Thursday, February 12, 2015
Call it morbid curiosity. I really do not give a fuck about the Grammys, but I find myself checking out who won the Best Metal Performance Grammy each year. Usually I do not even see the nominees until that night, but I check it out anyway. This year saw Tenacious D win the Grammy for Best Metal Performance for their version of Dio's classic "Last in Line". That is fucking ridiculous. A cover version of a song written 30 years ago by a joke band headed by actor Jack Black is not a very good representation of where metal is today. I'm not even mad about it, the whole thing is just so ridiculous that it defies explanation. I would prefer it if the award show would just drop the Metal Performance Grammy altogether. They have no idea about the genre and don't seem to care. What's the point?
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Odota is actually quite dissimilar from Talbot, which is definitely not a problem. It was just a little surprising. Where Talbot played murky doom metal, Odota plays sludge-laden black metal with a bit of a psychedelic tinge to it. It is fairly similar to the terrific Silencing Machine by Nachtmystium. The experimental elements add a lot of depth and intrigue to the otherwise straightforward black metal riffing style. The vocals are more aggressive black metal-style rasping which fits well with the music and distinguishes it from being too much like Nachtmystium.
There are some exclusively experimental tracks here, most notably "Staked Plains", that kind of drag things down a little bit. I don't really understand the desire to throw in mostly atonal, noise tracks onto albums, but then it is not my decision.
I'm not really sure if there is some sort of lyrical theme here or not. I do not have any access to any lyrics sheets, but the song titles seem to lead to the conclusion that this may be a Western-themed albums. We have words like "marshal", "horse thief", "plains", "eagle", and "rattlesnake" in each of the titles. Kind of odd choices really. I suspect this is the first ever Western-themed psychedelic black metal album in history.
I thought this was a pretty decent release. It is hard not to compare it to Jarmo Nuutre's other band, and I think it falls a bit short of Talbot. But it is a very good effort and it will be interesting to see what this band can do in the future.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Well enough about the genre, what do we have here? The riffing style is at times edgy and aggressive, and at others incredibly melodic. The band makes liberal use of keyboards and techno/industrial elements at times, particularly in the intro track.
The vocals are definitely on the extreme end for this style of metal, but not all power metal features particularly melodic vocal styles. Just look at Helstar and the weird Finnish groups like Children of Bodom and their ilk. On occasion, the vocals are delivered with a more extreme backing track, or the vocalist actually uses more extreme vocal styles at times. There was also a female guest vocalist on one track which brought quite a bit of dynamics to the track. The vocals are all in Spanish, which is not surprising. My Spanish is a tad rusty so I have a little bit of trouble figuring out what they are singing about.
Despite the disparate styles of metal combined by this band, the songs were surprisingly cohesive. There are definitely some unusual things going on at times, but the band is talented enough to keep things from turning into a mess. In fact, the album is quite interesting. It is likely one I will need to hear a few times to really get a good idea of what is going on. But it was definitely good enough to bear repeated listens.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
It has been a pretty bad year for me on this blog. I have been a little burned out as I have been very busy with work. It has been hard to find time to listen to new music as much as I would like. I have been really bad with bands contacting me. I still heard a lot of great new music though. And I managed to put together a Best Of list. Here we go:
14. AT THE GATES: AT WAR WITH REALITY
The reunion of the year finds the pioneering melodeath band releasing their first new album since the landmark Slaughter of the Soul. At The Gates manages to recapture the spirit of that album without remaking it. Sure a lot of bands copied it over the years, but At The Gates still manages to sound fresh, even after all these years.
Other bands have come around that do what Septicflesh does better than them. Rotting Christ does Greek mythology better and Fleshgod Apocalypse does symphonic tinged extreme metal better. Nevertheless Septicflesh keeps going and they still do their thing damn well, as evidenced by this terrific album.
If I had to name a favorite thrash metal band, I would honestly have to consider Overkill at this point. Mostly due to the fact that the band has never really softened their sound. Sure they were groove metal for a little while, but they were still good. And they continue to put out amazing, kickass thrash metal albums.
Slightly disappointing after the terrific Carving Out the Eyes of God and Blood for the Master, this is nevertheless still a very strong album. Goatwhore continues to put out uncompromisingly brutal metal. They get more extreme with each release.
Ex Mortus bring a lot of symphonic and classical influences to their style of riffing. The solos in particular display these influences. The band even goes so far as to cover "Moonlight Sonata". Seriously. The rest of the album is unapologetically cheesy and metal as fuck. It's campy and fun, and we need that once in awhile.
Finland's Insomnium are easily one of the best melodeath bands still going. Their somber and melodic style comes as a welcome change from some of the other groups in the genre. This is yet another melancholic masterpiece from the band that just keeps getting better.
Easily one of the most controversial albums of the year, particularly due to the album's insane cover art, Lord Mantis's third release is also one of the year's best. Their take on filthy rotten sludge metal puts a lot of the mainstream sludge acts to shame. Those who refused to check it out due to the cover are missing out.
