Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ash Borer : "the Irrepassable Gate"




this album starts off with the line between black metal and atmospheric death metal are almost like counting straws on the title track that opens this album. For these guys this is much more committed to being metal than their previous releases. The breathing room they are know for giving their songs doesn't come until seven minutes in to this 11 minute monster. This is short lived as they return to a more familiar blasting. This blasting is give an even more feral focus after the space infused middle section of "Lacerated Spirit". Then comes the first lighter interlude titled "Lustration".

"the Gray Marrow" is the first song that really grabbed me. The riffs are very catchy and all play in step with the double bass in a very mature manner. The vocals might be more of an after thought on this one as it sound like they are being howled with no lyrics in mind. The longest song on the album follows as "Rotten Firmament" is over twelve minutes. At this point it is clear the production value of this album is greatly improved from their previous work as the drum sounds are crisper and really help at to the mood that they have always had, but it is given more clarity. If you are the cvltest fucker south of Norway I suppose you might consider the more polished metal guitar sound to be a little bit of a sellout but it is delivered with such venom it's hard to argue against. The howling vocals seem to get even angrier on this one. Like I often say these guys prove they are more powerful when slowing the blast down to a more deliberate pounding.

Unlike the first part of the "Lustration" titled songs, the second part is slow and heavy though never fully forms into being an actual song and just drones you out like a dark cloud.  I'll give this album an 8.5. Some of the songs are a little longer than I prefer, but this album is clearly more carefully constructed and created by matured musicians who just being fast and heavy is no longer good enough.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

the Weeknd : "Star Boy"




I have been waiting for this one ever since I heard the title track which I have been wearing out, though I have avoided other spoilers so "Party Monster " was a happy surprise. I had seen the video for "False Alarm" and was still as unsure about that song as I was the first time I heard it. In some ways it reminds me of Bloc Party. This is not the only hint of new wave as "Secrets" would not be out of place on a Pet Shop Boys album.   The tone of this album is much different and embracing more of a dance vibe with strong ties to house music. With the amount of drugs is supposedly does this is no surprise. The Micheal Jackson influence can be still felt on songs like "Rockin" though musically it is much more like Euro dance.

This is dramatically less of an r&b album, so when the ballads do come with songs like "True Colors' it has more of a pop feel.Lyrically there is also a little more hope and much less self deprecation as he beings to see how functional of a drug addict he may or may not be. I'm really sure about the interlude Lana Del Ray gets on this album, but it's pretty unoffensive and finds her in more of Siouxsie like place. I am not much of a Kendrick Lamar fan so I was braced when it came to " Sidewalks". It is not the album's strongest song , but the competition is pretty fierce. "Six Feet Under" which reminds me more of his "House of Balloons" period falls out of the previous song and is more than solid. It sound like like Future is on this song as well as "All I Know " which he is credited with. This songs feels more like something that Future would be on more so than the more foreign depths of " All I Know"

The lighter tones of this album are once again demonstrated on " Love to Lay", which could be a Phil Collins song. It's a lot happier than I think I am ready for considering where I am in life, but well written and I commend the use of colors that are very different than what we heard from the last album. "A Lonely Night" grooves in a much more light hearted funk infused way than the title might suggest. When it comes to break up, he is not taking them as hard here. "Attention" does sound like more familiar territory, though it is not ground that is being re-tread. Lyrically this song rings true for me in regard to relationships past and present. Production wise things are pristine and one of factors that prevents this album being as dark as some of his other work. "Ordinary Life' winks that " No Ordinary Love" in the way it kicks in. A little of the shadows creep in on "Nothing Without You". It's ballad but with enough electronic elements to keep it from wallowing in the emotions.  This is another song whose lyrics hit me as being  pretty timely." Die For You" is another powerful break up song that creates a weird blend of pop, electronic and soul.

When Daft Punk re-joins him it is for a very late 80's Michel Jackson styled piece "I Feel It Coming" which I do not hear fitting on the radio as well as "Starboy".  Well crafted and true to what Daft Punk would bring to the table I think there are much stronger songs on this album. Overall lighter in tone , but still a well crafted and written album I'll round it up to a 10.

 

 

Catching up with 2016 - Lascar : " Absence"




This album came out at the first of the year and breezed by me. It is a one man project out of Chile is pretty impressive.  After two minutes of tentative post rock the more metal side casts it rain cloud over the shimmering parade of guitar.When the go into the blast beats every thing falls into a more Deafheaven like blue print. The first five and a half minutes of the second song is the coming storm raging in your ears until it simmers back down for a few passages and is built back up into a sonically heavier crescendo. There is a lighter melody in the raging center of the frantically paced "Regions of Light". When it shifts into a more deliberate double bass section it once again proves blast beats can only go so far. This song is well done , but doesn't find the needed dynamic shifts to make it one that I would seek out and return to again.When you are shifting through the volume of releases that I do in any given week at the end of the day it's the strength of what makes the song memorable and stand out from the herd that matters.

Only four songs it is still around thirty minutes which breaks the "Reign in Blood " 28 minute mark quota I have for albums". One of the things this album has going for it is the bass is audible. The vocals are a one trick pony very much like older Deafheaven and really only hang onto a scathing mid range scream. The band finds it's footing the most solid  when a few bpm's short of a full on blast beat. There is a more upbeat mood to "Last Sea" thanks to the guitar melody that floats over the bulk of the song. It hovers around this for the bulk of the song's eight and a half minutes , which can come across as droning, but for very post-rock friendly black metal at least mood wise it is pretty enjoyable.

This is nothing new, but a fun listen that is well played. It could have been a little darker for my personal tastes, but I sometimes forget bands are not solely trying to cater to my tastes an have their own vision. I appreciate what that vision is enough to give this album an 8.

PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT:"Magick Rites and Spells"





The Italian occult rock band is back with a blend of blues inflected proto-metal that carries enough bong water in it's denim to smell like Pink Floyd at it's most trippy moments. The freedom rock flag flies going into the guitar solos that hearken back to the guitar gods of the 70's. The vocal stick close to the previously established blue print that was set in stone by the first wave of these vest metal bands back almost a decade ago.Virginia Monti has a solid alto croon and the fact she is hot doesn't hurt matters either,though this is a fact that is negated when it come to albums taking up space on my iPod. They pull out a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" which is a pretty straight forward tribute to the song.

 They take a more aggressive and metallic approach to "Set Me Free", though their bass player steals the show on this one. My first impression is that these guys would be a lot of fun live. "Wicked Dream" plays more to their strengths as it expands the range of melodic elements that they collectively pull from as a unit. The "Dark Lord" follows to the proto-metal formula more closely though I like the fact that they strum the chords out and don't sound like they are just totally drooling over the Sabbath tone. "Angela" steps away from metal into a more rock n roll direction.Lyrically the song is more sinister than what a casual listen to the music might suggest.  This is one of the albums more compelling vocal melodies.

They continue to expand their melodic range on the more ballad like "Lying on Iron" .  "Black Magic Man" is more straight forward rock that doesn't have the nuance other songs here have. It carries more of  a grungy recklessness. "Slave of Grief" is marginally darker an heavier. They guitar continues to have more of a jangle to it that you might expect from this sort of thing. While the album loses a little steam in the last two songs these guys are representing the genre well in a unapologetic fashion. I'll give this one an 8.




Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks For Nothing : the Top 10 Break Up Songs


Before you are surrounded by depressing X-mas music every time you go out into public for the month to come we are going to wallow in this list of the top 10 break up songs. Many of these touch upon feelings that are as varied as those in the five stages of grief... denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.This roller coaster touches on varied genres ranging from pop to metal.

10-Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Clean Up Mean" 

The newest song on the list off of the band's latest album "Prey". It's taking the number 10 spot since it has stood the test of time like some of the other songs.

 

 9-Marvin Gaye- "Is That Enough"

From the cocaine fueled concept album "Here My Dear", Gaye used powder and pain to propel this opus. He stepped away from the Motown hit formula to pour his soul in these somewhat progressive songs in this concept album that tells the story of his divorce.


 

8-the Twilight Sad - " I Could Give You All That You Don't Want"

These guys opened for the Cure, who are not on this list, because most of their music is happy or sensuous to me. These guys however have the melancholy and longing down. This one moves towards acceptance.

 

7- Alice In Chains - "Sea of Sorrow"
There is more acceptance with a tinge of anger, much like real life the stages of grief bleed into one another.

 

6-Morrissey "I Am Hated For Loving"

 For this I think  for the sake of  this list his solo career beats out the Smiths when it comes this brand of heart ache.

 

5- Taylor Swift - "I Almost Do"

I have alluded to my love for Tay Tay, bu think it is the first time her music has graced this blog. The lyrics and melodies are pretty moving and relate-able. For pop music these days it's the best it gets.



4- Chevelle- " I Get It "

While the lyrical metaphor is thick here, the sentiment fits, with sarcastic anger to serve as a proper middle finger to vent the anger stage of grief.

 

3- Type O Negative- "In Praise of Bacchus" 

These guys have a few, but Peter Steele's lonely drinking song takes the despair out on the streets of Brooklyn in ponderous reflection. It examines the complexities of  heart break in the lonely city.


 2-Chelsea Wolfe- "Mistake in Parting"

 The title track from her first album that has a more grunge tinged conventional rock sound. No ghostly vocals here, lyrically the honesty in this one might be here best work despite not being hidden in the shadows of metaphor she is now known for.

 

1-Megadeth- "In My Darkest Hour"

 This is a classic that has stuck with me even when I began hating Dave Mustaine for becoming a christian and sucking at pretty much life, with making shitty music his worst offense. Here it's dramatic, even putting suicide on the table, but isn't that where metal should go?  His darkest moments here seem believable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Alter : "Embers"





This band from Baltimore shows why you never want to rush out and be in a hurry to get your end of the year lists out, there is still plenty of gold yet to be discovered . Where does the shoe gaze begin and the punk rock end is one question that could stand to be asked of this album. But I am not sure you really want to ask too many questions here as they seem to have a good thing going. The vocals to "Deja Vu" are rather pained and fragile to what other wise moves like a brisk cloud passing you over head as you stared in a stoned haze out of the passenger side window. The thunder comes down harder on the more powerhouse "Static Sea". The vocals emote more on this song and go up into a higher register.

It could be argued that while these guys are no metal, they certainly have a more aggressive take on Deafheaven when it comes to shoe gaze. If this has you scratching your head, think of it this way these guys are harder than Nothing. Deafheaven's take on shoe gaze is pretty run of the mill My Bloody Valentine mixed with a little Smiths inflected post-rock, they just happen to book end it with black metal. The aptly named "Hypnotized" has a more post-punk like bass line to it . The bass continues to propel things going forward into the next song "Walls" but here it reminds me more of the Twilight Sad, due to the fact it carries a very deliberate and dark groove to it's moody musing.

The title track has a more more metallic intention to the tension it sets up, which could also be said to be aggressive as it gets in your face rather than moping about. The vocals stay in the background and continue to be their moodier side.This is song is pretty massive in it's dynamic scope finding the band really covering a lot of ground and leaving you impressed . I'm so impressed I'll round it up to a 10. It does recall some almost emo moments if you think back to bands like Elliot. Fans of moody music be it emo or shoe gaze will find something to like here.


 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Black Hole Generator : "A Requiem For Terra"





From the brain child behind Vulture Industries comes this apocalyptic metal album that hits you with the same black thunder a band like Dimmu once steam rolled you with. The difference here is some of the more dramatic orchestral trappings are cast aside for something more straight forward and powerful. Now if you read that as me saying this is better than Dimmu, then I am setting the record straight. It is in a similar vein but the riffs are not as catchy. The throb with a different heart beat behind them than their fellow country men.

By the second song things get a little more dramatic vocally. I can hear shades of Arcturus in this, though there is less of that carnival feel and a darker mood. The vocals sound more like something in the gothic flavor of Michael Crawford's Phantom of the Opera. Things do get more intense. This is more mainstream metal than it is black metal. There are more growled vocals on "Moloch". This feels like more run of the mill death metal, with a somewhat spookier underbelly. Not as well composed as the first two songs. They do wind up in a nastier blasting section, but I would not refer to it as black metal. The vocals to the verses of "Beneath a Chemical Sky' are at first sung in more of a crazed caterwaul . This is more of a mid-paced song. It reminds me a little of the Ian Gillan Black Sabbath years.

They gather a mean storm that should be taken more seriously on "Emerging Pantheon". The vocals here are more like something Attila might do. The guitars go into a more spastic shredding mode , so if that is something you are into , know these guys can go there. Though the guitarists from Enslaved and Taake help with this endeavor. Black metal circles are not known for their shredding so it's cool to know more of them can they you might think, though Fredheim from Enslaved is one of the best guitarists out there now, so that might not be as big of a surprise. There is a more deliberate tone to the stomp of "Earth Eater".

Things slow down for the more Urfaust like doom of "Spiritual Blight" that closes the album. The vocals are almost operatic, but at times seem wavering in regards to pitch. Overall this is pretty solid despite the fact industrial was thrown around a lot in regards to these guys and there was nothing industrial at all about these guys.  I'll give this an 8.5.





Laster : "Ons vrije fatum"





The thing I like about black metal from the Netherlands is that it refuses to follow the rules. This is the band's second album. It starts off pretty strong with the second song turning into more of a blast fest yet they make it feel more depressive, the vocals have more emotion to them rather than the first song where they sound like a choking crow that has been poisoned. Other layers are added as the album progresses. Clean vocal float to the surface in tasteful doses. But more often than not the vocals are in flayed crow mode. By the fourth song the vocals are more hatefully shouted and and make more sense, if you speak their native tongue. They are capable of creating many moods, all of them variations on bleak shades of gray.Sometimes these are explored all in the same song when they take you on the longer 11 plus minute journeys.By five minutes in they have already hit you with a half dozen slinky riffs with samples babbling beneath them.

In the final few minutes it does settle down into more of a typical blasting. After an interlude they go into another trademark blend of melody and melancholy with some clean vocal trade off. Sometimes they might remind you of a mix between Alcest and Agalloch. The more whispered rasps and the clean vocals which are not as fey as Alcest and more in a harmonized Enslaved like chant. The crows are pretty agonized on the last song, though clean vocal trade off feels like a formula that is being sustained from the previous song. Suppose if we thought back to pre-"Vertebrae Enslaved" and added a more despair drench bath of agony to their viking odes you might get a clearer picture as to the water these guys are sailing in.

