Sunday, January 30, 2011

Initial Impressions: Revocation Flexi

This month's flexi from Decibel is the technical thrash metal band Revocation covering the Death classic “Pull the Plug”. “Pull the Plug” was the first song I ever heard from Death and the song I have heard most often, so I know it pretty well.

Revocation does a reasonable job with this cover. It sounds a bit sludgier than the original version, a bit more down-tempo, but the original was not exactly a speed metal song to begin with. The vocals are bit more on the extreme side, having a much deeper and full-forced roar. It just does not sound quite right though.

As I said, Revocation does do a reasonable job with this cover. But there really is no topping the original.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Arabic Anti-Islamic Legion

I am at the old house and the internet is still connected, so I thought I would kill some time while the scrubbing bubbles are working their magic and do a quick post.

I did not see Kelly's similar post before I started this one, so do not think I am copying him. He once lamented that there are very few bands that are attacking Islam. Well, here is this group of bands that collectively are standing up against the religion.

Recently, I became aware of the Arabic Anti-Islamic Legion, similar to Les Legions Noires. Here is the website to look into it. Hopefully the site will still be working.

There are two bands that are members that have currently uploaded their demos to the website.

Janaza is a hell of a minority. There is only one member, and Anahita is a woman, possibly the only one-woman black metal band from an Arab country. Janaza is from Iraq, Baghdad more precisely.

Obviously, the song titles evidence where Janaza stands when it comes to Islam. Songs like "Burn the Pages of Quran", "Islamic Lies", and "When Islam Brainwashed Mankind" are about as subtle as a punch in the face. Janaza also pays tribute to Nargaroth with "Black Metal Ist Krieg".

Musically, this is fairly capable, raw black metal. Do not go in expecting something slickly produced and melodic. It's violent and hateful music. It is also fairly simple structurally. There is a lot of room to grow for Janaza.

Tadnees is not yet on the Metal Archives. The demo starts out with a clip from a talk program about Islam against some imposing music. This band is also pretty straightforward with their views against Islam with songs called "From Mosque to Dust" and "Sacrilege of Mosques".

Tadnees is even more raw than Janaza. Think early Burzum mixed with Xasthur and you might have an idea. Tadnees even covers Burzum's "Dunkelheit" on this demo. Tadnees occasionally breaks into a more melodic interlude, but their riffing is much more simple and raw.

There are other bands listed on the website as well, but no other demos yet. These are not going to be mainstream-friendly bands. They are very raw and kvlt as fuck. This is just a small example of a growing scene. It does help answer the question of whether there are bands against Islam out there. I think bands have to be more exposed to the religion to develop strong feelings against it. These bands are from countries where there is more exposure to Islam, so they are well familiar with it.


I popped in quick. It's taking a bit longer than even I thought to get a decent internet connection out there. I will hopefully be back as soon as my office opens, which may be the middle or end of next week. We'll see. Bear with me. I promise to get back soon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Personal Update

This may be my last post for a few days. I am moving to a new place, an acreage out East of my current town. As such, it may be a few days before I have internet access again. I have not yet opened an office, but that will occur in the next couple of weeks. After I get moved. The dogs will be very happy out in the country.

So, I will be back as soon as I can with some posts that I have been planning.

See you soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flashback Video: Danzig: "Mother"

This is the original clip for Danzig's "Mother". The live version off of the Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP was the first I had heard from Danzig. The sound and video are better on this though.

Friday, January 21, 2011

One and Done Pt. 2: Slaughter: Strappado

This is probably going to be the last time I discuss this album for quite awhile. I feel like I do something with it a lot. What can I say, though? This is just a great album.

Slaughter is a Canadian band that had a major influence on death metal. Combining thrash metal and punk even more than the two styles already were, and experimenting with harsher vocal styles resulted in the band's trademark sound.

Slaughter only released this one album though and broke up in the late 1990's. They did release a ton of demos and some compilations, but Slaughter only released one album. After they broke up, some members went on to form the Bay Area thrash band Strappado, named after Slaughter's only album and later the industrial death metal band Inner Thought.

Unfortunately, we only have one full-length from Slaughter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Behemoth's Nergal Exits Hospital


This is pretty good news. After receiving a bone marrow transplant, Nergal has been cleared to leave the hospital. Hopefully, he will back to full strength soon. Get well soon.

Compilations: Century Media Sampler 2004

It's a short one today. I am in the process of moving and I found some promos and other compilations that I forgot that I owned. I am pretty sure this came along with the Shadows Fall album The War Within, which I bought when it came out. It is only made up of five songs, but I had not heard of any of these groups at the time I got this sampler.

