lot for me as a song. I prefer the emotion that is in the title track.

"To Which Ever End" catches my ear. I am not sure there is anything dramatically different with what is being done here aside from the guitars giving the drums a little more room. The guitar on this album has more feeling in it than what I have heard from the more recent output of his other projects. "Nothing is Given" finds the pace slowing down. I'll give this album an 8 for now despite the rough production it had more moments than I expected going into this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Madder Mortem : "Red in Tooth and Claw"

This Norwegian  hard rock band is slathered in 90's Alternative. I can hear plenty of Guano Apes and Skunk Anansie in the way the vocal melodies weave around the guitar riffs. The more Nightwish power ballad comes a little too soon in the album and kills the momentum of the first song. They go a more middle of the road route with "Fallow Season", which is a slight disappointment after the impression they made on the opening track. This fits more with the modern rock rock formula that has evolved a little since the days of nu-metal. While it's not as heavy I think "Pitfalls" is well written and comes across like a cross between Joni Mitchell and the Gathering.

In the broadest sense of the term, you could try to argue "All the Giants are Dead", but it certainly doesn't fit what we consider doom here. This song does think out of the box and has some jazz like qualities to the drumming. I can also draw comparisons to Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum on this song if we are talking about some of the stuff Carla sang on. There is a darker almost Siouxsie like turn on "Returning to the End of the World". Though this does ramp up into the more typical rock sound. "Parasites" tries to use blast beats to convince you that they are indeed a metal band. I can't imagine anyone who owns a Darkthrone album would say "Oh, yeah that is totally black metal" .

There is a more elegant cadence to "the Whole Where you Heart Belongs". The last two songs both stick closer to the standard rock format with the last song 'Underdogs" being the better of the two.I'll give this album a 7.5, there are some songs I really liked, but it's inconsistent and they need to shake themselves free of their fetish for radio rock. The window for them belonging on rock radio passed over a decade ago alongside Lacuna Coil.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Planes Mistaken For Stars : "Prey"

These guys were always ahead of their time and finds music of today coming a little closer to meeting them in the middle. There has always been an unhinged side to the band and this is what the new album opens with. "Til it Clicks" is less explosive, but more of what I want from this band. The darker melody hangs around on "Riot Season" even after the pace picks up. The yowls of self loathing still haunt Jared's gravelly vocals riding the line between screaming and singing. The guitar to "Fucking Tenderness" carries some melody before tightening the tension. The vocals fill the spaces in the song perfectly and the band touching perfectly on all their trademarks without feeling like this song is any less urgent than it is.

The guitar have more of a clanging jangle on "She Who Steps". This is more of a punk song despite being longer than some of the other more melodic songs. Three and a half minutes in it breaks down into a moody exploration. The build in this song might make you check to see if your speakers are blown. Their ability to convey emotion hit you hard on "Clean Up Mean" , which is the first song that really blows my socks off. It's very powerful. "Black Rabbit" finds them stripping it down to just an acoustic. If memory serves me Jared was pulling off these husky vocals back when Neurosis was still roaring all the time. The hit a more sonic heaviness on "Pan In Flames" than reminds me more of the pre-"Up In them Guts" days.

"Enemy Blinds" has more calm in it's storm. It locks in an drones into the nervous break down that doesn't really come until the next song. You can hear hints of how post- rock might have influenced these guys while they were gone. "Alabaster Cello" doesn't really sound like anything they have done before. I 'll easily give this one a 10 as they are back in fine form and not standing stagnant in the legend of yesterday.

  fg12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  643

Black Tomb : " s/t "

The time of year has begun when I begin to look under every tombstone in search of the elusive metal albums I might have missed over the course of the year. This one I am not too far behind on. It is a rawer entry in the annuls of doom. The nasty spew of the vocals is very Graves at Sea, but the guitar melodies have a more doom in their intent and some times wander around in a more Sabbath like manner. They stay away from the graveyards, as more of a bulldozing pace is built up on "Eyes of Midnight". Though this song has a very similar rumble to the previous on with the drumming left as the main element to differentiate the two. This leaves a very small margin of difference.  "Swine" finds the band rearing up out of doom into a more grime ridden take on Eyehategod's brand of sludge.

