Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gothtober -Acid Witch : "Evil Sound Screamers"

Not only did this album come out today, but it's Halloween themed so this had to be reviewed today . When it kicks in the vocals don't follow a typical death metal grunt but have a fiendish cackle to them. The 60's keyboards add spooky camp. With a bass tone that reminds me of Acid Bath they are heavy enough to be metal without forgetting about songwriting or just trying to bludgeon you. After this  they go for a  more blatant in your face metal and the vocals go down into more of a growl. "Cheap Gore" finds them continuing along a more death metal like path, though the riffs to this song have an engaging groove. The album continues to be strung together with samples in-between the songs to keep the Halloween mood.

"Nain Rogue" plays into local folk lore. It has a more bull dozing drive that the eerie synths balance out. The vocals take on more of a evil scowl that they typical lower death metal growl we hear in other sections of the album.While doom is an influence on this band and heard touched upon on "Mutilation Mansion" I would not refer to these guys as doom. I like the more Celtic Frost like vocals that are layered against the lower growls on this song. This album really excels at the mood it creates and is not a one trick pony by any means , elevating it above most of the death metal I hear.

"Hardrock Halloween" throbs with a sludge like pulse though the guitar riffs has a more traditional classic metal feel. A minute into the closing homage to horror " An Evil Sound Screaming" there is a instrumental portion that reminds me to "Tubular Bells" otherwise known as the theme to the Exorcist. The balance of ambiance and death metal works really well and I can see this appealing to people that might not normally be into this flavor of metal. I am a big fan of the fact it's all pretty dark. I'll round this one up to a 9.5 , making it one of the year's better death metal albums.
If you are too much of a pussy step away from your Siouxsie and the Banshees albums to check this out then it's your loss.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gothtober- the Goth Shuffle

Ok this is going to be like the Weekly shuffle except I am only reviewing the first ten goth songs that come up in my iPod.

Gary Numan- "If I Said" 

This album continues to grow on me. The vocals on this song remind me a little more of Smashing Pumpkins that what I think of as classic Gary Numan, but it still works .

Isendoral - "Tear the Veil of Dreams" 

On the more metal side of goth ,but with less eye liner. There  are generous amounts of neo-folk in this album as well, often they are in conflict with harsher vocals.  It's one that I owe more listens before the year ends.

KMFDM - "Freak Flag" 

One of the poppier songs on this album. It's still a pretty solid album as these moments are done better than they executed them in the band's more recent ebm past.

Marilyn Manson- Vodevil

"the Golden Age of Grotesque" is his most under rated album. Maybe it just connected with me at a certain time in life, but I think it's better than most of his shit that came out after and half the shit that came out before.

Nine Inch Nails - "This Isn't the Place" 

So this might not be Trent's darkest moment, but I think the songs on this album have a interesting atmosphere that doesn't sound dated like some of the 90s moments.

The Cure- "Pictures of You" 

As far as radio songs go this one is one of the more tolerable moments. I think I said enough about this song when I recently did the top 50 Cure songs countdown.

David Bowie- "I'm Afraid of Americans" 

Of the Bowie songs that would fall into this category, this is one of the more obvious moments. I still love listening to the industrial albums he did in the 90s.

Chelsea Wolfe- "Offering" 

When I interviewed her she swore she was not goth, but still makes music that is dark enough to qualify for a list like this .

Peter Murphy -"Indigo Eyes" 

This song almost just makes the cut because this is Peter Murphy and even when it's a happy song like this when he opens his mouth to sing it makes it goth enough.

Grave Pleasures - "Atomic Christ" 

This new album has more of a punk thing going on , but when you have someone from Current 93 doing spoken word at the intro of the song then you make it one here. The bass line is very Cure like.

Exhumed : "Death Revenge"

So I dipped into this album because I was reviewing a pop punk album and it was getting to be too much for me and needed a breather. So I bean alternating back and forth between the two albums. They could be at any further ends of the spectrum that is for sure. These guys are machine like in there approach to old school death metal. Matt Harvey is the only original member in the band. A couple of the guys do go back to 96 , so they have paid some dues. They consider themselves gore grind. They are less punk influenced than say Ghoul. Typically this sort of thing is a little too straight forward for me and not dark enough, but the do have some catchy riffs. They only bore me with blunt force on "Dead End" . It is obvious they came out of the more Exodus end of the thrash days. Death metal grew out of this more than "Scream Bloody Gore".

If you have any doubts about death metal's thrash beginnings then check out that Slayer riff in "Night Work". It all comes together really solidly. This is the first song that hooks me in all the way.The moshy riff midway into "Unspeakable" makes it more interesting than, "the Harrowing". Then the need for speed begins to mire them down a little and the monochrome emotional range of this genre sets in. All the songs are of course about death. It's when they are finding the more Slayer like grooves that the band is allowed to fully function to the best of their ability and I do not mind the dive bomb Slayer worship of the guitar solo's since Slayer doesn't sound like Slayer anymore. The symphonic interludes are not a real ground breaking distraction from the meat of the metal. I think when the guitar echoes the melody of the strings however it is more effective.

The vocals on this album are a trade off of deep gurgled growls and higher more snarling rasps that are sightly Obituary like in their exclamatory phrasing .One of the album's most impressive moments it the instrumental 'the Anatomy Act of  1832".  It's not an interlude , but a fully fleshed song that keeps your attention throughout.  The bass tone has a thrash like picked rumble when it does become audible, but the main stage spot light of this and most death metal is the guitar and drums. The double bass is pretty smoking and the guitar are mean enough sounding to get the job done , but largely keep the tone planted firmly in 1998. There are some sections of guitar harmonies that find them in melo-death for a verse here and they are largely committed to being brutal.So if you want 90s flavored death metal and are too young to have caught it the first time around then this will seem very fresh. If you just want aggression out of your death metal, these guys have that I'll give it a 7.5, it's a solid album, when I want to hear this sort of things I'll go with something from that time period I am more drawn to like Deicide.

Ocaso : "Demo"

At this rate I might get caught up on everything worth hearing before December when I am cramming to make my end of the year lists.This demo was released way back in March. Its a band from Germany that has an nice dark sound. It might make you ask where does sludge begin and neo-crust end. Another question is does having a violin part automatically make you neo-crust , folk or otherwise? It starts off sounding better than a demo until they converge into a heavier section that requires them to speed things up. I think there are more battle metal elements at play than this band wants to confess to. Some of this lies in the darker mood being conveyed.

When the band is working to cleaner tones and giving the song room to breathe they are playing more toward their sweet spots. There is a pretty powerful chug to the title track. For this being a demo they vary their guitar tones here to good effect and lock into some really riffing. The dry rasp of the vocals which would fall more toward the crust side of the equation, are the only dull quality, but the guitars are making things interesting enough to make that barking a mute point. Though the do on occasion venture up into more of a anguished black metal yell. There is more of a gallop to "Humans" which is more straight forward than the first two songs. The bass player runs further up the neck to give it more of a Iron Maiden feel. There is a more melodic feel to "Mediale Sucht" . The vocal switch into a more choked higher rasp that forms more of a call and response with the main vocal. This song has more dynamic ebb than what we have heard up to this point and rides the line between post-rock and black metal. If you are only defining black metal by blast beats than it's not black metal, though the tremolo guitar of black metal is present to some degree.

