Saturday, June 30, 2012
WEEK 57 (7-1-2012)
Nile - At The Gates Of Sethu (2012) - Nile's no stranger to any death metal fan, as they've been putting out their Egyptian and Lovecraftian themed death metal for almost twenty years now. I enjoyed the band's last outing, 2009's "For Those Whom The Gods Detest" and I also have to say that I really liked this one too. But it's no "In Their Darkened Shrines 2003" or "Annihilation Of The Wicked 2005" so don't expect that. This is a new type of beast.
Yes, they've gone back to their roots with the album, as it contains many of the Egyptian atmospheres and instrumentals that we would've expected from the band in their early to mid-era. Karl's growls are now scowls, and I'm not quite sure how people are taking to that. The gravel is still there of course, it's just not as heavily pronounced and is only most prominent in the band's single, "The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magic Of The Deceased 4:30."
But regardless of the change in vocal style, the drums still blast as well as they always have, the rhythms are still the same, the riffs are just as you remember them, and the solos just as frantic as ever. Musically, this album is quite a blistering marvel of brutality, with tracks such as the opener "Enduing The Eternal Molestation Of Flame 4:29." or "The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh 5:30." And those are just a few!
Each and every track on here bashes with the fury of death metal vets, and there's absolutely no remorse to be found within it. Even if Karl is trying to save his vocal chords, the lines are still as brutal as they have always been. The amount of technicality, precision and sheer "nile-ness" of the band is still intact. This is still Nile, they haven't added unnecessary electronics or some other strange hooplah that bands fiddle with when they're trying to keep fresh. When you buy this, you're getting a death metal album. You're getting a Nile album.
It's got some killer leads, some influences from odd places - is that black metal riff I heard there? Are they also playing around with some prog, this time? Yes, there's a hell of a lot of structure here; quite possibly more structure and meat than they've ever had. It certainly sounds like a band that methodically thought out every line, every riff, and every drumbeat. This is a disc that was hand-crafted, not just thrown together. Also expect to hear some horns, "When My Wrath Is Done 3:11" chanting, and orchestral influence to close out the album on it's last track, "The Chaining Of The Iniquitous 7:05." Don't forget about the two instrumentals, "Slaves Of Xul 1:24" and "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms 1:40." These are both essential Nile atmospheres, just as good as anything that they've used on the other albums, and Karl Sanders' solo material. They definitely add to the mood of the disc, and that is most important.
With all of the atmospheres, brutality and structural integrity; this is definitely one of the band's finest releases to date. It's not their best, but certainly not their worst either. These guys are getting old, but the music is still as strong as ever. Definitely worth a purchase.
(11 Tracks, 47:00)
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith Of Inhumanity (2012 BY REQUEST) - Another well known musician requested the review of this, (not naming any names) so I decided that I would certainly go ahead and give it a go. I'm not quite familiar with many of the band's current material, but I do believe that it's much better than some of their older work. This album is, anyway.
I was a little surprised by this one. While the disc is as brutal as you would expect it to be, and it's also as technical as you might also expect; (as several brutal bands are incorporating technicality these days) the disc is also features some interesting ideas at times. I have no idea what's going on with the clean vocals though, it sounds like someone with an accent is singing through their nose. They could've left that shit out.
The disc also has solos, but damn are they ever short. I guess it's more about the drumming, the gravelly vocals and whatever the hell else they've got people doing on the mics. I'm serious folks, you've got your gravel/deathcore growl, you've got the scowl guy and then some guy that sounds like he's trying to be as demonic as humanly possible. Of course, that could be the same guy.
As for the album, there are some songs that actually have a deep level of structure and don't sound like they're just set to "pulverize." Most of this album is that way, so if you like head-smashing metal, this is your bag for sure. Believe me, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely the right kind of ravagery for me. However, tracks like "Lifestaker 4:14", "Do Not Resuscitate 3:18" and "Your Disposal 4:47" actually offer some breaks in the brutality that include clean melodies and black metal riffs, for example. Parts of this disc actually encroach a little bit on black metal, but then it'll go right back into chuggy death metal, and then to piggie squeal, and then right into fucking slaughter mode, where the drums thunder.
Yes, the drums thunder. They thunder pretty fucking hard. If one thing can be said about Cattle Decapitation, it's that they've got a hell of a drummer and some worthwhile riffs. Definitely much better than the Job For A Cowboy disc. If you already bought that one, shame on you! You should've saved your money and purchased this massacrepiece of brutality, instead.
While I could have honestly done without "The Monolith 3:39" a slow, dreary atmospheric piece that opens the album's monumental closer, "Kingdom Of Tyrants 4:50"; I feel that the band has obviously matured from their earlier deathcore influenced stuff they put out like "To Serve Man." There's still deathcore to be found here, but it's been muddled into the grind, death and black that finds it's way into this clusterfuck of carnage.
I could've done without the clean vocals, they sound amateur and could be left out. If you can't fucking sing, then don't fucking sing. I couldn't make the clean vocals out in my headphones, and listening to this on my laptop didn't help. They're just real low in the mix and real muddy. It's like the singer didn't want you to hear him sing. Face it buddy. You can growl, you can squeal, you can scowl, you do some kind of voice that sounds like you're fucking possessed; don't try out for American Idol on top of it, okay? Keep it in the realms of brutality.
Other than that, no major qualms. A brain melting disc that will warrant many plays, despite the fucking clean vocals that you wish weren't on there. It's like you just can't win these days. The Job disc had awful scowls in the background that they didn't need, and these guys have that fucker who sings through his nose. Do any of these popular bands know how to just make brutal death metal fusion music that doesn't have bad vocals? I would love to hear what this sounded like without the clean vocals. Would it have killed him to growl on the melodic parts? Quo Vadis did it when these guys were still semen, and nobody bitched about it.
Ah, fuck it. I might as well be talking to the moon. Nevertheless, death metal fans who already picked up Job and Nile need to pick up this disc too. Yeah, it's another 20 you could've put on gas. But you want to support your favorite bands, right?
Go check it out.
