Saturday, September 30, 2017

Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean : "Decay and Other Hopes Against Progress"

I have seen this band from Springfield described in a few different fashions. Most of which played up the doom side of the band, but I think a more honest assessment could sum this up by saying they are a more dismal version of Eyehategod. Once you get further into the opening song it drops down to a more doomy bass line and you begin to hear they do not share the same punk rock roots as Eyehategod. Equal parts sludge and doom, the screamed vocals are abrasive enough to steer them more towards being a sludge band. The guitar shows more restraint and offers some introspection on the second song, though the vocals come at you with the same aggression. Vocally this colors the song with one dimension. So by the time we are at "Four Cubits and a Span" the pounding has already slightly numbed us to the heaviness. The riffs pulls you in a little more with its chug. 

While riffs are arranged with an odd angular feel there is still a great deal of melodicism in them. The vocals go into a more spoken words type narrative sitting pretty far back in the mix. The fuzzed out distortion sounds more blown out going into "Hollow Feeds the Emptying Death". The shuffle of the song has more of a blue bleached boogie to it's flavor of more swampy doom.When listening to with headphones on it seems there is an intentional under-produced feel here, making it seem like they just plugged right into their amps, some of you might like this sounds and even prefer it. It makes for a more what you heard is what you get experience live. The is more feedback and the dirty sound remains on "Escape! Harmony is Disclosure". The first minute it sounds like they are pounding ass they ponder how to actually get into the songs. This is something they don't agrees on until the powerful rumble of the song kicks in. This has more of the sludge like density to it.  The riff does however develop a groove that is easier to listen to.

So when they embrace doom and the more groove oriented elements of sludge then these guys step out from behind the shadow cast over them by Eyehategod. Perhaps you do not feel it is fair to compare them or any band to Eyehategod since the whole genre of this kind of thing was created by them and it's like comparing a doom band to Black Sabbath. To those people I extend my middle finger and say it's the bands job to show me who they are otherwise I can just listen to Sabbath or Eyehategod, so give me a reason to listen to Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean. This can be problematic for many sub genres of metal. I'll give this a 7.5.

Unreqvited ; "Disquiet"

Ok, the debut album from this black gaze band/ Lets see how long they can go without sounding like Deafheaven. Before you know you are on the third song. The post -rock element is a bigger deal here than the black metal. When they black metal comes it's in the sonic blur of blasting. While Deafheaven was not the first band to dip their toes in these waters, the way the static vocals sit in the mix almost holding their ground as the bands only metal elements bears a similar dynamic. The vocals are more anguished and depressive than what Deafheaven does. The keyboards also help to separate them from the bandwagon. Though sometimes make them indulgent and clutter up the album with atmospheric interludes.

The melody to "Maydena" is pretty thoughtful. The vocals when they do break the surface come out in the mix for so it doesn't sound like the are as far back behind the water fall of guitar they are trying to howl out from behind. The piano melodies also help give them some more identity. They hit more of a sonic sweet spot with this song, where they needed to be earlier in the album. Not that what they were doing previously was bad it was just not as lush or dynamic, which if you are a regular reader of this blog then you know those are two qualities I ask for from music.It is easy for these guys to lose their way and get consumed in the flowery piano parts, so what is the band's strength can also be their weakness if not balanced out. They take the flowers to more of an extreme on "Death" which closes out the album, while it sounds really huge when the guitars come back to add a more metal dyanmic it also takes them five minutes to get to that part. The bulk of this sounds sounds more like something from a movie soundtrack.

These guys do have a strong sense of dynamics I think on future album's it will be about finding the unhappy medium that is more metal, but retains the more symphonic side to what they do. So this si more like taking a symphonic black metal band and combining it with a atmospheric black metal band and then having them write the sound track to a movie. I'll give this an 8, as they do hit on some powerful moments and succeed at what they do , though they haven't convinced me they are a full blown metal band it sound like just a color they like to dabble in.

Street Sects : "Rat Jacket"

The first thing that grabs me with this is how far the vocals have come. This puts it more in the realm of many of the industrial influenced bands from the 90's who were not industrial, but dark and gothy with drum loops fortifying the drums...think bands like Stabbing Westward and God Lives Underwater. The vocals even go in a almost Jane's Addiction direction some places when a note is sustained. The influences are all over the place though as some of the grooves even remind me Fugazi. The vocals to go into harsher yells and growls when the dynamics call for it. While this is not as organic as many of the band's whose names have surfaced this far in the review, they are invoking more of an organic feel than what was actually going on in the studio. There is a more experimental intro to "Total Immunity". The vocals pretty much hold it together as the arrangement oddly shifts in a very chaotic fashion. I think samples are used very well in this album, and add to the atmosphere, though I obviously have a soft spot when reminded of music from this era.

There is almost a Marilyn Manson like feel to the aggression and attitude of " Early Release". The vocals are passionate , but not goth. The pounding this song locks into is both original and heavy, though in that sweet spot I love where something is heavy sonically and emotionally , but not metal. Two minutes into this song it has already taken through the fun-house once in it's herky jerky arrangement. I can hear how Skinny Puppy also has an influence in how the song just shifts into other parts. It may or may not be real drums on this song, though the fact I can't tell means even if they are programmed they have done a good enough job of fooling me that it is a mute point. There is a moment of ambiance going into "At Least In Prison I Had You"  before going into a militant post-punk beat that contrasts the croon of the vocals. The guitar is adding odd angular melodies on the edges of the song as it continues to stomp along in a jarring fashion.

Color me impressed as hell by the growth this project is showing on the ep. I'll round it up to a 10 now, I think the elements that hit me in weird ways in certain places is just more of a matter of me getting used to what is going on here. I know I can leave this album on and let it play repeatedly and wish that there was more here than just these four songs, but I think it offers promise in terms of what we can expect from these guys. This comes out October 6th on the Flenser.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gwar : "the Blood of Gods"

You may or may not know that Gwar used to be one of my favorite band's in High school. I think I checked out after "This Toilet Earth" as the song writing took a dive after that. Hard to imagine the band going on without Oderus. Blothar the new singer, is the old Beefcake the Mighty taking on a new mantel. So they promoted from within. I can deal with this better than if it was some new guy they just brought in.The new sound does take some getting used to even though, he did handle the vocals on the song "Nice Place to Park". So his voice is not totally alien. It does have more of a Blackie Lawless like metal quality which does help them out when it comes time to cover "If You Want Blood". This album needed a few listens before I could connect the changes.  It with a much more straight ahead metal feel in the vein of mid 80s thrash.  "Viking Death Machine" might touch on their punk roots , but it is a more rock n roll song.

It's not until we get to "El Presidente"  the band connects with who they really are, not matter who is wearing what costume. There get back into more of West Coast 80s rock thing on "I'll Be Your Monster". It has punk drive to it , but is rock n roll at it's heart. "Auroch" is more metal, but moves at more of a punk speed. Didn't really wow me. This is a case where much like Black Sabbath, Dio is technically the better singer, but Ozzy has a charisma to his voice that wins you over. The same could be said by the void being filled here, though I was a little disappointed by the AC/DC cover at the end because through out the album we are getting some raspy rock yelps that made me think he could do a good Bon Scott, but he doesn't go for it. One such moment is his performance on "Swarm" has a classic metal feel and the song overall is a better balance of these foot on the monitor rock moments with who Gwar is as a band.