After an interlude of feed back and samples "Draped In Flesh" is more deliberate and emotionally visceral. "Lust and Saturn" relies on it's riffs as the vocals are not doing anything new and the guitar solos , sounded better then first time we heard them jam out. So at this point into their album I am looking for something more dynamic. What they are doing is no bad it's just turning into a wall of overdrive fading into the background. There is a darker feel to "Turning Worm", but we are still lumbering over the same sonic ground. The album ends with the 13 minute "Church on the Hill". Up to this point the stakes had not been as high since expectations for the range of dynamics to be covered in the shorter songs was not as high. But when you bang out the same riff for thirteen minutes it gets a little redundant.

I'll give these guys a 6 as they have a good sound and i appreciate what they do. However I already own Graves at Seas albums and Eyehategod's albums, so there is not any space on my iPod for this brand of doom, which is more sludge than it is doom. If you are looking for more fuzz that goes up to 11, then this is another nugget for collection of loud.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

White Lies : "Friends"

There are a few things going on. First is the are the more radio friendly version of new wave, then they also sounds like the Killers, but there is a slight hint of Inxs thrown. "Morning in LA" is even more radio friendly than the first song. When you are making this kind of music the hooks to your choruses have to be air tight and I think the verses to "Hold Back Your Love" work better than the choruses, so that is problematic."Don't Want to Feel it All" is slower, but not yet a ballad, would work in a John Hughes movies and the groove is pretty solid. "Is My Love Enough" has the beats redeeming some of the more stagnant moments.It comes across more like Roxy Music which I am fine with.

Midway into the album it's still hit or miss with "Summer Didn't Change a Thing" playing it too safe, to the point of almost boring me. There is a colder pulse to "Swing" .  "Come On" is another case where the chorus is underwhelming. You are waiting for the song to kick in longer than you you should. Even when the guitar joins in it feels like to little to late, though going into the second verse there are some really cool guitar tones. They eventually swell up into a more Killers like refrain, playing both sides of the retro motif. "Right Place" flows a little better. The synth bass line in this one is call and makes the most of the baritone croon over it.

This is purposefully not the most original album, but it does have a certain charm to it. I'll give it an 8. If you were a fan of the 80's resurgence that happened in the early 2000s with bands following in the foot steps of Interpol, then you will dig what is going on here.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Black Table : "Obelisk"

I am not sure I would clearly define this band from New York as being black metal. Blast beats do show up upon occasion, but are not the sole force propelling these songs, even when they are at their most raging. We have a dark hybrid of many styles meeting and none of them trying to be as cool as the other metal bands from New York work so hard at. Thanks to Billy Anderson this album sounds good. The production really complements the depth of their dynamics. They start off dark and dynamic then things get murkier going into "Helm" and I am a little less invested and unsure where one song is beginning and the other is ending. There are some decent melodic riffs that help provide a path for me to figure this out, but in some sense it seems like they are just jamming at this point. It almost feels more like sludge at this point that black metal. The guitar work going into "Shadow" reminds me of one to the calm before the storm lead in's that Metallic made famous and was later used by tons of thrash bands in the 90s.

At this point it time to address the tortured pig squeal to the vocals. Typically these are layered against a lower growl. I'll give this props as it is a different approach to vocals rather than the growls you have heard on hundreds of death metal albums. It might not be every one's taste, but I appreciate the inhuman quality it adds. The dark pulse of melody that makes this album unique continues to flow through "Gargantua". I would not say this is really a post -rock moment the band has but a crossroads where atmosphere and emotion meets the song in a very convincing manner.  They drop down into a more doom like simmer going into "Cromagnon". The vocals are whispered here and the song drips out of the corners of shadow to slowly congeal. Moving at a more deliberate pound like this the band finds new power in this more emotive assault. It also make when they do speed up into a blasty section more effective.

