Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekly Recap: 5/23-5/29

I have not been doing too many posts this week because I have been preparing for trial in a child custody matter set for Tuesday. Don't expect to see too much from me until Tuesday night or Wednesday. This itself is an abbreviated post. My fiancee has been very patient with me about this whole trial thing stressing me out. I appreciate that immensely and hope she realizes it.

This week, I won a contest on Metal Maniacs, which asked for a favorite Lituanian band. I perused the Metal Archives to find one since I had not heard of any and listened to Myspace samples. I picked Katedra, a traditional metal band with some progressive elements. For my prize, I got two black metal CDs from label Inferna Profundis. The CDs were by Argharus and Poccolus, both Lithuanian bands. I will post my initial impressions later as I just received the CDs in the mail today, but I'm pretty excited about this. I tried entering lots of contests with Metal Maniacs when the magazine existed.

Angra: Temple of Shadows
Arsis: We are the Nightmare
At the Gates: Slaughter of the Soul
Baroness: Blue Record
Church Bizarre: Sinister Glorification
Cirith Ungol: One Foot in HellDeceased...: Luck of the Corpse
Eluveitie: Everything Remains as it Never Was
Endstille: Endstilles Reich
Evile: Infected Nations
Exciter: Heavy Metal Maniac
Exodus: Exhibit B-The Human Condition
Gorguts: Considered Dead/The Erosion of Sanity
Grimbane: Let the Empires Fall
Hibria: Defying the Rules
Isole: Bliss of Solitude
Judas Priest: Nostradamus
Judas Priest: Sad Wings of Destiny
Kataklysm: Prevail
Kyuss: Blues for the Red Sun
Lost Horizon: A Flame to the Ground Beneath
Manticora: 8 Deadly Sins
Master's Hammer: Ritual
Mithras: Behind the Shadows Lie Madness
Morbid Saint: Spectrum of Death
Mutiilation: Vampires of Black Imperial Blood
Nightmare: Genetic Disorder
Omnium Gatherum: The Redshift
Portal: Outre'
Psycroptic: Symbols of Failure
Queensryche: Promised Land
Raven: Wiped Out
Riot: Fire Down Below
Rotting Christ: Aealo
Samael: Above
Sarcofago: I.N.R.I.
Sarcolytic: Thee Arcane Progeny
Saxorior: Volkerschlacht
Scar Symmetry: Dark Matter Dimensions
Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe
Scar Symmetry: Pitch Black Progress
The Gates of Slumber: Conqueror
Twisted Tower Dire: Crest of the Martyrs

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Initial Impressions: Weekend Roundup

I bought several albums over the weekend. A couple of them were new releases from this last month, two were released last year, and one came out nearly 20 years ago. It's a fairly diverse group of albums, spanning several genres.

EXODUS: EXHIBIT B-THE HUMAN CONDITIONI will resist the urge to make this review done in a trial argument format as most reviews of the album, including twice in the same issue of Decibel, have already done so. Exodus is one of the pioneering bands in thrash metal. But they're not one of those bands who saw that thrash was popular again and reunited. No, Exodus have been together for the most part. They have had some lead singer difficulties though and this is the third album for Rob Dukes.

Exodus has released several classic thrash metal albums, including the incredible Bonded by Blood. This is part of a two-part album series. Exhibit A was released a couple of years ago. It was a somewhat tedious listen. Exodus packs a lot of riffs into songs these days and plays them ad nauseum making for some very long songs. That has not changed for the most part on this, but the album seems a lot more listenable, despite the 78 minute run time. The riffs are a bit more interesting this time around, and they are generally played faster than the slower groove style of the last album overall.

The vocals are decent. I do miss the band's other two vocalists as they seemed to fit better with the band's style. Dukes is a good screamer, but he's not all that unique-sounding. He sounds like several other vocalists out there.

This is a very long album, especially for thrash metal. It's a decent album though. It does not come close to the band's successful albums in the past, but Exodus has still proven to be a vital thrash metal band. They have certainly not had the missteps that some of their Bay Area contemporaries have had. I'm looking at you Metallica.

KYUSS: BLUES FOR THE RED SUNI mentioned in a recent post that I have avoided Kyuss for many years because of one song on a compilation that I could not shake. Well that finally ended over the weekend after nearly ending a couple of times that I can remember in the past. Yes, Kyuss is partially responsible for a glut of stoner rock bands, including the increasingly annoying Queens of the Stone Age (Josh Homme was guitarist for Kyuss). But that doesn't matter because when stoner doom metal is done right, it's fantastic and this band definitely does it right.

The band utilizes mostly sludgy, heavy, Sabbathian riffs to drive their songs. The songs are mostly mid-paced, typical for the genre, with a few exceptions. "Green Machine" is a faster song than most and is propelled by some excellent bass riffing. There is a fair amount of instrumental stuff and otherwise long gaps between vocals, but there's nothing wrong with that when the music retains interest as well as this.

The only real issue I have with this album is that it bogs down early in the second half. The band becomes a little fixated on psychedelia and spends a great deal of time working with different sonic textures and avoiding clear riffs. It's okay for a little while, but becomes a little tedious after awhile.

This is one of the most respected stoner doom metal album. It's not hard to see why. Much of the album is incredible and even the mistakes are still interesting enough to hold attention.

ROTTING CHRIST: AEALOI had been looking forward to this album all year and I finally found a store that had it over the weekend. About damn time. Yes, the band's name does them no favors as far as stores stocking their music. It's a shame though as Rotting Christ is a truly interesting band.

The Greek band has been incorporating more and more folk elements into their blackened gothic metal base. So, in between their tremolo-picked riffs, the band uses some very exotic-sounding melodies. The music actually sounds as if it would be a fitting soundtrack to a Greek mythological epic movie or video game. The music is potentially even more melodic than much of their past material.

Rotting Christ actually started as a grindcore band, if you can believe that. They have played a variety of styles since that time, including black and gothic metal. This album comes out a little more on the blackened gothic metal side, with some very interesting folk elements thrown in.

