Sunday, June 9, 2013
Week 80 (June 09, 2013)
Ape Machine - Mangled By The Machine (PR2013) - These Portland hipsters have created a brand of 70's influenced stoner rock that was recorded in one take, but split into ten chapters. And yes, these guys did it justice. You can literally tell that this all flows as one long track, with songs beginning right off the cuffs of others, so these guys mean what they say. The quality of the recording is also quite strong, I could hear the fuzz, the melodies, the drumming and the vocal lines perfectly. It's not metal per se, but it's damn good for what it is. As far as the band's sound, imagine the frontman of Kyuss fronting a slightly more stoned version of The Sword, where the other members of the band were fooling around with Queens Of The Stone Age licks and at the same time trying to shove them down with a thick glass of classic prog rock.
All of the songs on the disc are quite short, and for the most part; they all offer the same thing. The disc does manage to bleed into one track, but that's what it is so you can't really do anything about it. There's only one track on the disc that stands out from the rest and that's "Ruling With intent 4:13" which has more of a "calm it down and smoke some patchouli vibe" than the rest of the tracks, which feature more of a blazed haze in addition to some great guitar work with the kind of solo portions that you'd expect. In many ways, you might have heard this band before - but if I know you, you're just looking for another good fix and that's what you'll find here.
Go check it out if you need a quick buzz and are all out of the stuff. What stuff? I didn't even know you had any stuff. You didn't hear anything from me.
(10 Tracks, 39:00)
Besieged - Victims Beyond All Help (PR2013) - When I first heard this, I thought it was someone else to be honest. I'd heard part of another album before I put this one on my MP3 player and I said, "Damn, those guys sure sound good. I don't remember them sounding like this." Then I checked and found that I was listening to Besieged instead. And while it's true that Besieged sound good, there's nothing about them that I haven't really heard before.
The method for the album is thrash, rinse and repeat. Fast drums, fast guitars and screaming solos all work in tandem to make this disc what it is. It's definitely goof when you need a thrash fix, and it'll get your head banging. But I don't really hear that much of melody differentiation or anything other than the basic approach to the genre. The frontman is a beast on the vocals, he works well enough for the band and I'd certainly say that this album has more punch than the newest Warbeast album, of which the frontman became entirely grating after a while (less is more, bud.) But with Besieged, the man on vox seems like he's ready to devour you whole with his cavalcade of undead thrash mutants and that's probably what you're wanting here. Besieged isn't about structure, they're about blasting the living shit out of your eardrums with relentless brutality. There's even a thrash instrumental called "Black 4:57" at the end of the disc which might be a little slower, but shows you exactly what these guys came here to do. It's fierce thrash metal with fierce vocals and a fierce atmosphere. You can't get much more fierce than that.
Grab it if you want to get your head banging right now.
(7 Tracks, 31:00)
The Vein - Scouring The Wreckage Of Time (PR2013) - First of all, I just want to say that I've been a man who's enjoyed cover art for ages now, and the cover art for this album has to be one of my favorite designs for a disc in a while. The disc showcases a skull inside of a wave-like vortex and some tentacles reaching out to grab an hourglass. The entire cover is blood red, making a severe impression in it's many layers. Whoever that guy was, he should do more covers!
As for the band, they're a doom/death band similar to Saturnus and Swallow The Sun. The gravel approach of the band's frontman sounds like the frontman from Swallow The Sun, but there's also another guy in the band who has more of a scowl approach. Melodies are certainly the strong point of this disc, like those that open "Pale Dawn Rising 7:44" and the solo section that creeps through it. Scouring... has a slightly raw production approach, but the band manages to showcase the best of what the can achieve at this point on the disc.
The album contains a light acoustic in the vein of "Acedia 1:52" which I actually think does go well with the theme on the disc, it's very melancholic and speaks to the musical construct. The disc starts to go down in quality about the time "The Great Deception 8:34" hits, which is not so great; because that track actually features some powerful melodies and they seem muddy. A re-recording of the track later in the band's life-cycle would be recommended. The disc's closer "Carving A Labyrinth Of Despair 14:18" contains some grotesquely creepy melodies and some violins on it, creating a brooding nature replete with some other attempts to create a horrific atmosphere. I definitely think that this track is one of the band's best and wish that it could've seen the same quality as the first couple of tracks featured on the album. It's the very definition of doom/death and you'll just have to turn it up a little louder to hear it. Keeping all this in mind, Scouring... is definitely chock full of potential, and those riff melodies are godlike at times. But I believe that the best things that these guys are going to do may be still just ahead of them, lost somewhere in the wreckage of time...
Pick it up if you're interested in some promising death/doom.
Highlights: Pale Dawn Rising, The Great Deception, Carving A Labyrinth Of Despair (6 Tracks, 46:00)
Blinded By Faith - Chernobyl Survivor (PR2013) - Blinded By Faith are by no means a new band, as a matter of fact; they've had several releases throughout the years and this is just one of many. So if you like this disc, then work your way backwards and experience all the music that they've made. But as for this 2012 release, (it arrived just a bit late) this melodic death metal band prove that they've got what it takes, while implementing a few core and technical moments, that don't discourage me from the release. I've probably listened to the first few songs on this one quite a dozen times already, it's a very strong release and has me intrigued about the rest of their releases.
The drums on the release are quite excited, from the very opener "Chernobyl Survivor 4:12" (which also happens to be the title track) they bash a good bit, but feature more prog influence on the more melodic "So Speak The Voice Of Law 4:40" where you'll hear everything from a deathcore growls, to death metal gravel and a sort of goblin scream from the main frontman (mostly this is done in duet between the growls/scowls) and all sorts of fucking grand playing, including mesmerizing musical sections. It's not just solos that they offer here, folks. I really wish I could've reviewed this one for you sooner, it's a definite keeper.