They build the tension while hammering you with a mean fucking riff on "Homo Ergaster". They back down and ride the bass riff. They get things a sonically heavy as it is heavy metal with a juciey coat of  darkness draping it , so all the basis are covered here. They also cover way more ground in one song than half of the bands who drag things out for fifteen droning minutes. I'll round this up to a 10 it's one of the more impressive metal releases I have heard recently.

Our Place of Worship is Silence : "the Embodiment of Hate"

This California death metal band has begun to benefit from enough hype to make me curious. The album's  opener is different enough to catch your attention with samples and feed back laced atmosphere. When we get to the meat of the matter and are waist deep in the carnage of "Resplendent Misery" I am listening for what these guys do that is outside of the typical death metal norm. The vocals are low growls. The drumming is on point as a death metal has to be, and the thickly low tuned guitars are pretty nasty. There is a cavernous chug of the murky darkness of "Feast of Martyrdom". I can appreciate their Incantation influence as I would rather hear that than a band that sounded like Cannibal Corpse or some tech death bull shit. In the final minutes of this song I feel they tend to settle on banging it out rather than asking the song where it wanted to go.

These songs are not weighed down with elements that leave them wandering past the five minute. Some times they are a little too straight forward like "Murdered While Praying" which sounds like they took a riff from the previous song and used that as the jumping off point for this one. Even here there are some cool accents, but they have not only cemented their own sound but are getting a little mired down in it. They get lost in acceleration on "To Deceive the Universe". Sure this one has a couple of cool riffs, but the rule here is cool riffs alone don't make a good song. "Our Place of Worship" is a barrage of blast beats and sonic lashings with no other intention aside from being jarring.

 Not only here but at other points in the album the vocals are layered so they do no solely rely on the low growl but have some agonized yells of torment mixed in. With the closing buzz of "Church of Atrocity" nothing was really added, except it was perhaps slightly blackened, but the novelty of getting black metal mixed in with death metal these days is pretty common place. I'll give this album a 7 it starts strong, but runs out of new ideas mid way into it. If you love death metal, then you needed fewer shades of dynamic color, so this might not bother you as much.

Black Foxxes "I'm Not Well"

This band is interesting as it's hard to imagine that they did not come from the late the 90s. While middle of the road when it comes to how hard the they do or do not rock,  I can appreciate the role the vocals play in their sound. As the opener builds there is more of  an early Pearl Jam like angst to the grit added in the vocals. They lock into a more traditional rock role on "Husk". When they ease their foot off the gas it offers a more dynamic glimpse at the band , but flirts with a more emo side than I am not sure I was ready to see yet on "Whatever Let's You Cope" .  There is an androgynous quality to their sound that doesn't glam it out like Placebo, but is there.

They skillfully slide the vocal melodies around slinky grooves on "How We Rust".  "River" brings them floating into the more emo place, with a better guitar tone. They are almost like a more glam tinged version Brand New on this one. I like when they fake you out on the explosive build up. There are some cool guitar passages accompanied by equally compelling vocals. They start to shift over into a more Ours like sound with the alt-power ballad "Bronte".  They are back to the more grunge like sound on "Waking Up". The angry fey vocals provide a nice dynamic and work better than if their singer was an Eddie Vedder clone. The Brand New / Neil Young like chord structure of "Home" keeps it from being a ballad. I would not say these guys are dark, they prove on the build up to this song they can get heavy, they are very moody and introspective lyrically.

