Friday, November 30, 2018

the Top 10 Death Metal Albums of 2018

It is that time again. I find it to be easier to go ahead and bust mine out before I started sending out other more generalized lists out to other blogs. This helps me get my thoughts sorted for those. It was when I began compiling this that I realized I was going to have to set the bar a little lower for death metal as their was more quantity than quality, so while I would not normally consider albums that scored under a 9 when first reviewed , that is what I was going to be forced to resort to for this as there were no death metal albums that scored a 10. Is death metal dying? That is the question we will learn the answer to in the coming year. I not only used the score from my reviews to help determine the ranking , but also how many times Last FM told me I listened to each album.

An album can have all the critical acclaim in the world but if it does not inspire multiple listens then how good can it actually be ? I have assembled a broad cross section of sub-genres, there is some progressive and technical death metal, actually four albums cross over into a more progressive place at some juncture. Some are old school, along with a few newer acts. The veterans normally have more to live up to , but there is only one band here that I have been following for any substantial length of time. Rather than posting media of a track from each band I am leaving a link to the review, which will contain Bandcamp or Full Album Streams. Ok enough talking about it, the time has come to dig into the top 10 death metal albums of 2018.

10-At the Gates : "To Drink From the Night Itself" 

 The Swedish Death Metal icons return with their sixth album which finds Lurking Fear guitarist Jonas Sthalhammar joining an otherwise close to original line up. They were so head of their time that rehashing where they have already ventured is going to sound like modern death metal. They always carried a thrashing slant to their brand of melodic death metal.This well done as they manage to still be relevant.

9- Bloodbath: "the Arrow of Satan is Drawn" 

 This death metal super group of sorts that features members of Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost. This release feels like there is more heft than the first one that featured the Paradise Lost vocalist. They get real fucking serious as their is more of a weighty grind to this's a very solid piece of death metal proving they know how to please their fans being as it is one of their heaviest albums yet.

8-Cult Leader - "a Patient Man" 

 It seems like a more spastic form of death metal with hard core sensibilities.In the absence of Nails , I will certainly take this to help fill that void. I do like how this album is as heavy sonically as it is metal. While it is not the album of the year, I think it's one of the stronger albums of this ilk, which we will call death metal despite the 3 songs with clean singing.

7- Obscura-"Diluvium"

 Until I heard this album there were on four "progressive" death metal bands I thought were worth a shit. Cynic, Pestilence, Opeth, Edge of Sanity...ok maybe four then so let's see if these guys can be the fourth I don't always have to have death metal sounding like Morbid Angel or Incantation, what they are doing here works just fine for me. At the end of the day the album might have a ton of busy work , but its still pretty solid as the cool parts out weigh the bloat

6-Soliloquium : "Contemplations"

I am opposed to mixing death metal elements with doom, in fact this band from Sweden does it well. The take the power of death metal and give a punch to the mourning atmosphere of doom. They are not just playing slow death metal and trying to pass it off as doom. The bass does some interesting things when the guitar gives the songs room to's way better than expected when I checked it out on a whim thinking it was going to be doom. If you miss the band Opeth used to be on "Orchid" then this is worth your time or if you want dark melodic death metal of any kind then it's also worth your time.


5-Usurpress -" Interregnum"

 This proggy death metal band out of Sweden, is what you are looking for if you want the emphasis on the metal when it comes to your prog metal. I don't listen to as much of this kind of thing as I once did , but if this was 2003, I would have been all over this. Despite the fact that is asks me to go back to the place when I was really into Opeth, there is no denying these guys excel at what they do.

4-Ruin - "Human Annihilation"

 These guys offer a few things I like it my death metal. First and foremost their shit sounds dark. The opener is pretty dense and they do not rely on just speed. There is certainly an old school feel in what they do though it has a blown out quality that is not over produced so I can see how it might appeal to hipsters who were into punk last year. Also their songs are very short and to the point. But also well written

3-Horrendous -"Idol"

They are very capable of pulling out some catchy head banging grooves so it's not all math and mirrors. I have grown to like this album a little more with each listen It's head and shoulders over most of the death metal I have heard this year and I have heard a lot as I am trying to get caught up for me end of the year lists. If you like your death metal to challenge you with it's high dexterity score then this album is a must. It's even a must for just plain ole death metal fans

2- Pestilence - " Hadeon"

 Bassist / vocalist Patrick Mameli is carrying the torch for this band that dates all the way back to 1986. Even with all of the new blood this takes you back to the early days of death metal when it met at the intersection of thrash. This album won me over, it came out early in the year so it also gave me the false hope that this was going to be a good year for death metal, but only one album out shined it when it comes to death metal.

1- Necros Christos -" Domedon Doxomedon"

 A step in a direction that is more melodic and straight forward . They have come out from the murk of cavernous reverb to have a more organic sound. Gone is the darker Incantation worship. For matter there are few moments that sound like Morbid Angel. The vocals carry more of a croak, than the deeper growl I remember from these guys. Due to this the lyrics are more discernible. They are also more of a focal point with the opener being a clear cut take on the Jesus myth.In a genre that often is a one trick pony fueled only by aggression, this album has a range of dynamics and solid songwriting that proves death metal can be much more than that.

Ruin : " Human Annihilation"

So these guys may or may not have all met in prison. Who knows and I don't care if they consider themselves to be a cult or not. What I care about is finding some good death metal, as I have been compiling my best of lists for the year I began to see 2018 was lacking when it came to death metal. These guys offer a few things I like it my death metal. First and foremost their shit sounds dark. The opener is pretty dense and they do not rely on just speed. There is certainly an old school feel in what they do though it has a blown out quality that is not over produced so I can see how it might appeal to hipsters who were into punk last year. Also their songs are very short and to the point. But also well written.

