Friday, July 13, 2012

Week 27 (Backtracking)

Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus (2011 EXTENDED REVIEW) - Just give me a second. I’ve got to go back and soak in this album a little more. I feel that I haven’t yet grasped all of it’s greatness. So indeed, Morbid Angel has given us the best album ever made by a man since bread was first sliced with a kitchen knife. Indeed this album should be cherished by all of the human populous, and worshipped at altars as the best musical offering of mankind.

The wonderful use of electronics in “Too Extreme” was far too extreme for me, and with such thought provoking lyrics I’d have to say that it really made me think. I never knew that metal could sound this good, and Morbid Angel hasn’t disappointed me yet. Clearly the band realized that short lyrics and repeated hip hop style choruses would surely win the day.

Such Manowar inspired anthems like “I Am Morbid” only help to better diversify the sound of Morbid Angel from anything else out there. “10 More Dead” also adds that hard rock influence to metal that we all know that death metal has always needed. Surely Static-X could’ve written this song, because clearly they are just as good of musicians as Morbid Angel.

Let’s not forget about “Destructos Vs. The Earth / Attack” which reminds me of a good techno jam with pieces of death metal in it. I know that many techno mixes of this song will be on the way, many of them coming from the band - and that’s a good thing. Just like that comet Elenin (ele = extinction level event), that is supposed to hit this planet in 2011.

Still, songs like “Nevermore” and “Beauty Meets Beast” show that Morbid Angel still has plenty to offer the world. It just doesn’t have to be that great, because we’re all going to die in a few months. Finally, the song “Radikult” which is the best song on the entire album has inspiration from none other than the greatest musician of our age…

Mr. Rob Zombie. At 7:37, they made sure that the whole world would know for certain that Morbid Angel was completely….

Ok, I’m sick of this shit. The album sucks. It’s easily their St. Anger, or Risk. There are good songs on it, like “Nevermore”, “When Beauty Meets Beast”, “Blades For Baal”, “Existo Vulgore’ and “Profundis - Mea Culpa” for example, but there are so many crap tracks on this disk that sound like nothing more than utter jokes. It’s literally like they decided to fuck off the rest of the album.

Who cares? We’re all going to die, right?

Maybe that’s what they all thought. At 56:00, and sounding very different, this album may turn many people off. But there are people that love St. Anger, and probably Risk also. I do have to say that I really like “When Beauty Meets Beast” and would recommend that you all hear that song. At least the solo portion anyway…the solos on this disc are really good, even on the industrial influenced tracks. So there’s that.

The rest of this album will be buried in space dust, with the rest of humanity. 56:00


Instead of this album, try the others I’ve reviewed this week.

Arch Enemy - Chaos Legions (2011) - I honestly don’t know what to think of this album. Arch Enemy has rubbed me both wrong and right so many times over, and the tracks on this disc seem to do both at first listen, but it does get better with time. This is Arch Enemy’s most diverse and experimental disc, with not all of the songs sounding alike. The Amott brother’s signature style is still very well pronounced on this disc, and it appears that they are trying some new things on the guitar.

I’m hearing some great riffs on this disc, and I’m not afraid to say so. Of course, Gossow is still sounding as bloodthirsty as ever - this time even more so. (which I find as a turn on, because I like strong, bloodthirsty women that can lift more than I can) But seriously, if you have been casting out Arch Enemy for a while because of albums that have sounded too much alike, or just plain weak - this one might just do it for you.

I was really impressed with this album, and even despite the large track list, there’s little filler and a hell of a lot of absolutely killer material. I daresay it’s the best since fucking Wages. (Wages Of Sin) I didn’t think lighting could strike twice, but it seems that it can, and I really can’t see too many people getting upset with this one. Instead of getting the new Morbid Angel, go give the Amott brothers your cash this time, seriously.

This is the sound of a disc that was carefully crafted, and not just thrown together. Stuff like this doesn’t happen often, so take advantage of it. I’d buy it myself, and I didn’t think I was going to say that for awhile on this particular band.

Bonus Material:

Vengeance Is Mine
The Zoo
Snowbound (acoustic)

What I can say about these, is that they are all worth your money as well. The disc will come packed with a covers album (some of these bonus tracks are covers), and from this particular era in the band’s history, it should be worth hearing. I have enjoyed the fuck out of this one. 61:00 (This is the length for my particular version only. Others may vary.)

