Friday, May 29, 2020

My Last Post?

I have been doing this blog for several years now and the last year and a half I have been working really hard to do a post every day.  Yet, I seldomly receive more than 20 views on any post for quite some time now.  I enjoy doing album reviews, but if no one is really paying attention any more, I guess I do not see a lot of reason to keep going.  Certainly not with content every single day.  It takes quite awhile to do a post every day.  Listening to the album a couple of times and then writing a review usually takes about two to three hours.  Time that I could better spend elsewhere.  I do not want this to come across as overly negative, but there has been virtually no interaction with readers for quite some time either.  Only a few random comments over the last year and a half that I have been writing posts every day.  So, I guess I am saying that I will probably not be doing posts daily any more.  At least for awhile.  I will still probably do concert posts and I will still probably cover the new releases that come out this year.  I will definitely do an end of the year post, but maybe it's time to move on to something else.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Lord Weird Slough Feg: New Organon (2019)

It has been a little while since I checked on these San Francisco-based metallers.  Last I knew they were still going by the abbreviated, yet still bizarre, moniker Slough Feg.  This is the first album since 2003's Traveller that the band's complete name was on the cover.  And no, I still do not totally understand the reference.  There really has been no difference in the sound of the band under either name, so it is more or less just an aesthetic choice.

Anyway, this is the first album I have heard since 2009's Ape Uprising!, and I was looking forward to hearing them once again.  At the foundation, the music really has not changed much at all.  It is still based around Thin Lizzy-esque, Celtic folk-tinged riffs and the husky vocals of Mike Scalzi.  And there are some great songs here as well, including the galloping "Being and Nothingness" and the epic "Uncanny".

If there is a complaint to be made it is that some of the earlier songs, particularly "Headhunter" and "The Apology" seem like they are trying to build to something great, but never quite get there.  It almost feels as if the band is holding back at times.

Obviously I cannot really say this is a return to form.  The Lord Weird Slough Feg has been shockingly consistent throughout their career.  I have truly enjoyed every single album I have heard from the band.  That being said, I can say this is probably my second-favorite album by the band, behind only Hardworlder.  I have not heard everything from them though, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.  It is damn good though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Vadiat: Darkness Proceeds (2019)

Here we have the debut release from Cleveland-based death/doom metal band Vadiat.  This is a very short release, containing just four songs, though the songs are a bit on the longer side.  Vadiat is made up of veterans from the Cleveland underground metal scene, two of whom did some time in the mighty Nunslaughter, so even if the band is new, the members certainly know what the hell they are doing.

Musically, the band has a great deal in common with early purveyors of the death/doom scene like Asphyx, and mixed it with the riff-based chaos of Bolt Thrower.  The songs are quite lengthy with a variety of musical sections that range from blistering intensity to devastating solemnity.  Opening track "Quarter Moon Chaos" with its twists and turns and some damn impressive leads.

This is a terrific debut release from a band whose members have done some great work in the past.  It is only natural that this release would be as impressive as it is.  I am definitely looking forward to more material from Vadiat in the future.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tiger Junkies: Green Tea or Die (2013)

I have covered Tiger Junkies once before with their sole full-length release.  This is a follow-up EP that came a couple of years later.  The band is a side project between Yasuyuki Suzuki from Abigail and Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust.  It was a way for the two to go back to show some of their punk roots.

This is an extremely short release, consisting of just four songs and just over eleven minutes in length.  The songs are fast-paced, usually based around a single punk-esque riff.  I am pretty sure most of the song titles, including the title track are jokes referencing other song titles, though I cannot quite put my finger on them, or tell why.  The vocals are usually switched off between the two singers, with Grind's vocals being a little deeper and less raspy.  The release flies by and is over before one really gets into it.

This release is fine, but it is probably a little closer to the punk side of things than metal.  That is fine at times and this is definitely a release to get the blood pumping.  Its brevity is probably its best feature as it is easy to turn on, listen to quickly and move on.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Just Before Dawn: The Aftermath (2014)

I did not intend to cover an album like this on Memorial Day.  It just kind of worked out that way.
Yesterday I covered the former Amon Amarth guitarist Anders Biazzi's war-centered project Just Before Dawn.  That was the debut album.  This is the follow-up, appropriately-named The Aftermath.  Just like the debut, this album starts off with the sound of a battle and continues on with that theme throughout.