If this is just this band's demo then I would really like to hear what this band could do with proper support of a label in a real studio. The results would be stunning I am sure. My only complaint is I wish there was more. Not sure if this is something I would actually listen to on a regular basis , but there is no denying what these guys have done here. I think the kind of maturation in song writing I would need for this to be something in regular rotation would come if this was a full length in a real studio. So I will give this one a 9.

Gothtober - Flesh World : " Into the Shroud"

I once swore of Siouxsie tribute bands as the influx of them at one point was becoming unbearable. This band from San Francisco at least cashes in on less explored sides of Siouxsie. The mix is somewhat 80's punk lo-fi, but allows for some atmosphere.  The title track as not as compelling as the opener as it goes by in a quirky indie blur. The chorus to "Knock to Answer" also falls a little flat though the guitars do some interesting things in the background. The could have stood to have been dialed up in the mix. "To Hell With Your Purity" has more of a punk attitude to it. I like the lyrics better to this one. The punk thing continues on "Problem With the Youth Bulge". While their is a good dose of indie rock indifference to their sound and the vocal delivery, it would be more fitting to say these guys are moody rather than dark. They are dark enough to fall into the post-punk genre, though not death rock at all.

"Tell Me I'm In Exhale" took a couple of listens to grow on me.Its more on the indie rock side. I am not sure why these kids are being called dream pop as this song is almost more like Hole. There is strummed guitar on the 90's like alt-pop of "Ship Him To Shanghi" which sounds like some of the Cure's poppier moments. The album closes with "This Great Cheap Face". This one is at more of a post-punk pace. The vocals don't really do much for me on this song, though once again the guitars are pretty cool yet too far back in the mix. Live these guys would probably be really good as the vocals would fall back behind the guitars.I can hear the Siouxsie influence again on this one. You know I have to be careful what I ask for as not enough Siouxsie finds it falling more into indie rock blandness .

 As far as indie rock goes they are dark and moody enough for me to stomach it. Though they are far from being among the darkest of the bands I have covered this month and work more off of their odd quirk.They have potential if they would give into their dark side and mix the guitars up louder. I'll give this album a 7.5. It was released on Dark Entries a record label that has an interesting roster than goes from indie rock like this to edm from France.

Gothtober - Flynn Effect :"Obsidian"

This is a pop infected brand of darkwave with guitars to it or at least that is where the album starts off it gradually gets more radio rock as it goes. The female vocals are dramatic but more on the rock side of the fence. It sounds good aside from some of the synth settings sounding like they are from an anime soundtrack. But maybe that is exactly what they were going for . This project is from Australia , but it could have been from Japan. It is interesting that when artists come from places outside of western influence there can be an element of the sound remaining locked in a time period music coming out of America has already seen come and go by a decade. The guitars do give "Fade" more of a metallic edge, but it reminds me of pre-nu metal Lacuna Coil. The drumming is pretty decent, though the guitars are fairly color by numbers metal.

By the time I get to "Eastwood Blues" I begin to suspect that perhaps I am not the demographic they are going for since I am not a teenage girl and I expect teenage girls might find this heavier. They do use some different tones on this song, but it feels like they are going into more uncertain territory. She has a good voice, but goes to places too similar when it comes to the melodies she crafts. I would like to hear a wider range of emotion expressed from her. I think it was on "Tremors" when it all started to bleed together for me. Her voice doesn't sound as sure of it self as it does at the beginning of the album, but once the song kicks in everything becomes a bit of a blur as the songs after this one become indistinguishable. In fact I had to go back and give another listen to them in order to find the points of separation. There is a little more of an electronic power ballad quality to "Talk". The formula is used on all the songs on this album sometimes they just kick into a little more aggressively.

"The Darkest Hour" starts off harder is a little more firmly planted on the rock side of the coin in a manner similar to the Gathering. Her vocal range is fairly limited as most of the stick in a mid-range alto. The piano ballad eventually does the power ballad build, it's my least favorite on the album. "Give in To Me" has more of a nu-metal groove to it. Her voice could use some effects to it as it sounds very dry where it sits in the mix.I'll give this album a 5.5. These guys could stand to get darker and heavier and the vocals needed way more love in post-production.

Gothtober-Suffer in Paradise :"Ephemere"

Dreary enough to help get you in the mood for the coming dark season the winter solstice is about to usher in, these guys do have a gothic enough sound with the atmosphere created by the keyboards. Funereal doom might not be goth in the traditional sense, but doom metal has crossed over into goth with bands like My Dying Bride so I see Funeral doom being the spawn of that band. What is more goth than a funereal? The ten minute title track opens the album. I am always hungry for this kind of doom so the atmospheric melancholy is sweet to my ears. In the tradition of other bands I love like Evoken and Mournful Congregation. The songs have a beautiful creep to them. The atmosphere this Russian band creates is different from that of their predecessors as it is more steeped in a contrasting gentleness to the melodies.

The guitars tremolo pick on "My Pillory" in way that sound more like strings and not black metal at all. They hit a similar majestic territory as Mournful Congregation going into the verse. The guitars blend well with the organ sound. The production on this album is admirable.The drums sound a little programmed and tinny going into "the Swan Song of Hope". While the synths worked on the first two songs, they work best with more of the guitar's low end set against them.The rest of the song doesn't tap into the power I heard on the first two songs and is what I want more of. The piano part in 'the Wheels of Fate" sounds really good, but the drums need more balls to the as the patter of double bass is too lightly mixed.The low end gurgle of the vocals still works but could also use a little from the mix which finds the synths way too forward and the heaviness getting lost in the atmosphere. The clean guitar break half way into the song would have had more impact if things had seemed heavier going into it. At the seven and a half minute mark things take a more organic turn and it sounds like they really plug and showed up. The vocals are also more layered.

 The Bone Garden" finds the increasing metallic attack of the guitar over powered by the piano and softer elements that the mix is bolstering. The strings sound fine and the classical elements have their place in what these guys do, I think the heaviness really needs more love. You can hear some of the cool ideas they had in mind for the guitars but the execution is thwarted by the mix. Ironically "Call Me to the Darkside" could stand to be a little darker. They do beef up the metal, so the synths are not drowning it out. So at least it moves in a heavier direction and does get darker at the end so it must have takne time for that call to go through, I will give this album an 8 most of it's problems are in post-production. The first to songs are great and none of the songs are bad some times the point comes across better than others.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gothtober- Moonspell :"1755"

The long time gothic metal act from Portugal is back with a concept album. The title refers to  the  year an earthquake hit Lisbon, which is the story this album tells. So it' a good thing it's sung in their native tongue rather than English since that is an odd story for these guys to tell. It's hyper dramatic with the vocals being barked out in his gruff voice. Exotic instrumentation  joins the big choral arrangement that over accents the song's punches on the title track. The more gritty vocal approach works better for what they are doing here. "In Tremor Dei" has more groove than the first two songs. The big chorus that makes everything sound like something from "The Omen" sound track is present for this song as well. They stomp along more of a middle road here as it's neither death metal or doom. Sung vocals come in midway into this song , though they are not of the Type O Negative variety that these guys used to employ.