666 (Just give it time, and you might come to appreciate it too.)

Also try - Arch Enemy - Wages Of Sin (2001)

Unexpect - Fables Of A Sleepless Empire (2011) - If you don’t know who Unexpect is, don’t feel bad. They’ve come out with several albums over the years, but really didn’t hit their mark until about 2006’s “In A Flesh Aquarium.” Mostly the band is know for spontaneity, and being able to mix metal with 10,000 other things. Most people either really love, or really loathe Unexpect.

But this time around, the band has calmed themselves down a little and made something much more cohesive. This is probably their most cohesive work since the 1999 debut release. Even though the band throws in choirs and black metal/death metal vocals and everything else, it still manages to keep a form, which is an uncanny effort that had to literally take about five years to perfect at least. Don’t view this as just an album. It’s a goddamned experience, and it’s the best goddamned experience I’ve heard from the band in years.

Yes, you might have to listen to it a few times, but you can’t deny the amount of work that was put into this release. You can’t just throw things together any old way and expect them to work. This took a lot of plotting and planning, and musicality. It sounds like an epic opera, but still falters on just two tracks…”In The Mind Of The Last Whale”, and “A Fading Stance” are each just over 2:00 and offer little to the formula. They could’ve been taken out completely and I wouldn’t have cared.

Not every track is the same, and the band has definitely made sure that this IS NOT another “In A Flesh Aquarium” and I will tell you that this is a very difficult task. Even though there’s a lot of female vocals, there is still plenty of fierce metal and fun avant-garde in this experience for you to enjoy. This band is ultimately unlike anything you’ve ever heard, so I must highly recommend this second outing from the band which is worth at least a listen.

Mediaboom it for a test-drive. If you don’t know what media boom is, google it and brush up on your Russian. (55:00)


Also try: Unexpect - In A Flesh Aquarium (2006)

Hell - Human Remains (2011) - With a band name of Hell, they certainly don’t disappoint. This is power metal in a very classic vein (especially on the vocals) that is going to appeal right away to old heads and I can’t consider it a throw away just because I’m not used to those vocals. The lyrics are pretty much all about hell, and the devil and worshipping the devil, and blah, blah, blah…

But who gives a fuck about that. This is really good power metal with tremendous solos and great melodies. Yes it sounds pretty dark and evil in places, but hey - it’s Hell, not Heaven. Some newer heads might laugh at this stuff, but that would be because they don’t remember what metal used to sound like. They certainly try to be epic, and even though you might not like the vocals, I strongly doubt that any other man could do the vocals quite the way he does. There’s a certain kind of majesty to this disc, and I think that fans of opera metal in the vein of King Diamond might really, really, really, like this stuff.

Could this guy be the NEXT King Diamond?

As I said before, if you like old school power/heavy metal operatics, your over the top solos, and your devil lyrics, you’re gonna love this one. There’s already a lot of people sold on these guys, and their evil power metal classic style, so don’t be left out in the dust. There’s also some prog influence and a lot of guitar atmospheres being created on this disc just to add to the mood. The tracks also seem to go right into each other, so this is more than likely one giant story driven epic. Want to know the story? Go buy the disc.

One of the tracks comes in at 10:14 as one giant fucking epic that must be heard. I want to stress that Hell is not a gimmick band, and is a very powerful act on their own. They certainly want to make that known, as this album is 65:00 of fucking splendor that you’re going to eat up if you love classic power/heavy metal with evil lyrics.

What reason do you have to not listen to this? There’s even a song about Macbeth! (65:00)


Insision - End Of All (EP 2011) - No, that isn’t a spelling error. It’s the band’s name. Insision is a powerful new Swedish death metal act that blows my mind because of one thing that is integral to death metal music…drums. The drummer is absolutely incredible in this band, and without him, I doubt that I would give a shit about this band at all.

Despite that the disc is only 20 minutes, it’s got a lot of meat and I know that a lot of people will be playing it again and again. If you’re looking for ridiculously good death metal, you won’t have to look much father than these guys. A fucking must. (20:00)


November’s Doom - Aphotic (2011) - November’s Doom has done something this time that I found rather refreshing and interesting. While I’ve loved their more death metal inspired pieces, like 2009’s “Into Night’s Requiem Infernal” this harkens back to “Of Sculptured Ivy and Stone Flowers” or even “The Knowing.” Personally, it was a great experience for me, and actually hearing their front man sing a few bars was like breath of sheer fresh air.

