Monday, August 13, 2012
Week 60 (August 13th, 2012)
Offending - Age Of Perversion (PR2012) - Just let me be blunt about this sophomore release from this French death metal act. These five guys are incredible. And not just incredible, but in-fucking-credible. First of all, these guys are insane when it comes to structure. You'll probably hear fifteen to twenty different riff patterns on a single song, but it still has moments of sheer brutality. Offending is one of those bands that just can't seem to do wrong in my book, and blew my brain right out of my skull.
The drums are technical and pummeling, the riffs are as I've said, all over the fucking place - and the vocals are about as bloodthirsty as they need to be. Not only is this brutal and technical, but it's also got some of the most intriguing patterns I've heard in a death metal album. Many people like to think that Meshuggah started technicality, but they forget about bands like Atheist, and I can hear influence from them on this disc.
The solos on this fucker are GRAND. I mean, really fucking grand. When you hear a solo on this disc, you're going to feel it. When you hear a progression on this disc, you're going to listen back to it and say, "Damn. These guys know what they're doing."
Again, I was fucking floored beyond floored when I heard this one. I've never heard the band's first disc, but I am certain that this album is leaps and bounds beyond it. This has anything that a person who's looking for a truly talented death metal band could ever ask for. This is the way that brutal death metal should be, the way Morbid Angel did it back in the day, and the way that these guys have followed in their footsteps. I remember when my jaw dropped at Covenant and it still does, but this album gives me that same kind of feeling where I'm just in complete and total amazement. Whatever the fuck's in the water over there in France, I wish they'd bring over here.
Fucking buy this, and as fast as you can. Essential.
Highlights: ALL. JUST GET IT. (9 Tracks, 42:00)
Cult Finder - Black Thrashing Terror (PR2012) - These blackened thrashers from the UK decided to release a 7 inch, and this is the digital version of that disc. It sounds a little raw, but has just enough production for the sound. If this had more production, it would've killed the classic feel that the band wanted.
Don't expect it to be very long, as it's only ten minutes. But that doesn't mean that we don't get some memorable black/thrash here, because we do.
Side A 45rpm, side B 33rpm. Tracks:
A: Black Thrashing Terror
B1: Archangel Burial
B2: Witching Curse (re-recording from their 2011 Demo)
I added this info just to show you that this is an actual vinyl rip. As you see, the final track is a re-recording from their now sold out 2011 demo. The band definitely knows how to make blackened thrash with the best of them, and I would definitely recommend these guys to fans of Absu, Destroyer 666, Gravehill, Impiety, and more.
This is blackened thrash, but with a definite old school style.
Worth checking out.
(3 Tracks 10:00)
Nechochwen - OtO (PR2012) - OtO is a very short album, but a full release nonetheless, from these two very tribal looking West Virginians. The disc could be called "Ancestor" in English, and the band has a few words to say about this release.
Nechochwen: “We consider this third Nechochwen album to be a “double EP” with Side A taking an organic, acoustic route and
Side B shifting to an aggressive metal assault. The focus of this album is quite simple: ancestral wisdom and Native tradition is
relevant and important in our overly complex and distracting present world. Never has man been so disconnected from the very
soil he walks on. Just as there are two sides to this LP, there are two sides to all of us. One is at peace with our surroundings and the
other attempts to conquer them. This album is a tribute to the balanced, ancestral self.”
Pohonasin: “Oto, in both conception and inception, is paradoxical in nature. It is the proverbial thread of the past thrust through the
eye of the needle that is what we call the present day; a musical time machine that seamlessly shifts between two worlds that could be
considered equally shrouded in obscurity. Visually, the title ‘O+O’ invokes a sense of symmetry. Like a human face, it looks equal on both
sides. But upon closer inspection, symmetry is but an illusion. Each side holds its own discerning features. Such is the case with this
volume of Nechochwen. Two distinctly different notes of the same chord, embraced in a confluence of harmony.”
As they've said, this album is more or less a double EP, with a softer side (consisting of "Cultivation 2:22", "On The Wind 3:35" , "Otomen'pe (Our Ancestors) 3:30" and "Haniipi-miisi (Elm Tree) 5:16") and a much heavier, doom/death influenced side (consisting of "He Ya Ho Na 6:41", and the closer "Pekikalooletiiwe (Instructions; an Exhoration) 8:56")
The softer side of the disc is more reflectory, it's the sort of calm music that one could sit peacefully back and enjoy. "On The Wind" is particularly memorable, as it reminds me much of the sort of acoustic light metal Opeth used to fool around with. "Our Ancestors" is also interesting, as it features some beautiful acoustics, Native flute and a powerful spoken word vocal. It is very much ritualistic, and I can sense that. "Elm Tree" ends the period of reflection quite beautifully.
The heavier portion of this disc thunders in with "He Ya Ho Na" which is a great piece of music, mixing well together the electronics and acoustics, along with traditional Native chants. It's certainly something new to metal music, and I'm certainly enjoying it. The song later gets much heavier, as the harsh vocals come in and deliver well. The drumming is great, and one of the guitars sounds great; but I'm not sure what kind of leads they've got going on the other guitar, it's a weird tune.
The closer track which is the longest on the disc, has an acoustic intro but does rev up into guitar. It does go into black metal with the blasts intact, the riffs are interesting enough, and the piece melds well enough. The band is marketed to fans of October Falls and Agalloch. I can certainly see the Agalloch influence in the band, and I think that there are certainly fans of Agalloch who may embrace these guys, but some might only like the closer. Thankfully, it's a good nine minutes long, so this disc won't be a total wash for you.
There's even one guitar solo here, which is certainly more than I get with some bands. Nonetheless, Nechochwen has potential, and that last track spells it out. Well, so does most of the album for me - but the majority of the metal is right in that last track. One cannot say if they will be able to record another one next year, or if we'll even still have electricity currents on the planet by then - but I do hope that another release from these guys will be much heavier and much longer.
It's definitely something different, done well and worth checking out.
