Mastodon - The Hunter (2011) - Let's be honest here. This isn't the same Mastodon as we knew from "The Remission." The band has now taken on a trippy prog metal style that still incorporates some harsh vocals and is much heavier, but less epic than their last album.
"Black Tongue (3:27)" was a great way to open the disc, it was just a heavy song with clean vocals, but had some great guitar wizardry in the background. "Curl Of The Burl (3:40)" is a very 70's prog rock, smoking song more or less. It's funky, and it's got some groove to it. Yes, you'll roll to it more than once in your life. You might smoke to it a few times too.
"Blasteroid (2:35)" is the first song on the album with some harsh vocals, and it's pretty heavy but didn't offer much for me. The guitar was pretty good in it though. A rather solid song. "Stargasm (4:39)" however, invokes a very trippy vibe with the atmospheres that really seem to hone in the 70's prog influence the band is heading towards, like Opeth. There's a lot of clean riffing on this album, and you might not expect that. It's more radio friendly too. But that doesn't make it bad, unless you're a conceited little fuck. Whoops, pardon me. Where did that come from? Anyway, Stargasm is so far one of my favorite songs, due to it's awfully beautiful melodies, and the softer vocal lines that follow those melodies.
"Octopus Has No Friends (3:48)" sounds like one of those campy joke titles we're all getting so sick of, but seems to have a bit of a folk influence to it with some weird vocal tricks going on in portions. The verse riff is very intriguing. I really like this disc so far. Their experimenting has paid off and they've matured as a band.
"All The Heavy Lifting (4:31)" is decent enough, but seems very simple, other than the guitars and drumming which seem to dominate on this disc. I could care less for the chorus though, it doesn't sound really that great. Very poppy. Yep, this is filler to me, sans a prog explosion portion. If that wasn't there, this track would be weak. They pulled a Dream Theater. Alright, the tracks' getting a little heavier, and I heard some Tool influence just before the chorus came back. Speaking of the lyrics, they seem quite strong - about being oblivious to all that's wrong with the world. "Just close your eyes, and pretend that everything's fine - Just close your eyes, I'll tell you when"
"The Hunter (5:17)" starts out with an acoustic melody that turns into a ballad. There's also another vocalist here. Who is this guy? I can place the voice... no way... that's not the lead singer of November's Doom is it? That's the only way I can put it folks. If I'm wrong, tell me. The song's also got a great acoustic solo. You know what I'm talking about, when I mean great. One of those songs that make you want to play it again. Jesus, listen to that fucking solo. Damn, what a song.
"Dry Bone Valley (3:59)" is a decent enough song, but I don't like the vocal style or the vocalist. I also think it's a guest on there, but I don't who this is. How did this thing get star studded all of a sudden? The song sounds good enough, has a trippy guitar solo, but it basically a rocker. Yeah it's got prog, but it's a rock song more or less. Doesn't make it bad though. Sounds pretty good musically. I guess this one could grow on me.
"Thickening (4:30)" starts out with a very classic sounding solo. It's a very good solo from the glory days of traditional heavy metal. Plenty of prog to go around too. This whole damn album's a feast for the ears. I also don't know who the vocalist is here, but it doesn't sound like their frontman. There's also two vocalists on this track. That beginning solo continues throughout the track in bits and pieces. At about the song's actual solo portion, things really start getting good on the guitar. Great solo, of course I've said that a bunch on this album (except the main solo portion is radio short.)
"Creature Lives (4:41)" starts out with all sorts of sound effects, and makes you think you're in a spaceship of some sort. Whew, this is making my head spin. Then it starts out with a soft acoustic riff. But I don't know where it's going from here. There's a few drum taps. Is it going to be heavy? There's some more... increasing in frequency, then the guitar hits and I hear another vocalist that I can't ascertain. Is the frontman that versatile or is everybody and their mother on this disc? Anyway, this track is pretty good, Floydian if you will. I think they'd be proud to hear their influence here. Of course, there's a good solo too.
"Spectrelight (3:09)" pulls no punches, being pretty heavy. The vocals almost get rather fierce here, but sound more like Leviathan than Remission's screams. It's still a change of pace from the rest of he disc. Definitely a Baskin Robbins disc, but I love it. One of 2011's best, I'm sure. Of course, there's another good guitar solo, but the riffs are ALWAYS good as far as I've heard on this disc. Same with the drumming. Here's the heaviest song on the disc, folks.
"Bedazzled Fingernails (3:08)" (Boy that's an odd one, huh?) sounds more like prog rock, having a very interesting riff style and a trippy chorus. It's still a heavy song though. Some definite experimenting going on here.
The album's closer, "The Sparrow (5:30)" reminds me quite a bit of Pink Floyd. I've already talked about things being Floydian, and that intro alone makes me want to turn don the lights and smoke one (if I had one, which I do, but I'm not smoking it.) The song is just a very chilled out mellow end to an album that's gone every which way imaginable. It's definitely a piece of work.
Alright, so maybe the song does pick up a bit, but just as much as something from Floyd would. Damn, listen to that solo. Sorry, I had to just close my eyes and really absorb that one. Shit, that makes me think of good times.
Alright. Here's my verdict, and I'm going to just go outright and say it. I think this is probably Mastodon's best work to date. It shows them very matured and capable of doing many things in one album. It's not as cluttered as album 3 was, and it's not so long as album 4. This fifth disc really shows what the band can do. It's time to pull the plug now, before they fuck up. They covered the four elements and this is the "spirit" album I guess, as that is the fifth element that combines the other four. Hence the title track being about drifting off into the plane of spirits.