Production wise this album sounds really good. It would have to considering all the elements they have added to their sound here. The whose title translates to "Disaster" has a riff that would not sound out of place on a more recent Ozzy solo album. It gets a little more tempo than what Ozzy would do and the vocals continue using a more Sepultura like approach. They continue to stay on the middle of the road, making this feel like symphonic metal. The vocals start sounding a little stale once we get to "Abanao". The problem becomes for this to be metal I need it go to some extreme in once direction or another. The narrative doesn't really invoke any feelings of depression , dread or even anger. I need metal to at the very least be aggressive. I often complain that death  metal is only focused on aggression, while this is true that is a feeling they can sell me on. But I also don't go see disaster films.

"Evento" struggles to reach thrashing speed. There is not enough power behind it to make me bob my head. So nothing here is really drawing me in. It sounds good and is put together well, but there is nothing below the surface. "November 1st" finds attempting to somewhat sing a little more. I guess it's a good thing he is not doing to the crooning as when I some him try to attempt it live it was typically terrible. The riffs sound like Ozzy b-sides. Though the sung vocals that come in as the song progresses are an improvement if that is him. "Ruins" is another mid tempo stomp that seems like it might go over better live. It's one of the first songs that shows memory of their goth past. The last song also brings out some of the ghosts of their past. I think the use of synths here is more well done than the bulk of melodramatic orchestrations that have made most of the songs on this album feel the same. I'll round this album down to a 7.5. They play all the right notes , but miss most of the heart strings they should be pulling.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cannibal Corpse : "Red Before Black"

14 albums in, I don't expect any surprises when it comes to these guys. They have become much more polished over the years. While I prefer Chris Barnes, I have accepted Corpsegrinder as their singer by now. It might be my ears , but it doesn't sound like Corpsegrinder's vocals are as low and guttural as what I recall hearing previously. He is at more of a mid-ranged bark with certain words accented with more of a growl. This albums feels more frantic than the others though this also might be a case of the guitars being more polished . The vocals are not the only thing that doesn't sound like it carries the same weight of the low end. The guitar tones are mixed with more mids in them as well. I remember the guitar tone from the previous album have a meaner more ballsy tone, where as this has more of a thrash feel.

This also might be how they are played as when the chords slow down on the intro to "Code of the Slashers" it sounds heavier. This is the sound I prefer from these guys as I think Cannibal Corpse doesn't sound good at ultra fast speeds as it sounds like they are rushing through the songs. Toward the end of the song when he growling about ending your fucking life they lock into a really powerful chug. By the time it gets to "Shedding My Human Skin" it's evident that lyrically these guys are not as graphic as they have once been. Four songs in and I have not once heard a reference to any sexual mutilations. The album art work also reflects this as it just depicts the blood splatter of some one slinging a knife. This is from a band known for having their album art work band, and considering the fact their record label no longer has big chain record stores to appease it seems like they are getting soft in their old age.

"Remaimed" is a decent enough song. Better than any band trying to imitate them but not what I would call classic Cannibal Corpse. The come at you with a renewed rage on "Firestorm Vengeance". They proclaim " no mercy for the merciless"  and the guitar work is more intricate , but it doesn't have the same dangerous feel as their older work. They demonstrate the kind of single minded aggression death metal is known for on "Heads Shoveled Off". The main riff to this one has more drive and almost a groove to it's chug before the more blasted sections. Corpsegrinder's tone might not be as brutal but the lyrics are easier to make out on this album. Their bassist claims this album has a rawness that goes beyond what they've done, but I think it's more compressed and streamlined. This is not uncompromising , but rather the sound of death metal compromises. Not in a plea for radio play, so I would not say it's a sellout.

It might be this album's need for speed that makes it not come across as heavy to me. "Scavenger Consuming Death" does grind into the riff on the chorus for a more engaging listen than just trying to blast past you. While one of the stronger songs I did have to go back and give "In the Midst of Ruin" a second listen. I think even the faster portions of this song work with what they are doing because there are more shifts in dynamics. I guess the "kill or be killed" section of the song is the chorus as it makes the rest of the song work. "Destroyed Without a Trace" is more in your face and straight forward, not that this album throws many curve balls or ever becomes introspective. "Hideous Ichor" is another cut and dry beating to your ear drums. I do prefer how the drums and guitars lock in on this one more than what happened on the previous song. I'll give this album a 8.5, it's solid and shows the other bands who this is done, it just depends on if you need more than the meat and potatoes of what is being done here and makes you wonder if they should take a few more chances, though I think where the edge they used to hold was in the more gorey grit of their old lyrical approach.

Catching Up With 2017 Ulsect : "s/t"

This band from the Netherland's released their debut album back in May. It features members of Textures and Dodecahedron. They employ some interesting angular riffs to contrast some of the atmospheric sections. You can hear hints of hardcore in how the vocals are barked rather than committing to a full on guttural growl. There is no question the darkness they dig into has a range of dynamics.There are some "oh shit moments" when I realize I am on the next song already. The black metal influence peeks out on the second song as well. But this album is more fully committed to being death metal. "Diminish" just works off of what this band has already established they do , just with the bass coming up in the mix. "Moire" is a deeper dive into dark with it's deliberate march. Though it almost serves more as an intro for " Unveil" than being a song in and of it's self . "Unveil" is a more dynamic moment for this album with the melodic break approaching the song's midway point. But going into the blast beat at the end is a little predictable.

"An Augury"  is another instrumental that works off a slower tempo, though it feels more like an idea for a song than an actual song that goes somewhere. Songs tell stories even if they are instrumental. Every story has a beginning , middle and end, so for a song to not have these it is falling short of the story it should be telling. That is why the rule around here has been "cool riffs alone do not make a good song" the riffs are the words that tell this story and one good word is not a story. If you are thinking that is too much to ask from music than go back to sniffing glue. "the Ending" is another dense slab of death metal. The chugged accents play to the band strengths. The growls at this point in the record begin to feel like a one trick pony. While this is a defining quality of death metal it can become tedious.

The album closes with the six and a half minute "Maunder" . It tells the story I spoke of earlier. It starts off slower casting a sonic shadow. It begins to build the vocals have a more spoken quality before going into the roars and screams. Still at the mid way point they are using restraint and not getting carried away by the need for speed, which would feel like they are taking the easy way out. The riffs are creepy . Still compensating for the lack of melody in the vocals which at this point are just a texture. Rather than racing away with you they allow the song to dissolve into atmospheric noise proving they know how to tell a story without relying on the typical death metal plot devices. I'll give this album a 8 while it falls into some of the genres limitations it rises to the occasion more often than not.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Altarage : "Endinghent"

This Spanish band summons a cloak of murky rage on their newest release for Seasons of Mist.The guttural vocals are a throatier grunt than a black metal band might employ. Yet the dark dissonance churn of guitar alludes to having at the very least black metal influence, while the great of the band grinds a more sludgey form of death metal. The death metal gets dialed up on "Spearheaderon". This is done with a similar grit that Ulcerate once possessed before they began to smoothly refining their approach to death metal. By the second song I am still not sure what genre this falls into , but I do know it is dark as hell and that goes a long way with me. They do clear up the fact they can write a song on "Spearheaderon" which is perfect timing as after one song of immense heaviness, I am not as impressed by volume and density . They do prove they can not only write songs, but can keep them in the three to four minute range.

It would be hard to think of "Cataclysmic Triada" as anything but death metal. They are not slaves to 80's Tampa death metal. While the guitars have winked in the direction of black metal up until this point the prove to be total converts of death metal three songs in. The tomb like mix finds the drums sometimes buried behind the guitar. The double bass peaks out on some of the accents to "Fold Eksis" before the blast off into a raging sea of metal chaos. "Rift" has a more weighted doom pound to it's more deliberate tempo. This however does shift in to some faster blasting. "Orb Terrax" is a reminder that they are capable of pulling out a variety of rifs , but when the go into a blast it sounds like every thing else.