This time around, the music seems mostly somber, reflecting primarily the horrors of warfare and an extreme sense of loss.  In that respect and combined with the buzzsaw-like riffing style, the album reminds me somewhat of a combination of Entombed and Memoriam. 

Like the previous album, there are a number of guest vocalists on this release lending their voices to the songs.  Some of them appeared on the previous album, such as Ralf Hauber of Revel in Flesh.  But this time around, Just Before Dawn scored a major coup by getting the legendary Dave Ingram (Benediction) to perform on a track.  Ingram was the vocalist on one of my all-time favorite death metal albums, Transcend the Rubicon, so it was exciting to hear him on this.

Just Before Dawn have improved a bit on this release, but it does still sound like more of a compilation album than just one band.  It is an impressive release nonetheless.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Just Before Dawn: Precis Innan Gryningen (2013)

Just Before Dawn is the war-oriented project of one Anders Biazzi.  Formerly known as Anders Hansson, Biazzi has had a long career as guitarist in a number of Swedish death metal bands, including most notably Amon Amarth.  Biazzi was with Amon Amarth through the release of debut Once Sent from the Golden Hall.  By the way, the album title is just the band's name in Swedish.

This release is the band's debut and it is a crushing, monstrous war machine of an album.  That is with a heavy emphasis on "war".  The album starts off with a sound clip of warfare and quickly follows that up with some massively intense riffs descending into chaos.  The album mostly continues in this style, giving the feel of being constantly under bombardment from heavy artillery. 

The most interesting aspect of the release is the use of guest musicians, primarily to perform vocal duties.  The list of guest vocalists reads like a who's who of underground death metal vocalists.  It includes Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, tons of other bands), Jonas Lindblood (Puteraeon), Ralf Hauber (Revel in Flesh) and several others.  With this collection of talent, it is no wonder that the vocals are constantly interesting.  The album also features a guest guitar appearance from early death metal legend Rick Rozz (Death, Massacre).

This album somewhat has a feel of a compilation album that happens to be built around similar ideas.  Nevertheless it is a very strong release and an impressive debut for the project of a veteran Swedish death metal guitarist.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Diabolic Night: Beyond the Realm (2019)

It is getting very difficult to keep all of these black/thrash/speed metal bands straight.  It seems to be a major trend to go back to the early 1980's and take influence from Motörhead, Venom and Bathory.  One band I think I am going to be able to remember though is this German group, because this album is truly awesome.

Diabolic Night throws in some obvious German thrash metal influence, incorporating Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, and even more melodic acts like Running Wild into their early blackened speed metal riffs.  The result is a caustic, yet shockingly melodic and infectious release.  Diabolic Night have mastered the ability to bring in some truly unique riffs.  Just look at the Egyptian-sounding riff to "Crescent Moon Rise". 

This album grabs the listener from the very first moments and refuses to let go.  There are a lot of bands these days playing this style of metal, but few of them have achieved this kind of infectious energy.  This album is just a ton of fun. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Hulder: Embraced by Darkness Mysts (2019)

Hulder is one-woman black metal band that is the project of former Bleeder vocalist/guitarist The Inquisitor.  The Inquisitor, despite being based out of the metal hotbed of Portland, Oregon, is originally from Belgium and calls on Belgian folklore as an influence for the lyrical subject matter.

This is a very short, two-song EP, Hulder's second release in 2019.  I was a little surprised given the album cover that this release does not have much, if any, folk influences.  There are some short moments, such as acoustic introductions and chiming bells that have some very minor influence, but by and large, this is a straightforward black metal release that seems to draw on influences from second wave Norwegian black metal bands like Mayhem, along with some LLN influence as well.  The riffs here are cold and raw, and are the primary highlight here.

