Saturday, November 3, 2012

Week 66 Pt.1 (11-03-2012)

Part II will finish the October releases, as there's not much on the plate for November. The second week of November might be bare, but I cannot be sure as there are still a few good releases set for the month. I will have them as they are available.


Rise Of A Digital Nation
Spinefarm Records

If this is your first time hearing MACHINAE SUPREMACY's unique brand of SID metal, then this disc is certainly a good place to start out. Right off the heels of the band's wonderful 2010 release, "A View From The End Of The World" they continue to further evolve their sound and the result is breathtaking. The SID effects still exist and on opener "All Of My Angels" the SID is the very first thing that you'll hear when playing the disc. But not only that, "All Of My Angels" is the best opening track that I've heard from the band in their entire career. The chorus is extremely powerful on this one, and that's what I expect from the band. "Laser Speed Force 4:06" is another great track, incorporating plenty of SID and bringing back the wonderful solos that these guys are known for. "Transgenic" sees the band with a slower, but stronger approach. It's got a strong emotional sense to it, in the same way that "Persona" did from the band's last effort; as well as a powerful guitar solo. Though songs like "Pieces 4:16" might make you wonder why a band is taking the bleeps and bloops of video game music and mixing them in with their version of metal, I'm sure if you'll give the disc a full chance, there's going to be at least one or two tracks on the disc that you find appealing. Though there is a bit of dubstep in "Battlecry" and I'm left wondering why, the strongest song on the disc comes shortly after that and makes me forget all about the dubstep blasphemy completely. The song I'm referring to is called "99" and I've probably listened to it over a dozen times with the intention of many more. But there's a reason for that, and that reason is simple. This is the exact kind of material that I would have expected the band to deliver, with some of the most powerful choruses and melodies in heavy music today. With this new album Machinae Supremacy have proven that they still reign supreme, and that video game music does have it's place in the heavy metal genre. If you should finish this journey wanting more, I urge you to check out the band's back catalogue for even more fantastic SID metal.

Also check out this site, for five full album downloads from the band, on their own server. You're welcome.

E. May



Trillion Red - Trillion Red - Metaphere (PR2012) - To be honest, I dreaded reviewing this one. But that's not because it's a bad album, because this one man project is quite strong. It's just very hard to put this atmosphere into words, and one listen alone is not enough to justify it. So as I always do, I will be listening to this once again, while I review it. Maybe I can make heads or tails of it this time. Trillion Red is the solo project of Patrick Brown, and it's definitely a type of avant-garde experiment that plays with elements of post metal and atmospheres. The disc does contain vocals and Patrick's voice is more of a lighthearted whisper, when it's not a calm yell. Additionally it's not uncommon to hear piano pieces amongst the electronics that are fiddled with on this disc. But there are two extremes to the album, and while some use slight guitar meanderings and atmospheric effects to achieve the experience, so do others use brash guitar and drum battles in the vein of bands like Minsk, Neurosis, Cult Of Luna and many other post metal Stalwarts. This album truly is an "experience" in the very sense of the word. That's what Patrick intended and that's what I'm hearing. So if you're willing to take a journey; this will enable you to do just that. The promo information tells me "to close your eyes and let your ears tell the story" and that would be best. These eleven tracks have a tale to tell for sure, and they bring a much dirtier edge to avant-garde metal.

(11 Tracks, 59:00)



Blood Of The Sun - Burning On The Wings Of Desire (PR 2012) - These proggy rock n' roll bluesters have certainly had their share of lineup changes. If I explained just how many times this band has changed hands over the past number of years, it would take far too long and be unimportant. Just know that the current incarnation of the band includes John O'Daniel and Rusty Burns from Point blank and Tony Reed of Stone Axe and Mos Generator. Of course, I have no fucking clue who any of those bands are; and you probably don't either. Nonetheless, what I'm greeted with is something that I think older ears will appreciate more - but I think that younger ears should also be paying attention here. There is some real "old gold" in this album that most people just weren't around to hear. This album has some definite soul to it, something you don't hear much in rock anymore, and it's got some damned good keyboards. Yes, these sound very much like gospel keyboards, but that adds to the power of these guys. And if it ain't quite Jesus, there's certainly something here that these gentlemen have unearthed. On just about each and every song, all the way from "Let It Roll 4:12" right down to the closer, "Good And Evil 7:34" I'm hearing some downright explosions of guitar and keyboard, and this is where the band fucking shines. And though it's not the schoolyard idea of thrash, "Rock Your Station 4:39" certainly has a punchier feel that you just might bang your head to. But don't expect death or black anything on this disc, I'd liken the riffs more to Clutch or what influenced them, and the vocals I can't place at the moment, but I'm sure that they're coming from a source that may have come before my time. This is mature music, no doubt about it - but that doesn't mean that it's not good. These guys won't win over the deathier of us, or the black metal hordes, but they damn sure have something and I'm gonna give it to them. There's not much soul in metal these days, and maybe that's because the genre is supposed to be soulless, apparently. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to get in there and really blow people away with 70's prog, southern soul and some meaty guitar licks (in addition to some killer solo work.) This is great drinking music, and it's also good driving music. Just don't do both while jamming it out, unless you're a fucking idiot.