This album was so damned good, I'm afraid that if they made another; it just won't be able to live up to this one. Where can they go from here? Getting heavy would be just a mess. Going soft into more rock laden-atmospheres which is where they are heading, might be an option. I've just heard so many 10th, 11th, 15th and so on, releases from bands and came to the conclusion, "Do we really need this many albums from (insert band here)?"
Nevertheless, I HIGHLY recommend this disc, despite a few songs I didn't particularly like at first. But I can see parts in them which might make them easier for me to accept. However, most of the tracks on this disc are phenomenal. Maybe saying it's their best work to date is debatable, but it's certainly a worthy album from the band. This really is... American metal. (52:00)
Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination (2011) - The band's last one definitely put a smile on my face, as black and death never sounded so good together. But before I get my hopes up, let's listen to the thing first.
Well, I'm not disappointed. But I'm not exactly thrilled either. The band has successfully made almost the same exact album that they made in 2009. There are some differences here and there, more black metal influence in some songs, and I heard something that reminded me of Graveworm; but for the most part it's just blackened thrash. Not even the death/thrash part, as I heard mostly scowls.
There's a nice melody in one of the tracks, but I'm not sure which one it is; of course they're all so fucking short. Every song but two is only a little more than two minutes. The longest song on the disc is "This Horrifying Force (The Desire To Kill)" and it's only 4:09. The closer, "My Skin Of Deceit" is only 2:12. That's pretty fucking short. If you like the band and want to support them, yeah I guess you could buy it. But it's not really any better than their older disc. That one had more tracks at least. This disc feels more like an EP, even though it's got a full 11 songs. I'm sure if you gave them a week, they'd have been able to put four of five more tracks on the disc.
The whole disc sounds like it's just one big fucking song with many parts. But even when you listen to it like that, it's nothing that I haven't heard before. I'm not even sure if I heard any solos. It all went by so fast. Blackened thrash with some bells and whistles. But there might be hope... and it follows this review. (32:00)
Absu - Absu (2009) - Before I review "Abzu" (Yes, I've got it.) I'm going to go ahead and review the 2009 disc, "Absu" (or the self titled one, whatever.) Absu is an American blackened thrash band, but they're less well known than Skeletonwitch. They like to scream and holler about Celtic stuff, even though they're as far from the old salt as can be. I'd still like to meet the guys, as they've given me some nice memories with their old discs "The Third Storm Of Cythraul" and some other one... (digs through external drive) oh yeah, "Tara." Anyway, I didn't think much of these until i listened to them and found that I really loved them.
Anyway, here's a disc I still haven't heard yet. So here goes, fresh to my ears...
First of all, Absu should sue Skeletonwitch. They copied the style that Absu did, and so much better. At least Absu can write more than 2 and a half minutes of music at a time. Plus there's all this epic orchestration. Damn, this is what blackened thrash should sound like. I think I'll play this album more. It's quite enjoyable. I'll also add that the Celtic lean has become one of occult black metal, and I will add that it's rather deep occult black metal. As a studier of all things occult, I have noticed a few things, some definitely Crowley inspired, but some that sound rather comical to me. Of course, I'm forgetting Crowley's signature:
"Witness mine hand:
Tau-Omicron Mu-Epsilon-Gamma-Alpha Theta-Eta-Rho-Iota-Omicron-Nu (Taw-
Resh-Yod-Vau-Nunfinal ): The Beast 666; MAGUS 9 Degree = 2Square A.'. A.'.
who is The Word of the Aeon THELEMA; whose name is called V.V.V.V.V. 8
Degree = 3Square A.'. A.'. in the City of the Pyramids; OU MH 7 Degree = 4Square
A.'. A.'.; OL SONUF VAORESAGI 6 Degree = 5Square, and ... ... 5 Degree =
6Square A.'. A.'. in the Mountain of Abiegnus: but FRATER PERDURABO in the
Outer Order or the A.'. A.'. and in the World of men upon the Earth, Aleister
Crowley of Trinity College, Cambridge."
-Taken from "Magick In Theory And Practice."
I guess that's no different than this track's name: "In The Name Of Auebothiababathabaithobeuee." I'm not even going to try to pronounce that. The thing with some occultists is that you cant tell whether they know what they're talking about, or whether they've lost their minds. Sometimes it's both.
First of all, I can't say that I dislike any of the songs on this disc. The songs have more structure than they even used to have in the days of those older two albums. The band has certainly matured in style, but has kept things the way they should be, and not changed them to some sort of more accessible form of black metal. There are progressive portions in the songs that really add flavor to what could have been just another blackened thrash album. The atmospherics also help to give the disc some character, and the seven minute track with way too many words to type is quite interesting as it's style differs wholly from the bunch, showing that the band can branch out.
Of course, the riffs, the solos, the drumming, and the vocals are all perfect and impeccable. I wouldn't have this album any other way. They called the disc "Absu" for their band name, and usually when you self title a disc and it's not your debut, it means that you're trying to make a statement about your band, like "Hey, this is what we sound like. This is our peak album." Something like that.
Of course some people may feel that this is highly arrogant and unnecessary, but I think it's good to have a "definitive" album so to speak, and this is by far the best I've ever heard from them. One listen of this, and you'll be selling those Skeletonwitch cd's you bought.
Plain and simple, this is the definitive blackened thrash metal album of our age. I don't think I've ever heard it done so well. Prove me wrong. (53:00)
Absu - Abzu (2011) - Alright, now for the new release. This coming from a band who has nothing more to prove, to me at least. The disc starts out surprisingly funny and almost comical. So what? They proved their worth, let them rest easy this time around. The disc is only 35 minutes. But that's three more minutes of music than I'll get with Skeletonwitch this year, apparently.