Once I find myself half into "Weighteer" everything begins to sound the same.Death metal can have as singular mindedness to it's aggression, so it is not surprising that due to the monochrome nature of  what it is , I might find myself continuing to make these conclusions. At six and half minutes this is the album's longest song. They do not feel the need to use this time to impress anyone but themselves. The album closes with "Barrier" which doesn't do much to set it self apart from the other songs. The drummer loses his mind and cuts loose. The last song drones out in the end on slower not , but it's not a magickal shift into something ground breaking. I'll give this album an 8.5 as it does capture a very dark mood that is an equal to it's heaviness.


Gothtober- Walk Onto Sun : "Grow Static"

This project out of sunny Los Angeles draws from the city's bleak underbelly. This is the sound of alley ways after midnight. The opening song "Isn't Real" lurks with an ominous pulse, before the robotic vocals come in with a distant chant. If I was going to classify this it would be the question where does darkwave begin and industrial end or is this just dark EBM?  When the song began there was a mechanized sensation that you might associate with industrial. I think for me what keeps it from being industrial is this is more passive aggressive than aggressive. Industrial is in your face, what is being done here hides in the shadows of a nocturnal urban landscape.

"Hollowed Out" retains the dark atmosphere of the first song. It also builds into a beat that you could dance to on goth night. However it is not as dramatic as what comes to mind when I think of dark-wave, another way of saying it would be they have little in common with VNV Nation. The vocals are colder sounding on the second song. I also hear traces of what could be guitar on this one, but I am not going to swear to it. When the vocals begin to take on more of a croon then it brings them a little closer to the zip-code of darkwave. The vocal lock into more of a drone and contribute to the atmosphere rather than laying on the lamentation as dark-wave would. To say they don't fit neatly into either genre, is one of the this projects strengths. I all kinds of music come across my in-box, so for something to have originality is not in the majority. The vocals were  minimal on the first song by the time we get to "Feral Plains" they are playing a much larger role. I also like the fact that are used more like another instrument rather than "Oh, Look we are leaving the verse and now here is our obligatory chorus".

The title track that closes this album, has an almost trip-hop beat that leads into the song. The vocals stay a few steps back from the middle of the mix. The vocals evolve into something that is more of a sung melody and less of a haunting chant. The lyrics to this song which are the most discernible of the album, make me think of Twin Peaks as they speak of passing through this world, jumping dream to dream. This also describes why I am rounding this up to an 8.5 , as I like the fact that they have created their own world with the sounds presented here. You can check them out at the Bandcamp link below.

Gothtober- Hanging Garden - "I Am Become"

Goth metal is a term that makes you think of either Type O Negative or something like Theater of Tragedy. There are a few shades lighter and darker than are romantic or elegant enough to warrant that title. This gloomy band from Helsinki has returned to create some sounds that come closer to the Theater of Tragedy side of the coin. Finland seems to be the breeding ground for goth inflected metal. So these guys might be named after a Cure song , but they are less flowery than most. I suppose an ex-death metal band who now mainly works with melody like November's Doom might be a good reference point, as they do lapse back into the death metal vocals, though are more often more melodic than not when doing so. With zero fan fire they bust into the opening song. "Hearthfire" has more drive than the opener. The guitars sound better than anyone the previous recordings I have heard from these guys. The verse starts off with a low spoken vocal that trades off for a growl. Cleaner guitars lead into the melodically sung "Elysium" . The vocals have a similar tone to the clean vocal style employed by Opeth or Enslaved. The growled vocals join in soon enough and add some muscle to the sound.

"Our Dark Design" has an interesting blend of sounds like is actually original while falling into what might be thought of as goth metal. When I just let this album play it sometimes becomes hard to tell one song from another as there is a formula to their dynamics that finds them retracing their sonic footprints back to the similar places. The uses of the synth sounds that imitate more bass like tones provide a darkness that is one of the albums strengths as those are my favorite places. Even when on a song like "Kouta" it makes them sound more like a metallic Depeche Mode. They continue to also go to interesting places with the use of effects on the guitar. This album is excellently produced.There is a more straight forward metal to "From Iron Shores" even with the sung vocals that don't invoke metal.

Considering their name I hoped "One Hundred Years " was a cover of the Cure song. It's another interesting blend of atmosphere and aggression. While it's melancholy and not driven by double bass I would not really call it doom. "Forty One Breaths" doesn't really strike me as being compelling as the other songs and is more middle of the road metal.There is an interesting groove that opens the last song. As far as metal goes the drummer is more of a pocket player than trying to bulldoze you with thundering fills. The big chorus makes me think of something Devin Towensend might do in his more melodic excursions. I'll round this one up to a 9 as it has impressed me much more than their previous releases and has a few really outstanding songs, though none are shabby, only one struck me as filler.This is being released on Lifeforce Records.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gothtober- Skeleton Hands : "Wake"

This band out of Cincinnati opens their album with a more shoe gazing instrumental of guitar and synths with percussion so minimal it might as well not be there. This makes "Unwanted" the first actual song. The way the synth bass leads in it makes me think of music I used to make when I was on a ton of drugs. The dance tinged beat takes this out of the more narcotic realms. The vocals are plaintive in a more New Order fashion. If the vocals were emoted differently then this might have more of a "goth" feel instead is a shade darker than your average new wave band. He does go a little more in a starker baritone for the next song "Gardens" and this is accomplished with better effect. Lyrically this song is interesting as the garden being referenced here is the one from Eden. If you know me you have to know that any Biblical subject has to be handled in at least an indifferent manner for me not to get turned off by it.

"Shadows" is more upbeat with the reverb heavy guitar providing a more typical post-punk tension in it's hypnotic drone. The synth bass line keeps it dancey, while the vocal ponder a disaster of love in a Interpol like manner. The more new wave feel dominates "New Clear Dawn" with a more Depeche Mode feel to the guitar part. This is another lamentation of loneliness. This is employed in a similar formula but with a more pop angle on "Misanthropy". Things get much darker for the more minimal "Careless". This brand of darkness is not spooky, but despondent. Blade Runner like synths running along the song's back bone.

The album closes with the title track. The beat to this song is a little more like the Cure. The vocals remain detached and monotone. The song is pleasing to the ears but doesn't really go anywhere dynamically. These guys succeeded in crafting the kind of sound that pays homage to the glory days of the 80s without getting to mired down in having super hip lo-fi production. It sounds crisp and every thing is well placed so I will give this one an 8.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gothtober- Puritan : "Autonomy"

This punkish indie rock band is moody enough to fall into post-punk on their new album.The vocals are introspective, but too detached to be "goth", though there is a gray sheen over their music that would appeal to fans of Joy Division or the Cure. The vocals take on a throaty aggression midway into the first song. "Nausea" finds the bass line picking the darker elements in play. They are in the same corner of the darkside as bands like Iceage or Lower. The songs are very well written, though lean more toward the punk side of post-punk.

The title track find them bringing in synths . Which are in the background but get them closer to an 80's goth sound. Though I think even with this , the song is not as thoughtful as the first two. That is not to say it's bad, it just falls shy of the bar they have raised for themselves already on this album. The last song is marginally better since it goes into a wider dynamic range with the more moody change of the vocals. My only real complaint is that this is just four song, I would like to hear more in regards to what they are capable of.