Lets be honest if we are comparing these guys to Alcest, Agalloch and Enslaved that is pretty lofty company for these guys to be numbered among. Production wise it is slightly rougher around the edges than what those bands do. I'll round this one up to a 9, some of the songs are a little long so who know how much I will actually listen to it. We are looking into the future here since this album doesn't come out until next year, but 2017 could be a good year for black metal.


5.2

Worm Ouroboros : "What Graceless Dawn"







This album is so ethereal it opens with a song that is almost intangible. The vocals are alluring in their alto croon, but don't feel like they get much of chance to do much more than haunt you until the second song takes more gloomy form. Vocally her their singer reminds me of Jarboe. The drums are pretty minimal which is a shame considering Aesop from Agalloch is on the kit. It's their performance opening up for Agalloch a few years ago that clued me in to these guys. The do carrying this almost doom like mood into something with more movement to give this song the dynamic lift it needed.  By the time you get to "Suffering Tree' it's fair to assume they are not a metal band or really going for heavy anything, but the atmosphere they are trying to hypnotize you with. The song does lock into more of a dynamic punch at the five minute mark, but you have also being lulled into a dreamy state for the first five minutes, so if you are an Agalloch fan checking this out , know this is not metal. I could hear this album possibly appealing to mellower fans of doom.

After two minute of ambiance the vocal drift into "Ribbon of Shadow".  The song slowly pulses to a more doom tinged life of it's it's own.  The first hints of a more metallic intention begin to formulate during the second half of this song. There is an even fainter vocal amid the whale sounds that open "The Cruelest Thing". The song eventually comes together to jam out into a dismal post-rock kind of thing. Dekker's drumming here finds it's chance to shine. By the end of the song I was ready for them to get over the atmosphere and actually rock out. So this is what was coloring my mood as a listener going into the album's final song "Night". So when it started out with whispered mutterings  I knew it was going to be a challenge.

At some point you have to draw the line as to where the atmosphere ends and you are going to commit to making a song. When Jarboe did this in the context of Swans you knew there was going to be more of a pay off , by way of them pounding your ear drums. Here there is  no such promise.  When you are eight minutes in and still plodding over the same minimal pulse then the song writing needs to be called into question.I'll give this one a 7.5, I feel like they should go ahead and commit to doing the doom thing.


Angela Martyr : "the November Harvest"




Here is a rather interesting project.  Not what I expect out of Italy. The mix is very weird with the drum machine is more lo-fi than the vocal production with the guitars falling some where in the cloudy middle path. There is an almost 90's alternative sensibility to the vocal melody of these songs. This more hard rock edge is further accented by the guitar solo that kicks off the second song.  Things are dense and atmospheric, but I would not be quick to say these guys are in anyway shoe-gaze. The vocals almost  border on finding themselves in the zip-code of catchy post-grunge . They are more influenced Hum and Alice in Chains than Swans like their press release claims. "Deathwish' is less focused and the melodies drift over the hanging chords.

"Serpent" proves to be not only a heavier song , but a more effectively crafted one as it's atmosphere has more direction and adds to the song rather than allowing you to become lost in it's distraction. The first hint of anything that could be derived by Swans also carries a hint of industrial, though this is almost approached in a manner similar to HEALTH, though with less polished production. Then I recognize the sluggish drug glaze of Failure, which is one of the album more dominant influences after coming to this realization, but it is most evident on "Carsleeper". Even with the rather weakly programmed drums which are this project's weak spot he still uses the guitar to add more stomp into "On the Edge of Next Time".  Overall this song seems a little more detached, from an emotional perspective and it effects how I connect to it. The grunge feeling does return again this time with more of a Nirvana feel.

I am not sure how I feel about band's with songs named after themselves, generally I don't like. I do like the slightly higher shift in the pitch of the vocals on this song that closes out the album. It carries an almost doom like feel to it, and I think some comparisons can be made to Jesu or even Godflesh at times. At 13 minutes it's the album's longest song and begins to drone before the breakdown at the six minute mark.  This kills most of the song's dazed momentum. It does band back to life, but the damage is already done and the time wasted makes it a song I would listen to once, but never put on my iPod. The last two minutes is just a whirl of white noise that scared my cat.

I'll round this one up to an 8, if you are looking for an album that sounds like it's a cross between Jesu's heavier moments and Failure then this is a must. For my jaded ears it needs more love in the drum department and some of the fat trimmed here and there, but otherwise I think this project is heading in the right direction.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Domkraft : "The End of Electricity"




I have been scouring the inner webs in search of doom I might have missed and haven't really found a tone that I have missed thus far, but this Swedish band knows what is up. The ten minute opener jams on the thin line between doom and sludge. There is a little more stoner rock swagger to the coolly paced "Meltdown of the Orb". Here the band indulges in more of a desert rock sound before pumping more muscle into the riff.  This builds into more of a sonic drone that keeps adding more weight to the guitars that are pressing down on you. "Drones" is more of an instrumental interlude than a song on it's own two feet. The come back with a vengeance on "Red Lead". The vocals are generally a manic yowl. Electric Wizard might be a fair comparison when it comes to this department.

There is a more hypnotic current carried in the surmounting rumble of "All Come Hither". This album begins to take on the formula of hanging on the riff and droning every THC infested note they can milk out of it. There is a much rougher rumble on "Dustrider". This is even reflected in the almost more punk shout of the vocals. For the songs on this album, this one is pretty compact and while it just jams on the one riff, is pretty effective in what it sets out to do. Distorted bass sends an oppressive vibration rattling into the song "We Will Follow" , before it finds more of a groove. The vocals on this one are once again shouted more than they are sung.

Overall this is a pretty solid slab of beefy desert rock that follows a less groovy path than Kyuss , but also carries more weight in it's mammoth plod. The emphasis is more on being heavy, but these guys love their riffs and hang on to them for dear life when they have a good thing going. I'll give this an 8.5. These guys should have an appeal broad enough to appeal to both fans of Clutch and Electric Wizard.


True Love : " Heaven's Too Good For Us"






This hard core band from Detroit is pretty straight forward in their approach to hard-core. The vocals are barked like most band's of this ilk. The only edge they have aside from the straight one is the fact they know how to write songs. I could just be in an angry hard-core mood, but the second song is pretty fucking good. The third song "Out in the Streets" is a little more run of the mill with the obligatory gang vocal chiming in. "Kill For That" finds the uniformity beginning to set in.They speed things up into a tighter chug for the 39 second"Midnight People" which never gets a chance to turn into a song. "Young to Die " is moodier but still pretty quick to dismiss itself.

The best under a minute song from these guys is "Where it Ends". "Chained Melody" plays by the rules of conventional hard core and doesn't do anything you haven't heard before a hundred times since the mid-80s. You can hear the rock influence on "the One and Only" it gives the song more of a hook in the riffing. "Meant to Take" is heavier and eventually finds a groove, but I would not say it's the album's most thoughtfully written song. There is a metallic edge to many of these riffs and the attack of "Stay True" is no exception. It reminds me of some of the cross-hardcore I used to listen to in 80s. The vocals are little more varied.