You want to know what's going to matter in melodic death metal? Blinded By Faith will matter in melodic death metal. Let's look at the next track, "Dead End 4:28." Those drums are bashing like Cryptopsy and I have no idea what's going on with the guitar solo there, but I like it. The vocals here are dual scowl/growl like they have been for the most of the song - damn, what is that? These guys can really fucking play. Now I'm not going to go too far with it, but you get the idea. This is just from one song that I think I heard once before, (damn, that solo... fuck, that's amazing.) and haven't gotten the chance to hear since then. Damn. Where was this when I was doing 2012 best lists? But I guess that's why I didn't have one, because there was just too much good shit and apparently stuff keeps coming out of the woodwork. But this disc is not one that you want to fucking miss. Don't take it from me, listen to it yourself.
There's some keyboards used on a few of these track too, but it's kind of weird how they are used. It's not quite what you expect with Bodom and such, this sounds a bit robotic at times but remains death metal... damn, listen to that groove there on "Stranger On The Mirror 5:30" even if you don't like the vocal approach, the music is there.
As a matter of fact, this is one disc that's like a mystery box. You have no idea what it's going to do next. Are they going to bash the hell out of the kit ala brutal death? Are they going to play classic melodic death metal melodies? Are they going to go core? Are they going to groove? Are they going to pull out these amazing solos from nowhere? You honestly never know with these guys.
The songs are short, but they don't need to be long. The band throws all of their tricks into each and every one of them, and each song delivers just as much as the next. But there aren't any major diverges from like death to black metal or doom influence or power metal exc. and I've only heard clean vocals used on the disc once on the opener, but they were done well; so I'd like to hear more. You're getting a very rambunctious melodic death metal act with a drummer who's going about 300 miles an hour on the kit and two guitarists that don't want to do anything else than show how you great they are on the guitar. The frontman is also the keyboardist and he's quite younger than the other members of the act. So that's saying something for his skills at a much younger age. There are also a couple of featured guests on the disc who collaborate here and there, but for the most part it's these guys doing what they do best and really giving the current melodic death scene a kick in the teeth. I'll be honest with you, I've listened to more albums here than I've had time to promote. But I'm not really in that much of a hurry, because every time you get something that's labeled as "melodic death" it's always got so much core (and you'll see me quick list a lot of these acts later this summer, since releases will die down quite a bit) that you can't hear the melodies.
Thankfully, I'm hearing those melodies and so much more on this disc, which comes to me as a breath of fresh air. Now I'm ready to work my way back and see what else these guys had to offer...
The album is streaming in it's entirety right here: http://www.blindedbyfaithofficial.stereokiller.com/
Highlights: All (11 tracks, 46:00)
Necrotic Disgorgement - Documentaries Of Dementia (PR2013) - I've gotten a taste for brutal death metal as of late, but I won't say that it's my favorite genre on the planet; because that would be a lie. However, I do find that enjoy the grooves in the music and consider the vocals more of an instrument. It doesn't matter what is coming out of the vocalist's mouth, because it's never been about what he says, it's the tone that's always sold this kind of music to me. The vocal grooves alone are always head bang worthy (but I've just learned that too much head banging can result in the medical condition called "military neck" so prepare for that if you go overboard.) and combines with the razor-sharp precision of the instruments, Documentaries... is a beast. Just in the first few minutes of opener "Pincushion Pussy 3:24" a solo starts up. Just in the first few minutes!
Necrotic Disgorgement pull no punches with this album. The drums blast, blast, blast, and blast again while the guitars scream with fury amidst the frontman's gravel assault. There's an occasional screamer in the background too, nothing that we haven't heard from the genre, but a disc that certainly delivers on presenting one of the ugliest and meatiest slabs of brutality out there. It really doesn't matter what song you choose, whether it be "Crack Whore Compost 4:05", "Defecation Delicacy 4:17" or "Anal Trauma" you're bound to get slaughtered by this one, and the tasty fucking solos help. There's even some melodies on the "Icepick Ear Sodomy 6:11" that you might expect from melodic death metal, and am I hearing neoclassical influence? Wow. That's pretty fucking awesome.
So basically, these guys do an approach that you've heard before and you know well, but they add a few extra elements into it that makes the genre come alive a bit more. Perhaps you can compare it Deicide in that respect, with the flying guitar solos of To Hell With God except a little rougher and more worried gruesome shit. But this type of metal's always been about gruesome shit. So we get it. I don't think anyone's gonna sing about puppies and fucking unicorns anytime soon with this shit, so you know what to expect there.
At any rate, Documentaries... is thick. It's thick and rough and metal. It's not something I'd want jabbed up my ass, I can tell you that much. Then again, there's nothing that I'd ever want jabbed up my ass. Boy, that's a fucked up thought right in the middle of a review, right? At any rate, that matches the album. If you give fucks, this album gives none. It wants to ravage your fetid carcass from the inside out. It wants to pull out your wife's entrails and split your children wide open. You'd better lock it up in a cage, because shit's gonna get brutal.
For a shit eating, vagina ravaging and skin wearing good time, pick up this album. You'll be glad you did.
(10 Tracks, 40:00)
Bukowski Family - Unpleasantries Abundant (PR2013) - I have to say that I really, really like this band's image. These guys actually scare the shit out of me and that's a good thing:
That's the same reason why I actually liked The Lords Of Salem. The film actually got under my skin with it's use of imagery. That's the kind of movies I like to see, not the crap that passes as horror these days. The same thing with bands, these guys call themselves the Bukowski Family and I like that they actually use the names of a family, like " Fats Bukowski, Mimi Bukowski, Piggy Bukowski, Wiktor Bukowski" and so on. There's six members in the band, which I think is quite a bit (hell, two members of Slipknot just handled drums) for the nature of death metal that they do. But I really like this fucking image and I hope that they'll be able to build on that. It reminds me of Unholy Sacrifice where we took band photos with a model who laid on a table while we covered her in fake blood and bible pages and I held a knife up to her throat. (Good times indeed.) It was so much, that back in the day we had to go through a clearance on Myspace because they thought it might have been real. And that's how you succeed in making a successful band image.
