Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Week 33 (Backtracking)

Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory (2011) - Well, well... I’ve finally gotten around to doing this one. I’m sorry Ogrish, but I’ve been busy with other things and completely forgot to grab it. But alas, I have just finished the album and have quite a critique for it.

The band hasn’t made an album is quite a while (2003, I believe) and you can hear that in the music. Some songs are rather messy (on the vocals at least) but as far as the musicality of the disc goes, it’s pretty fucking good. The first track (the instrumental title track) was a great way to open the album, and really show the listener what they’re getting. For the most part, it’s true. Blazing solos, death-like melodies, and crushing bass and drums really add to the vicious package that is Exhumed. Pound for pound, this is great death metal that certainly should be checked out, as the songs have everything that the death metal listener would ask for. I was quite impressed by the musicality of this disc.

Now, on the other hand - I’m going to do some griping here, so bear with me - I thought that some of the vocal sections on the album were atrocious. No, not so much with the gravelly vocals, which sounded good almost all of the time, but there were times (like on the second track, perhaps) that I wanted to punch out the screamer on this disc. He didn’t really sound like he was giving this his all. Some of the vocals sounded amateurish, even like some screamo kid. I know, I know, but this my observation.

I’ve heard good screaming vocals, and good scowls in both death and black metal - but this guy really didn’t work well for me. Some of the songs he does well on, and I won’t say he’s 100% awful, but some songs (like that second track especially) sound like a mess, and it’s hard to take serious. Yes, death metal IS death metal - but that doesn’t mean that you need to do a half-ass vocal performance.

If it wasn’t for the talent and musicianship shown by the rest of the band, I would’ve dismissed this at the awful screamer on the disc. But that simply isn’t the case here. The disc has plenty of well crafted death metal that any death metal fan should appreciate. Apparently the band is also labeled grindcore, but I don’t hear too much senseless noise from the disc, so I’m not going to assume it’s grindcore. The disc also isn’t completely perfect as some of the songs toward the end, like the closer - felt like filler. This is after all, a band that hasn’t been together in awhile; so perhaps their next release will sound more focused.

Still, not a bad disc. Definitely check it out, if you haven’t already. (35:00)


Toxic Holocaust - Conjure and Command (2011) - I’ve never heard a Toxic Holocaust album before this one, and after hearing it - I’ve just become a fan. Shit, this is some good thrash metal. It sounds like Slayer being run over with a fucking truck full of demons, and that sounds interesting enough. I think that fans of any thrash, death/thrash, or even black/thrash, might enjoy it.

What really makes the disc so good, is the fact that it’s not just all one type of thrash. Some bands literally play speed, when these guys play with the best of both worlds, and slower, more groovier thrash can be just as good as playing as fast as you can.

To tell the truth, if the riffs and fierce demon-like vocals don’t sell you on this, I honestly don’t fucking know what kind of thrash you’re into. This disc sounds far better than a lot of thrash I’ve heard in my life, and I think if you haven’t fucking heard this disc yet, you need to get off your ass and pick it up. Slayer came along and made thrash evil, and these guys perfected it.

As I took in each song on the disc I was easily reminded of the influences, Metallica, Testament, Slayer, Anthrax, Celtic Frost and Destruction, (although I’m wanting to put this more towards Slayer, Testament (Death metal stuff) Celtic Frost and Destruction) and it filled me with glee. Songs like “Red Winter” and “I am Disease” remind me what it is that I like so damned much about metal music in the first place. When I was younger, I used to like songs that sounded evil, and the more evil, the better. The first time I ever heard death metal was a great day for me, and this album reminded me of that.

Man, it’s like the first time I had sex (which I was quite awful at btw) but this is even better. The musicality, vocals, and overall performance of this disc makes me think it’s one of the best thrash albums I’ve heard this year, if not in quite a few years. Yes, I fucking loved that last Exodus, and I know that the new Anthrax is nigh - it sounds good enough - but I don’t think that it’s going to be half as evil as this one, which not only has extremely devious, but well crafted thrash that doesn’t sound corny or completely overrun with core influences, like some other bands. It also doesn’t completely copy off of any other bands, well not too much anyway. There’s only so many thrash riffs out there. Even though there’s more thrash bands out there than I could count fibers on my carpet.

Fuck, I just went over 4 paragraphs! Oh well. This album warranted it. Fans of thrash young and old will fucking love this, even though it’s not death/thrash but is certainly fucking evil. It will warrant more than a few plays. (32:00)


Craft - Void (2011) - This is what fresh air feels like. This is the very future of the black metal genre, and I’m glad to hear it. Craft takes what Satyricon has pioneered with their more modern takes on black metal (that have since left us in 2008) and have perfected it.

This mixes the groove, black and roll styled black metal well, with traditional elements of the genre as well as some doom influence, and some deliciously evil riffs as well as inspiring solos. Altogether, this is a rather inspiring black metal package that I think modern black metal bands should look up to. This is some of the best black metal that I’ve heard in years. It’s a disc that you can listen to over and over again, and just not get sick of it, since every song has it’s own unique vibe, and as far as modern black metal goes, I’d have to see that these guys are right up there with some of my favorites like Secrets Of The Moon, Dark Fortress and Satyricon, which they are much better than.

This is the future of black metal, and I hope to hear more in this style rather than the tired old black metal I’ve heard from some other bands. But it is nice to see that some bands are adding new elements to their black metal that make it sound fresh.

