Friday, July 13, 2012

Week 30 (Backtracking)

Mussorgski - Chaos and Paranormal Divinity (2011) - These days the internet has opened up a vast array of outlets for people. Like myself, slowly building a fan base as an American author. I am planning on releasing my novels as audio books, in which I will be reading, and may offer a very small fee if any for your d/load. I have no idea how big said file will be, however.

This band on the other hand is the work of two men, and maybe a few programs. The guitar on the disc is played pretty well, and it certainly mixes the industrial and death/doom, black/doom sensibilities together as well as two men could do with very little or no money at all. This band disbanded in 95 but reformed in 2009.

The disc sounds as you would expect, with some vocals tough to hear, but overall good but basic musical structure. It’s not really that bad a disc, and you might even enjoy this. These guys have mixed the industrial sound good enough that it’s not encompassing, but definitely displays each genre well enough. They use some unconventional riffing, and have plenty of good ideas. The songs are mostly slow, and have the gritty rawness of black metal, but some of them are pretty heavy, and others more atmospheric.

For me, this is the sound of the true underground. Some guys who doesn’t have anything but a computer program and a voice can still make the disc sound good. If you like industrial death/black metal that sounds very grim and has some real potential, this band is worth a listen. Good luck finding the album though…you might as well download it, as all links to buy anything from them appear to not pick up anything. Unless you want to eBay.

4/5

My Inner Burning - Eleven Scars (2011) - Hmm… My Inner Burning is definitely goth/death metal along the veins and I mean very much along the veins of Lacuna Coil. Unlike Omega Lithium, they seem to use some of the same riffs and structure that Lacuna uses, albeit a little heavier and there’s a guy that sort of growls.

Dead End In Venice is still much better, and even Omega Lithium has some originality, but I will say that the opener on this disc, “Masquerade” is very catchy. But not every song can be that good, and then we’re left with just a bunch of songs that all seem to sound alike. It’s like the first track on the album was the first song the band did, and then they just made ten more that sound like it.

Chicks should dig it, if your woman likes this kind of stuff and you don’t want to be forced to listen to it the car, don’t tell her about this one. Some guys might dig it too, but honestly, it’s not the best female fronted goth /death band I’ve ever heard. But I’m for sure my girlfriend will dig it. The longest song on here is 4:35 seconds, so they are all about radio single length. Some of the songs also feature electronics, but of course, every band like this seems to feature that stuff nowadays.

Fans of Evanescence will probably like this too. Next! (42:00)

2/5

Nadiwrath - Nihilistic (2011) - Well, here’s this one, a very thrash based black metal album that starts out thrash and brutal, but then adds some depressing notions and rather depressing riffs. Think of it as black thrash that turns into very sad black thrash. Some of the songs are pretty good, like “Horns” for example, but then there are just a few others that seem a little too much.

For black thrash or depressive black metal folks, this might be what you need. For me, I think that Nadir possibly whines a bit too much. Sure he’s got a good black metal scowl in places, and at the beginning the disc sounds rather core influenced, maybe a little more brutal, but then the guy loses his composure, especially in the closer “Memories Are Dead” which just sounds like a guy that’s really, really, really upset. I’m wondering if tears were in his eyes during the session, because he really felt this one. I wished he would shut up, though as my thin nerves were beginning to break. I wanted to give the guy a lollipop or something.

Regardless, the disc is worth checking out if this is what you’re into. It’s just one of those albums that appeals to certain people, especially those that like to say “fuck you” a whole lot in their songs. Then they get upset and cry in a corner. Yeah, those kind of people. Sounds like high school black metal to me, there’s even a song called “Two Faced Shit Fuckers” and “Another Pimping Whore.”

Now I’ve been known to curse madly in this fashion while playing video games, but I don’t like cursing a great deal in music, it makes you sound amateur and immature, unless you’re someone that’s badass to begin with, Unlike myself, of course. (48:00)

3.5/5

Deathspell Omega - Diabolus Absconditus (EP 2011) - Well, gentlemen… I’ve no idea where you get your inspiration from, but you never seem to slack off, not even with a 22 minute EP like this. The band has taken their current progressive stylings and mixed them together with their much earlier black metal efforts. The result is unfathomable. I had no idea how much I was actually going to enjoy this disc.

The riffs are interesting enough to have been on Paracletus, but it’s definitely a different direction, as this is much, much more black metal. There’s also a very nice acoustic/atmospheric piece on the disc, and truthfully it sounds like 3 or four separate tracks rather than just the one. Still, it’s a mind-blowing effort where the music speaks for itself.