But yeah, you don't want to hear about a band image. You want to hear about the album, so here goes it. I'm not entirely satisfied with the package here. There are six people in the band, so what are the other three or four people doing? It's actually quite a bit bland, all image and no muscle. Damn. But really, what do you expect from a 20:00 debut EP?
"Chair Of Repentance 3:52" works well enough with a catchy chorus and thunderous drums. "Carne Humana 2:36" makes me think of Behemoth at their deathiest with a different vocalist. "Fountain Of Woe 5:33" plays along the lines of melodic death metal and has some surefire potential. There's keyboard influence there which I really like and some ghastly vocal moments. I just think it could be even worse in terms of insanity. I guess I kind of want to hear it acted out, hear the screams of the victims in the background, even though I agree with the moral retribution in the lyrical content "they wanted to be thinner, suffer from anorexia... they felt sick in their rich lives" that actually speaks volumes about society these days, celebrities and models starving themselves... what a wonderful society we have here.
"The Perversion Of The Grim Tanner 3:34" is more like it. I actually hear some guy screaming in pain and that works well with the image. If you're going to embody horror, do so in the music as well. You're getting there, it just needs more WTF factor. "6Teen" ends the disc, but I don't feel it from the male vocal. Many of you are going to think I'm nuts, but I think this band could benefit from a sadistic female vocalist as well as the male vocal, and one who can also act like a little girl. I'd like to hear the voices of all the Bukowski family members in this band, little Mimi should have some tiny voice that comes in there with some sadistic glee on the vocal lines, and instead of putting poor old dude in a corset and calling him Roman Bukowski, there should be a woman there - one who looks like she'd like nothing more than to put holes in one's skin while simultaneously pleasuring them. The whole pleasure/pain aspect akin to Barker's Hellraiser. I know horror, I've written it and rather well; I might add. I know what it's like to create fear, to make that which unsettles and causes the heart to pound a thump more than necessary. My short story "How To Vacuum A Punk" about a guy and a vac-bed describes the true meaning of helplessness. There is no escape, death is imminent. The character is trapped inside and there's nothing to do now but to die.
This band could really be something different, like a sort of gruesome shock opera/death metal act that would truly embody the spirit of these films. I'm not saying clean vocals and such, I'm saying simply, "frighten me." The image works, I feel a sense of terror (except for dude in the corset and his head hanging down which does nothing more than make me laugh) from it. But the music doesn't scare me as much as it could, or should. There are some good attempts here at sadism, but I'm just not feeling it as much as I should from the material. It's a shame that I don't manage these guys, they could really be one of the most revolting bands on Earth with the right style. Something that you couldn't even print in magazines, because it'd be just too grotesque. Sure, it's just makeup and prosthetics, but it would make even the ballsiest metal magazine take a second guess at the adverts.
No, I'm not a sick bastard. I just really love horror and can see from the image that I am presented that these guys are going for something more from the brutal death metal genre than what is currently offered. Bands just don't scare anymore and we need one who actually makes people terrified. Bukowski Family is on the right track, but they still need quite a bit of work.
Pick it up if you're interested, but these guys can be so much more.
Highlights: Fountain Of Woe, The Perversion Of The Grim Tanner (5 Tracks, 20:00)
Colosso - Abrasive Peace (PR2013) - When I think of this band's name, I think of an Italian strongman from a circus somewhere who goes by the name of "Colosso The Great." But does Colosso actually like Colosso? Would I expect Colosso to put on his MP3 player while he's lifting weights and start jamming out this brand of technical deathcore that incorporates some hypnotic riffs and beastly vocals?
That, I'm not so sure about. See, Colosso's first problem is that he doesn't exactly understand why so many of these songs bleed into each other. Though Colosso (the band) use some nice ideas in their mix of bright harmonies and brutality, (one could even call it brutiful) I'm not really hearing a game changer yet. Notice that I said yet. There is definite potential here, they just need to lay off the core for a bit and really experiment. For as I've mentioned, Colosso can be quite picky while he's lifting his weights in preparation for the next show and he thinks that he may have heard all of this before. Colosso loves the beginning of "The Epiphany 4:39" but gets quickly disheartened by the boring deathcore vocal approach and finds himself interested by the passage at the end. He quickly thinks of himself as a strongman and considers that to be a good life decision. After Colosso finds himself bored by the same approach that he knows that bands like Persefone, Outcast, Rings Of Saturn and Mencea have done much better; he finds a little bit of comfort in the disc's closer "Unplugged From The World 6:06."
You see, Colosso feels that Colosso (the band) suffer from too much of a deathcore approach. There's just too much damn brutality here and mixing it with bells and whistles is like if someone decided to throw chocolate pudding into tomato sauce. Tomatoes upset my stomach anyway, but mixing tomato sauce with chocolate is a bad move, unless you're an Iron Chef and these guys aren't. They're heavy enough, sure - but just because a band is heavy doesn't make them necessarily good. Colosso thinks that they've got the right idea, but he still thinks that they've got quite a way to go before they truly find their sound. You see, Colosso has been listening to heavy metal music since it's birth and is aware of the trends and whatnot. Once, when the circus was in America; he heard the sounds of Hanneman's riffs and discovered Hell Awaits to which he still loves to this day. But metal music has evolved far from Slayer and he admits to being confused at some of the newer trends. So to make a long story short, Colosso does not really care a great deal for Colosso (the band.) He doesn't feel that it has enough "pizazz" even though there are a few tricks that he likes. I think you're going to feel the same way too.