Grand Magus makes this list every year they release something. That should tell something about the quality of this band. They just continue to put out terrific album after terrific album. They are quite simply on of the best traditional metal bands going today.
First of all, awesome name. Secondly, awesome death metal album. Corpsessed reminds me most of groups like Angelcorpse and Teitanblood, filthy, disgusting death metal that blows everything else out of the water. This is just the band's first full-length album, which is shocking because they sound like seasoned veterans.
Vader is simultaneously one of the most consistent and most underrated metal bands in the world. They just never seem to get the respect and notice that they deserve. Every single album by Vader is terrific and the fact that the band has been doing it since the mid 1980's is astounding. This is once more a very strong album in typical Vader take-no-prisoners style.
Triptykon was the release I probably looked most forward to this year. After all, their first album was my Album of the Year and it did not look at all like this would be a disappointing sophomore album. While I do thoroughly enjoy this album, some of the songs seemed to be a little too similar at times and the band was often comfortable plodding along. Certainly not the case with the opening crushing track. All in all, a great album, but one that pales in comparison to the first one.
I have always liked Mastodon, but none of their releases have been so great that I listened to them frequently over and over again. Until this one. This album features some of the catchiest songs I have heard all year. Mastodon seems much more focused on crafting songs rather than the meandering psychedelia the band once used frequently and they are that much better for it.
One of the most hyped releases of the year managed to exceed even my expectations. Behemoth has always been a favorite band of mine, but some of their releases have lacked dynamics, focusing instead on simply blasting away. This release is incredibly dynamic and therefore blows away everything the band previously released.
The debut album by this Australian death metal act is incredible. Dark and mysterious with an obvious Lovecraftian influence, the album features twisted riffs and psychotic, gibbering vocals. It is one of those death metal albums that simply grabs you on the first listen and will not let go. I have mentioned that certain death metal albums, particularly lesser-known ones, sometimes have an intense quality that makes it difficult to turn them off. This one has that same quality.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
I am trying to clear out some emails here and figured since these were all shorter releases that a quick paragraph would suffice. I found myself enjoying all three releases for different reasons, so don't take the brevity of the reviews as an indictment against them.
CREINIUM: PROJECT UTOPIA (2014)
PINEAL: SMILING CULT (2014)
CRUSHING AXES: UNDEAD WARRIOR (2014)
CREINIUM: PROJECT UTOPIA (2014)
PINEAL: SMILING CULT (2014)
CRUSHING AXES: UNDEAD WARRIOR (2014)
Monday, December 8, 2014
Saturday, December 6, 2014
So it was with a little bit of trepidation that I dove into this three-song EP from Finnish post-metal/doom trio Ovenizer. I figured a three-track release would be easy enough to digest though without growing too painful. I am actually kind of glad I took the chance. Maybe I was just a melancholy mood when listening to it, but it really did capture my attention and I found myself enjoying it immensely.
It is true that the three song format was easy to digest, but I found myself wanting more. The songs each move freely with a significant amount of melody and swirling guitar riffs creating a trance-inducing atmosphere. The vocals are typically clean, though occasionally a death growl emerges. The vocals though are just complementary to the music. The band could have just as easily produced the same atmosphere without any vocals at all.
The songs are typically slow and depressive. The band strikes a balance between the earlier works of groups like My Dying Bride and Katatonia with the heavier works by Isis. It is a very dark and doom-laden sound that also presents some extremely strong emotions, in particular during second track "Hypnote", the strongest track on the album.
I really enjoyed this release, but the best thing that I can say about it is that it has opened up my eyes to a genre I did not previously get into.
Friday, December 5, 2014
Anyway, this is a split between two obviously extreme metal bands. You don't get a name like Hellcrawler in the pop music realm. Each band contributed about ten minutes worth of music, which does a surprisingly good job of introducing the band to someone like myself who is not familiar with either group.
Hellcrawler has taken the Entombed death 'n roll sound and run with it. The Slovenien group (that's right, Slovenian) has one full length album under their belt before this split. Their side of the split is three tracks of dirty, filthy death metal with some surprisingly catchy hooks. Third track "Green Machine" is a cover of one of the greatest Kyuss songs. They do a decent job putting their own spin on it.
Wölfe is definitely extreme. An odd mix of grindcore and blackened thrash. The band apparently does not actually name their songs, titling them with Roman numerals only. The production values leave a little to be desired as the sound is a little too high-pitched and grating. The drums have that certain St. Anger quality. The vocals are pretty terrible as well. I will likely not be revisiting Wölfe.
So, two sides, one really good and the other really bad. I will definitely be trying to track down some more Hellcrawler.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
The album starts off with the track "Doom Against True Hell", which features a hefty amount of synthesizer programming to open things up before diving into a much more standard power-chord-driven riff, which is easily the heaviest riff on the release. That sound is frequently spliced with more programming, some choral vocal lines, and singer Marco Cantoni's howling vocals. This sets the stage for most of the rest of the songs, which manage to throw a number of other influences in as the album progresses.
