Many More Of These To Come!
Darkestrah - Manas (2013) - I don't know about you, but I really anticipated the new Darkestrah album. But I was more than surprised that they'd gone away from their Native American lyricism and into something more, well... Russian? While I know not why they chose this path, the harsh black metal nature of the band is still intact complete with the twiddling of acoustics, and in some parts, clean vocals. Though I can see how the female vocalist would like to compete with others of her ilk, I much prefer her scowling; as her clean vocal tone reminds me of the Demon Lung frontwoman. There's also, as you can expect - a lot of Russian on this disc. It's probably doing well in the motherland; but I don't really know if fans over in the states or elsewhere will really get into it. But however you throw it, the main point of this album is atmosphere mixed with folk instruments and a side of black metal. The black metal is like the fries here. So don't expect this to be anything like their last album, The Great Silk Road. Then I look at the release date (2008) and discover that we've waited five years for this.
Despite the fact that the band does a great job on the heavier side of things, I just don't feel this album in the same way that I felt The Great Silk Road. It just doesn't resonate with me. That's no reason not to check it out, but for me; the album just didn't feel like Darkestrah to me.
(5 Tracks, 40:00)
[b]Galneryus - The Ironhearted Flag Vol.1 - Regeneration Side (2013)[/b] - What this is, is an amazing new compilation from one of the best power metal bands in the world - Japan's Galneryus. But this isn't just a "let's take our best tracks and put them on a compilation album" it's rather a "let's re-record them all with today's modern equipment and with our incredible new vocalist." As such, the result is as you can expect - mind blowing. For those of you who enjoyed Angel Of Salvation, these re-recorded tracks are right up there with that material even though some of them come from 2003's The Flag Of Punishment up to 2008's Reincarnation. And this is just the first installment of these re-recordings. If you're already familiar with these songs, then you know that the band could only do them more justice here - and they certainly do so. There are also elements of neoclassical and folk added to the soaring guitar solos and amazing melodies laden with this masterpiece. Definitely one of the best power metal albums of the year, even if these are simply re-recordings of already strong material. I'm still curious as if they're going to do a re-recording of the theme to Rin: Daughters Of Mnemosyne, which is where I discovered them. Never even finished watching that anime even though it was just six episodes long - but I've been playing the living hell of Galneryus ever since.
Some of this album brought back memories. So yeah, it's a keeper for me. Japanese power metal at it's absolute finest.
(10 Tracks, 62:00)
Darkane - The Sinister Supremacy (2013 Ltd. Edition) - It was quite funny to look at the Decibel review for this and see the caption "Where's The Reefs?" Because I clearly didn't hear the same thing that he heard. Nevetheless, I did notice a few troublesome patterns on the disc. Those I will lay out for you.
Alright, so the title track (The Sinister Supremacy 4:22) came in very At The Gates, clean chorus, great solo. But "Mechanically Divine 4:25" is clearly a much better track. The drummer's still bashing the hell out of that kit, but at least the clean is much better and the riff melodies are a bit stronger, as with the inclusion of several solos. "Ostracized 3:49" is a real basher with little in the way of melody and more in the way of drums - again, the drums are the most audible thing here. The band does try to utilize some orchestration on the disc, but I can't really see how it affects the album. "The Decline 4:41" has a strong chorus, but nothing else on it is worth noting. "Insurrection Is Imminent 5:27" is long and boring, while "In The Absence Of Pain 4:20" makes me think of fist pumping hardcore with slight bits of technicality and a solo, coupled in with a clean chorus. "Humanity Defined 4:05" sounds much like the rest of the disc, with an added chorus and solo. Getting a pattern here? "Hate Repentance State 2:31" is just more piano and violin. "Collapse Of Illusions 4:38" has a bit of dirt and grime to it, along with a clean chorus and you guessed it - another solo. "By Darkness Designed 3:56" is just as speedy as the others, but has a much stronger clean influence that makes it sort of catchy. The disc's closer is "Existence Is Just A State Of Mind 4:53" and mixes djent and melody well with another clean chorus and a solo.
"Malicious Strain 4:24" throws in more groove and technicality, yet it seems to revolve around one technical pattern that they manipulate throughout the track. The last one here is "I, Author Of Despair 4:06" and explains where the riffs went. This sounds more like melodic death metal, but it also sounds a bit death n' roll too. They really should have included this track on the disc to provide some needed differentiation. ie: VARIETY, which is what this disc sorely lacks. It's not about the riffs, it's about the lack of structure. They pretty much used the same formula for every song and that's what killed it. It's still listenable, but not entirely memorable. There were "riffs" on the album. They just weren't all that good.