We've heard some great evolutions in deathcore as of recent, but these guys just need to step back and re-evaluate their sound before they wind up sounding like a knock-off of something already established, a fate that no band wants.
Check it out for technical deathcore with a few bells and whistles.
Highlights: Anthem To Chaos, The Epiphany, Unplugged From The World (8 Tracks, 33:00)
Paria - Surrealist Satanist (PR2013) - Paria is an abstract black metal act in the vein of Deathspell Omega, Farsot and others in that vein. You know what I'm talking about. The intro "Psychonautikkch Paradigma 2:19" starts out a little weird and that's a good thing, I guess. The title track "Surrealist Satanist 6:06" begins next and for the most part it just seems to sound like black metal with some very odd musical passages and even some clean vocals. But after hearing this track, you'll at least agree that it's different. "The Green Angels Of Obscurity 5:55" offers little in change from black metal structure, but definitely passes as acceptable black metal. "Wormlike Proselytism 5:04" brings with it a melody but goes to thrashing after which it develops a bit of a change but yet again, this isn't anything really new.
"(Behold) The Face Of The Timeless Usher 7:34" is where things begin to get interesting. The prog riffs begin and the odd vocal approach continues from there. The track gets back to the normal structure of black metal and does little more. "Sodomsphinx 9:38" reminds me a bit of older Melechesh, but just sort of begins to blend into the background after a while. The disc ends with "Oceans Of Spermwhale Solitude 7:25" which is just more of the same, in all honesty.
Though I like the frontman's odd vocal approaches on some of the material, it all just seems to blend into the background after a while with only the intro doing something really interesting. It's definitely solid black metal, but to call an album Surrealist Satanist, I expect a little bit more in terms of structure. Things just didn't get weird enough for me and I think it was just too safe, too many riffs that I've heard before and nothing really innovative. Nothing popped out at me while listening to this the first time, so I didn't expect to hear anything of merit the second time either.
It's still decent enough black metal though, so check it out if you need a fix!
Highlights: Psychonautikkch Paradigma, Surrealist Satanist, (Behold) The Face Of Timeless Usher (7 Tracks, 44:00)
Megadeth - Super Collider (Limited Edition 2013) - Well done, gentlemen. You gave me just the album that I didn't want. A follow-up to the boring as fuck "The World Needs A Hero" disc that I found at a pawn shop years ago and ended up selling to FYE for some Slayer album, I think it was Seasons, but I'm not sure. At any rate, Super Collider is not a metal record. It's definitely not a thrash record. It's below Metallica's black album in terms of heaviness, and it's VERY commercial. This is Megadeth watered down and accessible to both the youth and dear old mom and dad. It's church approved (maybe) and definitely hits on the Christian vibes aplenty. Take "Built For War 3:57" and it's themes of the last judgment, for example. Heck, take the title track - it's about how Jesus Christ will always be by your side, "lifting you higher, like a super collider." I can't make this shit up, folks. But judging by the old man in the band photo, this is what the future of Megadeth is gonna be. As a matter of fact, it would be fine to call this a swan song.
You know all that shit I said about Draiman? Well, hearing him on "Dance In The Rain 4:45" is refreshing, because it's about the heaviest that this record gets. Yes, you heard me right. David Draiman (Disturbed/Device) did help Mustaine write the melodies on "Dancing In The Rain" and "Forget To Remember 4:28." (Wasn't the latter a Mudvayne song?) So yes, you'll finally hear one of the biggest ego's in the nu-metal scene on an album from arguably one of the biggest egos in metal. Other than that, "Kingmaker 4:16" proves just as good as any song, and I thinketh that Mustaine has been visiting the VC boards because he's changed the Illuminati/NWO reference to what we've all begin to term "the powers that be" or TPTB for short, so it doesn't involve the current "media Illuminati" fixation trend right now. Yes, I even checked the lyrics book. It's in quotation marks, just as you see here. Of course, it doesn't surprise me that he'd check us out, or that he's even a regular - which means that Mustaine might have read my posts there (since most of them deal with TPTB influence in the music industry (esp. metal/rock music as of late) and I may have even had a few arguments with the guy under a screen name. In that case, I think I may have won a few of them. I wonder if he goes here too? Well, if he does, then he'll probably see this.
But oh, well. Oh, I forgot to mention - there's a definite jab at Obama on the disc too. It doesn't appear to be in the lyrics booklet, but it's on the album mocking his "hope and change" slogan. But you knew to expect it, after all; I think he said that Obama was responsible for Sandy Hook, (but some believe this, or that it never even occurred in the first place - I've even heard comparisons to the site of the Massacre found in the last batman film, check it out if you're interested) which got him into some hot water fast. As far as the album artwork, it's littered with old men looking at the Hadron collider and being amazed by how enormous it was. Hence the title and concept for the album art. The only thing left to talk about is what I didn't like. "The Blackest Crow 4:27" was an acoustic that didn't do much for me, "Burn! 4:11" was as bad on the album as it was a single and there's some songs where Mustaine doesn't even sing. He just talks. Most of the lyrical content is how the world's gone insane (which I can attest to) and how God's gonna come down and well, that'll be it. He's gonna punish all the politicians and bankers and right the wrongs with a just sense of righteousness. That's what I get from the album anyway. There's a "Cold Sweat 3:10" (Thin Lizzy) cover at the end of the disc and it's on every copy, so it's no special bonus. But you're probably not gonna buy this one anyway.
Other than a whoop-de-doo 3D lenticular cover, you'll get two bonus tracks. But don't get too excited. It only adds a mere six minutes to the original playtime of 45:00.
All I Want 2:54 - This song is about finding some girl that has some spice and likes to grind. It's everything in a B-side. Pass!
A House Divided 4:05 - A decent enough song, has some saxophone influence and a really nice jam session in the middle.