I've only got one qualm on this one, and that's "Brings Me Down 4:24." This track just didn't do anything for me, and it felt a little out of element for the rest of the album. It's also the only thing that stops me from giving this a ten. Of course, l the vocals aren't necessarily amazing either - but it's the atmosphere that really sells me on this one. If you're going to take metal to church, you'd better do it right or you're gonna piss a lot of people off. And that's just what these guys did.

Definitely a recommend for those who love southern prog rock/metal. Some reviewers like to get technical about this shit, but as for me - I was listening to the disc while working on the job and this almost had me jamming out in the stock room. I was afraid my boss was going to walk in and see me dancing around and strumming the air guitar. But I felt it, and hopefully you will too.

Highlights: Everything but "Brings Me Down." (10 Tracks, 38:00)



Skrog - The Global Elite (PR2012) - Skrog is an industrial metal project from former Skull Fuckers Incorporated (which is probably a twist on NIN's "Star Fuckers Incorporated") member, Jay Reiter. He also worked in Descendants Of Cain, and managed several bands in Wisconsin. The project originally began in 1998, but was put on hold because of these other musical endeavors. But fast forward to 2012, with the Skrog album "The Global Elite."

Now there is much I want to address about this album, and I will get to the music in a moment. First of all, this album addresses some definite irregularities in our current society, specifically those related to the Elite, The Illuminati, The pre-NWO, excetra. While not a Bible man by any means, (as I even believe that they had a hand in that) this album certainly speaks of a tyrannical control by an oppressive elite, and it's one of the first metal albums that I've ever heard to address the concept of MK Ultra mind control with "MK Ultra 4:15." I'm sure that those of you who have been to my other blog know that I frequent these topics quite a bit and strongly believe that the rich elite do want to control our food, water, air, money and more. And why would this be, exactly? Because they're greedy bastards and they don't know any better but to want MORE. One is supposed to live within one's means, but not everyone has enlightened themselves to that point yet, and it is why our planet suffers.

But onto the music now. The metal that Skrog plays is very much in the style of Ministry. Some have said that Devin Townsend moments are here, but I consider them very few, and would liken this heavily to the nature of the now defunct Texan industrial powerhouse. Even the vocals mimic Al Jourgensen, and were he not dissuaded (Relapse was off the ball and didn't seem to mention any of these things, like the conspiratorial nature in the Bush trilogy.) by some unknown means, he would have covered these topics. One in particular I feel is necessary, is the symbolism in the media (covered by like Kanye West and his odd decision to wear a pair of pants that had Baphomet heads, and the word "METAL" on them. Yes. Look it up on the internet. Type in "Kanye West Metal" in a google search engine. Now what's this R&B pop star dude want with fucking metal? I was going to "like" him and then spam the fuck out of his facebook, asking him when "his metal record" was coming out, as well as asking the dude if he was going to scream and growl on it. Could've sworn that guy was a Christian... and even if he was into metal, not too many Christian guys are into having Baphomet heads on them. but then there was Ke$ha wit a big inverted black metal pentagram on her dress. Because you know how much she fucking loves Satan. I think it's all publicity, but it's pretty fucked up at any rate and if we make fun of it, they'll hopefully quit it and go back to playing horrible music...