Overall this is very solid for what it is, however it is a little too straight forward for me. There is a very urban feel to the album and I like the metallic drive combined with the thought they put into the riffs rather than just one, two, three, go... style of hardcore. I'll give this a 7.5, since I don't see my self returning to this album more than once or twice.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Siberian Hell Sounds : "Svengali"






This Australian band is spoken of by hip fans of extreme music . Up to this point I have been fairly mixed on them, because it takes more than just being heavy to impress me. These guys do have some chops are out to employ their black metal influences in a way other bands do not.  They blend grind-core in a manner that immerses you in their world  and brings depraved shadows to life. "Ripen" is dark and occupies a similar alley way in the night as Nails. What they do not have is as strong of sense of song writing as there is not a great deal of change when they go into the second song. It takes them about three minutes in to play around the sample that creeps into the song to provide more mood and atmosphere since just blast beats alone won't carry the song. Their drummer is totally insane. The vocals shriek, howl and growl with an unhinged quality that is more believable than if they had stuck with a coarse mid-range bark.

The two minutes of "Hypnoterror" are put to better use even though they do not carry the same mood as the previous two songs. "Blackmarketmind" races along a frenzied path between grind-core and thrash. This also carries hints of a hard-core past. The title track that ends the album has similar thrashing teeth. The vocals are mixed further into the background. They resort to trying to blast their way through this one without feeling the need to really give you anything to latch onto. While many blogs shall sing this band's praises. I do like the use of samples to build atmosphere, but feel aside from that Nails already everything this album tries to accomplish better so I will give this album a 7.5. If you are a fan of blackened grind-core with thrashing hardcore roots these guys are worth checking out.
 

Metallica : "Hardwired to Self Destruct"



Like many people into actual metal, I like the first four Metallica albums. I was quickly burned out on the "Black Album". The last album of theirs I checked out was "Load" which lived up to it's name. So this is the first time I have given them much of a chance since then, aside watching the documentary about them going into therapy. My impression of the first song on their new album is they are trying to find their way back to where they came from. This is as awkward as hanging out with friends from high school when you are an adult because there is less common ground since you are in a different place. The more stripped down production seems like a good place for them to start.
So a song like "Atlas, Rise !" sounds like a b-side from "Masters of Puppets" that Cliff Burton decided not to participate in. it lacks the aggression of "Leper Messiah" or the more interesting arrangement of "Disposable Heroes". The guitar solos are dialed in with little fire behind them and feel like Hammett thinks they are still trying to play rock n roll rather than metal. The guitar harmonies are very Iron Maiden inspired and the best thing about the song. In fact some of the more synchronized sections sounds like the are lifted from the bridges of "Hallowed Be Thy Name".

Hetfield has never been the greatest singer, but what he did worked off a combination of interesting lyrics that where barked in a very heart felt manner. It seems like he is only half in on this one. There is a more "Black Album" like groove on "Now That We're Dead" which shits in the punch bowl of those who the first few singles off this and claimed they were going back to "Ride the Lightning" . This more middle of the road approach works better for James' voice. The chorus is the first that really stands out. This song might not try to be as heavy, but is that really who they are or who we wish they were? This song sounds more honest than the first two. The transition going into the chorus of "Moth to the Fame" is a little awkward. They do better on the verses before they speed up into a more "Damage Inc" tempo. This song is ok, but I found myself getting a little bored mid way into it.The more deliberate mid-tempo groove of "Dream No More" finds the vocals coming closer to hold more of a melody. Once again it's a step away from the proto- thrash they want to return to, be feels like a more valid expression of where they are really at. The lyrics struggle to make this one Lovecraftian, where it was more organic on "the Thing that Should Not Be". Did doesn't feel dark at all which is the main problem. It's obvious by the riff to "Halo on Fire" that they are willing to re-tread old riffs in order to get to who they used be. This one tries to be a power ballad with touches of "Enter Sandman". Eventually it winds it's way into some decent chugging.

Going into the second cd, of this double album I got a little scared and began to wonder if they should stick to eight songs and not over step their bounds with a double album. When they start directly recycling riffs from previous albums again this fear doesn't feel unfounded. The attack to "Confusion" might have more conviction than some of the lust for nostalgia they are lubing you up with on this album. The chorus of this song is pretty much thrown away. The guitar solo on this song works much better in the context of the song than many of the solos on this album. Once again at the mid way point of this song I find myself getting bored and checking to see how much longer I have. As metal has evolved this doesn't seems as heavy yet "Masters of Puppets" still holds up over time so what ever x factor is in play in this theory doesn't work in their favor. "ManUNkind" never fully grabs my attention. The ripping off of "Leper Messiah" that opens up 'Here Comes Revenge" does though it ebbs down into a more radio friendly take on "Enter Sandman" finding them circling a few similar themes from earlier in their career. The chorus of this song is not the strongest, but the first verse made up for it. This is one of the songs that would seem like it's time for a bathroom break if you went to see these guys live. "Of Wolf and Man" gets a sequel on "Am I Savage" which at least is not another stab at "Am I Evil". This is mid-paced in the same way the bulk of songs from the "Black Album" are though I would not say this is as good as the first song and feels almost more like a Megadeth song. "Murder One" is a little darker. It falls somewhere between "And Justice" and the "Black Album". Lyrically it is pretty dialed in. They have steered away from the kind of ballads that sank the "Black Album" so that is a step in the right direction on their part. They try to end things on a fast and furious not that would invoke memories of "Blackened" or "Dyer's Eve". The get the velocity right, but it lacks the urgency. I'll give this one an 8.5 it's far from the album of the year, but is not as bad as I feared it would be, the only downside is the lack of originality on their part, though that has proved a double edged sword for them in the past so maybe playing it safe avoid another "Lulu".




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cvlt Nation Sessions : Bathory's s/t Debut




Once again my other blog family Cvlt Nation is releasing a tribute album to offer a different look at an old classic, this time around it's the self titled debut from Bathory .  As you might guess I am going to continue to review these with an impartial ear. To be honest, while I appreciate the historic nature of this album, the first album from Bathory is not  my favorite it's too close to punk and the production sucks. This is what makes it appeal to punks crossing over into metal. For my money Bathory did not get good until Quorthon who originally got his start in an oi! band started getting more metal and breaking out the epic Viking hymns on "Hammerheart" . In fact it had been so long since I listened to the first Bathory album that I went and pulled it up so I could do an a/b these songs against the originals. These bands have better production value than what was going on when this album originally recorded. Grave Coven gives "Hades" more of a death metal touch. You are still reminded to how similar Bathory and early Slayer are in my respects. There are still hints of early thrash in the original version of the "Reaper", Plagues clearly comes from more of a grinding hard core back ground gives "Reaper' a little rougher beating.

 One case where the original version is improved upon would be True Love's take on "Necromansy" which is slowed to achieve something that is darker and feels more sinister than the original. Expander and Worsen offer pretty straight forward versions of the more feral songs "Sacrifice" and "In Conspiracy with Satan" to remind us of black metal's thrash roots. After True Love the next best performance might be Morast's slaying of "Armageddon". It's very deliberate and powerful. Ultha goes full blasty mcnasty on "Raise the Dead", if this was an original it might not be half bad , but it takes some of charm out of the chorus at this pace. Things stay raw and nasty for Fever Nest's version of "War'.  While this is rawer than some of the other songs, the production value is overall pretty solid on all of these songs. Bathory fans will find this a worthwhile listen and a free downloaded version is available on Cvlt Nation's Bandcamp page. I'll give this an 8.5. Which might be a tad higher than what I would rate the original version.