Let me tell you something. If you like black metal at all, you’d be a fucking idiot not to pick up this album. This band is fucking insane, and I loved every minute of it. I’m going to say one more time, in case you did not get it before. This is the future of black metal, and you need to check these guys out as soon as humanly possible. (48:00)

666 ½!

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony (2011) - Finally, I’ve got it. Now I can finally get this review underway. The last album was mediocre at best, but I’m hoping for wonders with this one. Let’s see how it fares…

The album begins with an incredibly bombastic intro that goes right into the first song sounding like the most bad ass death metal orchestra you’ve ever heard. Who says that orchestras and brutal death metal don’t mix? Behemoth had better watch out, someone is trying to steal their torch. Not only has this band full out orchestrations during their bludgeoning death metal, but also high pitched clean vocals, and really good melodic solos. It’s epic, it’s brutal, and it’s definitely here to stay.

Let’s just hope they don’t fucking decide to run it over the hills. You know how some bands can be. Hopefully, I won’t be reviewing their fifth one with the same thing “It sounds just like all the others, orchestral death metal.”

Another thing I just noticed, one song ended and I didn’t even notice it. That may not help their case any. If I can’t discern between songs and this sin’t supposed to be one giant song, then they’ve got to do something to stop from sounding bland. Also, the mix is a little muddy, even for the major label. It’s like the orchestra and clean vocals have to fight over the drums, (but it sounds like that on stage too) but at least on here, I can hear the solos.

Alright, this changed after the fifth song. Believe it or not, the band has some more originality in their bones than what’s displayed in the beginning. Songs like “The Forsaking” really show me that this band has much promise after all, and even some Graveworm influence. You all should know by now, how much I like Graveworm, so anything in that style is great. Yeah, I’m going to say that “The Forsaking” is my favorite track on this fucking disc. Especially due to the vocal change. It’s about time. I should kick these guys, for not playing that song live. The set could’ve used it.

Yes, I saw these gentlemen live, and got the same experience from the disc. It is the closest death metal and classical will come together though, so you may want to get it to check it out. Oh, there’s a fat lady who sings as well, (Well I’m not sure if she’s fat, but she sings on “The Egoism”) but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Plenty of promise here, and one song that I’ll play for a long time to come.

It also ends with a real nice classical piece called “Agony.” Mozart would be pleased. (49:00)

4.5/5 ( It is unique, after all. Definitely at least worth a B+ )

Trivium - In Waves (2011 Special Edition) - A few years ago, Trivium put out “Shogun” which was probably one their more original albums, unlike the past two which were either just metalcore, or wannabe thrash. But here, what starts out with a great introduction doesn’t seem to have much structure on the first actual song which tries to sound as metal as can be, and even features a good solo, but still has a taste of core and even more of an accessible hard rock taste. But yeah, the solos are good on this thing.

By the way, did you know that the current frontman has no idea what the band’s name means? The name of the banned was penned by the original front man, who must’ve been into the occult, as it’s name has occult significance. Of course, the new guy probably doesn’t give a shit about all that and just wants to sell metal to the kids. If you ever see them live, I dare you to ask them what it means.

The band plays melodic metalcore with plenty of bells and whistles. Yes, you’ll like some of the riffs, and the clean vocal choruses aren’t bad either. I just feel that there’s too much screaming with simplistic bass tones on the record, and when the band does get thrashy… I mean, I could be listening to Toxic Holocaust, Destruction, Slayer, and hell even older Metallica. The deathiest vocals I’ve heard from the band creep in on songs like “Dusk Dismantled” but they still more death core, instead of death metal.

The funny thing about this whole album is that the band is singing about “beating the system” when the system bloody owns them. They’re what you call, “systematic rebels” which mean that they play the game of rebellion and try to say they hate the ways of the system, but without it, they couldn’t survive. Songs like “Watch The World Burn” might raise some anger in teens, but they won’t do anything about it. (Well, I guess except for Britain which seems to be a much ballsier country - we should be hanging wall street execs out of windows in this one.)

So the message is scrap. It’s just enjoyable systematic rebellion with catchy choruses, screams that come off as overdone - basically the band saying “wow, look at me, I’m death metal” no, you’re not. You’re heavy hard rock.

This had some bonus tracks also, five of them. The only one I gave a fuck about was the one about Kratos, called “Shattering The Skies Above.” Which was originally made for the God of War 3 Metal soundtrack. Opeth was also on there with a very light unreleased track, it’s not too bad either. But it doesn’t sound like Heritage. (and I’m judging from The Devil’s Orchard)

I don’t know how long I can stand listening to this. It feels like my mind is getting dumber by the minute. I just have to be patient, I’m almost to the new Dir En Grey…

Your Bonus Cra…I mean, Tracks:

1. Ensnare The Sun (1:22) - This is actually a good middle eastern instrumental.
2. Drowning In Slow Motion (4:29)
3. A Grey So Dark (2:41)
4. Shattering The Skies Above (4:42)
5. Slave New World (2:58) Hmm… Wonder what this might be a cover of? J/k. It’s actually pretty good, though. The band has musical talent, they just don’t use much of it.

Approx 15 extra minutes of music. Sorry, but these guys lost me on this one. Expect to hear it on the radio quite soon. But I will say that the last song on the original disc (not the outro) “Of All These Yesterdays” is a great hard rock song. (67:00)

2.8/5 (Points for the solos. Can Matt Heafy just go out, and make a fucking solo album? I’d like this better if it was just guitar solos, really.)