Unlike this guy, who can actually put out some worthy industrial metal. This disc is a beast that thrashes, while the "mad scientist" screams and growls throughout, with emotional rage. He really believes in these words, and it shows. Though "Revelation" seems a bit thin, and "MK Ultra" has a strong chorus and a sort of disillusioned nature to it, I really feel that "Submit 5:36" is one of the strongest tracks on here. The disc is crushing until 32 minutes in, where he decides he wants to do something a little different. Not that this is a bad decision, but the Super Metroid influence of "The Hunter 10:12" might take some listeners aback. And yes Jay, that's the latter area of Brinstar (the red area as I've called it) right before you get into the tube that can be broken later in the game which leads into Maridia, (any chance you'll do the music there? It always had a dreadful aquatic nature) and then you keep going through to get to Norfair.

But what's cool about the track, "The Hunter 10:12" is that it's the first time I've heard that theme for Brinstar (the oriental natured one) done with instruments other than SNES synth and done right. There was a smile on my face from ear to ear. It even got heavier towards the end, and that's one thing I love - metal video game tunes. There's even a solo here, but you'll find that one of them appears on most of these tracks. Jay isn't afraid to play a solo on these tracks and they all seem to work, more often than not. They're also not always the sort of rock and roll-esque solo you'd expect. As for the disc's closer, "The Hunted 4:14" it's a short track that leaves us with what I truly believe... an elite that is even more paranoid than they think that we are. Not to mention the fact that Samus Aran might be hunting the bastards down, as it incorporates the Metroid theme.

So if you wanted a Ministry fueled romp through the destruction of our world and the assault on Zebes at the same fucking time, then you're getting what you ask for right here. I really hope that Jay will continue this kind of work, I find it to be awesome and informative at the same time. I never thought someone would cater to both my conspiratorial sense and video game metal at the same time. I'm speechless. But in all honesty, it still needs some work in areas and with more time, could be further developed. I also don't think it's entirely appropriate to mix the video game material in with the conspiracy themed album, as it kind of makes the listener scratch their head. There's also a song on here about the undead, "Dark Metamorphosis 4:43" but it was solid at best and didn't really match the theme of the disc; so I didn't exactly put much stock into it.

At any rate, it's a pretty damned good effort. Well worth it for industrial metal fans like myself, and much better than some of the Russian industrial stuff I've been trying to get into. But maybe I'll hit gold there, sometime! Hopefully on the next disc he'll talk about Monarch mind control and sex-kitten imagery. "Hello Kitty" is a big factor in this. I can't even believe the kids never ask. Maybe because the image is perceived as "cute" and it blocks the mind's comprehension of that concept. Eh... just look it up.

(Interview Coming Soon!)

Highlights: The Revelation, Military Industrial Complex, Submit, End Of The World (As You Know It), The Hunter, The Hunted (8 Tracks, 47:00)



Cradle Of Filth - The Manticore And Other Horrors (2012 DX Edition) - If there's anyone out there who knows a thing or two about Cradle and still gives a shit about these guys, it's me. I praised their orchestral disc earlier this year, and despite the fact that I heard from another reviewer in Germany that he thought "the record was awful" I'm gonna have to bow to the altar of the Manticore. This is exactly the shit that I wanted to hear from Cradle. It's got layers upon layers of melodies, Dani's barks mix in well with the style of this disc whether he's speaking in a more poetic tone, a growl or a shriek; the guy is on his A game, as is the rest of the band. This is a disc that you can tell was influenced by grand works like Midian and that shows in tracks like the Arabian influence of "Manticore 5:53" and the epic "Death, The Great Adventure 6:18" which is essential for the album. Don't even look at the standard version of this album, because this track should've been on it from the get-go. Their decision not to include this masterpiece is like Midian without "Tearing The Veil From Grace." Orchestras, gothic atmospheres and the whole classic style of Cradle is certainly here, just with more of a thrashy nature. But it doesn't stay that way, as each of these songs is apt to change tempo without warning, yet still flow cohesively. This is due to the fact that real work was put into the album.

Most of Cradle's work is essentially gothic poetry put to music, and that's why some people just don't get it. It's about giving the poems themselves an atmosphere, and I've personally been under the assumption that Dani is an excellent poet; some of his poetry appears in The Gospel Of Filth and it's quite thick. I guarantee that he know far bigger words than you, regardless how much you hate his vocals.

But kidding aside, other than the weaker "Frost On Her Pillow 4:12" (Why did they make a video for that track, instead of "The Abhorrent 5:53"?) and "Siding With The Titans 5:17" which didn't work for me, (for some odd reason, I just wasn't feeling it) the disc is definitely worth checking out.