Had I expected this? Nope. I was expecting another death metal influenced one, but this definitely works for me. Will it be everyone’s cup of tea? No. In a better world, it should be. But it won’t be. Not everyone can accept the fact that a band who can play blistering death doom can also duet with Anneke Von Gossenbergen (ex-the Gathering, DTP) in one of the most beautiful and sorrowful tracks on the album.

This album is as incredibly epic as it is different, and it should bode well as one of the band’s most bombastic albums to date. This is the November’s Doom that many of us know and love, and people are going to shit their pants for this beauty. If the first track doesn’t glue you to the disc, then I honestly don’t know what to say.

This is fucking magic, ladies and gentlemen. This is what fucking doom/death is, and many bands should take notice. November’s Doom practically pioneered this shit (arguably in1995) and they know what it takes to make it sound memorable. People say “There aren’t many memorable discs out there anymore.” and I have to reply to that statement with this album. Go get it. (50:00)


Also try: November’s Doom - Of Sculptured Inv and Stone Flowers (1999), November’s Doom - The Knowing (2001), November’s Doom - The Pale Haunt Departure (2004)

Shining - VII: Fodd Forlorare (2011) - Shining has pulled a 360 this time, deviating from the black metal norm to bring us something rather different. Michael Amott has actually added his influence to a few of the tracks on the disc, which coupled with their already phenomenal guitarist, sound absolutely mindblowing. Yes, three of the songs on this disc are sensational in the solo portions, and the third track on the album will completely sell you on this observation.

So, well the entire album blow your mind? Sadly, it’s not near as metal as VI, and has way too many melancholy and clean vocals to even be considered close to the black metal territory of it’s senior. Shining has delved so far off the beaten path with acoustic and piano and a male Swedish pop star on the vocals, that most black metalheads might cringe in areas. But when it does get going close to black metal, it stays in very late era Satyricon style.

It’s not the best or worse thing that I’ve ever heard, and I’m sure that there will be those of you who will think it’s rather great. I just think it has an equal amount of highs and lows. (41:00)


Book Of Black Earth - The Cold Testament (2011) - As I’ve heard, the debut album from this band is rather uneventful, but this album appears to offer more from the death/black/sludge outfit. The post-metal/sludge vocals and pummeling sound of the music does rather well, and is definitely worth a listen.

True, they hit hard - almost like a death punk style, and fans of Converge or even The Crown might eat them up; but this isn’t going to be for everyone, and for many people this isn’t enough ground to cover. But at least they are really trying to do something worthwhile, with some great playing and phenomenal melodies. As a matter of fact, the band is driven by melody; and without the melody this band would boring as living hell. I do think it is entirely possible for one person to go back and listen to this album several hundred times because they love the fucking guitar melodies on this disc.

I personally think that the band is an incredible act showing almost classic sensibility, something that could be well remembered in the next five years. While not death metal, it’s certainly rather brutal in it’s own right, and full of enough intelligence to make one spin their head. If that’s not enough for an album, then I have no idea what is. I recommend multiple listens on this one. Don’t forget about the ridiculous solo on the album closer, “I See Demons.”


Circles - The Compass (EP 2011) - This 30:00 EP is very different. It’s technical/progressive/electronic melodic metal. The vocals are 98% clean vocals and it works very well here. He has a rather swell singing voice and showcases it beautifully. The band pulls a lot of progressive punches and experimental tricks, sometimes sounding like a more tame Meshuggah, with beautiful vocal harmonies rather than screams.

Yes, there are some screams but you’ll barely notice them, and the band isn’t about that. Some of this could be easily played on the radio, but it’s not stopping metalheads from losing their minds about it, and requesting it constantly. So yes, the band has made their mark with this EP. If people lose their minds with this disc, I can only think what a full album might do to them.

It’s certainly worth the 30:00 playing time, but won’t appeal to everyone. Just most people. (30:00)

4/5 (Got old fast for me.)

Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods (EP 2011) - Now I have the first sign of a band selling out…the first Enslaved EP brought to you by Scion (You know, the car.) There’s even a Scion logo on the damned cover. I shit you not.

So what does this sound like? Well, it sounds like it all should’ve been on the 2010 release. The first track “Heimvegen” is good enough to have been on the album itself, and I myself wonder why in the hell it wasn’t on it. The right mix of black metal and clean vocals worked wonders in that song.

The next track “Alu Misyrki” is a hearken back to the early days of the band with a very punkish black metal vibe. There is little else to say there. The next song is something that you’ll need to listen to while you’re high, I’d assume. It’s not even a song at all - it’s just a very trippy 6:25 soundscape called “Synthesis.”

The fifth track is called “Nordlys” and is a very good instrumental. It’s not a very heavy song, but very melodic and beautiful. It could’ve been on the album as well. The final track on the disc is the title track, “The Sleeping Gods” which is a very powerful Nordic folk song (almost like a chant) with a mystical atmosphere. It’s actually quite good, and could’ve been on the album as well. It would’ve been a great way to end the 2010 release.

The bottom line is that this should’ve been offered as a bonus disc to the 2010 release, and these songs are good songs, not throwaways. If you get this free with a Scion, I would get a Scion, sell it and get a Leaf. The car, not the album. Pollutant automobiles and Odin is like selling apples with worms in them, and that’s all I’ll say in the matter. Still, it’s worth checking out for ALL Enslaved fans (Yes, that means you - you people who are still hung up on the early years of Enslaved) (28:00)

5/5 (Would’ve gotten higher if it wasn’t a marketing scam. Shame on you, gentlemen!)

Pentagram - Last Rites (2011) - I'm going to strike up oil somewhere and announce that this is the first Pentagram album I've heard all of the way through. I've heard some of their older songs, but found the quality to raw to enjoy. Thankfully in the year 2011, the band has decided to release a classic styled album with the latest production technology and it pays off.

Is it a metal album? Yes and no. For those who know them, Pentagram has been around for years playing a very traditional Candlemass / Sabbath style of doom. But what I like here is the injection of Skynard style southern rock, and even some early Danzig. It works well enough to enjoy, and songs like "Call the Man" get stuck in my head with the same sort of catchiness as a commercial jingle. This is the kind of song I could play in a room of people that don't really listen to heavy music. Keep in mind that this is the front man’s first sober album after he had a wakeup call from, well I guess you can say it was God…to get off of coke for good. This came out afterwards.

Furthermore, there's no brash heaviness in this album at all. It's very rock and blues...and you know what? That's okay with me. (45:00)


Devastating Enemy - The Fallen Prophet (2010) - Devastating Enemy is kind of different in the fact that they seem to be evolving core into something that resembles melodic death metal with a sorrowful edge, with just a smidgen of core laden pieces.

The music hits hard and heavy for the most part, with a mix of screaming, deathcore vocals and death metal vocals in occasion to some other stuff. The guitars in the album are furious and even bestow some pretty decent solos.

While there are still plenty of breakdowns and the like, it's not near as bad as you think, and ten times better than bands like Suicide Silence, and even Job For A Cowboy, IMHO. At least there's some fucking melody here...and some goddamned solos. Definitely worth a shot for someone who wants to hear the full potential of fusion and core. (36:00)


Each Of The Days - Sweet Carrion (2011) - What happens when a bunch of foreign guys take on American deathcore/mathcore? Fucking greatness, that's what. There's actually some worthwhile playing in sections of this, and the vocalist is damn near sporadic. This guy is completely ants in the pants, but he tries his best to sing as well, and it's a good effort, especially since the melodies match up well, and there's some worthwhile riffs and playing it the disc, as I've mentioned.

Drumming is pretty basic, but there are a few interesting things in that category to like. The thing I like about this band is the fact that it all sounds like a mess of ADD, and it's definitely good for warming up to battle someone, whether boxing or MMA, or whatever. If you're going to fight someone and want to get pumped, but not too pumped, play this one. It's really not that bad, despite some common elements of popular American metal.
It also gets pretty melodic in places, and there’s some light choruses. (44:00)


Urizen - Universe: Red (2011) - Alright, Urizen hasn’t come out with a record in forever. This is because they aren’t super famous, and they’re from Texas not playing something that anyone from Texas or any surrounding areas would want to hear. They started out playing black metal, but now they have changed drastically into a Nintendo meets Arcturus style that will either embrace people, or alienate them immediately.