All in all, Super Collider is not a thrash album. It's a rock album with some great solo work on mediocre songs. The guitars might sing, but only when they're told to do so. Other than that, most people can come up with the riffs on this album in five minutes. It really seems like the quickest thing that the band could've done and seems to be nothing more than another disc to appease the fans. There's damn near nothing of merit here and even though I didn't like Thirteen that much, I like this one even less. Worst album of 2013? Many people are going to say that. After Endgame, they should've quit. This is now becoming ridiculous.
Highlights: Dance In The Rain, Forget To Remember (13 Tracks, 52:00)
Heaven Shall Burn (2013 3 Disc Deluxe Box Edition) - Before I say anything else, I'll just let you all know that it's actually worth it to buy this three disc box set. While there is a bonus track added to the CD as DLC, the disc also comes with a complete live concert that spans a whole hour in length and contains a fifteen track set list featuring many of the band's hits. I would've loved if it more if it was a DVD concert, but this live disc is at least something that would retail for the same price as the album; especially with the amount of tracks offered on the disc. You'll also get a "Blizzard Over England" mix which is an alternate mix of the original album (minus the bonus track) mixed by Colin Richardson. Originally, the band was supposed to have flown over to England to mix the record with him; but there was a snowstorm (Thanks, climate change!) and the band just told him to mix the record the way that he would normally do it. So you're getting two separate mixes of the album.
As far as Godiva goes, it's filled with all sorts of awesomeness and has the same formula that we've expected from Heaven Shall Burn since day one. The band has always considered themselves a mix of melodic death metal and hardcore, and here they mix brutifully well. The melodies on "Godiva 4:19" and "Fallen 4:30" are incredibly strong, the vocals sound utterly crushing and the drums are absolutely relentless. This is what you want from HSB, point blank. The disc also contains one of my favorite songs in the last ten or twenty years, a cover of Blind Guardian's classic "Valhalla 5:30" which I have selfishly listened to about a hundred fucking times now. Hell, I played the original that many times. But what makes this cover good, is it's attention to detail. The song is more extreme, yet contains all the aspects of power/thrash that made it good. As well as Hansi fucking Kursch. Yes, he's here. The song may have been re-recorded recently (and was done awesomely I might add) but here's a version that just one-ups the whole experience. I also need to note that the melodies do the original justice, as well as the solo portion which follows the original. The fact that it is such a spot on re-imagining of the classic, makes Heaven Shall Burn's "Valhalla" one of my personal favorite cover songs of all time.
People who don't like the core element of HSB will not like this album, despite how much melodic death metal influence it contains. That's completely understandable and I'm not out to change your opinion of the band. They haven't changed, but that's what makes them unique. Future bands have tried to do what they do, but none of them have been successful. These guys are purely in a class of their own and with such a long shelf-life as a band, it shows. Simply listen to the disc from point A to point B and you will notice some extremely powerful riffs and very catchy melodies. Take the foreboding licks on "Like Gods Among Mortals 4:20" which really bring in the gloom, for example. Also take the killer melodies on original album closer "Beyond Redemption 5:47." Don't fucking tell me you aren't hearing those leads, they're loud and clear and only the best of melodic death metal would use licks like that. Obviously, there's a lot more melodic death metal influence on this album than hardcore which might not appeal to some other people - but I like that. I want to hear more wonderful fucking melodies from these guys, because they've always had it and this shows.
European Super State 4:30 - I don't know if this is a cover or not, but it features female vocals, has electronics and sounds nothing like the band. To be honest, most people who like HSB for their brutality will hate this. But I like electronic/industrial metal (as well as electronic music itself, which is much closer to this song) and I thought the song was pretty decent. Not what you'd expect, but it's refreshing at least.
Disc 2 - Live Concert (Live In Saalfeld)
With this disc, you'll get fifteen tracks which include "Counterweight 4:28", Endzeit 5:29" and the closer "The Weapon They Fear 4:15" which was the first song that I ever heard from these guys and is still one of my favorite tracks. Obviously the vocals won't be as fierce, but the playing sounds great on the live disc and the quality is good. It's DVD quality, just imagine that there's no picture (which there probably is a film to go with this, we just didn't get it.)
Disc 3 - Original Album (Blizzard Over England Mix)
Colin's mix of the disc sounds rougher for the wear. I like the original better, it sounds more in your face and the quality is great. This one makes them sound like they had less money to record the album with. I'm really glad there was a snowstorm in England that day, because this just doesn't work as well for me and "Valhalla" doesn't sound as good either. I'm listening to it right now and I can tell you that. I also don't like that this version of the song highlights Hansi more than the harsh vocal, which really made the song a great re-imagining.
So in the end, I really like the disc. There's about two tracks "You Will be Godless 3:10" and "53 Nations 4:06" which didn't quite hit the mark for me, but that leaves you with ten great tracks. Nothing wrong with that. On the original disc, you'll only get nine though. Unless you hate the bonus track on the special disc. Then there's only nine too. On the disc alone, I'd consider it to be a good listen. One of my favorite albums from the band in years. With the addition of the concert, that puts it up a notch. If you count the alternate mix, it's like listening to two different albums. Not a bad offering from the band in all actuality. Hats off to them.
Go and pick this one up if you're interested. I liked it quite a bit.
