Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Strange Case of Jesse Lacey

The once endeared lead singer Jesse Lacey of Brand New has found himself caught up in the latest witch hunt  stemmed from the Harvey Weinstein scandal. In indie music he was iconic for millennials who grew up with him in the days of Myspace. The purpose of my thoughts here are not to convince you if his actions are right or wrong. I can’t do this as I do not believe in things like right or wrong , or good and evil. What I am going to do is show that this situation more sides and dimensions to it.So far everything that I have seen online in regards to this strange case of Jesse Lacey intends to place judgement on him since people just love be outraged these days at the risk of not being armed with all the facts .

Why is Jesse Lacey being lumped in with the Harvey Weinsteins of the world when there are greatly differing variables. Before we get into these variable know that I can consider these varied layered from one of my many perspectives. Things do not have to be black and white, not only do they not have to be this way, they in fact rarely are. I could choose to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of music journalist, but I see things from other sets of eyes. As someone who survived childhood abuse, as the father of a 7 year old girl who will grow up to be a teenager, and as  someone with mental illness. All things that factor in this strange case of Jesse Lacey. So the varied dimension will be weighed against these perspectives.

Looking at this situation as a survivor not a victim I process things from present not the past . Survivors make it to the other side of a incident and keep moving forward, victims stay stuck in the past . They do this for various reasons, for me it was excuse to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. If you have listened to Lacey’s lyrics then it’s not mystery he has been outspoken about mental illness. Mental illness can be too broad of a term, so let’s assume his diagnosis is bi-polar disorder. Hyper Sexuality is a symptom of this illness. This creates a cycle of going into a manic episode and acting out of one’s symptom in order to self -medicate. In America not only is mental health stigmatized , but Americans are also sexually repressed compounding the problem. Whatever you resist persists. So the hyper sexuality of bi-polar can turn into a full blown sexual addiction.

This brings up another question to the next layer in the strange case of Jesse Lacey. Since bi-polar is often co-morbid with addiction, then why is it that it’s fine for music journalists to cover drug addicts and alcoholics without persecuting them? Are all addicts not equal? Is someone with a gambling addiction better than a heroin addict? Unlike most of the repchild the role I played as an adult was choosing to drag that around with me. Are you going to carry your torch for whatever cause is popular at the moment or do you truly want equal treatment of all. Are you going to pick and choose what minorities deserve to not be persecuted. Doing so could cause the problem presented here where black and white thinking paints you into a corner , because it’s not convenient to consider more than one side . The mentally ill have been one of the more silent minorities. This has caused things like budget cuts in mental health services. Yet mass shooting happen and we want to talk about guns, not the people who used them. People should be held accountable for their actions , even the mentally ill, though a court of law takes things like mental illness into consideration when the accused are on trial.  

In looking at this as a parent I try to teach my daughter the hard truths of life. Rock stars should be lost in the throes of excess, the best music has been made this way, if you don’t believe this then like Bill Hicks says go home and throw away your records collection if it’s worth a shit because the greatest music was made by people real high on drugs. Sex can be a drug. So my daughter knows that since she shares my genes doing drugs might not be the most effective way to a sane life free of addiction.I will also teach her  If you don’t want to get caught in the whirlwind of other people’s addiction create healthy boundaries, do expect people to create those boundaries for you. If this had been Tommy Lee or Gene Simmons, then it would be expected of them to have a trail of lewd and animalistic sex acts behind them I would be disappointed if they didn’t since these are the Old Gods of when rock was dangerous. I love their music , but as a parent know better than to allow my daughter to talk to Tommy Lee online until she is 18, then she has all the free-will of an adult.

What about Jesse Lacey’s free will? I wasn’t there I don’t know. According to the 12 step programs the courts send addicts to he might be powerless over his addiction if he is not making a choice to do something about it. He seems to be doing something about it. Perhaps he will make direct amends unless doing so would injure him or others. Only he can answer that. We can only put together what we know from what we have read on-line. But stories always have more than one perspective from which they can be told. When you are too busy being outraged your vision gets narrow and you become as intolerant as the intolerance you say you won’t tolerate.

the Faceless : "In Becoming a Ghost "

I used to love "Planetary Duality" then the album after that sucked harder than a Tom of Finland portrait, what was even worse however was when I saw them on a Summer Slaughter tour and the clean vocals came across thin and out of key and the over processed guitar tone was weak. "Digging the Grave' strikes me a being a step in a direction away from the suckage that was "Autotheism" is certainly goes in a proggier direction by the end of the song.I don't care for shredding one way or the other, but this is how to do it if that is where you going.

There is the line-up changes to talk about. Lets face it Micheal Keene is the only original member so clearly it's his show. The only members of note to speak of would be former Oceano drummer Chas Westmoreland, who plays drums on this album, but not listed as a member of the band. Then there is Abigail Williams alumni Ken Sorceron who is handling all the harsher growls with Keene still handling the clean vocals which are split about fifty fifty on this album. There is a more of a darker quirk to the jerking motion of "Cup of mes". The brief burst of electronica makes me think these guys have heard Igorrr. The clean vocals are lower and have a little more resonance to them. The bass lines were all recorded by Keene, so while they wind around the guitar patterns with some mimicry they are better than what you think of typically coming from a guitarist who is playing bass.

"The Spiraling Void" finds them spiraling down into some Dream Theater like masturbatory excess.They redeem themselves with an unexpected cover of "Shake the Disease". There is a slight hint of Mike Patton to the clean vocals at the chorus of "I Am". Thankfully the instrumental that follows is kept to under three minutes. The clean vocals on "the Terminal Breath" have a almost more of a punk bite to their initial sneer and later smooth out into a croon. Musically it's a decent balance of showing off and writing something for the vocals to make sense of over. So this album is a hug improvement over the last one I'll give it a 8.5.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Taake : "Kong Vinter"

It's fitting that I am reviewing the new Taake on Black Friday. From the first song I can tell things are more polished in some ways.The vocals are what you call expect from Hoest who once again is also taking on every thing else in a way that makes this one man band sound very organic like it's four guys jamming in a room, which is a feat in and of itself. Like the other albums released in the past ten years there is some rock n roll influence mixed in with the trappings you now expect of black metal. The vocals have a more hateful scowl on the darker "Inntrenger". It is more melodic than the opener, which helps to win me over. There is a more depressive feel to the pulse of the song.

