Super73 - Untitled (What Matters) 2:51 - Yes, you haven't been fooled. Some bands are opting to send me just one song to review. Which I don't mind, it makes things much easier; but on the other hand it gives me just a one-song impression of the band which could make or break the entire experience. I could tell you that this song is amazing, but then again - it could be the only good song. Or I could tell you that the song is horrible, but the rest of the release the song was taken from might be fantastic. I've never been a "single" kind of person, I know many people however who only do like "that one song" and skip out on album listening completely.
Super73 is an alternative rock band that sort of reminds me of Rage Against The Machine/Tool in the riffs, with a little bit of core or punk influence in the vocals (usually in a sort of background yell) and a frontman with a more mature tone who sort of reminds me a little of Corey Taylor at his cleanest. The song is an odd mix of punk and proggy hard rock that left me both confused and intrigued at the same time. It's punchy but intelligent rock music that seems like it would be quite marketable. I'll also add that a little more thought was put into this than most bands of their genre, so give them a plus for that.
U.D.O. - Metal Machine 4:46 - So this will be the second time checking out the only track I've heard from German metal legend Udo. Though he's had many albums, I've only heard this track and certainly would like to hear more as I'm curious to hear anything done by a metal legend. I got the Judas Priest vibe just by looking at the album cover (for the forthcoming record Steelhammer.) It's very much in the style of Ram It Down and the music displayed here reflects that. Udo sounds like he's reaching high for Halford inspiration and I'll admit that on the second listen that damn chorus is pretty catchy. The track certainly sounds like something from Priest at their heaviest with hard-driving rhythms, a few classic solos and backup shouts that enhance the chorus, bringing a certain old-school flavor to the mix. Unfortunately, I feel that this song is too much like Judas Priest and would like to hear something that sounds more unique. I hesitate to use the word knock-off in this sense, but I feel that it very much comes across as such. But it does have a certain nostalgia value that might just resonate with the rest of the metal world.
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Ugly Distance - Because Of You 4:55 - Posted on The Grim Tower's FB page was a set of about four or five tracks from an electro metal band called Ugly Distance. Obviously I don't have enough time to stream, so I downloaded the one track that was available and promised a review. As far as the music, I could liken it to Scream Machine, early NIN, Ministry or current electronic era Mortiis. Strong electronic-laden riffs compose most of the song along with some electronic buzzing that seems to leave the (slightly enhanced) vocals as the strong point of the music. The musician definitely has some potential (I'm guessing he's a DIY) and his angry vocals come across in the right context. The latter part of the track comes off much better than the beginning which I will admit drones a bit more than I'd like. While not completely polished, this track is a free download from the band and is worth checking out. I'd be curious to see what Ugly Distance will offer us in years to come and applaud all DIY musicians.
The band's music can be found at Myspace, ReverbNation and Facebook via a simple search. Enjoy!
Severe Mutilation - Spawn Of Hatred (2013 Band Request) - If you're looking for something to rip your fucking face off right from the beginning, look no further than Puerto Rican death metallers, Severe Mutilation. Originally under the name Bloodspill (just in case you've heard of them by that name) the band has since changed their name and with that change came the idea to incorporate more old school death metal influences into the music. Influences like "Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Vomitory, Vader, Behemoth, Napalm Death, Soltice, Decapitated, Suffocation and many more."
The drums are rife with fury, the vocals are scathing, switching between influenced gravel and scowls on the fly and it really conveys the band's "fuck you and your god" message quite well. The riffs charge into the fray with the fervor of death and thrash, albeit letting some deathcore influences in every once in a while. But if I'll say anything about the music, it's that these songs really kill. These guys aren't trying to be anyone other than themselves, they're just going out there and putting out ball smashing death metal that's well worth recognition. There was a five star rating from me on every track but the intro, showing that I enjoyed every track but will admit that I heard nothing here that reinvents the genre of death metal. Nor did I expect to hear anything of that nature. And if that sounds good to you, then chances are that you'll enjoy every blistering moment of this beast.
Severe Mutilation's Spawn Of Hatred is nothing new, but it will definitely leave a mark on you if you're a diehard fan of the genre. The core influence is still there, but it's not going to leave a bad taste in your mouth unless you really don't like the vocals. I'd recommend checking it out when it's available on May 5th, 2013.