One thing that's different about this disc, is the inclusion of high pitched vocals ala Ihsahn in Emperor circa 1999 Equilibrium IX. These black metal Texans (yes, Texans) need to come to AR to promote this thing. Hell, I'd like to see them. They need to come play Downtown or something. Oh yeah, the disc - whoops! Completely went off track, there.
Despite "Earth Ripper (3:47)" being a little different, "Circles Of The Oath (5:37)" sounds just like you'd expect it to. Don't cry, they're still Absu. Nothing's changed. Besides what I haven't heard yet. There's a nice acoustic portion at the end of this track as well. Not expected, but definitely welcome.
"Abraxus Connectus (3:53)" has a little bit more prog action in it, it's not near as fast as the last track, but certainly keeps a nice groove. Of course, I've never minded their prog injections. It also features a "robotic vocal" at the end. Listen close, or you'll miss it.
"Skrying In The Spirit Vision (3:51)" is another good song, kind of along the same vein as the others. There's an interesting riff about part of the way into it. Then the solo comes in for two seconds. Then it comes back. Then it leaves again. After a break, the song gets really fucking thrashy. You can bang your head now. Then riffs go everywhere, and the song goes back to thrash. Damn, these guys are guitar wizards. This playing is just a treat to listen to, whether it be the drumming or the fucking riffs.
"Ontologically, It Became Time & Space (4:47)" is another song, just filled with ear candy. I mean, fuck! This is some of the most well-crafted black metal I've ever heard, if not metal in general. There's some insane playing on this disc, and I'd have to recommend it to those who want to hear something where the musicians actually have some fucking skill. The drummer and guitarist are the glue that makes this band what it is. You can tell that just by listening to it. There's a light keyboard portion in this song which adds a hint of flavor to it, but some would say it makes no difference.
The album ends with one five part song. It is "14:26" and no, I'm not typing all that shit out right now. The song has various portions but is mostly a very heavy song up until the 10:00 mark, where it exerts a very acoustic and mystical atmosphere. Then I start to hear some sort of odd sound effect that just disappears. Well, I didn't hear that electronic overtone before. That was odd. Now the song has regained it's heaviness. The ending of the song is a barrage of instruments which adds a sort of final word to the long track. Then there is silence. About 26 seconds of it. So the track is about 14:00 long in all actuality, unless there's some weird whispering or something in the background. Never can tell with some occultists.
I remember the whole thing about Crowley defecating in the floor and considering it to be holy, like the Buddha. Of course, we could say that the man was Arrogant, but while he is the most well known of occultists out there, there are still many more. Gdjureff (sp?) was a strange one. He believed that everyone was asleep, and that by working, and through the act of physical labor, could one only awaken. Hence he performed much physical labor in his life and gathered labor groups of his students who would perform physical tasks for people. Of course, I rather think Peter Caroll and his Chaos Magic is quite an interesting idea too. But a bit foolhardy. I've read some of the darkest rituals in his book, "Liber Null" and find them a bit well... insane. Shooting yourself so that you can come back into the womb of a pregnant woman. That's a bit much I think. Though I've listened to his lectures and he does hit on some points. Of course, his theories were derived from another man's theories, who were derived from another man's theories, and so on...
Anyway, the album came and left my ears in 37 minutes. I don't feel any different, but it was enjoyable. It seemed like there could have been, or should have been more. Maybe it was just a bit flat. But I do feel that the musicianship in the disc is unparalleled and that's why I'm going to give it a good score. I couldn't find fault with any track, and found myself amazed at times. But the experience was rather short. Perhaps like an occult text, the music of Absu must be re-listened in order to fully appreciate it. Nevertheless, it's a good album, but check it out before you buy it. Unless you want to support southern metal. In that case, you know what to do. (37:00)
Nightrage - Insidious (2011) - Well, I could've given a shit less about the last Nightrage album and I'll probably give a shit less about this one. They just haven't sounded good since 2006 IMO, and I thought most of the 2009 songs were very plain. Maybe things have changed. But I doubt it.
Well, I really like this intro. This is a very nice melody, and it's not what I would've expected. Sounds a lot like In Flames or old school Arch Enemy, actually. There's clean vocals? Wow. They're not bad either. Damn, a solo, too? What happened? These guys must've taken notes from their last album. Alright, so far I'm impressed. I'm eager to see how the rest of this will fare.
Alright, two more songs in and I am really digging this one. The melodies are fantastic, the solos are great, and it reminds me so much of classic Arch Enemy before the female vocalist, but with better production. As a matter of fact, I want to say that Arch Enemy's previous vocalist is actually the vocalist for this band now, because I'm well aware with his work in AE and Non-Exist, and the vocals sound just like him. If it is this guy, I already know how fucking good he is. (loved the hell out of that Non-Exist album)
This is also probably one of the best melodic death metal albums I've heard this year. It has the full spirit of melodic death metal, down to the beautiful melodies, incredible solos, and harsh vocals. The drumming is also really good on the disc. The clean vocals are also good, when they're used. If AE's ex-lead singer is on guitar here too, that might be why this thing sounds so goddamned good. Shit, I never thought I was ever going to hear that guy again. I always wondered what happened to him after Non-Exist. He'd better stay in Nightrage after this album. I'm blown away by his performance here.