They don't begin to get too heavy for their own good until "Corpse Infestation" . This finds them getting too excited by their craving for speed to remember what made the first two songs so good until the last minute of the song. Given the genre this is somewhat forgive able. "Death Mediation Trance" finds them slowing to almost a doom like pace. The phlegm gurgling vocals are pretty effective here. They use atmosphere in a weird way. It serves their nasty sound well, almost like Fistula. They are somewhat sludgey in their dense sound that gives them the sonic heaviness I like my metal to have.Some of the fucking riffs really kick you in the face. So they have the kind of raw power I want while still having songs.

When they are at their most feral which is not what I like the most in my metal, it is still easy to digest as it's in a very compressed dose. "In Their Blood" is the first song I hear any Morbid Angel in and it's way more rough around the edges. When it builds velocity they lose it for a few seconds , but pull it together in one of their darker and more melodic moments. "Shadows" they take their time pulling it together and that is fine as it creates more dynamic tension to counter balance the raging storm ahead. I like this album as it manages to be extreme, yet care about the songs so I will give it a 9. This puts it in the upper tier of death metal that came out this year as there has been more quantity that quality. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Horrendous : " Idol"

The first song "Soothsayer" proves to more powerful than the other wise more technical "the Idolater" that follows it. There is some groove hidden in the rubbery bass of "Galgothan Tongues". Things seem to also speed up on this song and clean vocal slide into the background. They mathematics are in your face , but there is enough attack to distract you from this at least three songs in. The vocals fall into a angry snarl that's more of a mid range. They throw guitar solos at you sometimes more sparingly and to be such a proggy death metal band there is more rock influence on this album than expected.

I like the dissonance that opens the reluctant beginning of "Divine Anhedonia". It takes almost two minutes of angular wind up before they get into a Cynic like place. This  accelerates and eventually finds a thrashier groove with brief clean vocals at the end. When they lash themselves into " Devotion" this also finds them returning to the more late 80s thrash sound. The proggy leaning and death metal malice I think are obscuring the fact that these guys work best as a really adventurous thrash band. After this there is a guitar interlude that really seems like it is more the intro to the last song "Obolus" , but I get why it was tagged onto it , because that would take the song to over the ten minute mark. These guys are really good song writers as they cover lots of ground at the longest song "Obolus" that ends the album is the only one that touches the eight and a half minute mark.

"Obolus" is the first song that I really pay attention to the lyrics. The vocals are snarled in a more discernible manner. There is almost more of a hard core aggression in how they are spat out. They are very capable of pulling out some catchy head banging grooves so it's not all math and mirrors. I have grown to like this album a little more with each listen I give it . With that said I am going to round this one up to a 9. Which makes it not a flawless classic , but head and shoulders over most of the death metal I have heard this year and I have heard a lot as I am trying to get caught up for me end of the year lists. If you like your death metal to challenge you with it's high dexterity score then this album is a must. It's even a must for just plain ole death metal fans.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cypress Hill : "Elephants on Acid"

It was on "Temples of Boom" where their music took a darker turn. There was a few shifts as the landscape of hip hop changed over the years , but for the most part they have retained a distinct sound. This is not them putting auto-tune on their voices , but taking what they do and putting against different sounds. It opens with more of a psychedelic feel and organic instrumentation. Lyrically they stay sharp. When you are a rapper from California , rapping about weed which was their stock and trade is like rapping about Slim Fast. "Put em In the Ground" has a more traditional rap feel , but even then they have other shades of atmosphere at the edges of the track.  The sung vocal hook to " Jesus Was A Stoner" brings the Gorillaz to mind. It's a darker song than you would expect from the title.

Things continue to stay dark and trippy with "Pass the Knife" . "Oh Na Na" has a 50s feel to its jazzy feel. The first song that really sounds like old school Cypress Hill is "Locos". There is a more Beastie Boys like beat on "Falling Down". It's a much more straight forward song.. There is an interesting beat sampled for "Warlord".The hook of the female vocals dominates '"Reefer Man", yet B-Real makes the most of his verses . The weird 1950's vibe resurfaces on " Crazy" . It's another one with a distinct female vocal for the hook. They go with a different shade of weird for "Blood On My Hands Again". It's one of the album's darker songs so it works for me.

"Stairway to Heaven" is not the Led Zeppelin song. It's not the strongest song so an odd choice for end the album with it. It just lacks a beat to work off of.  So it's a disappointing ending to an otherwise wonderful album. I'll give it a 9.5, I'm sure to crank more mileage out of it.


Svalbard : "It's Hard to Have Hope"

It's weird that a British band named themselves after a part of Norway, but there is a coldness to their music that is isolating as the region. The album starts off with the kind of fast punk styled riffing you would expect from a hard core band. Things don't get interesting til "Revenge Porn" it has faster hard core burst balanced out with clean vocals sung by the female guitarist, which is something that is volleyed back and forth through out album from this point on. "Feminazi" races into a very sweeping metallic place that kind picks up where the previous song left off.  "Pro-life" is more interesting as the bass line finds a groove and the sung vocals provide a wider dynamic.