Sawborg's is better than some of Techno Destructo's moments on earlier albums.The more theatrical elements of their brand of story telling are in place on "Death to Dickie Duncan" which is a about a mascot of  some fast food chain. They go full on thrash for "Crushed By the Cross" which musically reminds me of that time period post "This Toilet Earth" that I was not as into. The thrash vibe returns going into "Fuck This Place" though it stays more on the metal side of the fence than punk. "Phantom Limb" is a power ballad that is an ode to Oderus Urungus. It's one of the album's better songs. At the end of the day it's a fun listen, it might fall short of "Scumdogs" or  "America Must Be Destroyed" , but it's much better than some of the bands less inspired albums of the 00s. So I'll give it a 9.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Grave Pleasures : "Motherblood"

What once was Beastmilk carries on as Grave Pleasures , this is their sophomore album under this banner. It is more aggressive the sense of melody held in the first returns for "Doomsday Rainbows". Though it still holds onto a tense core. The first song throws it self at you with a much more reckless abandon, so we are hearing more sides from this band. These guys have a very high bar to hurdle consider how much I liked the last album. I need more of the baritone croon we get on the verses of "Be My Hiroshima".  They are much more energetic going into "Joy Through Death" , but prove to be wise in giving the vocals some room to breathe. The bass and drums continue to race with one another with a punk feel on "Mind Intruder". There is more immersive embrace of the kinetic punk energy. Perhaps not as nuanced as the first album , there are moments like on the first song before the chorus where they back off a little, but as a whole this album is more focused on maintain it's momentum and I can imagine would make for a fun live show.

It took me a second listen to "Doomsday Rainbows" til I picked up on the fact the guitars are driving almost like late seventies Judas Priest. What I think has improved on this album are the lyrics. The paint a picture of a world that is colorfully bleak. The first time I notice some variance in the guitar tone is on "Laughing Abyss". It has a more sardonic vocal, but barrels straight head with restrained fury. There is more of a Gang of Four like punk feel to the groove of "Falling For an Atom Bomb" . They bringing the soundtrack to an apocalypse you can bob your head to. There is a more throbbing groove to "Atomic Christ" that might make this one of the album's best songs, along with the guest spot by David Tibet from Current 93.

There is no mistaking the punk in the opening guitar riff to "Deadenders" it moves into an ode to dancing with skeletons. Then "Haunted Afterlife" guns at such a similar tempo and phrasing of the melody, so I keep alternating between the two trying to find the differences aside from the lyrics. The only one seems to be it backs off a little more on the chorus of the last song. So aside from this I don't have many complaints about this album it's an easy listen and I can just let it play. So I will round this up to a 9.5.

Primus : "the Desaturating Seven"

Based off of a children's book this does have the narrative concept album feel.It is not until they get into "the Seven" that we get into the kind of grooves you expect from these guys. There is a tension to the opening song, it just feels like it's an intro to the album rather than a song on it's own two legs. The Rush quality to their music is more apparent in how some of the progressions wind around themselves. The harder quality that used to bring them close to being metal is not present and really I haven't listened to much these guys have done since the "Brown Album", so the direction they are currently in is not much of a surprise to me. They have been through more drummers than Spinal Tap so it is good to see Tim Alexander back in the fold.

In many ways this album flows like "2112" or "Caress of Steel" with the interludes of clean guitar bridging this album together. If you like more progressive noodling then this is an album for you as it takes some time before the drums converge in on "the Trek". Two and a half minutes later the drums kick in. Two minutes later the groove comes back in stronger making the song more engaging. With only two songs over the 7 minute mark these songs are not long wandering jams and fairly compact for these guys. Claypool's vocals take on more of a ranting Tom Waits like pattern as the bouncing "Scheme" comes to life. Alexander's drums sound very crisp and I like what he does with the accents on his cymbals here.

There are a bunch of guitar noises and noodles being boiled going into  "the Dream". Making it another song where we are over two minutes in before the drums kick it. This is darker and harder. The groove stays pretty angular so it doesn't hook me in as strong though I like the mood.  The formula for this album is clearly lets hang on the tension for two minutes before getting into it , though this one goes past that point. The drums mainly just come in as accents. While we know what Les Claypool does, I think once we are past "Pork Soda" the novelty of that had worn off and it's how well does that work in context of a song. The chemistry of the trio is still intact when they hit the groove ,as they recapture some of the feel of their older more classic work on this one. As a whole Primus fits back nicely into their brand of prog rock I'll give it an 8.5 as fans will dig it.

Jess and the Ancient Ones : "Horse and Other Weird Tales"

While not tremendously impressed when I saw this band open for King Diamond a few years ago, I think they have potential so have some hope fore their new album "the Horse and Other Weird Tales " . I continues to find the band steeped in groovy 60's rock almost like Coven with go-go dancers. So keyboards play a huge role. There is also a very jammy quality, not unlike some of the Doors more upbeat moments. The vocals are strong and soulful , but far from doing anything new. Combining elements of both Momma Cass and Janis Joplin, the results are not largely different from a band like Shocking Blue. So full of flower power that aside from the lyrics it's hard to find the more up tempo songs dark.It's three songs in before we come across something that is darker with the song "Your Exploding Heads" . This is has more of a blues soaked swing to it.

One thing I can say this album has going for it is the song are not long drawn out jams like the Devils Blood could sometime wander off into . "You and Eyes" starts of with a great groove and then spaces out into more of a Pink Floyd place, but it works well dynamically. 'Return to Hallucinate" breezed by me the first so perhaps I was having a flash back. Upon second listen it finds it on par with the with rest of the psychedelic flavored rock presented thus far, the chorus having a little more drive than some of the other songs. "Rainbow Mouth" is not unlike sped version of  "Inna Gadda Davida" . 'Minotaure" starts off much slower and builds back into the pace that dominates most of this album.

On of the album's longest journeys is the closer "Anyway the Mind Flows" which is darker . This mood wise comes closer to doom. The chord progressions give more of a wink in that direction. While this song would go over well with fans of doom, I think the album is generally too upbeat for those who are into slow, deep and harder music. Some of the more progressive passages step back from the tension. This album is easy to put on and let fade into the background. It's well played and they have recreated the sound they are going for. I think the way this music can be a slave to the time period they are trying to take you back to is what causes it to falter in the originality department. I will give it an 8 as it has some strong moments in terms of song writing and fans of this sort of thing will enjoy it.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yellow Eyes : "Immersion Trench Reverie "

After seven years as a band, the forth album by the New York based based find them finally taking the time to write actual songs all the dynamic components I need from them to consider it so. They even pay attention to guitar melodies when reverting back into a more feral version of their older selves on the second song. Enough sonic dissonance to hang with the other hip black metal bands from New York. In sharpening their skills as song writers they have also learned that you can say what you need to say under ten minutes. Only one song reaches over the ten minute mark. The drums are going to be on point because this guy has also played with Fell Voices and Ashborer. He doesn't live off of blast beats alone and has a pretty mean double bass as well. How can he not if he is the go to metal drummer in New York?

Things get thankfully darker on "Shrillness In the Heated Grass". The vocals go up into a higher more scathing snarl. Everything has a horror movie like tension to it, which is how metal should feel. The guitar sounds on this album prove to take more chances and find from production stand point they did not just plug in and press record. In the murky throb of "Velvet on the Horns" there are deeper texture than the more sonic buzz saw they used to cut at you with. They revert to more of a fast and furious approach on this song. Though it has more breathing room in the riff, the title track picks up pretty much where the other song left off in terms of intensity and tempo. The stay in the same sort of static scream. The transitions riff wise can be somewhat jarring. It does speed up into more of a blur as the song progresses.