Sakis is still clearly the leader of the band. It is his vocal style that drives the band. His vocals are typically done in a black metal style, but they are very clear and easy-to-understand.

The only problem I have with the album is the closing track which is a little overlong and features very loud, often annoying female vocals.

This is one of the best albums of the year. Hard to believe this band has been around for more than 20 years. They still sound fresh and vibrant. Every album is a masterpiece. This is no exception.

SAMAEL: ABOVESamael has been around for a long time as well. The Swiss black metal band has taken some interesting turns in their long career. The last few albums prior to this can best be described as Rammstein playing black metal, or a black metal band playing Rammstein. There are varying theories as to whether that was a good or bad career move, mostly bad. This album though is a more of a return to the black metal Samael.

This is very melodic black metal, but it is definitely a return to the band's original style. The riffs are mostly fast and take place under some impressive blasting drums. This is not atmospheric black metal, it's bludgeoning, yet melodic.

I happened to enjoy the industrial metal Samael. The music was catchy enough and different. But man, does this ever blow that Samael out of the water.

BARONESS: BLUE RECORDI resisted the temptation to check this band out for a long time, but a couple of things convinced me otherwise. Kelly over at Full Metal Attorney listed it as one of his favorite albums of 2009 and Decibel listed it as the best album of the year. So, I relented. I'm pretty glad I did too.

Baroness is a progressive sludge metal band, playing a style very similar to Mastodon. I guess it was only a matter of time before more bands popped up playing that style of music. We have a lot more than Baroness, but for the most part, I have not checked out too many of them. Nothing against Mastodon, I quite like them actually, but for some reason never felt compelled to check out others in the style.

Enter Baroness, and this is some damn good stuff. It's heavy without being too slow and lumbering, proggy without being too beardy, and it's catchy as hell. The music itself sucks the listener in and does not let go. It's a very diverse album but it never strays too far off the beaten path. It's focused and direct enough to keep me entertained, which is a little unusual for this type of metal. Mastodon does tend to lose me sometimes.

I would not go so far as to say this is the best album of 2009. Destroyer 666 still has my vote, but it was a damn good album. This style of metal is catching on with people who are not overly familiar with the metal genre. I can see why it's popular, but I still prefer thrash and death.

Metal Pets Pt. 9: Nadir Al Bashyr

Nadir Al Bashyr is my fiancee's new horse. He is a young Arabian stallion. He is not especially stallion-like though. He is fairly calm and is surprisingly sweet. He really likes Destiny, the other horse and gets upset when my fiancee takes her away to be trained, leaving Nadir alone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blind Buy Surprise Albums Pt. 13: Morbid Saint: Spectrum of Death

This is one of those albums that you have to be immersed in the metal underground, or at least know someone who is, in order to have heard about. Morbid Saint released only one album and it is long since out of print. Finding this album in physical format is very difficult. When it shows up on ebay, it typically sells for around $50.00 or more. That's very expensive for an album. Thus it is that this is one of the very few albums in my collection that I had to download and burn onto a CD. I am not proud of that, I have a fundamental issue with not owning a physical copy of the album. But I digress.

The reason that this album is so expensive when it shows up is the very simple relationship between supply and demand. There are very few copies out there and a lot of people want one. The reason it is in so much demand is the fact that this is quite frankly one of the greatest brutal thrash metal albums ever.

The music is lightning fast with heavy riffs that straddle the border line between thrash and death metal. Frequent guitar solos liven things up even more. The vocals are kind of a cross between thrash metal screams and death metal growls as well. Most of the songs are short, although there are a couple of seven minute songs present. But even the long songs hold the listener's interest.

This album features some of the most relentless, brutal assaults on the ears I have heard in thrash metal. Every song should be hailed as a classic. This is truly an amazing album. And yet, very few people even know it exists. Such a shame.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekly Recap: 5/16-5/22

It was a bad week for metal. Ronnie James Dio, the beloved singer of Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell passed away, as did manager Debbie Abono who worked with a lot of the Bay Area bands in the 1980's/1990's, and Isis broke up. The death of Dio is the one that most affects me as I don't care for Isis and the manager is not a position that has much of an effect on listeners. It is of course still unfortunate though.

I picked up two new CDs this week: the new Exodus and a classic album by Kyuss, finally getting over whatever I had against them previously.

I have been busy much of this week preparing trials. I had one on Thursday over child support. Mrs. Metallattorney showed up for support and because she has always been curious about seeing me in court. I have another one on the First of June over custody. I'm feeling a little burnt out on family law of late. Oh well, hopefully after the next trial I won't have too much to worry about with it for awhile.

1349: Demonoir
Angel Witch: Angel Witch
Arghoslent: Incorrigible Bigotry
Belphegor: Bondage Goat Zombie
Blitzkrieg: A Time of Changes
Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
Church Bizarre: Sinister Glorification
Cianide: Divide and Conquer
Cradle of Filth: Cruelty and the Beast
Cradle of Filth: Dusk and Her Embrace
Cradle of Filth: Lovecraft & Witch Hearts
Cradle of Filth: Midian
Deceased...: Luck of the Corpse
Deicide: Till Death Do Us Part
Desaster: 666-Satan's Soldiers Syndicate
Destroyer 666: Cold Steel...For an Iron Age
Devastation: Idolatry
Diamond Head: Lightning to the Nations
Dismember: Dismember
Electric Wizard: Witchcult Today
Eluveitie: Slania
Evile: Enter the Grave
Funeral: From These Wounds
Impaled Nazarene: Manifest
In Flames: A Sense of Purpose
Isole: Bliss of Solitude
Jag Panzer: The Fourth Judgment
Judas Priest: Painkiller
Lair of the Minotaur: Cannibal Massacre
Lair of the Minotaur: War Metal Battle Master
Manowar: Kings of Metal
Metal Church: Metal Church
Metallica: Ride the Lightning
Metallurgy Vol. 1
Militia: Released
Obeisance: Unholy, Unwholesome, & Evil
October 31: Visions of the End
Origin: AntithesisRaven: Wiped Out
Razor: Violent Restitution
Red Harvest: Internal Punishment Programs
Saxon: Into the Labyrinth
Scar Symmetry: Dark Matter Dimensions
Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe
Scar Symmetry: Pitch Black Progress
Scar Symmetry: Symmetric in Design
Slaughter Lord: Thrash 'Til Death '86-'87
Slauter Xstroyes: Winter Kill
Slough Feg: Ape Uprising!
Soilent Green: Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction
Testament: Formation of Damnation
Thornspawn: Sanctified by Satan's Blood
Vomitory: Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize
Vlad Tepes/Belketre: March to the Black Holocaust
Watchtower: Energetic Disassembly