The Spektrum - Regret Of The Gods (2011) - If you don’t know who The Spektrum is, they’re the band you listen to while you’re waiting on the new Graveworm album. I listened to them before the last one came out, and here I am listening to their new one, with Graveworm’s next release just mere months away!

But seriously, the band is definitely worth hearing, especially if you like dark and epic black / death metal. The production value is low, but the music can definitely be heard clearly. (it’s just a little raw) But even despite that, songs like “Walking Among Your Gods” and “And Darkness Falls” are so great, that they’ll be stuck in my head for a while. Every song contains the same synth and darkness that Graveworm would have, but it’s just not near as well produced.

To tell the truth, there’s no use in throwing a million paragraphs at this one. Fans of Graveworm and other gothic / epic black / death metal will certainly like this one despite the production. The band has certainly gotten better and you can hear it with this release. It’s worth checking out, but don’t expect anymore than what the package contains. It’s dark / gothic / epic melodic black /death metal with synths. (62:00)


Vader- Welcome To The Morbid Reich (2011) - I was quite impressed with this one. It’s not anything that I haven’t heard before, but it’s a job well done on death metal. The band uses some synths and orchestral effects but it helps to give the album a sort of epic feel. But don’t worry, this is still definitely a death metal album in the traditional style filled with machine gun drumming, gravelly vocals, (but you can understand them very well) guitar solos throughout the entire disc, and songs that don’t all sound the same.

It’s a very short disc, only seven minutes longer than an EP - but it’ll suffice. If you’re a fan of death metal or Vader, you’re sure to enjoy it. Just don’t expect any technicality. This disc is very old school, and that‘s just the way that fans will like it. (37:00)


Dir En Grey - Dum Spiro Spero (2011 Special Edition) - Dir En Grey, for those who aren’t familiar with them; are Japanese Metal band (J-Metal) that mixes bits of grindcore, brutal death metal, and traditional Japanese melodic heavy metal together into one supersonic wave of sound. The mix here sounds much more focused than on their last album, but there are still some problems in the monotony department.

The disc starts out well enough, with the band stating that this release is supposed to be more light-hearted in the wake of the Tsunami disaster. But, for those of you who were expecting a very light album, you’re not going to find it here. Sure, songs like “Vanitas” are just about as ballady and epic as one would expect on the closing episode of an Anime series, but for the most part, this album is full of brutal death metal, technicality, and erratic screaming, with occasional bits of melody and high soaring Japanese male vocals. Of course, that’s all there is. It set the mood while playing Painkiller: Overdose on the PC (and I just happened to be in the Japanese Massacre stage, so the music fit well) but I couldn’t see anyone playing this album while driving, or at the office, or the gym. Well, unless you’re Japanese.

“The Blossoming Beelzebub” is probably one of the disc’s most unique tracks, starting out just as the band promised, as a very light and slow piece that soon erupts into a disaster of metal at it’s very heaviest. Yes, this is a very heavy album. Yes, it’s all in the Japanese language, and Yes -If you don’t like Japanese male clean vocal, don’t bother with it. The single for the disc is “Amon”which brilliantly mixes brutal death metal and erratic screaming with melody and high soaring choruses.

I will add that the lead vocalist has decided to try some quite different vocal harmonies this time in certain tracks, and they are completely new for the band. I will not describe the change, but it does add some more originality to the sound, and you’ll notice it quickly.

Yeah, not everyone’s cup of tea, but worth hearing if you haven’t heard it before. Oh, there’s a handful of guitar solos on the disc, but they’re quite good. But I don’t think a band like this needs a guitar solo in every song. That would be redundant.

Bonus Tracks

Rasetsukoku - A heavier song, with melodic bits where the vocalist tries that new thing I’m talking about. Sure, you’ve heard it before in other types of music, but not this band. It’s a little odd for any Japanese band to incorporate that type of singing, but his vocals strangely work well enough with it.

Amon (Symphonic Version) - The title explains it all, but the symphonic parts do make the song slightly more epic. Other than that, I didn’t really notice much.

Save your cash, these two songs aren’t worth the extra money, unless the disc comes with a DVD. (75:00 Ltd.) (66:00 Original)


Negura Bungent - Poarta De Dincolo EP (2011) - This band reminds me a hell of a lot of the gothic black metal band, Moonspell. But not later Moonspell, mind you. This band reminds of some of their earlier releases like “Under The Moonspell EP” and “Wolfheart.”I literally feel the same vibes here, only if they might sound a little more amateurish at moments.

The band certainly has borrowed from the best in this case, and many of the unique touches that the band use actually help to add just a little more of a flavor to the disc, and make it not slightly so much of an “early Moonspell wannabe band.”

Though this disc is more than likely their first outing, these guys prove (even though it’s a bit tough to see it at first) that they do indeed have potential, and some of this shit is actually worth checking out. But, if you like earlier Moonspell or atmopsheric black metal in that vein, you may find yourself enjoying the disc. Everyone else should look elsewhere. Not too shabby, gentlemen.(28:33)


Nimbatus - Cyclus Two (2010) - Now, here’s an instrumental band that I can get behind. Nimbatus combines doom and prog to make some rather intricate and dreary sounding music that contains some very good melodies at times too. I was listening to it while playing Serious Sam, and it sort of fit.