I'll give this album a 9. I think it's almost more punk than post-punk, but the lines get real blurred. I would almost contend that using synths is the line in the sand between the two, but Murder City Devils are a good example of where that can't be a hard and fast rule as they certainly break it.If you are steeped in goth then this really won't impress you in terms of where they go mood wise. If you are more into punk , but in the mood for something darker then you will more than likely dig what these guys from Vancouver are doing.

Igorrr :" Savage Sinusoid"

This project from France which has become more of a collective would like be beyond categorization . But every thing can be broken down to the core of it's parts, particularly if it comes from metal. Back when Opeth was a metal band, they were a death metal . A progressive one , but I death metal band none the less. Not that this album didn't take several listens to find what the core of their sound was. Ed Warby from Hail of Bullets plays drums in this band and he is capable of blast beats as well as double bass. Operatic female vocals are added to the second with some chaotic punches thrown in. By the third song when more Eastern European influence comes in that it begins to remind me of Estradasphere.  When it gets into glitched out video game sounds the songs seem more like movements than songs that stand alone on their own two feet.

The electronic elements like break beats increase by the time they get to "Opus Brain" and I am surprised they don't go into full on dub step, but I guess that would be the more obvious place to go and working against the obvious choice is what this band is about. Instead at the minute and a half mark they go a more metal route. The song that follows is more atmospheric piano piece. The operatic female vocals return. "Spaghetti Forever" opens with classically finer picked acoustic guitar. Which the song returned to after electronically driven bursts of spasms.After this song with get more gypsy music. Some of the bass playing on this song is impressive. After this song they launch back into their more chaotic blend of death metal this time broken up by a harpsichord before the operatic vocals return. One thing I like about these guys is they don't feel the need to drag even their more progressive moments out into long sprawling songs and everything us pretty compact.

 The instrumental "Va Te Foutre" blasts on the one riff for the bulk of the piece so feel more like an interlude. "Robert" starts of a glitch experimentation in electronics.It then goes into a very Mr Bungle back and forth with more organic burst of instrumentation."Au Revoir" opens with the operatic female vocals and piano. The metal doesn't come in until midway in the song and is done in more conventional sense if we are talking symphonic death metal. I'll round this up to a 9 as it's so well done, I don't think as far as the songs go there is a lot that really would hook me into for repeat iPod listens , though I have it in my hard drive and enjoyed what I have heard so far.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gothtober -Tricky : "Ununiform"

Yeah, I am going to file this album under the Gothtober banner, most of the kids who are adults now that were into trip-hop were also goth kids, so here we go. "Pre-Millennium Tension " is the album I always return to by him and lost track of Tricky over the years. The intro seems like business as usual, then there is sung vocal in "Same as It Ever Was" that is poppy in the most indie -hipster way, think Gorillaz or Flaming Lips, so this song doesn't connect with me as strongly as it could if they had gone somewhere else with the vocals. "New Stole" a lazy guitar riff to it. The vocals have a soulful twist to them, it makes me feel like I am in a seedy club in France.

The more subdued "Wait for Signal" is dark enough to work for me with calm shadowy groove and whispered vocals of Asia Argento joining in.  "Its Your Day" is only an actual song for about a minute so it's more of an interlude. "Blood Of My Blood" is almost a ballad , though the drug tinged pulse keeps it from being too sentimental. There is more of a rock feel to the beginning of "Dark Days" but this morphs into 80's sounding new wave. It's driven by a thick synth riff. They return to a more ballad like approach on "the Only Way". Strummed guitar and piano carries the song as Tricky whispers over it, never actually singing. This is a little too straight forward and conventional for him.

The pace picks up for " Armor" . Which somewhat poppy with a strong female vocal courtesy of Terra Lopez, which might be the album's best vocal. What is odd is "Doll" which is a cover of Hole's "Doll Parts".  It's not as wildly re-imagined as it leads you to believe and vocalist Avalon Lurks really doesn't take it anywhere new with what she does.  "Bang Boogie" is another interlude it sounds like the backing track for a Die Antwoord song. "Running Wild" didn't wow or repulse me on first listen, on second listen Mina Rose , who handles the bulk of the female vocals on this album is under stated to the point of being bland. I think the fact that Jay-Z helped produce this album took a lot of the dark edge to it and that is why some of the songs sound sterilized for the radio and bringing the same quality I dislike in the XX's production. The last song embraces his classic sound perhaps the most as it features Martina Topley-Bird. I have to round this down to an 8.5. There are good songs on it , but we know what Tricky is capable of so I expect greatness. If this was some unknown pop artist I might be more impressed.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gothtober -the Top 10 Goth Albums... of All Time

With 10 days til Halloween, it's as good of a time as any for this one. What made me rank the albums you ask? How did I determine this ? Well the first thing was to say darkness is a quality they must possess and often weighed in here eliminating certain albums and certain artists, who might be beautifully sublime and have a goth fan base, but not dark...sorry Cocteau Twins. Solid song for the duration of the album is also a must, so no random bursts of just shrieking...sorry Diamanda Galas.I have also limited to just one album by each artist. So here our my top 10 goth albums of all time.

 10-Chelsea Wolfe-"Pain is Beauty"

 She has released heavier albums since this one , but not darker. This one finds her at the deepest depths and is filled with chilling atmosphere.


 9-My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - "I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits"

 This band's darkest album still might be one of the most upbeat on this list. It has still stood the test of time and finds me returning to it after all these years


 8-Siouxsie & the Banshees -"Tinderbox"

 Before you say "What about Switchblade Symphony" or "what about...insert name of any female fronted goth band" the question that needs to be poised is why do we need them if we have Siouxsie? Sure she has more popular albums, but this finds her ins a darker place and "Cities in Dust" seals the deal. End of Story.

 7- Type O Negative-" October Rust"

 Here is where it almost immediately came down to tough choices as this could have been in the top ten , as I probably have listened to it more than a couple of albums ranked higher, but the fact that this album was influenced by those albums puts it here.


6-Fields of the Nephilim -"Elizium"

This one is pretty much a no brainer. These guys can get so heavy they are almost metal. This album has a very tribal and ritualistic feel to it.I think this is what gives it an edge over "Dawnrazor".

5-Christian Death- "Only Theater of Pain" 

 This album defined death rock, end of story.


 4-Bauhaus- "In the Flat Field"

 This was hard. This album has more punk energy to it. Though It lacks a song like "Shes in Parties" or "Silent Hedges" , I think overall this one is more focused as a whole.


 3-Dead Can Dance- "the Serpent's Egg"

 Another difficult choice, I feel like one is more passionate in what it is than "Into the Labyrinth" .


2-Swans -"White Light From the Mouth of Infinity"

 First I eliminated the proto-industrial albums and then their more jam band newer material before asking the question which album is the darkest. They have some really dismal moments on other albums , but I think this is the overall darkest where the focus is on the songs and not noise or abrasion...sorry "Filth".


 1- the Cure- "Pornography"

 Of course it came down in the end to this album slugging it out with "Disintegration" and it came down to this album without question being darker where "Disintegration" was beginning to develop pop aspirations.