Friday, May 21, 2010

This is Hilarious

The Westboro Baptist Church, those nutcases that picket soldiers' funerals with signs that say "God Hates Fags" and the like, have turned their attention to the funeral of Ronnie James Dio. Can you imagine the potential carnage? These people versus a shitload of mourning metal fans?

Not that violence is necessary or even desired. These Westboro Baptist people are an annoyance, that's all. Yes, they have a right to do whatever they want as long as they're not breaking the law. Free speech, freedom of religion, and all that. Yes, this will probably piss some people off because they're not being respectful to the departed. But who cares? They're attention whores and that's all. Not content to just having their own insane little services, they think the whole world needs to hear their message. Well, more power to them for trying, but if we stopped paying attention to them, they would go away. I'll start right after ending this post.

In closing, I do hope that no one gives them any attention at Dio's funeral. R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio. I'm sure you're looking at this whole situation and smiling.

Blind Buy Surprise Albums Pt. 12: Destroyer 666: Cold Steel...For an Iron Age

Longtime readers of my blog (if such a thing exists) will probably be expecting this album to show up in this series. I have already listed this album as my favorite album of the last decade. I also offered a little bit of a backstory behind buying it. Since I have already done a long, full review of the album, I will not spend much time rehashing the musical aspect of it. Just note that it is one hell of a dirty blackened-thrash metal album, a perfect example of the Australian "war metal" scene, and an album I could listen to endlessly without ever growing tired of it. I did a Top 100 albums list at one point with this album somewhere in the 20's, it has not vaulted up the list to somewhere within my Top 10 favorite albums of all time.

Now, for the humble beginnings of my acquisition of this album. I found this at a used music store. I had only been visiting the Encyclopedia Metallum for a couple of weeks and when coming across this CD, I vaguely remembered having seen this band's name mentioned along with some praise. I had no idea it would quickly become a favorite album. I also picked up several other albums that day including Crisis, Flotsam and Jetsam, and more. But this album made the entire purchase worthwhile. This is apparently a somewhat rare album. I could not believe I found it at a used music store in Lincoln, Nebraska of all places. Even more, who the hell wanted to get rid of it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Apparently Isis Broke Up

I have made my feelings (or lack thereof) of this band pretty well-known on this blog. I respect them as musicians, I just don't care for their music personally. I just wanted to do a quick post to point out that I am aware they are done. The whole post-metal thing never appealed to me. Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna, their legions upon legions of copycats, the whole thing never did it for me. I'm not sad to see them call it a day, but it's not like I'm jumping for joy either.

Compilations: Metallurgy

This is an album released by Metallurgy magazine, a short-lived metal/hard rock magazine in the 1990's, I think. Honestly I have no idea. I remember finding the CD at Best Buy, and it was cheap and there were a few bands I liked on it. So, I bought it. Now, I hardly ever listen to it. Many of the tracks are demos or unreleased, or live. Very few of them are really worth the purchase of the compilation. There's also a lot of crap on it.

The nice thing about it is the 192 page booklet that comes with it. It features interviews and writeups of the bands involved as well as various other stuff. There's a list of the ten heaviest albums, which features metal artists Black Sabbath, Metallica, and others as well as other artists like Public Enemy (what the fuck?). There's a look at the then-upcoming Down album as well and some humorous jabs at well-known metal musicians. The booklet probably makes the album worthwhile, but that's about it. I still have it somewhere, but I haven't seen it in a long time. Perhaps when I find it, I will take a closer look at it.

There was a second and third volume of this released. I never picked those up though because this one really wasn't all that great and I don't think I liked the bands on the other ones as well.

Here's a look at the songs:

Well, this is the best song on the album. It's an absolutely punishing live version of one of the best songs off of the band's Chaos A.D. album. This was the first time I had heard an original Sepultura song. I was blown away and very soon after became a big fan of the band. This is a great song. I now own an EP with this same version on it.

I can not find much information about this band. This sounds like some sort of heavier alternative rock. Very similar to groups like Jane's Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots, and other bands. It's an okay song, just not one I'm all that interested in. Also, NFM.

Ah yes, the Geezer Butler project. This came at a time when Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi were having an argument over the Black Sabbath name. Geezer formed his own band to capitalize on a style he was interested in playing. This is industrial-tinged groove metal, and boy are Geezer's riffs heavy as fuck. Burton Bell of Fear Factory supplies the vocals. I picked this album up pretty much immediately after hearing this. Unfortunately GZR put out a couple more very lackluster albums after this one.

Young Gods is an early industrial rock band. This is just basically some industrial sounds with vocals attached. I really did not care for this track. And this came when I was still very interested in industrial rock. NFM.

This seems to be some sort of psychedelic/stoner rock. It's not too bad, it's slow-paced and very heavy. I like this stuff sometimes. They sound a little bit like Fu Manchu and Monster Magnet, groups that were becoming popular at the time. NFM though.

This, I don't like. This is just some hardcore band. I suppose the riffs are okay, but the vocals are horrible and I really don't like hardcore much at all. It sounds like a more hardcore version of Green Day from this time period, which will probably REALLY piss these guys off. NFM.