(6 Tracks, 30:00)
Blood Of The Black Owl - Light The Fires (PR2012) - Now here's a release that really grabbed hold of me in a way that I hadn't expected. I'm not for certain that this is a new release, but even if you haven't heard of this band; just know that they have a large back catalogue of releases and Chet W. Scott also has a solo project called Cycle Of The Raven Talons and The Elemental Chrysalis, which is heavy drone/folk duo. I've not much to say about the man, other than the fact that he seems to have a massive beard and likes to look into the horizon. Which is fine with me.
The man claims that the music is about healing, and yes - it very much is. Though my father was full-blooded Blackfoot, I am half blooded Native American and I can actually feel this music in the very depths of my soul. This is an extremely powerful Native ritual, the sort of atmosphere that would be wise for any moment of inner reflection. The first track, "Caller Of Spirits 13:10" starts with a sort of folk singing, and then envelops into a full-blown atmosphere that speaks to one's higher self. It is meant for meditation, or at least to unwind in a preferably candlelit room.
But the rest of the disc reminds of something in the vein of older Paradise Lost, when they were still death metal. It does have Native influence, but tracks like "Sundrojan 7:30", "Two Ravens at the Tree Line 10:26", "Soil Magicians 13:03", and "Disgust and the Horrible Realization of Apathy 10:21" showcase a slightly harsher side that is much unlike the opener. The drums are a little light, but that's because I don't believe there's a real kit, and the riffs are simplistic, but definitely being played with a real guitar.
There is also one song on this disc called "Wind Eye 5:08" which seems to be a light introduction to the heavier material. Chet is not a great singer, but he is a wonder with atmospheres and that is his strong point. Though this will appeal to fans of slow doom/death, it won't be the best thing that they've ever heard. But I do think the key to success in this act, will be to balance both the Native American folk music and ritual seamlessly with the doom metal. If that can be done at all.
Nevertheless, this disc definitely has some promise and some fantastic atmospheres. Definitely check it out, because it's much different from what you're used to. Also check out the back catalogue. This man has a lot to offer, and from the sounds of this; it's probably pretty damned good.
Highlights: Caller Of Spirits, Rise and Shine, Soil Magicians, Disgust And The Horrible Realization Of Apathy (7 Tracks, 73:00)
Engorgement - Excruciating Intestinal Lacerations (PR2012) - Every once in a while there comes along a band that I absolutely despise. I'm sorry folks, but I'm going to have to be brutally honest and say that there is no real talent shown in the use of pig squeals. When your album sounds like a slaughtered pig with redundant riffs and the only thing that saves the disc is the drumming, then you've failed to grab my interest.
The band is a newly formed act from the United Kingdom, consisting of former members of Embyronic Depravity and Gore Sanctum; which probably sound just like this band. As you know, I've no problem with death or gore metal; before this review I just listened to the latest from Gorephilia (review to come later) and I fucking loved it. But there's just something about this one that turns me off of the entire package.
The bass riffs are a little boring, and the vocals might as well be non-existent. Are there even any legitimate Anal Cunt style lyrics to go with this music, or is it just a bunch of weird animal noises? I literally feel my IQ drop as I listen to this band, and no matter how much I want to find just one inkling of ingenuity or genius; I can only praise the disc's drummer, who manages to pulverize the kit nine-tenths of the time.
At any rate, I can say that there is some differentiation in the songs, and despite them being in the same style, they don't exactly all sound the same. But when you combine boring breakdowns with vocals that sound like absolute utter nonsense, I'm sort of scratching my head at the whole deal.
But if you like your metal as completely meaty and brainless as humanly possible, then I'm sure you'll be one of the loyal devotees of Engorgement. While I don't necessarily like the music, time was spent and work was done on this odd gory mess. It's recommended for fans of other bands I don't like, such as Devourment, Ingested, and Kraanium.
Not terrible, but not my cup of tea either. Sorry guys, but I'd rather listen to the latest Dying Fetus or Revolting when it comes to death metal.
(7 Tracks, 22:00)
Marasmus - Mountains Of Dead (PR2012) - Another band that really failed to amaze me, Marasmus is altogether just completely boring. Now the intro, "Among The Deceased 1:08" makes the disc sound promising, but there's just not much from these guys that I found amazing.
It's not bad death metal, but I've heard many other bands in the same vein and feel that the band might need to further evolve their style in order to really make a dent in the over-crowded death metal scene. These guys are a great band if you've never heard death metal before, with a great growler, decent riffs and a raw approach to drumming.
But that's where the disc dies for me. The drumming just isn't strong enough, I'm not sure if it's the type of kit or the guy behind it; but I'm just not hearing the sort of pummel I should hear from this kind of death metal. The kit's definitely being heard, but the disc lacks any sort of meat. It's just like having two pieces of bread and calling it a sandwich.
I'm going to give these guys a break though, because this albums does have some good riffs and occasional good melodies, (Another Helpless Victim 3:37) and showcases some interesting bouts of technicality. I'll also throw in the fact that the vocalist does one hell of a job, and that there's a song called "Shut The Fuck Up And Die 2:21" which gets bonus points as far as I'm concerned. It also gets more bonus points for actually incorporating it's title into the song.
"Gnostic Decimation 3:06" also contains a solo, and some interesting melodies that help to give it some form. "Behind The Mountain 1:47" was pretty useless, it should have been just tacked onto the disc's closer "Mountains Of Dead 2:16."
Again, it's not terrible and some songs are a step in the right direction. The vocalist has this shit down and even if this bombs, I hope he'll continue because the guy's got a hell of a fucking growl. It's definitely more of a work in progress at this point, I just feel that another release might see the band with more structure, possibly more kick on the kit - which is what this disc needed.
It's not the best death metal album that you'll ever hear; but if you want to check it out, I'm not going to stop you.
Highlights: Modes Of Vitriol, Gnostic Decimation, Shut The Fuck Up And Die (10 Tracks, 25:00)
Blood Mortized - The Key To A Black Heart (PR2012) - First of all, this is going to probably piss off someone important, and with more reviewer cred then myself; but I have no idea who on the Decibel staff decided that they would have Shawn Macomber (Yeah, I'm talking to you buddy!) review two albums in one paragraph. Not only did you confuse the fuck out of me, but you also made me think that Blood Mortized was a Christian band. I kept looking at your description of the lyrics and thought, "Am I hearing the same band? I could've sworn I listened to this album myself and don't remember anything religious."