Damn, "Sham Piety (5:30)" starts out with some simply beautiful fucking riffing. Yes, that is how melo-death should sound folks. Just in case you've forgotten that there was such a thing. This thing is just bursting at the seams with beautiful riffing. If you're a fan of melodic death metal at all, go get this. If you liked "Burning Bridges" well, this whole album is definitely in that vein. I think it's even better, actually. There's not one bad song on the whole disc.
The disc ends with a clean vocal ballad called, "Solar Corona (5:43)" that's actually going to remind you just a bit of Evergrey. But that's not a bad thing, is it? It's also got a hell of a solo, like all the rest of the on this disc. The outro is a one minute track called "Emblem Of Light (1:03)." It can be skipped.
This is probably the best melodic death metal album of the year. Nightrage have redeemed not only themselves, but the genre. (53:00)
Rwake - Rest (2011) - One thing about Arkansas' own Rwake, is that I never cared for them. I listened to two of their old demos that I had received from a friend way back when and thought that they were mostly awful. I listened to some music they made in 2005 and still didn't care for it. But I was a teenager back then, and I wasn't willing to really give too many bands a chance. But this album will be different. The band should've surely matured much past the demos and an album they made six years ago.
The intro, "Souls Of The Sky (1:27)" is an acoustic with a female vocal on it. Already this is different than what I expected.
Alright, "It Was Beautiful, But Now It's Sour (11:44)" is now playing. Very sludgy. Definite doom influence, some death metal influence on vocals. Some prog influence coming in, but there's something that sounds like a pissed off poodle on background vocals. I keep hearing some kind of "rawh rawh rawh" Someone oughtta slap that guy in the back of the head and say, "No, we don't need all that." Guitar melodies come in and makes things better. I do like the main vocals though, very post metal. The somber melodies kick in amongst the vocals, but I don't feel they're really doing much during them. it has a hardcore feel that I don't like. I think that the band has talent musically, for sure. I just think that the vocalist needs to shut up some and let the music play. I mean whatever he's saying I can't even decipher that well. It almost goes into gibberish. The mood of the song is good though.
"An Invisible Thread (8:44)" I seem to like more though, the prog influence carries on more throughout the song, at one point it sounds like the band is being enveloped inside of a great wind, like they're playing in front of a giant portal.
"The Culling (16:06)" starts out with a very haunting acoustic piece. Perhaps this song is about the culling of the herd. If you don't know what that is, look it up or go read my second novel. The song starts to pick up at about the 6:00 mark, but there's still no sign of vocals. That's good. It's very dreary and peaceful at the same time. Like being in a graveyard. I spoke too soon, here come the vocals.
But they come on rather strong. The rest of the song is sludgy business as usual. There's also a guitar solo in this one. It sounds pretty good. Really good actually, probably the best solo on the disc. This is my favorite song on the album so far.
"Ti Progetto" is only 57 seconds long. Don't expect much from it. It's just a quote they got from some movie. Don't you have to get rights for that kind of stuff? I'd think so.
The album's closer, "Was Only A Dream." is good enough, sounds pretty normal solid sludge, but near the end of the actual song portion, there's a good riff that's played for a few seconds and fades out. Who the fuck's idea was that? One of the only decent non-conventional riffs I've heard on the disc, and it just fades out? After that, the song enters silence and then acoustic with hollering, and then the song picks back up, but more melodic and the hollering continues. Alright, here's another solo. This one's really good too. Thank god for the solos on this one. If they weren't there, I probably wouldn't much like this disc. But they are, and it makes the experience beneficial. The disc ends with some robot talking.
To close, I thought Rwake's newest one was good enough; but Yob's new one also came out and I liked that one a bit better because it deviated from the formula and did something more than just doom/sludge. I'm not saying that this was a bad album, but there are other bands out there doing this type of music, and some have more hits, and others have more misses. I will say that if you're worried about the disc not being heavy, that there's nothing to fear because it's certainly heavy and there's still that guy in the background that sounds like an angry poodle. It's alright, I guess. Sounds a lot like Neurosis, but I like them better. (52:00)
Subway To Sally - Schwarz In Schwarz (2011 2 Disc Fan Edition) - If you don't know who this band is, I'll tell you. I've been a fan of theirs for a very long time. They're a German Metal/Folk band that mixes very Rammstein-ish metal playing with folk instruments that vary from all over the globe. Sometimes they use European folk instruments, and other times they use more middle-eastern instruments, as they've been using more for this disc.
Unlike 2009's "Kreuzfeur" this album is more focused in middle-eastern instrumentations and contains some actual non-metal folk songs. Don't hang it up because not everything is heavy, because you'll be denying your ears the rich melodies that this album can provide. Songs like "Ins Dunkel, Wo Rosen Bluh'n, Tausend Meilen," and the ridiculously beautiful ballad, "Am Ende Der Wages." are so damned good, I couldn't believe it. This band has been known for power melodies, and powerful choruses as well as great folk instrumentation. The band also lets loose with a few solos too. This release might be easier to find in our shores since the band has partnered with Universal, so go grab it.
If you're a fan of heavy and melodic German metal and wouldn't mind violins and other such folk instruments being played alongside it, this might be just what you were looking for. It's definitely not anything like, "Kruezfeur" but can provide just as much enjoyment to your ears. I recommend it, but it's not their best album either. Subway's been around for many years, and they show no signs of getting rusty.