Highlights: Dead Set On Suicide, Gristle Licker, Projectile Ovulation, Lifestalker, Do Not Resuscitate, Your Disposal, Kingdom Of Tyrants (11 Tracks, 42:00)
8/10 (Would've gotten higher if the clean vocals were sapped. But not that much, nothing over the top amazing - but still pretty damned good. Great for a quick dose of adrenaline. Probably great with an FPS.)
Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme (2012 Limited Edition) - These guys blew me away when I saw them live last year with Powerglove and Fleshgod Apocalypse. They played damn near a three hour set. That set fucking killed. I don't care if you didn't think so, because I did. I wasn't even really a fan until i saw those guys live. They brought that same energy back with them on this disc. Now I don't recommend getting this limited edition, unless you want to get shit on by the band, but for the most part; it's pretty fucking good. As in brutal, as in groovy, as in chugga chugga chug.
First of all, these guys are trying to incorporate some new stuff into their music, but it's still Dying Fetus. You'll notice quite a few sweeps on the opener "Invert The Idols 2:05" and plenty of that signature groove. This wouldn't be a Dying Fetus disc without the groove and chug that they're known for. There's no pussy vocals on here either. Two vocal styles, but both of them excel. A little bit more structure than the last disc, which is a good thing. It's good to see innovation that doesn't kill the nature of the band.
Oh, there's some thrashy stuff on here too. "From Womb To Waste 4:56" (with it's unmistakable intro) and Dissidence "3;27" contain some definite thrash influence and are much faster. But you're still going to get that signature groove, so just expect it. There's also more little guitar jizz portions on this then you'd expect. "Revisionist Past 3:57" starts out with one of those. There's also some guitar solos on this disc that are fucking worthwhile, so listen for those. DF has never been about solos, but this time they've done a few and they're good, so be fucking grateful and enjoy them.
It's simple. If you like Dying Fetus, and you didn't think that they could get any better, well they fucking did. This probably one of the best discs I've heard from the guys and it tops 2009's Descend Into Depravity and the shitty little EP.
Alright, so the EP was good. But this is much better. Go grab this shit along with the rest of the death metal I've told you to buy. Money is no object. Don't spend all that time on Rockbox getting the shit for free, go and charge the fuck out of your plastic cards! These guys need the money and they fucking deserve it!
Bonus Track: Dead Whores Love To Fuck (0:50) Yeah, this is what you get with the limited edition. The shit should come with a live show DVD or something, not just this 50 second track that is nothing more than thrown together shit with the vocals, "Dead whores love to fuck! Dead whores love to fuck!" over and over again. The record company must've told them, "Hey, we need a bonus track." So they said alright, let's throw some shit together!
This is what became of that. Seriously, buy the original version of this disc, unless you get a badass DVD of a show with it. But you need to fucking buy it anyway, because it's worth every minute of bludgeoning.
(10 Tracks, 38:00)
10/10 (Limited Edition Version: 9/10)
Ihsahn - Eremita (2012) - After the completion of the trilogy, Ihsahn decided to further delve into the same progressive tendencies that filled much of his last album, 2009's "After." Some of you might not feel so great about this, wondering why he's fooling around with weirdness and synthesizers; and why Emperor hasn't yet gotten back together to record a new album.
But I feel that in Ihsahn's current state of music, a new Emperor album from him might sound completely different. It might not even sound like black metal. This album doesn't even have the right to be termed proper black metal. It's blackened prog metal. You'll see hear your blasts and erratic riffs, Ihsahn's scowl lets loose on the tracks, but so do his clean vocals; but black metal purists might spit in the face of the man for this one, because it's heavily star studded and seems to be going for a more mainstream audience.
Ihsahn wants to make money now. He's enlisted several people to help him in doing just that; including Devin Townsend, Jeff Loomis, and several others. There's even a female vocalist featured on the disc, if you can actually believe it. Hell, the first track, "Arrival 5:40" opens up with a guest male vocal! I also might add that the track is a little bland, and is not a great way to open up an album. However, "The Paranoid 4:43" comes in strong with what we would expect from Ihsahn's earlier discs.
One of the main points in this album is the unbelievable pairing of Ihsahn and Devin Townsend, a man who needs absolutely no introduction. "Introspection 5:37" is definitely one of the best songs on this album, and is a must hear. The riffs are absolutely killer, and the vocal styles of Ihsahn and Devin meld together seamlessly. There's even a good solo thrown in, just to make an already great track better.
Those songs were completely sax-free, but "The Eagle And The Snake 8:47" brings that saxy sound right back to us. This track is a little different then most people would expect, it sounds very mature, almost like something that might be played in a jazz club with some darker metal elements. There's even the classy piano in addition to great licks and solos left and right. Really, this album is a finely crafted masterpiece; even though it does seem to fall apart in a few places. But I'll get to that in a minute.
"Catharsis 4:50" is another unique track, it has a very slow pace and the sax continues here. It also has a really great vocal chorus. Oddly enough, and quit twisted in a sense, this song has a sort of "romantic tendency." Would people fuck to this one? I don't know. Would this set the mood? Maybe. But it does feature one hell of a solo. "Something Out There 5:09" follows, bringing with it something that reminds me of black metal, but with orchestral influence. Again, Ihsahn's clean vocal chorus is just as good here. This song really sounds like an odd mix of alternative rock and black metal... And I like it.
Now we get to the filler. For some odd reason, a dreary instrumental piece called "Grief 2:21" is here, and I'm not sure if it's an intro to the next track or not, but this sort of thing really isn't his style. I don't care for it, and it's really not needed anywhere on the album. it's also rather basic, and could've been used as the base of a song. "The Grave 8:18" rushes right in, sounding like a suicidal black metal track, despite the added saxophone (did we really need that?) In the middle of the song, there's just all this nonsensical experimentation and continued saxophone playing. While this might be the disc's darkest track, it's also one of it's most throwaway tracks.
"Departure 7:06" starts out very slow and morbid, then it explodes into extreme metal mayhem. Until the clean vocals come in and soften the vocals, bringing in the Opethy acoustics. Things even turn a bit djent, believe it or not. Then the female vocals come in, shattering the ears of the majority of the world's black metal listeners. They scream in agony, "female vocals don't belong in black metal!" But then again, this ISN'T black metal. The end of the track is unbelievably chaotic and then ends abruptly.