I love Faith No More, but I have no idea what the fuck this track is. This is like the slow buildup to a song that could be pretty good, but it never comes. There are no vocals, it's just the music building into nothing. At one point we have what sounds like it could be some pretty heavy riffs, but it doesn't last long. I think it's really the instrumental track to one of their songs. Why put that here? I first heard that Faith No More broke up in the accompanying booklet.

This one was even more disappointing. It's also just an instrumental track, but it's longer. Also, I had not heard Kyuss before this album and because I did not care much for the band, I still have not picked up a Kyuss album, despite enjoying stoner doom and hearing that they were very good. Some day I will get over that, but yeah this compilation had that effect. Listening to it now, it's really an okay track, it just is not good enough to be a showcase for the band. Hard to belive Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was in this band.

Helmet isn't a band I have ever been a big fan of. Nothing against them, other than the fact that they had a big influence on the rise of nu-metal. They themselves are more of an alternative/metal band. They have heavy metal riffs, but not really the attitude. This is an okay track but I never got into the band.

This is a remix of the Fear Factory track that can be found on the special edition of their Demanufacture album. I already owned that album at the time I got this. It's a good track, and that's all I really have to say about it because I already had it.

More hardcore. More yawns. NFM.

This is again some sort of alternative rock with hardcore influences. I am not a big fan of this either. Next. NFM.

What's with the hardcore bands on this thing? NFM.

This is another track that put me off checking out the band in any sort of real fashion. It's a demo track and it's just not very heavy. I mean, all the elements are there, except the distortion. So yeah, I did not check out Napalm Death further for several years after this album. It's a shame, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Do we really need five songs from these guys? Hardcore shit. NFM.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Favorite New Bands of the 2000's Pt. 10: Scar Symmetry

I know you all have been waiting with baited breath for the last post in this series. No? Whatever, it's my blog.

To recap, here are the other groups I have discussed:
Lair of the Minotaur
Swallow the Sun
The Black Dahlia Murder
Trench Hell

Okay, now that that's out of the way, here's the final entry in the list of Top 10 Favorite New Bands of the 2000's: Scar Symmetry.

Scar Symmetry is a Swedish band that combines melodeath with some almost power metalesque vocals on occasion. Chief behind this is former singer Christian Alvestam, who has one of the most interesting voices in metal. The production is always very clean, allowing the listener to hear everything going on, and trust me, there's a lot of stuff happening. Sometimes it does border on sterility, but for the most part with the futuristic-sounding music and lyrical themes, that actually comes off as a good thing. The riffs are performed in a fairly basic Gothenburg style, and they are added to by lots of melodic keyboard passages. The choruses are infectious and oftentimes pop-inflected.

Alvestam delivers three types of vocals. He has some pretty deep death growls, a raspier vocal style, and some amazing clean vocals. He truly is a gifted singer. Unfortunately, he left Scar Symmetry prior to their fourth album and had to be replaced by two singers to cover the same ground Alvestam covered himself.

I have all four full-length Scar Symmetry albums and will now share some brief thoughts about each one:

SYMMETRIC IN DESIGNThe band's debut album found them fully formed. This is not terribly surprising as main songwriter Jonas Kjellgren is a veteran of bands such as Dellamorte and Carnal Forge. The band had already discovered their sound, a poppy Gothenburg style, but they were not In Flames ripoffs at all. Alvestam's vocals lead the charge backed by Kjellgren's impressive playing.

PITCH BLACK PROGRESSThis was the first album I owned by Scar Symmetry, picking it up after hearing a song on Music Choice just prior to going out on a road trip. This one immediately made me a fan of the band. It's a little bit darker than most of their other material, with more emphasis on the death metal vocals. The songs are a little tighter and catchier still. This remains my favorite Scar Symmetry album.

HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSEThe first time I heard this, I did not care for it much, but it definitely grew on me. It's not quite as good as the previous album, but it has what I consider to be the band's best song on it, "Quantum Leaper".

DARK MATTER DIMENSIONSThis is the first album since Alvestam left. His successors do an admirable job of replacing him, but it's just not the same. It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here. They definitely have the songwriting abilities to keep things going for awhile.

Monday, May 17, 2010

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

I am truly shocked and saddened by this news. Apparently he died yesterday morning but I was not near a computer all day so I missed it. Ronnie James Dio was one of the most influential and talented vocalists in metal. It truly is a shame to lose him, especially since his voice was still so strong on his last recording, last year's Heaven & Hell album. Rest in Peace, Dio. We will miss you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekly Recap: 5/9-5/15

I know I say this a lot, but man it's been a busy week. Sunday was my birthday, my grandma's birthday, my fiancee's mom's birthday, and Mother's Day. I was back in Lincoln over the weekend and my fiancee and I finally decided on a reception site. My beautiful fiancee got me the PS3 with God of War 3. Excellent gift.

Monday I had to go to Papillion all day to cover hearings for one of the partners and then had to work on a brief all day Tuesday for the same partner. Wednesday I had to cover pretrial motions for one of the other partners and then had my own hearings on Thursday. So yeah, busy week.