Highlights: Godiva, Land Of The Uptight Ones, Die Sturme Rufen Dich, Fallen, Hunters Will Be Hunted, VALHALLA, Antagonized, Like Gods Among Mortals, Beyond Redemption, European Super State & Live Concert! (3 Discs, 38 Tracks, 2.7 Hours)
Sodom - Epitome Of Torture (Limited Edition 2013) - Sodom are absolute legends when it comes to thrash metal, but this newest effort just isn't all that strong. Sure, there are more harsh vocal injections; but for the most part, you've heard this kind of output from the band before. "S.O.D.O.M. 3:46" and "Shoot Today-Kill Tomorrow 4:00" seem to really be the only tracks out of the many here that I can pick out as being worth checking actually listening to. I think that the band's last release, In War And Pieces was much better than this one. Sodom seem to be losing steam and I feel that the feeling is mutual with Destruction. Maybe this is because the icons of the genre are getting a bit old and rusty and it's time for the new blood to come in and (hopefully) reinvigorate the genre. But there's still one major thrash act (that I know of) who has yet to come out with a record this year and that's Exodus. If they can't pull it off, I'm just gonna hang it up.
"Waterboarding 5:06" and "Splitting The Atom 4:28" are musical DLC and are both worthy of being on the album. They don't sound like b-sides at all and stand out as strong tracks which would've enhanced the album albeit slightly. The truth of the matter is that this album just isn't that great. It's decent, but you won't be talking about it for days on end.
Highlights: S.O.D.O.M., Shoot Today-Kill Tomorrow , Waterboarding, Splitting The Atom (12 Tracks, 49:00)
Arsis - Unwelcome (2013) - Arsis's new album is just as solid as I had expected. Unfortunately, it's not quite as good as the band's last output, Starve For The Devil and it brings the band back to the technical senses that they showed on the album right before Starve... which I hated immensely. "Carve My Cross 4:13" took forever to get going and when it did, it was during the solo portion. Just give me a solo and forget about all the other crap. "Handbook For The Recently Deceased 3:48" is much better, showcasing more melodies and the fact that these guys just want to put a solo wherever the fuck they want. "Choking On Sand 3:18" has a great start and keeps on going form there. Though it's not as powerful as other songs in it's vein, it works well enough. Honestly, I think the frontman makes the track, because if he hadn't been on that song, I probably would've fucking hated it. His vocal instrument is what makes a lot of these songs worth a damn, because they seem to feature so much over the top technicality and drums that seem like they could launch into space at any moment with all of these complex fucking algorithms. Should I go to an Arsis show and tell them, "Alright, you guys can play your instruments. You're good at what you do. Can you please stop turning every song into a how much jizz can we get out of our instruments session?"
But then there's the "Sunglasses At Night 3:58" cover, which is just ruined because this is the wrong period in the band's history to record it. Everyone wants to play over the top and you honestly don't need those drums pounding as fast as they are on this one. If the frontman wasn't screaming the chorus, no one would even know that this is an 80's cover of a good song. The original played on the radio yesterday, so I'm going to try to see how well the guitar solos match up... um... nope. Definitely going for the Michael Amott style though. Damn. Have any of you heard the original? Someone needs to cover this song in the same genre (melodic death metal) and show these guys how it's done. They pretty much said "fuck the original solo" and I just heard that fucker (there's a problem in the mix for the original song, because I can barely hear the original solo in the background (more emphasis on the recording was geared to the vocals) which would've worked much better than the noodling being done on this one. I honestly think they were commissioned to do the song, because anyone who respects 80's music (like myself) would know how to translate the song properly.
And after that? Well, things are just pretty damned uneventful. As a matter of fact, the only thing that keeps this album afloat are the five tracks at the very end which is in fact, the Scion EP that vomits all over Unwelcome. To tell you the truth, Unwelcome is a wonderful title for this album because it's a completely unwelcome release from the band. Some people might love it, while others will hate it. I'm one of those that hate it. Just go get the Scion EP for free.
This album contains seven bonus tracks because the EP is bundled with it. I also don't think there's any sort of "Limited Edition/Exclusive" nonsense here. Every copy of the album contains all of these tracks. But it needs to have them, so that you don't feel the urge to mail it back to them. What the fuck happened, gentlemen? You had me all geared up for a record, and THIS is what I get? It sounds like two completely different fucking bands.
Highlights: Handbook For The Recently Deceased, Choking On Sand, The Scion EP (17 Tracks, 61:00)
3/10 (Without The Bonus Tracks)
Orpheus Omega - Resillusion (2013) - I decided to cover this one, because many people might not know it - but right after Hanneman went, the bass guitarist for this Australian melodic death metal band, nicknamed "Milky" also died. The coverage went unchecked though, because Hanneman's death was a bigger item to the metal medias, even Chi's death didn't get as much publicity. But yes, Milky was the third one who went in a row. I wasn't even sure who the band was, or where I could get the album; but lo and behold, the damn thing leaks onto the net the day right after he died. I figured that I might as well grab it and try to get this thing out there to the masses at any cost. It will be the last time you ever get to hear his bass after all.
Orpheus Omega reminds me a lot of the more known Swedish melodeath acts like Soilwork, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility and early In Flames. But that's not to say that they don't do them justice. The opener "The Deconstruct 4:03" erupts the disc into action, when the extremely catchy "Corridors 4:00" soon takes over. The same can be said for "The Abhorrent 6:08" and you can really smell the Soilwork for a mile. The next track "Elegant Deceit 4:31" has the feel of Dark Tranquility as well, you can say that these guys have been doing their homework - and guitar to keyboard solos definitely sound right at home, even though the vocals are just a tad core in areas - there's not quite the same amount of "grr" but at least they back it up by showing that they can pull off some great solos on the disc.
Title track "Resilullsion 4:11" really doesn't do much for me. Despite the guitar theatrics (again, these guys have been studying their Swedish melodeath) I don't hear anything so special here. "De6enrate 4:13" has a bit of a different feel to the rest of the album, it doesn't just start right out with the metal assault and features a bit of violin before the growl and the different vocal style (I guess there's a guest vocalist here.) Oh my god, who the fuck is this other guy? He's horrible. I think it actually might be a woman, since there are also clean female vocals here. Why is so much going on in this one song? Now there's full on gravel, so it sounds like another vocalist. How many vocalists are on this track?