The disc isn’t that long, but sounds much longer. But that’s a good thing, because I haven’t one bad thing to say about any of the instrumentals on this disc. There’s no Animals As Leaders technicality here, well… maybe in a few spots, but that’s not what this band is about. It’s essentially a sort of melodic doom with proggy elements and something that resembles, but isn’t quite death metal.

I still would highly recommend the disc, as it’s definitely something unique in the gamut of instruMETAL bands that we have out these days. Apparently, not everyone wants to produce fast technical stuff, and some like to keep it, slow, dark, and beautiful at the same fucking time. (41:57)


Nimbatus - Cyclus Three (2011) - Even though it was made only a year later, Nimbatus’s third offering (I don’t have their first and would like to get it soon) seems to be much in the same lines as the last one, except maybe just a little doomier than the first one. It’s even more bleak, and has some surefire Sabbathy elements in there as well, like the first track for example. Piano and synth are also somewhat present, but accentuate the sound.

But don’t let it fool you into thinking that the band hasn’t given up their prog or melody, because it’s still there, and the band definitely knows how to deliver what they promise. Some of the melodies on this album though, aren’t quite filled with beauty, and sound just a little eerie in places, but that could be a good thing.

If you liked them before, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t like this very dark approach of progressive metal that I would love to throw some vocals on. Remember though, it’s still as slow as ever, with the same amount of melody; but still much heavier than you’d expect in certain places. As good as the first one, they should be listened together side by side. If you haven’t heard this band, you might want to check them out.

Pelican who, indeed. (46:02)


Noah Sias - Self Titled EP (2010) - This 23 minute EP is going to be great for fans of djent and technicality, but not much else. There’s as with everything, some extra bells and whistles on the disk, but I can’t help but thinking all this band really does is want to play djent riffs. Which is fine and dandy for folks that like that sort of thing, but after Meshuggah pioneered the djent and seems to do it the best, there’s not much that these guys can do instrumentally that I haven’t already heard, and if I can help it - won’t be hearing for as long as I can screen the albums I pick to review.

(Sometimes, I can’t, and I’m stuck reviewing whatever it is, as long as it’s in the realms of heavy music.)

There’s only 6 songs on the disc, as you’d expect for an EP, with one of them adding a little bit of mediocre, already heard fifteen dozen times, death core vocal. Yes, the vocals go with the song, but it’s not saying much for the band. They’d better put out more than this regurgitated stuff I’ve already heard and better. (23:24)


Ode To Decay - Omega (2011) - Now here’s something, that I didn’t expect. Ode To Decay have crafted a great melodic black/death release, filled with plenty of noticeable riffs and melodies that keep me hooked. I wasn’t a fan before, but there are so many awesome songs on this release, that I’d love to hear what’s next from these guys. While playing Postal 2: Armageddon Weekend (for the first time through), I discovered that the music went exponentially well.

The band mixes a little bit of prog and definite structure into their music which seems to quite well with it, and the scowls and growls seem to work quite well here. The drumming on the disc is really good, and the melodies are killer as this sounds like a straight mix between black and death metal, rather than one or the other. But it’s not so much in the solo department.

Of course, the crowning achievement of the featured four songs on the disc is easily “Rise Of The Giant Omega” which has everything that I could’ve asked for in a band of this type. Yes, the sound quality isn’t amazing, and is still raw, but a band like this certainly has some potential. I hope these guys will be able to give us something else in 2011, as I’ve already liked what I’ve heard quite a bit. (21:30)


Of Wrath and Ruin - Conquering Oblivion (2011) - Well, here’s something that you just don’t hear everyday. This band mixes melodic synth power/prog metal with what appears to be a black metal scowl and female vocals. The band is exceptional with their song structures, even excelling wonderfully at the beautiful instrumentals on the disc, which are actually much longer than would expect. Not every song on the disc is metal (like the acoustic and much more light hearted instrumentals) but the ones that are, really shine.

The black metal scowls sometimes let loose on a death metal growl, but that doesn’t make it death metal. It also could be pushing it to say that the band has black metal influence just because of the very blackened scowls which could also have been used on a melodic death metal album. The female vocalist is actually pretty good, fouling up at a few moments on the disc, but the emotion is there, and things seem to balance perfectly between the two.

The band excels heavily at progressive theatrics and awesome intricate riffing, but while much slower than Symphony X, they prove that slow and steady wins the race. Some of the songs on this disc are quite long, with most songs being over five minutes, and two that reach the eight minute mark, in addition to the almost eleven minute closer, “The Reckoning.” (which has nothing to do with the Iced Earth song)

If you’re looking for something just a bit different, but not near as well produced as you might like (but definitely worth hearing anyway) definitely check out, Of Wrath and Ruin. This is something we need just a bit more of… originality. The amount of material on this disc, proves that this band can accomplish many things in the metal scene, and is capable of being well known. Definitely impressed here. (62:00)


Ourobiguous - Awakening (2011) - First of all, I don’t see how these gentlemen could fit all of this on a cd, because it’s all over 80:00 of music. I’ve never been able to stick that much on a disc, so I don’t know what happens to the extra 32 seconds of music on the disc. But it sounds rather awful at the beginning, with some riffs being played and a scowled that just seems to scowl completely off key and incoherently. I’ll also mention that you can barely hear the instruments, but God forbid - the fucking vocals are loud as they always seem to be on so many releases. It would not have killed them to put the vocals down just a little bit.