In metal news, Joey Belladonna reunited with Anthrax. Sanctuary announced they would be reuniting. The Ozzfest lineup was announced and surprisingly doesn't completely suck with performances by Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore, and Kataklysm. That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

1349: Demonoir
Abominable Putridity: In the End of Human Existence
Ahab: The Call of the Wretched Sea
Ahab: The Divinity of Oceans
Amorphis: Skyforger
Averse Sefira: Advent Parallax
Blitzkrieg: A Time for Change
Bloodsoaked: Sadistic Deeds...Grotesque Memories
Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
Cavalera Conspiracy: Inflikted
Cobalt: Gin
Convulse: World Without God
Crucified Mortals: Promo 2008
Cryptopsy: None So Vile
Dawn of Tears: Descent
Deceased...: Fearless Undead Machines
Deiphago: Filipino Antichrist
Devourment: 1.3.8
Devourment: Butcher the Weak
Devourment: Unleash the Carnivore
Enthroned: Tetra Karcist
Exhumed: Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated
Hammerfall: Threshold
Hellhammer: Demon Entrails
Internal Bleeding: Voracious Contempt
Katalepsy: Musick Brings Injuries
Kawir: Ophiolatreia
Mourning Beloveth: A Disease for the Ages
Necrophagia: El Holocausto de la Morte/Black Blood Vomitorium
Nifelheim: Envoy of LuciferOctober 31: Visions of the End
Raven: Wiped Out
Red Harvest: Internal Punishment Programs
Satan's Host: Great American Scapegoat-666
Satan's Host: Satanic Grimoire-A Greater Black Magick
Sauron: Satanic Assassins
Scar Symmetry: Dark Matter Dimensions
Scar Symmetry: Symmetric in Design
Shackles: Traitors' Gate
Slough Feg: Ape Uprising!
Through the Eyes of the Dead: Malice
Vomit Remnants: Supreme Vehemence

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 44: Corrosion of Conformity: Deliverance

What a great album this is. I remember that I was in eighth grade when I found this album. The local radio station had been playing "Albatross" and "Clean My Wounds" quite a bit. The latter song was the real impetus for picking up the album. There's just something about the mix of heavy metal, southern rock, and hardcore. It's a unique sound that comes off extremely well. The songs are all incredibly powerful and catchy as hell.

This was one of the early albums in my metal collection. I still pull the tape out every once in awhile and I always think to myself "why do I not listen to this album more often?"

Corrosion of Conformity was an early band blending the aforementioned variety of styles. Bassist and vocalist Pepper Keenan is a massively influential figure in metal and served time in Down and was even offered the bassist position in Metallica at one point. Without Corrosion of Conformity, there would probably be no Mastodon, Baroness, or many of the other sludge metal bands that have achieved fame in the last few years. I still prefer C.O.C. though. This album is incredible.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Initial Impressions: Red Harvest: Internal Punishment Programs

I recently did a post on industrial metal and Red Harvest was recommended by Kelly from Full Metal Attorney. I was not able to find the album he recommended at my local store, but I did find this one. Thanks for the recommendation.

This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It sounds futuristic and mechanical. The metal is closer to death and thrash metal with some industrial overtones, such as keyboards and other sound effects. The vocals are harsh. The music is punishing and brutal and yet it's machinelike and efficient.

This is a very interesting band. I'm glad I picked this one up, even moreso because I got it for $6.00. Pretty good deal.

Initial Impressions: 1349: Demonoir

1349 is a throwback to a much more malevolent and hostile black metal sound. They still wear corpsepaint, they still do not smile, they still beat their listeners into submission with extremely powerful and fast riffs and thundering blastbeats. They are evil and frightening and relentless.

The last time out, they delved into their experimental side. A decision which lead many listeners away from them. The time for experimentation is over, it's back to the basics here.

Not all of the aggression and speed is back, but this is certainly better than the meandering mess the band released last time out. The tremolo picked riffs and thunderous drums have made their return, as has the overall chaotic feel to the album. This album feels like the end of the world. Just slightly less so than their earlier material.

If you want a blasting, hyperactive black metal album, this one is definitely for you. I prefer their earlier stuff myself, but this album comes close to it, much better than last year's album.

Initial Impressions: Slough Feg: Ape Uprising!

I don't really remember when it was that this band shortened their name from the ridiculous The Lord Weird Slough Feg, but I'm kind of glad they did. That got to be a little difficult to say all the time. Anyway, it's just Slough Feg now, which I still don't know how to properly pronounce.

Slough Feg is part of the amazing metal scene in San Francisco that has had a retro feel and sound to their music. They have remained largely underground despite being together for more than 20 years.

The band's sound is rooted in 1970's era metal and hard rock bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and Thin Lizzy. The Thin Lizzy influence is probably the most obvious. The band often uses Celtic rhythms for the guitar riffs. Uncharacteristically, the band kicks off this album with slow song before diving back into the galloping guitar riffs and blazing leads the band is known for. Mike Scalzi sounds as good as ever on the mic. If anything, this album is a little bit more raw than the highly polished Hardworlder released last time out.

Slough Feg has done it again. They have put together yet another good time metal album. Excellent drinking metal.

Initial Impressions: Candlemass: Death Magic Doom

Candlemass has been around for a very long time. In that time, they have had multiple different lead singers. Messiah Marcolin is obviously the most well-known with his thunderous tenor, but the band recorded its best song "Solitude" with Johan Langqvist. Currently, Candlemass is sharing lead singer Robert Lowe with fellow doom giant Solitude Aeturnus. I'm not really sure how that works out exactly. This is the band's second album with Lowe on vocals.

Candlemass plays traditional doom metal in the vein of Pentagram and Black Sabbath and is one of the leading bands in the genre. They have been massively influential on the entire doom metal scene and are still revered as gods of the genre.

The music is fairly typical for Candlemass. Alternating between slow dirges and faster, rollicking tracks, the band has shown that they have not lost a step in the songwriting department. The heaviness and doom and gloom are all still here in spades. Something just sounds a littel different. And it's pretty easy to point out what the difference is. Messiah Marcolin's voice just fit this band. Lowe has a very strong voice, do not get me wrong, but Messiah's voice was THE VOICE for Candlemass.

I actually do enjoy this album quite a bit. It's different from Candlemass's other stuff in the vocal department, but Lowe does do a fine job. Something's just missing. It's like Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on vocals. The songs were great but Dio was not Ozzy and never would be. Robert Lowe is a great singer and these are great songs, but he's not Messiah Marcolin.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Anthrax Reunites with Joey Belladonna?