The disc ends with "Recollection 5:39" which is almost a classier version of a rock song. Don't be surprised if you only hear Ihsahn singing on this track. There does happen to be a great solo on this one though, probably not something you'd hear from a normal radio band. I do believe these riffs are Loomis's though. The disc ends out with saxophone.
So there you have it. I tricked you and did a SxS anyway for Ihsahn's fourth solo outing. Don't like it? I don't care. There's really no other way to describe this disc properly. It's literally a Baskin Robbins album, and even though you'll hear black metal bits; it's not and would never be considered black metal. To be perfectly and completely honest, this is very mainstream. Ihsahn has not been one to hide in the shadows, as he's guested on Metalocalypse and has done other acts of mainstreaming that I can't quite remember off the top of my head.
The man has plenty of ideas, that's for sure. But I also wouldn't be entirely surprised if he pulled out some sort of dark atmsopheric album next year. It always seems to come out from a solo artist. Trust me, the dark atmospheric album is coming... and it'll also probably have some saxophone.
Again, this is a great record that is bogged down by too much experimentation and not very much cohesion. I think that was the idea here, but it doesn't flow quite like "After" did. Which in my opinion, "After" is definitely better.
Highlights: Introspection, The Eagle And The Snake, Catharsis, Something Out There (10 Tracks 58:00)
Deathspell Omega - Drought EP (2012) - Paracletus was one hell of an album, and it was also one hell of a change from Deathspell's original style of black metal. Once a cult act, the band has broken out and is now one of those "must-watch" black metal acts, very much like Blut Aus Nord. This album, quite like Paracletus, is also a hell of a change.
Unlike Paracletus, this disc is much blacker and less proggy. Alright, so "Salowe Vision 3:41" and it's drone isn't really the best description of that, but I like to look at the track as mainly an opener; a slight calm before the storm. When "Fiery Serpents 4:15" comes into play, you'll witness firsthand at the ferocity of the band's further evolution; an attempt to mix the prog of Paracletus along with the blast beats that we're all familiar with.
This continues through "Scorpions & Drought 3:11" and stops right at the melodic but still slightly heavy, "Sand 1:35." It then comes back and blasts into "Abrasive Swirling Murk 3:47" which also has a solo portion. Although I can't quite hear it as well as I'd like to. The disc ends with "The Cracked Book Of Life 4:25" which is an instrumental that shows slight promise and more melody than the band has ever offered.
These encroaches of melody might alienate Deathspell's kvlt fanbase. But that's fine with me, because black metal itself is; and has been, evolving. Prog and melody might scare off the kind of people that might fancy listening to raw black metal that was produced in somebody's garage. But we knew that the change was coming, and I predict that the follow-up to Paracletus will be well worth waiting for. If this is just a sample of what they're working on; then I have a good feeling about the band's next opus.
This EP is well worth checking out. Imagine the meat of this thing as a darker, blacker version of Paracletus. You'll actually hear some black metal here, as I've noted; but you'll still hear that prog, whether you want to or not. Definitely some promise on this one.
Highlights: Fiery Serpents, Abrasive Swirling Murk, The Cracked Book Of Life
(6 Tracks, 20:00)
Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage (2012 Limited Edition) - France's Gojira is no surprise to anyone here, obviously. They worked their way out of the underground and became a mainstream act in no time. This was in part due to their third opus, "From Mars To Sirius." Then after that, they released an excellent and thought provoking piece called "The Way Of All Flesh." But after something as deep as death, where else does one go?
This is where, apparently. The band's fifth album actually has a French title, which is sort of new for them as all of their titles have been in English with the exception of their little known debut, "Terra Incognita" which sounds little like the band does today.
As far as I'm concerned, this disc is more about flash and flair than actual meat. There are some interesting ideas on this album of course, but it sounds less like art and more like mainstreaming with experimentation portions so they don't alienate their older audience. "Explosia 6:39" comes in strong, but basic. The only thing that really differentiates it is the odd outro piece to the song that trails on a little long. The interesting prog used on "L'Enfant Sauvage 4:17" definitely makes it stick out, and the heavy portions help to bring that one out.
For the most part, the disc is mainly just a light to heavy, light to heavy. And of course, during the heavy vocals, there has to be a harsh vocal.
Songs like "Liquid Fire 4:17" actually seem to hit a note with me, as well as "Mouth Of Kala 5:51" but I just feel as though there's something about this disc that I' m not getting. Perhaps I need to further congeal it, as it's something that you actually have to soak into your brain; rather than to just listen to the first time through. But being a reviewer, I don't have this kind of time. "The Way Of All Flesh" was more blatant, but this one seems to be filled with more prog, experimentation, acoustics, and light vocals. There is very little of an actual "death metal vocal" to be found on this disc, so at this point it's hard to call them death metal, and to more or less consider the band some kind of extreme experimental prog.
Maybe this will be a letdown for fans of the death metal style that Gojira once incorporated. I mean, while there are a few death metal tracks on here, some of them only seem to have the heaviness and death metal vocals because the band didn't want to, again; alienate any fans. I've been a fan of Gojira for years. I think I discovered them at the same time that everyone else did, but not only did I tap into "From Mars To Sirius" I also tapped into their back catalog and really enjoyed that first release.
But on this one, the style seems to be getting played out. Perhaps the band have found their sound, perfected their sound and are now trying to preserve their sound. But by that time, there's a million little other bands trying to copy and re-perfect the band's signature sound. Once you've inspired someone, they're bound to not only copy, but to improve upon your sound. It's already ahppened more times than I can count. But I strongly doubt that this fifth disc will be the band's swansong. I see it as just one of many and I'm sure that it will receive great plays from other technical and prog metal nuts; but I had that Gojira phase of my life and I don't think that this disc will be able to reignite that wonder than I got from "From Mars To Sirius", "Terra Incognita", and "The Way Of All Flesh." Those albums really meant something to me, especially "The Way Of All Flesh" because it really felt like a cohesive journey. Aside from the song with Randy Blythe, this disc seems to fall flat in comparison to that one, and definitely their third (which some consider to be their best) album.
For the most part, you already know what to expect here; and there is little new. Just more tinkering and lots of empty spaces.