"Slow Jams Forever" is not a slow jam.  It reminds me a little of Chevelle or Injected. "Pines" is more subdued. This could be an acoustic out take from My Chemical Romance.Overall if you are playing rock music that come this close to being main stream , but manage to draw me in them you are doing something right. There is plenty that sounds familiar enough here, but with a sound that is their own. So this is how you do it kids. It boils down to the songs and passion behind them. I'll round this up to a 10.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Weary Heads : " Slowest Century"

Atlanta is always a few years behind New York and L.A. to the point that I though they were going to miss the boat altogether on the post-punk revival thing that started up six years ago. Here is an Atlanta act that is making an attempt and picking up this torch. At first listen these guys hit me as being what A Place to Bury Strangers might sound like if they were a lo-fi electronic act ? These guys have. They are dark and murky. Feed back is their friend. The guitar often over powers the little drum machine these guys have.  At times they muster up something that is raw enough to remind you of Swans, when they were in dingy New York cellars. They go for a more shoze glazed take on garage with "Guide". It has more of a Sonic Youth feel at times. Then they get heavier on "White is the Color of Death" . The vocals retain their apathy going into the song then boil up into what all the singers in the mid 90's were doing that wanted to sound like Trent Reznor. They are capable for building the vocal in a more Helmet like roar. Speaking of Helmet, to "Crept You".  I suppose it should come across more like Godflesh , but that is not what happens, the chug over powers the song and it gets messier the noisier it gets and much like the 90's trying to hard to be industrial only turns into bad metal.

"Gent XTC" carries it's sluggish heft with a narcotic daze. With a little better production this song might have been more interesting. It serves as an intriguing glimpse into what these guys could possibly become. I think a real drummer is in order. There a nice sonic sprawls that just happen to not be as complimented by the vocals as what these guys heard in play back. " Sick Joe" is one of those "happy accidents" when you get high enough leaving the rec button on. It's a collage of noise, that wasn't that great when the Beatles did it with "Revolution 9" as works even less here. "Hit It" has some interesting sounds in collision, but is only a minute and a half so they are not given time to really turn into anything. Some even cooler sounds transpire on "Tension Rising". The bass tone is pretty killer on this one.  This sounds like an avenue this band would be smart to further explore. It ends up droning on this in a manner than almost wears out it's welcome.

"Lake Hall" turns out to be another interlude that just indulges in atmosphere without becoming an actual song. "O, Casilda" sounds like old Inxs covering "Greed". This is the first song I would really call post-punk. While some of their influences come from the more noise ridden fringes of that scene, there is little about these guys that has anything in common with what eventually evolved into what we would call goth even in the more industrious moments. The album starts strong and is dark through out the journey they take you on, they just happen to get a little lost along the way. I'll give this album a 7.5 and look forward to this project's more polished future attempts.

Oozing Wound : "Whatever Forever"

I am making it a point of listening to the first song of everything in my in-box. If I'm not feeling it then delete and move on. If something grabs me then I'll review it. This hipster thrash band on Thrill Jockey sounds like they have blown all their speakers as they come at you full speed. The riff to "Diver" is slightly catchier than the opener. The vocals are yelled at you with a nasty sneer. Four minutes into the second song there is a shimmery almost post rock level of sonics brought in and it's clear that they have more in common with Lightning Bolt than Testament. "Deep Space" has more of a punk feel to it. The snare hits are too stiff for me. It does stir itself into a denser storm, but there is something not metal about this.

There is a tinge of a heavier sludgey sound to "Mercury in Retrograde". It circles around the mammoth riff, but never instead of developing more into a song things just soar off into a more chaotic sonic sphere and eventually come back down to earth. The fuzzy lo-fi ambiance that gives this album some of it's charm can hamper certain tones, namely the drums which could be powerful but sound like pop corn popping going into "Weather Tamer" . Though I like the angular attack of this song. The drone off the sonic wells for longer than you would think a supposed trash band should. The plus side is it does darken up the album a bit. Things stay dark for "Everything Sucks and My Life is a Lie".  This is the first place I can hear a grungey side to the band though the song fall victim to a barrage of drums for no reason. There is a more genuine metallic attack to "Tachycardia".