Okay. Anthrax has been pretty bad for a long time now, but I'm pretty sure Belladonna has been as bad or worse. I'm not sure what the deal with the revolving door of lead singers is with Anthrax, but they have now hired and fired Belladonna on multiple occasions. What makes anyone think this will work? Belladonna's work with Anthrax was decent enough and he was the singer when they got big, but John Bush has been a more stable vocalist. Belladonna's something of a drama queen and paired with the attention-hogging antics of Scott Ian, this only spells disaster. Good luck Anthrax.

Weekly Recap Update

Okay, Sunday night I posted a very abbreviated update. I just wanted to let everyone know, I'm still around. I haven't been blogging much because it's been a very busy weekend with wedding plans, birthdays (my own included), Mother's Day, my little brother's graduation, and of course, work. So, I do plan to have some stuff prepared this week.

As part of my birthday money, I bought new albums from Candlemass, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, and 1349. Look for those initial impressions this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weekly Recap May 2-May

No time for anything big this week. More to come later. Here's the list:

The List:
Anthrax: Sound of White Noise
Behemoth: And the Forests Dream Eternally
Black Sabbath: We Sold Our Soul for Rock and Roll
Church Bizarre: Sinister Glorification
Cobalt: Gin
Convulse: World Without God
Crucified Mortals: Promo 2008
Darkthrone: Circle the Wagons
Dawn of Azazel: Bloodforged Abdication
Dawn of Azazel: Sedition
Dawn of Azazel: The Law of the Strong
Dawn of Azazel: Vita Est Militia Super Terram
Death Angel: Killing Season
Deceased...: Fearless Undead Machines
Deceased...: The Blueprints for Madness
Decrepit Birth: Diminishing Between Worlds
Deiphago: Filipino Antichrist
Demilich: The Four Instructive Tales...Of Decomposition
Demilich: ...Somewhere Inside the Bowels of Emptiness...
Demilich: The Echo
Despised Icon: Day of Mourning
Devian: Ninewinged Serpent
Dissection: Storm of the Light's Bane
Draconian: Turning Season Within
Hate Eternal: Fury & Flames
Holy Moses: Finished with the Dogs
Horna/Behexen Split
Impaled Nazarene: All That You Fear
Master's Hammer: The Jilemnice Occultist
Nebula: Apollo
Necrophagia: Holocausto de la Morte/Black Blood Vomitorium
October 31: Visions of the End
Pan.Thy.Monium: Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion
Paths of Possession: The End of the Hour
Sabbat: Dreamweaver-Reflections of Our Yesterdays
Sauron: Satanic Assassins
Shackles: Traitors' Gate
The Cave Soundtrack
Trustkill Sampler
Unleashed: As Yggdrasil Trembles
Vital Remains: Horrors of Hell
Warbringer: War Without End
Watain: Sworn to the Dark
Woe of Tyrants: Threnody
Wolf: Ravenous

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Initial Impressions Roundup: Hell's Headbangers Order

There's too many of them. I'm overwhelmed. Perhaps later I will review some of these in full, but for now, I just want to do a quick and dirty paragraph for each of the albums I recently received from Hell's Headbangers. The Cobalt album came from the same place, but that's alright.

I ordered recently from Hell's Headbangers. It's kind of an annual thing for me. Each year after my tax return comes in, I place an order, mostly to add to my vinyl collection. Hell's Headbangers specializes in punk-influenced extreme metal. It's all very cool.

Anyway, here are the albums:

OCTOBER 31: VISIONS OF THE ENDThis is kind of a side project for King Fowley of Deceased... It's traditional metal and it sounds great. It's hard to believe that this album was recorded recently and not in the 1980's, that's how true to the sound they are. Fowley uses much more of a clean vocal style this time around, instead of his harsher death grunts. The sound calls to mind groups like Liege Lord and Jag Panzer. This is a great, fun throwback to a better time in metal.

CHURCH BIZARRE: SINISTER GLORIFICATIONThis is a really good melodic black metal album. The riffs and leads are catchy as hell. The vocals are harsh, but not so much that the lyrics cannot be made out, which is surprising in black metal. This band owes much more of their sound to groups like Naglfar and Lord Belial, but with even better riffs and leads.

CONVULSE: WORLD WITHOUT GODThis is a reissue of the underground Finnish death metal band's masterpiece. It is much slower, atmospheric death metal kind of in the vein of Incantation. It's dark and forbidding. There has been a recent resurgence of reissues (try saying that three times fast) of old death metal albums. Convulse is the latest to receive this honor with their music finally being widespread. Their demo is also tacked on as bonus tracks. Contender for reissue of the year.

SAURON: SATANIC ASSASSINSSauron has been making a name for themselves in the metal underground over the last few years, so of course I had to check them out. This is very dirty blackened thrash similar to 1980's groups like Sodom, Venom, and early Bathory. It's fast and it absolutely shreds. Great upcoming band.

DECEASED...: FEARLESS UNDEAD MACHINESThis album has been called a masterpiece of metal before. It's easy to see why after listening to it. Deceased... is just an amazing band with a knack for catchy songs and infectious riffs. This is a concept album dealing with Romero's Living Dead movies. There's also a bonus disc featuring various demo, live, and rehearsal recordings to hear the band in a more raw stage. I also bought the t-shirt.

NECROPHAGIA: HOLOCAUSTO DE LA MORTE/BLACK BLOOD VOMITORIUMNecrophagia was a very early death metal band. They did not release many full-length albums, instead choosing to independently release demos and splits. This album is notable for the inclusion of one Anton Crowley on guitars, better known as Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down. This is very dirty, grimy-sounding death metal of the underground variety. There are lots of samples at the beginnings and ends of songs that appear to be taken from horror movies. Mostly, this is just good, old-fashioned death metal and there's something to be said for that.

CRUCIFIED MORTALS: PROMO 2008Very short and dirty promo from death/thrash metal band. It sounds pretty good and is extremely raw. I just wish it were a little bit longer. These guys might have a decent future.