Since this is the fan version, it comes with a 52:00 live concert that features some tracks from "Kreuzfeur" and some of their classics, like "Kleine Schwester" the song that got me into the band so long ago. But their sound has matured much since that time. This is an extraordinary concert that is worth the price of this disc alone. The version I have just has the concert ripped as mp3's, (some ripper did it, I guess) but from the quality and the pure power put into some of these tracks, it's no bullshit show. The band has never sounded better and more on fire. Definitely worth the money. You're getting an entirely new album and a high quality concert for the same price. Each one of them is an hour each. If you've never heard this band, now is your chance to discover them.
Disc 1 (new album) 58:00, Disc 2 (spectacular live show) 52:00
5/5 (I would have only given this a 4/5, but there's that full live show, and it's a good one at that. I'd have to give this an awesome score. That fucking show gets a 5/5 on it's own.)
Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt Two (2011) - Don't let the heavy crunch of the first song fool you. This isn't metal. It's prog rock. It's not that great, either. The vocalist is rather weak, I just don't like his voice. Their last disc was better and I don't remember this guy being on vocals. The musicality of the disc is good enough, it's got all the bells and whistles of 70's prog rock. But I'd rather listen to 70's prog rock.
If you're a fan of prog rock, I guess it's a pretty decent album. It reminds me a great deal of that style, and it's definitely going to sit up there with your Camel, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and other such albums. Oh yeah, and the new Opeth album. It'll sit up there with that one. I will sya that this album sounds a little more groovy in some instances, with songs like "Eleven (6:55)" really sounding just as 70's as can be.
There's also another heavy track called, "Mortar Grind (5:46)" that I also found pretty good. But that vocalist really milks it in some portions. There's definite doom influence in this song. I think it's probably one of the best I've heard on the disc. There's actually a few screams too. So it's probably the most metal song on the disc. Wasn't expecting that.
The last song (before the outro "end credits 3:27)") is called "The Physics Of Gridlock (8:43)" and is the longest song on the disc. It starts out interesting enough, but then goes completely French.
It's all in all, an interesting album. But it's not my favorite album of all time, either. Check it out if you like 70's prog rock though. (53:00)
Glorior Belli - The Great Southern Darkness (2011) - Alright, people have been making fun of this one, because these Frenchies are trying to capture the spirit of southern metal. There's actually some southern style solos on this disc and riffs. But yes, it's black metal. Through and through, it's black metal. Sometimes it's get boring and monotonous, as something I've heard a thousand times, but other times things can be more interesting.
The album's title tracks has a very southern rock vibe, with clean vocals. It even seems as if they're trying to do a drawl. But yes, this is French black metal. Absu is from the deep south, but I've never heard them do any southern stuff, so then why does this band feel that they have to?
The addition of southern sludge elements to the band's sound is certainly interesting, and the band knows how to do it well. Simply listen to the instrumental, "Per Nox Regna (3:28)" and you'll hear what I'm talking about.
The band also throws another instrumental onto the disc called, "Chaos Manifested (3:48)" but it's not really that special except for some stuff that's going on in the background at the two minute mark. (That's some nice riffing.) But other than that, the song doesn't offer a whole lot. It's a weak instrumental, really.
"Horns In My Pathway (6:20)" continues the southern mix that the band is using on this disc. But it's a ballady song with clean vocals. Of course things get heavier, but still quite black n' roll as opposed to the black metal style of some of these songs. Then they slow down again and go back to soft and ballady. Also, this guy can't sing. Not one bit. The song eventually goes back into straight black metal.
It is certainly a change of pace for black metal and maybe it's a wake up call that black metal is tired of being played the same way as it's been for 20 years now. If we don't keep it fresh, it could die out. So it's good to see that there are ways to revive the genre, even if you have to throw some southern style rock riffs into it. It's definitely got the black n' roll feel, but is still very much black metal in the sense of black metal. (48:00)
Myrath - Tales Of The Sands (2011) - Myrath mixes Arabic music and progressive metal together, as you should well know by now. This album however, sees them with much shorter songs and a bit more accessibility. Most of the songs are a little over 4 or 5 minutes, so there's no long epics to speak of. Nonetheless, the band has brought the Arabic influences ten-fold, really making this a sure fire mix of Symphony X and Arabic music. People who don't like Middle Eastern chants and instrumentations should avoid this disc, as it full of them.
The vocals are just as clean as they've always been, and there's some good prog theatrics. I'm sure there's some good soloing too, if there's any at all (I was kind of absorbed into something else while listening to the disc) But the big thing that you need to keep in mind about this disc is that it's very based in Arabic music and offers just as much metal as one would expect from Symphony X. it's just more condensed.
The final track "Time To Grow (4:02)" is a little different though, and kind of caught me off guard. It uses more synths and is much different than the rest of the album. It was alright, but just didn't capture the Middle Eastern feel of the disc. These Tunisians still know how to make prog metal their own, and that's why I will recommend this disc. So give it a shot, because it is unique. At least, somewhat. (45:00)
The Atlas Moth - An Ache For The Distance (2011) - At first, I was not able to place this band, who I'm assuming is a new act. The band mixes melodic post metal with doom metal ala Paradise Lost style somber vocals. But there is also a screamer, who sounds like a scowler. The best way to describe them would be in the song, "Holes In The Desert (6:59)" which in one listen, could make you a quick fan of the band.
The music is very slow and has a lot of crunch to it, yet there's still a lot of clean guitar melody and some piano playing in some portions. This band could take the throne of bands like Daylight Dies, if they wanted. There's definitely a certain likeability here. But the songs do seem to differ, some of them offering more of the dreary scowls than others. But the melody and the vocals work hand in hand, and I rather enjoy the package.