Along the way, there are some strange moments which may be considered missteps depending on the listener. For instance, "My Kingdom for a Horse" features some vocal segments that can best be described as akin to rapping. Which is strange, to say the least. Other sections feature more of the choral style, which is typically done quite well. Much of the album relies on keyboards to drive the melody, which can be interesting when done well, but some of the more experimental sections can be a little strange. And of course the track "Feel the Essence of Blues" is much more of a blues song than metal, which is a bit of an unusual and rather courageous addition.
The members of Cyrax are clearly talented musicians, which is the only reason that they are able to pull this album off. It is a very strange and varied release that sees influences from a variety of non-metal genres, as well as metal. Is it for everyone? Probably not. But it is certainly an entertaining and interesting release.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
To be fair, this is much more of a progressive death metal album in the vein of Mithras and Nocturnus. The bass in particular reminds me very strongly of Nocturnus's classic The Key. The science fiction theme, complicated song structures, otherworldly bass sound, and deep vocals combine into a cohesive sound that really does give off the feel of a sci-fi concept album.
Each of the musicians is extremely gifted at their instruments. The bass is definitely the star of the album but the drumming and lead guitars are also top-notch. The drumming, while not as complicated as some progressive metal drummers (i.e. no polyrhythms and multiple time signatures) drives the music with its precision and intensity. The lead guitar work provides a lot of the melody of the songs and can go from almost neoclassical shredding to dissonant chord progressions fairly quickly.
The vocals of singer Sofia Silva are delivered in a raspy tone that calls to mind Sabina Classen of Holy Moses, who is one of my personal favorite female extreme metal vocalists, so I am on board. There is not frequently a lot of dynamics to the vocals, but they nonetheless fit well with the urgency of the music. On occasion the band utilizes clean backing vocals which provide a nice dichotomy to the otherwise more monotone vocal style.
One thing I did really enjoy with this release is that, unlike a lot of progressive metal bands, Neoplasmah craft complete songs, rather than a collection of musical segments. Songwriting appears to be just as important to this band as showing off their technical skills. The band takes things one step further by being able to blend all of the songs into a complete album rather than just a collection of separate and distinct songs.
This is an album that sounds better and better with repeated listens. There is a lot going on musically that can be missed and revealed in hearing it again and again.
Monday, November 24, 2014
The music is an unholy combination of doom, black, and crust. The opening track crawls out of the gate with the pace of a snail slinking to its demise. The pace increases to a more of a deathly gallop before returning to the dirge. The song definitely has a Sabbathian feel to it, despite the more modern influences.
The second track is a much more fast-paced song that sounds like Motorhead playing Venom. As a big fan of groups like Wastelander and Thargos, this song really catches my interest. If this is what the rest of Villainy's material sounds like, I am all in.
Unfortunately this is just a two-song EP, but it definitely piqued my curiosity to check out more by Villainy.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
This release is a quick, two-song 7" EP. Both songs are covers with the first being a cover of Grotesque's "Ripped from the Cross", and a second, much more outside-the-box cover of Chicago-based doom metal band Novembers Doom. Both tracks are presented with the grinding bottom-heavy riffs and pounding drums that Sinister has perfected over their long career. Vocalist/drummer (?) Aad Kloosterwaard has one of the most extreme voices in death metal, sounding much more like a deep, guttural croak.
There is not much to say about the Grotesque cover. It is definitely within Sinister's wheelhouse, fast-paced, frenetic death metal. It is unsurprising that Sinister is able to handle this song capably. The much more shocking cover is the Novembers Doom cover. Sinister infuses some clean vocals to capture the mournful tone of the original track. But the band sounds a little clumsy trying to slow things down and has a hard time conveying the tragedy and loss that Novembers Doom is so well-suited to capture. Sinister should probably stick to uncompromising, lethal death metal than trying their hand at doom.
So, two tracks, one pretty good, and the other not as well-executed, but certainly interesting. It is only a two-track EP so it is only recommended for hardcore fans.
Friday, October 3, 2014
I promise to get back soon. Things might actually slow down here sometime soon. I just won a Motion to Suppress last week and I have a jury trial in a couple of weeks. I suspect after the jury trial I will be back.
See you soon.
See you soon.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
The album begins in fairly typical fashion with a largely ambient track. There is some voiceover discussing the nature of mankind that probably comes from some horror movie or other, which lends a nice creepy vibe to kick things off. From there, we are off to the races with the kind of dark riffing this breed of black metal is known for. Musically, Kult of Taurus is probably most similar to Melechesh. There is a strong Middle-Eastern element to the band's sound, though Kult of Taurus do not use the constantly repetitive riff structure that Melechesh uses to great effect. The structure of the songs is very progressive as well, leading to room for experimentation.
The vocals should be discussed. These are not typical black metal vocals in that they are not the typical raspy shriek. Rather, they are delivered in a harsh, but mostly clean manner that is clear and easy to understand. That is not to say that the vocalist is crooning at all. It is still an aggressive and threatening style, it is just not the more typical black metal style.
This is a highly enjoyable release that fits in well with the Hellenic black metal scene. That is one of my favorite styles of black metal and this album is a perfect example of why.