DECEASED...: LUCK OF THE CORPSEAn earlier album by the band that is fast becoming a favorite. On this album, they are much more death metal oriented than on later material. The music still owes quite a bit to thrash and other traditional metal styles, although the riffing is heavier and the vocals are also delivered in a much more death metal style. This is the band's debut album and it appears that they were always great.

DEIPHAGO: FILIPINO ANTICHRISTThis is very dirty black metal from the Phillipines, as if you couldn't tell from the album's title. The band musically bears a strong resemblance to Singaporean band Impiety. This is absolutely hateful black metal. It's fast and razor-shapr, with really grimy production value and very extreme vocals. It will take more than a cursory listen to get through the muddy production, but I'm up to the task. Raw, fast black metal is very interesting to me.

SHACKLES: TRAITORS' GATEAnother blackened thrash metal band from Australia. Bands from this country have a very distinctive sound. Shackles is a little slower-paced than some of the other groups, but they have more of an epic and grandiose feel to their music. This band could be very good.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Initial Impressions: Cobalt: Gin

Yes! Finally some new music!

That's Ernest Hemingway on the cover of this thing. One of the biggest badasses in American literature. Seriously.

Anyway on to a little backstory about this band. Cobalt made huge waves with this album last year. The album was rated #5 on the year by Decibel. But, the band itself is very interesting. The main songwriter for the band wrote much of the album while serving active duty in the U.S. Army. He has appeared on a couple of talk shows to discuss this.

Despite all this, Cobalt plays black metal. It's a bit more of an Americanized style of black metal, with elements of Xasthur, Wolves in the Throne Room, and others. It's a very organic sound, not just hyper-blasting drums and riffs. There are some definite post-rock moments and some progressive structures included as well. The band probably sounds closest to Nachtmystium, without some of the psychedelic meanderings.

The second track gets off to a very slow start, but is quite good when it gets going. Many of the rest of the songs are slower, riff-driven, sludgy songs with raspy vocals. There is a hidden track behind several 10-second tracks of silence. I'm not totally sure why bands continue to do this, but oh well.

This is an interesting, complex album. It may take a few listens to fully absorb the album, but I like what I am hearing so far.

Blind Buy Surprise Albums Pt. 11: Dissection: Storm of the Light's Bane

I remember one day going to Barnes & Noble and perusing their music selection (or lack thereof). I decided to look at the kiosk for customers to order music and was looking for metal music. I came across Dissection somehow and decided to order it because the cover of the album looked cool (see, it pays off sometimes). I also ordered an album by Satanic Slaughter because I liked the name of the band, but I didn't end up getting it. That one never came in, although I did buy it years later.

But I digress.

Dissection was my first real foray into black metal, although the band is more of a blackened death metal band. I could not believe what I was hearing from this album. It was cold, hostile, and faster than hell. It took a few listens, but this really made an impression on me.

It was quite some time before I was able to find anything quite like this. I was taken in by the entire atmosphere of the album. It just felt so forbidden and dark. The vocals were so harsh, the riffs so fast, and the drumming is some of the best I have heard. This is just an incredible album, and a true classic.

If you remember back to the beginning of this blog, I had this album rated #4 of my Top 100 Albums list. That list is outdated, but this album would still occupy that spot, only behind albums by Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. This is easily one of my favorite albums of all time. And to think, I bought it only because of the Grim Reaper on the cover.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Compilations: Trustkill Records (Before I Throw the Damn Thing Away)

I don't know why in the hell I decided to do this. Maybe it was my masochistic side showing through. Maybe I needed a challenge. Maybe I just wanted to rip into something. For whatever reason, I have decided to listen to my Trustkill Records compilation that I got attached to a recent In Flames album (or was it Bleeding Through?). This is a metalcore/hardcore label with only a couple of bands that are clearly more metal than core. I think I may have listened to it once before and it was so bad that it's been in storage for some time. Now I have dug it out for all of you people to enjoy. I'm not sure why I just didn't trash the damn thing.

You see, here's one of my problems with metalcore. The stupid-ass song names. This doesn't even make sense. It's a frail attempt to be poetic and sensitive. Musically, this band sounds exactly like Avenged Sevenfold, which is to say really fucking bad. This band has been making a lot of noise lately which is terrifying. That's all we need is more watered-down bullshit. NFM.

One of the few metal bands on this thing, Throwdown is a really poor Pantera clone with some Hatebreed thrown in. I like Pantera fine, but not many of their copycats. And I really dislike Hatebreed. I'll pass, thanks. Still, it's better than most of the crap on this thing.

I don't think I can make it through this thing. You go on without me. Apparently, my CD player hated it too and stopped suddenly in the middle of the song. Having been rejuvenated, I will move on to the next song. Oh, NFM, some post-hardcore/emo shit.

This is another metal band with melodic death metal influences mixed in with some hardcore. This song sounds great, but maybe I'm just thinking that because of how bad the last track was. The clean vocals are a little overdone though, and the breakdown is pretty bad as well.

I can't even find this band on Wikipedia. Bad sign. This is really bad. My head hurts. NFM. Skip button please, I can't handle this.

AHHH! What the fuck is this?! NFM.

What the fuck kind of name is this? This is some sort of emo shit. I hate emo shit. Skip button. NFM.

Okay, this one starts out really cool, with one hell of a buildup, but then goes exactly nowhere with it. It's all eerie and powerful but then we just have a typical metalcore song. NFM. At least this song is listenable and I made it through more than a minute of it. The vocals are awful though.

My head hurts really badly right now. This is just pathetic. NFM.

Okay, I can handle some tough-guy hardcore right now. This is much pretty than the crapfest that was the last song. This band sounds exactly like Hatebreed. NFM.

I wonder if Helloween can sue for defamation based on this horrible hardcore band naming themselves after one of their albums? I doubt it. Anyway, hardcore band + female vocalist = instant record deal, despite considerable lack of talent. NFM.