There are some elements of the way they attack some of these rapid tempos that gives this the feel of blackened hardcore, but black metal from more of a Deafheaven school of thought than Burzum.  It's important for things like the sung vocals at the end of "For the Sake of the Breed" to balance this out. "How Do We Stop it " works off an angry blasting speed that this album has no shortage of. I do enjoy the more sonic intensity this song holds. They dial it way back into the ambiance of "Try Not to Die Until Your Dead". They do blast into the more aggressive hard core sections, as they should since hard core is supposed to be angry, but I appreciate the layers they are giving to do so. "Iorek" indulges in a more post-rock moment. It does build into something heavier which is cool.

"Open the Cages" rages more than it relishes the atmosphere. The guitars do contract to create some tension and the chords rings out with a great deal of melody on what would be the chorus. I'll give this a 9 as the more sweeping passages help expand the definition of hard core. If you like metallic hard core that is not just drill Sargent tough guy shit, then these guys are worth your time.

Failure : "In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing From Your Mind"

The first song is an odd indie rock ditty that also most dancey and has little of their classic sound. This problem is solved on the second song" Paralytic Flow" which is true to form for the band. The driving bass line of "No One Left " is more convincing than the dreamy laze of "Pennies" that falls before it. There is a decent groove to "Solar Eyes" which is consistent with what the band normally does. "What Makes It Easy" almost sounds more like Pinback to me. Despite the mellower mood, it's a decently written song, that makes me want to listen to Pinback. "Found a Way" is not as innovative as it sounds like straight ahead Foo-fighters like grunge.

They work best with the bass line taking charge. There is a more detached almost Gary Numan like feel to "Distorted Fields". The groove to this song works really well. They do get some interesting guitar tones on this album. I had to listen to "Heavy and Blind " twice to really get the feel of it. It leans more towards the more introspective indie rock side of what they do. "Another Post Human Dream" sounds like the title , but it also bores me. "Apocalypse Blooms" is not a grooving rocker, but it still works . "Forced Fed Rainbow" has more sonic heft to it.

There is more of a Beatles feel to "Pineal Electoral". It stars off just piano and bass. While it's not a " Nurse Who Loved Me" and pseudo political , the song it self is well done as far a Beatle influenced rock goes, though that is not the first thing I want when I think of these guys . I'll give this album a 7 as it feels their personality which made them Failure is compromised to some extent. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fucked Up : "Dose Your Dreams"

 This album was two years in the making. It's like their version of the wall. Despite the fan fare that opens the album they remind you from the beginning that this is still very much a punk album. It's like if Murder City Devils has been happy and not dark, depressed suicidal devil worshipers. "Normal People " has this groove that seems to be a theme of the album, that helps them extend themselves beyond the realms of punk, in a manner not unlike where New Model Army went. The vocals are more sung on this one and step out from the normal hoarse barks. Though they return on the chorus. The guitar also uses a cleaner rock n roll tone here. Things continue to unfold with the almost 1950's pop meets indie rock sound of "Torch to Light". This kind of vibe carries over with it's sense of atmosphere on "Talking Pictures" that follows it , though it is not as smoothly constructed.

They get back to punk on "House of Keys" , by punk here we are talking about it's earlier more rock based origins with a hint of Gang of Four. The title track has a healthy dose of disco funk to it as the band continues to broaden their horizons. Then we are back to punk on "Living in a Simulation". This continue on this road , though with a more 70s rock feel added to it on "I Don't Want to Live in this World Anymore". I think this gives it enough creative push to get it past where punk can often fall flat with me. Then they go back into dream poppy indie rock with "How to Die Happy". The song after this one takes this even further with a more Beatles feel. On an album of weird turns away from punk this one is the oddest fit.

Of course when the take more of a turn toward post-punk, I'm a bigger fan so "The One I Want Will Come For me " wins me over pretty easily. Its a happier post-punk more like the Drums. They go for a more electro punk thing with " Mechanical Bull". They take this even further into more an industrial feel for " Accelerate" . "Came Down Wrong" sounds more like Dinosaur Jr to me. Which I am fine with, though the female vocals added to it give another color of weird.  "Love is an Island in the Sand" feels more like a hippy outtake from the Flaming Lips. In contrast there is some experimentation that get's balanced out in the more dynamic  with " Joy Stops Time". Overall these guys get props for making some punk rock, that includes the rock n roll in the equation and takes chances that pay off more often than not. I give it a 9.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Sound of Me Before You Part 3

Here's the 3rd installment of this series, with a theme  of if you are sharing your life with someone  once of the most important things you can share is your music. It's the pieces of me that I don’t have words for as they are an amalgamation of my thoughts and emotions relating to sonic vibrations. Music can always take me back to a place in time. This encompasses the period of time of my bottoming out from my heroin addiction and the recovery from that. So when I think of it in terms of what made me who I am today and how do I get to where I am. I can say this is the sound of where I was before I had the capacity to open my self up. This is the sound of what I had to live through to be a person capable of wanting interaction with another being. So this is a soundtrack to that.  I have organized it in terms of the year these songs are released . The story they tell is somewhat loose. This is me giving these songs as token to someone of what was inside me before they knew me. This is what my life sounded like before I met them

 the Cure - "Want"

Deftones - "Around the Fur"


Sunny Day Real Estate -"Pillars"


Ministry- "Kaif"


Pj Harvey- "This Mess We're In"


Radiohead -"Knives Out"


Queens of the stoneage- "No One Knows"


Marilyn Manson - "Para Noir"

Morrissey- "I'm Not Sorry"


the Decemberists- "We Both Go Down Together"


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

the Weekly Playlist Week 15 : Chris Isaak

So this playlist comes somewhat by request after a Lyft ride. I was once a huge Chris Isaak fan. Seen him live five or six times it hard to say as they were all before I got sober. I did coke with his drummer and once go so drunk that I told Chris while he was wearing his disco ball suit that I could see myself in his pants. To which he replied "Woah, that's brotherly love. You say that to all the guys". I was once also obsessed with Vegas Elvis and Roy Orbision, so Isaak makes perfect sense when you take that into consideration. Along with the fact his music has a dark side that at at some times is as pronounced as the Cure's. He has a great voice that easily floats up into his falsetto with a great deal of grace. His songs take depressing avenues of heartbreak and give this a sexy smoldering. They will now have an even greater place in my heart as they remind me of singing to them one rainy afternoon going from East Atlanta to Midtown. So enough of me here is a plylist of some of my favorite Chris Isaak songs.