Highlights: Mechanically Divine, I Author Of Despair (Bonus) (14 Tracks, 57:00)
Anvil - Hope In Hell (2013 Ltd. Edition) - This is my first foray with Anvil, but not the first time I've ever heard them. Granted, I watched their story on VH1 and such and I'm glad they're getting some kind of recognition now. The new disc (at least this version) contains thirteen tracks of classic heavy metal thunder.
The opener "Hope In Hell 4:43" is a sort of darker track with some Sabbath riffs thrown into it and has a positive message. Then we have "Eat Your Words 3:41" which doesn't thrash too much, and isn't all that loud. There's a good solo on it, but it's definitely not as thrashy as some thrash bands that I've heard. "Through With You 4:48" is a bit more rock than metal, but "The Fight Is Never Won 4:28" actually has a bit more thrash muscle and a nice solo to boot. "Pay The Toll 2:48" is also more rock than metal. But the solo also stands out. That seems to be where these guys excel - being catchy and playing good guitar solos. It's very marketable, "safe metal" that Wal-mart would have no problem with. "Flying is a pretty strong track with a Priestly vibe, it also contains a memorable solo. Then we have the (facepalm) "Call Of Duty 3:54" which is no doubt inspired by the best-selling video game. I'm curious how many people have actually blasted this one over the internet while playing the game. Nevertheless, it's a strong track which is not surprising. I'm really surprised that Activision hasn't endorsed it. "Badass Rock n' Roll 4:35" is a great Kiss impersonation, but it has nothing on Monster. "Time Shows No Mercy 4:36" has a great message, but I'm not so sure about the presentation, again - other than the rockin' guitar solo. "Mankind Machine 4:13" is a good stab at metal, I'll give them that. But I thought these guys were better than this album. "Shut The Fuck Up 3:38" might be the point when Wal-Mart draws the line, but it's definitely one of my favorite songs from these guys. Definitely punk in nature and makes it point known. "Hard Wired 3:08" is a decent rock song. Not much more I can say about it. The album ends with "Fire At Will 4:03" has the Priestly vibe returned once again and reaches into metal just one more time before the disc ends.
Well, there was hope in hell for these guys finally being recognized; but now that people know who they are, it doesn't really give them the right to put out a sub-par album like this. This album was about a 7 when I first started listening to it. It just didn't really leave a mark on me and I doubt it will you, either. It's a warm and fuzzy album filled with mostly positive messages and pro-war sentiments. You'll also notice that warm and fuzzy also applies to the production value. It sounds old-school, but with a hint of clean production. They mix rock and metal just as good as some other bands can, and it's certainly music that parental units would buy for their young rocker kids, but it's just not that great as far as a disc. I couldn't sworn that Anvil was thrash, but I'm hearing very little of that here. At any rate, it's a catchy alternative to more extreme genres and will probably go great with the disc that I've reviewed right after it. It's safe metal.
Highlights: The Fight Is Never Won, Flying, Call Of Duty, Shut The Fuck Up (13 Tracks, 53:00)
Avenged Sevenfold - Hail To The King (2013) - As you know, I reviewed Nightmare and thought that it had some great moments. I've never actually hated these guys, but I'm well aware of their influence on the mainstream culture of hard rock and heavy metal and their blatant commercialism. But let's face it - they're catchy and appeal to my dwindling tastes in hard rock.
For this disc, they listed to a lot of ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Pantera and especially, the black album. It's an album that incorporates a lot of study as the band wanted to create a "classic album." And for the most part, they've succeeded. "Shepherd Of Fire 5:18" uses damn near the same riff melodies as "Enter Sandman" but they manage to cap it with a strong chorus and memorable guitar solo. Yeah, it's a little heard rock in areas; but at least there's no emo shit going on. Believe it or not, M. Shadows finally decided to just sing in a respective tone and I'm quite thankful for that as I can actually get into a few of these tracks in all actuality. "Hail To The King 5:02" apparently plays on the radio, complete with the same chunky guitar and some memorable guitar melodies. A friend of mine talked about how much he hated this song, but if you go back and look at other classic songs in it's style, it's actually done just as well. Granted, the radio probably over blew it which helped to create more hatred to what is actually a solid piece with a strong guitar solo. Hate them all you want, these are decent chops. And again, no emo shit. Plus, the song makes me think of Duke Nukem and I've always been a big fan of that series, so maybe they'll use it in a follow-up that doesn't suck.