At this time, God Forbid had a more metalcore-ish sound than their current one. The band was actually a little bit better when they were a metalcore band. Their more recent album is not as impressively energetic as this track. Of course, Byron Davis has always had a powerful voice. This isn't bad. I don't think I have listened to this since I bought either of the albums I own by God Forbid. I would not say this influenced me to look into them though. Some impressive riffing and soloing make this a pretty damn good song.

I have never really been as big a fan of The Haunted as the Bjorler brothers' previous band At The Gates. This song is a hell of a fast one. It's a bit more geared toward thrash metal than the melodic death of At The Gates. The Haunted has always been closer to thrash. It's not a bad track. For some reason, I just never got into The Haunted. Maybe that will change after hearing this one again.

Not a metal band, but rather a very melodic metalcore group. Some decent clean singing, but the harsh vocals are pretty bad. This is pretty bad actually. I vaguely recall something else by this band that was not bad. This is just too generic though.

Heaven Shall Burn is a metalcore band from Germany, but they are actually one of the better ones out there. This band injects a fair bit of melodic death metal into their metalcore style. The riffs are pretty damn heavy, impressive and a little odd for the style of music. This is pretty decent and it does not sound like all the other metalcore bands out there.

Kind of a stupid name. Stampin' Ground plays hardcore sort of like Hatebreed but with more Slayer influence. I suppose you could make an argument that this band is or is not metal based on the riffing. I don't really know. I am not much of a fan of the Hatebreed sound, so this really does not do much for me. It's okay, but why listen to this, when you can listen to Hatebreed? And FYI, I do not like Hatebreed, so I will pass.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hastings Bookstore Today

Hastings is the only place in town that I can go to pick up new music. Unfortunately, their selection is not terribly good. Today, I went with the hope that they would have gotten the new Electric Wizard album which was due to release in North America. Of course, they did not get it.

On the other hand, I was able to plug some holes in my collection as they were having a sale on several older metal albums. Initial Impressions to come.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poll: Favorite NWOBHM Album

I am experimenting here with a poll along the right side of the blog. Please vote for your favorite NWOBHM album. I have listed the six that I like the most, if you choose "Other" please comment in this post what it is.

I have been getting into more and more NWOBHM music. I do have my own opinion but I will not vote.

Year in Metal: 1999

On Children of Bodom's second album, the band found their own sound, a sound they would develop over the next few albums. A combination of traditional heavy metal, power metal, and black metal, the album was something that was a lot different than anything else at the time. COB utilized a lot of ultra fast riffs and some keyboard flourishes in order to fill out their sound. Lots of other bands came up afterwards that took the COB formula and ran with it, such as Norther and Kalmah.

The fourth album from In Flames was their last great one. Far more geared towards typical Gothenburg melodeath than anything the band had done previously, the album featured some great, catchy songs and terrific riffwork. The album is faster-paced and more intense than their previous albums. Unfortunately it was all basically down hill from here.

Moonspell's fourth album was influenced by chaos theory, as can be guessed by the album's name. The album is more experimental than the band's prior albums that were more straightforward gothic/black metal. The first couple of songs on this album are insanely creepy. "Soulsick" features some terrifying vocals and the title track's last section is extremely unnerving. The rest of the album is not quite as good, but this is a strong release by the Portuguese band.

Opeth also released their fourth album in 1999. This is the first album I had heard from Opeth and it impressed me immediately. Featuring some of the band's best combinations of melodic death metal and progressive elements, this is one of the most beautiful and brilliant albums the band has released. From the crunchy riffs beginning in "The Moor" to the elegantly melodic "Face of Melinda" to strong album closer "White Cluster", this is an amazing album.

After the band's experimentation with a more death metal-influenced sound on their prior album, Demonic, Testament returned to a heavy thrash sound on their eighth album. Some of the death metal elements were still present, as death metal veterans James Murphy, Steve DiGiorgio, and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo all appeared on the album as members of the band. Chuck Billy's voice was still closer to death metal than his prior thrash metal vocals, but the music was faster paced and heavier. The lyrical themes were a hell of a lot more evil too. This is still one of my favorite Testament albums.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Control Denied: The Fragile Art of Existence; Immortal: At the Heart of Winter; Lacuna Coil: In a Reverie; Metallica: S&M.

BANDS THAT FORMED IN 1999: Battlelore, Bloodbath, Bleeding Through, Dragonforce, Dream Evil, Kalmah, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Mastodon, Mors Principium Est, Trivium.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flashback Video: Morbid Angel: "God of Emptiness"

Excellent video for an excellent song. I remember seeing this video on Beavis and Butthead when I was in elementary school or junior high. It was creepy as hell.