Promo Singles: (All Respect For Life Is Lost & I Kill For God)
Soliloquium - The Concept Of Escape (2013 Band Request) - This short release from doom/deathers, Soliloquium (try saying that one three times fast) actually impressed me a bit more than heavy hitters in the genre like October Tide, Be'lakor, Swallow The Sun, Saturnus and others. Maybe it's because there's nothing expected of them at this point and that gives them the free reign to do what they want with this release. The guitar melodies certainly have it, as they weave through the tapestry of these dark sonnets like a chill November wind. Even if you don't think the production is as "flashy" as you'd like, at least it sounds natural. After hearing "Remnants Of Dying Dreams 7:39" I am clearly reminded of death/doom favorites Rapture - but I feel that the melodies here might even be better than theirs and that excites me greatly. The drums pound but never get too overbearing, while gravel consumes most of the vocal area. Occasional clean vocals are used and they come off quite soft for the most part, yet there are also a few background screams to add extra emotion in the music. Things are not always so heavy though as atmosphere does creep up in the vein of light yet dreary, acoustic melodies.
As for the record as a whole, I believe these guys have the potential to become as big as their influences and hopefully this will get enough promotion for them to reach that level. They are just as talented as all of the bands I named earlier and well worth checking out for fans of both those bands and the death/doom genre in general. These guys really do a lot in less than thirty minutes and I'd be curious as to what they could conjure up in a full hour's time. Each and every one of these three lengthy tracks is fully recommended.
Once again, the melodies have it for this extremely hard to pronounce band. But after you get done hearing this disc, I think you'll find that you'll be trying to pronounce (and probably misspell their name) to all of your friends and fellow band members, if that be the case. This is what the early fiddlings of future legends sounds like and I most certainly recommend it.
Highlights: Crossroads, Remnants Of Dying Dreams (3 Tracks, 24:00)
Wings Denied/As Oceans - As Oceans/Wings Denied Split EP (2013 Band Request) - This bandcamp split between two bands who do more or less the same sort of djent influenced prog/core but with different approaches comes off as both mediocre and interesting at the same time. While it is true that As Oceans' "Witness 3:48" comes off a little expectable, I do like the use of a technically influenced solo that balances out the angry core vocals that back the djent riffs and technicality. There's a clean vocal approach that's also expectable and a light atmosphere to end the song. The next track "Requiem For A Planetary Burial 3:33" contains some odd structure changes and a spacey solo - so at least they're trying.
Wings Denied starts off their half of the EP with "Signs 4:52" which is the most refreshing breath of air on the whole damn thing. True, some might see it as core going as prog as it can without reaching into the veins of screaming and hardcore grunts; but I like the fact that it doesn't feel it has to go into that territory. The vocalist doesn't feel the need to have to sound like anyone else other than himself and it has a sort of Deftones feel to it in areas. Though it would be doubtful that I would have any effect on the band's music, I think an entire record in this vein would be a refreshing change of pace for the whole genre. These guys have already showed me that they can do it with "Signs" and if they just cut the whole djent deathcore that everyone else and their mother is doing, they'll stand out. Someone will give a damn. Not only that, the blazing solo that creeps out of this corner further ensures me that I would actually care a bit more about this band if they made an entire album in this style. But then there's "Kill, Eat, Pray! 4:44" which though even contains some gravel and yells amidst the haunting djent core, (it is original in that sense) I still have to say that I really want to hear more like "Signs."
I think that both bands have something to offer, but obviously I'm more inclined to Wings Denied on this one. As Oceans' have their points, but it brings up a nostalgia value every time I see their name as it's close to one of my still favorite industrial black metal acts, the now defunct ...And Oceans. But honestly, the fact that both of these bands offered me something that didn't sound like everyone else is refreshing. Every time a new trend in metal comes out, you get 45,000 bands who want o capitalize on it. It's good when you've got some bands out there that say, let's approach this a little differently.
"Impressive." remarks Darth Vader.
Highlights: Requiem For A Planetary Burial, Signs (5 Tracks, 18:00)
Desiderium - Autumn Tales EP (2013 Personal Interest) - While on the download page for the previous split EP, I found an another EP from one of the band's old vocalists. He's apparently doing some sort of black metal. I said to myself, well - let's throw the guy a bone. I like black metal, so maybe this will be good.
Yet here's the thing. It wasn't black metal! But hold on, don't stop reading just yet. This odd record certainly had potential in it's Goatcraft/Ulver style flair of three different atmospheres, each one of them quite interesting in their own right. Obviously there's nothing to band your head to here, but if you've heard Mortiis's atmospheric material I think you'll quite love this. In truth, I used to fall asleep to the lovely sounds of Mortiis's atmospheric albums (and sometimes Burzum and Karl Sanders) every night and always woke up quite refreshed. I do believe that this would also be useful for lulling one into another dimension whilst they dreamt. "October Chill 5:56" actually reminds me a bit of atmosphere master Steve Roach (please get some of his great music if you've not heard it) and that is a compliment that should make this guy smile from ear to ear. It's not necessarily easy to do atmospheres. I've done some of them myself and know that it takes a great deal of time and patience to achieve the right kind of mood for the piece.