 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cokegoat- "Drugs And Animals"




 Everything now is a hybrid of something. These guys perhaps do not successfully create a doom metal album, but more importantly create some heavy and angry music that has a atmosphere to it when needed. It roars with an apocalyptic rage fitting of the current mood on my Facebook feed spurned on by the generation of sore losers, so it's good music to get tear gassed to on a protest, though if you are that kind of a hippy then you are going to be scared of the big chords anyway. These guys are more sludge than not , the first song that strikes me more as doomy than sludge is "Winter of Fear". "The Burner" is pretty up tempo more like old Mastodon in it's pacing. The vocals are a coarse bellow, sometimes spit out at a more frantic pace.

"Winter of Fear" has a more striking mood due to the pacing of the first two songs. It does speed up as the song progresses in a more death metal pacing. The female vocals that have floated under the roar come more to the fore front for "Nurture". The guitar also uses a cleaner tone and provides the album with a wider range of dynamics. Suppose these guys are filling the void left by Kylesa earlier this year, though they harken back to the band's earlier work. There is a mid paced groove to the chug of "the Ruiner".  While this riff has a convincing throb the vocals seem like they are bellowing out into the ether with not clear purpose and the drummer wants to break into something else. The jammy part toward the end of this song is pretty cool though.

They don't have to stick to metal as they prove themselves capable on tapping into some sonic beauty going into "Where the Sun Dies" . These guys also do a pretty job about getting to the point and writing concise songs with out dragging you along on an over indulgent drone fest. They take you from that sonic place to a more hellish pounding. They close with the eight minute "Kreator Destroyer". After a minute of atmosphere they fake you out with some pounding for dying down into a clean tone.When things get heavy they wallow around in a outburst of emoting from a oddly angry place that doesn't feel extroverted. I'll round this guy up to a 9, it's a ton of fun and worth multiple listens.

Draugsol : " Volaða Land"


It is 2016 so we are officially done with obligatory blast beats when it comes to black metal. What I am now going to be looking for when I review black metal bands are who is breaking the mold already created years ago by bands like Darkthrone and Burzum. I own their albums if I want to listen to them I have them. This band from Finland is trying to find a safe place between striking out on their own and conforming to the expectations. To be an outsider genre black metal has been doing a lot of conforming. Things are dense and dizzying on the first song following the darker opening piece that is not quite a song with it's own two feet. When the band locks into a chug I think they prove they are more powerful than when they are flying past you at 180 bpm. The guitar solos add a melodic layer to the more abrasive ending.

Two and a half minutes into what is being called the third song they hit what I looking for. The vocals stayed raw and abrasive, while they begin to slow down and employ some catchy riffs. They can't restrain themselves for ever and go back into an even faster blast beat. We get a clean guitar tone that opens the next song and that gets them points after considering my new mission statement when it comes to black metal in this day and age. They stay a more mid paced course that is sonically more powerful than when they tried to throw everything at us at such a break neck speed. The vocals shift into more agonized cries that the more death metal roar that preceeded them.  The following song they start off with a strummed acoustic and tread a murky water of dense heaviness for the sake of being heavy versus writing sound songs.

The last song has a more melodic structure and is dark while adhering to a more conventional metal structure that is interspersed with the more predictable blast beat sections. A low goth like vocal comes in at the end of this song to provide more colors. I'll give this album an 8. It tries hard enough to pave it's own left hand path. This doesn't come out until next year.  So at least 2017 is already off to decent start in terms of black metal.

Ebsen & the Witch : " Older Terrors"


The four songs on this album are all over the ten minute mark. The first four minutes of the album works off of a hypnotic drone that is smoothed over by the vocal melody of Rachel Davies. Eight minutes in and they are ebbing back and forth, though the dynamic punch has a lower ceiling when it comes to the magnitude of the heaviness they hit you with compared to past works, though they have never been a metal band so that is not an expectation here. When they lurch back into the more explosive side of the song their is more sonic density the last go around. The second song is not as engaging until the rumbling bass line kicks in. The drumming is more jazz like and her vocals weave around the minimal arrangement with more serpentine sinew.

"The Wolf Sun" was more in line with what you typically expect from this trio and that doesn't mean they were dialing it in there was still a lot of passion in the performance and it hit all the sonic sweet spots that their brand of vocal oriented post rock should. The last song lingers in more languid atmosphere. Her vocals carry the weight for the bulk of the song. Her voice sounds stronger on this album. The build is more like something you might hear on the more recent Russian Circles albums as it builds in the same level that black metal has without resorting to blast beats.

This one is pretty solid but doesn't wow me like they did on " A New Nature" which had a tenser under current and might have been a shade darker. At times this album is more minimal and I think indulges in the drone a little too much , how ever the songs are still strong the bar was just raised a little higher, so I'll give this one an 8.5. Fans of the band will still find them doing what you love for them to do just with a different focal point and better production, though far from selling out.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Junior Bruce : "Endless Descent"


This band from Florida features former members of Bloodlet, who are my favorite band from the Victory Records Hardcore scene with Snapcase a close second. They frequently bring to mind what a heavier more pumped up version of Clutch might sound like.The bass on the opening track is as distorted as the guitar. The husky vocals are barked like a warden of a boot camp in Texas. Tempo aside there is  is way too much groove for these guys to be doom. The song ebbs down into a trippier section that reminds me a little more of "Children of the Grave", though there is a less apocalyptic undertones to the mood. You can hear a little of their more hard core roots in the attack that "Lion's Teeth" carries. Until it slows down at the two minute mark it almost feels too straight forward for me. The vocals become more sung and less shouted during this section.

Their is more of an "At the End of my Daze" like shuffle to the verses of "Thirteen Zeroes". It has a muscular rumble to it and relies on it's energy rather than being anything that we have not heard before. There is more of a surf rock re-verb to the guitars on "Of the Deep". They come at you like a bull with this song's weighty charge. The vocals are aggressive, but not growled. The vocals try to create more of melody at the song's half way point.  They gain even more momentum on " Of the Earth". The lyrics of this song refer to Satan, and might be the album's best so far.  The pace is brisk on "the Worthless Ones" with the drums driving things at a burly ramble. The guitar dance around the drums.

There is a darker and creepier tone to "Night Hag" . The songs are arranged in a very economic manner and rarely break the six minute mark. The more melodic break down at the three minute mark touches on sounds that they should venture further into.Once they lock onto a riff they generally don't like letting go of it. The fuzzy bass returns in a big way for "Lesser Key". The vocals here feel like they are working with the guitar rather than fighting against it. The album ends with the more deliberate title track. The vocals are not really the focal point and come across as if they are more obligatory. I'll be nice and round this album up to an 8. These guys have their own sound, even tough it is very familar.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Veilburner : "the Obscene Rite"




Was sitting in my in-box for some time just now getting around to checking out this American black metal band that is not really a punk band jumping on the band-wagon or trying to impress their hipster friends, though hipsters have moved on from black metal. These guy go with the dramatic riffs and do not apologize for playing this brand of metal. They do have a fair amount of influence from death metal. This is heard even more on the second song. Dimmu Borgir is also an influence. This is apparent in how the vocals are produced as well as how the arrangements slither like a serpents and resist going back to the verses. The synths lend some industrial density. For a duo the breadth of what they accomplish is pretty impressive.