Now I know that some of you are still hoping for the older gothic work, but this stuff definitely seems to still capture that atmosphere for me and it does so with a punkier and thrashier nature. Though there are few solos on the disc, there are so many wonderful melodies and riff combinations that just work - they work like a band that's found their right chemistry. Not to mention the drumming, which is most definitely fast, furious, and bloodthirsty.

But hey, what do I know? I even liked some of the tracks on Thornography, like "I Am The Thorn." Those Maiden solos worked, don't deny it.

Bonus Tracks:

Nightmare Of An Ether Drinker 4:32 - I don't see why this track was taken off the standard version of the album, there was nothing resembling a b-side about it. As a mater of fact, it's quite a strong track and features the thrashy gothic nature of the rest of the album, I also like the effects on this one - they help to enhance the feeling of the disc, not to mention the double bass kicks and everything else that's going on with this disc. There's also a female vocal on this one, but you won't hear it anywhere else on the album. Dani's in top form here as well... so what the fuck?

Death, The Great Adventure 6:18 - Now this is what makes me want to take the head big shot CEO of Nuclear Blast records and hang his or her head on my mantle. Well, I don't actually have a mantle - but it would be fun to spit on, if I put it on top of my television. The deluxe edition has this track as the actual last track on the disc. Which makes sense, because the standard edition ends with "Succumb To This 4:34" which is alright, but not something of an epic closer. I feel that the Cradle fan would be duped to buy the disc that does not contain this track, because I believe that without a doubt; this track was the original intended closer for the album. Of course, affording that orchestra was not necessarily easy; so that's why the band jumped ship from their old label and jumped on the Nuclear Blast label. And that being said, NB thought that the real closer of the album was too fucking good to be on the standard version of the disc. The track starts out with the sort of gothic atmosphere we'd expect, and rolls right into great riffing. Old Cradle is seriously being channeled here, but not only that; there are several tempos that make their way in this journey, including some particularly interesting ones around the 2:20 mark. It really is a track that contains many great ideas, and is the true climax of the album. Again, I shake my head and wonder why an intended closer (at the end of this track is a piano piece which flows right into the outro, "Sinfonia 3:24." The standard version of the album does not contain this transition) was not included on all versions of this album... but aren't these the same guys that cut off a solo from Testament's new album?

Yeah. I think they are. You know, I don't mean to talk shit about a major label, but these guys are really horrible people to cut both a solo from Testament, and the closer from a Cradle album. Damned money hungry bastards!

At any rate, I advise you to check out only the Deluxe edition of this album. If you can't find it anywhere else; then do what you must... buy at least buy a t-shirt or go see the band live. Of course, I'd certainly give up a toe to see them, but they'll never play a show in these parts. Certainly one of the best Cradle albums in the band's long history. They certainly haven't lost their craft just yet.

(13 Tracks, 62:00 - Only buy the deluxe!)



Wintersun - Time I (2012) - Eight years later... this is what we get (well, one half of what we get) from epic metal mastermind, Jari Maenpaa. Now there are four gentlemen in the band other than just the one, but I'm trying to figure out exactly what it was that the other gentlemen do, exactly. There's about ten thousand effects going on in this disc, he seemed to be wondering just how fucking epic he could make it. And therein, lies the problem. The disc is too epic, if such a thing can be said - and no, this is certainly not good. The last fucking thing that you want to hear from someone is everything but metal. Yes, there's certainly some metal packed within this 42 minutes of pomp, but it sounds like Jari and crew got lost in the middle of some massive parade and are trying to play their instruments in the hopes that they'll find their way out of it. However, this doesn't actually happen and we're left with an unsatisfied feeling that 14 and 12 minute metal epics like "Sons Of Winter And Stars 14:03" and "Time 12:16" barely manage to fill. The atmospheres on this disc are so fucking thick that you can barely hear the band as a metal band. I think they wanted to play epic metal, instead of what was it? Black metal? No. Not this time. Despite the fact that you might hear about 25 minutes of actual metal on this disc, I just think that there's too much going on here. Compare this with the old disc, and you'll immediately see what the problem with this one was. It's like everyone else says; "It's not that it's a bad disc, it just doesn't really do anything." If this disc were a child's toy, I would like it to a some overblown contraption with so many buttons and appendages that the kid wouldn't know what to do with it. "What does Wintersun Man do, little Johnny?" It fails. That's what it does. It does so much, that it doesn't achieve much of anything. I also think that the band shed too many black metal elements, and this new sound just doesn't work for me. I have no idea what they're trying to be, but I hope that they hurry up and figure it out, because the world doesn't want to have to wait another eight years for a band who still has no idea what they're going for. To end this review, I'll just say that if you like your music incredibly overblown, (and some of these melodies are a little weak if you haven't noticed) then check out this album. I've got nothing more to say for it, other than the fact that Jari might want to stick to creating movie soundtracks, not metal records.