Fans of melodic doom/death and post metal should check this band out, because while they don't sound near as polished as they could, they certainly have a lot of potential, and I'd sure like to hear more from them. I always like acts that offer something new, and these musicians most certainly have what I'm looking for. As I said, it's not perfect - but it's good.
There's also some southern sludge injections that you might hear every once in a while. The title track (5:41) showcases this in some portions, but don't think it's a sludgy good time, because even with the beautiful melodies and such, there's still a good bit of depression. The tracks seem to continue on the very sludgy route, and the album's closer "Horse Thieves (6:52)" (Which isn't about stealing soldier's horses on Oblivion, even though that's rather fun to do) is a very dark and depressing one, but especially different, because the vocals sound like they are in some sort of vortex or something. It sounds very weird.
What is it with bands and vortexes, portals, and windstorms? Have we found that a electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals are not enough for metal music, and that we must now add the wind? I don't understand it. Anyway, this disc is well worth checking out, being that it's doom/sludge/ and some post metal as well. I think I like it much more than the new Rwake, but the screamer still has his misses, where he sounds like an angry poodle in the background. (Sorry, just calling it like I hear it.)
Worth a shot, at least. (44:00)
A Hill To Die Upon - Infinite Titanic Immortal (2011) - These guys are impeccable. Probably some of the best Christian black metal I've ever heard, if not some of the best black metal I've ever heard. Three guys from Illinois really seem to capture the spirit of black metal here, and don't think that just because they're Christians that the lyrics are all hymns and what-not. The lyrics are based in mythology and they are actually really fucking good. You wouldn't even know they were Christian, if I hadn't told you.
Every single song seems to carry with it a almost blasphemous sense of amazement to the demonic spirit of black metal, making the point clear that music knows no religion. Songs like "Season Of The Starved Wolf" have some great proggy drumming portions, but their drummer is just a beast anyway. If you can't tell that by listening to this album, than I don't know what to say. The guitar riffs are very black metal, and very well-crafted riffs that remind me much of Emperor. The band also closes out the album with "Rime (6:04)" a good instrumental piece.
I mean, let's go ahead and say it. This is Christ's answer to Emperor, I suppose. Of course some may say that Extol holds that place as well, since I remember their early albums being classic. But this is definitely how black metal should sound this day and age, and I don't even care what the lyrics are about. I get tired of all the devil worship lyrics, and these aren't there, so the band actually has more to write about. I guess I can thank God (Or whoever) for that.
I praised the hell out of their 2011 album, and low and behold that this one is just as good. Amazing American black metal right here, folks. Or is it white metal? Maybe it's just dark metal. But whatever it is, it's certainly going to make you take notice. I am speechless at how good this one is folks, and I've listened to a load of black metal in my day. The songs carry so much structure and form that it doesn't sound like a bunch of hopeless double bass, as I've heard on other discs. Jesus or not, this is what black metal should fucking sound like. (45:00)
666... um, I should probably say 777, but it's not legendary. I mean, you don't give a Christian album a triple 6 rating do you? Hell, I dunno. Just check the damned thing out, alright?
Voice Of Trepidation - The Godless One (2011) - This is one of those bands that sound so vocally bad that it's comical. The music is good, but vocals are so horribly off key and the singer is just so awful in so may ways that it doesn't matter what he sings or growls. Just listen to "Time To Fight." You'll probably laugh so hard that you'll shit yourself.
This is the worst example of a metal band I've ever heard. It's like a bunch of kids that are actually talented enough to play music, had one of their drunken fathers to do the vocals for the band. Perhaps they couldn't find anyone else, but this is beyond terrible. It's deplorable. It's some of the worst shit I've ever heard.
This gentleman cannot sing, and you know how much I hate singers that can't sing. Whew, this is awful. I think I'm going to play this album just to annoy people. Everyone here needs to check out a copy of this one. It's brilliant in all of the wrong ways. It is a shame, because the band can actually play their instruments pretty well, but their shitty vocalist is destroying everything.
The band actually does well with instrumental tracks like "Damnation Of Man (7:40)." This is still one of the worst power/thrash bands I've ever heard in my life. The worst song on the album is ("In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 (8:33)" The vocals really shine on this one, if you know what I mean. It's the worst damned ballad I've ever heard in my life. These men have the vocal talents of drunken whores.
2/5 The music is good, but the vocals are beyond awful. Go and play "Time To Fight" for all of your friends and see what they do to you.
War Injun - Tribal Eulogy (2010) - War Injun really doesn't pull any punches here. What we've got is very down home, southern friend sludge with some good southern rock and roll to back it up. Sure, it's stoner metal. Yes it's catchy. Yeah, you can drink one to it.
Every track sounds round about the same, but that doesn't make it bad. These guys definitely know the kind of music that they want to make, and as I've said - there are no punches being pulled. If you want some drunken old sludge with rock and roll influence, this is what you've got. The melodies are good, the drumming is good, the vocals sound as whiskey soaked as you'd expect, and hell - it's just damned good metal.
Is it perfect? Hell no. Is it innovative? Hell no. Are you going to play it when you feel like having a good time? Hell yeah.
Song titles like "Loaded and Damned, No Worry Woman, Patience And A Shovel" and the closer, "Razorwire, Guards and Stone" definitely let you know what's going on. It's an hour of alcohol soaked crunch, and I'm sure there's some fans of that here in the south. I like that stuff too, so don't think I'm calling anybody out. I like to drink and smoke a little something every once in a while too. This kind of music makes it more enjoyable to do so.