 "One Day"

Talk to Me


You Don't Cry Like I Do

"Back On Your Side"

Can't Do a Thing to Stop Me

 Things go Wrong


 "The Lonely Ones"


 "There She Goes"


-"I See You Everywhere"

Nothings Changed

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beastmaker : "Windows of Evil"

This is compilation of the string of EPs they recently released this year. So for me it works better just to have this album than a bunch of EPs. It is darker and creepier than previous releases. The vocals are a little more Ozzy like than I remember from the first album. "Inside the Skull" didn't catch me as much as the first album. I like what is going on here. It's dark and heavy with thought and hooks put into the song writing. It's when they begin to sound more like a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band that it slips into the kind of thing I was not as captured by on "Inside the Skull". With that said "Spiked Lined Coffin" is not a bad song I just don't feel it as much as the first two.

They redeem themselves with another solid blend of melody and shadow on " Demon Witch Child" which reminds me of a darker take on St. Vitus. This is the strongest song so far not only of this album, but the band as a whole. The songs are all very compact. They don't need to drag out things past their expiration date. "Sirens Kiss" gets a little weighted down by its riff. After the song before this they had already raised the bar on themselves. The do speed things up a little and go into more of a Iron Maiden type gallop. I am not opposed to them wanting to breathe new life into classic metal sounds I just think they do a better job of this when it's more natural. "Spread Your Wings offers an excellent example of this. The stalking chug of guitar never crowds anything. 

"Mortal Souls" finds the pace picking up a little . The vocals are not as distinct here. They throw the book of doom riffs at you on this one. To their credit this song has one of the more fluent guitar solos. "Carnival" chugs at you with more command. I'll give this album a 9 , it shows the band growing in a better direction. They still have some of the NWOBHM drive and chug in their big guitar sound, while maintaining a  sense of darkness that keeps things from being slathered in the cheese of yesteryear.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

the Weekly Playlist Vol 14

Sorry I know it's been more than a week since the last installment. But life happens. I have also been knee deep in the National Novel Writing Month so having to pump out a steady word count on that. Rather than going with a theme like I have in the past, I am going more for a soundtrack of emotions I have been riding the waves on over the past ten days. A lot of life stuff unfolded in the lives of others close to me and myself so there is some of that reflected. In the current "the Sound of Me Before You" series I am doing, I am sharing the sound track of my life in a auto-biographical journey, so this is a more urgent snap shot of the current flux. As the seasons shift toward the holidays, it can cause a morbid subconscious reflection on losses in life, so my focus and goal in these days is to be appreciative for what I have gained. Some of my head ways is not measured in outward accomplishments but the inner journey, so this is more of the soundtrack to that journey, the vulnerability of being present in uncomfortable feelings while knowing it doesn't change where your heart is at. So this is more of a thank you as we enter thanksgiving week, as I have been given something to be thankful for so the acknowledgment of that in these songs might be the best I can do at present when other words fail, yeah I know a writer who finds words fail him, it's easier to do when I am describing metal bands or fantasy scenarios, the closer and more intangible it gets the more I have to rely on the vibrations music brings from inside me.

 The Decemberists _"Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect"


 Tears For Fears _ "Head Over Heels"


the Weeknd _" Try Me"


 Kacey Musgraves _ " Love is a Wild Thing"


 Street Sects _ "Dial Down the Neon"


 Chvrches _ "Miracle"


 Chelsea Wolfe _" Crazy Love"


Ryan Adams _ "This Love"


 Twin Shadow _ "Littlest Things"


Slothrust _ " On My Mind"


The Sound of Me Before You pt 2

This is the second part of a four part series I am doing, with a theme  of if you are sharing your life with someone  once of the most important things you can share is your music. It's the pieces of me that I don’t have words for as they are an amalgamation of my thoughts and emotions relating to sonic vibrations. Music can always take me back to a place in time. We are going through the angry teen years, which were also filled with drugs, but not the real hard stuff that comes in the next installment. It's interesting to imagine how two people might have interacted at different times in their life if they met under different circumstances. So this is a soundtrack to that.  I have organized it in terms of the year these songs are released . The story they tell is somewhat loose. This is me giving these songs as token to someone of what was inside me before they knew me. This is what my life sounded like before I met them. 

Me Against the World

infinite dreams

Sleepless Nights

Dead Skin Mask


Girls of Porn


Prison Sex




How it Would Be


In Praise of Bacchus


Altars of Grief : "Iris"

Here is an interesting album from a band out of Canada that blends several dark shades of metal. It begs the question is the blackened doom in this equation more doom or black metal? The album opens in a very mournful and melodic manner than might lean in a more of a Type O Negative or My Dying Bride direction. Then takes a more jarring turn in terms of intensity as they throw themselves into black metal going into "Desolation" completer with rapid fire blast beats. Not relentlessly as the do slow into a double bass section and the dramatically sung baritone vocals return. The tone slows back down even amid the fierce snarling in a return to doom on  the title track.