By the time they get to "Vaterchen" they have proved to me that they are in fact dark enough. The vocal take on a trippy spoken word approach that drips with effects as it enters an angular groove that would sound good high. The drumming is particularly impressive as this song takes them down a more progressive road. There is a more straight forward approach to a more mainstream take on a more deathly black metal with "Eucharist of the breathing Abyss". But it is still a well written and decent song, reminded me a little more of Mayhem. Until the creepy middle section "Baphometic Catalyst". Hints of more progressive undertones begin the weirdly mixed song "Delimma Manifestation". An acoustic guitar even surfaces for a few passages , before they begin to hit you with the more death metal guitars.

Clean singing enters the picture on the weird and wonderful wackiness that is "In the Revelations of bloodstained Void". To say it's prog gets closer, but it is not prog in the way we normally think of it, almost more of the Devin Townsend kind. I'm fine with them heading into a more industrial direction on the last song, not a fan of the vocals that fall where the chorus would be. They sound like they are not fully committed to their growl. Overall pretty solid I'll give this one an 8, if you are a fan of cross-over black metal bands like Dimmu, this is worth a listen.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Maeth : " Shrouded Mountain"





I went into this thinking these guys were a doom band. This might have colored my first impression of this band was that they had a Jesu like thing going on with the layered vocals. So I was a little caught off guard by the math metal that would eventually dominate this song. The vocals shift into more of a death metal growl. When you get into the second song the flute solo that has been wandering over everything begins to annoy me, which is unfortunate as the chords under neath it take on a more hypnotic and exotic blend. They rifss build into some more angular, but with solid groove wedged into the craziness that reminds me at this point more of Cynic.

The first of the two songs that clock in at over ten minutes is called "Shrouded". This one only breaks the ten minute mark by sixteen seconds. This is time that was wasted in the first two minutes for them to actually get into the real song and not just play around like they are tuning their instruments. Even when the effects heavy guitars do swell up, they still manage to keep wasting time. When it begins to seem like a reall song is about to take form it's some kind of folk influence post-rock. It does build in intensity, but still feels like more of an interlude.

"Naga" could be the intro to a Dream Theater song. Though no Journey like vocals come in and they do not bust into something that is more of a power ballad. In the end it's about as eventful as most instrumentals that are not vehicles for guitar solos. The vocals return for the last and longest song of the album. The come back as a low multi-tracked growl. The chug is slow and powerful, but more sludge than doom. The vocals stay low in the mix as this song eventually swells into something that sounds more like a post-rock version of Tool. These guys are talented , I think the first couple of songs key into where their sound should go, I'll give this a 6.5.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Sallow : " I: The Great Work"





This was released last year on their own, but I am going to review this album since it is getting a proper release from Sick Man Getting Sick Records. The band in question is Sallow, a black metal band from upstate New York finds the great mix of atmosphere to mix with their moody take on blasting American black metal. The vocals sit back into the wall of sonic fury that is their guitars. The first song "Naked in Moonlit Bliss, Drunk on Fire" is not only a great title but it is only eight and a half minutes long. These day that is fairly restrained when it comes to black metal. The song is colored by a few angular flourishes, but like the bulk of USBM, once it locks into the drone of tremolo it hangs on. At first they  avoid the typical blast beats on the second song  what what sounds like it could be a more romantic take on the genre until they relent and give into their urge to blast the beats. The song breaks down only to build up into a more feral frenzy. The way the screamed distorted in this recording is pretty impressive as they had to be screaming their god damn brains out.

"Nocturnal Reprieve" is almost too straight forward. The vocals here fall back into the guitars. There is yet another interlude of clean guitar, which I can't fault them for wanting to infuse more melody into this song, since that is what it needs, there just feels like it's leaning towards a formula. They speed for for a second into some of the fastest blast beats you have heard, though it doesn't do much for me when they get there. The album's best song is the last. "Der Winter Kalt" comes the closest to touching on depressive black metal. It's more of an emotive song and the dynamics are what helps to convey those emotions. This is also the album's longest song at ten minutes.


Overall these guys are pretty solid. I'll keep an ear out for them. I am not sure this really demands to be on my iPod as it stays the course once they lock into the blasty mcnasty. I think these guys are onto something sonically and this album shows lots of potential. If you are looking for some new Stateside black metal that feels pretty genuine, these guys are worth your time. I'll give this album an 8 since it showed me who they are put fell a little short of standing out as the most original thing in the genre, which is what I need as I already own Ashborer and Fell Voices albums .




Vader : "the Empire"





The riffs feel like they meet more at the place where thrash turned into death metal metal. This of course really brings out their Sodom influence. The second song"Tempest" feels a little more like death metal to me. It also catches my ear with more urgency than the opener that flashes by in a blur of furious speed. "Prayer to the God of War" is from the "Iron Times" ep that came out earlier in the year. It is still a pretty solid song, I think I would listen to it more in the context of this album than on that ep. I do think aside from the sick mosh groove they hit after the solo that the first two song might be a little better.  Things slow down a little for "Iron Reign". This has more of a classic metal feel to it , and by classic I mean post- NWOBHM going into the thrash years.

They slam over you in the rapid fire charge of "No Gravity". This is very aggressive, but the least interesting so far. "Genocidius" finds them resorting to speed again. For some reason the vocal have a bit of an Obituary like feel to them on this album. There is a good trash groove that eventually develops making it more redeemable than the previous song.  By the time I get to "Armygeddon" I am beginning to think this thrash album is so heavy that it feels like death metal, instead of this death metal band has been around for some time and picking up where they left off. They do lock into a more staccato march on this song. "Feel My Pain" comes across like a jagged mess for the bulk of the song as a bunch of guitar is thrown at you with no real direction.

"Parabellum" is the second song on this album from that "Iron Times"  I mentioned earlier. It is fairly speedy and has more of a Sodom like feel to it. There is more groove to "Send Me Back to Hell" which closes the album. At it's mid paced chug it feels almost like a death metal band trying to cover Metallica. I'll give this album a 7.5. It's pretty solid only a couple songs don't really click with me. I don't think it's the band's strongest album, but fans of the band should be into it.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cultes Des Ghoules : "Coven"






When this Polish band breaks away from the pageantry  and gets into the metal their take on black metal seems to come from more of a Venom school of thought, raw and hammering rather than relying on blast beats.  The mammoth opener that clocks in at 22 minutes finds riffs weaving around the combative bass lines in a way that makes me think of what Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" might sound like if it was covered by a black metal band. The vocals are declarative snarls that offer maddened proclamations. At a more efficient 11 minutes the second song "Mischief, Mischief..." comes across as heavier and more effective in it's focused attack. The vocals have a more demonic rasp to them here and the guitars feel beefed up since the first song.  It builds into more of an almost thrashing Celtic Frost take on black metal.