Gothtober : Death to False Satanism

Seems like as fitting of a time for this as any. While I by posting this for Gothtober , I am not implying all goths are satanists or being goth makes you a satanist. I think there is enough crossover in the subcultures for this article to fall under the Gothtober banner, plus this is my blog so I do whatever the fuck I want on here. Halloween is a great Satanic holiday. So on this holiday we should celebrate what Satanism really is . In doing so it is important to reject what it isn’t. There are many different brands. Some take a theistic approach and believe in an actual entity as described in the King James and others are just secular humanists with an attitude. Whatever the case, I think believing in anything that aligns with the left hand path falls into this. However in recent years hipsters have been using the banner of Satanism to push agendas more in line with right hand or Christian beliefs so I think it’s important to draw some lines in the sand in this regard. We are going to use the least magickal of any Left Hand Path school The Church of Satan as the bar by which Satanism is being measured. Now there's a difference between Luciferianism and Satanism, but you don’t know it then, oh well... I am not taking the time to go into the 101 of that this is more of a 201 discussion so this article might not be for you.

 We are just establishing some  basics as to what the fundamentals are and are not .Thus  the object here is not to say Anton Lavey is the only way .In fact when it comes to magick his Enochian is laughable. It’s all for show, yet the bulk of his philosophies are pretty solid. During the occult boom of the 1960’s he was a middle finger to the peace and love bullshit of the hippies. The hippies might have been into sexual liberation, but aside from that they followed a philosophy more in line with the myth of the original hippie Jesus. The christian teachings obviously espouse such concepts as turning the other cheek and the meek inheriting the earth, This is the kind of enabling bullshit that would inspire one to fight for the rights of the weak. This of course is diametrical opposed to Lavey’s school of thought and if we are saying the very baseline of Satanism is the rejection of all christian concepts , then should be in opposition to anything that calls itself satanism. Lavey’s philosophies have more in common with social Darwinism, instead of wasting energy on the weak who don’t deserve it.

 Why is there confusion in this regard? It goes to the the foundation of the individual. Occult means hidden. To be an occultist one must seek out their own path. When I was teenager the internet did not exist. I had to go to the occult section of the new age bookstore, pay for the books since Libraries are not going to carry real left hand path materials. This might sound like a get off my lawn moment, but the generation of thin skinned kids coming up now spend less time reading and more time crying online how they wish their parents would accept them as satanists. What the fuck? If you need your parents acceptance then put your diaper back on and go take a nappy nap. Satanism is about empowerment of the individual and not caring what others think about it.

 What we have established is sure it might suck that certain political parties align themselves with the Christian Church. That should be rejected. In rejecting that however it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to embrace other Christ like philosophies and start enabling those who won’t fight for themselves. Satanism would teach if you won’t fight for your own rights you don’t deserve them. This is also a universal law of other spiritual teachings, whatever you put into life or the universe if what you get out of it. If you can not focus on your own intention and want others to do it for you then you are a parasite. No amount of black clothing or Baphomet statues changes this.

Low Estate : " Covert Cult of Death"

The album title must refer to the fact that despite the hipster marketing, this is death metal mixed with Amp Rep styled noise rock more than it's hard core or black metal. There are touches of black metal influences in the guitars , but not enough to make these guys actually black metal. I originally checked these guys out because the drummer from Sannhet is in this band, but they do have a powerfully heavy sound. The fact they deliver this pounding with more smarts than the average death metal band speaks to their strengths in terms of how they have crafted the over all sound.There is a more sludge like tempo to "From A Sliver Tongue". There is a dissonance to their aggressive chugging that keeps things interesting.

There is a smoother more melodic groove to "Comfort In Futility" which is the first song that really sells me on their brand of death metal. There is still a chaos to it. There is more attack on "R- Complex" to the point of going into blasts. Sung vocals eventually crop up on this song. They just call out ominously in the background. A cleaner guitar tone opens up "Circle of Error". The bass tone is pretty fantastic here and the song has a darker creep possessing it. They border black metal here , though dipping their toes into it even to this extent doesn't make them a black metal band. "Days of Days" is more of a full frontal assault. The sung vocals come back in with a Swans like baritone.  Dwid from Integrity joins in on the more Converge like metal core of "Masked Illusion" which works with with it's jagged dissonance.

The mean ass bass tone gives heft to the riff going into "Forced" . They are like a more rabid version of the Jesus Lizard here. The more spoken vocals give a more post-hardcore narrative to this brand of hybrid metal. Three and a half minutes in and its hard to not nod your head to this. There is more of a whiplash to the mean spirited stomp of "Shame". One thing these guys have going for them is they don't drag the songs out .Instead they cram a great deal into each punch these songs throw. I'll round this up to a 9, despite having the feeling I might not get a ton of mileage out of this one. A lot of bands these days thrown genres together to create this kind of hybrid these guys do it in a way that still feels like the own it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

LA Guns : "The Missing Peace"

In the early metal years, LA Guns was one of the few hair metal bands that was actually metal instead of pop with guitars. Their first two albums are awesome, and they have been hit or miss from there. So checking back in with these guys finds me surprised that they sound better than Guns N Roses these days. Phil Lewis' voice sounds terrific.The opening track is more aggressive than expected. There is more of a rock n roll swagger to "Speed" as the metal edge of the first song is dialed back.It returns right after this song with "A Drop of Bleach". The riff has a snaking groove to it's palm muted sinew. 

There is a darker mood to somber sex action of "Sticky Fingers" . They remain firmly planted on the metal side of the fence. I don't remember them using this many synths before , but the song is metal enough for me to pass too harsh of a judgement upon this. Then comes the power ballad with "Christine". As far as power ballads go this musing of a hungover morning after seems genuine enough. The vocal melody on the verse has an Areosmith quality to it. Then it's back to dirty Hollywood strip rock n roll for "Baby Gotta Fever". This sounds like it could have come from "Cocked and Loaded".   With the title "Kill it Or Die" I did not picture something so bluesy. It was a decent groove and is true to who they are.

The metal comes back when they kick into the almost Judas Priest like riff to "Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight" . How drunk was Lewis to come up with the title "The Flood's Fault of the Rain"? It feels like "House of the Rising Sun" , but there is enough of their thumb prints on it to make me forget that fact."The Devil Made Me Do it " song does has a great deal of drive it and even manages to retain their sleazy signature. The third act of the album does seem to have more power ballads on it. If they weren't so well written I might have more of a problem with it. I really like the riff that bridges them into the more distorted power chord section. I'll give this one a 9 despite the abundance of power ballads as the heavier moments compensate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gothtober-Gary Numan :"Savage"

In many ways Numan is the forefather of the brand of dark wave/ future pop or whatever else you want to label what goth kids are dancing to these days. In his day it was a darker take on what was being called new wave. Numan did not go back and try to re-create the sounds that made his hits grace the radio. He has chosen to take a stark look at the world around him and translate it into his own vision of musical science fiction. Numan's voice sounds great on the lighter shade of "Bed of Thorns" which sounds surprisingly hopeful. This album shows what he learned from his time spent with Fear Factory as there is a more industrial slant to it. I am a fan of the exotic eastern scales echoing in the background.