Initial Impressions: Sodom: In War and Pieces

Sodom is one of my favorite thrash metal bands. A pioneering band that had an influence on the beginnings of three different metal genres (thrash, black, and death metal), Sodom is also one of the most consistent thrash metal bands. Sodom has never really put out a bad album, although some albums were not quite as good as others. They have also never really softened their sound. Sodom is about intense and aggressive, raw and primal thrash metal. They may have experimented with some other influences, such as hardcore punk, at times, but, unlike their contemporaries, have never abandoned to any degree, their signature core sound. Sodom has never gone modern rock (Metallica, Megadeth), groove (Anthrax, Exodus), industrial (Kreator), or death metal (Testament).

So what do we have on this album? Well, it is plain and simple: Sodom. From the opening salvo on the title track, through the Slayer-esque "Hellfire", on through the entire album, this is definitely, defiantly Sodom.

Sodom has not released an album full of original material since 2006, but the band proves on this release that they still have plenty of fight left in them. The riffs are some of the best the band has written in years. The riffs are violent, which is typical for the band. As usual, the riffs and the vocals are the stars here. The drumming and bass parts are impressive, but it's the guitar and vocals that lead the charge here. Bernemann Kost has only been with the band since the mid 1990's, but he can play riffs that sound like they would have been at home on Sodom's prime albums.

Tom Angelripper also once again sounds great. His vocals are very distinctive, sounding a bit like Lemmy after drinking a bottle of acid.

The lyrical themes have softened in a few places. "God Bless You" is actually a very impressive tribute to soldiers at war. The music is suitably more melodic on that track than on most of the others. The album also features "Knarrenheinz", which is the story of the band's mascot character.

Sodom has once again released a powerful thrash metal album. One of the most consistent acts going, Sodom shows why they are one of the leading bands in the German scene.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Metal Scenes: Les Legions Noires

In the late 1980's and early 1990's and possibly continuing until today, a group of musicians in France began calling themselves Les Legions Noires, the Black Legions. There were about ten individuals, though reports may differ, and they combined in a variety of lineups to form a number of black metal/ambient groups. Many of the groups never actually released a full-length album. Most of the known recorded works of the LLN groups came in the form of a large number of demos and splits.

The LLN releases were mostly lo-fi dirty-sounding recordings. One popular myth has recording being made with the microphone inside the body of a dead rat. The LLN releases are mostly extremely limited and rarely available on a medium outside of vinyl or cassette.

Some of the better-known groups that were part of Les Legions Noires were Vlad Tepes, Mutiilation, Torgeist, and Belketre.

This is a split album featuring two of the more well-known bands in the LLN scene. The recording styles differ wildly, but the music is clearly underground black metal. Each side is long enough to be a stand-alone album, but the bands chose to combine their efforts resulting in a long, but engrossing release.

The Vlad Tepes side of the split album is probably one of the better examples of the LLN sound. The recording quality is surprisingly decent. Vlad Tepes also incorporate more traditional heavy metal influences into their black metal. It is not just Transilvanian Hunger worship, there is a lot of depth and effort put into the music. The music is more melodic and full.

Belketre on the other hand, produce a sound that is bitter and hateful. Much closer to stereotypical raw black metal, Belketre also utilize some powerful ambient parts to their side of the split. There is virtually no bass sound, and the side as a whole is much more aggressive and dark.

One of the few full-length releases by any LLN band, Mutiilation's first release is closer in sound to Belketre's side of the above split, rathen than that of Vlad Tepes. This is much more traditional-sounding black metal with harsh riffs, raspy shrieks, and pounding drums. The sound is raw and evil, and often depressive at the same time. Mutiilation is one of the few LLN bands to still be active, and for good reason. Mutiilation perfectly captures the original spirit of black metal on this release. It's dark and oppressive, and that's the way it should be.

Initial Impressions: The Crown: Doomsday King

The Crown have made their triumphant return after a seven year absence. The musicians have all returned, but with a new vocalist, Jonas Stalhammar, formerly of God Macabre. The Swedish group had previously created their own sound through their brand of hyper-frenetic thrash/melodeath metal. This album is a return of that sound.

The first thing you notice is that the speed is definitely back. There is a bit more melody and harmony this time around, but The Crown still play fast and furious. Riffs fly by at a mile a minute and take no prisoners. The Crown does occasionally slow down a little bit and inject some dark atmosphere into their sound. This does come as a welcome change since a high intensity riffing speedfest for an entire album can get a little old. The Crown know this and have changed pace at some point on all of their albums for a little fresh perspective.

The new vocalist sounds great within the confines of the band's sound. He possesses a harsh screaming vocal style that is very similar to the band's other vocalists. He sounds right at home with The Crown.

The Crown has not missed a beat with this album, even though it has been seven long years since their last release. The album does bog down a little bit as it goes on and some of the songs do start to sound pretty similar to each other, but this is definitely a welcome release from a band that did not stick around long enough before.