"Doing Time 3:30" was a little weak, but I'm catching a bit of Billy Idol on it. Plus, you can't go wrong with the guitar solo. "This Means War 6:09" is next and definitely borrows from Metallica's "Sad But True" but they've sort of made it their own. Sort of. It's still quite apparent. Shadows utilizes some strong lines on the lead up to the chorus and there's another memorable guitar solo. "Requiem 4:24" features a darker tone, some orchestral influence and powerful solo. There's also a choir. "Crimson Day 5:00" is a light ballad that I didn't really care for, but I'm sure that someone out there likes it. A solo won't save this. "Heretic 4:53" actually seems to be anti-religious for a band who started out as Christian. It's about the witch trials. Not as strong as some of the other tracks, but it's close. "Coming Home 6:20" seems like the band's biggest attempt at channeling power metal. "Planets 5:58" is the last bit of heavy on the disc, and I actually really like the lyrics to this one - it definitely overtook me on the chorus. If these guys ever deserved a crowning achievement, it's on this one. Yeah, I can hear the influences - but at least they're attempting to channel metal this time and not the emo shit that they've been doing for ages now. There's no screams on the disc, and the quality of the album is also warm and fuzzy like that of Anvil. They're actually good purchases together, and better than some of the other crap that's out there. I don't think there would ever be a day that I would recommend these guys over Butcher Babies or whatever the fuck else is teeny-bopper metal, but this is about as close to the real deal as the mainstream gets. It's a good gateway drug, if nothing else.
But I'm forgetting about the album's closer in "Acid Rain 6:44" which is a light ballad. Think GNR's "November Rain" but not as good. There is a worthy solo on the track though, so I gave it a few points. There's a bonus track to this album, so pick it up if you want that track (I don't have it.)
At any rate, I would definitely recommend this one to people who are tired of whiny emo metal and whatever the hell else is going to come out of the woodwork and be signed as the next big thing. Sometimes it takes a band several albums before they're worth a shit. Nightmare was a good sign of things to come and I'm glad that they continued with that style.
Highlights: Shepherd Of Fire, Hail To The King, This Means War, Requiem, Coming Home, Planets (10 Tracks, 53:00)
Agrypnie - Aetas Cineris (2013) - Ah, Agrypnie. Finally I can go ahead and review this one. it's been sitting on my hard drive for ages now and I can't even remember the last time I listened to it. Partially, because this new disc just isn't as spirited as their previous work. Now considered in the realms of advant-garde black metal, it's much different than the electronic laden work of their past. Why they've changed directions I cannot tell, but it's an unfortunate surprise.
There's only eight tracks here, most of them being quite long. "Trummer/ Aetas Cineris 8:33" doesn't really get good until it's almost a quarter of the way in. The melodies really start flowing then, even though the drums definitely still get just enough time to be heard. There's a melancholy solo at the end. "Dezember 10:51" continues the melody backing German harsh vocals (not necessarily scowls or growls, but at points enveloping into scowls) synth atmospheres break in, and electronics are featured amidst some interesting riff drops, finally ending the whole thing out with acoustics and wind... until it gets heavy and again and fades out. "Zuruck 8:19" is next, and it starts out like something you'd expect from Depeche Mode. There's portions where the drums rip into fury and the vocals are rough, but then it hops back into atmosphere, later getting heavy (and are those breakdowns at the end) and finally finishing up. "Kosmos (Alpha) 8:10" starts out with atmospheres that seem spatial, but those atmospheres continue... for the whole of seven minutes. Then the band gets a bit of the shoegaze black metal riffs going and it's got me thinking that maybe this is the intro to a great track. That never happens, as the song fades out. Are these gentlemen lost? "Gnosis 9:04" as you might remember from the Asche EP sounds just like it did there, as it had here. And it doesn't really leave that much of a mark after that. I mean, it's a good track - but how memorable will it be a day or two from now? "Erwachen 9:28" throws melodic atmosphere into the mix more and succeeds where other songs just seem to come off as normal. "Sinnflut 11:25" does the same thing, but not as successful, I think? That's my problem with this disc though - I'm not really feeling it. It just seems like much of the same. And finally, the disc ends with "Asche 11:32" which sounds just the same as it does on the Asche EP. It's filled with light atmospheres and melodies. A very beautiful piece, yet still a bit melancholy - however, it speaks to me more than this entire album ever will. They ruin the song with metal. For some odd reason, these guys want to take these great melodic mood pieces and just throw the extremity in where it doesn't really fit. Yeah, to some of you "they ruin the song with metal" might be a turn off, but why record an 8:00 atmosphere piece, just to throw about 2:36 seconds of metal on it at the end?
Aetas Cineris is a solid album, but might get on one's nerves due to the length of these pieces. A man hollering in German amidst the melodies just doesn't seem to work. He should have just scowled this stuff. Why are you hollering? Ruins the whole damned disc for me. Good ideas that went nowhere, is what this album amounts to. I'd definitely recommend all of their previous work, save the Asche EP, where this new direction began.