Then comes another twenty minute song with "Strange Day" .  The pipe organs that open song give way to a doomy riff that they hang on for a few minutes and slowly begin modulating out of it until dropping down to bass and drums.  The vocals take on a more sinister whisper. This eventually builds into more of a Celtic Frost like stomp, though with a darker doomy shadow to it . In a manner fitting of the songs title, the pace changes to a more furious clamor on "Storm is Coming". This recalls the second wave of black metal by having a raw Darkthrone like attack, though they do not drone on when they do hit the blast beats. Three minutes into this one and I am unsure if they can drag this more straightforward approach on for another eight minutes. They break it down into a more Motorhead like racing after a break where the bass line carries the momentum. The riffs wander out into a more winding path, but dynamically this one doesn't make any major shifts in gears.

The second disc of this double album is all one song. The 28 minute " Satan, Father, Savior, Hear my Prayer" is overly ambitious. Really one song that is the same length as "Reign In Blood" is getting towards being pompous. Three minutes in the actual song is underway. It's pretty straight forward in the vein of say old more punk leaning Bathory. There is a slight proggy element to the more jammed out section surround what was a guitar solo of some kind. Until the nine and a half minute mark no major changes occur and even then it drifts out into a collision of hellish noise. The vocals begin to sound more like a bleating goat after this . Eighteen minutes in and slows to a more ritualistic pounding that could be a section from a Watain song. Eventually this gets redundant and you being to wonder why they thought dragging this out for so long would be a good idea. I'll round this down to an 8 there are some strong moments and what could have been good songs I would have listened to on a regular basis if some of the fat had been trimmed, going to prove you can have too much of a good thing. These guys are passionate about what they do and continue to grow in their unique sound so fans will get what they want they just better be more patient than I am.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Report to the Dance Floor - Jane in Space : "s/t"





I found this album of dark pop while scouring the inner webs for new industrial music as I begin to compile the end of the year lists. On this projects debut the vocals are very moody, they remind me of a more low key version of Stabbing Westward. The vocals are the center piece with the beats wobbling and clicking around them, Sometimes they have more effects on them. Sometimes they are more up front than other times. By the second song Night Riots was coming to mind, though this project is much darker. This is much more ebm than industrial. It is a very hazy narcotic dance floor that these songs dance upon. I would have certainly found this album as a compelling soundtrack to some of my late night chemical binges. Most of your typical "non-goth night " dance music spun in the clubs was never dark enough for me. I like the instrumental sections of this album though for the purpose of this review I am considering them more as interludes.

There is a touch of future pop to "Dizzy Head". The vocals here remind me a little more Peter Gabriel. The bass line sounds like it is played by an actual bass rather than a pro-tools synth wave. The first song that touches on an almost industrial sound is "Weightlessness" and this is mainly due to once of the punches in the verse. The chorus floats around which is fitting given the subject matter. This one is like something from "Pretty Hate Machine".  They are back to a more dance friendly groove on "Mental Abrasions" , some of the backing tracks take on a more machine like sound, so they industrial elements begin to creep in mid way into the album, though I am still unsure if the warrants calling this industrial.

There is more kick to "Helsinki' as guitar comes closer to the forefront.  The vocal croon falls in a more interesting and Depeche Mode like place around the synths here. "Spider Webs" is a little more fragile of a song that leads into another one of their interludes. "Feel It Alive' ends the album on a more emotive tone, though this song still retains it's sense of movement and further from being a ballad than some of the earlier songs. I'll give this album an 8.5, I am not in a hurry to get it on my iPod at the moment , but I also forgot to take my meds to I am not in a hurry to do anything. If you like some of the electronic music that came out of the 90s this hits those spots without any over homage.



the Von Deer Skulls : "the Rest is Silence"




I can block out the fact that these guys wear masks. This is lusciously dark. Some of my first thought after hearing the low muttered disgruntled vocals is this is what Korn might sound like if they had allowed themselves to grow with the times. They cover a lot of ground in the eight minutes of the first song.If I am really going to nit pick the genre lines, I would say this falls closer to sludge than doom. The slow heaviness places more emphasis on oppression on than mourning. The spoken section going into "the fall of the Raven" makes it clear these guys are from France. The more oppressive mood is the driving force of this song as it lumbers a more droning course. By the end of this song they put a similar weight into what they do as a band like Zoroaster, so it leans a little closer to doom in that regard.

From the description of this band in their press release I was imagining something along the lines of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. They come closer to this one jazzy blues weirdness of "Twilight of Innocence".  They have a more bizarre disconnected groove somewhere in the angular math of " Birth of the Freak". If you like trying to count out Meshuggah's time signatures then you will have fun with this one. The bass playing is totally on point here. The pace picks up and it almost sounds like they are busting into nu-metal with some of the rapped undertones to the staccato vocals. This is not the only place the ghost of the 90s haunts this album as it's influence can also be heard in the vocals to "the Fake Me" this evolves into a chaotic industrial strength pounding.

This album varies in it's degrees of heaviness and is elusive in the attempts to adhere to any one sub-genre, but the mood of these songs is a similar mixture of darkness and depression fueled anger. The vocals stay in lower register with varying degrees of grit and growl attached to them. There is a weird ambiance over the slithering bass of "Swan Song", this reminds me a little of Christian Death. The build on this song is more subtle than the others as they ride this one out further into the twilight. The album ends with a barrage of formless noise they have titled "Ritual" despite not being a song in any sense of the word. I'll round this up to a 9.5 as this is a very unique album and these guys have molded the sum of their parts into something original even though you can hear their influences under the surface if you have a good ear.  Either way this is very engaging piece of darkness and renews my hopes for France as they are not pumping out the weird metal like they used to.

7.2
 

Jassa : "Lights in the Howling Wilderness"





Catching back up with Fallen Empire Records. It was not so long ago that you could not go wrong with them. It seems they are delving into more traditional metal rather than atmospheric black metal. The guttural vocals of this Russian band plants them more firmly on the death metal side of the equation. They know the value of atmosphere, but prefer to trample you under the racing guitars. The drums and bass both keep you so that is pretty impressive. The bass player stood out on the intro piece, by the time you are well into "Crescent moon over dark water" they are touching on thrash. If they production was tweaked and the vocals did not create a blown out wall of distortion in their own right then this would sit closer towards a band like Vader. There is enough dissonance to keep their thrash influences at bay. At the six minute mark they lock into a pretty moving groove and a weird clean vocal chant chimes in.

"The One who waits on the other Side" walks a weird tight rope sometimes it lulls you into more of a hypnotic drone at others it seems like they can get to preoccupied with the need for speed. It is more black metal than the two previous songs. The songs more melodic moments that come later in the song play to their strengths. This song faces a similar problem to the song "Breath of the Most Ancient God" that follows in that it runs together with the song before it so I have to click back over to their Bandcamp page when I think they might have moved onto another. So what does this mean you ask? Well the uniformity of their sound can cause all the songs to sound the same which is not a quality I admire in a band. "Breath of the most Ancient God" is more aggressive and thrash influences really come out to play once you are more submersed in the song.

The album ends with a outro that is various forms of ambient noise. Overall this is different from what I am used to hearing from this label. I like the fact it is not straight up run of the mill death metal. Production wise I would have tweaked the vocals a little, I under stand not wanting to sound like everyone else so it's a fine line here. The songs running together and the rather uniform dynamic is my only other concern keeping this from being regular listening, I'll give it a 7.5. If you are bored with your death metal give these guys a shot.