Sometimes though, the vocals aren't near what they should be, but that fucker can play a guitar too, and the solos will show you that. Fans of early Zakk Wylde, might really enjoy this one. It reminds me a great deal of Zakk's older days. But I'm sure you can find more bands to compare it to than me, I don't listen to much stoner metal myself. But it doesn't mean that I haven't heard any. (Down, God Damn, and a few others I think. I can't remember them all. Hell, probably reviewed some, but I can't remember the name of every band I've ever reviewed. But I can tell you what they sound like from just looking at the name. (52:00)
4/5 (Vocals ain't perfect.)
Web - Deviance (2011) - Seeing as these guys are progressive thrash metal, you might think Nevermore. That does almost seem to be the case here. Nevermore's a hell of a band, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to copy them. But this sounds more like proggy Slayer. Yeah, I fucking said it.
Well, I just got a new favorite band. Damn, this is some good shit. But just because the opener sounds good, "Life Aggression (5:09)" doesn't mean the rest of it's good, does it? Damn, the prog part kicked in... wow. Nevermore might have to give up their torch. This is surprisingly good shit and it's only the first song. There's even some middle eastern action in it.
"Mortal Soul (5:01)" comes in with one hell of a thundering riff. That's just a sign that you know a good song is coming to hit you in the teeth. Despite the accent, the song structure here sounds legendary. It reminds me of Slayer.
"Resilient Casket (4:36)" comes in all guns blazing with a solo and some thunderous drumming. The band's still a bit rusty, but there's major potential here. Damn, listen to that riff in the background of the chorus. Then the drums continue to thunder SYL style. Solo comes in ballad-like, but it works.
"Awake (4:13)" sounds alright, but it doesn't seem to hit as heavy as the rest. There's nothing really distinctive about it. There is a definite thunder from the drums towards the end of this song, though.
"As We Crawl (6:04)" starts out with a light riff that explodes into a very proggy thrasher. The song is much stronger than the past few have been, but the vocals are starting to grate on me now. The drumming on this one is impeccable, there's a lot going on here.
"House Of Salvation (6:59)" is even stronger than the last song, having definite Slayer influence, and a good vocal approach. This guy can do a worthwhile vocal job when he wants to. This is probably one the best songs on the disc. A definite thrasher, but very devious as well. It will make you take quick notice of these guys. Very classic thrash influence here.
"(In)Sanity (5:07)" is another good track, very heavy and very thrashy. Not great deal to say here, but the riffing is good enough I suppose. Maybe this didn't actually need a "song by song" review style. Of course, the vocal style really works well here too.
"Beautiful Obsession (3:07)" starts out sounding more like death metal in the beginning, but it's also the shortest track on the album. The brutality fades, and resumes to thrash, with hints of prog.
"The Journey (10:55)" starts out with an acoustics, followed by the singer's interesting vocal approach, which some might be beginning to feel is too theatric. The song goes through many different mutations, being that of thrash and prog and acoustics. The song is more or less a story and the music merely illustrates it. Thankfully the music is on par enough that it is interesting. The solo portion actually includes a breakdown, but it does work for the song. Eventually, keyboards come into place near the song's end, and loud church bells end the disc.
Overall, it's a good disc. Not as good as the first track might lead you to believe, but there is potential here. These guys don't have much, so go grab their album if you're willing to support their music. It does have definite potential and I think it's worth it. Definitely worth a listen through, at least. (51:00)
Whitehorse - Progression (2011) - Whitehorse was an experimental doom/death band that just didn't gel with me. They try some experimental hits and what-not, but just don't offer much of interest. Sure, they try the whole vortex thing (that's 3 bands now in this set) and it sounds okay... but I've already heard it done, so the interest wears off.
The band doesn't really interest me one bit. The growls are inaudible, and the riffs seem to be some very bland doom crunch. Just because you might add certain things to your music to make it exciting, doesn't mean that it will always work. It's like taking vanilla ice cream and putting ketchup on it. You might eat it, but I won't. But, if you're interested in some very bland doom/death with certain experimental portions that consist of timed drum hits and a vortex effect; then by all means, knock yourself out. (39:31)
Alice Cooper - Dirty Diamonds (2005) - Well, there's really not much to say about this one. It sounds like Alice trying to front ACDC. The riffs are very basic and the music seems to be very mature and less about the sort of thing he's been singing about on the other records. Despite that the music is more rock based and less punk, it's not the best music that I've ever heard from him.
Apparently some people like it, and I can see that, as the disc has a sort of catchy likeability compared to the other two I've heard. I actually like "Dirty Diamonds (4:03)" and the 70's groove of "Pretty Ballerina (3:02)." But as the disc is varied as much as any of his discs have been, there's no real classification to this, besides just being rock with classic influences.
"The Saga Of Jesse Jane (4:16)" sounds very country influenced and the man actually has a deeper voice than he should have in this song, which is quite scary. Some of the songs just sound quite campy for the most part, and the whole thing has a very conservative style. While songs like "Steal That Car (3:16)" and "Run Down The Devil (3:28)" sound decent, they aren't so great, despite the soloing on the latter track.
Um... there's a rapper on the last track, "Stand (4:08)." I actually like some hip-hop music (but only if it's not that pop crap) but I didn't know Alice Cooper and a rapper ever got together. The man's also got some awful lyrics in this one.
I feel that this disc was meant to reach religious teens, and old guys that grew up with the guy. Other than that, it's not my favorite. Probably one of his worst, actually. (46:00)
Alice Cooper - Dragontown (2002) - Well, there's actually a good riff in "Trigger Man (3:58)" so that's interesting. The song also contains a good solo and more metal influence than I've heard since. The next song also has some chug, it's called "Deeper (4:36)." So far this is his heaviest album, and it's my favorite. What the hell happened, Alice? Only wanted to make one metal album?