But in all actuality, the guy reviewed both this disc and a disc from a metalcore act by the name of Bloodline Severed who wants you to get ready for Christ's return. The paragraph outlining Blood Mortized was at the end of the review for their disc. At first, I thought that they just forgot to post the review for Bloodline Severed and just posted the Blood Mortized review.
Anyway, it fucked with my head for the longest time. Hopefully they won't do that shit again. It would be the same if I had reviewed the new album from Testament and Nachtmystium in the same set of paragraphs. Which would definitely confuse the heck out of people.
Regardless of all this, Blood Mortized is a band with two musicians you might want to take note of. The first one is their frontman Mattias Parkkila, who has been in a lot of projects, but was also in Birch Mountain who I reviewed on that album's release. But even more important is the band's axeman, Anders Biazzi who you might remember as Anders Hansson who played with the legendary Amon Amarth between 1991 and 1998. Yes, that means that he was on Once Sent From The Golden Hall.
As you could expect from this lineup, (with another guitarist, a bassist and a drummer of various backgrounds from early death metal to punk) the chemistry is perfect. Mattias's vocals are filled to the brim with gravel and they really bring out the Amon Amarth style leads that Anders has no problem dishing out, and we love them just the same as we did back then.
The drummer doesn't necessarily give you an earful on the kit, but he definitley delivers and adds just as much to the band as everyone else does. The production isn't as great as we would like, but it's certainly doable and it's definitely old-school. If you don't think that this formula works, then listen to "Only Blood Can Tell 4:14", "Bringer Of Eternal Death 4:46", the closer "The Key To A Black Heart 4:45" and more.
The melodies really help to make this what it is, and the vocals definitely add to the package. I can definitely hear the Amon Amarth here, and I'm not ashamed to say so. What these guys do is fucking killer, and it's got everything that death metal should have. Fans of melo-death bands worldwide should find much to like in this release, so make sure that you grab it.
While I would've loved slightly better production, the music still stands out well enough and that's what matters most. Hopefully these guys will get enough promotion, because this act needs some support. It's great death metal that's right up there with the best in the business of making music for both the living and the undead.
(11 Tracks, 46:00)
Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth (2012 Deluxe Edition) - Ah, goddamn it. This makes me want to put my thumb in my eye. I guess you can't judge an album by a single, and despite how death-laden and awesome that "True American Hate 5:26" was, the rest of the songs just aren't as powerful.
Well, they're not quite as influenced in death metal, anyway. Maybe I've neglected the fact that songs like, "Rise Up 4:18, A Day In The Death 5:38, Man Kills Mankind 5:05, and "Last Stand For Independence 4:43" are great thrashers, each with tremendous guitar solos, and impressive overall playing. But that's only because Gene's on the fucking kit. In Decibel, Chuck talked about "how impressive" Gene's skills were - and this disc showcases some of the best drumming this side of SYL's City and Alien. Clearly, Gene is not yet worn out, and considers this as just another notch in his belt, one more milestone among many.
Oddly enough, Gene said that he wouldn't be able to tour with Testament completely because of Dethklok. But Chuck replied "that he could understand that, because it's so popular - it's TV!"
That's where I get a little sickened. Small's got riffs, but his vocals have always been rather caricature of death metal; and it always seems to add a sort of "pop" label to death metal that none of us fucking want.
However, despite some of the awesome solos and the almighty epic; "Throne Of Thorns 7:05" which actually includes a good deal of prog, (I think it's the first time I've heard prog in Testament, or that much prog rather) there are still some songs on the disc that could've been left off.
"Native Blood 5:21" is just a little weak, but it's tolerable. I would've wished for more form this one, though. But the real stinker is that damned ballad, "Cold Embrace 7:46." Yes, you read that right: "It's a damned ballad that is 7:46 long." If I could explain this, it's Testament trying to do their own version of Pantera's classic, "Cemetery Gates." There are so many resemblances to the song, that it's pathetic. Starts off with a soft croon, then the music goes heavier and Chuck's voice also gets just a little heavier. I'd like this song if I hadn't already heard it when Pantera fucking did it. Lastly, there's the title track, which isn't terrible and is a little slower than one might expect. It's not my favorite track on the disc, I'll say that much.
Then there's the bonus tracks. The deluxe edition is only 13.99 at Best Buy and probably just as cheap for a digital copy. The original is just 10.00, and it is worth it for the cover of Iron Maiden's "Powerslave 6:50." Yes, they did it justice, I was quite impressed here.
However, the Queen cover of "Dragon Attack 4:44" is only roughly decent, and the Scorpions cover of "Animal Magnetism 5:55" that sounds a little more trance-like and tribal in nature, is not the best thing I've ever heard from the band. It is my opinion that these tracks should have been included on the original disc, instead of adding them for three extra dollars like some cheap DLC for a video game.
But my biggest qualm, and something that I would slap Chuck in the face for, is the extended cut of "Throne Of Thorns." This track is originally 7:05 and the extended is as I've said, 7:40. That literally means that there is a 35 second difference in between these two tracks. What the fuck is this bullshit, Testament? Do you take me for a fool?
Do you want to know what happens in the original version? Well, an ending solo plays, and then is cut off right in the middle; in the fashion that always angers me. (talking to you, Watain!) In the extended version of the track, YOU GET THE FULL FUCKING SOLO.
Yeah. Fuck them. Again, that is complete, utter bullshit. We metal listeners enjoy and some even embrace our guitar solos; but a band regardless of popularity, decides to release an epic track that actually cuts a fantastic solo portion at the end?
What if Megadeth said "fuck you!" back in the 80's and cut off the solo to "Hangar 18?" Then they offered a "special bs track" where you could get it with a solo? This kind of marketing is bullshit. Then I see something on the facebook updates for the band, stating "Pose with all the different editions of the album." That shit isn't done by the band, it's done by the label. It was certainly CM's decision to screw over loyal Testament fans with this 35 second tragedy.
Imagine if an absolutely gorgeous woman walked into your home and starting having sex with you, and it was absolutely fucking phenomenal - and then all of a sudden, she gets taken away by some giant hand that comes out of the air like in Legend Of Zelda. That's what it felt like to be ripped off for a solo. This is a metal travesty, and should not be tolerated. When we let the labels decide whether or not we get the solos, well... they might as well have our balls in their hands.