I picked this up as a short introduction to a band I was not familiar with and came out impressed.  I will be checking out more from Hulder.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

When Your Debut is Your Best Album: Flotsam and Jetsam

I have been thinking about bands whose debut is their best work for a little bit of late.  It is generally well-accepted that a lot of metal bands tend to peak early on their first couple of albums.  That is true of a lot of the giants in metal music, including very obviously Metallica and Black Sabbath.  But it is also true of a lot of lesser bands as well.  Now, I still think it is at least somewhat rare for a band's debut album to be universally considered their best work, but there are a few out there.

One of the more obvious examples of this is Arizona power thrashers Flotsam and Jetsam.  Their debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver is an absolute monster, featuring catchy riffs and infectious hooks.  It is one of the best thrash metal albums of all time.  Yet the band was really not able to build upon that early success.  I like the follow-up No Place for Disgrace quite well, but I really do not think it holds a candle to the raw thunder of Doomsday.  And from then on, most of the albums by the band have been well below the standard set by the first two.  In fact the band went through a number of stylistic changes before at least attempting to return to their former glory.

Now there is a very clear demarcation between Flotsam and Jetsam's debut and everything that came afterwards, and pretty much anyone with a reasonable knowledge of metal knows exactly what I am talking about.  Jason Newsted, who rose to fame as Metallica's bassist after the untimely death of Cliff Burton, was originally in Flotsam and Jetsam.  In fact, he was the principal lyricist and a major factor in the songwriting.  His bass work on the album is absolutely killer and often drives the songs.  And he left very soon after the debut was released.  It really is a shame that Metallica never really allowed Newsted free reign to write some stuff for the band because his work on Flotsam and Jetsam is incredibly impressive.

After Newsted left, the band moved forward.  Newsted was not really a founding member of the band, but his absence loomed large.  They have never been able to adequately replace him in my opinion.  As I said, the sophomore album is damn good, but it's no Doomsday, and the band has not been able to come close since.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bosque: Nowhere (2013)

I want to start by saying that I really enjoy funeral doom metal, but let's be honest, there is not a ton of diversity to the music.  Playing as slow as these bands do, there is not all that much different one band can do from another.  And thus discovering new bands with something truly unique to add to the genre is somewhat difficult.

That brings me to Portuguese funeral doom metal band Bosque.  Bosque has been a fairly active band over the years, and this is the band's third full-length album, out of four thus far.  Bosque is a one-man project by multo-instrumentalist DM.  

What sets Bosque apart for the most part is the atmosphere and ambiance created beyond the heavy, thundering riffs.  The soft keyboard melodies, chanted vocals and dissonant chords make up a maudlin, emotional atmosphere.  Unfortunately it does not always prevent the songs from dragging a bit.

This is a release that one has to be patient with.  There is not a lot going on all the time and it does require careful listening in order to catch the moments that do have an impact.  At other times, it just seems to go on and on.  This is probably not the best album to check out as an introduction to funeral doom, it is more of an advanced release once one knows they enjoy the genre.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

One and Done? Pt. 15: Burial Choir

I guess technically I do not really know if this is a One and Done project.  Not much appears to be known at all about this Finnish funeral doom metal project.  They have released the one full-length album Iconoclast in 2016 and that makes up their entire discography.  No demos, no EPs, no splits, and nothing since 2016. 

The album is fairly typical for funeral doom metal: mostly lengthy and slow songs that creep and crawl, accentuated by monolithic riffs and deep, roaring vocals.  The album starts off with the chiming of bells that really give the early moments a funereal atmosphere.  That chiming continues throughout the entire first song, at times only barely perceptible, but it is definitely there.  It then continues throughout the album, appearing mostly at the beginning and end of songs, tying the entire album together. 

If this is it for Burial Choir, they certainly gave it their all.  This is a very impressive funeral doom release that does just enough to stand out from the pack, which is sort of difficult to do given the style.  The storyline is captivating and the framing chimes make this an album to experience as a whole. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Fetid: Steeping Corporeal Mess (2019)

With the band name and album title here, it is pretty obvious what kind of music this is going to be.  Hint: it is definitely not going to be pretty.  Fetid is yet another band from the Pacific Northwest and features a member from Cerebral Rot, which just makes sense.