Judging by the song titles the third and fourth songs are meant to be an inversion of each other. The first of these finds the bass taking a more prominent role in the angular riff that starts off the song and is the most least likely thing I would expect to hear on a black metal album. Two and a half minutes in t is a riff that would not be out of place on earlier Chelsea Wolfe. The vocals on this song the most layered so far. The fourth song proves to be an inversion in the sense that the third song is what you would not expect from black metal while the fourth song is what you would expect. Though if we are taking into consideration expectations , It is more along the lines of Enslaved than what I expect from Taake, minus the clean vocals . The drums do stray from the blast beat to give more of a disco swing on the high hat. The riff takes some twists and turns , making it more progressive than anything I have heard from this project before.

The album begins to get mired down in more conventional forms of black metal until hitting the more majestic gallop of "Maanebrent" which is clean and precise much like Enslaved, or at least the Enslaved albums of the past decade. As the song progresses the chord modulations become more interesting. Oddly the album ends with a ten minute instrumental, which is decent , but takes less risks than some of the songs we heard earlier in the album.I'' give this album an 8.5 , it starts off strong then the sense of adventure wanes. I think it sounds great and fans of this project should be open to the changes.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Death of Lovers : "the Acrobat"

Their first album was darker falling somewhere between death rock and shoe-gaze. Their sophomore release finds the band now  growing up through the 80s into new wave. You can here touches of Flock of Seagulls on the opener, then on the second the synths take over. It bouncy and upbeat, detached but happy. The vocals show signs of improvement as the melodies slide smoother over the arrangements and they are singing out rather than allowing the vocals to lose themselves in the murky mix. "Ursula" is more Gary Numan like in it's dance floor pulse. I like how the vocals were produced on this album and they also got some pretty crisp clear guitar tones that let the melodies ring out. The drums could stand to come up some though.

Some of the old familiar sounds like the Cure inflected guitar tone returns on "the Lowly People", though it's largely a more electronic affair with the vocals staying in the calm Gary Numan range. Things go in a more New Order direction with "Perfect Direction". Vocally it owes more to their shoe gazing other band.  There is a more organic feel to "Quai d' Orsay" that falls somewhere in between The Church and the Cure. The chorus has a more understated melody either of those bands typically employs. The vocals also more detached in their plaintive plea. The guitar solo in this song is pretty cool. They make a slight retreat back to the shadows with the bass line of "Divine Song" that is a return to their darker past sound, though more reflective than brooding.

The sax solo tagged onto "the Absolute" is a nice touch and helps break things up, for some reasons this song makes me think of that band Vhs or Beta. I'll round this down to a 9 since it's not as dark as the first album. I might round it back up you never know how an album is going to grow on you and it might just need a few more listens. Obviously to as high as it did it's not shabby and I plan on giving it the chance to ride for a few weeks and my iPod which is one of the biggest compliments I can give an album since those gb's are landscape in high demand.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Godflesh : "Post Self"

Justin Broadrick's flag-ship project has been many things over the years some heavier than other's . Some incarnations paved the way for Jesu more clearly.The opening track with please fans of the earlier incarnation as it is heavier. The vocals have a snarl to them. It carries more of a drone while "Parasite" that follows has more of a groove and militant barked growl.The first to songs moved with more of a metallic stomp, leaving "No Body" as the first song to strike me as industrial. It's also the first song that caused the involuntary head bob. The vocals are gruff but muted under the beat. This is the best of the three opening tracks it blends atmosphere and machine driven heaviness.

There are some really cool effects on the chant of the vocals on "Mirror of Finite Light". This places the song closer to Jesu.  Then there is the throb of a more apocalyptic darkness on "Be God".  The atmosphere gets almost shoe gaze like going into "the Cyclic End". The vocals are more sung, there is a lower moan to them so they are more punk than how he normally sings. It is very dark, though more of drone that something you can see yourself jamming out to on the way to get beer. This album does drone more than his work, though it is a few shades darker so I can deal with that compromise. The title track find the vocals sitting back and dissonant slabs of guitar creating the pounding pulse.I can appreciate the more experimental touches but think this band works best when driven by beats that sound like a giant robot stomping through a city. The effects on the vocal on "Mortality Sorrow" only further this comparison. Thicker layers of synths coat this song.

There are some great hefty bass tones on this album. One of them is the back bone to "In Your Shadow". The overall production on this album is great. Very created and spacious, yet able to crush you when things need to retract and get more in your face. The vocals come in under blanket of effects to sound more like another instrument. The album closes with the aptly titled "the Infinite End". This one is thicker on the atmospheric with the vocals buried under the swirl of drifting sound. Another song to fly away to on your bed after popping some pills , but not for being out in the world, unless you are driving around stoned as a bat. I'll around this one up to a 9.5, it might not be their best album , but it's a damn good one.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Morrissey : "Low in High School"

We know this is always hard for me, as the expectations for some one of his magnitude in my life is out of this world. Things are very different on this album.The production is weird it sounds like this album was recorded on a space ship. Vocally the first song is a mixed bag as it it is not crooned as smoothly, though he even goes up into a falsetto, perhaps not as easily as he once did. Despite the accents of the horn section that song is pretty dark despite the skip in it's step. Some kind of of yelling in the background when it resolves and fades out. "I Wish You Lonely" automatically feels more like classic Morrissey despite the weird surrounding the production and some of the songs that sound like they are from a St. Vincent album. But this song has a groove I can get down with and sign off on.

The producer of this album also produced "World Peace Is None Of Your Business", along with this year's Cherry Glazerr album. The lyrics teeter on melody of "Jacky's Only Happy When She is Up On Stage". The narrative seems to be the focal point. There are some interesting guitar tones.His vocals get back to smoother place I want from him on "Home is A Question Mark". There is a surf rock reverb on the guitar in the last 2 minutes of this song. I had heard the single "Spent the Day in Bed" and was all right with it even though it is strangely upbeat. His voice sounds great here and that is the most important part of this. Lyrically this is a very politically in your face album, but he is not taking a side when it comes to American politics , but makes fun of the sheep who put stock in things like the news.