I'm left indifferent by the both of these. Just like the rest of the album, they showcase very little. "This Emptiness 4:09" and "My Creation 3:59" are decent enough, but there's nothing really fantastic or different about them. They could be trimmed fat, but with them the album would be an entire 60:00 of music, and not just the 52:00 that you get from the original disc. Not necessary, but if you're a hardcore fan of the band, you'll probably get the limited edition for these, or just download them.
Either way, I'm left unimpressed and I was actually looking forward to this one. Yet I've heard that some people really liked the disc, so just try before you buy, okay?
Highlights: Explosia, L'Enfant Sauvage, Liquid Fire, Planned Obsolescence, Mouth Of Kala, Born In Winter (13 Tracks, 60:00)
6/10? (I really don't know. I'm still up in the air about this whole thing.)
Animetal USA - W (2012) - Animetal has finally released a new disc. You might remember that I ranked their debut as one of 2011's best power metal albums of the year. Yes, they are still covering anime themes (some popular in US and others in Japan) in the format of power metal. There's still plenty of thrash to be had here, some killer melodies and just as amazing vocals. Not to mention the solos. But who is responsible for all this? Well, here's the lineup:
Mike Vescera (ex-Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen) Vocals
Chris Impellitteri (Impellitteri) Guitar
Rudy Sarzo (ex-Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio) Bass
Scott Travis (Racer X, Judas Priest) Drums
Marty Friedman (Megadeth) Arrangement
That's quite a line-up if I've ever seen one, and yes, they play these anime themes just as well as a band made up of musicians from those groups could. The solos on this are harder and fiercer than any solos should be for anime theme covers, and the drums thunder more than you'd ever expect. One more thing, the tracklist - translated for you anime fans out there:
01. Touch (Touch OP)
02. CAT'S EYE" (Cat's Eye OP)
~Devilman no Uta (Devilman OP)
~Let's go Rider Kick (Kamen Rider OP)
~Tatakae! Kamen Rider V3 (Kamen Rider V3 OP)
~Himitsu Sentai Goranger (Himitsu Sentai Goranger ED)
~Ultra Seven no Uta (Ultra Seven OP)
04. "Dragon Ball Medley"
~CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA (Dragon Ball Z 1st OP)
~WE GOTTA POWER (Dragon Ball Z 2nd OP)
05. Galaxy Express 999"(Galaxy Express 999 Theme Song)
06. We Are! (ONE PIECE 1st OP)
07. Yuzurenai Negai (Magic Knight Rayearth OP)
08. Girl's Anime Medley"
~Moonlight Densetsu (Sailor Moon OP)
~Cutie Honey (Cutie Honey OP)
~Attack No. 1 theme (Attack No. 1 OP)
~Himitsu no Akko-chan (Himitsu no Akko-chan OP)
~Mahoutsukai Sally (Mahoutsukai Sally OP)
09. Ai Oboeteimasuka / Do You Remember Love (Macross: Do You Remember Love Theme Song)
10. JAM Project Medley (~VANGUARD~MAX ON~SKILL)
11. Give Lee Give Lee Rock Lee (NARUTO Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals OP)
Yeah, even I must admit that some of these are quite weird. But the songs each come in with the same force that we would've expected from the band's debut, and the medley's all seem to work together well enough. The original Animetal did this, so it's kind of like a tribute. Again, all the lyrics are just about in English. Of course, the choruses are sometimes still in Japanese, ("Cha-la Head Cha-la" for example) and sometimes some of the lyrics, because it's hard to translate and make it go along with the music.
There's a few themes on here I don't care for, like the "Galaxy Express 999 Theme 2:55", 'The Girl's Anime Medley 4:21", and "Do You Remember Love 4:46" from Macross, an anime I remember watching on VHS years ago. Damn, that brings back memories.
Some might say, "Well, they did Eva, so what the hell else do you want?" and I said, "We Gotta Power" but it's like at the end of "Cha-la Head Cha-La" and it's about a 1:00 long. But they definitely did it justice. They also did the Japanese opening from Sailor Moon, which had rock elements anyway, so that came out nice.
The final track on the disc is actually done with the guy who sings it, because he's still alive, and it's the only one done in pure Japanese. I don't fucking care for Naruto anyway, but some people might like this parody metal thing.
To sum this up, there's nothing different here. But that's a good thing. It wasn't broke, they didn't fix it. The package is brilliant and even theme songs to anime that I never watched or liked, ("One Piece" for example) came out really great.
I'll tell you all right now. If you want this disc, you'll pay a fortune in import costs. So you should definitely download it and blame them for the fact that it wasn't brought over to the states. Yeah, English lyrics, American musicians, and it wasn't brought out to the states. I'd personally love to have an original copy of the first one, but that's not happening anytime soon. (Special Edition 12.00 on CM DISTRO. Animetal USA original is 32.00 in Japan and W is also 32.00 W/DVD it's 37.00! W Is NOT available in the US!)
Definitely check it out if you're into anime and power/traditional heavy metal. It's a great formula from great musicians that worked out well again. It just didn't work out as well this time. But the original Animetal probably put out like 30 albums, and if they keep releasing one every year, they should cover some major ground.
Highlights: Touch, Cat's Eye, Hero Medley, Dragon Ball Medley, We Are!, Yuzurenai Negai, Jam Project Medley (10 Tracks, 48:00)
The Agonist - Prisoners (2012) - The Agonist has come a long way since their female fronted deathcore was first unleashed onto an unsuspecting popular. Some might say that this is the result of the "girl power movement" started by vicious females like Angela Gossow and Otep. But unlike those two, who don't actually sing, this female actually does let a few notes come out, which does in all actuality; sound just as fucking poppy as you'd expect.
Thankfully, there are some really interesting things done on this album that manage to save it. Like the acoustic intro for example, which explodes into some very heavy and somewhat proggy death metal. I didn't expect the drums to do just the sort of things that do on this disc. Whoever's on that kit, they decided to do more than just some basic beats, and whoever's playing the guitar also decided that they would actually incorporate some decent fucking melodies in, despite the fact that her clean poppy singing fills them. We definitely hear some mannish growls from the lead vocalist, but most of the time we hear what sounds like a pissed off drunken woman.