Highlights: Sons Of Winter And Stars, Time (5 tracks, 42:00)



Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay (2012) - To be honest, I think this is the first Neurosis album that I've ever reviewed. But there's a reason for that. Given To The Rising came out in 2007, and I wasn't sure if we'd hear anything from the band for awhile. It's also very tough to sit down and really review a disc like this, because there is so much to a single Neurosis album, that it's very hard to pin down. For the most part, I can say that the guys have decided to take more stripped down and rough approach. The melodies are still there amidst sludgy guitar riffs, but you're also going to have your share of effects that the band claims, are even played on the live shows. Neurosis wanted the band's sound to echo what you'd get if you heard them live, and everything is mapped down to a "T" so to speak. One thing is for sure though, and that's this is no one trick pony. This album certainly sounds like Neurosis, but it also doesn't. It sounds like yet another welcome evolution for the band, this one slightly dirtier; especially with Scott Kelley's haggard tone on this one. As one might expect, atmospheres are invoked and that's the main purpose for the work, according to the band. I would certainly sense invocation of energy being the main idea behind this and other such albums, each one of them invoking another energy.

This particular energy seems them almost moved directly from the post metal category, and into the sludge/doom category almost completely. Some people might not like this change, and the vocals sound just a bit different then I'm used to, but I can't help that say I'm enraptured by the atmospheres. This album literally sounds like more than just music... there's something a little more flowing through this hour and I'm sure that if you're in the right state of mind, you'll understand it. Maybe even more than understand it, perhaps. This was meant to be listened to in a dark room with the smell of smoke and incense pervading throughout. It really has that sort of ritualistic feel that sounds ancient, like these guys called something inherently primal into themselves, perhaps the anger of our ancient ancestors perhaps; those who don't understand why we've done what we've done to our world, the world that once was theirs.

Whatever the case, this is not an easily grasped album. It's the direct opposite of pop music and it nowhere near blatant. It is the exact opposite of everything that is stood for in modern music today. It is not catchy and full of strong choruses. It does not have a verse/chorus format, and it does not stick to genre stereotypes. If this is post metal, it barely resembles it and that is a good thing. These gentlemen didn't just come together to make music, they came together to share their blood, their bonds, their spirits... this is truly Neurosis. Furthermore, trying to discern whether or not one track is better than another kills the cohesiveness of the work, so I won't dare pull out any highlights. There's a reason that these guys just don't make a record every couple years or so, and that's because they work and they don't believe in going into the studio to release just anything. If these guys get together, it's going to be fucking magic, occult laden magic, and it's going to be fucking deep. It's going to be so fucking deep, that you're not going to get it unless you just sit down, shut the fuck up, and listen. As a matter of fact, make sure that this shit is IN your ears. Not IN your speakers. You need to feel the music vibrate your eardrums, sending the signals into your brain and awakening your mind. Let it cleanse all that gunk and garbage from the media, the effects of MK Ultra and sensory overload that we get on a daily basis. Yes, the music of Neurosis will cleanse that bullshit from you, if you sit down and let it do so. That's why I'm giving this powerful medicine a perfect score. Just close your eyes, and feel the music... every fucking bit of it. It will HEAL you.

(7 Tracks, 60:00)



Yakuza - Beyul (2012) - Let us continue the journey, shall we? I firmly believe that Neurosis's Honor Found In Decay and Yakuza's Beyul should be picked up together in all honesty. Though the bands are slightly different in some aspects, they are still quite similar. Yakuza's last disc was slightly lighter, one of my favorite discs of that year for sure; but even when they do crank up the heavy, they still manage to include the right sense of frequency. There are also some moments on the disc like "On The Last Day 5:50, Fire Temple And Beyond 9:55" as well as one closer, "Lotus Array 6:32" that evoke the same moments of clarity that one will attain with Neurosis. While unpacking boxes, I really felt this disc. It had me entranced to the point where I didn't even notice that I was working. Which is kind of interesting, because I use a box cutter for hours and have not cut myself, no matter how entranced I've been. It's like my body is on auto-pilot or something, the music driving me into realms I cannot even describe.