The album closes with the furious "Sky Creep".  It's feral enough and convincingly heaving, but more along the lines of Eyehategod. I'll round this up to a 7.5 , as these kids have potential. I think working more on songs rather than trying to challenge you with cool abrasion is a better investment. If you go into this as an interesting experience rather than wanting to hear  a new thrash band you will have more reasonable expectations.

Report to the Dance Floor : Assemblage 23 - "Endure"

Here's the 8th album from ebm/ future pop project that formed in the late 90's . The vocals are a laid back baritone croon. This occupies a similar space as a "band" like Covenant, who this inspired me to look into their current whereabouts. This is pretty straight forward and the first real song "Afterglow" doesn't really blow me away. The vocals are marginally more interesting to "Bravery", but the synth lines are way too happy and make the song sound like it sound be the soundtrack to an anime movie.The lyrics are about addiction and the music feels too happy for the subject matter.

The synths get a little more aggressive and closer to what I'll accept as industrial on "Salt the Earth". There is a thicker coating of plastic on the grooves of "Static". "Call the Dawn" becomes back ground music with it's bouncier groove. The lyrics to "Butterfly Effect" come across as melodramatic non-sense. The groove to the song is stronger, but the vocals are a bit of a distraction. There is more depth to "Barren". It's not as dark as dark wave, but darker than the rather upbeat tone the album has taken up until this point. The album falls back into middle of the road dance music on "Grind". "December" is not much better.

Then comes a bunch of remixes that shall not count in regards to this review, even though some of these versions are better than the original mixes. This makes you beg the question, why didn't you just do that in the first place. 'Ignorance" is a decent song, it comes with all the strengths and weaknesses that have been displayed through the album and no new ground is broken. "Goliath" is more driving and dramatic in the synth line, vocally it still hovers in the same almost monotone place this album has been rooted. I'll give this one a 5.5, I got bored midway throught and began wishing I have invested this time in the Covenant album instead.



Departures " Death Touches Us From the Moment We Begin to Love"

Being that this is an emotional screamo band there are the shared dynamics with in the genre also occupied by Touche Amore, whose album "Stage Four " I also reviewed today. These guys have a less upbeat sound. The guitars ache and do not jangle along. There is an angrier grit to the screamed vocals. The guitars sound stunning. There is a great deal of depth. "Waiting" and "Broken" bleed together almost as one song. A similar thing happens with the post -rockish interlude that is "Set Adrift". "Death of Youth" has the melodic guitar carrying the weight of the song as the screamed vocal begins to sound like all the other screamed songs on this album. The band does elevate the vocals by locking in around them.

"Lost" really doesn't do much to distinguish it self from the other songs on this album. The lyrics stand out at little more on this song and give it a little more weight. "1994" finds the guitars digging deeper to provide a more expansive range of sound. They return to the more post-rock influences we have heard at other points in this album. "Memorial" really doesn't do anything that we have not heard already, at this point on this album. The song does swell up really powerfully to almost make you believe in the emotions they seem to be pouring into this.

This album works when the guitar is at it's most moving. The vocals are not as strong as those that were on the Touche Amore album, because as a whole we get the same vocal color all the way through on this album which keeps me from rounding it up past an 8.5, since vocals are one of the most important aspects of music to me. If you are a fan of these guys and prefer more scream than emo in the equation then this album might connect with you more than it did me, though I found it to be a very entertaining listen.



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Touche Amore : "Stage Four"

There is less of a late 90's emo feel to this and more of a rock n roll jammy feeling . Not that you can not tell this descended from Taking Back Sunday. "New Halloween" is not where near as dark as a song about Halloween should be. The first song that really gets my attention is "Rapture". The chanted vocals actually lead the way to sung vocals. "Displacement" seems to have some questions regarding religion that I like. The singer admits he is not sure what he believes and I can respect someone who gives me a firm "I Don't Know" in that regard. Sung vocals return on "Benediction" these are rather dead pan. I almost prefer the less sung screaming to these. "Eight Seconds" is actually a minute and a half which for punk rock is about right. The production on this album is very warm and organic. The clean guitar tones are all really good. The drums can sound a little weird in places.