At almost seven and a half minutes "I Bury the Living" is the album's longest song. There is too much atmosphere on the front in which could have trimmed a minute of its run time. The vocals are more spoken than sung. He is not fond of war either. I guess this is a good veterans day song. The little "Funny how the war goes on..." part seems like a different song than a coda/ refrain. "In Your Lap" is piano based ballad that meanders. The piano part in "the Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel" works much better as the song has focused melody and movement.There is a collision of disconnected lyrical themes on "All the Young People Must Fall in Love". Musically it reminds me of one of Ringo Starr's song which sounds like it should be in a parade. This is counter balanced by "When You Open Your Legs' which throws in an strange mix of musical styles that some how work in the way they are stirred together. There are almost as many horns on this album as a ska band might have, just used more wisely.

After the opening movies Moz plays live with clips of police brutality " Who Will Protect Us From the Police" is no surprise. It's always a pretty decent song, despite the groove of it's new wave bass line. "Israel" is another ballad , but this time it is a more compelling middle finger to religion that I can get down with too.Not his best album, but it is still better than the best from most so I 'll round it up to a 9.5, as I might have been a little hard on certain parts.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Heavydeath : "Sarcophagus in the Sky"

The Swedish doom band who is no stranger to this blog is back. The lines between death metal and doom are much clearer on this album. In fact this would border that where doom and sludge meet more than death metal .The vocals are low and gruff , but not totally growled going into the ten minute opening. It does build into more of a moving rumble, but stays pretty satisfied in its own shadows. "Hunter" has more movement and gets closer in it's throb to sludge. Though there is a very depressing energy to it's melody. The vocals are more of a growl here, though this song is more melodic than the first.

The heaviest most death tinged moment comes midway into "Path to the Altitude". This album is very spacious. In a bleak atmospheric manner. It doesn't press down on you with the weight some doom bands might. There are some dissonant black metal like chords in places that provide a nice dynamic touch and give the album varied shades of down trodden gray to chose from. The title track is pretty dark once they get into the meat of the matter. It's the kind of darkness I always speak the virtues of . The kind that proves being dark is just as effect manner of being heavy as the more blunt force methods used by death metal bands. The vocals are lower and do have more menace to their growl on this one. Sung vocals also come in. They are low and kinda gothy.

The flange laden guitar tone opens "Autumn of Life" . The vocals have more of a Neurosis like gruffness to them. They churn into a more solid pound of simmering sludge. Not as melancholy or dark as the preceding song. The close the album with "Dawn Without Sun". It has more of a doom like lethargy about it. I'll round this album up to a 9, it doesn't end with what I consider the strongest song , but hits some really awesome moments up until that point, thus the 9, not perfect before moments are stunning.

GBH : "Momentum"

What's impressive is aside from drummer Scott Preece this is the same line-up from 1978.  The album opens in similar vein of metal as Motorhead. Too aggressive to just be rock n roll, but closer to metal than punk despite the gang vocals that chime in. It does sound good. The production is more organic and rock in roll. The second song does go in a more punk direction, though heavily rock influenced and not as aggressive. Granted these guys have been playing for almost 40 years so if they don't know how to play their instruments at this point there would be a problem. Of course with these guys being a punk band the songs are very compact and stream lined. Vocalist Colin Abrahall sounds great somewhere between punk grit and the kinda rock snarl that Taime Downe from Faster Pussycat carries.

The chug of "Population Bomb' finds them back between Judas Priest like hard rock and punk. It's also one of the album's better songs. "Enemies" has more of the straight forward punk riffing. However I don't think it's as solid  of a song as some of the more thoughtfully written songs on their more rock side. "Us Against the World" confirms this theory, though it balances out both sides of the band. The tempo picks up for the aptly named title track that falls well within the bounds of being punk. Granted some of the more punk riffs just sounds like all the other punk riffs you have ever heard , but that is the nature of this beast.

"The Perfect Storm" finds Colin's sneer retaining a sense of street sleaze. For punk this is more mid tempo though for rock it would be considered brisk. There is more of the 80s LA shuffle to "50 What" which must be about being an aging punk rocker. Though they sound almost as young as the did in the early 80's when they were more charged. The tighter riffing on "I Never Asked For Any of This" sets it apart from the earlier songs. "Blue Sky Thinking" starts off with a fanfare that would not be out of place on a Poison album. Not as aggressive as they once were, they make up for it with the catchy choruses and guitar solos, which you may or may not want from these guys. I have never really that invested in them to get my feelings hurt either way. I do like the ode to the woes of drinking called "Liquid Paradise " they close they album with it has a slightly Stooges like swagger to it .I like this album I'll give it a 8.5, as the more straight forward punk moments can be a little boring with the 1,2, 3, go style of punk. It comes out this week on Hellcat Records.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interview :Steve Tucker of Morbid Angel

Originally did this interview for No Clean Singing, but figured this would give me another chance to edit it, and for those of you who don't read that blog, then here is your chance to catch it here. I reviewed the new Morbid Angel "Kingdoms Disdained" last week and it continues to grow on me, so I am glad I got to catch up with Steve Tucker and get some further insight on the album's creation. It went like this...

Not only does the album have big sound but it’s very dense, sonically closer to blessed are the sick , what did you guys do differently in the studio this time around ?

 We worked with Erik rutan. Erik just delivered a lot of very real sounds. It’s a bit old school but with high quality. The older stuff like “Blessed “ had that live feel, which is what we got here.

 Scott Fuller seems to have a more powerful style of playing than Tim’s what has it been like working with him what sets him apart from other drummers ?

 Scotty is great . He has years of playing of drums under his belt even though he is a young. As a drummer he is very well developed. We have a good dialogue talking about different kinds of beats. He understands what we need. The best thing is he is capable of anything, yet doesn’t insist on over playing. He serves the song can play in the pocket or flashy. It's a hard combination to find. Scotty is technically sound and knows when to back off.

 Was Dan involved in the making of the new album?

 Not so much. It was just the three of us . The way we did for formula and heretic.The line of communication was short so there was never any misunderstanding. I felt like anyone else it would have been undue work . It would be unnecessary stress in the equation.

 Vocally your best work, harsh vocals can take on uniform stereotypes but there is a lot of emotional nuance in this performance, what do you attribute that to ?