The disc sounds heavily inspired by Rob Zombie, but it's worth listening to. The riffs are pretty good and it's akin to power metal. But I was getting tired of the campy rock shit. The title track actually has a pretty good chorus, and the background middle eastern inspired riffs definitely flavor it. He should've quite after this one. Actually, I'd have to pick "Dragontown" as my favorite overall song from the man.
I will say that the disc features some really good playing and some pretty good rock style solos. The choruses and vocal lines are actually pretty good as well. One of the biggest things about this album is the fact that it had solos long before the record companies starting telling popular hard rock bands to start adding solos to appeal to the metal community, I guess.
"Disgraceland (3:32)" mixes metal with country influence long before I've seen other bands do it. Have to give it to him, there. Of course the song is a huge diss to Elvis Presley. Wow, how did he get by with that?
Of course, most of this is fire and brimstone lyrics but the melodies are pretty good for the most part. Of course, "Dragontown" is a metaphor for hell, Hence the dragon being the devil. (Remember that old painting, "St. George Vs. the Dragon"?)
I could do without "Every Woman Has A Name (3:43)" as it kills the fucking mood. It's as sad as a country ballad. Thankfully, the band kicks back into gear with "Just Wanna Be God (3:51)." Then there's another fire and brimstone song about how good people are littered in hell (which I just don't personally believe) and a final song called "The Sentinel (3:53)" which is a strong song with a good chorus. It's a good way to end a surprisingly heavy album from Alice Cooper. (Approx. 50:00, one song is missing.)
Alice Cooper - Brutal Planet (2000) - This disc is also quite heavy. "Brutal Planet (4:40)" starts the disc out pretty well, with a strong song that has some good drumming and some pretty good riffs. The female vocals actually work well here too. "Wicked Young Man (3:50)" seems like it's about one the Columbine killers. But remember, this was 2000 and those occurred in 1998. Of course, saying "I am a wicked young man!" Puts the age on Alice, as he sounds like an old guy singing it.
If you put this more into character, the character himself would not say "I'm a wicked young man." This is due to the fact that when one uses the term "young man" in addressing an individual, it is because they are older. So this song flops lyrically and Alice sounds like an old man on the chorus. He could have just called it "A Wicked Man" and it would have been much better. Instead, the song sounds like something a republican diplomat would play in order to get hyped up. This guy probably voted for Bush.
"Eat Some More (4:35)" definitely has a good message, but the song is making me a little sick to my stomach. I guess that's the purpose of it, though. Musically, it's got the same amount of d-tune and crunch as the rest of the album, but there's still some good rock inspired riffs on it. "Pick Up The Bones (5:15)" is the longest song on the disc, and is actually a great song. I think it's one of his best. The band sounds really great here, and there's a great solo section. The song also has a good amount of structure and it's catchy. Alice's vocals also sound killer on it. (Remember that this is now 2000, and only metal bands had solos, as solos in Nu-Metal were non-existent at the time.)
"Pessi - Mystic (4:56)" is also a good song, with some trippy riffs and some electronic influence. The guitars crunch on it, and Alice's vocals sound quite good as well. He actually hollers a lot on this song and there's a good solo section, but it's cut short. The man's generally pissed on this one.
"Gimme (4:46)" has the crunch I would've expected around 2000, but still has a few good riffs here and there. I have a rebuttal for the statement also. If the devil is supposed to give money and fame to his worshipers, then some of the more hardcore Satanists out there would be stars. But that's not the case. Instead, we find that there's a lot of scientologists in Hollywood. Which is pretty different. I've read the big book on it... and it's pretty damned big. You can make any kind of bullshit look grand if you make the book the size of an Encyclopedia. According to the book, L. Ron Hubbard thinks that every other belief is faulty except for his. They portray him sort of like a messiah. Of course, there's all that happy alien stuff that South Park taught us too. But that's not in the book.
"It's The Little Things (4:11)" is also a good track, with that Rob Zombie chug. His vocals actually sound good here as well. But many of the songs are starting to sound the same. At least the lyrics here aren't too bad, and they're not about Christian stuff, which is beginning to grate on me. The solo section is pretty good here, but rock influenced and short.
I actually like the ballad, "Take It Like A Woman (4:12)" The song lyrics remind me of my mother. I guess I don't need to reiterate that my youth wasn't spectacular. The song actually has a good solo section as well, even though it's more hair ballad than a chugger as most of the disc has been.
"Cold Machines (4:16)" is another good track, heavy with chug and a good chorus. The last track on the disc is "Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me (4:09)" and it's more rock than most of the disc, which has been metal chug. It's still a decent track though. Fans of Alice old and new, should like it.
All in all, I like this album more than any of the other one's he's made. I don't know if there are any more metal influenced discs from the guy before 2000, but I've heard that "Brutal Planet" and "Dragontown" are his most different and according to one reviewer (dodgy) discs. Personally, I think both discs are pretty good, but "Dragontown" was too preachy, even though there were some decent tracks on it, and it's title track is my favorite song from the man's discography. (I'm not going back into the old stuff.) But "Brutal Planet" is far better, even though it uses too much of that chug that got popular with Rob Zombie in 1999. While I can say that between this and the White Zombie album, "Astro - Creep 2000" I would rather pick the White Zombie album; I still think it's a good disc to check out. But unless there's another metal inspired album from the man in the 90's, then I'm pretty much done reviewing this guy. (52:00)