A cinematic ambiance colors "the End of Things".  The only changes I can detect in his voice is a softer almost Billy Corgan like hint to the more melodic moments. Not that Numan was ever a powerhouse. The effects are an expected part of his sound. We continued to get bogged down in the atmospheric with the space ballad "And it All  Began With You". Which is well recorded, I don't feel it really makes the most of what Numan does best. There is a "Wicked Game " where is voice falters going into the head register for the higher ooooohhh in you. The harder distortion on the beat of "When the World Comes Apart" really works well and the more industrial tinged moments are some of the album's best. This album has a more serious tone and none of his more quirky 80s moments.

"Mercy" has some heft to it's beat and the vocally float very gracefully over it. This darker sound of the future continues to explore the skeptical glances of religious concepts on "What God Intended" . There is more focus on the tender side of the song when it comes to "If I said". There is a better dynamic balance on "Pray For The Pain You Serve", that also comes with an aggressive edge thanks to some of the industrial undertones. The vocals to "Broken" don't come into the song until four minutes into the song, which is otherwise a dramatic sweeping display of synths that sounds like something from a soundtrack. The album closes with another post-apocalyptic power ballad. I'll give this one a 9 as the ballads tend to kill the momentum and I don't how like they sometimes remind me of Smashing Pumpkins. Otherwise with this album is in motion it's pretty great.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Belus : "Apophenia"

There used to be black metal pouring out of Brooklyn, but hipsters must be over it.Features the guitarist from Woe so thought it would be worth checking out. It has a very organic sound, though I am not feeling any darkness. All the right notes are being played and they are technically fantastic players, but black metal is supposed to have an unsettling edge to it's anger. It lacks that inner dissonance even when the notes are played that would equate dissonance. Instead it sounds like aggressive metallic jazz. The uniqueness of their sound certainly gets me through the first song, but the question is can they write songs ? King Crimson can play at levels of great difficulty, but at the end of the day they have good songs. The same could be said of Emperor. Krallice ...not always.

There is more of a disco beat leading into "Monolith". Mood wise it is moving toward a shade of gray. I do give these guys credit for keeping things streamlined and not feeling the need to lose you in a drone that is over ten minutes. The drummer is impressive. The vocals stay at mid ranged rasp. Not quite sounding like they are clearing their throat, but as nasty as you can get without me believing you have actual hate in your heart. I think this is the x factor. When dealing with black metal that is not in your face anti-christian or standing strongly for something, it's hard for them to channel emotion into lyrics that are more abstract concepts. The last Woe album does get credit for being angry at the world around it. Here I am not feeling the hate coming with conviction. You need to make me a believer.

The lower riffs to "Avarice" is more convincing when it comes to the feeling needed for this aggression though it is sacrificed for the more angular progression. So kids remember when it comes to math or hate in black metal always choose to hate. Midway into the song it gains more grit. While the drums dazzle , they could stand to lock in and serve the song rather than they busy work at hand. "Illusions" starts off darker and has me waiting to see if it can hold to it when it defaults to the inevitable blasting. They prove my paint with some gallops that do lock in for a minute making for a much more vulgar display of power. In these moments they remind me more of Mutilation Rites.The blasting flurry of "Psychosis". They do hit a groove amid all of the blasting of this song, which is the highlight, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song.

Due to the formula of this album they lazy of the riff that opens won't last too long as you know they will default into more blasting. The vocals have a slight tinge of anger in their scowling howl. The bulk of the song is the blur of blasting  that is their default mode.They do finally capture some of the dissonant ugliness I need from black metal though are quick to discard it in order to return to more blasting.  I will round this album up to an 8. The dependence on blasting is a common problem for the genre, but they do have some interesting interludes between them, along with a nice organic guitar tone. This is one of the better American black metal releases so far this year.

Midnight : "Sweet Death and Ecstasy"

There is a much more prevalent Venom influence on the opening track of Midnight's new album. The guitar sound is bigger and carries more weight into it's chug. While the metal factor has been dialed up, they have not turned their backs on the more punk side of this band as apparent on the second song "Penetrated . Most of the guitar solos on this album sound like they are straight from a Motorhead record. There is more of a march to " Here Comes Sweet Death". The chant of the  chorus has more of hook to it than the previous song. "Melting Brain" is not as smartly crafted and more one dimensional. The Motorhead influence goes beyond just guitar solos on "Rabid" . I am fine with this as it means they are being more thoughtful to vary things up with catchy punches.

It took me a moment to release "Bitch Mongrel" was not the previous song "Rabid". It is different as it's more Venom than Motorhead. "Poison Trash" stays thrashing, but is a bit of a one trick pony until it goes into more of a moshy groove. Well this album is bookended by two really strong songs as the triumphant gallop to "Before My Time In Hell" is pretty powerful. So we know they can do it when they step away from their Venom and Motorhead albums and lay into the gallops. Not that there is anything wrong with being influenced by either band, but I think Midnight has a personality of their own that I would like to hear shine though more often.

Despite the band brazenly wearing their influences on their sleeves , this album sounds better than the previous one. It has two songs that are absolutely killer and the rest are pretty decent too. I think they were successful at creating the album they set out to, it does take me back to a point in time when metal was more dangerous so that gets them points in book. I'll give this album an 8. I don't see myself really wearing this one out , but fans of the band will enjoy it.

Gothtober - the Haxans : 'Party Time"

Ash Costello from New Years Day is embracing her inner Mortica Addams . I fully support this is a good look for her, but as a sound it has interesting results that works in varying degrees. This album works best when it carries an almost 60s go-go rock n roll feel that it married to a more modern sound. When the sound of Modern radio rock creeps in it doesn't have the same charm. They begin to go further down this road by the third song "Dirty Magic" that finds them colliding with a sound that has more in common with Halestorm and In This Moment. When her voice goes up into more of rock n roll upper register is carries a Lita Ford like edge. Yes, this album is darker than her other band , though fairly upbeat for goth. Lyrically song like "Black Cat Bone" works with the music in a similar way that Rob Zombie's solo work does. As a lyricist she is not as creative as Zombie , but these songs are fun.

They cover 45 Grave's "Party Time",  which gets them points in my book. They dance all of the death rock out of it, but it was always a big dumb song. This album is a reminder of how much hinges on the production choices a band makes. Dialing back the distortion returns them to a creepier 60s styled sound. I think these moments more more original and give them more of a signature sound by filling a void that is not as crowded as the landscape of radio rock. The electronic elements do work on "Witch Wave". Its like if Lords of Acid decided to become more of a rock band. They switch decades and go in a more new wave direction on "I Think Of Demons", though it filtered through more of a modern pop lens. Lyrically it's a little weak, but otherwise well constructed. They get darker on "Professional Weirdo" once again embrace a more electronic side that recalls many of the bands wanting to be Nine Inch Nails from the 90s.

The vocals ride the beat more like a pop, so though it reminds me of a dancey version of the Donnas the way the guitar comes in. The lyrics to "Boo" are so silly it's hard to take the song seriously. The big 80s rock chorus is catchy despite this so you might find your self torn when it comes to this guilty pleasure. They close the album with a very toned down cover of the Misfit's "Vampira" . I'll give this album a 9 it's a lot of fun, not the darkest thing to come out this October, but good background music for a party.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I Klatus :' Nagual Sun"

The new album from this Chicago band  opens with the hypnotic throb that I miss from Jesu. It does gather speed and builds into more of a sludged out chug. The bulk of the vocals in a throaty bellow though so robotically effects dripping sung vocals come it.  The bass player and drummer have run the gambit in terms of bands  having played in acts like Bury the Machines, Yakuza, Lair of the Minotaur, Serpent Crown and Earthen Grave. The first song builds up into a blast beat that oddly has little to do with black metal. Feedback flourishes as their sound is very blown out. I can imagine they are  loud as hell live.  They once again indulge atmosphere by taking their time to kick into "Serpent Cults". Its more up tempo than the first song and places them more firmly as a sludge band, with slight crusty tendencies.