Testament put out a decent album, but no contender to Demonic and The Gathering. Gene's drumming helped out quite a bit, and really gave this disc some form and structure - many of the songs seem to be much longer and have more bells and whistles than normal. This was an experimental step for the band, one that Chuck says he enjoyed taking. If you're up for it, it will deliver in some aspects. But be ready to expect some disappointment.
I still think that the new Kreator disc is much better. Plus, there's no cut-off solo bullshit. The disc comes in at a whopping 76:00 with the bonus tracks, but it's only 51:00 without them. I definitely recommend that the original version of this disc not be bought, and only the deluxe edition should be purchased. Tell CM Distro that you want your fucking solos!
Highlights: Rise Up, True American Hate, A Day In The Death, Man Kills Mankind, Powerslave, Throne Of Thorns (Extended) (13 Tracks, 76:00)
Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine (2012) - Nachtmystium's last disc was definitely one of my favorite black metal albums in a long time, even if it wasn't truly black metal. The band decided to try their hand at "kitchen sink metal" and it proved to suit them well, but I'm sure this move also alienated some fans. Although I'm sure that Blake Judd and crew really don't give a damn...
Or maybe they do. Apparently, an industrial non album song came out right before this album that sounded like Ministry, and it was Joy Division cover. This was to make fans think that perhaps Nachtmystium was about to make a full on industrial black metal disc. Then this released; which is much closer to the band's Instinct:Decay brand of raw experimental black metal, and less like the tinkering of Addicts.
The album is full of melodic solos, coarse scowls, rock style solos, and um... electronics. But wait! Don't panic folks, please. This is just a little tinge of electronics, not overblown techno beats. There are slight electronic hisses and whirrs throughout the disc, definitely making this sound like it is some sort of ravaged machine. Yet, the band ahs created some incredibly catchy black metal that seems to come right off the heels of Addicts.
From the very beginning, when the machine first starts up and revs into the punishing "Dawn Over The Ruins Of Jerusalem 4:28" and all the way through new classics like, "Silencing Machine 6:25, And I Control You 6:14, I Wait In Hell 5:45, Decimation, Annihilation 4:54, Give Me The Grave 5:29" and the depressing closer, "These Rooms In Which We Weep 7:37" there's a lot of great black metal to be found here. The band hasn't just made a great black metal disc, they've reinvented the way we approach raw black metal and the very notion of black metal in general.
The production quality is raw, but not inaudible. There was definitely some production value. But they did their best to sound in the same vein as their earlier works. The entire disc has a very bleak feel to it, like it was recorded during some vast robot uprising. I could just as well see Nachtmystium playing these songs in the post-apocalyptic battlegrounds of James Cameron's The Terminator. For added effect, imagine the band playing this album during some sort of war that pits man against machine, whilst they dodge bombs, grenades, lasers and other weapons.
This disc does have it's share of groove, black n' roll, in addition to the dreary melodic black metal that adorns the disc. I've no doubt that fans of traditional black metal, all of the way back to Bathory. It does stand as an American made masterpiece in black metal, showing that there are still some great things coming out of this country; one of them being anger, which it is of course well warranted, as we are watching our country swallow itself into a black abyss and can do nothing but stand there and watch.
I'm even about to go so far as to say that this album is my single favorite black metal album of the year. As a matter of fact, I didn't even realize that I had been playing it while I was doing my review. But it's still playing, and I've enjoyed the hell out of these tracks.
There is one qualm though, and that is the track, "Reduced To Ashes 5:07" which seems to be missing something, but I'm not sure what. it's just not quite up to par with the others. Also, the closer track is just a little too whiny for me, despite the album's interesting ending that sounds like a machine on the fritz.
For those who are looking for an post-apocalyptic suicide note, this album will give you that and more. But if the electronics turn you off from the experience, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, the playing on this disc is nothing short of brilliant; and I certainly recommend it.
Highlights: Everything except for Reduced To Ashes, and These Rooms In Which We Weep (10 Tracks, 59:00)
A Forest Of Stars - A Shadowplay For Yesterdays (2012 W/Bonus) - This band's last album was my number one disc for 2010. But this year, it seems that they've fallen short. There's too much experimenting on the disc this time around, and I think the fact that the band is becoming popular is killing them just a little.
Some of this does sound just like A Forest Of Stars. Songs like "Prey Tell of The Church Fate 7:27", "A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh 10:11","The Blight Of God's Acre 6:09" and a few others certainly sound like the sort of experimental black metal that we would expect.
But there are some missteps on the disc, like the odd "Man's Laughter 3:00" atmospheric, which doesn't belong on this album. A song like that, which goes right into the Elysian Fields (and I mean older Elysian Fields) inspired "The Underside Of Eden 8:14" sounds like some sort of last minute decision.
The band is really dipping into avant-garde here, so you might not like that. The band's single, "Gatherer Of the Pure 8:19" actually has a rather awesome shadowplay video to go with it, but the song doesn't hold up without the video, which just sounds fucking weird, but it's true. However, there is the wonderful instrumental, "Left Behind As Static 6:42" which does hold some merit, even though it's in the same nature of early Elysian Fields or other extreme gothic metal.
Honestly, this is a good disc with great melodies and a barrage of bells and whistles that work all in the right place. It's also got some wonderful solos amidst the black metal bashing. This still has moments of black metal, but it does honestly seem that the band is moving more towards gothic metal. I suspect they'll have a female vocalist soon.
Whoops... Foot in mouth disease. There's a female vocal on "Corvus Corona 6:13 (Part 2)." As for the first part of that track, "Corvus Corona (Part 1) 3:14", I'll be throwing some vocals on it, as it worked well enough for vocal and needed a good black metal scowl.
"Dead Love 5:47" - First of all, metal fans need to only buy the original version of this disc without the bonus track. You DON'T NEED TO HEAR THIS. It's the equivalent of dark-indie pop music, and black metal fans will be gouging their ears out. It's nothing but female vocal, and it's slightly light-hearted. The song is VERY pop in nature. I believe that women might enjoy it, but I doubt you'll have it on your playlist. At least, you won't admit it.