This barely qualifies as a full-length, lasting five songs and a little over 30 minutes, but it is some of the most disgusting and filthy death metal there is outside of the slam subgenre.  The riffs are tuned down to the floor and there is a big, meaty bass sound.  The vocals are deep and gurgling, like an undead monster screaming with its mouth full of human flesh.  The band positively rips through these songs making some truly inhuman noise.

I am not going to mention yet again how great 2019 was for death metal.  Fetid is a very new band, and this is their debut full-length, sort of.  They will be another band to follow.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A Tribute to Possessed: Seven Burning Churches (2016)

This is a little bit of a unique take on a tribute album.  Essentially this is a collection of cover songs from the landmark Seven Churches album by Possessed.  The tracks are in order, with one exception, which I will get to.  Instead of being a Possessed tribute, it is more of a Seven Churches tribute.  That's fine though, that is a fantastic album.  The bands here are mostly extreme metal bands from Eastern European countries.  I was not previously familiar with any of them.  I like it that way though, a good way to discover new bands

PYRE: "THE EXORCIST"
Kicking things off with one of Possessed's most recognizable tracks is Russian death metal band Pyre.  This version sounds a bit more mechanical, due mostly to the tone of the guitars.  It is also a bit on the faster, more aggressive side.  It sounds barely restrained, threatening to veer completely out of control at a moment's notice.

DECEASE: "PENTAGRAM"
My wife will be thrilled that I discovered another Romanian band (she has significant Romanian ancestry) to go along with Negura Bunget.  Decease is another band whose aggression and raw sound threaten to steer them off course.  The vocals are definitely interesting, sounding like a man with a mouthful of whiskey spluttering the lyrics.

VIOLENTOR: "BURNING IN HELL"
Violentor is an Italian thrash metal band, but this song has a decidedly hardcore style which the original version did not have.  This is mostly present in the shouted, punkish vocal style provided and the frenetic pace of the song.

BESTIALITY: "EVIL WARRIORS"
Polish blackened thrash metal band Bestiality give a blistering version of "Evil Warriors".  The vocals are delivered in more of a blackened rasp and hitting the shrieks on the offbeat of the drums gives the track something of an unstable, bewildering sound.

HELL PATROL: "SEVEN CHURCHES"
Tackling the title track is the Polish militant blackened thrash metal band Hell Patrol, who seem to actually pick up speed as the song continues.  The thrash break kind of gets a bit lost in the shuffle.  It's there, but the band is going so fast, it just flies by.

SEPTORY: "SATAN'S CURSE"
Septory is another Russian death metal band with some rabid ferocity.  This one sounds like a tank rolling through a battlefield, just some crushing riffs.  They do something a little strange in the middle with a slightly more melodic section with some shining guiter lines and blazing solos that I do not remember in the original version.

TERROR STRIKER: "HOLY HELL"
Another Russian band, Terrör Striker is another band that combines black and thrash metal into an unholy maelstrom.  They seem a bit more restrained, but in more of an industrial machine style.  The band reminds me of Devastator in the way, jackhammer riffing in factory precision.

Січгарт: "TWISTED MINDS"
Січгарт is a Ukrainian thrash metal band, and no, I do not know what their name means, or how to say it.  This is another one that almost has a hardcore feel to it, based mostly on the guitar tone and the snarled vocals.  It is also one of my favorite tracks on the release.

GROND: "FALLEN ANGEL"
Yet another Russian death metal band, tackling one of the more sinister-sounding tracks on the album.  They definitely steer into the ominous side of this song, dressing the opening chiming with tons of evil atmosphere.  The decayed vocals and creepy keyboards certainly help make this a very imposing-sounding track.  This is another of my favorites from the release.

CASTRUM: "DEATH METAL"
Ukrainian band Castrum is a bit more on the technical side of things that most of the above positively brutal bands. Not that they do not bring their own brutality to the mix.  They have also sped up the song significantly and added some harsh sneering vocals of their own. 