This is most certainly post-metal at it's finest, with some otherworldly elements and several non-metal instruments that help to provide the atmosphere of the disc, along with some fantastic drumming that really helps to enhance the atmosphere just as well as the howling that we hear from the frontman. We also get a barrage of different and interesting riffs that in any other circumstance wouldn't work well together. This is no way a disc that was thrown together, and if it was, then these guys are fucking something. Of course, listening to this disc one can already tell just that - these gentlemen are masters of their craft and I can't imagine another band doing something like this, especially the way that these guys have done it. The jump in tempo might be the major clincher, perhaps the mind is fascinated with the subtle jumps in speed and atmosphere, the whole thing giving off a truly ritualistic sense.

Whatever the case, this disc is truly remarkable. Reviews haven't been exactly wonderful for it, but I can't give it anything less than solid. It's certainly powerful and I could probably listen to it about ten or twelve times in a row without noticing that the time had passed. It really does physically pick you up and entrance you, and I cannot really say the same about other genres of metal, or music in general (except perhaps, some forms of darkwave/ethereal music.) I feel as if it has me in a haze already, where I felt absolutely nothing yet continued to write this review. There was a time where I would listen to this type of music while writing novels, but I haven't done it sense. Perhaps I should try it again and see what comes out...

(7 Tracks, 38:00)



Shining - Redefining Darkness (2012) - Alright. Just so you all know from the beginning. I'm about to approach this album and proclaim highly unto it quoting the immortal words of Doug Bradley: "I will tear your soul apart!"

This is by far the most god-awful excuse for black metal that I've ever heard. Redefining Darkness, huh? More like rolling a piece of shit around in the ashes from someone's burned down house in the east coast storm, and then calling it evil. No, folks. It's really that bad. As much as I love Shining, this was a disappointment. Granted, I loved the disc for the first couple of minutes and then at the 1:42 mark of the first track, "Du Mitt Konstverk 7:43" I slowly no longer care. I just want to go up to these guys and say, "Great. You can do rock and roll guitar solos, flamenco and acoustic work. But like so many other metal genres, you're able to mix it all together with forgettable riffs." Then we have, "The Ghastly Silence 7:20." And yes, it's ghastly alright. It's ghastly boring. Am I supposed to be banging my head, or am I supposed to be mesmerized? Nope. I'm falling asleep instead.

I guess I can say that "Han Som Hatar Manniskan 6:50" is one of the album's saving graces, but I still feel that some of the riffs are weak in the vein of current Satyricon. But I like when Satyricon use these riffs, and I don't like when Shining do. Alas, we have another bit of black-groove with "Hail Darkness Hail! 7:08" and this one also works... well, for a while. For one, we don't want to hear you slow down and start picking your acoustic. Save that crap for another band, and give us this "darkness" you promised. This sounds more like "Redefining Slumber" than "Redefining Darkness." And I don't care if you can pick flamenco guitar either. It's not original, and it's getting boring. I really think I know why Shining quit numbering their albums, and that's because this one shouldn't be part of the canon. When Shining VIII comes out, it might actually be worth a damn!

But I'm not finished yet with this shitstorm of failure, because next we have some ridiculous piano piece that does nothing more than put me to sleep. I don't even think that Dracula would've used it in one of his many castles.

Yet I'm still not finished. The icing on the cake is something you would expect to be a black metal powerhouse of amazement, but instead "For The God Below" might even manage to put Lucifer himself, to sleep. Imagine a very slow ballad, with heavy guitars and drums ONLY during the solo portion. The solo portions are good, but they don't go with the song at all.

It ends on a heavy note, and it begins on a heavy note. But all that stuff in the middle... well, it kind of just gets in the way. Better luck next time. This is my vote for one 2012's biggest disappointments.