But I understand, because women don't have the same vocal chords that we do, and it's tougher for them to get the deepness of vocal that men have. This is natural, so I wouldn't expect her to be very gravelly in the throat. But being able to mix the vocal style of her growls and the singing together without it messing up her tone is a feat. I will say that she does have a very goblin style scowl at times that I sort of find both very useful for the album, and also kind of sexy.
Some other saving graces on this disc are the guitar solos. You wouldn't expect to hear them, but they're definitely there. But get this, they're also frequent on the album. So expect to hear lots of actual solos on this one. Nothing Megadeth "Hangar 18" but definitely good.
"Predator And Prayer 5:04" also incorporates some great riffs in places, but at this point, you might think that even the prog is getting overplayed. But the melody isn't, at least not yet. Then he breaks into that solo. Yep, that's a full metal solo. not some half-ass radio thing. Another one to check out is "Ideomotor 8:07" and yes, it's as long as you see. It also features 3-5:00 of straight guitar jizzery, which we'd not expect. The guitarist in this band apparently wanted to be on the cover of Guitar World, so showing people that he can play just might help.
"Dead Ocean 6:19" is another track on here that manages to keep the disc afloat. The tracks trance-like prog riffs tend to give the band a new sound, something different that can be explored. It's evolution, dare I say it. The same ideas get further used in "Everybody Wants You (Dead) 5:00" and "Revenge Of The Dadaists 6:42." The band plays around with a lot of prog and acoustics on this discs, but there's still a little radio single called "The Mass Of The Earth 4:40."
The vocal style hasn't much changed, but she's gotten better. This album has much more structure than I would've ever hoped to hear from the band, and there's definitely some promise here. The drummer and guitarists definitely tear through this album and give us something much more than what the band has done in the past. This might be the closest that the band will actually come to mattering outside the mainstream.
If you're interested, check it out. But don't expect anything real grand. It's a good album, but not a great one. Hard work was put into this one, though. I will say that much. There's also some big words floating around on this one.
Highlights: Predator And Prayer, Ideomotor, Lonely Solipsist, Dead Ocean, Everybody Wants You (Dead), Revenge Of The Dadaists (11 Tracks, 58:00)
Diskord - Dystopics (2012) - This album has been getting rave reviews, due to the band's ability to mix traditional death metal, prog, and the occasional weirdness together in a fashion that doesn't manage to piss off the death metal elitists. It really is an interesting, if not weird package; but here at the tower, weirdness is certainly an affecting factor in review. We like weirdness here, almost embracing it; because innovation can in itself, be a very peculiar thing at first.
But this album in it's peculiarity, is still at it's base core; a death metal album. The vocals are gravelly and also contain deathly screams, the guitars certainly reek of the smell of dead flesh, and the drums thunder with the hell choruses that we all know and love. Things here are just a little bit... different. "Entropic Death 3:31" for example, gives us the feeling of a fuck session between Entombed and Athiest, but it works together in the end.
One of the biggest parts of this album is also it's speed. There really isn't any, so don't expect to hear blazing death metal. Again, think of bands like Atheist and Cynic on this one. In fact, they borrow quite a bit from Cynic, especially in the bas riffs section. But you'd have to be dense not to notice that. At times, this entire album can sound like one big song with many textured parts; but perhaps that is how the band intended it.
Diskord is the kind of band that is more interested in showing you how good they can play, rather than giving you a groove-laden headbang fest. But there are still heavy drums in portions of the disc and you can still bang your head, if you simply must. This is in most ways, an atmospheric death metal experiment. It echoes early Athiest quite a bit, and the low quality production makes it sound like it came out during the same time as anything those guys had put out in the 90's.
For most of you, this is a wet dream of sorts, and I very much enjoyed this disc. I think I've listened to it three times already. It's not that long an experiment, but it sure is an interesting one. I guess that you could quite easily consider it the sort of death metal you would want to play if you wanted to retain focus.
It's also good to listen to while you're working on a piece of art. (Designed the new banner while listening to it, btw.) If you're looking for something that is brutal, methodical, experimental, and still old school in the sense of production; then this album is for you.
Trust me, the album cover alone showcases just what you're in for. It's a death metal album that's most certainly abstract art.
Highlights: Entropic Death, Overseer, Woebegoneness, Ambisinitral, Psychotic Process, As The Circus Leaves The Galaxy, Rambling Words From A Sore Throat, Metamorphosis, Godsends & Hellbents, Primitive Doom
(12 Tracks, 39:00)
The Cult - Choice Of Weapon (2012) - As I'm certainly no stranger to the Cult's later work, (but a blind ghost to their early material) I knew exactly what to expect from this album. Tambourines, Astbury's vocal croons, punky rock and roll guitars, and eclectic drumming that goes from contemporary to tribal. There definitely is a very spiritual feel to this disc, especially on songs like "Elemental Light 4:51."
The melodies on this album haven't changed a bit from anything else that the band has released, and that's a good thing. They still have the same very trance-like feel that they've always had and I'm thankful for that. The Cult could've tried to go absurdly heavy in order to connect with the popular rock/metal media, but I'm glad that they didn't. This is by far, one of the band's best releases.
A full twenty minutes longer than the band's last disc, "Born Into This" (2007) the extra time was not wasted. You have hippie-punk tracks like "Honey From A Knife 3:12", "The Wolf 3:39", and "For The Animals 4:34."
But you've also got the David Bowie influenced, "Life > Death 5:39." It's not my favorite track on the disc, but it is good for variety's sake. There's also a couple of great ballads like "Wilderness Now 4:39", "This Night In The City Forever 4:51", and "Embers 5:08." But what you won't believe, is that all of these ballads are good.
To be perfectly honest, there's little here on the album that I didn't like. But that's thanks to Billy Duffy's incredible riffs. It doesn't really matter what the song is, he plays each and every one of these with passion and finesse, a flair that only he could have brought to this band, and has brought forth with every album. This is no throwaway disc, and is a true example of The Cult's music.
I was fortunate enough to watch a full concert from these guys on the television, and it was quite brilliant. Even with this album, I can still hear the same sort of licks that the band played in it's most earliest years; and the mixes of the old sound and some of the newer, slightly heavier sound featured on tracks like "Until The Light Takes Us 4:26." You can certainly hear that the band takes influence from classic blues and even groups like The Rolling Stones "A Pale Horse 3:20."