After a minute of sound effects the final song storms into place and goes on a another wrathful speed fest. Falling back into their old ways of songwriting after starting the album off with so much promise. The riffs to modulate some into some more experimental patterns melody wise, but the tempo holds steady at blast and drone and is not off set enough by what the guitar does. It doesn't slow down until the final three minutes so it was not the best use of the first seven. I will give this album an 8.5 as it is an improvement with some really strong songs starting off the album to balance things out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vassafor : "Malediction"

The dark depths of their brand of death metal is welcome to my ears in it's dismal grind, sixteen minutes of it to open the album is on the excessive side.The sound lurks at the cross roads where doom and "occult" death metal meet. The vocals sound more like a low distorted whisper rather than a hellish growl.In the songs third act it eventually evolves into more death metal. This second song which is a more respectable five minutes is straight up blackened death metal. The production has a rawer hint to it when they are are a higher velocity. It drops into that more "Altars of Madness" grind half way into the song. The wheel is not being redesigned here, it's just being spun well.

They emerge from the depths of the darkness with a more traditional metal gallop on "Elegy of the Accuser". The guitar melody is almost more Mercyful Fate like. Needles to say that makes it one of my favorite songs on this album. It is certainly the first moment of this album that could be described as being melodic. It takes a minute or two to get into the 14 minute " Black Winds Victoryant" so the fat could be trimmed a little on this album. They get into some blast beats that are a but of a blur. The distorted vocals , which sound more blown out from distortion than growled , can't really find where they fit the best on this one. Seven minutes in it hits stiff militant riff that reminds me of Morbid Angel. The bass rumbles up and is just as distorted as the guitar. The album closes with another song breaking the ten minute mark .

It takes a minute and a half until "Illumination of the Sinister" lurches to life.This one has an uglier verse riff.The gets a little muddy, however fans of lo-fi murky death metal might appreciate the claustrophobic crypt like quality. Their sound buries you alive. I'll give this album a 7.5 , as it starts off pretty solid then get murkier the deeper into it's vaults you descend. Fans of more underground death metal should dig this, it's a like too limited in it's dynamic scope and production quality for me to get much air time from it.This album comes out October 13th

Usnea: "Portals Into Futility"

I have just resigned my self as a fan of doom the days of expecting the opening song to not be at least 12 minutes is over. Once I get over that fact I can enjoy how thick the sound of despair this band is churning out. The drummer is a monster is not in a doom band just because he can't play any faster, he plays around the hesitant riffs with a flurry of fills that still serves the song. The balance the beauty and brutality well with oppressive atmosphere on " the lathe of heaven" . The vocals are largely choked screams that sound like they are coming from a chick or teenage boy, there are lower sung vocals peppered about to give it a more Atriarch feel. I like how they build things up without going to obvious way with them.

There are lowered death metal like growls to "Demon Haunted World" ,but  aside from a few guitar melodies I am not feeling this song as heavilly as I was the first two. The offer some syncopated pounding to try to change my mind and it doesn't since my rule is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. I would not say this is a bad song it just doesn't live up to what these guys have shown me they can do. I am half way into "Pyrrhic Victory" before I realize I am not just listening to the previous song which has moved into a much more melodic place. The guitar lines become very captivating.

At nineteen minutes I am expecting it to become tedious, but so far after building out of a creeping unease " a Crown of Desolation"  is an interesting call and response between chanted sung vocals and screamed. This exchange goes on for almost seven minutes before building up into another movement that dies down into more emptiness. The singing takes a larger role almost becoming a gothy ballad at the thirteen and a half minute mark. I like the depressing hollowness the chords ring out with here, before exploding back out into a more black metal flavored part. Overall this album is pretty satisfying, I will give a few more listens I am not sure if it will make it over into my iPod or how many spins I'll get after this. I enjoyed the songwriting and craftsmanship and think this creates a mood most fans of doom will enjoy so rounding it up to a 9. Out on Relapse Records.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Forgotten Tomb : "We Owe You Nothing"

This band from Italy has changed greatly over the years. The went from being an almost depressive black metal band to a doomy sludge band and now to thrashy grooved death metal. This is their 9th album so something would be wrong if it was not as dialed in production wise as it is. In fact the sharper distortion of the crisp production leads you to believer these riffs  owe as much to Pantera in places as the do Celtic Frost. There is a groove that is hard to deny or to not bang our head to. There is almost more of an Obituary like feeling to the raw gargled aggression of "Second Chances". The difference being the darker dissonance that comes from once being a black metal band that these guys have yet to shake.It feels more like death metal than black metal when they speed up in a few sections here and there.

"Sabotuer" doesn't demand my attention as fervently as the first two songs had. The guitar sounds more up front with a current of double bass babbling like a brook beneath it. There is a more polished thrash bass sound to the rumble heading into "Abandon Everything". The vocals hold more punk in their snarl than blackness. The guitar tone is pretty interesting. The solo like single note run is a well placed bridge. As far as being a composition goes this song has more to sink your ears into than the previous song. The mid paced "Longing For Decay" has the most melodic elements so far. The riffs are really interesting and the dynamics remind me of their earlier work.

The last song is more of a instrumental piece that feels like an outro than a song in the way they have presented songs to us up to this point in the album. So while it's while played , but otherwise nothing special I am going to ignore it for the purpose of this review. As a whole it feels like the songwriting on this album is more concise and more sticks to my ears so I am going to give this album a 9, who knows if I listen to it more, but for fans of the band this is another one in the win column for those of you keeping score at home.

Songs For the Apocalypse

So the world is supposed to end tomorrow. There are many videos about it online that you can find on your own, end of the world tomorrow's date on Youtube brings up a great deal of them, the reason I won't post them here is because, most of based in some kind of Bible bull shit and I don't cover Christian music on here so I sure as hell am not going to give them any air time. Granted the fact Christians are behind this is what casts the biggest shadow of doubt in my mind, so I am trying not to get my hopes up, as it will surely prove to be another disappointment. But here are my top 10 apocalypse anthems or songs for the end of your world. I'll let the music do the talking from here. If we get an apocalyptic wasteland to frolic  that will be worth looking forward to as well, but here's for hoping for the best worst case scenario.

Killing Joke - "Glitch"


;Dissection - "Starless Aeon"


Goatwhore- "Apocalyptic Havoc"

 Morbid Angel - "World of Shit"


Darkthrone - 'Earth's Last Picture"


KMFDM- "Son of a Gun"


 Neurosis - "Locust Star"


 Ministry - "Perfect Storm"

 Megadeth- "Set the World Afire"


Fearing : "A Life Of None"

The search for new Halloween season music is back in full effect, though if you are a regular reader you know I am not fooling anyone and this is just everyday listening. Where many of the goth revival bands get it wrong is just settling for a Ian Curtis imitation for vocals , and that is one of the better case scenarios more of than not it's baritone punk shouting. So when a band comes along that puts passion and resonance in the vocals I am very grateful. The first song its all about the vocals and the shadows of their vibe. This band from Oakland California is hard to pin down into one sub-genre of goth. The first song has more of an indie rock flair , with sonic somewhat in line with a band like the National. However they do not have the mainstream aspirations .The second song the mix is a little weird and the over all flow of the song is not as hooky. Here they step further into the bat cave, in fact the album progressively gets darker as it plays out.