"Child of Light" has clean guitars going into then builds at a more doom paced swell. The growled vocals trading off with the sung vocals. The accents are very nuanced and well executed by their drummer who really earns his paycheck and has plenty of room to shine while serving the songs. There is also elements to this song that remind me of a heavier Woods of Ypres. "Broken Hymns " at least takes you on a melancholic journey before hitting the more blasty black metal part. Even then it's done with some dynamic contrast. "Voice of the Winter" has a bleak folk element to the strings that reminds me a little of My Dying Bride. They invoke some pretty masterful dynamics , without dramatically changing the throb this song works off of.

 It ends with "Becoming Intangible" a fitting close close as in many ways it encapsulates what they do best as a band. You can't tell if it is going to be a mournful ballad or they are going to throw every bit of fury at you, and the answer is they do both. I'll give this album a 9. If you like black metal and bands like Woods of Ypres and My Dying Bride, then what are you waiting for?

Iris by Altars of Grief

Friday, November 16, 2018

Clandestine Blaze : "Tranquility of Death"

While this touches on the raw black metal that seems to flourish in Finland, there are more musical and atmospheric elements than the bulk of that. This is not to say this album doesn't face some of the same production issues that more raw black metal bands have. They just have enough attention to detail to work around it. One thing plays into this projects favor, they do more than play blast beats. Granted sound wise the drums are the weak link. The vocals are in a coarsely garbled mid range. You can kind of understand what he is saying. In this way there is a great deal of similarity to mid-period Darkthrone. Since this is a one man show, drums are not his strong point, but the drums are passable and organic not, just a drum machine. It's clear when it comes to drumming he is influenced by death metal in the way he uses his double bass.

All that stuff I said about not using blast beats gets blasted out the window on "Blood of the Enlightenment". At this point it begins to sound more like run of the mill black metal and I start to get bored.  "Tamed Hearts" at least doesn't start off with blast beats which gives me hope and the stomp it does lurch into could be promising. There is some dissonance to the main riff. The title track starts off with clean guitar and overall is nice and darkly melodic, while still being black metal. This song winds around a lot of corners over it's almost 9 minutes.

"Triumphat Empire" has more of a regal gallop. The rough around the edges guitar tone keeping it more solidly on the path of black metal. It does pick up the pace of it's gallop , which is fine as anything that is not blast beats works for me. I'll give this one an 8 , though it's still to meat and potatoes for me to listen to on a regular basis , I respect what is being done here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Megaton Leviathan : "Mage"

Things have changed. When I heard the first track off this album, I thought "Oh My God , they have turned into Jesu" . I am fine with this as I miss Jesu and the last album I heard by them they did not sound like the same band that made "Sliver" . In other words there is more of a dreamy  shoe gaze haze over this album and it barely touches upon metal at least on the opening track. "Take the Fire" opens with electronic drugs and a narcotic atmosphere. Vocal ease in around this to add to the trance like ambiance. This feels more like some kinda of space age shoe gaze more than it does doom. Not that I am married to doom, this band can feel free to grow in any way they deem fit.

The title track is heavier. Calling it metal might be presumptuous. It has more of a Led Zeppelin throb, if we are talking "No Quarter" or "When the Levee" breaks, though the drums don't boom in the same way as the latter. The vocal layer works for this song in a way that doesn't make it fee like it's idly droning on. Then things begin to really get weird on the synth driven "Belldog". It is almost like kraut Rock at first until the drums find their way in then it carries more of an "Obscured By Clouds" Pink Floyd kind of feel.

The first six minutes of the 15 minute "Within the Threshold" that ends the album is electronic synth wave kraut rock. It does made for some compelling soundtrack music, but is this doom even when the guitar kicks in ? Not likely. This album feels more like prog rock. Nothing is wrong with that. In the final two minutes of this massive instrumental it begins to ebb down to a gentle melody. This is well layered and produced. All the sounds in place are great, it is a jarring change from what fans of this band might be expecting. I'll give this album an 8.5, it's certainly fine for what it is and they certainly get props for going on this surreal adventure.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Drug Church : "Cheer"

This band features members of Self Defense Family which got me in the door, it's the 90s flavored post-hardcore that keeps me listening. The vocals are gruff yet melodic. Somewhat in the vein of Hot water Music. The opening track is more in your face punk flavors without relying on speed. They have a more powerful drive that shows the latent shades of hardcore to give it the added muscle. Even then they layer guitar melodies over it. "Weed Pin" has more melodic nuances. "Unlicensed Hall Monitor" starts off charging out you with a great deal of angry energy before mellowing out by the end.  "Conflict Minded" runs off the same over driven power that continues to put the band in your face. This also finds them in a more straight forward punk direction until the bass grooving break down happens. Even then it's not totally out of the range of what punk does. The female vocals showing up is however unexpected.

"Tilary" if you are not paying attention seems like an extension of the break down that was in the previous song. The vocals are more spoken in the verse. There is a much more melodic vibe to this song.This one is really well written and is an ode to their displeasure in regard to law enforcement. "Unlicensed Guidance Counselor"  expands and contracts off the palm muted tension of the verses. Lyrically interesting and th right balance of melody I can hear this one growing on me. "Avoidarama" is yet another clever balance of wit and melody against the grain of meat and potatoes post-hardcore. Marginally less engaging than the previous song. The chug that moves it is much more basic.