Please tell me that the rest of the fucking album isn’t like this. Alright, now I’m hearing the same riff over and over again like a broken record that I’m not getting. There, finally, a change. Wow, there’s actually drums on this disc? I’d have never noticed. I think they’re computerized drums. What the fuck is this? I’m one for sporadity, but this is garbage.

Seriously, 80 minutes of this? I’d rather take an 80 minute shit, straining all the while, then have to listen to this. The instruments seem to do just what ever they want. What the fuck? Let’s play two drum taps and tap a cymbal one time. There’s no beat or rhythm, why the fuck are the drums even being used? Did some high school kid make this?

“Hey, check out my band with the whacky name. I’m real cool, huh? Make black metal that’s so over your head, because I’m so intelligent.”

This is bloody beyond paint on the fucking wall art. I can do paint on the wall art. I even think that guy that paints with his dick, or that guy that paints with feces is better than this. I think I’m going to record an album with myself on the commode, and growl and grunt and shit for about an hour and put it online, call it “The Beef and Corn Disaster.”

The only thing that’s half ass on this disc is the fucking atmospheres, and most of them were made by programs. Is that somebody’s water running, now? Am I on the second song? Yeah, I’m not in the zone for this one, I guess. Well, that picking is good. But it’s the same picking over and over again. Is this supposed to be drone? Perhaps I need to be high to get the full experience of such epic and wonderful music. Now the water effect is drowning out the music. It sounds like I’m listening to the album on low, and someone has turned and left the water on. What is that? Birds chirping? What the fuck is all this?

Oh, what was that! I heard something almost sounded like metal. EXCEPT THAT I CAN STILL HEAR THE FUCKING WATER AS WELL! SOMEONE TURN THE FUCKING WATER OFF!

Now I’m listening to an atmospheric that sounds as if someone threw a staticky television in the middle of a rainforest. There’s also a light atmospheric background… and finally the instruments start. Sounds like someone is hitting oil drums. Of course, the atmosphere is blocking the sound, so it sounds like the music is trapped behind a vortex of some sort. Wow, the same two notes being picked a million times! God, I can probably play this much of a guitar, myself! Wow, the drum seems to tap whenever it seems to want to. OF COURSE, I’M STILL HEARING THE GODDAMNED ATMOSPHERIC!

You know, I’m supposed to be editing my novel while I listen to this one. But I can’t. I just can’t do it, BECAUSE I CANNOT FUCKING CONCENTRATE! If this is the last album I ever hear in my life, I’d be really pissed, because this is by far one of the worst pieces of shit I’ve ever heard. Fuck Diapsiquir, I’d rather listen to that even then this.

Staind supposedly came out with an album that goes back to the heavy days of Torment and Dysfunction (Yes, I’m reviewing it if it’s really as they say) and I think I’d rather hear it than this. You know, I was going to review that new Limp Bizkit as a joke, and now I’m almost certain that I’d rather listen to Fred Durst rap, than hear this bullshit.

Birds chirping, the same two or three riffs. Quite an atmosphere being created here, I’ll say. Quite a headache as well. Is this whole album a joke? What is that guy screaming about? It sounds like he’s screaming those awful rap songs where you say one word a whole bunch of times and it’s a song. (But yes, I do listen to actual rap music, opposed to what they play nowadays, of course. But I listen to all types of music.)

Well, here’s something that sounds halfway decent. But I’m sure it doesn’t take a lot of skill on the guitar. It’s still going? That same atmospheric, the birds still chirping and the slow picks on the guitar. This guy must think he’s Sunn0 or something.

Look, I’ve had enough of this and so have you. Let’s just give this album what it deserves, shall we? (80:32, but good luck surviving this sheer mental torture)

1/5 (A one for effort. Please go back to the drawing board. Or better yet, take up sowing.)

Pestre Noire - L’Ordure A L’etat Pur (2011) - Pestre Noire is one of those funny French Avant-Garde Black Metal bands that mixes everything and the kitchen sink together, but does it well. I cannot possibly tell you everything that I heard on this album, but I do remember some actual French music, some horns, some actual sex and sadomasochism being played out on the album, something that sounding like dance beats, some punk, some female vocals, and black metal too. Because they are a black metal band, at least I think.

But it’s all done surprisingly well, and even though the vocals aren’t so good, I don’t listen to them much for the vocals. The musicality alone is something worth hearing for yourself, to be able to balance all of that crap together and it work out well enough is astounding. The last track on the disc is also very good avant-garde black metal song with good clean male and female vocals. I was really quite impressed by this experience, expecting the band to be some tired old 96 black metal retread like I’ve been hearing from everyone in France sans Deathspell Omega and maybe some others that I didn’t know were French.

Anyway, if you’re craving something foreign (You can’t understand a word of it, but that’s okay - live a little!) and much different than normal, or you’re just the type of person that loves listening to weird stuff, pick it up. It’s really quite interesting. (51:00)


Pitchblack - The Devility (2011) - Alright, here’s one of those bands that struck me as bad for the first few minutes, but as the album went on, I found myself surprisingly into them. The band mixes death, some core, and thrash together in a very odd way, but the outcome is actually pretty good. For the most part, I could say that the band is a death/thrash band with some core influence. There are two vocalists in the band, one being a background growler, and the other the screamer, even those his vocals sound very hardcore in the vein of Snapcase, a band that I cannot stand to this day. I believe it’s Snapcase - the singer has a very high pitched sort of vocal that reminds me almost exactly of this, and hearing it at first, I almost deleted the fucking thing.