The guitar mix is all over the place and production is a little bit of an issue though it feels like they are going for a death rocked out take on Jesus and the Mary Chain by the time we get to "A Way With Me". They continue to dive down darker in the night sounds with a more pondering pulse of the bass line on "Another Night". This might remind you of Night Sins before they go to dancey and had more of a organic thing going. The vocals go even lower and have more of a hollow sound here. I think I am glad I heard them get other sounds vocally before hearing this one as I need to know he has a dynamic range. I do like it as it almost has more in common with Fields of the Nephillim.

They released this album on Funeral Party Records. Who from what I have heard is a label trying to bring back goth, but they need to hire a p/r firm because I had not heard any buzz about this band or this album until stumbling across them on my friend Ichabod's pod cast. So shout out to Out Ov the Coffin for turning me onto some good music again. Normally I get one of his mix cds at Dragon-con, but I didn't hit the "State of the Goth Scene " panel because Dragon Con really just has the same bands who say the same scene and really have no pulse on the underground because they are to invested in their Hot Topic state of mind with dreams of their 15 minutes of Myspace stardom. Which is why bands like this are important. They pay their respects to the old guard, but are not tied down to goth night with the 50 year olds. I'll give this album an 8.5, its great for what it is, I am not sure how much air time it will get out of me, but if you missed out on the kind of goth the first time around, meaning you are under 35, then you might be more impressed. This is not to discredit what this band does in fact I am going to look foreard to hearing a full length from them.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bellwitch : "Mirror Reaper"

First off let me tell you how much I hate the fact that this new album is one 83 track. So the for the purpose of this review I am breaking it down into fifteen minute increments.

  the first 15 The first four minutes is a very tentative drone that has more in common with a slow unfolding post- rock song than doom. It lacks the oppressive and sorrow nature of doom. They lost their drummer during the making of this album and I don't feel the sense of loss they spoke of in press releases. Billy Anderson worked the board on this so it sounds very spacious. The low growl of vocal come in around the seven minute mark.It swells into a droning chant of clean vocals that are used as a ghostly instrument on their own. This sounds great , but walks the line when it comes to funeral doom as I would not say this is especially dark.

 The second 15

 Approaching the 17 minute mark it's clear this could have been trimmed and at 17 minutes in this could have been edited into the second song. The tension is broken we have a clear delineation where this second song should begin, unless you want to be self indulgent and turn this into the grandiose thing that it is. Its right before we hit the 30 minute mark that the vocals go into more of a nasty death rasp and things being to get heavier in a more aggressive metal sense than I recall hearing the band dig into.

 The third 15

 This is a droning continuation of the theme already developed lower sung vocals do echo out of the dark abyss they are trying to casting light from, but I am not sure it's enough for me to have invested the previous 15 minutes for. The sonic scope of what they are doing is however impressive.

 The fourth 15

 There is more of a psychedelic 60s feel to the folk like vocals that ride the fragile drone, that seeks to find space more than it does heaviness. This carries echoes of Jesu, though with a slightly less shoe gaze feel.

 The fifth 15

 The vocals carry over here, though they are more layered and harmonized as it is a residual from the build of the last movement. The guitar stays dreamy rather than dark or heavy. It drifts further out into the atmosphere.

the sixth 15 and ending

There is an organ that appears here to usher in the slow rise of the doom returning at what is at this point and hour and ten minutes into things. It swells into something more metal though we are talking about metal in Jesu's zip code which means by merit of hypnotic power. The final four minutes finds it fading back into nothingness with fragile fanfare to say farewell. I will give this album a 7.5 , there are cool sections an it sounds great , the vocals have also improved.


lovelesslust : " And Her Actions Failed To Matter"

Here is another attempt to find music to get me ready for Halloween. This time it's an album of remixes from a darker electronic act. Since I have never heard them them and well aware sometimes remixes sound better than the original I am just going with what I am presented here. It falls some where between William Control and Mindless Self Indulgence. Two acts I like so that is a good start.The vocals are harmonized and double tracked.Chris Corner from the Sneaker Pimps remixes the first song.  The bass line is strong in a bouncy Marilyn Manson kinda way. The drummer of Depeche Mode takes a shot at "Heavens Black and White". It makes sense that these guys are from LA as this is the musical equivalent of the kinda name dropping that goes on there. This song is more vocal focused by not as interesting and the vocals kinda form a plastic coated drone until the disco beat comes in.

So far my favorite song was "Lowlife Novelties" that was remixed by Aesthetic Perfection. It has a touch of sleaze to it. The most impressive however is what they do with Jay Gordon of Orgy on the song "Pristine" . This doesn't feel like re-read edm posing as dark wave. The beats are pretty innovative and the vocals are mixed further back him them. It's also when the female vocals comes in even just for a few words that it gives them a sexier sound.This creates almost a hip hop feel and it is also interesting how far back they mixed what sounds to be the original tracks.

These guys have peaked my interest in them with this. I am not sure this is something I feel the need to have in my iPod at present.I'll give this a 8.5 Looking for some mainstream sounding goth influenced alternative rock tinged edm and are a fan of any of the bands involved in remixing this album then it is going to be up your dark alley.

Blank Spell : "Miasma"

Getting ready for Halloween I wanted more death rock in my life, so I went on the inner webs looking for what I had missed in this regard...note of reader fell free to hit me up with suggestions , I'll except darkwave, death rock , industrial or pot-punk though when it comes to post punk it needs to really be rucking dark and not too punk. Not too punk is also a problem you can run into with bands claiming to be death rock. Not that I have a problem with punk when I am in the mood for it , but there is a difference. The first song comes close to being the more anarcho-version of death rock, but then the album pretty much devolves into punk. It's very straight forward , the only darker element is the effects on the guitars. The vocals are a shrill shouted little girl. They make more of an attempt to give me something to latch onto with "Plastic Devil which has a more jagged riff that jerks you around.

The drummer is pretty talented and all over the place. I think the bass player could step up their game and play something catchier and then we would be closer to being death rock, though the guitars are the dominate force here, with the vocals just kind of happening. The title track is an instrumental with nothing special happening. They do get a little darker on " Nervous Language". The singer better be really hot in order to make their live show interesting as she can not sing to save her life which is why she must avoid doing so by shouting. After clicking around on Facebook I find she is not , but is also the bass player , making her both of this band's weak links. This drummer and guitarist are really wasting their time as they are both talented.

I'll round this down to a 4.5. I think I pretty clearly outlined the bands problems. With that said there are some interesting guitar parts so if you are just bored with you current selection of female fronted punk and very 1,2,3,...go still no non sense punk then give them a listen, this was not what I was looking for and was a waste of my time but it might not be a waste of yours if this is your thing.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Godspeedyoublackemperor! : "Luciferian Towers"

There is a a lot of talk going on round in regards to the world ending on Saturday, so I am glad these guys came out with a new one in case I need a soundtrack to ponder a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland to. The opening title track so a slow atmospheric shimmer of the music coming to life with brass instrumentation blowing the melodies out of the fog. I would not say this is their most fully formed song or their best work ,but it does create a mood, and for that it is a success as the orchestra tunes their instruments and comes to life. While still heavily orchestrated in a manner not unlike there previous work, though perhaps a shade lighter moody wise there is a rock n roll like melody that merges from the high traffic density of instrumentation. II suppose when I say rock it falls some where between Radiohead and the Beatles as the melody sounds like a wist on "A Little Help From My Friends" .  I can also here some of the Who's proggier moments if we are going to dissect this by tracing it all the way back to it's classic rock roots.