This album has a lot of songs about some woman dying. This must be the singer's mother or grand mother. "Palm Dreams" seems a little less auto-biographical. The sung vocals compliment it well. The the up beat "Softer Spoken" chimes in with some interesting guitar tones. There is a more straight forward rambling punk tone to "Posing Holy".  This album is like a more explosive and screamed version of the Replacements. The guitar jangles more on this song than the ones before, but there is that quality to many of them. The drums to "Water Damage" have a very Fugazi feel to them. The sung vocals at the beginning of the song might not have been the most exciting, but the screamed vocals begin to sound like every other narrative on the album.

The Lou Reed like lower vocals return for "Skyscraper" which is the album's strongest song sonically. They get to do their screamo thing, but add a wide range of colors to their sound. This is a side of the band I want to hear more from, it almost sounds like another band altogether. There is a lush texture to guitars on "Gather". The guitars do the bulk of the heavy lifting on most of these songs since the vocals are often monotone even in the screamed sections. I'll give this album an 8 it shows the band has really matured by adding a broader scope of sounds to their arsenal.

Dillinger Escape Plan : "Dissociation"

The first song on their 6th and final album sounds like a more mathy and spastic version of Tomahawk. They last album I took an interest in with these guys was back in 2004 with "Miss Machine". Really after you have listened to Frank Zappa, Botch and Mr. Bungle these guys don't seem as wacky. I prefer when they take a darker turn on songs like "Symptom of Terminal Illness" . This song shows me these guys are capable of writing decent and not being a total Mike Patton rip off a hundred percent of the time. They revert to more spasms than song on "Not wanting so Much as I used to". They don't just rip off Mr. Bungle here they also rip off the Jesus Lizard.

At this point I began thinking perhaps rather than using words I should make this review a montage of Faith No More, Botch and Jesus Lizard videos. They indulge their more electronic side on "Fugue".  The break beats on this sound like the are from 1998. But this is more of an interlude than an actual song. "Low Feels Blvd" find them lashing out in a more hard core like manner. It's still pretty angular. It's broken up by a jazzy break down, that Frank Zappa's band would have slept through. There is some pretty decent guitar playing on it, that guys who still read Guitar World will get wood over. They barrel into "Surrogate" with the same old mathy metal I heard them do 12 years ago. What they do works better on "Honeysuckle" as there was more of a cohesive flow.

There is a little more substance to "Manufacturing Discontent". While I noticed it a little earlier on in the album you can hear in the vocal melodies how they have been taking notes from Mastodon. "Apologies Not Included" is un-hinged , but still makes sense. This is not to say that it is immensely interesting, but if you are fan of these guys it's more than likely what you want more of. I just tune out "Nothing to Forget" as it kinda bores me, the Dead Kennedys like vocal is the best part.The title track sounds like the Deftones making a song for a gay horror movie. Needles to say this album didn't wow me. I'll give it a 6.5, it sounds good production wise and has a few good songs, but for a last album it serves as a weak swan song for the band.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Testament : "Brotherhood of the Snake"

I used to be a big fan of these guys back when "New Order" came out. I was dropped off after "Souls of Black" The riff might have more punch, but the vocals have pretty much picked up where "Souls of Black" left off and are not trying as hard as they did on "Low" or "Demonic". Aside from Gene Hoglan, who no one is going to complain about, this is pretty much the original line up. They keep the momentum up until "Stronghold", which is just not as well written as the first two songs. It seems to rely on speed and guitar solos, with nothing to really grab me. If you think about the songs from "the Legacy" or "New Order" which were just as fast, they hooked you in with the melody and the melody here is filler compared to the awesome sauce they had cooking on the first two songs. The keep things at a fast thrashing speed, but have more groove for the vocals to lock in over on "Seven Seals". They christian slant to the lyrics turn me off a little on this one, but lyrics aside it finds them back in fine form.