 I think it's working with Erik he is somebody who I trust when. If you have seen any of his behind the scenes videos then you know, when he feels the need to give his opinion he doesn't pull punches. It allows everyone to perform up. i think the topic is so deep and dark at the end of the wick passion was called for.

 Which leads right into my next question, the lyrical theme of the old gods awakening to find the world in it’s current state has a more confrontational feel and less of the escapism when this is given a more occult perspective, is this the mood meant to capture and how did this theme come about?

 That is absolutely what it felt like it was happening. This is something we have always talked about sumerian gods and mythology. To us it seemed like it has come to head. These prophecies being fulfilled. CivilizationS across the planet from different time frame come together now. What was once hypothetical is now more realistic, this idea of chaotic order . The whole earth is heaving with volcanoes and tidal waves. There is serendipity to the things we speak about . This sickens the gods.

Things like mass shooting becoming so frequent must fall into that 

 That would be one of the things. Bred off of an outsider mentality. Society builds the molds. It becomes a spiritual thing. It affects their souls and psyche’s ability to see right and wrong. How can people be shocked with all the negativity. Elections all across world shifted in the more conservative direction. For the government's Middle East this means muslims. In the United States it falls back to christianity. England the more conservative is Brexit wanting to break away from United Nations. When things are forced upon you, when you force change people snap. The song “Righteous Voice” is about how people never really see the truth. They see what is righteous. These people doing mass shootings have the righteous voice in their head. So all these individual rights are based on what is going on their life. So 8 billion individuals wanting this , it’s ridiculous. The Earth was never meant to sustain that many people. These people want rights and willing to die for what seems right. It affects the planet . Being more that disruptive more negative. The upheaval is there is getting to be more natural disasters coming with more force. The hurricane this fall was more violent. Some say it’s the greenhouse effect, it could be the overall hatred and selfishness of people. The average person that works in high rise would mock that. Well I mock what they do, the 9 to 5. Why live under someone's thumb like that ?

 In his marketing p/r of Kiss ,Gene Simmons said said Kiss was not anyone person but a bigger concept. On you new album you can hear the bigger concept of Morbid Angel, you can hear more of the classic Morbid Angel signatures was that part of the mission statement when you guys were in the writing process of these songs ? 

 Honestly the chemistry of Trey and Myself creates a pretty gluttonous monster of music. Morbid has had a few different entities. They had their own chemistry and vibe prior to when i came along. Then when I came on board we did some albums that were dark and mean. David came back with a different vibe. What I want to do musically, my drive and goal has not changed. It's not different from 15 or 10 years ago. It is not that I rely on the same ideas. I have grown , have been playing more playing guitar and becoming a better musician. What I want out of the music is nt different than when i was 17. I want people to head band, throw horns, yell and get out hatred and aggression. Trey and I might follow a similar spiritual path so that also creates a unity .

 What can fans expect going forward from you guys live ? 

 They can expect to see Morbid Angel and hear songs from all different times. We are changing the songs a lot , not playing the same exact set. Not sticking to the same songs. Trey said to me “Come on Dude, I love these songs, I don’t want to get bored playing them.” Some songs are coming back with a renewed excitement. Morbid Angel has some big songs, but we are going to play a lot more of the catalog. There are a few that haven't been played as much. We want to pull those out. We want you to be able to see us twice in the same year and not get the same set.

 How has the current state of tensions in the world affected you guys touring?

 Now everything is scrutinized. There was an issue with passports and it took six months to get things done cus of a mistake . Everything is scrutinized, there is a lot of shit going on. In Poland Behemoth got in trouble for representing the polish flag in some way. There have been a couple bands that have gone to Russia and been arrested. Extreme views clash with the uptight views. This tension is a good thing for us as people turn to metal for relief .

 “Yeah I mean death metal came about under George Bush senior “

 Every one felt oppressed , we have been at war for thirty years. theory testing young dude who are bad i respect them now a lot more diversity takes on metal didn't exist it feeds this people are looking for controlled aggression metal been an outlet for that.

 Funny you brought that up as my next question was going to be...How do you feel about where heavy metal as a whole is heading in 2017 ? 

 It’s great a lot of great diversity. One good thing internet has done is made a generation of musicians that are phenomenal. They are learning arpeggios online it’s amazing. I was listening to XM Radio Liquid Metal and hear this band Kyng. They kicks ass, good to hear a band that is just heavy metal and not much different than Dio. Then on the rawer side there are great bands like battle cross and goatwhore ,

 Haha well Goatwhore is the band that is duking it out with you guys on my iPod for death metal album of the year.

 Thanks , man it means a lot coming from you. When finally got a chance to sit down and listen to our new album I was like holy shit it takes you on a journey

 What are plans for 2018?

 Going back out, a lot of touring States in the early spring, and now that we got everything worked out rest of the world in the summer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Morvigor : "Tyrant"

This band from the Netherlands plays a fairly straight forward death metal influenced version of black metal. They have enough sonic depth and emotionally charged melody to qualify as black metal. Many of the riffs are pretty hooky. It is clear these guys care about the songs. This might seem a little false to some who just want to be blast beaten to death. The vocals have some rhyme and reason to them working around the guitar much lie sung vocals would. They head into an even more melodic direction going into "the Martyrs Ascension". The bass has more drive , but it is in the same realm of melody as Dissection. It takes almost four minutes before they get into the galloping meat of the song. The guitar carries the melody most of the type here as the vocals maintain the typical role of growled vocals in melody though offering as much dynamic variance as they can without singing actual notes.

The centerpiece of this album is the 15 minute "Blood of the Pelican". This raises the question as any song of this length... can it keep my interest for 15 mins. Anything is possible , but not everything is likely. Two minutes in and I can hear where fat could have been trimmed off the intro. It's a cool melancholy melody that could have done without dragging on. The bass player of this band is really good and throws in lots of melodic fills. The opening riff doesn't build until two and a half minutes in. On the previous song they ran into a similar struggle with the winding opening . They don't have to get to the point, but it's a case where it would have been cool for six measures rather than sixteen. At the four and a half minute mar the double bass kicks in and the meat of the song is underway.