"Fam Famine" has a little more tension in the feedback that brings this wave of sound in. It starts off more psychedelic in the trippy way the sounds dances around you.  The focus however is more ambiance that a song that moves in more than a droning pulse even with some of the melodies that hover over this but never land.The album closes with "Anthem For No State". It starts off not wanting to touch the ground either but have the weightless lunar feel of kruat rock which also makes me think of  walking on the moon. A western strum of guitar begins to take form and gives this song the sound as if it is a the soundtrack to a sad space western. Trumpets begin to blare more exotic chord voicing and the song begins to turn into one of Jimi Hendrix's guitar freak outs transposed for orchestra. The drums help give it some movement and further the spaghetti western comparisons. It does build into something with more of a powerful rock punch.

I think is album could have been a little more grounded. It does flow within the established guidelines of what these band does and is a fair representation of what they do though orchestral element might even be bigger on this album. I will give it an 8, though I do not expect to get more listens than the ones it took me to review this album, since it can be long winded in the ambiance. The band's ardent fan base with find plenty to latch onto here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wolves in the Throne Room : 'Thrice Woven"

Normally when I review an album I write as I am sitting there listening to it for the first time. This is not the case here I have sat on this one for a few days. I can say Wolves in the Throne Room is back to a more unabashed embracing of black metal. In doing so this doesn't mean that are being enslaved to blast beats or ignoring some of the things from their more experimental leanings that have made them who they are . Six albums and fourteen years invested in this , they have a clear understanding as to who they want to be in the present moment and continue to invoked the feeling of their surroundings.  Sometimes you need to step away from it in order to gain perspective. This album owes more to Ulver and Darkthrone than it does Godspeedyoublackemperor!

The album opens with a calm before the storm as crystalline guitar rings out. They kind of black metal they burst into has a lighter feel to the intention it is being played with. The vocals are the most scathing part of it. The riffs eventually get as mean spirited as something Watain would do. This might be a reflect in their changing and more cynical attitudes toward the world changing around them.Then there is a jarring as as it drops out into female vocals. Very serene and siren like. Then a darker riffs evolves out of this interlude, with the female vocals floating in the background. When they sing about the old ones being with them on the following song there is a sense they are talking about the ancestral spirits of the land rather than some sort of Lovercraftian horror. The ominous sense is more one of enormity when facing a mountain rather than staring into an abyss. That earth based feeling is conveyed in the husky gravel of the more Tom Waits like narrative midway into the song that sounds like something Neurosis might do. "Angrboda" is a more straight forward blast drive charge of more traditional black metal. While this might bore me if it was another band, with these guys it's a welcome reminder than this is what they do. They do throw in bridges amid the blasts with a sonic twist to keep me interested and not numbed out. This casts a colder shade of gray into the spectrum they are painting the song with. Here and at other points in the album is breaks all the way down to very minimal arrangements augmented with sound effects. It is effective here is it sets the stage for the change in mood.

 "Mother Owl, Father Ocean is more of an ambient aside rather than a fully formed song, in the way this band conceives fully formed songs. It might be a fully formed song for the Cocteau Twins , but not for Wolves in the Throne Room. Five and a half minutes into the eleven minute closer things turn to a darker current. This offer the kind of dynamic shift I need as come of their so called cascadian passages can shimmer to brightly for what I generally look for , but when used as a contrasting color I think it works the best. They also manage to hit that sweet spot where they are just as heavy sonically as they are metal. This is along with darkness is among the more important qualities I look for in heavy music. The blasts in the last three minutes of this song are well deserved and make sense , as they have proven that this alone is not all they are about. I'll round this up to a 10 as I think it's solid triumph in the band returning to old stomping grounds in a way that is not mired in nostalgia for what was 14 years ago while still giving their early fans what they have been wanting.

Marilyn Manson : "Heaven Upside Down"

I have mixed feeling when this album opens . I am glad to hear the return the return of distorted guitar . I not' really like the more straight ahead punk rock like pounding , but my it will grow on me. "Tattooed in Reverse" has a more groove to it. The distorted guitar is back. The distortion doesn't have a metal low end to it. Instead it's very dry and mid-range. So more of an industrial tone and not the beefiest at that. It is a fact that this album is angrier than "Pale Emperor". I want Manson to do be pissed , but I think the songs are no where as infectious even including the lead single "We Know Where You Fucking Live". The song is ok, but I don't see it getting stuck in my head like the bulk of the songs from "Pale Emperor". Speaking of that album it's the same band that played on "Pale Emperor " which has returned for "Heaven Upside Down".

There is a more hip-hop like beat to "Say10". This one is the darkest song so far. The guitar comes in at the chorus a more classic Manson feel. The beats begin to get a little more interesting as the album progresses. Some of the more bluesy undercurrents of the previous album begin to return. With Marilyn Manson  I want hi to be as dark as possible but still have groove and melody. It seems like this is where he is going with "Saturnalia" . It is the most goth song on the album up to this point. He comes back strong on "Jesus Crisis" announcing he writes songs to fight and to fuck to. "Blood Honey" has more of an industrial power ballad feel. It does kinds step back into the 90s which I am fine with. He admits that he will fuck every broken crazy girl, which I can certainly relate to. The title track is alright , but doesn't go above and beyond like some of these songs.

The album closes with "Threats of Romance".  This one has an almost White Strips like stomp to it. It's more piano driven with lots of swing and a 70s rock n roll feel during the first verse. The lyrics in the chorus are pretty clever "I liked you damaged , but I need something left". I'll go ahead and round this one up to a 9.5 and see how it grows on me. The last album certainl did and over the years he has proven to have that effect on me.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dawn Ray'd : "the Unlawful Assembly"

This band from North England  are equal amounts angry and atmospheric with folk elements draped in-between. When they do five into their anger it is genuine black metal. The vocals are in a similar static white noise scream as say Deafheaven. The songs are very concise. They squeeze folk melodies over the most furious of their blasting moments. By the time they hit the third song we are getting a more straight forward blasting attack that lacks the more defining qualities that gives this band their sense of identity. In other words it sounds like all other generic black, perhaps with a slightly slicker coating of ice over it. The first shift in dynamics is is jarring right turn into folk with clean singing on "A Litany of Cowards" which finds the lyrics being more political than I would like. I am better with this being screamed as it's not as in my face. Not that the singing is that great to begin with, his voice is rather meek. Considering that these guys used to be a screamo band I would think the singing would be better.

You can hear the shades of their old emo past in the folky intro of "the Ceaseless Arbitrary Choice" .  They do win me over with the lower goth vocals toward the end of the song. Why were they no singing like that all along, I might have put up with their peace and love hippy lyrics.After this they prove that even a screamo band can make run of the mill black metal . It's not until they bring in the violin that they really sound interesting .  It more screaming about how they can not tolerate intolerance, which I guess is some kind of millennial logic of rather than be ok with other people having beliefs I don't agree with I am going to have a temper tantrum. This is what happens when you have a generation of parents who think it's not ok to spank your kids.  By this time in the album their blast blast beats have bored me.