But songs like “You’re Fucking Below Me” , “Don’t Make Me Mad” and “One Day We’ll Break Em” as well as the closer “Promise Of A Dead Man” really show me that these gentlemen are as dedicated to making killer riffs, and fantastic, absolutely ridiculous drumming that blows away most I’ve heard in my life.

Who in the fuck is on the drums in this band? The guy is fucking awesome. Song by song, with his methodical and well crafted drumming, he manages to captivate me from the beginning to the end. Whoever is on the fucking kit has some experience.

Let’s also mention that the band does fool around with some other things besides just death and thrash, and there’s some acoustic portions. I’ll tell you what though, the front man has one hell of an attitude and reminds me of Phil Anselmo sometimes, and that’s a good thing. As much as I’ve talked this band up, and if you haven’t already heard them and are scolding me for just finding out - please go check them out. This is some absolutely killer metal music, folks.

I’m so glad I didn’t get rid of this album, and I’d definitely like to throw the band a few bones for it. You should too. This what death/thrash should be. Get your hands on this one, right fucking now. (43:00)


Poema Arcanus - Timeline Symmetry (2009) - If you don’t mind an Italian version of November’s Doom, you might really enjoy this band. Of course, the band is not a complete knock-off of November’s Doom, as they have their own style of course; as well as three songs that contain only clean vocal passages and two of which, are in complete Italian.

For the most part, songs like the first five tracks on the album showcase that this band really does have a great deal of talent in the death/doom department. Even though the clean vocals are tough to get into, the band excels greatly in melody and song structure making great epic-like songs. The chorus of “By The Cliff” sounds like it was influenced by ND especially.

Of course, some of this sometimes also sounds like traditional doom metal in the vein of Candlemass as well, but there’s hiding that ND influence throughout the band. It’s not a bad thing, as the band is certainly worth checking out, whether you like ND or not. The guitar solos, melodies, drum work, and harsh vocals all seem to be top-notch for die-hard doom/death fans. You might really like this album and not expect it.

But even those Italian clean songs are tough for anyone to get into. Maybe in their next album, they’ll leave those out and give us some more doom/death. (56:00)


Pegasus - The Epic Quest (2011 Ltd. Edition) - Apparently, I’m new to this band. They must have two or more albums already out there, because there is a song called “The Dungeon Master Pt.3” and I missed the first two parts. Anyway, for those who don’t know, Pegasus is a German Black/Power band. No, they’re not racists as funny as that might sound to someone who’s never heard metal before… “What you listening to?” “Oh, some black power metal band.” I’m sure that’s going to work out real nice.

The band actually performs the style quite well, accurately mixing black metal vocals (and I mean some real scowls) with melodic power metal that has some killer solo work. There’s also some death metal vocals that get thrown in, and some cool theatrical interludes. It is an “epic” after all.

Some of the song lyrics might be corny, but it’s going to be right up your alley if you like wizards, warriors, and dragons. If you’re looking for some metal to play while playing WOW, Rift, or Guild Wars, this might work well for you. Of course, you could also play it during Oblivion or Skyrim, or even in the background of a D&D or MTG tournament. Yes, I’m showing my geek colors, and I apologize.

The disc isn’t that long, but seems much longer. I was playing it during Serious Sam (I’m almost finished with it) and even thought it seemed terribly out of place, I rather enjoyed the music. This everything that I wanted to hear in black/power metal and the female vocals weren’t a bad touch. The band reminds me greatly of Battlelore in their early days (the 98 Warrior’s Tale demo, which like myself and 3 people probably have, PM me if you want it) and their first release “Where The Shadows Lie.”

So, as those discs had suitable but very simple production value, this disc is in the same category. But the fact that things aren’t so greatly overblown helps the disc, despite with all of it’s epic interludes, to stay cohesive and enjoyable. I really enjoyed this disc quite a bit, I’ll say - and enjoyed singing along with the black metal chorus of “The Dungeon Master Pt.3.” There’s only eight actual songs on the disc, but the song I’ve named is their longest (and most badass) at 8:13. So you definitely do get some music here. Even the normal edition of the disc offers 44:00 of music.

So a definite one for fans of “fantasy metal” , “battle metal”, and black metal. (maybe) I rather enjoyed it. Maybe they’ll write a song about me next time, called “The Grim Lord” and I could sing along to that. Wouldn’t that be something? (54:00)

Bonus Tracks

Die Legende Der Swarzen Fee -This is a strictly black/power metal song with no female vocals. If you didn’t like her voice, you might enjoy this song. Yes, it’s in German.

Midnight Past (2007) - On the other hand, if you preferred only the female vocals, guess what? This one has just the female vocalist on it, and while it is also in German, it is also a decent enough track, but not my favorite because there are already too many female fronted power/goth/rock/ bands out there as it is. Nothing against women of course, I just feel that it’s becoming a bit of a gimmick, and it used to not be this way. But things do change, unfortunately.


Yob - Atma (2011) - I’m going to start by saying, that while I’ve got all of the Yob albums up to this one (their discography) on my computer, I’ve had a tough time getting into them, due to the vocalist. It’s just very hard for me to get over his vocals, even though I have great musical respect for the band as they perform excellent doom metal, and even have some interesting and thoughtful lyrical content as I’ve read.