"String References" is a blend of both more melody and more aggression. There is a catchy skip in it's step that reminds me a little of the Get Up Kids, though a more burly take on what made them endearing. I can also hear traces of Fugazi in this. "Dollar Story" is more straight up punk influenced. Though the layered strum of guitars helps to break things up. There is a dense sonic quality to the more syncopated push of "Foam Pit" that offsets what would otherwise be left of center punk rock.I'll give this album a 9 as it reminds of the days before emo became a bad word and punk seemed to be entering an exciting new time, that would get watered down by Myspace.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Dead Register : "Captive"

This Atlanta band is back with their interesting blend of varied shadowy elements. There is a more soaring feel to title track that opens the album. The croon of their lead singer sounds more nuanced and refined. It heads in more of an Interpol direction than a bellow. The metallic elements are more of a booming undertone and not the focus. They bring many layers together and weave them in a way that works well. While you can tell they are influenced by doom, they are not a doom band, at least not how we define doom around here. After additional listens the guitar melody really struck me and it became clear how much more polished of an effort this is.

The pace picks up a little for "Ender". There are some thoughtful nuances in the vocals . I like when the word "Thoughts" is given more grit amid the smoother sung verse. When I say verse these guys flow rather than adhere to a strict verse chorus formula. The vocals don't get predictably bigger at the chorus, which is the staple of radio rock . The songs here swirl around you and are immersive in the way they are draped around you. "Heresy" has more of a new wave feel, with out having to rely on the synths to take the lead. The guitars cry out of the layers of sound that finds the bass and drums anchoring things to a more driven tempo.  Things get more dynamic , but not heavier when the song builds , which is fine by me.

Dead and Gone's "Blood From a Ghost" is an interesting choice of song to cover. They were an obscure band from the Los Angeles death rock scene from the 90s .Members of this band went on to form Alaric. If you shot dope in the late 90s  in West Hollywood then you are probably familiar with these guys.   There is more movement to  the heavier "Monochrome" it slinks rather than grooves , before building into a stormier crescendo . The drums do some pretty interesting things along the way.  I like the more palm muted tension. This song probably has the most heft. I would not call this metal though it carries the kind of melancholic mood most relate to , it's almost like the depression is coming out sideways as aggression here.

The key selling point for me is it answers the question I ask most music "Is it dark enough for me". I think this is step forward for the band in how they not only crafted these sounds, but coming up with a songwriting thumb print of their own. They are not tied to one genre. Heavier post-punk would be the elevator pitch for these guys.So fans of bands like Voices or Alaric, will dig these guys. I am impressed as I see this as an album I'll return to while I am giving this one a 9.5 , I think the biggest compliment I can give these guys is the fact their album made it to my iPod, as it's something I would listen to on a fairly regular basis, It sits nicely between my goth tendencies and the more down trodden doomy fare I typically ingest.

Sigh : "Heir to Despair"

This band really defines progressive rock. There shit is not a bunch of notes it goes somewhere and actually makes progress. While I was surprised that it sounded like a space age take on Jethro Tull as a metal band, it makes perfect sense. Yes , I know they used to be a black metal band. They are still heavy, so if that doesn't make you content then I'll point you in the direction of the last Lychgate album. This is more melodic and flowing even in it's weirder moments. The second song is more spastic than the first. Things change much faster here and when they hit a powerful chugging riff it's soon over. "Hunters Not Horned " is a step in a more aggressive direction. I would not say a heavier one. There is a touch of rock n roll in the recklessness they pursue this with which is cool as a great deal of prog bands get to caught up in the precision and sound sterile.

"In Memories Delusional" is a faster yet more tightly coil trashing take on what they do. Then they enter into a trilogy of "Heresy " songs. The first one starts of in more of a Mr. Bungle like vein. It eventually gets in a good heavy groove more like a Slayer riff. I had to go back and listen to the second part of "Heresy" again. The 3rd part of this series of songs' has more of a Tangerine Dream vibe. It's more of a song and less of an experimental interlude. It continues to drift into a more Moody Blues neighborhood. There is more of a feral metal thrashing to " Hands of the String Puller".  It throws weirdness at you , but shows they know what they are doing when it comes to writing a fucking song. Everything seems like the next logical step rather than just being jarring for the sake of being jarring.

The album ends with the title track which is not black metal but chugs in that direction. I should say here the guitar playing is on fucking point. If you are into guitar solos , then know these guys can shred. I think what bears even more note is the fact they can, but at no point in time does it ever come across like they thought" Well this would be a cool riff to solo over". I like a good guitar solo. I don't like wanking onto a guitar, I can't really say I don't like wanking because it is one of my favorite past times. But the point is the song's come first. Vocally the title track is not as interesting as some of the previous songs. At over ten minutes this is album's longest song so it takes some twists and turns. I like when they go into the more sweeping strum that reminds me of Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum. There are many moments that sound like circus music.At the end of the day these guys are incredible at what they do I'll give this album a 9.

The Sound of Me Before You

Music is obviously important to me . I commit an average of 12 hours a week just writing about it for this blog, not to mention the others . Music is the fuel of my soul. So for me to share music with someone , what I am really saying is these are the pieces of me that I don’t have words for as they are an amalgamation of my thoughts and emotions relating to sonic vibrations. Music can always take me back to a place in time. When I first hear a song. Due to my heavy drugs use earlier in life I have large blank spots of time not accounted for , this makes my sense of the past somewhat hazy when it comes to recalling specifics. So I tend to organize these by thinking about the music I was listening to at the time. So these would be songs from the first ten years of my life. This is not a weekly playlist but a 4 part sonic scrap book you dear reader are being a voyeur for. While I have organized it in terms of the year these songs are released . The story they tell is somewhat loose. But if I had to make a soundtrack to my life I think these songs would work well. This is me giving these songs as token to someone of what was inside me before they knew me. This is what my life sounded like before I met them.