"Island of Cannibal Horses" sounds like it will be a death metal song but its not. I do like when bands scream over clean guitars and mellow arrangements. This does call them out again for their emo past, but I can deal with it here. The singing is a little better when they close out the album with " A Thought Ablaze" it sounds like a lighter version of Death in June, I hope these kids don't know their politics or they would really get their panties in a wad. The lyrics really ruined this for me, but while there are moments and even a few good songs they have not really exceeded expectations . I will round this down to a 7, I think they do have potential, it is just not fully manifesting here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Makeout : "the Good Life"

Wait is Myspace still a thing? I mean I have a soft spot for the first wave of emo. Then it collided with pop punk for miked results. I mean I like the first Brand New album which delved into this sort of thing, and I like the first Taking Back Sunday album. These guys dial up the pop and infuse it with pop culture so I feel like I am reading a teenager's texts set to music. If Taylor Swift was a guy less enamored with pop and having not country background, she might sound like this, but then she wouldn't be Taylor Swuift either, so there is that. There is an 808 hip hop beat introduced on the 2nd song. So this is where this kind of music went after that cover of "Lollipop". I think some of the the more dramatic girls I am friends with on social media on the basis of breast size might be into these guys as they would relate to the lyrics and think it was something real for adults to singing about and not get the joke. I am not sure these guys are really getting the joke They do remind me a little of the Nightmare of You on "Lisa" . It's a little more serious but not as catchy as the first two songs.

The verse riffs sound like the big Fall Out Boy breakdowns and some of the Used sappier moments. 'Ride it Out" is a song just waiting to be on the soundtrack of some CW show. The verse works for me , though the chorus is slightly anti climatic considering how big these guys normally go. There press release compares them to cross-between Paramore and Steel Panther. I don't hear any Steel Panther. The songs are all in the two and a half to three minute radio range. There is more of an upbeat tension to "Open Minded" but the lyrics pretty much suck. I need these guys to at least have clever lyrics because if that is not there then I am supposed to take them more serious than is possible. The ballad comes when it comes to " You Can't Blame Me" . This finds the band getting back in a direction that works better for them. To be from Boston they certainly sound like they are from Los Angeles. I guess Berklee is teaching them to whore out as soon as they can.

"Clorkwork" finds the backing vocals too big and silly. The lyrics show improvement, though they tak about being jaded once again, which is cliche I can only handle once. They chorus gets bouncy it's so happy. They really give there producer props, but I think this would sound better with a more compressed practice room type sound. They just used the Fall Out Boy Pro-tools settings on this one. There is piano that has not real need to be on this album when we get to "Till We're Gone". The chorus finds them really cheesing the fuck out. It's this point in the album that I started alternating between listening to this and the new Exhumed and they are certainly at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. The bass tone gets beefed up a little bit for "Salt Lake City".  "Secrets" is strummed Dashboard Confessional break up song, though it has a salty vapid flavor that is not like Dashboard. The brief punk of "Where is My Charger" is just an interlude. "Blast Off" doesn't offer anything we have not heard from these guys are their on the cuff influences.  I'll give this album an 8 as it succedes at doing what they wanted it to do , not the most original thing I have ever heard but I am sure it's the soundtrack to someone's senior year in high school and they are more likely taking this more serious than a grown ass man like myself can.

Superjoint : "Caught Up In The Gears Of Application"

They have dropped the Ritual for this era of the band. I just figured out that Hank the III is not in the band any more. Instead Wovenhand bassist Stephen Taylor is onboard along with the drummer from Warbeast, so this is more of a House Core Records all-star band. It's very dense and heavy. The opening song is more oppressive than where they wind up by the time they get to the more punk "Ruin You". The title track is pretty feral as well. They do lock into more of a groove that hooks me in by the end. Phil keeps things at a gruff grumble. In many ways this more closely resembles Eyehategod. The songs are all very compactly written.

The brisk "Sociopathic Herd Delusion" feels more like filler than what I know these guys are capable of doing. "Circling the Drain" still sticks to the roughened version of what they are doing here, but strikes me as being more interesting. If you are familiar with my for with Cvlt Nation then you might have a better understanding as to why the lyrics to this song strike me as being more compelling. "Asshole" which bears the chant "shit comes out of it" is more run of the mill hard core though like most of this album it is slathered in a coat of New Orleans sludge. "Click Baiter" allows Phil to voice is anger towards the Internet. It has a more melodic riff that cuts in, but is not really covering much new ground.

"Mutts Bite Too" comes closer to the swampy waters the corpse of Acid Bath floats in, though without the more melodic vocals. The drumming might be the best on this song. This might be the album's heaviest song. "Rigging the Fight" may or may not be about the election, but Phil is a hug fan of boxing so he might be mad at Don King. "Receiving No Answer to the Knock" finds the guitar opening up more room for grooves and melody while Phil grunts and barks like he has for the bulk of the album. I'll give this album a 7.5, it's a little one dimensional for my tastes, but if you are looking for rough and rumbling tough guy shit from New Orleans then this is for you.


Amenra : " Mass VI"

This band from Belgium is back with another piece of despair. With members of Oathbreaker in the fold they deliver a lush take on metal. The atmosphere might be even thicker on this album than it was on the previous releases. I am not hearing this as just a sludge band as the Neurosis worship has been washed away in favor of a sound that has more emotional depth. The anguish howls of the vocals and their accompanying guitar parts really pack the heart punch here.It starts off with the kind of aggressive sludge you expected from them though the anger almost borders on hardcore. Then they begin to float out into something else six minutes and tinder sung vocals with a Sigur Rio like feel to them whisper into the waves . The guitar sound on this album is pretty awe inspiring and massive.

The guitar has more of a tremolo feel to it that blackens things slightly. The vocals grow more tormented in their conveyance of emotion. The bass and drums keeps things at a more sludge like pace. The over all sound s huge and the depth of the shadows painting it feels darker yet more clear in the way the mix lends space to every instrument. Lightly sung almost whispered vocals lead into "A Solitary Reign" . There is a call and response with the screamed vocal echoing the lighter vocals until it crescendos midway into the song and the screaming takes over . In the song's 3rd act the vocals float over the sonic storm not unlike older Alcest. The album ends with the 11 minute "Daiken". There is a brooding drone for the first two and a half minutes before they thunder down on you. While this sounds great they are playing it closer to more familiar territory here. The more subdued vocals do return and trade off with the more vicious screaming in the songs final moments.

I'll round this up to a 9.5, while these guys got my attention again I suppose time will tell how much rotation this gets from me. The only thing going against it in the iPod is the length of some of the songs it's more of an album to let play when I am sitting in front of my computer. It is superbly crafted and finds these guys hitting their stride.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mastodon : "Cold Dark Place "

Taking another step away from being a metal band, this e.p is comprised for tracks left over from sessions from their past two albums, though according to Hinds the songs were written when he was going through a difficult break up which might explain the undercurrent linking them, "Northside Star" starts off with an odd folky prog ambiance until the layered vocals come in. It's not far removed from the darker more melodic moments on "Crack the Skye".  Some of the guitar textures almost feel like country. Then there is a funky tempo shift. The groove is pretty cool, that thickens as the song progresses. Which makes this fit the definition of progressive rock as it doesn't end where it started and actually goes somewhere. The guitar solos are not wanking for the sake of wanking , but place dramatic accents in a manner more like Pink Floyd.

The maturity of their song writing is again apparent on "Blue Walsh" . While it doesn't sound like Joe Walsh, aside from the fact their are some interesting guitar passages it feels more like post- Layne Alice in Chains. In some ways more straight forward for them. The Thin Lizzy influence still lurks about. It is darker, more introspective and feels lyrically much more personal than what we have heard previously from these guys. It does pick up into a more mathy angular section allowing Troy to bellow over it. Of course I am going to like the more somber tone to everything. The country thing is hinted at again leading into the single from the album "Toe to Toes".  There is a more dizzying riff in the first verse, with a upbeat strummed chorus. Hind's vocals have really improved here. The Think Lizzy influence is even more apparent.