Highlights: Kosmos (Alpha), Erwachen, Asche (8 Tracks, 77:00)
Azure Emote - The Gravity Of Impermanence (2013) - While "It's better than their last one" might be enough to suffice for some listeners, I was definitely a bit more intrigued by this release from American Avant-Death specialists, Azure Emote. The disc came with lyrics, so that helped a bit in my understanding of the material. I'm extremely interested in the song "Annunaki Illuminati 3:41" and would be more than willing to pick the lyricist's brain about this:
Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Nibiru and Tiamat, earth's formation from destruction. The ecliptic Annunaki, monatomic gold enhancement.
Manipulation of genetic Nephilim, Bohemian concealment.
The triangle domination, history repeats the all watching eye!
Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Hypnotizing beliefs and misdirection.
Questions ignored, yet obelisk's erected. Anomalies symbolic, diplomatic planned war and re-enslavement! Behavioral frequencies, illuminati.
Greada treaty, and black budget espionage. Technological control and global union, strategic powers in place. Spectrum secrets, knowledge concealment, the Ark is moving west! Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Stars removed, harmonic vibrations of equilibrium.
Auditive levitation, geomancy, anti-gravity. Open source pyramid electricity. Upper-class monopoly, fear of our freedoms from dependency. Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Hypnotizing beliefs and misdirection. Questions ignored, yet obelisk's erected. Spectrum secrets, knowledge concealment, the Ark is moving west!
From what I can discern, the song begins to depict two alien races that I've heard people discuss on conspiracy boards; the Saurians and Pleiadians. I'm not sure if these have any relation to David Icke's Reptilians, but apparently they are a sort of master race hiding as humans in a seat of power. I've no clue who the Zeta Reticuli are. Nibiru is of course, that other planet that was supposed to crash into and destroy are little blue ball around 2012. Well, it's 2013. Tiamat is the dragon from ancient Sumerian lore. She was killed by Gilgamesh and her body formed the heavens and the Earth. Of course, the Annunaki are supposedly the "winged ones" that helped to educate us and are falsely depicted as angels. Monatomic gold enhancement has me a bit interested, not sure what that is - but I remember hearing that gold was a vital resource to these races. Manipulation of genetic Nephilim (is that us?) Of course the triangle and the eye are symbols of the pseudo order called the "Illuminati" which is actually a front for something darker and more mysterious. A friend refers to it as the "dark cabal" while others consider it to be "The Powers That Be" or quite simply, TPTB. The history portion must relate to their manipulation of events.
He continues to say that they have helped to misdirect and misguide us in our beliefs, of which I believe the Judeo-Christian religion to be one of those constructs. Without a fear of punishment, or a promise of eternal peace in the afterlife, a man would not sit idly by while the current system continues to bring him down. One's only solace is in this, "if I live well, I will be free from this monotony." Of course, the Obelisk has a sort of symbolism to it - I'm not sure what occultic energies it may have. Diplomatic planned war and re-enslavement could mean that there is a ploy to get people to rebel against their government, so that they could lose their freedoms and become slaves. I'm not the only one who's thought of this. Behavioral frequencies must refer to electromagnetic waves. It is thought that one can be controlled through those frequencies (ie: watch The Signal). No need to cover the false disguise of Illuminati, yet I am curious as to this Greada Treaty. Will have to do some research on that. Black budget espionage must refer to covert operations, technological control (NSA) and global union (one world bank, Amero) strategic powers in place - that's obvious. No need to dig there. Knowledge concealment (something I'm trying to un-conceal with my novels) The Ark has me puzzled, I keep thinking of either Noah, Utnapishtim or Transformers and neither of them are correct. But it must be some sort of ship/colony? Moving west, must mean moving towards the US. Stars removed, harmonic vibrations of equilibrium - I've got a friend who's quite in touch with the universe and claims that he can "feel vibrations" as of late. Not sure what this means, but it could be why my head has been so stuffy lately.
Now we're getting to the interesting part. Auditive levitation, which doesn't even sound probable (auditive = auditory = hearing) geomancy, the ancient art of earth related magick, for those who believe in such an art. Open source pyramid electricity - watched a documentary on this that said the pyramids were originally used as power sources and were different colors than what they are now. I wrote about this in one of my books. The rest refers to the class warfare, which pits rich against poor. This will get chaotic when food shortages begin. Then he goes back to say that the Ark is moving west.