If this is a sign of things to come from Deathspell Omega, then the next album could be their magnum opus, without a doubt. (22:00)

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Noctem - Oblivion (2011) - Noctem is actually rather interesting, if not a little boring. I know that makes little sense, but bear with me. Noctem seems to mix some interesting riffs and some promising technicality, as well as black metal and death metal tinges into their brand of blackened death core. It’s not essential, but it’s worth hearing if you’re a fan of both genres.

The disc offers some otherworldly interludes, and ends with an atmospheric piece that explodes into a full blown final round of heaviness, but to be brutally honest - there’s not that much here to really stand out. It’s still quite a good mix of core of technical black/death if you like that sort of thing. The solos are actually pretty good too, but other than that - don’t expect your mind to be blown. (54:00)

3.5/5

Origin - Entity (2011) - This is the first Origin album I’ve heard, and I have to say, I’ve liked a great deal of the riffs and over technicality used on the disc. While very short, the album is bursting at the seams with creativity, and seems like one well structured large song, rather than a whole album.

Some of the songs are barely over a minute, but those songs seem to be more like parts of the longer songs, again producing the feeling of one large and multi-layered song. While not the biggest fan of Origin, I can safely say that this album is up there with some of my favorites. There is some really top-notch guitar work on the disc, and I’d probably cast it off if it wasn’t worth listening to. (36:00)

4/5

Jungle Rot - Kill On Command (2011) - Jungle Rot is no stranger to death metal fans throughout the ages, and here they wind up sounding like just that. While the disc seems to have little to offer besides dated death metal sans technicality and all that other stuff we expect these days, this disc delivers a very classic sounding death metal sound from a very classic death metal band. If you liked Jungle Rot before, chances are that you will also like them here as well. If not, then likewise. Not a necessity unless you’re hankering for old school. (35:00)

3/5

In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading (2011) - Oh, boy… This is the first In Flames I’ve heard since the Trigger EP. I just couldn’t get the balls up enough to listen to anything after the Trigger EP (this counts all of the early albums up to trigger ep btw) because it was too much to bear vocally. I wanted to punch Anders in the face upon hearing “A Touch Of Red” which I think might be the band’s worst song in their entire history.

Lets not even mention how awful the name of this album is. “Sounds Of A Playground Fading” What the hell? This is one of the worst album titles I’ve ever heard in my life. Bashing aside, the band still managed to showcase some good riffs, but I still wanted to punch Frieden in the face for ceasing his death metal vocals, and trying to make money, not music. Alright, I mean it this time - No more bashing.

The album is relatively decent, much in the vein of Reroute To Remain, and is not a melodic death metal album at all, but is rather a melodic heavy metal album with some light death metal influence. There were only about two songs that really struck my attention, “Where The Dead Ships Dwell” and “A New Dawn” which I could literally play as many times as I played “Cloud Connected” back in the day. The choruses are really strong on those songs, and throughout the album are featured some decent (but very slow) guitar riffing mediocre drumming, and the vocals being the main point of the album.

It’s all about the vocals here, and when they aren’t that good to begin with, you’d better make it count. This does sound much more like earlier In Flames, but not near as much as I wanted it too. Apparently Anders just doesn’t want to make metal anymore, and that’s fine with me. But that would lump them in with Disturbed, since it’s pretty much the same thing. But I’d rather listen to Disturbed, where at least the vocals have more harmony and not some awful scream. It sounds like a rat being shaved.

2.6/5

Blood Stain Child - Epsilon (2011) - Japan’s Blood Stain Child have done much in the way of copying the earlier efforts from the band I’ve just reviewed, and not surprisingly I’ve liked this album much better than what I’ve heard from that band. The album actually features a female vocalist this time around, and she’s not too bad, but there are extensive electronics and almost rave music being mixed in with the melodic death metal in the vein of early In Flames.

It’s a good album, but might get boring to some, especially since the female vocalist is now the forefront of the music, and the growls are in the back. The music itself will be appreciated by fans of both melo-death and electronic/rave music, but that’s got to be a slim margin of people at the most.

There’s really not much else to say about this album, since it speaks for itself. If you liked BSC because they were heavy, well they’ve lightened up and gone into female vocals all over the place. But if for some odd reason you wanted to know how they would sound dominated by estrogen, now’s your chance. (49:00)

3/5

Lock Up - Necropolis Transparent (2011) - Fans of older carcass will eat this album up, especially since this is the first album from this band since 2002, and consists of Shane Embury, Nicholas Barker, and Tomas Lindberg. It also features guests appearances by Jeff Walker and Peter Tagtgren, so I’m sure some of you have already got this one.