But my personal favorite track on this, while very contemporary and radio friendly; is "Every Man and Woman Is A Star 3:32" which means a lot more than what you may think. Anyone whose read Crowley's Book of the Law (Liber Al Legis) knows what I'm talking about here. This song also has one of the best, and most catchy choruses on the album. I'm waiting for a video for this one, it's certainly warranted.
The Cult have once again impressed me, in the way that they always seem to do; by breaking up and doing their own things (BXI for example) and then getting back together and giving us something like this. Those of you who saw that awful hip-hop mix of "She Sells Sanctuary" during the Super Bowl, well... Don't expect any hip hopping on this album. It's a 100% true album from the band that both the vets and the newcomers should enjoy. Definitely pick yourself up a copy and experience some really great rock. There's not much of it out there anymore, sadly.
Highlights: Elemental Light, The Wolf, For The Animals, Amnesia, Wilderness Now, A Pale Horse, The Night In This City Forever, Every Man and Woman Is A Star, Until The Light Takes Us, Siberia (And all the rest are just about as good.) (14 Tracks, 59:00)
The Night Flight Orchestra - Internal Affairs (2012 Limited Edition) - An odd side project from Soilwork's Bjorn Strid and Arch Enemy's Sharlee D'Angelo; this classic rock projects is one of the best things that either of these two men have put their names on. I don't care if Arch Enemy or Soilwork ever release another disc, as both bands are in my opinion now thoroughly played out and have had their day. There's not much that can be done with either one of them, and they're both going to be beating a dead horse if they do decide to release another disc.
Thankfully, there's this. A spot of maturity, or perhaps a drunken idea to create classic rock. Either way, the end result is brilliant and really echoes the kind of classic prog influenced rock from the days when rock music was still good. You'll hear classic riffs, some synths and traditional drumming. But what really makes this disc stand out are D'Angelo's riffs and Strid's vocals. Songs like "Siberian Queen 6:03", "California Morning 5:37", West Ruth Ave 6:42", and "Transatlantic Blues 8:21" are all fantastic examples of this formula done right. If you don't yearn for the days of great classic rock while listening to these, then you just don't like rock music.
The solos on the disc are also fantastic, as you would expect them to be. Each and every song on the disc certainly has it's own feel, nothing on here sounds alike. But they all share the common influence of classic rock. "Transatlantic Blues 8:21" actually is the heaviest of the bunch, and it's also got the most prog of the disc. There's even a slight jam-out session, just like bands used to do back in those days. If anything, this is a history lesson for the youth. There's even some 80's shout-outs, like "West Ruth Ave 6:42." Try and tell me that that chorus doesn't sound like an 80's chorus.
Then we've got "Internal Affairs 4:48" which definitely has plenty of disco influence and I'll tell you something... it kind of sucks that disco died, because it's actually pretty good music. I think I'd rather listen to that then dub-step.
There are just a few songs I didn't like quite as much, like "Stella Ain't No Dove 4:27" and the soft ballad, "Green Hills Of Grumslov 4:08." But there are certainly people out there who will enjoy these tracks, I'm sure. For the most part, this isn't an album for metal heads, and possibly the fathers and mothers of said young metalheads would enjoy this more than they would. But I'm an 80's child, so I'm familiar with a lot of the music back in those days, and the older music that my mother used to listen to.
If you're under the impression that the best rock music has already been made (like myself) then you'll also understand how this album is one that you've got to have in your collection. These metal greats came together and made one of the best classic rock albums I've heard in an innumerable amount of years. Bands like Cream and Pink Floyd don't exist anymore, but it's a good thing that The Night Flight Orchestra did their best to try to remind us of what kind of effect that music had on an entire generation.
Definitely essential classic rock.
Bonus Track: "American High 3:36" is definitely a good track, it's got a catchy chorus and a good melody. It was definitely good enough to have on the album, but it's not one of the band's best tracks. It's right up there with the other two that I wasn't exactly crazy about. If it's not much more for the limited edition, go get that and this extra track. But I wouldn't spend more than three extra dollars on it.
Highlights: Siberian Queen, California Morning, Glowing City Madness, West Ruth Ave, Transatlantic Blues, Miami 5:02, Internal Affairs, Montreal Midnight Supply (12 Tracks, 61:00)
Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion (2012) - This dream project of Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Michael Ankerfeldt (Opeth) finally came along this year, but it wasn't quite what the masses had hoped for. There is little guitar and more atmosphere than anything else here. But that doesn't mean that it's not good. Of course, most people were expecting a prog-rock jam session and they didn't get it.
"Drag Ropes 9:52" opens the disc with eerie synths and Micahel's clean vocals. Let it be noted that there are no death metal vocals on this album, as you might expect. "Storm Corrosion 10:09" is a tribal atmospheric with acoustic guitars and Steve's vocals plastered all over it. "Hag 6:28" and "Happy 4:53" each have a distressing and melancholy feel. It's also safe to say that they're both heavy atmospheres, despite a slight "rock" portion in "Hag" that sounds fuzzy to say the least. This was definitely meant to be some sort of experiment. "Happy" has a nice acoustic solo. Thought I'd just throw that in, for those of you who were under the assumption that guitars were absent on this disc.
"Lock Howl 6:10" is a weird piece that features some shakers, acoustic guitar and a little bit of electric. It's got all sorts of weird effects in it, like one hell of an experiment where "just anything went." However, it is quite interesting and is slightly much warmer than the rest of the tracks on the album. The disc ends with "Ludjet Innan 10:20" which begins with some high pitch vocals (from Michael?) and then has what I could honestly describe as the type of music that would accompany one trying to perform the act of astral projection. It is a very light, ethereal atmosphere that seems to continue on for a while. Then the song slows and Wilson sings a bar or two among the light guitar. The atmosphere comes back in, and the whole thing just sounds completely beyond this dimension. Just like the rest oft his album.
A listening tip is to first get high. Mushrooms, acid or marijuana might definitely help in the enjoyment of this album. It's an experience and you probably need to be in the right state of mind for it. While not the kind of jaunty prog-rock fest that we were expecting, there is a ridiculous amount of experimentation on this disc that could've only been accomplished by these two masters of prog. Worth a listen, but I feel that only few will actually buy this one.