"Hey, I thought that song was kinda nice." Nope, ain't happening.
But seriously, I thought the song was much too slow to be on the disc, it just doesn't fit. It doesn't even belong with this band. AFOS has really changed their style, and I again suspect popularity to be the culprit.
I suspect fans of black metal will look elsewhere, but avant-garde metal fans will probably enjoy that, especially if they're into darker tinged or goth music. I didn't expect to hear darkwave moments, clean vocals or any of the ten million other things that I've heard. But I will say that the disc was done exceptionally well, and most of the songs on this disc are wholly enjoyable.
The band certainly has talent, but where they're going with it... I don't even think that I can tell you that.
Highlights: Prey Tell of The Church Fate, A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh, The Blight Of God's Acre, The Underside Of Eden, Left Behind As Static, Corvus Corona (Parts 1 & 2) (11 Tracks, 68:00)
Baroness - Yellow and Green (2012) - Since this is composed of two albums, (But it all still fits on one fucking disc!) I will review each one of them separately, but not in a SxS format. I've just about done away with that for the majority of albums.
Yellow is the first album in the set, which sounds like post-rock in the vein of Queens Of The Stone Age ("Take My Bones Away 4:59", "Sea Lungs 3:21"), but also has some 60's prog influence and some atmospherics "Twinkler 3:16." But for the most part, it sounds heavily influenced by indie music and would be embraced by hipsters worldwide. But that's not to say that there aren't any good songs on here, because there are definitely a couple. The lighter songs exist, because the band didn't want to wake up the vocalist's young daughter and had to resort to playing lighter material. Of course the song he wrote for her, "Twinkler 3:16" sounds more like something that might refer to her death; not her birth. The lyrics do sound that way.
For the most part, these songs could and might be played on the radio. If that offends you, will find another band until they decide to go back to playing the heavier stuff that you were used to.
Green is the second disc in the set, and it already starts out much heavier than the one that came before it. Whoops! Let me slap myself right in the face for that. This one starts out heavier, yes - but it's not. As a matter of fact, Green might make you say "Eww! This is hipster rock!" And you wouldn't be wrong, because it really is just hipster rock. There's the same sort of keyboards and riff styles that I've heard from indie rock, and that's really all this is. If you didn't like Yellow, then you won't like Green either.
I've seen metal sites giving these discs a high score, but they aren't even metal discs. Yes, the band's talented as they always have been; and some of these songs are really quite good - but let's be honest. You would rather have a heavier album from these guys, and you know it. This is their Mastodonian attempt to (cough, cough) Sell Out, so to speak - and make some of that good money that you just can't make on Relapse records.
This is the kind of stuff that would make Universal smile and gladly sign them. Then they'll start adding dance grooves and make you want to burn all of their old discs... and I don't mean copy. "I can't believe I ever liked these guys!" you'll shout in anger.
But maybe that won't happen, and they'll make a heavier record next time. If there is a next time. Regardless, you might want to try before you buy. Most of the tracks on Yellow, I have marked at 5 stars, and most of the tracks on Green, I have well... Not quite so good. The bottom line is, that we can't really classify this as a metal album. But as a post-rock disc it's good. As an indie record, it's just as boring as most indie rock albums.
Highlights: Yellow Theme, Take My Bones Away, March To The Sea, Twinkler, Cocanium, Back Where I Belong, Sea Lungs, Eula, Green Theme (18 Tracks, 74:00)
Autolatry - Of The Land (2012 Free EP From Bandcamp) - Autolatry was charging for this album, but I guess as soon as they started touring, the disc became free. Well, digitally anyway. (You'll still have to pay for packaging if you want the actual jewel case and disc.)
Nonetheless, this American progressive black metal act has really gone up in stature since their debut, The Hill. But as I would've guessed from that promising disc, this band was only going to get better. And they have.
If there were ever two must own EP's for black metal this year, it would have to be the new Agalloch EP, Faustian Echoes, and this new Autolatry EP. You'll get twenty minutes of great music here, like the punishing opener; "Mountain 5:11", the slightly slower and unconventional "Oak 5:36", the Sculptured influenced "Stag 5:53" (which is in my opinion, one of the best songs that this band has ever written) and the slightly faster (but still proggy) closing track, "Snow 3:40."
This EP is so well structured, that it's beyond words. If this is the future of Autolatry, then I've already marked them down as the next Agalloch, hands down. There are so many peaks and valleys that this album takes, and each one of them is like a new experience. The band could have just thrown a bunch of sound-alikes together, but they didn't. This is the sound of real music, made by hard-working artists with a message and the talented means to tell it.
The scowl on this guy is fucking great, and he delivers each line with energy and passion. The guitars couldn't be any more tighter, and the drumming is terrific. As for the production, the disc does have a good production value, yet still holds the raw nature of black metal within it. The disc also holds some awesome melodies, great solos, and beautiful acoustic portions. It's brimming with possibility and isn't strapped down to any one style. There is also growl on a few portions of this album, but Krallice also played around with growls on their latest, (LP not the shitty EP) and it worked for them. It also sort of works here.
Honestly, there's not one bad song here. I'm really fucking impressed with these talented guys, who I knew were going to really do something great with black metal. Again, a must have disc and I cannot believe that they're actually giving this away for free now. It was being sold at one point, but just as I was about to pay them for the download, the band changed it to a free disc. If they ever change it back, I'll definitely throw a couple of dollars in support of their next album.
Don't you fucking miss out on this. Absolutely fucking perfect.
Highlights: Everything. Listen to it again after the first time, and you'll find that it's still just as good.
Ephel Duath - On Death And Cosmos EP (2012) - It's been a while since we heard Ephel Duath, and they've now replaced their male vocalist with a female vocalist. Her scowl is quite decent, the same sort of female scowl that you would expect. Although the style of the music is progressive metal with death metal tinges, unlike the band's earlier black metal influenced work.
A dual vocal approach is used on the first track "Black Prism 6:50" but an effect is used on the other two tracks. This is all well and good, but to be honest this disc is quite boring. There isn't much going on, and when there is, it's expectable. There's nothing of a faster pace, and nothing other than just atmosphere and a great deal of prog.