Welcome to my Nightmare

Fool to Cry

Fun It


Ashes to Ashes

A World Without Heroes "

Something in the Water Does not Compute

Mr. Roboto

Shout At the Devil

 the Fire Still Burns 

Cult Leader : "A Patient Man"

It seems like a more spastic form of death metal with hard core sensibilities. The line is drawn more toward hard core going into the second song. "isolation in the Land of Milk and Honey" gets more melodic and moody toward the end, this is the side of the band I hope to hear more of going further into this album. It gives them a sense of dynamics that makes the frenzied blasting bits more tolerable. The song after this to my delight goes even further in this direction with clean baritone singing instead of screaming or growling. He has a pretty decent voice not at a Mark Lanegan level , but taking a similar approach.The instrumentation is very atmospheric and post-rock like. "A World of Joy" stays the course on this mellower bit of melancholic It does build into something heavier, which is dynamically appropriate at this point.

"Craft of Mourning" finds grindcore colliding against death metal. "Share My Pain" has a slower and more deliberate groove to it that falls more solidly on the death metal side of the equation. The guitar tone here is sick as hell. The lock in together and really smear you into the sidewalk with some of these riffs. They pick up the pace into more of a chug on "Arum Reclusa" which is with out question death metal. Most metal core to me is also death metal. The title track opens with a clean strum of guitar and the sung vocals returning. It has more tension like a storm is brewing behind the chords. This feeling is further explored on "the Broken Right Hand of God". I really like when the drums and bass come in with a groove that the guitar layers with ambient dissonance.

While this album is really good, I think some of the kids on their Bandcamp page suggesting this is album of the year might be smoking some rather decent weed if they are under such delusion. In the absence of Nails , I will certainly take this to help fill that void. I do like how this album is as heavy sonically as it is metal. While it is not the album of the year, I think it's one of the stronger albums of this ilk, which we will call death metal despite the 3 songs with clean singing . I'll give this album a 9. This was just released on Death Wish Inc.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Weekly Playlist Vol 13 : Queen

Life has happened this week so I have yet to see the Queen movie that just came out. Queen however was one of my favorite bands growing up. The Flash Gordon soundtrack was one of the first album's I owned, though in passing I was aware of some of their other songs even then. Queen is a band like Rush or even Pink Floyd where if you judged them on the merits of their radio singles you would not have a very clear idea what they were truly capable of. The incarnation I became obsessed with in High School, was their earlier harder rock songs of the first few albums. To this band I will stand by the fact that their second album is one of the greatest albums ever created and "Ogre Battle" is more of a master piece than Bohemian Rhapsody . Any ways while they are not a band that always gets mentioned in this blog due to the fact they are generally happier than what I normally listen to much like Kiss they will always hold a place in my heart and be deeply respected. So this week's playlist consists of my favorite Queen songs.

" Mustapha "

 "I'm in Love With My Car"

" Sheer Heart Attack"

"Flick of the Wrist"

"I Want to Break Free"

 "Ogre Battle"

 "Get Down Make Love"

 "Son & Daughter"

 "the March of the Black Queen"

 More of that Jazz"


Outer Limit Lotus : "Lotus Eaters"

This band out of Norway automatically catches my ear with the darkness that is unfurled on the opening track of this album. The vocals are creepy and the reverb heavy guitar weaves it's atmosphere making every note delicious. The lyrics sound like they were conceived while they were tripping. This is not unlikely due to the psychedelic weirdness that hovers in the periphery. Where "Night Scene" carries a lingering brooding that drone like the Door more morbid moments, there is more sonic dynamics to the exotic guitar of "the Blue Voyeur". Things head in a slightly more punk direction for the title track. But not too much so as it is still planted firmly in a more death rock vein. I begin to get a little unsure of how the vocals seem to be constantly doubled. One is a lower Death In June like baritone the other a higher wavering Rozz Williams like tremble. Since this is done so frequently it loses some of the impact. This is made up by the sheer sense of adventure these guys possess and their ability to take hard left turns into strangeness.

The albums longest song is the seven and a half minute "Greet the Void". A minute and a half into things they find a great dismal groove. The guitar playing and tone really begins to prove itself as this band's strength. The vocals still keep doing their same layered approach. The baritone voice this time seems to be coming slightly forward in the mix. This song is very melodic thanks to the delicate guitar lines. The bass rumbles rather low in the mix. "Everything Ends Too Soon" finds the vocals trading places to provide a more Christian Death like sound , though the guitar creates a more western feel. "Vinter" is more of a dreamy ballad with the croon of the lower vocal dominating. This works really well to create an introspective mood. Things get almost shoe gaze like with their atmospheric glaze.

While I can appreciate the dark spectral drone that "Deeper and Darker "delves into I do not think from a songwriting perspective that it's the albums strongest song. Though they did raise the bar as far as my expectations for them went early on, so with that said it still displays a greater sense of daring than most stuff that comes across my in-box.I reviewed a shit ton of post-punk and death rock for Gothtober and even then did not find anything as unique as this band. I'll give this album a 9 and see how it grows on me by the end of the year, but I highly recommend this if you are looking for atmospheric death rock that is not just punk dressed up for Halloween.