3.1

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

MARTYRDÖD : " List"




The Swedes are back with their 6th album. It kicks the door down and starts biting you like a rabid dog. There is more of a punk feel to the title track. A folk tinged guitar melody surfaces over the other wise ranging storm as they charge in head first once again.  The guitar solos over the straight ahead attack are really the only thing that is different when we get to "Wipeout" . It all becomes a blur until I realize that we are on the 5th song. The vocals stay in the same static bark and the tempo thrashes with unrelenting gusto, but this eventually begins to make the album sound a little one dimensional. Guitar melodies that at one time might have gotten my attention, begin to all sound the same.

"Harmagedon" gives a little more breathing room, but this is pretty marginal. Many of these songs begin to feel like they are place holders for the guitar solo. Without question the guitars are the focal point of this album. The drums come in at second place with bass and vocals almost obligatory. The one melodic guitar break is really just an interlude. The tempo doesn't change until "Transmission, which is the last song and then it's only in sections they can restrain themselves to muster for ten to twenty seconds here and there.

Overall lack of dynamics is what hampers this album. it feels like while adding a more melodic range of guitar melodies they have taken a step forward and two steps back by not supplementing these with a more diverse range of tempos. Sure I get the fact that this is d-beat, but if you are so stuck in your punk roots that you can't switch things up it's a problem. I review all kinds of music here, so fast doesn't phase me if it is done in the proper context. I like my share of punk bands, but the ones I am into know at the end of the day it's songs that matter. I'll give this album a 5 as the band has stepped it up in terms of guitar playing,so that is there is that is all you are looking for fast mean riffs, for me a need a little more.



Korn : " the Serenity of Suffering"




While I have not listened to them in over a decade, I like the first three Korn albums. Now that we have that awkward moment out of the way we can talk about the matter at hand. Much like Meshuggah they know they have to have the obligatory down tuned stomping bounce to their sound. The first thing I notice and this has been the bane of many Korn albums since 1999 is the weird production. It sounds like this is Jonathan Davis doing karaoke over an album playing in his bathroom. "Rotting in Vain" doesn't go into dub-step, so it sounds more like them some of their previous albums. There is even a scat growl section. But it just doesn't feel heavy. They are still haunted by the pop ghosts of when they were freaks on a leash. I can almost respect them more when they go for the big radio pop hooks on "Black is the Soul", but I think it would be pushing it to call this metal. Even when they are growling for you to give them back their life.

"the Hating" is an improvement, but calling it a good song might be an exaggeration, it is more tolerable than many of the moments on the first three songs, the melody is stronger. "A Different World" is an duet with Corey Taylor, and while it will please legions of glue sniffers with Corey Taylor as their profile pictures on Youtube think this is the year's best album, the pairing is not needed. In fact "Take Me " is a better song even with it's hip hop influenced nu-metal silliness. "Everything Falls Apart" the first song that on the first listen I'll say is pretty solid. I don't mind the Disturbed influenced cadence of "Die Yet Another Night". Though the chorus strikes me as kinda cheesy.

You can hear they still have their songwriting chops on the verses, though I 'm not sure about the anthem like  choruses on songs like "When You're not There" , but at this point I am surprised these songs are not as offensive to my ears as I went in expecting. We are back to foolishness on "Next In Line" . Then as far as this kind of suburban radio pop goes, 'Please Come For me" is pretty good. Who ever produced this album needs to be shot as the guitars are dialed away too far back in the mix. So they escaped being on the years worst list, I'll give this album a 6 and use it as the measuring rod of what you have to at least be as good as to not get thrown on that ill fated list. If you love Korn after all these years then you one step away from being a juggaloo anyways, however if you want to hear what heavy should sound like in 2016 I'll refer you to either Nails, Fistula or Oathbreaker.


Fistula : "the Shape of Doom to Cumm)))"





These guys are already dropping another album after already spitting out "Longing For Infection" that really grew on me. The second song is crustier and not as catchy as the more metallic opener. I am not as big of a fan of their more punk leanings and prefer their more drug crazed sludge. About two minutes in they slow things down to more of an Eyehategod tempo with a swampy lurch to their swagger.  When thinking about what end of the year list "Longing For Infection" would compete in I was leaning towards death metal. I guess the same could be said here as despite the title of this album, it's far too up tempo to be doom, and dirty in more of a trailer trash punk manner than dirty like raw black metal and nothing is blackened about this.

They do get closer to doom on "Sabbath Wants to Do a Split with Me", but with that song title how could they not? The guitars sound big enough on this song to live up to the title. When this band's name is brought up in conversation I liken them to a more meth-ed out version of Acid Bath and that fits pretty well on this song, of course without the benefit of having the croon of Dax Riggs come in. There is a pretty killer guitar solo on this song. They are beating the bass to death at the beginning of "Tough Guy".  Here the riff is pretty fucking dense. I know I always say the rule around here is " cool riffs alone don't make a good song" , but these guys take cool riffs and shove enough attitude into them to make you piss blood after listening. I like the lyrics on "Longing For Infection" better than the lyrics on this album, they were more charmingly depraved.

There is more of a hard core thing going on with "Black Maggot".  It's much more straight forward and doesn't get good and evil sounding until it approaches the end. The guitar solo over the sampled section is pretty bad ass. They throw more of a hard core stomp into " Negative". The vocals have a more tangible anguish to them on this song.  Things flip a minute into the song when the sample comes in, with this comes a doomy guitar solo. I might like "Longing for Infection" a little better but it's a tight margin. I'll give this one a 9, which is a more accurate score than what I originally scored "Longing for Infection" at which was an eight, but I'll go on record and revise my score of that album and round it up to a 9 too. So these guys put out not one but two kick ass albums in 2016, that better than most bands.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Deathspell Omega : "the Synarchy of Molten Bones"




Dark and more melodic than expected are my first thoughts going into the first few moments of the French band's new album. They soon blast off into a more dissonant murk. The mathy acrobatics are still in play as the chaos gets stirred up rather quickly. The vocals stay at a lower death metal like growl. Some how grooves form amid the madness. The first song was something I knew I was going to have to go back and listen to again in order to soak it all in as they throw a lot at you. The blinding blitz of drums opens "Famished For Breath". The snarls are multi-tracked to keep the narrative otherworldly. The technical intensity of what goes down almost makes this feel for like blackened death metal rather than progressive death metal as it is more about the attack than the atmosphere.

Their brand of sonic crazy is not as cohesive on "Onward where Most with Ravin I may meet" . There are some guitar melodies that are a little catchy, but there are buried under the land slide of blast beats and jagged guitars coming at you from every direction. The last song is every bit as manic. I am listening for what is setting this part from all the other blinding walls of sonic filth they have flung at my ears like a possessed monkey with molten poop.

 I think this album got off to a good start, but in the crazed frenzy the song writing got a little lost in the blur. The vocals begin to take on more of an Inquisition like croak. This might be the album's fastest song. The blast beats are most effective when the guitars drop out. Why play by the rules when you can break them, is where these guys are at their peak. These guys are great musicians and this album sounds great, but at the end of the day it's about songs. Even though song writing falls short their chops and energy take them further than any of the bands who want to be them. I'll give this one an 8, it's not something that I think I'll get a ton of spins out of due to the frenetic nature of these tunes, which might not be their best, but half ass from these guys dominates most of the flock.