Still, I'll bet there's at least a few people who say this is one of the best albums they've ever heard. I don't feel the same, but to each their own; I suppose.
Highlights: Drag Ropes, Storm Corrosion, Lock Howl, Ljudet Innan
(6 Tracks, 47:00)
Anna Salen - Anna Salen (2012 FREE EP) - This free EP from Ana Salen was a free download from bandcamp. I was getting some music from Over-Reactor (I'll reviews for them later) and this was suggested by them, so I check it out. Not much here to really talk about, since it's only three songs. The first song, "Vehicles 3:08" is the sort of prog rock influenced thing I would expect from a band of this sort. It thumps, but not in a way that we haven't heard. The drummer's pretty decent, but the band doesn't sound like they've got a whole lot of meat. The riffs sound very generic d-tune for the most part too, and that shit irks me to no end.
"How To Be A Man 5:12" has the prog synthesizers that we all know and love, and it's definitely nothing out of the ordinary. Could be developed further, but not a bad showcase of the band's talent. A little bit too much riff-repetition for me. However, It has a surprising acoustic melody at the end. The last song on this disc reminds me of something from SNK's King Of Fighters style music. It even has the over-used heavy bass riffs that we hear in fighting games these days. it's not surprised that the song's called "Karate 3:13." There's an interesting portion in the middle, then a break down and reinterpretation of the opening riff. Sounds good, but nothing altogether amazing.
All in all, this is maybe worth the free download; but I think that the band needs to step up to the plate just a little more and really give me an idea of just what they're capable of. These three songs are each different and unique, but some seem a bit stale and under-developed.
Worth a download, at least; but you've probably heard better instrumental bands before. (Soul Cycle, for example.)
Binah - Hallucinating In Resurrecture (PR2012) - Who the fuck is Binah? Well, they're your new death metal god for one thing, so start bowing. Some guy was talking about how their name is derived from Hindu or something; but I could give a fuck less, I'm not hear to talk about the name, I'm hear to talk about the music, and it is pretty damned breathtaking folks. This isn't just death metal. It's highly influenced by prog and very melodic in portions as well.
Yes, you'll still get beat over the head - but not with each and every single song. Sometimes the band just likes to take it slow. After all, death metal is not a race to see who can play the fastest; it's who can play the best, and with the most skill and talent. I looked at a photo of these guys and saw that they're young for the most part. You would think they're a little green. But that's not the case here; as this is definitely some of the best death metal I've heard in quite a while.
Do all the songs stick out? No. Of course not. "A New Rotten Dawn 5:15", "Absorption Into The Unearthly 3:16", and "Dissolution 4:49" have their moments, but they're mostly bland death metal thrashers that we've all heard before. No, I don't need to name bands, it's pretty fucking obvious as to what generic death metal sounds like.
But here's the thing. The rest of the tracks on here are golden. If it's over 7:00 long on this disc, it's worth checking out. Oddly enough, the band placed these four tracks that are each around 7 minutes and 30 seconds; in between the shorter, blander tracks on the disc. Genius or suicide? You choose. I for one, think that it's a good idea to have the slower more melodic (and progressive influenced at times) tracks on the disc along with the faster tracks, that way we don't just get one style of death metal from a band; which can be extremely boring.
The disc has a slightly raw sound, but you can definitely discern all of the instruments. It's slightly muddy for the most part. The growls are much louder on my laptop then they were in my headphones, so I can't make the argument about the vocals being too low in the mix. But I still suggest that they very well might be.
The drumming is definitely good on this disc, and it shows that the drummer can alternate between bludgeoning his kit and playing with artistic precision. The guitarists can both play classic death metal riffs and some weird and eerie proggy shit that we didn't see coming. This is really the kind of death metal that you just don't expect to hear clean melody or prog in, but it helps the atmosphere. Again, don't worry. You're still going to get your spleen ripped out through your asshole by this. It will just be done in a much classier way.
If the thought of melodies and touches of prog doesn't interest you, then perhaps you should stay away from this one. But I would even then still recommend you to get this disc. Trust me, this has the feel of classic death metal; it's just updated a little and might be a change from those old Entombed, Grave, and Deicide albums. Definitely give this unique disc a try. Binah is onto something here, and with great tracks like "The Emissary 7:22" and the title track, "Hallucinating In Resurrecture 7:37"; there's plenty to like here. Not only do you get tremendous structure with epic atmospheres; you also get relentless brutality on the same disc.
These three guys made one killer of an album. Go check it out and give these guys some support. This is the kind of thing I want to hear from death metal in 2012, not the same regurgitated crap.
Highlights: Morbid Obumbration, The Emissary, Hallucinating In Resurrecture, Eminence Of The Sombre, Crepuscular Transcendence (10 Tracks, 50:00)
Dogbane - Residual Alcatraz (PR2012) - Dogbane is a doom band that plays with a little bit of prog and some classic rock elements. Their style is certainly nothing new, but they do it play it well. The raw production value of the disc also helps. This thing sounds about as analog as can be, but I don't think that it could've or should've been done any other way.
The band definitely adds slight touches of prog into the mix, which is something you really wouldn't expect. However, these touches help to sweeten an already great package. The riffs are actually worth a shit, with the band playing some great melodies on tracks like "Born To Die 4:47", "Annihilator 5:18" and many others. The vocal delivery isn't very good in some areas, but the high pitch croon of their vocalist does hit pretty hard in others. I'd be a fool to say that he can't keep up the rhythm.
What I really like about this disc, is that the band really doesn't show any boundaries. This goes from heavy metal, to prog, to jam out session in a matter of seconds. Most of the lead riffs you've heard before, but there are slight tweaks that give the music just a little more form. This kind of music is probably great while "medicated" and definitely has it's share of 60's moments.
This is quite comparable to Candlemass, but it has more structure; even though that's almost a blasphemy, I'd reckon. I'm just calling it like I see it. If you're a fan of traditional doom metal and 60's prog rock, you'll probably love this one. I'm not even going to sugarcoat this. The band came out of nowhere with a very worthy doom disc, and it's got plenty of worthwhile tracks to keep you entertained for hours at a time. There are even a few shout outs to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest if you'll listen closely(Devil in The Dark 6:47").