The album closes with the title track, which is more of a ballad with more of a western under current. While I like the subtle creepiness of it and the lyrics it takes a few listens for it to begin to click with me and I would not say it's the strongest of the four songs. The drums are further back in the mix than normal for these guys. Overall I think these are four of the strongest songs of their career of the basis the feel more honest and are darker. I think if they had included them on the last album it would have given it perhaps too much of a "Crack the Skye" like quality so can understand why they stand alone here and will give this a 9.5.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Belphegor : " Totenritual"

These guys have always been a death metal band rather than black metal band.Though it is easy to see why they would appeal to fans of black metal They are now mired firmly in a more Morbid Angel form of tightly coiled dark death metal. Vocally there is a little more of a trade off with the high snarl giving more of a call and response. This is extremely well produced, written and performed. There would be no excuse for it not to be considering these guys have been around since 1992. This is their 11th album, so they are no stranger to the studio.

I like the chanting in "Apophis" and all the literally bells and whistles, it adds an extra layer of creepy and evil to what they do. Hey it worked for Mercyful Fate so nothing is wrong with tasteful theatrics. The drummer can get a little carried away with his need for speed, but if you go in expecting that and taking it for what it is I can deal with it. The drummer starts off with a more locked in tasteful approach going into the title track then speeds up.Granted he is the new guy so maybe the former Pnazerchrist drummer feels like he has something to prove.I mean he is only a year older than this band so young guys can be overly enthusiastic.  The guitars keep everything pretty anchored with the random bursts of blast to jerk you around when you are beginning to nod your head to the groove. Though it is not done in a jerk off techy math way. The guitar solos are not overblown, to say the really contribute to the song might be a little bit of a overstatement.

They eventually do slow down into more melodic moments on "Totenbeschworer". Though it's more of an instrumental interlude than a song. They have more eerie moments of groove and glory on "Spell of Reflection". I think this song even with it's bursts of blasting finds the band operating at the peak of their song writing powers and the young drummer fitting nicely. Clean guitar surfaces to lead into "Embracing a Star" which carries a powerfully chugged stomp. What works is the balance of heavy and songwriting, this is also what makes bands like Dimmu and Behemoth so catchy. This is not selling out or pandering for mainstream, but quality song writing, with a convincing attack when they decide to give you the middle finger and go for it. They blow their wad with aggression on the closing song, but overall this album is an excellent piece of dark death metal, I'll round it up to a 9.5.

Primitive Man : " Caustic"

I am back after weathering the hurricane. Just got power back last night and internet this morning so Here we go. Primitive Man is no stranger to us here. The band's sound continues to evolve into something heavier and now it's to the the point that if demons possessed a tank and drove it through a junk yard, it would sound much like the opening song of this album which is more death metal than it is sludge. Though when you reach the density these guys have labels become a mute point as it's a matter of frequency and function. They chug out of the jagged feedback that makes up "Victim". The vocals are a growl that almost comes across like low squawk. Forget making out any of the lyrics it is more about the sonic attack. I think a few years ago I would have been more impressive by the sheer heaviness of the album. I can appreciate it. The guitar tone is pretty apocalyptic it sounds like large pieces of machine are being smashed together without sounding industrial.

There is a more droning pulse to "Commerce" . The vocals carry the death metal bellow though the pace stays more deliberate. While it's heavy as hell, from a song writing perspective it holds on a lumber in a manner similar to doom. Dynamically I would not say it's static, as it swells into a tremolo section that is pretty massive sonically. The pace only picks up incrementally for "Tepid". There is less of a rhyme and reason to the grunted vocals on this song. Yes it is very, but I feel there needs to be more pieces to this puzzle and begin to miss some of the more industrial strength nuances I remember them having on their earlier work. The double bass brings a more barreling steamroller of an attack to "Sterility" which at times sounded like instruments were give to gorillas.

By the time the album gets to "Sugarhole" this pounding has numbed me out and is all beginning to sound the same. So I took a break from the album and came back to it. It still strikes me as heading in a more death metal direction. Three minutes into "Disfigured" and the pulse of the song is more pleasing to my ears. Not that this is ground breaking , but it flows better than the bulk of what I have heard from these guys this time around. There is more of a sluggish doom tinged hesitation to the chords of  "Inevitable" . It does move into another more sonic passage with tremolo guitar letting us know they understand that black metal has forever influenced every genre of music. The last two minutes of this song is the sound of a dead horse being beaten. This is the last real song as the closing track is an outro of ambient noise. I'll give this album a 7.5 , it's certainly heavier and while I don't mind the more death metal direction, I personally want more in terms of dynamics vs sheer weighty heaviness.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cannabis Corpse ; " The Left Hand Pass"

This band might have started off as a joke, but they have evolved into a punchline into something pretty bad ass. They have a great guitar and command you to bang your head on groove the verse of the opening song hits. They can revert into death metal cliches at times , but that is still more than I expected from this band going into this album. This a side project of Land Phil from Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan. He is joined by other high ranking metal pedigree such a members of Six Feet Under, Gatecreeper and Arsis. So when they lock into a chug is pretty devastating. There are some interesting effects applied to the guitar at times which provide some ambiance, as death metal themed around smoking pot needs plenty of that. The guitars are almost too angry to really go with that theme , but the end result from a metal perspective makes these guys who are just a joke better death metal that the bulk of what is normally sitting in my in-box. Another thing these songs have going for them is they are very concise in their construction.

"Final Exhalation" keeps the momentum it just doesn't feel as vital as the first two songs. "Chronic Breed" finds them locking into some riffs that defy my rule "cool riffs alone doesn't make a good song". With death metal running on aggression more than dynamics this is often a wall that has to be overcome. They are no an exception to this rule they are just so good at doing what they do is more forgivable in certain moments. One of these being the riffage leading into "In Battle There is No Pot". But they couple this with smart arrangements and catchy guitar work. Vocally it switches between a lower growl and a higher more black metal like rasp. They almost thrash inspired catchiness of the riffs reflects back upon the other bands these guys play for . On "Grass Orbit" it's the first time I hear anything that really reminds me of their name sake. The title track is a little darker, it doesn't really wow me , but is still entertaining in the way I need this brand of death metal to be. The bee swarm guitar of "Effigy of the Forgetful" finds them morphing the riffs pretty seamlessly at high velocity. It also become a blur that sounds like hundred of other death metal bands. The chorus gets lost in this rapid fire mush of riffs.A few head banging moments emerge, but this feel more like filler.

The last two songs are an improvement, though not really redefining death metal either.By this point in the album they have really settled on a high speed formula, the last song throws a few samples in ,but focuses more on hammering you with speed. The bass playing throughout the album is impressive ,but proves to be more nimble than your average death metal bassist on this song. The drumming is solid and the double bass rivals anything else out at present. I'll give this album an 8.5, I doubt this is going to make the top ten death metal albums of the year , but might come close.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ancient VVisdom : "33"

This band's first three album's left me underwhelmed, and have struck me as Days of the New trying to be satanic. There is some distortion leading into the first single "Light of Lucifer". The vocals are lower and more ominous, but there is more of a camp fire rock feel than neo-folk.It never really feels like a fully conceptualized song, but like they were sitting around in the studio and said "Well, this could be a good idea for a song we should do something with it" and then forgot about it.  The beginning of "In the Name of Satan" sounds like the build up to "Fade to Black". The vocals begin to get more Ghost on this one. The formula to this album is clearly set the strum of an acoustic guitar against some pretty basic metal power chords. Sonically this works pretty well on "True Will", however the lyrics are almost offensive because they are throwing around Thelemic sentiment and using pedestrian Crowley quotes without knowing the proper context for them.