The title track is more along the lines of Goatwhore, who are the main band that seems to influence these guys in terms of how they vocals are traded for from a death growl to a higher scowl. Not as heavily influenced by death metal as perhaps newer Goatwhore, there is more of an epic thrash feel closer to the snow capped mountains of Immortal. The clean vocals surface show up at the end of this song and give it more of a viking metal feel. Overall this album is really well done I'll give this album, which would almost be more like an ep if it was not for the 15 minute song an 8.5. It's well played and dynamic, doubtful I will get a great deal of extended listening out of this since it possess many of the same qualities derived from other bands I already have in my iPod, but if you are looking for some accessible black metal that blends other sub-genres seamlessly this is a good album to pick.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Report to the Dance Floor - Taylor Swift : "Reputation"

So rather than my normal review format I am going to rank these songs from most mediocre to the best none are terrible, but here is a look at why this may or may not live up to her previous work.


The vocals are way up front with a beat that is not substantial enough to support. If this album had been produced as well as "1989" it might have stood up better.

13-End Game -

 I like when Ed Sheeran is rhythmic in his approach , but rapping is not he forte  nor is it Future's on this song that feels very dialed in from him.

12-Call it What You Want

So Taylor is taking on a more hip hop approach to the vocal and the song face the problem most of the album does...a track that offers no support to what she is doing, but doesn't have the clutter of "End Game"

11-Getaway Car- 

This song reminds me of "Out of the Woods", the problem is the more minimalist production style of this album does give the vocal an interesting enough backing track to propel it.

10- King of My Heart-

While the beats on this song are more interesting than "Getaway Car" the vocal drifts around the 808 beat rather than really engaging me.

9-I Did Something Bad -  

there is a melody coming out of the chorus that is pretty cool, but while this might be next level shit for Selena Gomez it's mediocre of Swift.

8- Don't Blame Me -

Is marginally more organic by virtue of the blues inflected nature of the chorus - 7

7-Dancing With Our Hands Tied

Not her best work, but more dynamic than half the songs on the album.

6-New Years Day 

As far her ballads go it's a step down from "Haunted'

5-Gorgeous - 

This was the first song I heard from this album after "Look What You Made Me Do" so it was a little bit of a let down on first listen , but it makes more sense in the context of this album.It grew on me a little here.

4-So it Goes 

This colder calculated android love song theme was already established in "Delicate" so it feels like a continuation of that theme.


Has a more minimalist feel with her vocals coated in space age effects, but she vocals weaves around the song well.

2- Look What You Made Me Do 

This song has already spoken for it.

1-...Ready For It 

This song beats out "Look What You Made Me Do" as it is more in your face.

I'll round this up to an 8, which is a big step down for her as "Red" , "Speak Now" and "1989" are all 10s. Hopefully this did into the pop status quo which hear means dumbing things down to blend in with her vapid peers like ...well you know who.The best songs on this album are better than the best songs on Katy Perry's album, but Halsey beats her at the pop game here.

Cvlt Nation Presents : the Misfits' "Walk Among Us"

 Here is another installment of Cvlt Nation Presents. In the past they have given bands the opportunity to tackle other classics by bands like Bathory, Black Sabbath, Joy Division and Black Flag. Here the Misfits are paid tribute. An album like "Walk Among Us" I grew up with so not only know the songs like the back of my hand , but just as attached to them. The more sung portions of "20 Eyes" are better than the more screamed hardcore of "Hellkeeper". The vocals for Wraith's cover of "I Turned Into a Martian"gruff but a closer step in the direction of the original. The play a very streamlined yet raw version of hard core. Paranoid has a more manic and blow on out version of "All Hell Breaks Loose". True Love starts off with an more industrial pounding before throwing themselves into a lo-fi black metal take on "Vampira" . I guess they get props for staying true to who they are , but the essence of the song gets lost in translation.

The vocals seem to be the sticking point when it comes to most of these bands. It's not like they are being asked to sing something with a croon as demanding as "Mother". Bleach Birth lashes their way thru a rowdy swing at "Nike A Go-Go" . This is still better than Casket Huffer's butchery of "Hatebreeders" . The production quality of this is so lo-fi the notes of the guitar are just garbled shards of distortion under the gurgled death metal vocals. The blackened blitz of "Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight" suffers from much of the same problems many of the other songs do . Punk rock was always a rawer and angry take on rock, but The Misfits could play there instruments. Glenn could sing, but it's not like you are being asked to replicate Iron Maiden, punk rock is pretty easy to capture and maintain the integrity of the songs. Bleach Birth does better with "Night of the Living Dead". You can still hear the skeleton of the original, which is all I am asking for.

Beastmaker's version of 'Skulls" is the best song yet. They show you how it's done.They still managed to be true to who they are as a band. Then we are back to more feral attack this time from Black Tomb who at least gets the guitar parts right. Bleach Birth is back once again with "Devil's Whorehouse" it's another decent take even with the vocals that are more screamed than sung. I have not been impressed by what I have heard from Dreadlords in the past so I was curious if they could change my mind here. Not really the vocals sound like Nick Cave if he was 80 years old and out of breath trying to sing this. Musically they are a little rough as well, but come closer to getting the notes right. The vocals are not really in key so that makes it hard for me. I need you to sing in key if you are going to sing. False Light closes things out with "Brain eaters' which is almost more of a grind core take on it.I'll give this a 6, the Beastmaker was hands down the best moment, but there are other interesting covers , if you like punk that is on the more lo-fi and raw side then you might be less picky than me on some of these tracks.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cloak : "To Venomous Depths"

I have seen In Solitude open for Watain twice. This band from Atlanta has either seen them them just as many times or when they did see that combo play together it had such a profound impact on them that they said "What if we formed a band that blended the two sounds?" So they asked vocalist/ guitarist Scott Taysom "Can you do a King Diamond impersonation, not the high stuff just the moaning baritone?"  "No" he answered. "Ok that's fine" they replied just go with a more Dissection style vocal where you talk gruffly through the songs, but never really growl or scream". Scott could do that. It wasn't too much of a distraction from his guitar playing. This is important as there were going to be lots of layered guitar harmonies. And so this band was born.