One could listen to, or just skip through "Raqja 6:34" and "Stardust Rain 6:18" realizing that as soon as the atmosphere fades from the former, the latter sounds just the same. She scowls throughout the disc, but it doesn't really showcase much for the band. This disc to me doesn't really show but one thing:
Hey, look! We have a new singer! Isn't she fucking great?
Yes, the prog on here does certainly have it's moments, you'd have to be an ignoramus not to notice that - but more could have been done then just this, and I wouldn't pay a stifling amount for it. It's 19 minutes of "heard that before" more or less and not worth throwing your hard-earned money on. When the band releases a full LP, I hope that it's got more to offer than just this sort of thing. Also, as a Decibel reviewer stated, "Why did they start this out with a track like "Black Prism?"
It really seems that the band just sort of took a few tracks they weren't going to use and threw them on an EP in any order. "The fans won't care" they'll say. But I think they do care. In the words of Mike Patton, "We care a lot."
Definitely try before you buy. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about. I've certainly heard better.
(3 Tracks, 19:00)
Blacklodge - MachinatioN (2012) - These guys have been out for a good while, and I've missed a handful of releases, I'm sure. But this disc isn't exactly the great mix of black metal industrial that I hoped it would be. First of all, the only drums on here are very fast dance beats, like I tried to do with some of my albums; but I'm glad that I didn't. There is a guitar and a bunch of effects used in this recording, but I just can't get into it as much as I wanted to.
Personally, I think there is too much going on in this album for me to really get into it. He's trying to scream over these dance beats, and I know how fucking hard that is. I'll best this thing was a pain to mix, and I feel bad for the guy that had to do that. The disc really tries it's best to sound like raw black metal, but is overloaded to the brim with electronics.
I cannot tell you people how much I wanted to like this disc, but each and every track really failed to impress me. On another level, this disc kind of promotes the <(o)> who stand for malicious mind control and human enslavement, so I'm not crazy about that, to say the least. But pop music does the same thing now, apparently. (http://www.vigilantcitizen.com for more details.)
But even if it didn't promote this stuff, I still just couldn't fucking get into the disc. But it's not the first electronic black metal album that I didn't like, and it won't be the last. However, this band worked hard to create this atmosphere, and if you want to check it out, I'm just letting you now that you're getting raw black metal laden with effects and with no drum kit, only dance beats blasting as a kit would have.
I would've liked it better if there was a kit, to be honest. But they've got a large back catalog starting with 2003's Login: Satan, that I'll give a try. What the heck, right? I've got to review that new In This Moment, which is a band that's been laden with symbolism for years, perverting young women's minds with all sorts of subliminal messages. Besides, it's not like I'm going to start dressing up in women's clothing and talk about how wonderful Lady Gaga's music is, right? Well, hopefully not. It's a chance I'll just have to fucking take.
Chances are that this album definitely sounds much better than that one will.
(10 Tracks, 45:00)
Dead Can Dance - Anastasis (2012) - Before you give me any lip about this one, I'll just have you know that these darkwave legends have inspired bands and artists like Ulver, Trail Of Tears, Sarah Jezebel Deva, Secrets Of The Moon, Subterranean Masquerade, Anathema, Hortus Animae and Liv Kristine, among many others. Their dark ethereal passages have spanned countless imitators throughout the span of years since the band broke up.
The band's last disc was 1996's illuminating Spiritchaser album. Which is by far one of the most hypnotic and transcendental pieces of music that I've ever witnessed. That album invokes some very strange and wondrous feelings of which I cannot soundly explain.
The band's latest disc and first in almost twenty years is finally here, and it has everything that the band's loyal followers could've ever hoped for. Lisa Gerrard's vocals sound just as good as they did twenty years ago, and the atmospheres created by the band echo their Spiritchaser days and add an Arabian flavor to the music, creating a very mystical sort of trance. Though I forget the name of the male vocalist, his vocals do sound just as good as they did on such famous songs as "The Carnival Is Over" and "How Fortunate The Man With None." His croon is entirely intact, and every word sounds just as it would have years ago.
As a matter of fact, this disc sounds like it was recorded years ago and has just now been brought to light. It's almost as if they never left.
"Children Of The Sun 7:33" is a melancholy opener to the disc, but certainly delivers. There is a slight portion of the track that sounds a bit eerie, and then goes into a sort of triumphant nature towards the end. I've no fucking clue as to what the lyrics are really about, but have a certain idea. "Amnesia 6:36" and "Opium 5:44" continue this style, as "All In Good Time 6:37" closes the album on the same note.
But Lisa's tracks just about feature only her, and seem to be a step from Spiritchaser, whereas the male vocalist's tracks seem to be closer related to the Into The Labyrinth era. "Anabasis 6:50, Agape 6:54", "Kiko 8:01", and "Return Of The She-King 7:51" could have all been released on their own disc, and it does seem as if the two were intent on making two different albums, but decided to combine them together.
The effect does work, but I think that the sudden change from ethereal to darkwave kills the general flow of the album. It's a very chaotic sort of style, but I'm sure that fans will find a couple of tracks on this disc to like. It is one of the clearest and well produced DCD discs, but it still isn't quite as good as Spiritchaser. It is a slight step down from that masterpiece of human spirit, but it comes very close to achieving the same effects. The energy of the band is still intact in their atmospheres and arrangements, and this is one of the best darkwave/ethereal albums I've heard in years.
These two are the founders of the darkwave genre more or less; and it is wonderful to see them bringing another musical child into the world after all these years. It did not disappoint me, and even though not all the tracks are perfect; there's no filler to be found. This is DCD the way you remember them. No techno, no pop, no rock, no funny stuff - it's just as they were.
An absolute must for fans of darkwave/ethereal music.
Highlights: Anabasis, Agape, Amnesia, Kiko, Opium, Return Of The She-King
(8 Tracks, 56:00)
Revolting - In Grisly Rapture (2011) - Since I've got the band's latest release, Hymns Of Ghastly Horror and will soon be doing an interview/review with a man who I'd like to call the savior of Swedish Death Metal, "Revolting Rogga"; (Who also plays in one of the best death metal bands I've heard in years, Paganizer - among many others) I'm going to go ahead and give you my brutally honest opinion of this 2011 disc.