Whew. Next one is "Sans Memoria 3:47" and it's thankfully back to basics. Very basic in approach, definitely reminds me of classic In Flames, but not as grandiose. "The Hypocrisy 3:56" comes next and I'm wondering if this is a sort of tie-in tribute to Hypocrisy. This one actually reminds me of Heaven Shall Burn a little, but it's just not as good. The same can be said for "Fragments 3:50" which hits the HSB a little harder and succeeds. The disc ends with "Archways 4:46" which also reminds me a bit of HSB. Why they went so close to core here is unknown. It's a much heavier side of the band, but offers little more for people who have heard Heaven Shall Burn.
But I should be nice. A man died making this music and I have to respect that. As a whole, Resillusion is a solid melodic death metal disc, but the core vocal approach might not be right for some and they'll grow distaste with it immediately. At any rate, it's worth checking out and at least listen to the music that a gentleman is no longer around to make. It's much better than some of the other crap that's gotten popular as of recent. These guys still have a way to go before they truly find their sound. It does sound like a band playing around it's album collection, which is how many bands sound when they start out for the first time. But if you miss the way that classic melodeath used to sound and don't feel like listening to those old classics, then Orpheus Omega has you covered.
Rest in peace, brother in heavy metal.
(10 Tracks, 44:00)
Drowning Pool - Resilience (2013) - Well, this is that album where Drowning Pool try to go heavy again. They haven't been good since Sinner as far as I'm concerned, even though the sophomore was pretty decent. Even the guy from Soil couldn't save them and I like that band (or did like that band, I don't know if they're still together) a great deal. There's a new vocalist. Let's skip all the other bullshit. Here's my verdict:
"Anyplace, Anytime 3:36" is a pretty basic metal-ish song that has a very catchy chorus and a shitty solo as well as everything that reeks of radio and "I want to fight you" music. "Die For Nothing 3:13" is also made for the damn radio. Real boring. "One Finger And A Fist 3:06" makes you want to punch the lead singer in the nose. It's all about the chorus "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY" let's be rebellious kiddies!" Fuck that noise.
"Digging These Holes 3:48" is a rip-off in verse from Nonpoint. Well, they pretty much sound the same, so who's ripping off who? "Saturday Night 3:53" is your "let's get drunk and party song" but it's gotta be heavy. I like "Drink, Drank, Drunk" from Hellyeah better. It's got more balls than this crap. "Low Crawl 3:40" is a filler, I think. I'm not sure. But isn't this whole album filler? Just one big bit of fluff? Now there's "Life Of Misery 3:50" which just makes me angry at this guy. "Broken Again 3:20" describes this band perfectly. Man, this sucks. "Understand 3:42" is also boring. "Bleed With You 3:31" is your ballad, it's pretty decent but you've heard many songs like it before. "Skip To The End 3:39" should be the title of this album. I also hate the fucking lyrics to this song immensely. This guy is talking about that he hates life so much that he just wants to skip to the end of life. What a fucking idiot. Why even be alive? If you continue making crap like this, someone might make that happen for you one day. "In Memory Of 3:57" is another ballad. I'm not crazy about it, or this album. "Blindfold 3:11" ends the fucking disc. Finally. What a pile of shit.
The only people who'll dig this is people that have no concern for musical taste. Every damn song sounds roundabout the same. It's pretty damn bland and I wish I had a chainsaw to cut down the tree hand thing on the cover. The fucking thing just won't die. It's resilient. But you know what, the tree hand thing looks like it's about to keel over and die anyway. It's about fucking time that it did.
This album is garbage. Don't even bother with it. It's not a good rock album and even if it was metal, it isn't good metal. It just sucks.
(13 Tracks, 46:00)
Suidakra - The Eternal Chronicles (2013 EP) - This small EP came out right before the release of the band's thrilling new album which I already reviewed for NN and linked here, so check that out if you want to know my review for that one. But as for this little disc, It contains the full song "Beneath The Red Eagle 4:56", and an edited version of "Inner Sanctum 5:01" which doesn't edit out much. Two songs from the previous album follow, which are "Balor 4:45" and "Stone Of The Seven Suns 5:01" just in case you missed them on Book Of Dowth. The disc also contains a rousing version of "Let Me Put My love Into You 4:14" as originally performed by AC-DC and a live version of "Pendragon's Fall 4:57" which sounds surprisingly clear. Finally, a demo version of "Ramble 2:47" is included, which is mainly just acoustic.
It's not much, but I like the cover art on this EP much better than on the actual album. It appears to have been another version of the original image and it captured the sense of the story much better than the obnoxious red dragon imprint on the original disc. I don't understand why they used that image, really.
And at 31 minutes, that's it. It's just a refresher for the band really, and some stuff that could've been used as bonus tracks and what not. I wouldn't buy it, I'd buy Eternal Defiance. That's new music from the band and it's good for the most part - a very solid disc.
(7 Tracks, 31:00)
1/10 (Not necessary. A marketing decision that I shake my head at.)
Keep Of Kalessin - Introspection EP (2013) - I don't even know where this thing came from. It appeared on the internet one day, I grabbed it and then it faded back into obscurity. But since it's not a new album from the band, people seldom care. It's also only ten minutes of music.
The disc opens with "Introspection 5:01" a new song that incorporates some black n' roll influences into the band's signature style. Clean vocals are also featured on this one, I think it will sound a little bit within the confines of the album. The melodies on the track are strong, the guitar solo is powerful and the whole thing just seems to work sufficiently. It's definitely an evolution from the band's last album.
"Flight Of The Hatchling 2:22" is not another actual song from the new album, it's just a little guitar shredding instrumental that certainly does the trick for this little bitty thing they call an EP. Anyone who doesn't like guitar shredding would have a problem with this one, but that's not me.