First of all, yes - I've studied up on this stuff. I happen to have a thing for conspiracies. I've also studied everything from witchcraft, high magick, generalized occult, metaphysics and then some. My band's old drummer was in the alien portion and that's when I began getting interested in that material. I'm also a fiction author who delves into the realms of science fiction, fantasy, horror and beyond; so there's definitely a bit of intrigue here. We are living in somewhat interesting/chaotic times where I've noticed the media filling minds with useless knowledge and giving them insight for things that they should not be interested in. I'll also add that some Christians believe these alien races to be fallen angels. I'm not entirely bought on that idea. What I do know, is that I remember (wrote about it in my Ghost review) that the elite (not Ghost) want to build a Ziggurat in the desert. If you're not sure what a Ziggurat is, go look it up. It's essentially a type of pyramid. Hell, you can even find images for what this thing will look like when completed online. It's going to be a lavish structure, which I will be writing more about it my next book; but for now just know that you aren't going to be allowed in it. Why you want to live out in the middle of the desert, I have no fucking clue - but who knows what the plans for that Ziggurat are by these alien races? I don't know, but I'll be writing about it.
Now that all that is done, let's review the album as a whole. There are fourteen tracks here, starting with "Epoch Of De-Evolution 5:41" which mixes technical death metal along with electronics and female vocalizing (hums) There's also a rather nice, albeit confusing solo. They've definitely chosen one of the odder tracks to start the disc out and that's a good thing. "Carpe Diem 7:45" has the whole "ancient civilization of wonder" vibe going for it and then goes into gothic choirs. It reminds me of what might happen if old Therion and new Therion got together. There's even a tasteful violin solo. Fucking beautiful. Upon studying the lyrics, I'm completely clueless as to what this song is about. But the lines "Particle based expectations - deep rooted!" are quite interesting. "Marching Forth 5:26" seems to lyrically be based on being your own hope in life (savior, messiah, exc. - think Iced Earth's "My Own Savior" for a more blunt interpretation) and the song itself trudges a bit slower, but still maintains the technicality and violin solos. There's also some symphonic elements that make the track come off as something of a filmscore. I do have a feeling that these violin solos might get on people's nerves, even though I find them quite beautiful. "Sunrise Slaughter 1:01" is basically about a farmer killing pigs in the morning. There's a flute throughout the whole thing, and some people might laugh at it. Was that a rooster I heard? It probably could have been left off in all actuality.
"Conduit Of Atrophy 3:28" has lyrics that are quite audible. I'd actually love to do another review of this, where I attempt to explain these songs since he's hidden a lot of things inside of them, making this album a lyrical scavenger hunt. But if I'll say anything, there are two lines on this track that may not be apparent to most, but they need further study. "Behold! We are electricity consciousness... Borrowed Energy" which simply states that we (as in the spirit/soul/consciousness, whatever) are essentially, filled with electricity. The brain is chock full of it, all of our memories akin to ultra-computers, with all that data being stored in electric form. This is why those who have passed can manipulate electricity. It is in a sense, the same energy that we're all based on. The "borrowed" energy of the universe itself. It's not ours. We're just temporary users of this energy, like everyone and everything else throughout the whole of existence. Everything has an energy and a pulse, these pulses are all linked together. The song is about the fact that we will die and are eventually going to have to put this energy back to where it belongs (I've heard of something called the guft, of guff that stores universal energy.) It's also true that we become small circular orbs when we're gone. Yeah, that's how we're observed at any rate. A friend of mine has an old, haunted farmhouse (believe me, that fucker's definitely haunted. I stayed a few nights over there and you don't want to be there when it's the witching hour. Weird shit happens.) and he showed me pictures that were taken of the residence by some indie paranormal research group (not the phony Ghost Hunters - TAPS) and it's pretty damned spectacular to see all these orbs, each representing a single spirit. So yeah, they'll fuck with electricity and try to get inside your head and fuck with your brainwave patterns if you let them. It's all just a part of science that we haven't yet been able to give a proper definition to. But I remember a scientist saying that if there was a life after death, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. It would just be a part of science. It wouldn't prove any one religion or idea. It would just prove something that occurs after one exist this physical plane. It's really nothing to get excited over, and no reason to jump into the church with a Bible in hand, hoping for heaven. There's not even a guarantee that those realms exist - and if they do, that you would be allowed in them. As for the song itself, it's quite strong and offers an actual guitar solo. So if the violin was getting on your nerves, this one offers a straightforward approach.