Highlights: Du Mitt Konstverk, Han Som Hatar Manniskan (6 Tracks, 41:00)



Dethklok - The Dethalbum III (2012) - As the majority of you already know, I have a big problem with Brendan Small's supposed "death metal" vocals. They come off as corny as possible, and I can understand that this works for the metal parody show, "Metalocalypse" but this does not work, and should not work if you're actually trying to make a name for yourself in the annals of metal. Though some have erroneously included this band, (partly because of former Death and SYL drummer, Gene Hoglan) in those annals; one should further review the material we're being offered here before raising your blood bespeckled goblets to Dethklok. By the way, the band's real name was going to be Death Clock, but there was some sort of band already out there with that name, apparently. Really? Have you heard of them, because I sure haven't. Regardless of all this gibber-jabber, the new Dethklok record does show some (but few) moments of greatness. "Crush The Industry 5:29" for example is a powerhouse of a track, and it actually blew me away. Gene's drumming kills on this one and there's a portion (4:25) where the it is bitter furious and Small's vocals actually seem to bleed through into it, and he does show that he does have some harsh vocal range. Of course, the melodies on this disc are just as killer as the melodies on the other two albums, but there are indeed some filler tracks. One of the disc's biggest disappointments was "Impeach God 3:34" which I and many other people had their hopes on. There was no reason why a song about people impeaching a God like they do a president should've come out so bad, but it did. I really think that the tempo change is what really killed it, and I also think that Small's vocals weren't quite as good as they were on the show version of the song (some of this album sounds too thrown together) and what the fuck kind of solo do you call that? It doesn't even go with the song. "The Galaxy" starts out majestic as hell, but then it just gets kind of weak; and I only really found redemption in "The Hammer 4:28." But I really think his vocals ruin the fuck out of it and I would personally like to find an instrumental version of the song, so that I could put my own vocals on the track; showing him what real death metal is supposed to sound like. This song is amazing, and he ruined it for me. So if I can save it with my own vocals and re-release it to the world, then I will. You've been warned, Brendan Small. Of course there are so many of these songs that he's butchered and I would love to "fix."

But this is the problem with the Dethalbum III. It sounds good musically, and Small is an amazing guitarist. But he cannot do clean, nor death metal vocals. Though his guitar skills have gotten better, let's just be honest and admit that this guy can't sing, scream, growl, scowl, or gurgle his way out of a fucking paper bag. When I listen to this album, I hear something that sounds unfinished; something that should've never left the studio in this condition. It really sounds like the guy had a cold, or just really didn't care. It's almost as if they're just putting something out to appease the fans. It doesn't matter whether they play with djent "Starved 4:57" go for a full on brutal death approach, "Killstardo Abominate 2:31" or try some prog, "Skyhunter 4:08." I wish they'd just bug George Fisher to throw some vocals on this thing. Wouldn't take the guy long and it would've killed, especially with the awesome melodies, solos, and killer drum work. There's no denying that. It's the only thing that saved this disc from desolation.

No matter how fucking good the band sounds, the vocals sound parody. And on a real musical album, you shouldn't want this. Especially if you're trying to sound like a real death metal band. Remember, Gene gave up some sessions in Testament to go play with these guys. But they say that it's a big thing, "Because it's TV!" Give me a fucking break. Gene, there are twelve thousand bands that need your talent right now. But this isn't one of them.

Fuck it. I'm through trashing this.

Highlights: Crush The Industry, The Galaxy, Killstardo Abominate, Skyhunter, The Hammer (12 Tracks, 51:00)



Galneryus - Angel Of Salvation (2012) - Out of all the year's surprises, this one was one of the biggest by far, for me. It went under the radar, as I thought it would - nobody gives a shit about fantastic neoclassical Japanese power metal, and these guys are the fucking kings of that genre. They already cemented themselves with their debut, and had several high and low points which led up to "Rebirth", "Reincarnation", and "Phoenix Rising" and now they've finally come to that point of awesomeness... Angel Of Salvation. Now there aren't many angels that I'd put my salvation in, but this one is by far worthy of that privilege. This metal angel is one of the best records I've heard from the genre, and from the band's lengthy discography. It's even on par with their most heralded release, 2003's "The Flag Of Punishment."

From it's epic intro, "Reach To The Sky 2:30" all of the way through it's magnificent title track, "Angel Of Salvation 14:42" and right into it's final act, "Longing 4:53" one quickly becomes under the assumption that this succeeded where it seems even Wintersun could not this time; as it mixed thunderous and wonderfully melodic metal with gargantuan atmospheres. Though the frontman's vocals are a little more lighthearted then you might like, one simply cannot deny the influence that this band has gotten from such bands like Dragonforce, but one might even say that Dragonforce picked up their style from these guys. After all, those guys released three or four albums, and Galneryus has released countless works and have been doing great metal for over a decade now. Not to mention the fact that these guys love their fucking keyboards and can play the shit out of them, incorporating them seamlessly with the guitar acrobatics which will have you strumming a fucking air-guitar in a heartbeat.