Do you like the old Nintendo music being mixed with guitars and drums? If you do, then you’ll love this new style. This is definitely the Nintendo chip, and whoever they’ve got is a phenomenal chip music player. Trust me, I’ve heard my share. These guys supposedly have really big stage shows where they wear these big futuristic looking video game style suits, so I’ve heard. Don’t worry, we’re in AR and they are probably going to be playing near you very soon as they are on some sort of weird tour. Don’t blame me if you like them.

The album is actually very well put together, and despite the Nintendo music, these guys can also really play their instruments well, and the operatic vocals work very well in the mix also. One of my current favorite bands, for sure. A must, they are something NEW and DIFFERENT, so you owe it to yourself to check them out.

This EP is super rare, and was only given away free by the band to one person from every country in the world. (you had to email the band personally, and they would send it to you, offer not avail in USA, but someone leaked it anyway) I have no idea where you can get this EP, but probably from the band’s website, and definitely on their tour. I would love to see these guys live, as I love 8 bit music and mixing it with metal sweetens it all the more for me, others well…may not. There is not one song devoid of 8-bit music, so be warned.

Oh, by the way - the “Boxmen” single is free, and it’s arguably the best song on this short EP. Go get it. It’s awesome. Even the 8-bit version of that song is awesome….whoops, forgot I was reviewing metal albums…(pushes up geek glasses.) (26:00)


Nader Sadek - In The Flesh (2011) - Nader Sadek has been highly praised upon release, and I really think that you should all know exactly how fucking essential this band is. They’re so essential to technical death metal, that I’m thinking about cashing in my Decapitated card for a Nader Sadek card. To be fair, that could change with Decapitated’s new album right around the corner; but for now this is how I see it.

Nader Sadek offers an absolutely pummeling brand of technical death metal that is sure to get them noticed, and even uses some extra elements of prog and violins and such in places. The band is incredible, sounding like current era Quo Vadis in terms of technicality and melody, with a great gravelly vocal approach that just works well for the most part. The solos on the record are also unbelievable, and everything just works so bloody fucking well that it’s insane. This COULD BE the next MORBID ANGEL. Simply listen to “Soulless” and all will be revealed unto you.

Although there are few songs on this album, (It’s only 29 minutes, and two of the songs are interludes at less than 1:00 each.) what is offered is a taste of something that could redefine death metal as we know it. The band has major potential with a capital P, and if you don’t believe my spiel about the next Morbid Angel, take a listen to this album and the newest Morbid Angel…I think I know who you’ll gravitate towards.

Absolutely recommended, damn near metal canon. Never in 29 minutes have I heard such great fucking death metal. You’re a fucking idiot if you don’t check this one out! (29:00)


Alestorm - Back Through Time (2011) - Arrr, me mateys! If ya haven’t got the money for Duke Nukem’s latest adventure, why don’t you put on this one as you sail on over to the Pirate Bay! But seriously, for those who don’t know them - this is pirate metal. I don’t mean as in someone stole it, which someone had to have done so to leak it, That’s like stealing from a pirate, but anyway…

If you’re into metal songs with enough folk and swashbuckling class that’ll make you want to sail the high seas, than Alestorm is for you. This album starts out with a song about Pirates traveling back in time to fight Vikings. Yes, I’m serious. It’s got keyboards, as well as classic instruments that might be involved in pirate music of that era, and the vocals are clean, but really gritty as well, just like an old scurvy dog. It’s full of very heavy sing-alongs and features some good solo work too. These guys are good at what they do, so that must be why they’ve so large a cult following.

Yes, it’s also pretty damn heavy, even with the keyboards. If you’re wondering if this album is as good as the rest of them, I skipped album number 2 myself, but really like this one. So there’s that. I could see myself singing along to these wonderful pirate hymns a good bit. But never while pirating…no never while doing a thing like that…I still pay to see films in a horrible runned down theater like the one I have here (I‘ve only seen 4 movies there, and all of them went half green every fucking time!). I still pay for overpriced games that won’t even halfway run on my computer…of course. (47:00)


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