Only the third band on this thing that I would classify as metal. Bleeding Through mixes black metal, melodic death metal, and some hardcore influences. They have a distinctive riffing style that is very heavy and is often accompanied by keyboard flourishes. They do have lots of breakdowns, but are generally not terrible. In fact, I like Bleeding Through okay. Not enough to go out and buy their albums all the time, but enough to be able to listen to them.

Hardcore punk. NFM. Go the fuck away.


My doctor says I can no longer listen to this. In the trash it goes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekly Recap April 25-May 1

Another busy week at work this week. The big highlight was a hearing on an objection to a case plan which required me to argue in favor of a biblically-based Alcoholics Anonymous substitute. Good times.

Over the last few months, I have compiled a large list of upcoming posts that I have wanted to do. I got tired of not getting very far on the list which is why there have been so many compilations looked at in the last week. Only a couple more of those to go.

As far as my personal life, my fiancee got back from Missouri on Sunday evening with the horses, Destiney and Nadir. We watched the Kentucky Derby this evening. My best friend came to visit Norfolk for the first time last weekend. Always good to see him again. He's a metalhead as well but prefers the more melodic types.

I placed an order with Hell's Headbangers this week. More on that when I get the package, hopefully this week.

The list:
Abominator: Damnations Prophecy
Andromeda: Extension of the Wish
Atomizer: Death-Mutation-Disease-Annihilation
Atomizer: The Only Weapon of Choice-Songs of Slaughter-Songs of Sacrifice
Bestial Warlust: Vengeance War 'Till Death
Carcass: Necroticism-Descanting the Insalubrious
Cenotaph: Riding Our Black Oceans
Contaminated Vol. 6
Dark Tranquillity: We are the Void
Dawn of Azazel: Relentless
Dawn of Azazel: Sedition
Denial Fiend: They Rise
Destroyer 666: Terror Abraxas
Devastator: Nuclear Proliferation
Diabolical Masquerade: Death's Design
Dream Theater: Awake
Fates Warning: No Exit
Fear Candy 78
Fear Factory: Fear is the Mindkiller
Fear Factory: Remanufacture
Fear Factory: Soul of a New Machine
Fight: Mutations
Gama Bomb: Tales from the Grave in Space
Ghoul: Splatterthrash
Goatwhore: Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun
Gospel of the Horns: A Call to Arms
Grave: Into the Grave/Tremendous Pain
Hard Music Vol. 1
Immolation: Majesty and Decay
Imperial Vengeance: At the Going Down of the Sun
Inner Thought: Perspectives
Kreator: Coma of Souls
Lair of the Minotaur: Cannibal Massacre
Lair of the Minotaur: The Ultimate Destroyer
Lair of the Minotaur: War Metal Battle Master
Lethal: Programmed
Maniac Butcher: Cerna Krev
Metallica: Metallica
Misery Loves Co.: Misery Loves Co.
Monsters of Rock Vol. 2: Metal Masters
Monsters of Rock Vol. 3: Molten Metal
Mundanus Imperium: The Spectral Spheres Coronation
Nominon: Terra Necrosis
Primordial: To the Nameless Dead
Queensryche: Operation: Mindcrime
Root: Madness of the Graves
Slaughter: Tortured Souls
Strapping Young Lad: Alien
The Crown: Crowned in TerrorThe Crown: Possessed 13
The Crown (Crown of Thorns): The Burning
The Lord Weird Slough Feg: Traveller
Toxic Holocaust: Hell on Earth
Triptykon: Eparistera Daimones
Urgrund: The Graven Sign
Varathron: Genesis of Apocryphal Desire
White Zombie: Supersexy Swingin' Sounds
Xasthur: The Funeral of Being

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 43: Metallica: Metallica

I guess it's time for my opinions on "The Black Album" by Metallica. As I have mentioned many times before on this blog, Metallica is the band that got me into metal. At the time that I was in fourth and fifth grade, "The Black Album" had been released and had proven to be enormously popular. I remember seeing the video for "One" off of the previous album quite a bit, but "Enter Sandman" and the other hits off of this album were the ones that really made me take notice of the band. My older brother bought this album and I heard it several times while he was going through a very short metal phase.

A few years later, when I was in seventh grade, MTV was showing videos from Metallica's live boxed set. It was at this time that I finally bought my first Metallica album. But, I chose Ride the Lightning. I followed that with ...And Justice for All and then Master of Puppets before I ever bought the self-titled album. So, it took me awhile before I got this album.

I always liked the early stuff better. It's not that I mind this album, I don't. I listen to it once in awhile. It just doesn't hold up to the band's first four albums. It's different. It's the album that made fans of millions, and lost the band lots of previous fans. It's a polarizing album. The band had made a calculated effort to change their sound and become more marketable. They brought in a big-time record producer and spent a long time in the studio recording and dissecting the music so that it was perfect for mainstream consumption. This album is a product, not a labor of love like the earlier albums.

It was huge upon release. The glam scene was on its last legs and grunge was on its way, but this album was a monumental album that showed that heavy metal could be marketable still. You just had to do the right things, which included not playing too fast, not being too controversial, and follow the rules of the record labels. This album, more than grunge, helped drive a stake through the heart of metal. Metallica was a hugely popular and influential band, and now they were softening their image for mainstream approval. It wasn't long before many of their contemporaries did the same. We had tamer sounds from Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, and many others. Thrash had become a bad word and would take years to make a comeback. Obviously death and black metal were never meant for MTV, but this album assured that they would not be seen. The fallout was almost as huge as the album sales.

When all is said and done, it was Metallica, not Nirvana, that pushed metal into the deep underground and lead to journalists claiming the death of the genre. Bands had to follow their lead to get anywhere and those bands that did not play nice were dropped from labels and not heard from again for years.

This is a decent album. It's catchy, the songs are good. But, it is not the be-all, end-all of Metallica's career, much less metal in general. Some of the songs are still very good. But, they don't hold a candle to their earlier thrash material. I don't mind this album musically, it's what it represents to the metal genre as a whole that makes it difficult to stomach. It set metal back years. I just hope that wasn't the intention.