When people used to complain that Watain sounded too much like Dissection I didn't hear it because they had a rawer pounding to them than more classic metal guitar harmonies of Dissection. Watain and Dissection has a more personal connection than a band from Atlanta would have with them. I head the word "goth" thrown around with these guys and three songs in and I have little to substantiate these claims. Yes they are a dark and melodic, but that doesn't mean you are goth. I can also hear shades of Tribulation in what they do, funny enough another band that was on the bill with In Solitude and Watain. I like this but I have the sneaking suspicion that when the new Watain comes out in January I will forget all about this album. I can only hope they don't bury the clothes they play in or have rotting animals on stage. There is a few seconds of sung vocal before the guitar solo.

There seems to be a trend with all the bands I have reviewed lately where the bass player really kills it and the guitarist not so much, though these guys buck the trend as the guitar parts are skillfully arranged in a way that is impressive in it's own right. "Beyond the Veil" is more melodic than Watain gets as far as the guitar parts go. I do like the bass driven break down in this song. The vocals go into a whispered spoken phrase for a section, but no Peter Murphy.It does go in a more rock n roll direction when it's time for the guitar solo. As things begin to get a little darker they begin to break away from some of the Watainism. The more melodic excursions are where we hear more of this band's personality. For "Death  Posture" to be able to hold my attention as an instrumental they are doing something right. "In the Darkness, the Path" finds the vocals getting a little more grit, though still in you know who mode. They have some pretty clever guitar melodies that creep out of their sonic shadows.

"Forever Burned" does open with picking that is much more Dissection than Watain. I like how they back off on the verses to give the song room to breathe. The ten minute closer "Deep Red' also embraces more of a rock n roll feel despite the more throaty roar off the vocals. In this way it makes me think a little of  Tribulation. Some of the chugging on the verses has a classic 80s metal feel. I think these guys have a lot of potential and maybe the just need to grow out of their influences and in who they are , I mean even with In Solitude there was a ton of growth going into 'Sister" and they had shed the whole Mercyful Fate thing. Obviously if you like the bands they are drawing inspiration from then this is worth a listen. I'll give this a 8.5

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lapin Helvetti : "s/t"

Finland has some funny ideas about hard-core. This band manages to rip off not one but two Metallica song's in the opening track. If you don't hear "Seek and Destroy" and "Creeping Death" both show up you don't want to hear it. Vocally their are some snarls that remind me of early Cor-mags. While they are camped out at the place where thrash and hard core used to drink beer in the 80s, they are decent enough musicians. The bass player probably the best of the bunch with some pretty cool runs coming off some of the these riffs. The second song doesn't grab me like the first did, it is also less metal, so that might factor in. They regain some of the more metallic elements on the third song which is darker.

"T.t.k" delves back into the more hard core side of what this band does. Needless to say this is also the more straight forward side of the band as well so not always my favorite. After this they return to a more metal sound with a Black Sabbath like gallop. Then for a minute they go into something more long the lines of Motorhead, but this is the exception to the rule as they normally have a more thrash like attack. To the point that heading into the second half of this album many of the songs began to sound the same. Sometimes they have a cool break down that jumps out of a song like"Rajalla". They also have more than enough guitar solos to go around.

It's the more head banging groove moments that make me take notice. When they start racing away and relying on speed it tends to sound sloppy. This is not really what could be called d-beat, though fans of that will be able to connect the dots and find things they do like about this as D-beat is rooted in thrash and punk. But this is not worshiping Discharge or Entombed. All but two of the songs are under three minutes so they comes from their punk side. I'll give this a 7 as they are good at what they do the question is do I akways like what they do?

Bully : "Losing"

I had already heard the first song off this album during my research for the top 50 songs of the year list Treblezine was doing. The second song is noisy and not as hooky as the first song, but over all they cruise along the kind of detached indie rock that bands like Sebadoh made popular in the 90s. More organic and less focused on the atmosphere created by bands like Sonic Youth. The guitar parts are more interesting and melodic than punk. On "Running" Alicia lets her voice go into more of a scream. This is contrasted by the sugary layers of backing vocals that harmonize under her , but there is enough of an edge to keep them from sounding like Haim. The songs are short and sweet with only two crossing the four minute mark.

More moods begin to crop up as the album progresses. "Seeing It " being bass driven , but more introspective than the first few songs. There is a looser boozy feel to "Guess There' which like many of these songs has some grunge around it's edges. "Blame" has that warm guitar sound that takes me back to 1995. Alicia's voice is what brings you back from the nostalgia and into this band's own identity. "Focused" ponders some of the drug mishaps and how they effect her mental state. This reflective tone makes "Not the Way" come across as to simplistic and straight forward.Even though there is a rough edge to "Spiral" it has a enough smarts to balance out. "Either Way" goes back to the more snotty raw punk tendency of the band.There is something awkward about "You Could Be Wrong" that doesn't really work itself out until the chorus.

 They go into the more indifferent grunge strum of "Hate and Control" to close out the the album. This seems an odd note for them to end on though it's not a bad song.It does end more powerfully than it starts. I will give this album a 9. There are no bad songs some of them just connect with me stronger than others. Having grown up during this era of indie rock most of this album is very familiar, I like how she injects some pop sensibilities into what she does and will keep my ears open for them.It makes sense that Sub-pop is releasing this Nashville band's new album as they sound more Seattle than Nashville.

Anti-Flag : "American Fall"

Despite the predictions on social media after Trump's win, 2017 has not has not been a big year for punk. Sure some punk album's have come out , but no more than normal. These guys have been around since 96, so they have held on longer than most pop punks bands from that area, perhaps it's because they did not shine the pop side of their hooks up as much as say Blink 182. Though these guys have always struck me as being more from an Offspring or Bad Religion mold. The second song is more run of the mill than the first. This album is well produced, which might have taken some of the punk snarl from it. One of the fools from Good Charlotte produced this so that factors in on the pop meter. The first song starts off as a strummed sing a long and then goes into more of a ska bounce. My problem with ska is it's way too happy. In their promo picture one of the guys is wearing an Operation Ivy shirt so I should not be that surprised. They then proceed to sound like a pop infused Rancid on "Trouble Follows Me".

"Finish What We Started " makes it obvious that bass player is the most talented member of this band. The big choruses are beginning to get annoying. "Liar" then makes a pretty good effort to get this album back to being punk. There is a darker note to "Digital Blackout" which makes it one of the album's best songs.Here the big sing along chorus reminds me more of 80s hair metal. From there things get back to being too happy. "Racist" is one of the more lame brain moments, with lyrics that could have come from their Facebook feed. In fact sonically the final three songs fall rather flat with "Throw It Away" being the best of the three.