There is more of a late eighties punk chug to " the Infernal One". Lyrically much like Ghost these guys are juvenile posers when it comes to the occult. The chorus is also a little too happy though after a few listens it grows on me by a few degrees. "Summoning Fallen Angel" is more Judas Priest like , though it's just an interlude and feels like it should have been the intro to the more "Diary of a Madman" like "Rise Fallen Angel". The hook going into the chorus is more Danzig like. But this is the strongest thing I have heard from these guys yet, even if along the way they barrow a little from Rob Zombie and Metallica to get there. The eighth song sounds like they could be busting into hair metal at any point in time. Instead we get a less than inspired croon.

There is a more rambling rock tone to "the Great Beast". The lyrics are over the top, but as far as radio rock n roll goes this song is pretty solid. Fir what they are going for "Lux" is ridicously upbeat and might as well be on a Dashboard Confessional album. The vocals are also a little pitchy which doesn't help things. In giving this a 6 , it puts it ahead of the other bands out put and makes them better than Ghost for sure, to think these guys are awesome you have to be 16 or younger.


Hot Water Music : "Light It Up"

This Florida band has returned, one of the staples of the post-hardcore scene that once got referred to as emo when it was about emotion rather than hair cuts. Their new album find the band back with a stronger sense of melody and song writing than I remember them leaving off with. Their singer's husky voice reaches further than before. They are not as aggressive but it is a fair trade off in terms of maturation. It's when they really speed things up into a punk place on the title track that they lose me. "Show Your Face" returns to the more melodic sense of emotion injected into a brand of punk that leans more into the rock side of the equation. This means a strong chorus that is more likely to get stuck in your head. "Never Going Back" feels more like a punk version of Bruce Springsteen. With that said it also equates with finely tuned songwriting and thoughtful lyrics.

The rambling almost Americana take on punk rolls on with it's very organic lyrical sensibility. Here it begins to retread some of the ground it feels like they have already covered and finds this formula beginning to wear thin on me as they no longer have the darker sense of desperation that used to ride the underbelly of their sound back in the day. They come closer to touching on this with "Sympathizer" , but turn around and lose me again with the more Ramones like punk of "Vultures". While they don't suck at this kind of punk, I don't think it's truest to who they are as a band. "Bury Your Idols" finds them splitting the difference and bringing a more familiar melodic side to the punk energy. It's not until "Overload" that I begin to hear a New Model Army influence that must have been their all these years but I never gave any thought to until now.

The Bruce Springsteen thing returns to a greater extent on "High Class Catastrophe" . But this is fine with me as is it is one of the album's more passionately sung songs."Hold Out" is melodic punk filler, the chorus is strong but kind breezes past without really sticking to me. With these guys it's all about the feeling from the vocal and they sell me more on that during this album's more rock n roll moments like the closing anthem "Take You Away" which is what the Boss would sound like if he went up to 11. Speaking of numbers I'll give this album an 8, mainly due to the fact some of the more brisk punk numbers just don't make me a believer. Fans of the band might be more forgiving, I used to like this guys but haven't listened to them in 18 years.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pillorian : " Obsidian Arc"

Unsure why it took so long to get around to this album. Listening to Agalloch's"Ashes Against the Grain" album I began wondering what Don Haughm was up to and a few clicks later here we are.This came out back in march and also features members of Infernus and Arkhum. Vocally it still has the trade mark sneer we heard in Agalloch though he might be screaming out with even more anguish here. I like the fact there is plenty of room to be melodic and they are not pounding you with blast beats. The drummer uses double bass to bring the thunder right from the opener. Its more bombastic drumming that was used in Agalloch. When the blast beats do come they are made more tolerable by the fact that the guitar doesn't feel the need to fall in line behind them.This is however more overtly metal than the bulk of what Agalloch did. This is not to say there is not clean vocals or guitar tones, they are just less frequent that what commonly comes to mind when I think of Agalloch.

From a songwriting perspective their are plenty of punchy hooks in the riffs. The guitars on this album have varied tones and are well produced with plenty of melody. Lyrically there is some fantasy dancing around with talks of wielding swords in the face of the gods. Though things don't accelerate to far out of bounds on the first song I prefer the more deliberate pace of the second song. Though when it comes to the whispered part midway into it I find myself not as engaged and having to regain focus. Things continue to darken with "the Vestige of Thorns". I have already heard people say that these guys could be better than Agalloch, and I think that is a pretty wishful could. This song is melodic for black metal, but doesn't touch the scope of dynamics that Agalloch encompassed.
The guitar playing and the drumming are both top notch for what these guys are doing, but still rather monochrome when it comes to the range of colors they approach,

They devolve into more mundane black metal launching into "Forged Iron Crucible". This is a more aggressive take on black metal that might prove to more staunch fans of black metal they can go a more Marduk route, it is not as interesting as some of the previous songs. "A Stygian Pyre" is also more straight forward black metal but more from a darker Dissection school of thought where it takes from the catchy grooves of thrash.  One of the most interesting songs is the darker depths of the melodic "Dark is the River of Man". It opens with clean vocals and uses moments of the more whispered rasps that marked early Agalloch. I can say this album feels darker than most Agalloch. If we are going to really weigh in on if this album is better than Agalloch I'm giving this album an 8.5 and Agalloch's albums have all scored higher than that , so that answers that one. However that is a high bar and this album is pretty entertaining.


Zud : " A Wilderness Left Untamed"

I was under the impression I had covered these guys before , but after a search that proved not to be the case, so here we go. This is the Portland band's second album. The first song is called "Thundercats Don't Play Dead" which lets you know they are just here to have fun and are not taking the black metal part of what they do very seriously. The vocals and the low key blast beats are really the only thing that is black metal in this bitch. Black metal is more about mood than any one thing and this is more like snarling punk. Like Grumpy Cat black metal is not about having fun. Fun is too mundane for black metal. The song that follows sounds more like old Slayer, and as a general rule thrash is another fitting label for this band. Lyrically it seems like a mish mash of metal silliness.

They are good at what they do. What they do begins to blur for me by the third song as everything begins to sound the same. Even the clever name of "For A Few Fucks Left to Give" is not enough from keeping the song mired down in riffs that have become uniform. The guitar solos are ego strokers with nothing to generally contribute. There are a few that add some flair , but considering the vast number of them they are outweighed. The ten minute "Off the Map" find the band slowing down and stopping the party enough to care about songwriting and is a welcome change of pace. They pick the pace back up yet not as manically after this. Though I find myself kind of tuning it out. They are back with the kind of snarling thrash that embodies this album, and have enough energy in the riffs to sell it better and reengage me. The fact the the mood a marginally more grim helps.

Thing have a more dynamic moodiness to them going into "Chasing the Dragon's Tail". They expand upon this with the interlude that follows. It's a mixed bag on the last song which loses my attention more often than it pulls me in. It is well played and has more though put into that some of their more frantic punk paced party thrash. I'll give this album a 7, a little too upbeat and beer drinking for my personal taste. But I think for those specifications they would do well in Atlanta. Will update this with a link to the current album is availible until then if you just want to get an idea what they sound like try the link below.