First of all, I've always loved Swedish Death Metal much more than the stuff that came out of the states. I'm not going to talk trash about Deicide or Cannibal Corpse, because I love those bands as well, and they are/were innovators of the genre; but bands like (Classic)In Flames, (Classic)Soilwork, Unleashed, Grave, Bloodbath, Hypocrisy and several others just came along and showed a teenage metalhead what death metal was supposed to be. It was back in the days when you could download a bunch of promotional singles from metal labels and throw them on a disc. This is the first time that I heard such classics as "Soulless", "I Don't Want To Be Born", "Eaten" and "Eraser" for example. Now I know that these aren't exactly "old classics" but they are well on their way to joining the ranks of some of the best death metal tracks ever recorded.
Later, melo-death was sissified by some of the bands who created (In Flames, anyone?) and then bands started popping up left and right who added so much melody that it took the death metal out, completely. Now I do love bands like Scar Symmetry, but there have been a few missteps by several other acts that I won't name.
Revolting brings the horror back into death metal, and that's what I've always compared listening to the genre to be - like watching a good horror film, and getting a great soundtrack to go along with it. Each and every song is filled with rather, well... "revolting" lyrics ranging from Lovecraft inspired horrors, to crazy mad scientists, and even demonic witches.
Rogga's vocals are spot on 100% of the time, sounding like an unholy narrator; while the band provides the gruesome melodies on such fucking classics like "The Plague Of Matul 3:40", "Dr. Freudstein 4:43", "(Beyond) The Book Of Eibon 5:29" and more. This is the definitive definition of death metal in it's base terms, if you looked it up in the dictionary, this band should be mentioned in that definition. The riffs pummel, the melodies overwhelm, and you're left with a sense of beautiful fucking dread with each and every minute of this massacre.
The band also use some effects and some slight experimentation, but you won't hear too many bells and whistles on this disc. But I'd have it no other fucking way. The guitars scream out, the solos are breathtaking, the drumming is fucking perfect and I personally can't find one problem with the disc. Yeah, some of you might complain about the production - I wish it was clearer in some areas, but the music is so fucking good that I'd give one shit less about the production value of the disc. I know good death metal when I fucking hear it, and this is good fucking death metal.
This band did more in nine short tracks, then some bands did with 12 or 14 tracks, and a full hour's worth of playing time. You might only 37:00 of music on this one, but I'm sure that it's 37:00 that you'll keep coming back to, again and again, and again. As far as I'm concerned, this one's timeless. One of the best horror themed death metal albums of all time.
Oh, don't forget about the badass closer, "Hideous & Revolting 2:33." Damn, what an awesome song. I think that track alone showcases just what this album wanted to accomplish, and how it fucking succeeded in every way possible.
Highlights: Every track is killer. (37:00)
Akem Manah - The Testament Of Sealant Mound (2010) - A friend of mine had this one on his MP3 player, so I said what the heck and decided to check it out. I've never heard of the band, but it sounded interesting enough. However, I had no fucking clue how interesting this Doom/Death act really was. Yes, this is an older disc; but I'm reviewing it due to it's pure awesomeness and in the hopes that people reading these reviews, (I'll never know who some of you are, but thank you for supporting my reviews!) will check them out.
First of all, the vocalist has a great gothic croon that goes perfectly into his growl, reminding of the vocalist in November's Doom. The entire disc has a very melancholy feel to it, very soul-sucking but still very beautiful at the same time. "Dead For Days 4:31" for example, is probably one the best doom metal songs that I've ever heard in my life. And I've heard a great deal of doom.
But why is this song so good? Because the melodies are great, the song is incredibly structured, and there's all sorts of unexpected moments on this song, and the disc that only talented musicians who were actually concerned how best to get from point A to B (instead of just getting from point A to B) would implement. Each every song has plenty of unexpected drum theatrics, odd structural changes, and not everything is bogged down to just verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/end. I also enjoy some of the effects and samples use don the album which help to give it an interesting feel, sort of adding to the story.
Though some could (and might) compare the band to My Dying Bride, and I will not lie that there is some influence in the riffs and vocals from those fathers of death/doom, this album is far more varied and different then anything that MDB have released in their career. You've even got an odd Arabian instrumental "Sacrilegious Ceremonies 2:32" which doesn't even really belong on the disc, but it works.
Then there's "Dark Millennium 7:44" which vocally takes a cue from Tool (and even somewhat in the structure of the song) even though it has more death metal influence then Tool will probably ever have. But there's something you didn't expect, right? But the song changes up into something completely different and more like the gloomy doom/death near the end. So don't fret about the Tool comparison. Just calling it like I see it.
But the disc does have a really weak ending, and that would be in it's closer; the incredibly forgettable "The Quelling 3:46." it should have ended with "Nightmares 8:42" but it didn't, and the true closer of the disc consists of just a piano and a gothic croon - something I've heard more times then I care to count, and not all of those bands were metal. I've also heard it done much better than here. So yeah, you can stop the disc after "Nightmares."
Even though the into and closer are forgettable, the meat of this sandwich is fucking delicious. Just strip off the bread and eat the filling. There is 45:00 in that meat, by the way; and 45:00 that I guarantee you'll find yourself coming back to again and again. I still cannot believe just how good this album sounds, and it should have definitely been on my list for that year.
But it just goes to show you that there is still plenty of buried metal gems out there to find. I'm just helping to make the job easier for you to find them, and to support those acts, or at the most, get you to check out their music online with youtube or myspace or bandcamp or whatever you use. just don't let good music go unheard.
I don't think there's much more I can say about this one, so go get it if you want something that's just a little more than standard death/doom. As much as I love the genre, these guys revitalized it, and I hadn't even fucking heard of them.
Highlights: Everything but the two pieces of bread. (9 Tracks, 50:00)
10/10 (Only five minutes of this album suck. The disc is 50:00 long. There's still 45:00 left of perfected doom/death.)
Bullshit Media Trends
In This Moment - Blood (2012) - Besides being steeped in Illuminati symbolism, (check out the alternative review for this disc on my author page) this is literally what you get if you mix hard driving Pantera influenced riffs (sadly) with Lady Gaga style pop music, and throw a little Otep into the mix too.