"Veils Of Looming Despair 5:03" features electronics, more violin and the return of the ten million direction song that these guys are known for. It's certainly just as strong as anything else. The next track, "Dissent 4:45" has a fairly straightforward message, but I'm having a problem discerning the viewpoint. is this from the artist or that of the elite? It basically seems to demonize the elite, while exerting that we have unalienable rights since birth and freedoms within those rights. But then there's "Patience is key to manifest design" and I'm not sure what kind of design he is talking about. Finally, there's "expand the chosen bloodline" which threw me completely off balance, as I would equate the bloodline with the supposed thirteen bloodlines (really? 13? come on, that has to be a joke. I mean, of all numbers it's 13) of the elite. (Rothschild, Bilderberg, all those "monocle" sounding names.) I get what the idea of the song is (rebel against the elite) but the bloodline thing has me confused. I would figure that we should end their bloodline, not continue it. As for the track, it's technical death metal with soloing keyboards and thunderous drums. The keyboards definitely remind me a bit of the PSX Megaman X titles, but then there's the portion of the track which is strongly audible, yet still a bit masked and leads into the chorus that contains a punk shout "I want you dead!" and finally has fun with the gothic organs. "The Living Spiral 4:34" brings on saxophone and female vocals with lyrics that remind me a bit of Woods Of Ypres "Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention." Basically, it's about crushing all obstacles to achieve your goals, there's no soul in longing to complete your tasks, you've got to find your purpose and get out there and do shit. That includes busting your ass. I mean, I could - I really could have spent all day long playing a PC game. Would've been a lot of fun. But I believe so much in this music, the bands, and my writing; that I want to get it out and make my opinions known. When I get done with this, I have still even more reviews to do. There will be time for games later. You've got to become the hammer and smash through all the shit that life throws at you, reflecting the truth of your being.
Not quite sure of the meaning of "Obsessive Time Directive 2:49" with it's electronics, saxophone and continue death metal abrasion; but I guess it's about that it doesn't matter what you do because it won't matter in time? Then we have "Patholysis 2:05" which features a Kevorkian quote. It's alright, mostly atmospherics and female chanting. Don't really get it. Kevorkian also had some better quotes than this one. He said something about the system one time that I liked. "Destroyer Of Suffering 3:41" starts with another Kevorkian quote, and it's decent enough - not quite my favorite track. I guess the idea of the lyrics are basically that no one's any more special than another person, (hence the quote about "is the fecal material in your intestines sacred - Crowley thought it was) and that some of us have been brainwashed to believe that they are over others because they believe in popular dogma. The next song on the album is of course, "Annunaki Illuminati 3:41" and so help me, I thought that after reading the lyrics to this one, it was going to suck. But it didn't and turned out to be one of the highlights on the disc. The electronics used in the vocal filters and the "march" rhythms I get on here are great. Plus there's this part (0:56 - 1:21) in the song that just sounds like it would have been awesome to record the vocals for. I can listen to the tone and will tell you that he hit those notes perfectly. I would've done roundabout the same thing, it even reminded me of some of my own vocal work. The keyboards are also doing some incredible things. This is probably the best song on the disc (apparently the band thinks so too, as they posted it up their FB page to promote the album recently, amidst many posts about shirt designs.) "The Color Of Blood 4:32" is quite good as far as the song goes, but I'm lost as to what in the hell it means, other than a confusing way to say that we're the reason for our downfall. There is this wonderful clean vocal that appears "In the eyes of the betrayer, find the lies layer by layer" and I don't know who that guy is, but hopefully he'll do lead vocals for a band someday, as that's a fucking perfect clean tone and I'd love to hear more of it. If this is the frontman's clean tone - an electronic project with those vocals would have money thrown at it. Finally, we get into "Puppet Deities 5:59" which is basically about cutting the puppet strings on who we see as pseudo-avatars (gods in flesh) and uncovering the truth. The track is violin-laden death metal complete with keyboards - but mostly violins. A lot of violins. If you don't like violins, you probably won't like this track. But I fucking like violins, the original instrument of metal - Wagner's precursor to metal and therefore; I also like this track.
Azure Emote's new album is far better than the last one. Yes, that can be derived from just the first few songs. But there are some odd things on the disc that just don't feel like they belong (or should have even been recorded) like "Sunrise Slaughter" which just doesn't work for anyone. Even as a comedy bit, it's only funny so many times. After that, you just skip it and go into "Conduit." Also "Patholysis" and "Destroyer Of Suffering 3:41" just didn't work for me. Lyrically, it felt like there were too many ideas thrown into one album. But musically, it's roundabout the same as The Monolith Deathcult, The Project Hate, Septic Flesh, Unexpect (but not quite as over the top) and many other acts in that vein who are coining this "Kitchen Sink Metal" style - as in, including everything but the kitchen sink. (But I'm sure there's a guy somewhere who's incorporated even that into his music.)
Hence, I close my almost essay length review of the new Azure Emote. It's definitely worth checking out and I'd give it an 8.5. Like I said, a few tracks that just didn't feel they needed to be in there, but there's definitely some interesting material and subject matter on the disc. Hopefully I've given you all something to think about as well. I've been meaning to do this review for a while, just have been so busy putting the finishing touches on my novel that I haven't had the time.