Yes, it’s a powerhouse from beginning to end. But I never cared for ATG, and even with Jeff Walker and Peter guesting, it all just kind of sounds the same. Fans of extremely fast and heavy metal with very little (if any) sense of direction either than just speed and brutality will love this one. I on the other hand felt it was very generic and weak. Yes, you can put a lot of great musicians on one album, but it still can sound like gravy, gloppy and thick. That is what this sounds like…gravy.

I also notice that the tag is “Grindcore” which is a genre I can’t understand. I don’t know though, Grind fans may love this disc. I think it’s rather boring. It’s your call. (42:00)

3/5

Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever (2011) - Well, I’ve always liked Nihility and Negation, so I said “Why not?” and tried this one. It’s not bad at all. There’s a lot of interesting technicality on the disc in addition to several unexpected atmospheric pieces such as displayed on the title track, clocking in at damn near 9 minutes as the longest track on the album. Some of the tracks are rather straightforward into the realms of expectancy, but others are much more hidden and cryptic with as I’ve said, interesting acoustics and dark hearted atmospheres.

The final track on the disc is entitled “Silence” and it seems to be a nice quiet and relaxing way to end the album. People have said that “this doesn’t sound much like Decapitated and should have been done another name” but I feel that it still sounds much in their vein, just with some unexpected ideas to shake things up a bit. I enjoyed about four of the eight tracks on the disc, and I guess that’s all I can expect for most albums from the band.

Highly technical music is not my forte, but this is certainly worth hearing regardless. The unexpected surprises make the album worth the over 40 minutes of play time. There’s still plenty of brutality to be had here - but there’s also some really soft stuff to enjoy as well. Tracks like Homo Sum, The Knife and United will keep your faith in the band, but some other tracks are just a little bit different. My personal favorite is the title track on the disc, one of my favorite songs from the band thus far. Definitely worth checking out, but it’s not Nihility or The Negation. (42:00)

4/5

City Of Ships - Look What God Did To Us (2009) - This one may have been out for a while, but I haven’t heard it until just recently. City Of Ships mixes all the things I like about post metal and hard rock together perfectly. There is definitely the Neurosis/Isis/Cult/ influence in the music, but the vocals are sung with a very rough pitch, and they seem to accentuate the fantastic playing of the band.

I love this album, but I also like rock and hard rock music in addition to metal. So not everyone is going to like it, but it’s certainly worth checking out if you just give it a chance. Every song on the disc has it’s own vibe, and some of them are more rhythm catchy, rather than In Flames “vocal catchiness” on a few songs from their new album.

If I had my choice between these two albums, I would definitely pick this one rather than the new In Flames release. It’s much more interesting, and will actually hold your attention much longer than the 39 minute playtime. (39:00)

5/5

Ancestors - Invisible White (2011 EP) - Ancestors delved into more Floydian acoustic and atmospheric territory with this release, which really isn’t that great an album considering their previous work. It’s not a very heavy album, sans the 14:06 track “Epilogue” and seems to be another step off the beaten path with this band. Being a definite fan of bands like Floyd and others, I’ve always considered this band to be a heavier version of Pink Floyd, but with this release, there is little heavy to offer and most of it I’ve already heard done far better in the 70’s.

Yes, this is a major prog rock moment for the band, with some metal but mostly it’s just a nice “chill-out” sort of thing. Not essential, but at least check it out before you grab it. It’s just a 30 minute three track EP. (30:00)

2.3/5

Chthonic - Takasago Army (2011) - Cthonic has taken a page out of the Turisas playbook for sure. It sounds like Taiwanese black metal still, but there are also some death metal elements and lots of upbeat and epic symphonics including some female chanting in areas.

Every song is punishing, yet contains the beauty of the Chinese folk instruments that they’ve used throughout their long career. The band has more money now apparently, and the album sounds quite well produced. The whole ordeal is quite bombastic and overall epic, but they’ve clearly shed their black metal nature for something that resembles more of a fusion. I’ve also noticed some portions which remind me of core. Certainly not as good as the 2009 album, but worth hearing if you want epic black/death/core metal with some Taiwanese folk instrument influence in areas. I’ll also mention that this band seems to mix beauty and brutality well enough to enjoy. Nonetheless, it’s ok.