But I decided to give this entire disc a chance from beginning to end, and found that I rather enjoyed it. The sound of the band hasn’t really changed all that much, but the production is much better, and the vocals seem to almost take on a classic metal stance, which is growing on me. I also particularly like the tribal influences on this disc, as the band really seems to push forward a great deal of spiritual/metaphysical/and ritualistic tendencies on the album.

The band really sounds like this is more than just music to them, and you rarely get that these days. I sense that these gentlemen have a deep seated view on the ideas presented both musically and lyrically, regardless of what some non-spiritual folks may say about the disc. Every track seems to be just as good as the others, but there’s nothing really intrinsically different. If you liked other Yob releases, I can’t see a reason why Atma wouldn’t be on the same list.

If you’re just getting into Yob though, this is a great album to start out with. The band sounds great, and the production is very good, making a good disc from beginning to end. Just smoke one, and play it. These five tracks will take you on a trip that’s well worth the price. (55:00)


Edguy- Age Of The Joker (2011) - Whoa, how the mighty have fallen. Edguy’s last release “Tinnitus Santcus” actually had some pretty good tracks, but as Avantasia’s two disc extravaganza sort of bombed, I could only assume that Edguy’s next release would follow in the same domino effect that’s been following in the wake of Sammet’s belief that his vocals are God’s gift to metal.

There are some heavy tracks on this disc, and they even pull off some pretty good solos, but the whole thing is hampered down by just being too poppy in too many places. Sometimes they experiment with electronic synths, and some country twang in addition to some more Celtic instrumentations on “Rock of Cashel.” But it’s not going to save this album from just being alright, at the most. There’s a song called “Two out Of Seven” where Tobias sings “What the fuck, I’m two out of seven - Suck my cock, I’m seven out of twelve - when I wank at the bank - I’m ten out of ten”

Yes, those are the real lyrics. Edguy has played with parody, but that’s a little immature I think. It’s not all terrible though. “Robin Hood” and “Faces In The Darkness” are actually pretty good. You might find a handful of others you like as well, and there’s an epic called “Beyond The Gates To Midnight World” at 8:56. Well, “Robin Hood” is 8:24, so at least they are trying more song structure and slightly more epic songs. Fans of earlier Avantasia might also like “The Arcane Guild” because well, hell… It actually sounds like power metal. Damn, I didn’t know he still had it in him.

Maybe this is a sign of things to come. Perhaps in 2013 (since he’ll do another three Avantasia albums probably - or four, whatever - next year) we’ll hear an actual power metal album from these guys. That is, if President Perry hasn’t burned all metal listeners at the stake for listening to music “that is against God.”

But by that time, I’ll be in merry old England, probably. Or Canada, or the Nordic Lands. I’ll eat fish and be happy that I’m not getting fucked up the ass by conservatives. If Palin ever ran and won, I said that I was personally going to get a small boat and sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

“You heard about America lately?”

“Yeah, I used to live there. But I don’t want to think about it anymore.”

“I heard that if you don‘t let them put a chip in your body, then you’ll be put to death over there.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Back to the subject of the disc, I think that fans of the band would enjoy it regardless. It is not terrible, it’s just not amazing. I think somewhere after “Tinnitus Sanctus” the band seems to have lost something. But at least they are attempting to pick up the power metal again. I mean, it is what they are, right? This disc is seriously a love/hate relationship. Hits and misses left and right, and too overblown in some areas. Another day at the office for these guys, I suppose. Probably gets better with every listen. (65:00)


ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker (2011) - Well, since Vortex is a boozer, user, and loser according to Dimmu Borgir; they’ve since kicked him out and haven’t sounded worse in their entire career. So this album is in a sense, Vortex’s “Fuck You” album to Dimmu Borgir, proving that he can pull off a solo album that sounds much better than what his entire ex-band put out last year.

Storm Seeker is different, mixing metal (with very slight black elements only in the very beginning) and melody together in a very nice 45 minute showcase of the man’s talents. Although I am not sure if Vortex is actually playing on this album, the riffs are really good for the most part, offering some rather nice melodies. But that’s not to say that some of these songs sound like large clusters and I could not tell in some parts of the album when one song ended and another began. In other parts of the album though, it was much easier to recognize. I could only assume that the disc must be made of a few parts, and each song is a part of some sort of saga. But I could be wrong.

The first couple of songs sound alright enough - heavy melodic metal with Vortex going above and beyond the call of duty on vocals, pushing his chords and accent farther than they need to be pushed. Yes, at times it can sound whiny and annoying. But, later on the man finally does something that he hasn’t done for a very long time - he uses control and actually sings instead of belting everything out. Light, soft singing. It’s actually much better than the operatic styles that we’re all used to by now. Songs like “Windward”, “When Shuffled Off” and the title track definitely show that the man is capable of more than just some over the top opera singing.

The disc ends with a 2:50 Norwegian song called Flaskeskipper, which would be perfectly humble on Norwegian radio. Yes, the songs themselves get much lighter and even sound sort of like an early Devin Townsend band in their lightest form. So don’t, don’t, don’t expect anything even reminiscent of black metal! Calling it Avant-Garde in some senses works, but only for a handful of songs on the album. But, it is adecent piece of music which fans of the man should enjoy.