Highlights: Carpe Diem, Marching Forth, Conduit Of Atrophy, Dissent, The Living Spiral, Obsessive Time Directive, Annunaki Illuminati, Puppet Deities (14 Tracks, 60:00)
Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory And Injury (2013) - The new Altar Of Plagues introduces electronic elements to the band, where none had existed before. "Mills 4:08" opens the disc with electronic atmosphere and slight melodic riffing, making it a good introduction piece; but a much different style than we would expect from the band. As "God Alone 4:31" comes in, things get a little more familiar - furious drumming, scathing vocals and a sense of darkness still manage to creep in even though it's very different from what we would have expected. The riffs on the album are very unconventional chugs, almost like a sort of djent black metal with hints of keyboard atmosphere. "A Body Shrouded 4:59" doesn't even sound like black metal, so the "post black metal" genre tag does them justice here. "Burnt Year 4:49" continues this same electronic laden style, that only picks up to introduce drums and the yelling which is more apparent in post black albums. "A Remedy And A Fever 9:00" seems to be a bit slower and reminds me of Godflesh or Jesu in all actuality; there are moments of clean vocal and the track is wholly laden with atmosphere. Some may not even approach this album due to it's fierce use of electronics, and it's vulgar turn away from the black metal of the band's past. There is so much electronic atmosphere on this disc, that it actually overpowers anything that could be considered "extreme" and this is not a disc that you could "bang your head to" in most instances. It's very different for the band and genre as a whole. Believe it or not, a electronic music fan who doesn't even like metal at all might find something here to like; which might be a turn of for those who were expecting another metal album. "Twelve Was Ruin 4:47" is mostly instrumental, but with more guitar influence and vocals near the very end. The disc is oddly sporadic in that fashion and doesn't seem to offer a standardized song structure. "Scald Scar Of Water 7:07" might be one of the only "black metal-ish" tracks on the disc as far as the blasts and vocals are concerned. You can tell that these guys are trying to do their own thing with the genre, but I'm sure that kvltists will be done with them at this point. "Found, Oval And Final 3:27" seems to be more based in the atmosphere, but features plenty of bite. The album ends on "Reflection Pulse Remains 6:29" which is the only damned song on here that gives me the fucking melodies I wanted to hear. There's also some really odd electronic tinkering that comes off as slightly annoying, just this one "sound" that might not sit well with the ears. After that, you get a bunch of sound effects and it ends.
This album, like Agrypnie's Aetas Cineris is very much an atmospheric black metal disc. That being said, it's not my favorite and I'm not quite sure how to score it. Is it good? Is it bad? That's really going to be up to your ears. You might like the large amount of electronic atmospheres thrown in, but I thought it just slowed the disc down. I'd consider myself a fan of electronics and of the (at times shoegaze) melodies on the record; but for some reason it all just didn't work for me here. Call me crazy, but this album style is quite like the material I've been recording as far as vocals go, so maybe there's a sense of "I'd rather hear it done my way" that gets in the way of hearing it done as the Altar frontman has done it. Knowing full well that both styles would sound round-about the same with the exception of growl vocals, which I have sometimes used (but we are talking about two quite different, yet similar musical styles here) in my vocal recordings, I still prefer the work that I do over this.
Additionally, I also think that I just can't feel these electronic atmospheres in extreme metal. There have been several bands that I have given a decent or solid score to because of this. I like my electronics a bit jumpier, not so much in a sense of drone - unless it's in drone or atmospheric music. When a band is giving me these two extremes (dim electronic atmosphere and black metal) at once, I can get carried away from the music completely. It all becomes background noise. The electronics on this disc are so subtle, and then when you mix them with shallow black metal parts (that really are nothing special in retrospect) it just fades all into the background. Most of these songs all seem to sound the same, which is the major problem. It's a good effort, but probably won't be seen as much more. He's angry, I can tell that. But I hope the next album has more black metal, or they should just strip the metal entirely and turn Altar Of Plagues into some sort of dark electronic atmosphere band.
EDIT: Apparently the band felt that the album wasn't very good either, as they have just announced that they are splitting up. Seems right, after hearing this. It just doesn't sound like Altar Of Plagues anymore. But at least they knew when to throw in the towel and work on something fresh.
(9 Tracks, 49:00)
Facebreaker - Dedicated To The Flesh (2013) - If you remember my last review for Facebreaker, you'll know that I gave their last album of foot stomping and head banging death and grime a perfect 10. Because it was just that good. Yet here they are with another release, and it seems that this time lightning wasn't able to strike twice for these guys. Since this isn't anything out of the ordinary, there's no real need to trudge it song by song. It's definitely classic death metal as you know and love it. "Meat Freak 3:40" sets a good tone for the start of the disc, with "Zombie Flesh Cult 4:06" featuring a sing-along chorus, just like the old days. "Mutilator 3:20" is a little slower, but it's sure as hell punishing. I think this is a universal standout track for the album and most will agree. You've got the bludgeoning of "Nuclear Outbreak 3:06" and the much speedier "World Cremation 3:00" which both pull no punches. This album doesn't pull any punches, you know what to expect from the minute you throw it on. The disc closes with "Tomb Of The Hungry Dead 5:03" which has the right amount of dread and some actual threatening (well, somewhat threatening) riffs. The tenth track was taken off the disc and thrown on as some kind of bonus, so "Legions Of Doom 4:12" is actually worth having, showcasing a strong effort from the band and another sing-along chorus. It's actually a really good song that should have been on the original press. Nice solo too. But you know how it goes...