3.2/5

Thurisaz - The Cimmerian Years (2011) - Thurisaz’s new album has been long in the making, and the band has undergone some slight changes. They aren’t quite as proggy as they used to be, and the music has taken a much darker and more doom laden turn. That isn’t to say that this is a bad album though, not at all. This is probably one of the best albums you might hear all year.

Fans of progressive death/black/doom will love it, and the clean vocals on the album are absolutely amazing. The choruses are extremely powerful, even with three vocalists on duty. You wouldn’t expect this to work (so many vocalists at one time) but the death metal grows, black metal scowls, clean vocals, and female vocals all seem to compliment each other well enough that you’ll make multiple listens of this one.

Not only that, but the musicianship of this album is impeccable. The playing is just as you would expect, top-notch with all the bells and whistles that it would take to keep a band who hasn’t made a release since 2007 still matter. I couldn’t believe this was coming the first time I heard about it, and finally being able to hear the whole thing has been breathtaking. What a phenomenal album, and absolute fucking must for fans of death/black/doom! You in particular are going to be playing the hell out of this one.

I also might mention that most of the songs are very long, but offer enough music to be worth the length, just like a good Opeth album. I also recommend that fans of black metal check this band out for all their black metal influence, even though it is a slow album, it is still fucking impeccably killer. If you are a fan of this genre, I tell you to not hesitate, please give this a listen. Start with “No Regrets” and “The Carnival Of Miscreation” and you’ll be purchasing this album a few minutes later. The future of extreme prog. doom metal is here. (54:00)

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Symphony X - The Iconoclast (2011 Deluxe Edition) - Symphony X fails to disappoint, but they still have the tendency (at least lately) to reuse the same damned riffs over and over. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard that d-tuned “duh duh dun duh duh” riff in just about every heavy song they’ve done.

Still, the band offers a very solid album full of proggy grandeur and great vocal work. The prog on the album is pretty damn good, and definitely makes up for the fact that it’s not much different from what can be heard on classics like “The Odyssey.” Sure, these songs are much longer, and feature some electronics in keeping in line with the futuristic storyline they’ve crafted here, but when you take all the prog clusterfucks and electronics out of it, you’re going to be left with the material they’ve been playing for ages.

Is it bad? No. Is it heavily enjoyable? Yes. Have you heard before? Oh, certainly.

But it’s not a bad thing. A new Symphony X was wanted, and one came. Fans should readily enjoy this, but people looking for more may want to look elsewhere. Still, not a bad album. I liked it. (76:00)

The deluxe edition offers a second CD with 5 more tracks and 32:00 of extra material. Yeah, it’s worth getting if you like the band, because the tracks aren’t throwaways and I enjoyed them just as much as the tracks on the album, especially “Reign In Madness.” Alright, technically you’re only getting two new tracks, since the original version tracks just have a new lineup.

Original:

01. Iconoclast (10:53)
02. The End of Innocence (05:29)
03. Dehumanized (06:49)
04. Bastards of the Machine (04:58)
05. Heretic (06:26)
06. Children of a Faceless God (06:22)
07. Electric Messiah (06:15)
08. Prometheus (I Am Alive) (06:48)
09. When All Is Lost (09:10)

Deluxe Edition:

CD 1:

01. Iconoclast (10:53)
02. The End of Innocence (05:29)
03. Dehumanized (06:49)
04. Bastards of the Machine (04:58)
05. Heretic (06:26)
06. Children of a Faceless God (06:22)
07. When All Is Lost (09:10)

CD 2:

01. Electric Messiah (06:15)
02. Prometheus (I Am Alive) (06:48)
03. Light Up the Night (05:05)
04. The Lords of Chaos (06:11)
05. Reign in Madness (08:37)

4/5

Draconian - A Rose For The Apocalypse (2011) - Draconian’s new album really impressed me, since I’ve heard next to nothing from them. I haven’t heard Gothic Doom/Death this good since early Tristania and early Theatre Of Tragedy. This is definitely the band to look for if you liked those bands in their heyday, and it’s a worthy listen throughout the entire disc.

As for the musicianship, it’s great. Good melodies are important, and this band offers them. Track by track always offers good melodies, great death metal vocals and beautiful clean vocals from both the male and female vocalists. The music is slow and dark as you would expect, but features much more maturity then some of these other bands who aren’t interested in song structure, and are more interested in just making something that resembles what’s already out there, or something that could be an easy hit.