There’s also a little electronic outro called “The Sub Mariner” and I guess this was one of Vortex’s favorite heroes as a kid. I dunno. It’s a nice little piece, anyway. But nothing to write home about. Just like this whole album. It’s not worth overpaying. It’s got hits and misses and that’s about it. I’ll give it about a C+. (45:00)


Polkadot Cadaver - Sex Offender (2011) - These guys aren’t your typical Hard Rock/ Alt. Rock band (hence why the title is “Heavy Reviews” as opposed to “Metal Reviews” this week) and that’s why they’re here. The band has bits of metal, particularly more towards the hardcore style and that can be felt from the first track after the intro, “Sea Grave.”

But, the band slowly creeps into radio territory with a few songs, taking their Mike Patton influenced experimental alt-hard rock into a more commercial mainframe with songs like “Bloodsuckers” which could be played over a fan made youtube tribute to True Blood, perhaps. Of course, not every song is in this vein, with the band carrying out normal alternative rock and rhythms in a very unconventional and unique sense. The singer is actually really good, and I wouldn’t mind hearing this album again, or letting some friends of mine into alt/radio rock to check it out.

For metal fans, there’s not much here - but it is some rather interesting rock music with metal influence and the right amount of experimentation even sounding like something I would hear from Devin Townsend’s heavier moments on “Starlight Requiem.”

The last song on the disc, “Forever and A Day” is incredibly campy and a pretty swell song to listen to. It’s not metal, but could accompany a drive home from a hard day at work, if you’re looking for something a little more soothing and less heavy.

All in all, this band isn’t really metal, but that’s not to say they’re bad. They’re just a little different way of looking at something we’ve been accustomed to listening to by radio stations like Little Rock’s “The Edge 100.3.” It couldn’t hurt them to play music with just a little more flavor and some weirdness here and there. It really couldn’t. (40:00)

5/5 (You know… As far as rock bands go, anyway.)

Psychostatus - A Path To Remember (2010) - I’ve been waiting to review this one for a while, but I’ve just now gotten to it. Yes, I’ve had it in my library for months. But that is sometime how things work out. Psychostatus is also from my home state of Delaware. Yes, I wasn’t born in the south, but I’ve lived here almost ten years now. (Even though I’ve lived in the North for 16 years)

Psychostatus is an instrumental band, or an instruMETAL band, as I’ve been calling them. The music is basically heavy and melodic with acoustic and progressive bits. Yeah, just like every other band in this vein. This band though features more acoustics than I’ve heard and has that “acoustic guitar and electric guitar playing together” formula that’s actually pretty hard to pull off, but when done right, it sounds pretty good.

Alright, so there’s nothing ultimately special about this band, and I believe that the drums might be computerized. But I’m not exactly sure. This music would go well in the background of some indie game, or your own homebrew. It’s pretty decent music, but like so many other bands in this instrumental album vein, it’s just kinda meh.


Radiance - The Burning Sun (2010) - Alright, here’s a new genre to add to the metal compendium. This band mixes djent, technicality, prog, electronics and power metal together in a great and wonderful way that I’d wish more bands would try. This album is purely original, and they feature a famous power metal vocalist (his vocals are familiar to me, but I cannot place the name)that does a great job on the mic. There’s also a female that adds sort of vocal harmonies every once in a while to add extra flavor to the disc.

The oddest thing about this one though, is it’s setup. There are two Opeth length tracks on the album, and a few other tracks that are about 2 or 3 or 5 minutes. There are just a few tracks on this album, but with the two very long tracks, the disc runs about 48 minutes. But I wish it were longer. There are parts Meshuggah, parts piano, parts where electronics are used, and heaviness that I would’ve expected on Nevermore’s earlier stuff. There are some very heavy tracks on this disc, but they are balanced out by a few melodic interludes. One of them is just a soft ballady thing that’s like 3 minutes, and the other three are atmospheric interludes. (Lambda 475 (intro), Lambda 610 and Lambda 690)

The meat of this album lies in the fucking epic as living hell tracks “The Burning Sun” and “Downward Spiral” which together equal approximately 33 minutes of playing time. The balladay thing is three minutes and it’s called “0.” Then there’s the last song on the disc, entitled “Conclusion” at 5:14. It starts out rather djenty and it’s really heavy for a while until it gets real light and ends the disc.

But to be honest, downloading or just streaming “The Burning Sun” and “Downward Spiral” would be enough to have heard the best on this album. Those songs kick plenty of ass, and go through more changes than a topless dancer. You should, if you like good music that is, enjoy those two tracks quite a bit. But they aren’t death or black metal.

Nonetheless, very heavy, and very promising stuff. I think I’m going to listen to those two tracks again myself. Both of them better than the entire new Edguy album. Damn, that’s pretty bad, isn’t it? Anyway, you’d be a fool to not at least listen to those two tracks. Maybe the band will put out an even better disc with more epic songs and less filler crap, because I smell potential here. I just hope this djent power prog thing doesn’t become a gimmick for them. (48:00)

3/5 (I’d have given this a triple 6 rating if the disc was only composed of those two songs, but the filler brought it down a bit.)

Raven Woods - Enfeebling The Throne (2011) - Raven Woods is a middle eastern blackened death metal band that sounds rather bland and unoriginal in the beginning, but later adds some well needed spice to what would’ve been a mediocre album. The band actually throws some clean vocals and some middle eastern acoustics into the mix.

There’s some good soloing here and there, and sometimes the drummer does a little more than go through the motions, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not really all that great. There’s not much else to say here, except that the outro to the disc is a rather interesting middle eastern acoustic piece.

It’s alright, I guess. (41:00)


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