Bloodbath - "the Arrow of Satan is Drawn"

A death metal super group of sorts that features members of Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost. This release feels like there is more heft than the first one that featured the Paradise Lost vocalist. They get real fucking serious on the weighty grind driving "Bloodicide". Sometimes it sounds like they almost feel obligated to speed things up.These songs work better when they are hitting you with more of a Celtic Frost feel. The chugs can be massive here and the guitar tone is just sick. Lyrically it's all a mute point and almost a heavy metal parody."Wayward Samaritan ' has an almost rock n roll feel like a Slipknot song gone off the rails and a more death metal vocal. You can kinda hear more of the doomy old Katatonia sound in "Leviator" . It has a lot of punch to it, but there is something angular and awkward about the riff. There is no mistaking the fact that the song's strongest moments are the ones that bear the most likeness to Morbid Angel.

"Deader" is pretty straight forward and grinding, not saying it's grindcore, it just feels like that is what the riff is doing. There is less punishment though "March of the Crucifers" has a massive wall of density that almost grooves. Midway into this album and I am pretty certain it's heavier than their previous album. Not a deal sealer with me as I don't live off heaviness alone, but know that new will thrill fans of the band and death metal in general. By the time we get to "Morbid Antichrist" it's beginning to take on a more uniform sound to me. I will give them credit these songs are all very compact and hit you hard and then are over , not droning or drawing anything out to make the attack more urgent. There is another hint of rock n roll to "Warhead Ritual". Not that they are turning into the Rolling Stones, their is just more of a melodic nuance than pure sonic violence death metal is known for.

The syncopated stomp of "Only The Dead Survive" is pretty powerful and also allows for a vulgar display of double bass. Considering what big pussies Opeth has become it's good to hear that their drummer still has metal in his heart and is just collecting a pay check. Even though it does not possess the dense heaviness of the previous song "Chainsaw Lullaby" has more grit to it. It might not be reinventing death metal but this song gives most fans of the genre what they are looking for in a manner that is brutal, but still done with a musical sense of class. I can hear touches of Entombed in what they are doing, but I guess that comes with your blood if you are from Sweden, it's better than if they sounded like Dark Tranquility. I'll give this album an 8.5 it's a very solid piece of death metal and fans of this band will be pleased it is one of their heaviest albums yet.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cancer :" Shadow Gripped"

I remember listening to this band in high school, they kind of came in at the heels of the first wave of death metal. They have returned after 13 years of silence. The album opens with a commanding chug, but gets mildly less catchy when it comes to stepping on the gas like they have something to prove. Like many death metal bands when they can restrain themselves they work better in their more deliberate moments. This is a common problem with death metal and even some thrash bands , making things seems almost rushed when they stomp onto the speed. "Ballcutter" doesn't bring anything new to the table , but the more mosh inducing riffs work more for me.

"Organ Smasher" has a darker tone to it's aggressive chug. "the Infocidal" pretty much chugs along the tried and true death metal path. With this comes a single minded monochrome aggression and nothing that really gives it it's own identity.  The guitars are the strong point of their sound. The drummer gets the job done, but nothing over the top enough to solidify his playing in my brain. There is a little more atmosphere added to the intro of "Half Man, Half Beast" but nothing better or different than what Morbid Angel has already done. I do like the way the riff carries a meaner stomp. This creates a groove that helps it stand out from the other songs. The lyrics are growled in such a way that they are certainly discernible.

If you are going to pick up the pace then they go about it in the best way they could on "Crimes So Vile" as it doesn't forfeit the power of the chug they have built. The vocals vary a little in their lower to mid range rasp on this one. "Thou Shalt Kill" is another song that might not attempt to reinvent the wheel, but what they do is so well executed that it makes up for it. The title track starts off as more of  speed fest that is less impressive than the previous song , though they eventually rein this one in. "Disposer" works perhaps the best since the opener as the dark throb it works off of gives this one a much different and more melodic feel than what we have heard thus far .I'll round this one up to a 7.5 , it's far from the best death metal album I have heard this year, but if you are a fan of the band you will be proud that these guys still have it.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lycia : "In Flickers"

The title track that opens the album is very atmospheric to the point of almost being more of an intro rather than an actual song. When the beat to "A Failure" kicks into to create a more tangible undercurrent of dark wave the more drifting ambiance of their sonic shadows succeeds. The guitar is more brooding as things get even darker for the ominous build of "the Path". This effectively creates tension. The interplay of the male and female vocals works here, but I can see where this album could potentially fall into a formula with this. "She " finds them leaning more into their neo-folk. The airy voical mix makes this more interesting than your average neo-folk that sounds more like goth hippies playing at the Renn Faire.

Things continue to drift further into the shadow land they are weaving with "25 Years". There is almost a doom feel that I like. It sways much like some of the Swans more melodic work, though the vocals are very light and lack the resonance of Micheal Gira's baritone. The more dark wave groove returns for "Mist" this gives the song a stronger sense of their self than some of the more wandering bits of atmosphere they tend to indulge in. The guitar tones in this song are really excellent. While they are not wildly out of bounds for what you expect from goth music, they extremely well done. The drums are more organic to "34 Palms". Every thing sounds great but dynamically hovers in a very similar place.

"Rewrite" carries more weight and an exotic texture that helps set it apart aside from the fact the vocals seem to be a one trick pony. "Late Night Solitude" floats in an almost shoe gaze like glaze to it's dream time ambiance. So much so it feels like more of an interlude than a song. This leaves them to close with "Autumn Into Winter". It's another song that sounds really good but floats on stagnant waters dynamically. I'll give this album a 7.5, at first I really took to it, but then all the songs began to sound the same and never really went beyond where they started. If you are looking for more ambient goth or are a fan of these guys then it is probably what you are looking for.