Maria Brink attempts to scream and sing and the same time on songs like "Adrenalize 4:15", "Burn 4:44", "Scarlet 3:50" and others. The album actually contains some electronic influence in addition to the heavy nature of it, and I think I heard some dubstep portions here and there throughout the disc. However, there are some decent melodies scattered about, and I would love to post a message on the lead guitarist's facebook page actually asking him, "Why are you doing this? You can't tell me that you actually enjoy writing this simplistic shit." Because it is obvious from a few of the riffs and melodies, that this man is capable of more, but has been dumbed down by the band's style.
I can honestly say, without a full doubt; that if you ever wanted to know what would happen if Lady Gaga were ever a screaming metal act, this is exactly what you would get. It's even got the same sort of earworm catchiness of "Blood 3:27" and "Whore 4:05" which even if you hate, you'll be cursing yourself because they won't get out of your head, no matter how much death and black metal you throw into your ears in order to stop the infection.
There's even a song called "Scarlet 3:50" which oddly makes me think it could be Maria Brink singing a love song to the horny dude downstairs. "Beast Within 3:46" talks about having sex with blood and claws, so that might as well be about a satanic orgy, or really rough sex. Then we have "Comanche 3:17" which is a downright Otep rip-off. Maria has been ripping off Otep for most of this album, and it's much heavier than anything they've ever done as a band. Apparently the other guitarist left to play for James Durbin, and this new guy seems like he just wants to turn the band into a poppier Otep.
In regard to Illuminati reference, the song "Blood Legion 4:29" is a red flag. It could very well be about a blood indoctrination ritual, seeing as some of the lyrics seem that way, and the band's latest video for blood is steeped in Illuminati symbolism, or at least Luciferian references. "You are my blood ritual" whouls raise plenty of eyes, especially since the band's never been this deep into occult territory that have witnessed here. What's more, is the 4 cryptic tracks on this one, "Rise With Me 2:07","It Is Written 0:30","Aries 0:41", and the fucking chanting in "11:11." Not to mention that the song sounds like some sort of gloomy love song, and has that very sort of gothic "Alice In Wonderland" notion to it, just something of an evil fairy-tale sense to the song that I don't particularly like. It sounds apt to subliminal messaging/hypnotism.
Despite all the symbolism and brainwash, (which will probably affect teen women who haven't had their brains fully formed yet, and will cause psychosis) this album is the heaviest pop record that I've ever heard in my life. Yes, it's a pop record. Take your dick out of your hands and stop jacking off to Maria, because you think it's cool that she's a metal woman - it's more than obvious that this southern gal has been corrupted by all sorts of things, and has a deep sort of psychosis; (I mean, she's nuts!) and probably listens to more Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, then um... Pantera or Cannibal Corpse. If she even listens to that shit at all.
I know Revolver is going to fucking glamorize this, ever since I saw the logo for the Golden Gods Awards. They work hand in hand with the <(O)> so I imagine that there will be a 20 page spread about how "awesome and metal" this album is. Just like they did to Korn. But I'll give Davis something, and that's that he did do a great job of remixing White Zombie's "Thunderkiss 65" for Mondo Sex Head as J-Devil (review to come later.) Oh, and there was no dub-step in it.
Despite all that, I'd tell you to skip this altogether. There are and always will be better discs then this.
Apparently, the bullshit I-Tunes version has a cover of NIN's "Closer." Though I'm curious to hear this, I also don't really want to hear her butcher it. But who could butcher it worse than Fred Durst already did?
(14 Tracks, 48:00)
Linkin Park - Living Things (2012) - I've heard talk about LP working with the <(o)> too, they probably lick old man Rothschild's ass and cradle his balls; but nevertheless, I wasn't exactly disappointed with this disc. There are inklings of fine musicianship and good electronic programming on this thing, no matter how much you hate Chester's vocals. Apparently, he originally wanted to sound like With Sympathy era Ministry, but his vocals are too light for it. Instead of a deep croon that really could have notarized this band, he instead decided to sing like a little choir boy and help to create the (now dying) emo genre.
However, you will hear some tolerable vocal melodies on this disc that aren't too bad, like "Skin To Bone 2:48" and "Castle Of Glass 3:25." Apparently, the band had been heavily into old folk music from the 60's, and these songs originally started out as just "acoustic folk music." The producer actually asked the band if they were making a folk album, and the band said "No." That's when all the electronics and such came into the mix.
Mike Shinoda still raps on the disc "Until It Breaks 3:43", not as much - but his style hasn't changed either. If he's the programmer for the band's electronics, I'll definitely have to tip my hat to him. The guy does know his programming, and can get the effects and melodies to sound just right. While there are guitars on this disc, they are faint, just like the band's last disc, which I really enjoyed because it was so much out of the box and interesting. From a musical standpoint, these gentlemen do have talent and potential. I really feel that it's the vocal nature of the band which has been it's bane. If the rapping were removed and Chester was replaced with someone with a deeper croon, the act would be better. As Chester wants to continue to sound like a fucking child, it shall always be mocked and ridiculed.
There are however, glimpses of heaviness on the album, like the overtly rambunctious "Victimized 1:46" and the latter portion of "Lies, Greed, Misery 2:27" where the screaming comes back into the band. LP say that this is like a revisiting of the old material, but with their new style (more electronics, less guitar.) To be honest with you folks, it's really not that bad.
The disc is only 36:00 long, but I don't believe that we'd need it to be any longer. It is not as good as the band's last disc, but I don't believe that an album of that nature is toppable. That disc was compared to The Dark Side Of The Moon of all things, which might be a blasphemy; since I wouldn't go that far with it personally. But it did evoke the same feeling in a sense. Still, you can't call silver, gold.
This disc would probably be bronze, and that's why I will call it merely decent. There are actually a few songs worth listening to. But I really wish that Chester would try something more than that little boy croon, unless that is all that he can fucking do. But with such experimenting that is contained on this disc, one can't help what the next offering might be.
For those of you who don't want to hear any vocals, the instrumental "Tinfoil 1:11" is definitely worth checking out for fans of real electronic music (not dubstep.)
Highlights: Lies Greed Misery, Castle Of Glass, Roads Untraveled, Skin To Bone, Until It Breaks, Tinfoil, Powerless (12 Tracks, 36:00)