The lines between doom and sludge sometimes cross like at the very beginning of "Sorcerer's Gaze" where I can hear some Celtic Frost influence. When he tries to sing going into the chorus it reminds me of Chronos. There is a break that sounds like they are going into anther song then then come back playing something closer to black metal. I am not sure the point of this.It's not bad , it just doesn't compute in my head as to their motives in terms of songwriting. They ebb and flow back from a monolithic lumber to twinkling atmosphere on "Moment of Devastation" . One things I like about this album is the harshness is balanced out by the many colors of ambiance they have painted the corners of this record with. This steers it towards that sweet spot I want where it is heavy sonically as it is metal. Many of these sweeping sounds grace "the Alivist" .

There is a denser heaviness to the mid tempo rumble of "Jaws of the Shark". The vocals take a lower death metal growl. After an interlude of noise they ease into the more "Planet Caravan" like intro of "Final Communion". It doesn't stay dreamy long enough for this to be considered a sludge power ballad. It does ebb back down after the first heavier chorus section. I'll give this album an 8.5, if you are into sludge but want something different than Neurosis worship then this is an album well worth the investment of your time to check out.

Desert Roach : "Cholla"

When you throw words like industrial and death rock around it's easy for me to get my hopes up. I have been reviewing albums long enough to know better, but there is still that idealistic teenager in me who needs to listen the the older wiser and jaded version of me that has heard this all before. First off the mix on this album is odd. It's minimalist in some places and has a guitar tone that is wanting. It's a lesson why being a one man band might not always be the best idea. Wreck& Reference would be a good point of reference to wreck and illusions that this is soooo original.  The more screamed vocal could use some effects on it. There is a moodier version of indie rock that is not tense enough to be post punk no matter how much the vocals yell. If this had better production it might all work. Instead it sounds more like a demo than a album. Sonically there are some decent ideas sprinkled in, but if he had a different set of ears , then things like the more aggressive yelled vocal should have never left the gate.

The yelling works a little better despite the iffy mix on "Tennessee honey Queen" . The lyrics sound like they are left over from high school. "Mojave" would have worked better if he had a real band behind him. He keeps yelling about god, which is one of this albums themes. Even hearing "Six Six Six" which comes the closest so far to being death rock thanks to the bass, line it is hard to hear how some one could refer to this as death rock. "The Dirt" does have darker Joy Division feel to it, though still not death rock. By the time we get to "Alive" it's clear this album is showing signs of improvement. I guess I am getting used to the shitty production.It does begin to get darker, though this album is not however dark enough for me to brand it with the Gothtober seal of approval. The vocals are at their best on "Vacant Mind". I like the dreary drone of this one. Congrats that he wrote a song that is actually good here. He yells about cumming in someone's mouth on the last song which has a decent guitar part that floats in the back ground, the solo like guitar melody though is too far up in the mix so the results are odd. I'll give this one a 7 which is a lot fucking higher than expected. I had to round it down , because the production almost made it difficult to listen to in the first place. He did prove he cane write a song and there are some good ideas that could have been better realized with more hands on board.

Electric Wizard : "Wizard Bloody Wizard"

The band's 9th album opens with the nihilistic blues of the lead single "See You In Hell". Despite the album's title it's somewhat less of a love affair with Black Sabbath and more of a homage to the fuzzed out garage rock of the 60's. The drummer was obviously influenced by Mitch Mitchell's drumming on "Manic Depression" here. Not as aggressive as what we have heard from them in the past, but it sounds better the more you dial up the volume. The band took it upon themselves to handle the production in their own studio. Sonically this allows for less bells and whistles as it's stripped down to what the band sounds like just plugging straight into their amps. The creates a dry more more ranged sound, and thus a more retro affair.

 The tempo shifts into more a methed out boogie on "Necromania". Lyrically "Hear the Sirens Scream" sounds like he went into the vocal booth with no lyrics prepared and just vamped off the top of his head. This song also has a more of a jamming feel to it and is not as focused in it's attack. It begins to drag a little once they hit the seven minute mark and I begin to wonder if it's going anywhere else or just more of the same. The answer they give me after declaring "drugs are their religion" is a guitar solo. It could have stood to come more forward in the mix rather than sitting back in the wall of guitar.

A keyboard does appear at the beginning of the three minute drone "the Reaper". "Wicked Caresses " embraces a darker more traditional doom approach. It doesn't wallow in the linger tempo and hover under 90 bpms, when not in the total doom of the verse riff. They stay on a slower doomy shuffle for the closing anthem "Mourning of the Magicians" . He returns to claiming he will sill you in hell so I had to check to see if I had let the stream loop back around to the beginning , so this one didn't hold my attention as much as the first few songs. I also notice that his voice lacks the effects it's normally drenched in on their other albums. I can hear how this gives it more of a Coven like sound and less of a mid 70s Ozzy. But it makes the vocals cut through less like another instrument and showing he is a one trick pony here.Other wise this is a pretty solid album, I'll give it an 8.5, it has less apocalyptic thunder than albums like "Dopethrone" but I like the trashy exploitative mood it creates in the simplicity of the songs. They also prove you don't need long pondering wandering to be doom.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gothtober- The Fright : "Canto V"

Singer Lon Fright who obviously named this band after himself claims to love both goth and cock rock, so we are getting something not unlike H.I.M. which is more like the classic era of love metal, though I can hear some 69 Eyes fans getting excited for this. The singer has a great range, as he belts in his baritone register and can get up into a more Bon Jovi register with some grit to it.The tightly harmonized vocals at the beginning of "No One" are pretty cool. This album is well produced. Their producer knows how to get the big arena sound and the more bat cave sound. But it's more foot on the monitor rock on the second song with layers of vocals. The return to the more goth sound feels a little Billy Idol on "Wander Alone" which is kinda of the cross roads of the two if you think about it. I am not as much of a fan of the chorus on this song, it recalls many of the elements I didn't like about hair metal in it's hey day.

I wish more of the guitar parts were like those in "Love is Gone" as when they get into the major power chords it's a little too upbeat for me, but this song is a better of the metal elements. He finally reaches up into more of a metal yodel in the background of "Fade Away" which is a power ballad. The guitar solos could stand to be more rock god like. I mean if you are going for it , then go epic. They start off more goth with "Oblivion" then I find myself waiting for them to blow it up into arena rock which seems to be the formula. The two sides of this band start off wrestling, but the hair metal one wins out on "Leave" . While I have zero emotional attachment to 97 percent of all guitar solos, they do let one rip like I knew was waiting inside of them on "Drowned in Red". The collision of styles also makes for some almost Danzig like moments.

There is more of an creeping power ballad feel to " Century Without a Name" . They wave the cock around when it comes to the chorus. I am not sure how the dynamic shift works going back into the second verse. German is always more goth. Even despite the brighter notes played on the piano that sit behind the strummed guitars of the last song. I'll give this album a 9. I had to round it down from a 9.5 as some of the arena rock parts are too happy for me. Overall it's a solid combination of the two though I can't help but thinking this album would have done better during the Myspace years.