Secondly, we've got "The Golden Evening 7:38" which continues this otherworldly music (that I think needs a cover more fitting of it - the current cover doesn't match the style of music and it's misleading) into the very reaches of the stars. This is extremely gripping material, it's as if the music itself is carving a story into my conscious with sound alone. I feel as if I can see the planets, Saturn with it's mighty rings and the gaseous clouds of Neptune (maybe there's life inside of those clouds?) and the many moons of the titan Jupiter, spinning about in orbit to an fro, completely free from the parasitic man - it's a splendor unlike any I've witnessed. Aye, the sounds of the universe have been indeed captured and displayed before us in a fashion unreal. This is not just the highlight of the album, it is the highlight of most atmospheric music that I've heard in a while. On this song alone, I would give the disc a 10/10.
The disc ends with a spacey (and yes it works) cover of "Cicely 3:24" as originally performed by the Cocteau twins. This is the first and last that we'll hear of the vocals, but they certainly aren't my thing. Perhaps with time I could learn to like them though. The emotion is there, it's just not my style of vocal.
This EP is incredible nonetheless. I hope this guy just drops black metal forever and continues to follow in the footsteps of great atmospheric visionaries like Steve Roach and whatever the heck it was that he channeled in "The Golden Evening." I grabbed this on a whim and never expected to be blown away so much by that song. Labels, if you are listening (and I know that you are) please review this music yourself and determine whether or not you think this man should be signed. He should at least make some sort of deal with the darkwave/atmospheric collective that Projekt controls and maybe get his name out there to a broader audience. If Sam and his wife are still running the label, I'm sure that they'd be more than glad to have him among the roster of such incredible artists that they feature.
Music this good should not have to struggle to reach the masses. Especially when there is dire need for it.
Highlights: October Chill, THE GOLDEN EVENING (3 Tracks, 16:00)
(Remember, The Golden Evening is a 10/10 by itself.)
Ghost B.C. - Infestissumam (2013) - However you pronounce that title, (and spell it) this is Ghost's... I'm sorry, Ghost B.C.'s (WTF?) second album and is a complete departure from their beloved debut, Opus Eponymous. So, what the fuck happened here? First of all, let's just observe if you will; the "B" and the "C" in the band's new moniker and the changing of Papa's. (He's now simply Papa II.) This is merely to let the fans know that Ghost has changed into something that has been identified with the letters "B" which stands for Became and "C" which stands for Corporate. So the new name for the band is, Ghost Became Corporate. Who can we thank for that? Phil Anselmo and Metallica. Dave Grohl even plays drums on one of the bonus tracks, an Abba cover of "I'm A Marionette."
Are the King Diamond/Mercyful Fate influenced odes to the horny one downstairs still intact? Yes. They actually get rather blatant with this one, if you couldn't already tell that these guys either worship or want to worship or want to make people believe that they worship Satan. Of course, the singer has a slight pronunciation problem, so I'm not sure whether or not they're singing about Satan or the color satin, as in bed sheets. There's one track in particular "Year Zero 5:50" that goes "hail satin, welcome year zero" and all of the sudden I'm thinking about them singing in some kind of department store (because remember, they're corporate now) about the color satin, each one of them holding those little paint cards and influencing people to paint their houses that color. So if they intended on brainwashing people with their music to buy satin carpets, bed sheets, curtains and paint for their homes among other things - then they've succeeded.
But if you're not a satin carpet and you don't sell them, you probably won't like this album as much as the last one. It is true that vocally it has the same style, but the band decided to kind of kick things up a notch and make things a bit heavier than they really needed to be. The album opens with "Infestissumam 1:42" which has a choir chanting in the beginning with some nice riffs, but it's just an intro piece with some indie rock melodies. Good indie rock melodies, but still indie rock melodies. Guys, did we really need the choir? Less is more. Next, there's "Per Aspera Ad Inferi 4:09" which has a dirty but heavy prog sense and a very strong chorus. It's certainly catchy and you can hear the 70's influence for miles. My only problem, is that they should have just found a place in "Per Aspera Ad Inferi" for what composed the intro to the disc. Mainly those indie rock melodies, which would have gone great in the back of that final chorus section. The whole fucking intro should have been scrapped to back that last part of the chorus. If the guitar melodies were playing in the same style but matching the riffs in "Per Aspera" I think it really would have brought the track out. To tell you the truth, the fucking keyboard should have been scrapped in the background of that track and the guitar melodies should have been used instead. There. That's how it should have been done.