So maybe it's not just doom metal, after all. Maybe it's just a mix of everything. There are even some death metal vocals in the epic, "Burning In The Light 9:50." Again, this is a band that doesn't really have boundaries. They didn't just want to make a generic heavy metal album. They wanted to make a heavy metal disc that mixes in their influences of doom, prog, death metal, punk and classic rock. Sure you can hear the influences in the music, but it's one hell of a mix; and you can bet your ass that you'll be playing it for days. It's an album where you can still hear the fuzz and static from the amps, as old school as can possibly be.
If you're a new school metal head, you probably should give this one a spin. Because this is how metal used to sound before all of the production and cleanliness that discs have now. This is what shit used to sound like in the metal's early years, before anyone even knew what the hell the words "kvlt" and "djent" meant.
Go get it for a history lesson, if you're young and curious. But for the older heads out there, you know damn well what I'm talking about. If you're still under the assumption that "there's no good metal out there anymore", you need to fucking check this out. It seems that there are some bands out there (and let's be honest, these are some old dudes playing this shit) that still know how to play the old sound. I'm thankful as hell that they still do, and I'd have never heard about this album if not for my PR folks. So I'm returning the favor by promoting it to the masses.
School's in session. Go pick this one up and learn something about metal besides technicality, brutality, blast beats, and djent.
Highlights: Banished, Annihilator, Devil In The Dark, Burning In The Light
(10 Tracks 54:00)
Forefather - Last Of The Line (PR2012) - With Viking metal, I can't say that I've really been much of a fan. Sure I've enjoyed some of it, and I know some friends who absolutely love it; even consider it part of their religion. But as for this band, I can certainly say that they've got both talent and experience. The songs have a great deal of folk melodies and a mixture of clean and harsh vocals. Yes, this is nothing new.
But the clean singer has some really great pipes "By The Deeds 4:51", "The Downfallen 5:53" and combined with some of the great melodies that this album occupies, it's an almost unbeatable formula. But for you fans of harsher and more vicious Viking anthems, you should know that Forefather excel in doing both. There are some definite heavy tracks on the disc like, "Chorus Of Steel 4:42" and "Doomsday Dawns 6:42", but the heaviness is balanced out with the melody and clean vocal.
There's a Viking ballad on here as well, it's called "Up High 5:08" and I could see many a heathen disrobing and worshiping the old gods to this one. It's very hymn-like in that aspect, I consider it a very sacred and true musical work. A proggier piece called "Wyrda Gesceaft 3:06" also seems like it's got a sort of meditation like presence; only a few words are spoken on this track. It is mostly an instrumental reflection. One thing is truly certain about this album, it is a true heathen metal album for true heathens.
Some of the songs do start to sound in very much in the same style as the opener with it's mix of heaviness and melody and both vocal styles; but it's the other tracks on this disc that make it worthwhile. There aren't any truly awful tracks on this one, but it does begin to sound like filler in the middle. It's not filler to all, of course; some people might really like "Shadows Of The Dead 5:24" and "Spears Of Faith 4:54", but I've heard much the same thing before from bands like Ensiferum.
Either way, the disc is rounded out well enough by it's better tracks, that mask the filler and make the whole thing worthwhile and a must for Viking metal fans and heathens of all types. This is great Viking metal, and it's definitely worth adding to the collection that you've already got stored in your longboat.
Give Odin a few hails, and blast this one from the rooftop!
Highlights: Cometh The King, Last of Line, Chorus Of Steel, By The Deeds, Up High, Wyrda Gesceaft, Doomsday Dawns, The Downfallen (12 tracks, 55:00)
Hordes Of The Morning Star - Consummatum Est (PR2012) - I know that this album came out a while ago overseas, but now the American release is set to come out; so I'm reviewing it for that purpose.
Hordes is one hell of a black/death band. They're one of the most downright fucking evil groups that I've heard in quite a while. The vocals literally sound like they're filled with scorn, the drums seem to be absolutely merciless, and the guitars bring forth some of the blackest and darkest riffs that I've heard in a while. If this thing had an aura, it'd be the color of coal.
You've got an alternation of black and death metal vocals, but it works together nicely, albeit there is much more malice coming from the black metal scowls than the growls. As for the guitars, you can't really expect and solos or anything of that nature; it's not that kind of happy band. These guys are evil and pissed. Each and every song is filled with an ultimately bleak and destructive atmosphere. You might want to play this as you murder someone, but I'd not recommend it.
But it would be great music for that. This really is the kind of music that was made to be played while watching a church burn, and that'd be quite alright with these gentlemen as they seem to have quite a thing for the guy with the horns and don't seem to care much for that other guy. But that's fucking putting it lightly.
Nevertheless, you're going to get a severe beating from this one that you're going to be feeling for days. Each and every song really carries the same vibe, as there are none that I can really single out. It sounds like black metal more than anything else, and the riffs seem to tread along those lines. Even the acoustic bits that do exist on this disc are quite dreary. The drums bang and blister with a fervor, as the man behind the kit must be insane.
Normally, I don't fear the image of bands and their over the top dark imagery and anger; but these are the type of gentlemen that I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. If you're going to carve up an animal, or a human corpse, this music might also be good for that. It's just so fucking diabolically evil that it's beyond words.
My only qualm with this disc is that many of the songs gravitate towards the same direction. Yes, I wouldn't expect any less from these metallic demons; but you know what to expect with each and every song. But that's very little of a gripe. Hordes does everything right here, and the clean production on the disc makes the vocals screech right into your ears. You won't just hear this album, you'll feel it. if you're a young disenfranchised youth and are looking to piss off your parents and the neighborhood; then buy this and blast it. If you're looking for some malicious black metal with elements of death metal, (and some great melodies) definitely pick this up.
Again, there are no solos. There are no clean vocals. There is no prog. This is just complete 100% fuck you all black metal. If that's not indication enough, just listen to "Holocaust 4:10." it's the ultimate "work sucked today" song.
it's pure evil through and through. This will probably piss of 95% of the general population who don't even listen to metal. Take that as an extra incentive.
(9 Tracks, 35:00)