Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Apnea and Backhoe Butchery (By Request)

Apnea - Tainted Purity (2005 By Request) - Apnea are, as you are aware - technical death metal in the vein of other such bands like Obscura, Quo Vadis, early Cynic, later Death, and others. I was actually not sure what to expect from the band, as I haven’t heard any of their music before, but that sort of thing adds to the surprise, I think. The band is comprised of Steve Allington (Guitars, Vocals) Robbie Valentine (Bass) and Jake Norman (Drums). Apparently the band also contains a man by the name of Matt Glasser who provided leads on tracks 3 and 5 and created the band’s logo. I know that bands fall in and out, and people come and go - so I’ll just leave it at that, I guess.

As I listened to each and every track, I heard some very complex drum patterns as Jake Norman is a beast on the fucking kit, and I also heard some good melodies thrown in that certainly added to the enjoyment of the disc. You can certainly tell where the influences of Death and Cynic come in. But I definitely heard something that reminded me alot of earlier Quo Vadis. Steve’s vocals are as gravelly as they need to be, as I was glad to hear that it wasn’t some hardcore crap vocals over good riffs, of which there are many on this album. He plays both unconventional, and some I’ve heard before, but they seem to work well for the band’s sound. I also like the “jam” factor that this band uses, where things get slow and moshy - even kind of doomy, which is a winner in my book. Robbie’s bass riffs add that sort of doom flavor to the disc, that I didn’t even expect.

I like the fact that while there is double bass on this disc, it’s more than just being about the double bass, because that gets rather old after awhile. But as I said, the drummer is one of those techy guys that’s more concerned with actually being able to show someone that they can do more on the kit than just blast.

Most of the songs are short, but they don’t sound that way, which is a good thing. I like a song that seems longer than it is because of the amount of structure in it. At least the band tries to do something different with every song. I like that I’m not hearing the same riffs and rhythms as I have heard on other “underground” releases. I can’t tell you how many Brazilian guys want to get together and make a death metal album where every song sounds just like the last. Sure, they can play it - it’s just nothing amazing. That isn’t the case here.

Believe it or not, I’m actually quite floored with the disc. It’s another local knockout, and I’m not sure if it’s something in the water around here or not, but people around here definitely know how to play metal as far as I’ve heard. Now I did hear one band live (I won’t mention the name) that only seemed to showcase some good middle eastern/Egyptian riffing but copied too much from Behemoth, especially their front man. But at least they weren’t playing some kind of screamo core. Which I have seen as well, and while it was funny, I couldn’t take the whole jogging in place and screaming at the same time, seriously.

While I’m not sure of the ages of these musicians, it certainly seems to me that they seem to craft very methodical music, something that one usually develops the ability to perform with age. Not just anybody can craft these kind of riffs or play the drums in such a highly technical fashion right off the bat. This is the kind of juice that the American Metal Scene needs right now. Track by track seems to create it’s own soundscape, and songs like “God Complex” and “Victimized” for example have me hooked, among others. Wish I heard this shit sooner, but in 2005 I was just now graduating and went to try out for my first band, which worked out well enough, until I sounded quite too much like a demon, and well, you can ask another guy on the board about that. But I’m not too proud of those years.

(Yes, I graduated at 20, because I’m awful at math. A man like myself who tries his best not to misspell a word in his life, but thinks of Algebra as a death sentence. Don’t even get me started on Geometry. Funny thing is that one most needs common sense to go through life. But they don’t teach that in school. That’s why you have these silly teen girls that think they can actually blow dry their hair while in the bathtub.

“Oh, I thought I’d just sit the dryer down for a moment in the tub. I didn’t think it would upset the water.” )

One more thing that I’ll say about the disc, is that the clean vocals which are used on the disc are actually really good. I cannot quite place the influence, but I’ve heard it before. It sounds a little like doom vocals, which I definitely like. The solos on the disc are also killer. This band can play, ladies and gentlemen. Musicians this good shouldn’t have day jobs. There really is something fucked up in this country these days, when the talentless get famous, and the ones who actually have what it takes get left in the dust.

Go and support these guys, great stuff. The world needs to hear this. (29:00)


Apnea - Tempest Of Eternity (2009 By Request) - Not able to review the disc due to my postmaster’s dislike for metal, apparently. Either that, or the thing was dropped before it was put into the mailbox. The internal scarring on the disc has rendered it unreadable, and unplayable. I was able to hear two or three tracks though, and noticed more of a doom approach and better production. I’d really like to hear more, so please send me another disc, or the files themselves. Thanks.

Backhoe Butchery - Mailbox Full Of Mousetraps (2007 By Request) - Apparently, these guys are the alumni of Apnea. The band is comprised of three members, Willie (Guitars, Lead Vocals) Ann (Bass, Backing Vocals) and Eric (Drums).

The band definitely has more punk influence than anything else, but seems to be very focused on making extremely heavy punk. It’s tough to call them a metal band in the beginning, but they’re definitely enjoying themselves on the first part of the disc. It’s pretty good, but not the best thing I’ve ever heard.

(Yes, I have to speak the truth in these reviews, or what’s the point in reviewing?)

The band certainly has a few moments where technicality or mosh portions come into play, and some of the lyrics on the disc are pretty funny “Boob Tube Berserker” (and true) but I still think they’ve got some more work to do, even though I like this mix of punk and prog death. I have to give them proper respect for this, because I haven’t heard anyone try to mix these two together, and on songs like “What You Deserve” I’m hearing that.

I sense that the band wanted to do some punky songs and some technical death metal stuff as well, and it’s a good way to reach out to two unlikely groups that would probably never be in the same group together during the shows - punks, and prog/tech death heads.

All in all, I’m split down the middle with this one. The second part of the disc really seems to showcase much more musicality for me than the first couple tracks, I really love that part of it. But the first couple tracks just sound like a band having fun. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Plus, since the lead singer looks like he could bench press me over his head, so I’ll be as nice as I can about this.

One other thing I’ll say about this disc, and this has nothing to do with the music. The artwork on the booklet and the CD really looks good. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect from a band on a major (with all that glam and frizz that they do with their discs) Even the band’s logo is really well thought out. Someone (it doesn’t say who on the disc or booklet) took some time with the artwork, and I do know a thing or two about art, folks.

“Looks Like A Nice Butterfly, But It’s A Mean One.”

Clever. Very clever. (19:00)



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