Alright. What the fuck is "Secular Haze 5:11." Makes me think I'm on a goddamn ferris wheel funhouse that's on the back of an elephant taking a shit. Decent prog riffs but now I know why I didn't like this one that much. Haven't I heard this kind of stuff from Opeth already? Oh wow... you tried to scowl. Goodness, I guess I can start typing "black metal influence" now. On second thought, I'll scratch that out because I know better. Couple of good riffs towards the end and a solo... huh? What happened? I heard couple riffs in a solo motion and then all of a sudden some strange man in a long overcoat says "No" and the guitarist just kind of frowns. He keeps playing, but frowns.
Well, now we've got bluesy, jazzy stuff going on in the form of "Jigolo Har Megiddo 3:58." As a matter of fact it sounds like the evil Beatles. After the keyboards take a break, the guitarist finally says "Fuck you, I'm gonna play a solo this time!" and he does to a great extent. The middle part of the song sounds like Tommy in the background until it goes back to the chorus. But you know what's funny about this? It's marketable enough to be put on the radio. Like you'll have people who are religious listening to it and saying "I want to hear more from this band called Ghost and they mention Megiddo, where the battle between God and the devil takes place so they must be Christian right?" Oh yeah. It's that kind of marketable. I could play this for my mother and she'd like it. It's that kind of prog rock stuff that appealed to most of the generation who grew up with the Who and The Beatles.
The whole "I'm a Satanist thing" dies after hearing "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen 7:29" it's more horror themed, so that means that all this is SCHLOCK. But even so, I will certainly say that I like the spacey keyboards in this one. Heard them before, they were ripped right out of 70's prog album X but they work. Guitars come in nice and mellow - again, prog album X. More keyboard before the riffs kick up into something that sounds like traveling prog rock. Again, an attempted scowl. Should I hesitate and put "black metal influence" now? Nope. Not going to do it now either. The chorus hits well and goes into surfer music. It really reminds me of a grindhouse film (and the shit that Rob Zombie did this year, which I will get to next.) I kind of dig this one, in all actuality. But maybe that's because it doesn't take itself so seriously and the chorus is catchy.
When you pre-order the album, you'll get "Year Zero 5:50" as a free download, which in all actuality is a good song that mentions both the names of Lucifer and satin carpets. It's also electronic influenced which is a first for the band. Yes here's the one where he says "Hail satin!" in appreciation of the color. I've always thought it was decent enough, but to each their own. Maybe on the next album they'll sing about burgundy or fucking periwinkle. Maybe in year zero, everyone will have satin carpets. Oh. There's a really great solo portion here too, but it's short. Those who don't notice that the band appreciates satin might get the feeling that this is a highly evil song capable of brainwashing the mind and that's why it's being offered to usher in the forthcoming new world order and the dark seed behind it. In the big fucking ziggurat they're going to build in the middle east (Dubai) that I just learned about a few days ago. Yes, a ziggurat.
That's why the next song is about Jesus. But it's certainly not praising him. In an interview, Papa II (in one of the many interviews I've read from him) describes the track as what happens later in the body after you've tasted his body and blood (defecation if you didn't get it.) It's about shitting out the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Not very nice, I'll add - but these guys could care less. They're going to live in a big fucking ziggurat full of beautiful whores and I'll be dead and forgotten. At any rate, the chorus of this one is quite good. It's a strong song with healthy repetition and a heavy portion (there goes that scowl again) that leads into the solo.
"Idolatrine 4:23" is a radio ready track. It's essentially The Beatles at their most evil. Little bit of questionable keyboards going on, but as far as the chorus goes, that's about as close as you're going to get to The Beatles ever singing anything in the vile category. There's a nice solo portion in the end. You know what? This also kind of sounds like The Beach Boys. I'm serious. Yes. I do like the track, it's catchy as most of these have been in the latter portion of the album.
"Depth Of Satan's Eyes 5:26" comes next, bringing back the proggy nature of the first album. The only other thing about this one is that it brings a little bit of a sinister flair to it with the chorus and features a couple more heavy riffs than the others. Little bit of vocalizing and then some keyboards that enhance the weak riffing here - vocals are truly the main point of this one. I don't think these guys could do it without their current vocalist (who of course hasn't been revealed to the public.)