"Born in a Rut" could easily be a Five Finger Death Punch song with it's tough guy "walk on home boy" like spoken sections. It's not a bad song for what it is. Modern day metal kids looking to get into thrash will find this to be a more accessible entry point. It only takes the first few seconds of a Testament song for me to figure out if I am going to like it or not and "Centuries of Suffering" got the job done in the opening riff.  They is a perfect example of how they can make the more rapid fire riffing work best for them as this is classic Testament. This rule works once they locked into the verse riff for "Neptune's Spear". It's hard not to head bang to this one. The song writing loses focuses once more on "Black Jack" which is about Las Vegas, so much for Apocalyptic City.  The chorus to this song is actually terrible. I being to lose my ability to pre-dict what is going to be a bad song, in the album's third act. While "Canna Business" is not a bad song. It feels like filler to me.

They end the album with the hammering charge of "Number Game". It's not as catchy as some of the album's stronger songs. There are some moments, but you know the rule here is "cool riffs alone do not make a good song". So it looks like they still have some good songs in them, but are far from taking the throne that Anthrax got for themselves. I'll round this one up to an 8. This album is not bad, but as a whole it can't touch the first five.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

NOFX : "First Ditch Effort"

So here is the sound track to these guys getting sober and growing up. Back in the day I appreciated these guys but never listened to them a helluva of a lot unless with my friends who did as they were a little too happy. Some times their description of going to meetings is a little over dramatic like reading Augusten Burroughs' "Dry". They are also concerned about Ronald Reagan killing Sid Vicious and big medicine. By the time we get to "Oxy-Moronic" it is getting too happy for me again. The guitar tone on this album is good and they add things like horns at varied places in the first few songs. The vocals are typical for what they do. The first blast of aggression that works with melody and re-captures what they did so well in the 90's is "I Don't Like Me Anymore" , but you can hear how they are influenced by Bad Religion here. But Bad Religion doesn't really rock like this now so I guess it's o.k.

There is a confession of being a transvestite on "I'm Transvest Lite". They get back to rocking out on "Ditch Effort" .  They go for more Beatle like harmonies on " Dead Beat Mom". The rest of the song is more rock n roll than punk to my ears, though I can hear some of the more radio friendly Bad Religion in the harmonies. "Bye Bye Bi-opsy Girl" is catchy and melodic, but might as well be Blink 182.  At this point the album begins to become a blur with "I'm So Sorry Tony" as the really only stand out moment. The song that closes the album seems more like an outro jam and runs into the rest of the half hearted pop punk blur.

This is not a bad album. It's not "Punk in Drublic". It's care-free pop punk that is loaded down with the aches and pains of punk rockers waking up to see that they are adults now. This will appeal to most of their original audience who in fact are adults now and might be able to relate to the lyrics and this has more piss and vinegar than radio rock, but doesn't feel dangerous like real punk.I'll give this one a 6.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Suicidal Tendencies : "World Gone Mad"

"Clap Like Ozzy" is just silly. They get back on track with the second which is more metal. 'Living for Life" is another song that comes across as filler when you compare it to what this band is capable of . It is a little more dynamic, but it sounds like a Infectious Grooves b-side. It's odd to think that Dave Lombardo is playing drums on this record as he really must be dialing this in. Long time guitarist Dean Pleasants who has surpassed original guitarist Rocky George with his time with the band, also plays on this album. Let's get real this guy is a hired gun he has played with Jessica Simpson for fuck sake, and while he has chops he doesn't have the fire in his playing that suits this band like Rocky's did.