I really can’t tell you just how great this one sounds. Despite the fact that it is a very long disc, that sometimes feels much longer, every song is definitely unique and worth hearing. I certainly recommend it, and consider it up there with one of the best Gothic Metal albums of the year. (64:00)

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Dethlehem - The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 1: Enthroned (2009) - Now here’s something original. A bunch of guys from Pittsburgh decided that they liked melodic death metal and core and power metal so much that they mixed all of them together and dressed up like a bunch of warriors from a D&D skirmish.

I guess this band could be considered “power metal for the post-core age.” since the core movement has fizzled out and left mere remnants. There is some interesting stuff on this album, but the production value isn’t near as good as the newest one. The band is independent and label free. Just like me, they self publish their work, and seem to put a great deal of work into it. There are death metal grunts and some Dillinger-esque clean vocals as well as something that sounds very English.

The band also has some definite skill as they offer some nice interludes and proggy parts. A good introduction, but the second album is much more mature sounding. Still, if you want to support them, buying this album couldn’t hurt.

4/5

Dethlehem - The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 2: Of Magick and Tyranny (2011) - The second album from Pittsburgh D&D Epic Melo-death metallers Dethlehem, is actually quite good. The skits are very funny, especially if you know the fantasy clich├ęs, but the music itself is actually pretty damned good this time around. The band definitely experiments on this album, and even adds some atmospheres that really work well in the songs.

The band may be comical at times, but they’ve certainly got some skill. Sometimes the clean vocals are weak “Chasing The Keeper” and other times they are quite strong. There is definite structure to the songs now, some of them actually being quite long and as epic as you’d expect. The band has really outdone themselves this time around, and some of these fucking songs are actually quite brilliant.

It just goes to show you that you don’t need a label, and you can make just as good as music without one. These guys showed promise with the first one, but this album truly shows what they are capable of. Fantasy metal or not, this one’s definitely worth your money. Go check it out and support the band. They really worked their asses off. (57:00)

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Tombs - Path Of Totality (2011) - Tombs is probably some of the best sludge I’ve ever heard. Parts Krallice, Wolves and Nachtmystium, and their own unique experiments, Tombs is a force to be reckoned with. The songs are as grim as should be expected, but they also offer the same sort of experimentation that makes other bands of their genre seem defunct.

Sure, there’s black metal, but there’s so much more than just black metal featured on this disc. Sometimes even a gritty clean vocal is used, and it works pretty well. Fans of Krallice, Wolves and Nachtmystium, Wolves, and others in that genre, as well as sludge metal in it’s darkest sense should definitely try these approaching kings of the sludge/black genre.

It showcases a grim brilliance throughout every song. Once again, I’ve got to give out a flawless score for a flawless album. Only an idiot would let this one pass by. (54:00)

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Azarath - Blasphemer’s Malediction (2011) - I’m going to start this review by saying that I just didn’t like their first album. I wasn’t even going to review this one until I heard some guy say that he thought these Polish death metallers were better than Behemoth. Well, as it turns out - this album is much better than the last one, but it’s not amazing either.

The disc offers everything you’d expect for death metal with some very black metal influenced screams, and some unique melodies that make it easier to choke down. This could’ve have really been boring and unoriginal brutal death metal, but it has it moments which make it exciting. In fact there is a sheer incredible riff at 3:04 in the song “Lucifer’s Rising” that reminds me of a horror film. I loved it, and have heard nothing like it. I had to go back and listen to the riff again. I don’t give a fuck what the lyrics are about or any of that uber satanic garbage, the band can sing about chickens, just as long as they use really interesting riffs like that one.

And that statement just killed all the seriousness of the band. Oh well, boo hoo. I’m sick of the whole satanic gimmick. Just play metal about drinking or something. It can be just as evil, just not full of a whole bunch of mythological bullshit.

Still, if you like this sort of thing, I’ve heard worse.

3.5/5

Sarah Jezebel Deva - The Corruption Of Mercy (2011) - I didn’t hear her last album, but was actually thrown back when I heard some machine gun drumming in this one. Actually, it’s quite gothic black metal - but without the scowls and growls. Instead, Sarah’s well known voice takes us through an interesting trip that is sometimes brutal, and other times quite beautiful.

There are some songs sans metal on here, and some that use electronics here and there, but it’s actually a pretty good disc. Just give it a shot - even the Cranberries cover of “Zombie” sounds pretty good heavier, and she does a good job on it vocally. Not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but not the best either. Still, it’s different. Not many times you hear a woman singing over double bass.

3.7/5

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