The drums are powerful, the vocals soar, and the melodies are just as I've already noted - amazing. They've also got one of the best love songs I've heard in metal, "Temptation Through The Night 6:11" which is not afraid to mix some prog elements in, just like several of the other tracks on this impressive album. And by the way, there are plenty of neoclassical guitar elements here, and you will be instantly familiar with them, especially on the incredible title track of this disc. "Angel" is unforgettable, a monument to the band's legacy and shows why they're highly respected in Japan. I'm hoping that these guys will also get some respect here in the states, where power metal has gone stale.

Overseas, that is not the case. Even if you feel like you're listening to anime themes, just give it a try. Please! I'm telling you that these guys are certainly something special and they've proved it once again. I didn't think they could one-up Phoenix Rising, and they have. There's even a live DVD of these guys now, so you have NO EXCUSE not to check out these guys in action.

Absolutely fantastic. One of the best, if not THE BEST power metal album of the year.

Highlights: All (10 Tracks, 64:00)



The 69 Eyes - X (2012) - Those who've heard of Finns The 69 Eyes already know what to expect. It's basically gothic metal with black eyeliner and you can compare it to HIM. So yes, it could be lumped into the odd love metal category, but it works. "Love Runs Away 4:23" has a few heavy licks and a good chorus, "Tonight 3:44" mixes the electronics and thick guitar riffs together in a vein that we've obviously heard before, but I've no real qualms with it other than that. Then we've got "Black 4:38" which has a sort of Type O Negative feeling, and that certainly can't be a bad thing. I might also say the same thing about "If You Love Me The Morning After." Though it's slower, it really captures the sense of a Type O ballad, and that's what makes it a winner for me.

"Red 3:46" however is pretty fucking bland though, sounding more like a filler with a catchy chorus that doesn't make me cry. Fortunately, that Type O vibe crawls back up with "I Love The Darkness In You 3:19" of course, I'm sure that Peter could've killed it, where this guy sounds like a punk. "Borderline 3:54" sounds like an evil Elvis backed to acoustics, but it doesn't work for me. Then we've got "I'm Ready 4:11" which is actually a good song, and the rock melodies play well to it's strengths. This should be a single, if it's not. Again, I wish he would go a little deeper in the vocal range, but at least he tries. By the way, a female vocalists backs him up in this one and her vocals do compliment his tone. Again, solid track - should be a single. Next, we have "I Know What You Did Last Summer 5:05" a song based on a franchise that they hopefully won't try to bring back. Though I don't really like the song all that much, I like his vocal approach on this one and I guess it's decent enough. The disc's closer is what really sucks though, and I'll be brutally honest about that. He sings this really sullen ballad called "When Love Comes To An End 3:50" and despite the fact that acoustics and effects are good, I just don't really care. As far as lovelorn ballads go, I think I'll take Woods Of Ypres' "Move On!(The Woman Will Always Leave The Man)" and leave this guy to his own tears.

While not a terrible album, I think I've heard much better from these guys. But if you really need some good goth metal (as I haven't really heard too much of it this year) I guess you can check it out.

Highlights: Love Runs Away, Tonight, Black, I Love The Darkness In You, I'm Ready (10 Tracks, 41:00)



Wizard Smoke - The Tickler EP (2012) - While I'm not sure whether or not this EP from black/stoner doomers Wizard Smoke is free, like it's predecessor release; it's still well worth checking out. "Christian Cross" starts out a little groovier than you might expect, but it's also got the same raw scowl that you'd expect. The band slows down and leaves room for the atmosphere that you'd expect for a 10 minute track, and there's even a nice solo to be found within the muck. As for "Old Snake 9:13" you might be surprised to hear that the scowl has been replaced with a vocal that sounds much more natural for the music. This is unlike anything we've heard from the band before, but I can certainly say that it was only a matter of time. There are still some scowls here, but it's a definite change; so be prepared. Also the band incorporates some keys and another guitar solo that actually plays out the EP.

What else do you want? It's two long tracks and it's worth checking out. The black metal fans who like it now probably like it because it's being mixed with southern groove and stoner doom, and they probably like those genres anyway. The people who just like stoner doom are probably going to like this disc too. It should make both parties happy, so go check it out!

(2 Tracks, 19:00)


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