REGRESSIVE: "SWING OF THE AXE"
I am surprised to see this song here.  This track was not on Seven Churches, though it was on the prior demo.  So it kind of breaks up the flow a little bit.  Not that this is a bad song, and the Lithuanian thrashers do it justice.  It just sounds a little more thrash metal-based than the others, and would fit better on an Overkill release than Possessed.

There is some damn good stuff on here.  I think the Grond track is my favorite.  There really is no weak track here, which is consistent with the album to which it is paying tribute.  The last track is a little odd, but it is pretty decent, so I can overlook the fact that it is added on.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Metal Pets: The Tarantulas

I have not done one of these in a very long time (looks like damn near 10 years exactly).  And well, I did not have time today to do a full album review and wanted to keep my streak alive, so this is a pretty quick and easy way to get a post in.

What could be more metal than owning a bunch of tarantulas?  For years I have wanted to get one, but just never really got around to pulling the trigger.  I have done a massive amount of research leading up to it and last fall I found a Craigslist ad by a seller in Lincoln who had a bunch of tarantulas for sale.  One in particular caught my eye as a very good introductory species:
This is a chromatopelma cyaneopubescens, commonly called the green bottle blue tarantula.  This was my first one.  He has been named Cuddles.  This is a pretty easy introductory species and I kind of wanted a male, in case I decided tarantula-keeping was not for me, it would not be a real long-term commitment as males only live three to four years.  Well, I got attached to him quickly and now I am dreading the day I lose him.  He just finished molting today for the second time since I got him.  I am looking forward to seeing him out and about again in a day or so.

I decided I wanted to expand my tarantula population soon after the first molt.  I had a couple of near-buys over the next several months, but for whatever reason, it just never quite worked out.  Until just recently.
A few weeks ago, I added this very young grammostola pulchra, commonly referred to as a Brazilian black tarantula.  I picked it up from the same seller as Cuddles, who have come to refer to as My Spider Guy.  I like this one a lot because it has been very active, wandering around its enclosure.  I once saw it carrying a chunk of substrate around in its mouth.  It is a voracious eater as well.  About two weeks ago it buried itself in its substrate under a leaf and has not been seen since.  Hopefully he will molt soon and come back out.  This will eventually be the largest of the tarantulas I currently have.

Just days after I purchased the above tarantula, I received this very young brachypelma emilia or Mexican redleg tarantula as part of an online order I placed with a friend.  I liked the species a lot and nearly acquired an adult a few months ago, but the deal fell through.  This one molted within a week of me purchasing it, which is good because now it is finally starting to eat.  So far it does not have a real strong food reaction but it stays out almost all the time instead of hiding.  Hopefully it will get a little more reliable about eating soon.  This picture was taken just after its molt.

This is an adult female ceratogyrus marshalli or straight-horned baboon tarantula.  This was my first Old World species, which are generally for a little more advanced keepers as they tend to be faster, more defensive and have more potent venom.  This is also my first burrowing species, but she tends to stay out of her burrows most of the time.  I picked her up from another seller last weekend and she has quickly become a favorite.  I just love the little horn she has in the middle of her carapace.

I had to use the previous owner's picture to show off my augacephalus ezendami or Mozambique baboon tarantula.  I bought it from My Spider Guy last weekend at the same time as the above tarantula.  Unfortunately I have yet to actually see it in full since it has burrowed beneath its hide.  My Spider Guy said it had been in pre-molt for some time, I am guessing its molt will be occurring very soon.  I hope so, because I would love to see it.  So far I have only gotten very brief glimpses of its legs in its hide.  Thursday its legs were sticking out just a little bit when I walked in the room, but it quickly moved all the way back in the hide.  This is another Old World species.

The tarantulas have become my recent obsession.  I am not sure if I will add any more right away, but I feel like I have a decent start and some diversity with ages and species.  I only know the genders of two of the tarantulas, the others are too young to tell yet.  Tomorrow I will be back to a regular metal post.