I think giving this one a 6 is being pretty generous as it has a few moments , but over all lacks the danger that punk should have. I am ok with the slick production if something with more depth is being packaged in it. These songs could very well be left over from the days of Myspace.

Thantifaxath : "Void Masquerading as Matter"

This Candian trio's first album found them creating an original blend of darkness and dissonance . This album album doesn't find them in the same shade of darkness, but they have not lost their sense of adventure. The guitar tone and odd time signatures have more in common with Krallice and Liturgy than Deathspell Omega. The guitar tone is cleaner, which allows you to hear the notes without being encumbered by the feedback. Midway into the song with start getting more into their odd sense of sonics with a piano break that is surrounded by an otherworldly buzz. The way the bass falls makes me think of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The way the drums carry more of a swing with them coming back in only further fuels this comparison.

They sink back into the dark place I admired on the first album going into "Self Devouring Womb". The odd time signature and almost jazz like feel return. They wind up into a more tightly coiled groove haunted with layers of atmosphere before devolving into blast beats. The results are very effective when they step away from some of the mathematics and punch with more of a chug. The song dissolves into violin , cleanly picked guitar and synths to form the opposite polarity from where the song was. The spiraling prog of 'Cursed Numbers" almost makes you dizzy. With synths blending into sound effects to keep the song going when the bottom drops out of it. Their drummer displays that he might have the widest range when it comes to going beyond the blast beat of any black metal drummer. 

The title track opens with an choral piece, that never goes any where , but sounds like something that should be used as background noise at a haunted house. No instruments are played nor is there metal to be had, instead this noise for over seven minutes. While this album is proof that black
 metal is still worth experimenting with it is only three real songs, so for the noise fest at the end I have to round this down to a 8.5. If you are looking for black metal that is dark and takes risks.Being released on Dark Descent Records.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Morbid Angel : "Kingdoms Disdained"

The more I read going into this album the more my hopes sank. I knew Steve Tucker did some shit ass tour where they did not play any of the David Vincent songs...yes, that's right nothing from the first four albums which are some of the best death metal album ever recorded. My inner 15 year old hoped perhaps Vincent would be back and they would redeem themselves for making "Illud...", this is sadly not the case. Then there is drummer Pete Sandoval who became a christian and will not play with the band for that reason. Even then I hoped perhaps he would be like a child who finally realizes there is no Santa Claus and come to his senses. So far this has not happened to we have Scott Fuller from Annihilated. This leaves Trey as the only member of the band who played on the four classics.

So the question is will this album befall the same fate of the other Steve Tucker albums? Will they just sound like a run of the mill death metal band that Trey just happens to be playing guitar solos for? If you are into jerking off to guitar solos then this might not be as bad as it sounds. He does have a very distinctive style. If I am going to be honest he is one of the better metal guitarists still standing. On this album he continues to prove he is not only a great soloist , but a riff machine. The riffs sound like infernal tanks rolling over you when the double bass locks into them. However my first listen to this album found the songs all running together as the guitars have such a uniform sinew to them. Vocally Tucker is putting a little more into it this time around and trying to recreate a growl that is more impassioned not unlike those on "Blessed Are the Sick". But I will end the Vincent vs Tucker debate right now and say it's the personality in Vincent's voice that is Morbid Angel. He serves the songs more and has a more dynamic range, including his spoken or sung sections. 

"D.E.A.D" is very heavy and very aggressive. So if you are a glue sniffer who only needs heavy, then this might work. It's not bad and perhaps better than the more mechanical sounding "Formulas Fatal to the Flesh". The attack relies more on speed . So once again another area where they are more one dimensional than the classic version of this band. Fuller is better than Tim Yeung. He has more power and is more explosive. "Garden of Disdain" finally finds a groove after opening with blasting and is the first moment that sounds like Morbid Angel to me. The way Trey works the pitch squeals into the riff of "the Righteous Voice" is very Morbid Angel.  By the time I get to "Architect and Iconoclast" I am beginning to pick up on more Morbid Angel signature nuances. I am also getting to be more o.k with Fuller, though not totally sold on Tucker yet. 

It's the tug of war between not wanting them to totally rip themselves off and recycle riffs vs not wanting the band to no longer sound like themselves. I think there is a decent compromise on "Paradigms Warped". I might be even willing to concede to the fact that Tucker is a better bass player than Vincent here, though the vocals are more intense than what I remember him doing in the past, but not as sinister sounding as Vincent. On "Altars of Madness" there was a raw anger to them, after that a wider range of emotions began to appear on "Blessed Are the Sick" .  There is new and familiar once again banging heads on " the Pillars Crumbling" Tucker's best vocal performance is the double tracked vocals of this song, that feel more like a Deicide trick , but it works. I am beginning to hear that these songs are just better written and more thought out than the stiff chugs of Tucker's other work with the band. Then they get into a more straight forward brand of death metal, with pretty impressive drumming that doesn't stand out on it's own as a song til the chorus. 

I like the pounding they give the beginning of "Declaring New Law".  It is less of a regurgitation than the heavy handed "From the Hand of Kings" which does have a cool solo section, but the rest of the song seems like riffs they have given us before used to bookend it. The blasting has already numbed me out and I think other songs have already proven the band is best served taking other avenues. When it slows down and lets the double bass catch up then it seems to work better as a simmering breeding ground for another bizarre heavily effected guitar solo. This did end up surprising me and worked out better than anticipated. I'll round it up to a 9, which means it's not as good as the first four albums , but the best thing they have done without Vincent. 


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Butcher Babies : "Lilith"

I have never really paid much attention to this band's music as I think of them as the band with two naked chicks singing. Some might think this is a misogynistic point of view. I once had a therapist who told me "In order to objectify some one else you have to have objectified yourself first". Guilty as charged evidently, though when you market yourself as being the band that has naked chicks singing for them, then don't be surprised if people call you a duck when you are wearing feathers. The title track finds them getting closer to In This Moments zip code as one of the naked girls is actually singing. This might be due to the fact that I was told they are wearing clothes now, so when you wear clothes then just screaming no longer cuts it and you have to start earning your paycheck. Similar to the fact that now the whole casting couch thing has been blown open in Hollywood, there are some girls who are actually going to have to start acting.