"The Dragontower (Extreme Version) 3:26" is a definite one-up from the original. They took a song that was more theatrical and made it heavy. Good job, guys. The song is definitely black n' roll (which appears to be the band's new style so brace for it) but to be honest, the song works well here, even with the clean vocal chorus. It's honest that these guys just want to fucking shred now and I'm okay with that. Anything these guys do usually comes out well, so I'm looking forward to this next outing.
Check it out, but I wouldn't spend money on it. It's ten minutes of music from a band who's probably about to release their new disc in late fall or winter. Better yet, just skip it and wait for the album. My personal opinion on this, is that they should've waited and stuck the songs here that aren't to be featured on the album on the end of the disc as extra tracks.
(3 Tracks, 10:00)
Skid Row - United World Rebellion: Chapter One EP (2013 Wal-Mart Exclusive) - Unless this comes with a full-length Skid Row DVD or a t-shirt, don't fucking buy it. You know better. Yes, it says "Wal-Mart Exclusive" which means like ACDC's Black Ice and Kiss's Sonic Boom, the retail giant has gotten their slimy grip on Skid Row now.
But who is Skid Row? You ask. If you don't know, you're probably better off for it. A whole scene came and went in the 80's and we called it "hair metal." It's back now, but Loudness seems to be the only band out there still kicking ass at it (I saw those fuckers live on AXS during a M3 concert and they fucking killed it) while everyone else is just kinda there. But I guess that's because traditional heavy metal has always been a big thing in Japan (for the love of God, fly Galneryus over to the states!) and they've had years to practice.
At any rate, this Skid Row EP (which I really hope you don't buy unless it comes packaged with a woman that comes with an adjustable breast size button) contains five songs and runs about twenty minutes. That's more than the 10 minutes that you got with Keep Of Kalessin, but it's probably five or six more minutes of ballads than you'd get with Keep Of Kalessin.
"King Of Demolition 4:08" starts the disc out heavy, with a catchy chorus and riffs that you'd expect from the band. This is nothing new, just better production than they had back in the 80's. There's a solo portion here, but it's short and the whole damn thing seems to be about how good Sebastian Bach can sing.
"Let's Go 2:53" is the only other good cut here, but it's in the vein of Judas Priest riffs and classic fair. Chances are you've heard newer band A-Z do this much better.
Yep. It's ballad time. "This Is Killing Me 4:54" starts us off with a boring old ballad that sounds pretty much like almost all of the damn near unlistenable garbage that Bon Jovi has put out recently.
"Get Up 4:55" is decent enough, but it wants to be heavier than it is. Wonder what Call Of Battlefield game this song will be featured in. Money, money, money... it's fucking sad. It's almost like that song "Stand Up" by a band who thought they were metal put out recently. They shall not be named, as I've forgotten their moniker. Which I profess, is a good thing.
"Stitches 3:40" ends this mediocre EP with a party rock song. The song is also about getting out there and fighting back, but the disc is put out by Wal-Mart a retail giant, and on the majorest of major labels, (that's not even a fucking word) so it's like the powers that be want people to rebel so they can deploy all that special shit they've been working on. So yeah, just rebel. See what happens to you.
The bottom line is, I pass on this release. It's corporate rock. I'll pass. It's Wal-Mart rock. I'll pass. Granted I need to buy some razors (I haven't shaved since mine wore out and am starting to develop quite a beard) as soon as I can get down to Wally World, I'm sure not going to scroll by the pathetic music section and pick this up. I always scroll by the book section though, noticing that last time it was Dr. Phil's Life Code which was the big bestseller. Guy's trying to teach you how to win at life. I have an easier method. Find a way to get into Dr. Phil's bank account, and then you'll never have to worry about any of that shit anyway. In this society, money is power. Which is going to eventually bring about the downfall of humanity. But that's how it goes. Want to hear some Skid Row?
I didn't think so either.
Highlights: Let's Go (Not to be confused with "Stand Up." I really wish people would quit telling me what to do in their songs.) (5 Tracks, 20:00)
4/10 (For those of you who are wondering why Skid Row is higher on the rung than Megadeth, it's because on this album Skid Row sounded like Skid Row. On Megadeth's new album, Megadeth didn't sound like Megadeth. So there's the difference.)
Shining & Monumentum - Split (2013) - From those who brought you such classics like Redefining Black and the crappy EP about little girls, there's another little trick up Shining's sleeve. This time it's a split with Monumentum on just two cover tracks.
Shining got the first one, it's "Pale Colours 4:03" as originally performed Bay Laurel and shows that Shining is headed for their industrial goth rock phase after getting done with their Metallica thrash phase. Or was that Paradise Lost? At any rate, I would certainly like to hear Nick Holmes on this one but will say that it's done justice and makes me think of Shining in a good way. Fans of dark goth metal without the bullshit will like this. Think Paradise Lost or Tiamat.
The next song is handled by Monumentum and it's "The River 4:21" as originally performed by PJ Harvey. It's very much in the same goth rock vibe as Shining, and I'll admit that I like the male clean vocals and how they duet with the female vocals on the track. Again, for fans of dark goth rock in the vein of Paradise Lost or Tiamat, (maybe more towards Tiamat this time) this will be right up your alley. These guys should've done a larger album. Five songs from one band, five from the other. I'd have given it a 10/10 for sure.
Without a doubt, this split contains great goth rock that's absolutely essential. Shining can quit making black metal for good, for all I care; they've made plenty of it as it is. If they want to do goth rock stuff, they've proven to me that they can do it. And I'm a hell of a fucking judge on that genre. So many people manage to fuck it up, but this is the style done right. I wouldn't recommend that you buy this, but I would myself. It's something I'd like to have personally, as long as I don't have to pay a fortune for 8 minutes of music.
(2 Tracks, 8:00)