The final track on the album is "Monstrance Clock 5:53" which, and let me describe this to you; the word "monstrance" means "a container for sacred bread. To Christians, this would hold the bread of Jesus Christ. To Satanists or whatever kind of Satan Worshipers these guys are, that would hold the bread of their Christ - the son of Satan. IE: The Antichrist. Now, the clock portion relates mainly as it's almost time for the monstrance, for the container that holds the bread of Satan to arrive onto the Earth. Which doesn't surprise me, as things already suck enough as it is. See? That was easy. Now when someone asks you what the hell a monstrance is, you'll know. It's kind of hard for me to listen to this one to be perfectly honest. It's definitely a good track when the chorus lights it up with the great guitar melodies and keyboards in the right place but damn, should I really be singing along to "Come together, together as one - Come together for Lucifer's son"? Again, I guess that things can't get any worse. They've also got a choir singing it for extra effect. Pulls at my strings a bit, guess it's my religious upbringing taking hold - but yeah, if that means microchips and martial law and war and all that other fucking stuff; I'm not probably going to be entirely accepting of that - all religion aside. You know, if I don't actually have to believe in this stuff for it to affect me, then it's quite deplorable. Of course, some people will love it. But they'll all be in that ziggurat (wait, it only holds a couple thousand people - so maybe not) and I'll be a bunch of forgotten bones in the desert.
Additionally, even if this is as I've noted - SCHLOCK but may have some sort of agenda push (hence the fact that the ghost is seen hidden behind the antichrist's infant body and you should also take notice of the masquerade mask on his face) it could signal the rise of a such individual. Not actually having to do with Satan, you can always use religion to purport something onto another person or groups of people and a tyrant can always use a belief to back him (Hitler and his beliefs in Germanic paganism and occultism for example) so it's very possible that this heralding could be to a man drenched in the ideals of a new world order. A charismatic individual (one of the Rothschild's looks just like Jesus Christ) who would steer people towards these new ideals and then have them wipe out... everyone else. He does say that the band's cover of Abba's "I'm A Marionette" goes along with the idea that he is a puppet for the devil. Or whatever agenda the industry wants them to push. Remember, these guys were admittedly broke on Opus Eponymous and now have the industry backing, which always comes with some red tape.
Finally, there's the simple fact that these guys might just have wanted to piggyback on a marketing scheme and bring back occult rock as pioneered by Witchcraft in the 70's. There's nothing to the lyrics or the message, it's a storybook as they come. It's just a bunch of guys playing music with no intention whatsoever but just to pay respect to their influences in their own style. Even if the vocalist does really worship the devil, that doesn't mean that the other members do and even then - he's been known to crack a lot of jokes.
So there's Option A: Satan is real and the music is about the arrival of the antichrist which leaves everyone of merit to live in this ziggurat and me to be a forgotten pile of bones in desert.
Or B: Satan is not real, but they're using the music to purport an agenda that declares this individual to be one to follow, like a Christ. But in reality he represents the new corporate age and wants to control my mind and body with his machines. They'll all live in this ziggurat and I'll be a forgotten pile of bones in the desert (again.)
Or C: These guys are just capitalizing off a cult trend of occult rock back in the 70's. The whole Satan thing is schlock and it holds no bearing on their actual beliefs. These guys are probably atheist, agnostic, nihilist, pastafarian or worship the great chicken lord of Kulokas. They're just playing music. In that case, they won't be going to live in a ziggurat and I won't be a forgotten pile of bones in the desert.
Proof: "The idea has, all along, been to be a theatrical horror-rock band with a grand stage-show." the album concept is (other than birth of the devil's son) "...how mankind chooses to tag things either as works of the devil or as something else, something that she feels shouldn't be confused with human ambition and her will to progress."
- Nameless Ghoul, Revolver
So option C is correct. But I have no idea why he is referring to this in the feminine. But that's probably because he prefers satin carpeting.
No matter what's really true about these guys, the new Ghost album is a definite departure from the band's last record but with some experimentation that at sometimes enhances and other times completely ruins the music. The vocals on the record are great either way and whoever the hell Papa is, he could sing the goddamned phone book and I'd listen to it. These songs are catchy long after the first listen and even catchier after the second. I hesitate to listen to this album again, because after doing this review I had most of the choruses from the album stuck in my head as they played around in random constant repetition... if that's not the devil's work, then I don't know what is!
...And that's the new Ghost B.C. album in a nutshell.
Highlights: Per Aspera Ad Inferi, Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, Year Zero, Body And Blood, Idolatrine, Depth Of Satan's Eyes, Monstrance Clock