I know whats coming next...if this was two guys just screaming it would be ok. That is where you would be wrong. I don't settle for vocals that are obligatory. I don't care if you are male or female, dressed or undressed, if I am listening to your album and not watching you with the sound off , then I need you to be good at what you do. "Headspin" starts off offering a little more variety. They girls moan in a sensual sing song manner. So sex still sells with the clothes on. I will say I prefer the sexy talk better than there growling as that is so one dimensional it gets old quick. Even that doesn't seem to do much for "Korova". The big good cop/ bad cop change on the chorus has been done so many times it loses the effect here. I know that when it comes to metal this just might not be my thing, but I think I know when this is done well as I like many of the bands who do this back in the 90s. Vision of Disorder would be the first that comes to mind. The fact they have a song with a hash tag in the title sums up where our differences might lie.

They get into the view point of the Big Bad Wolf on "the Huntsman". Production wise the vocals are handled in a very In This Moment manner. "Controller" has something to do with being crazy or getting your feelings hurt because a guy is playing games, the song certainly fits that theme. "Oceana" finds them sticking closer to the tension of the groove, which might work better for them. The more melodic break is a nice touch as well. The vocals on it sound like they are from a musical. They do the repetitive nu-metal chant when the song builds back up. "Look What We've Done" is a pop song that goes metallic. Lyrically the chorus is geared to optimistic teenagers.

 There is more a punk feel to the verse riff of "Pomona". By the second I find myself beginning to think perhaps that is all they had going for them. Except for the guitar solo everything else could be watered down Pantera run through a filter of Myspace metal. They have plenty of break downs , but I would not call this hard core. I'll round this down to a 6.5 as it is better with the visual accompaniment, left to stand on it's own the songs are well produced and played, but not anything original, still if you miss nu-metal this might appeal to you.

Tongues : " Hreilia"

There is a reason I don't start my end of the year lists in November. It takes all of November to catch up with the rest of the year or in the case of this album check out stuff that is coming out in December.  am going through my in-box clearing out some of the promos that I thought would be cool, but upon listening to learn otherwise. While doing this I have come across a few gems the first of these being this band from Denmark. They impress me by being a black metal band that doesn't start off with blast beats. Instead they simmer in discord before allowing things to escalate there. I have said before I don't hate blast beats , you just can't be a one trick pony with them. If blast beats are all you have got then you are typically deleted midway into the second song, as I have too much music to listen to and not enough time for that. The harsh vocals here have a more fiendish rasp to them. 

By the second song the drums to get into a rawer sloppier place, but they still invoke a dynamic ebb and flow. These are at times like Deathspell Omega in their adventurous nature as the song is loaded with odd angular twists and turns. I was not expecting the guitar solo to be thrown in their. The darker throb of "And the Ever Watchful Clouds" sounds more Swedish than Danish as it carries an icy melody that would not be out of place on a Dissection or Watain album. The vocals are growled at cavernous like doom pitch. The song after this settles for being more status quo for black metal until the slower break at the two minute mark. It more blast beats and fast razor sharp riffs. The bass player does anchor this all in and gives it balls like a bass player should, but seldom does as they tend to get lost in the mix when it comes to black metal.The ending finds them stomping down into  more of a death metal like place.

Going into the album's third act they begin to fall in line with a more typical black metal sound , though the guitars still maintain a sense of melody. The album closes with the title track that starts of with bizarre soundscapes and never turns into actual metal from there. Overall this is a very solid album and I am impressed by these guys. I will give this album a 8.5 and keep an ear out for what they do in the future. This comes out on I Void Hanger on December 3rd. If you like your black metal dark and discordant this album is for you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Converge : "The Dusk In Us"

20 years ago I got into this band called Converge. Someone told me they were like Sunny Day Real estate if they were a hard core band. In the 20 years that passed they haven't let me down, though things have changed. Guitarist Kurt Ballou is now an experienced producer. With the guitarist behind the mixing board , the guitars are warm and organic sitting in the mix with every thing else. As I was listening to this new album, my iTunes shuffled it and "the Saddest Day" came on reminding me of what I fell in love with so many moons ago. They are the same band and at the same time they are not , but I have always respected what they have done. "Eye of the Quarrel" makes it pretty clear that their punk side has not gone anywhere. Bannon's vocals are not screamed with the same brand of emotional tumult that they once were. In fact you can understand what he is yelling pretty easily.

More of the grit that I want from them returns on "Under Duress". The chorus delivered in a throaty bellow. The drummer uses this song as a chance to get creative and throw in oddly timed punches. The spastic math acrobatics of "Arkhipov Calm" is what you expect from post-"You Fail Me" Converge. I have already seen the video for "I Can Tell You About Pain", but it connected with me when I listened to it through head phones. At just under seven a half minutes the title track is the album's longest running song. It's the moments where Converge indulges their more melodic side that resonates the most with me. Bannon's singing voice has come a long way. They are one of the rare birds that when you see them live you are only getting on side of the band as the more melodic fare proves to be the most unlikely for them to play live.

"Wildlife" is a better representation of what the band sounds like live. Though Bannon's vocals live are more barked than the punk manner he is spitting out clearer cut lyrics here.They tap into a unique blend of atmosphere and tension on " Murk and Marrow". There is a more Amp Rep styled noise rock to the bass driven thump of "Trigger". Both "Broken By Light" and "Cannibals" are short explosive bursts. The difference being the thrash metal riffs thrown into "Broken By Light"  , where "Cannibals" is almost more punk blasted grind core in it's outburst. Strummed guitar is not the first thing you expect from Converge. It's done in a rough around the edges , with the vocals falling somewhere between being whispered and sung. It evolves into more actual singing which might make this the Converge album with the most clean vocals.

It closes with "Reptillian" one of the songs that preceded the release of the album. This is one of the album's most clear cut metal moments. Metal is something thrown in for a few measures here and there in other places , but here headbanging is in full effect. I'll round this up to a 9.5, which falls in line with their more recent work, but not "Jane Doe " or "When Forever Comes Crashing" level. Converge fans will still be very pleased .