At any rate, there's a few tracks on here that don't really cut the mustard and if I haven't mentioned them, it's because they're so-so or solid. I tried to highlight the good tracks here, but at the end of the day it's going to come down to your ears, not mine. While I didn't like this disc as much as the last one, it's still worth checking out.
Highlights: Meat Freak, Zombie Flesh Cult, Mutilator, Nuclear Outbreak, Legions Of Doom, World Cremation, Tomb Of The Hungry Dead (12 Tracks, 44:00)
Autopsy - The Headless Ritual (2013) - Yeah, don't give me shit for it. This is my first rendezvous with Autopsy and I have to say that I'm really enjoying this punk-influenced death metal. The punk riffs are there, don't deny them. But that's what makes it good. A little punk, a little death metal and some doom? Why, that's a great mix. The vocals are a little comedic at times, but come on - these guys are just trying to make a good album about death, gore and murder in the style of horror films - not the shit that goes on everyday, you know? I mean, you got "Slaughter At Beast House 6:33" which starts out punk and jumps right into doom, brandishing a solo at the same time. Then "Mangled Far Below 3:37" comes in with that great vocal style (I mean, this guy sounds like a punk-monster, it kind of reminds me of David Brockie from GWAR, but with a bit more blood in the throat) and it's essentially the same mix - punk, death doom. Another great solo? Yeah. You guys should get it by now. These guys know what they're doing and have been doing it for longer than some of us have been alive.
"She Is A Funeral 7:32" came next and really stood out to me - I fucking love this one, I've got to admit (listen to those riffs) and the solo that busts out of it is quite nice too. I really wish I had gotten the chance to see these guys live, because this album just doesn't do what the live show would be capable of. This seems like you're taking what's essentially a killer live band and trying to contain all that shit on one disc - like Dying Fetus. Go listen to them live and tell me how good the albums sound afterwards. It's just not the same. Alright, so "Coffin Crawlers 4:32" comes in with a horror intro, thrashy death and some more unsettling melodies as a rock solo comes in. Love the fucking vocals here "They want to eat my eyes!" just the fucking passion in that shit, it works. "When Hammer Meets Bone 5:34" just sounds as gruesome as hell, but it welcomes the punk melodies lowering things down a bit to enter the realms of doom. Was that a cow I heard, or a guitar riff? Doom and bovine influence makes for a great album, I'd have to say. "Thorns and Ashes 1:45" you might think is a little interlude type thing, but it's actually got some gore vocals and relatively interesting riffs. I'll allow it.
"Arch Cadaver 4:22" definitely gets back into the realms of classic death, sounding like that Facebreaker I just reviewed, but nobody can touch this guy's vocals. And another rockin' solo, just because we can. Sucks I'm just now hearing these guys. "Flesh Turns To Dust 3:27" has some unconventional melodies, some interesting shit going on there - again, got to love the vocals here. Thundering doom and somewhat comical, yet somewhat amazing vocals. I could listen to this shit for days. "Running From The Goathead 4:29" really pumps up the drums and features some gravel and a bit of scathing vocal influence. Those are still essentially punk riffs with a bit of a dark tinge to em, but the shit sounds good and at this point I don't give a fuck what kind of riffs they are. This is definitely one of the more "death metal" of the tracks on the album. There's also some interesting melody patterns (are they trying to do prog?) on this track. These guys just throw whatever they want into the mix and it sounds great. So the disc ends with "The Headless Ritual 2:24" which is just an intro to a good horror film that hasn't been made. A definite grindhouse film if I ever saw one. And I have... too damn many, in fact. I'm a fiend for them. At any rate, yeah this thing needs to be licensed and used for some good murder flick. Not Hollywood shit, either. I said grindhouse and I meant it.
So that's that. Autopsy's fucking awesome, to put it blunt. They do whatever the hell they want and make it all sound like nothing else out there. I've heard thousands of pounds of gore and death and doom, but these guys manage to make it their own. No one's got vocals like their frontman - no one. That guy really puts himself into each and every fucking song here. Whether it's funny or just fucking thrilling, it works. I guess that's why these guys have been around for as long as they have. This shit is timeless.
(10 Tracks, 44:00)