There is more blues to the groove of the title track. This also makes this song sound more like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Production wise this might not be a mistake as the guitar seems to have a more organic "Blood Sugar Sex Magick" like tone. There is something awkward about "Happy Never After" that makes it sound like post-Black Album Metallica. I'm not buying that the guitarist really feels metal, I think his fingers just go through the motions as he is clearly more comfortable playing solos. "One Finger Salute' hits more of the right marks, but it often sounds like Muir's singing voice is cashed out with age. The moodier "Damage Control' works better than when they are trying to remember how they joined the army. "The Struggle is Real" lives up to it's name as it feels like it was as rushed in the writing process as they rushed through it in the studio.

I like the moodier moments of this album better than when they are trying to hard to rock out "Still Dying to Live". Muir's singing voice does still leave something to be desired, though he worked off of attitude more then his pipes even on "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow " . The last song is somewhat of a power ballad and less than memorable as I think I forgot a few minutes after I heard it once. I''l give this album a 6, "Clap Like Ozzy" is really a shit show and this album has a few moments, shame Dave Lombardo just dials it in he could added the balls this album needs.

The Sword : "Low Country"

So here is an acoustic take on the Sword's last album "High Country" . It finds it self  falling some where between Heart and country music, the vocals are more dead pan "Empty Temples".The vocals pick it up a little, but doesn't do a whole lot for for me. There is more of a 60s rock vibe to "High Country". When the female vocals come in then things get more country.  "Mist and Shadow" starts off more country, but does a better job of building into something more rock. They can't shake the country on "Seriously Mysterious"  in places it reminds me of Neil Young. Lots of layered vocals on the chorus. I can mid way into this that is album is not something I would really care to see live.

The production of "Early Snow" makes it come across more like a newer country song ,with the bass and drums drive the song in a poppier manner. "the Dream Thieves" takes the 60s sound and runs with it in a much better direction. The vocals are half of what makes this more of a winning battle. They break out the drum machines and synths for "Buzzards". This sounds like a lost classic from the 80s or a Residents song. I think this is a direction this band needs to really explore further. There is not much really to this version of "Ghost Eye". "Bees of the Spring" finds them back in the super stoned 60's folk rock place that bands like the Zombies used to occupy.

I'll give this album a 6.5 as it generally doesn't work as well as it's more amplified counter part. Then again I don't do drugs anymore so I might have forgotten what it is like to be so high I wished the album I was listening to would have a mellower version so it doesn't ruin my buzz. However if those are thoughts you find yourself having then this album might appeal more you to.

Super Unison : "Auto"

I can normally count on Death Wish to bring me the goods, so I am giving this punk trio a shot. The opening song finds the Oakland band staying with the bounds of frenetic energy and anger that you would expect of punk, with very little surprises. "Keeper" comes at you in more of a Ramones like pace with a little more melody coming from the guitars and the vocals in a lower despondent tone before they go up into her shriek. They are back with more adolescent snot to "Losing You" which is a little less engaging. "You Don't Tell Me " has a darker more sonic riff that is more dynamic and gets them out of the tangent of the first three songs. "Luxury" isn't redefining the wheel punk spins on. The guitar has more hook to it than the first three songs.

"Time and Distance" barrels straight forward like punk should. The guitars have more texture in the production than your average punk clamor so that is worth something. Two minutes there are some dissonant accents, but not much more. "Muted" blasts off with old school one, two, three go! like energy.  Of course since this is punk we are talking about short and sweet songs around the three minute mark. "Broken" has some unhinged melodic embellishments and fueled by lots of kinetic energy. The two minute what are you going to do is more of an explosion fueled with an angular punch. At this time the high pitched punk vocals had become monotonous. "Don't Look Up" is more melody and almost feels like something the Foo-fighters would do, mixed in with a little Sonic Youth. "Everything"  has more melodic value than the bulk of the album crammed into it.

The title track is more sonically searing, but from a song writing perspective doesn't bring much more to the table. I'll give this album a 7.5, it sounds great as far as the guitar tones and it's sonic swathe, but the songs all sound too similar the majority of the time, but so does most punk.