I am very impressed with this album. The Crown has finally returned and they have not lost any of the edge that they previously had.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Initial Impressions: God Dethroned: Under the Sign of the Iron Cross

Coming off their most successful release thus far in Passiondale, God Dethroned found themselves in the position of how to follow that album. The blackened death metal band opted to try to recreate the album. Keeping with the World War II theme, God Dethroned brings us this release.

God Dethroned sounds a bit like a cross between Morbid Angel, Dismember, and Behemoth on this one. The guitars sound a bit like the famous Stockholm death metal buzzsaw sound, without aping the sound completely. There is also just enough murkiness and malevolence to the riffs to give them a slight resemblance to some of Trey Azagthoth's work. Of course the blast-beat driven drum sound has also returned on this album.

The vocals are delivered in a death metal roar. The vocalist Henri Sattler has never really deviated from that sound. Another similarity to the band's latest album found on this release is the addition of clean guest vocals on the title track by Marco Van Der Welde of The Wounded. When he is at his best, his vocals are spine-chilling. I do not believe he was used as well on this release as he was on the track "No Survivors" from the last album.

The overall sound of the album is chaotic. Obviously this is the idea when the overreaching concept is the brutality of war. The guitars are very loud and the riffs extremely heavy. There are seldomly any melodic parts and even when they are present, they are unnerving and eerie rather than calming. This is not an album for the weak of heart, certainly.

This album is not a step forward for God Dethroned. It is not that it is a bad album by any stretch, just that it is a lateral move from Passiondale. It's a damn good album, but it's just not quite to the same level as the last album. It is more of a recreation of the same album. Now some bands get by releasing the same album over and over (ahem Motorhead). So, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. It is just a little disappointing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Initial Impressions: Withered: Dualitas

Withered is part of an influx of newer, up and coming blackened whatever bands from the United States that for some reason, I can never keep straight. I keep getting them confused with Lightning Swords of Death and Black Anvil for some reason. That is not to say that they sound like the other bands, they really do not, just that I have a hard time remembering which band is which sometimes. After hearing the album though, I think I will have an easier time with Withered.

Withered is a blackened death metal band with occasional leanings toward sludge or even drone doom. The album opens with the hard-charging "Extinguished with the Weary" which eventually segues into a more atmospheric sludgy sound. This is not necessarily an album for those looking for punishing and brutal black/death metal. Withered is more reserved and contemplative. Opting for deep, sonic soundscapes over blackened brutality, yet retaining a cold and hostile atmosphere. Withered can still bring the pain on occasion though, just look at "Residue in the Void".

The sound of the album is rich and full, but dark and abyss-like at the same time. There is a lot going on, but it is very foreboding and intimidating. The drums attack like jackhammers and the guitar riffs are sharp and heavy. The vocals are delivered in an ominous roar, like a Lovecraftian monster warning a human of oncoming danger.

My favorite track on the album is "Seek the Shrouded" due to the swirling guitar riffs, pounding drums, and grotesque vocal delivery. It is one of the rare punishing tracks from start to finish on the album. That is not to say that the more atmospheric, droning parts in other songs are bad, just that this was the track to stick with me after the album was over.

This is not a long album, only about 43 minutes, but it feels like a lot longer. Not to say it is tedious or anything. Quite the opposite in fact. This is such an engrossing album that it leaves the listener weary. It is not so much an album, as it is an event. A dark and hostile, suffocating event. But is that not what we look for in certain types of metal?

I am emotionally drained after having heard this album for the first time. It is a bewildering album, one which I wish I would have discovered just weeks earlier as it would have ranked very high on my Top 10 list for the year. This is simply, an incredible listening experience.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Underrated Albums: Coroner: R.I.P.

Coroner's debut album from 1987 is one of the earlier examples of technical thrash metal. It is also a criminally underrated and oft-forgotten classic from the early years of thrash metal. Part of this may be due to the same limitation that groups like Artillery and Sabbat faced, being from an area that was not really known for thrash metal. Coroner is from Switzerland, not exactly a metal hotbed, despite producing Hellhammer/Celtic Frost by that point.

The band's debut album features some amazing technical riffwork and is one of the earliest thrash albums, I am aware of, that featured neoclassical shredding riffs. The pace of the riffs is almost always fast. This is a pummeling thrash metal album from beginning to end. The only respite are the occasional melodic, acoustic interludes, and even those do not last long.

Ron Royce's vocals sound amazingly like Tom G. Warrior's on early Celtic Frost material. The vocals are often snarled and do even feature the nonverbal grunting that Warrior used so extensively and to great effect. Royce also provides impressive basswork throughout the album.

The only real issue that I have with the album is the production. It's a little bit muddy and is not real loud. I can look past it though, because the songs on the album are so impressive.

This is a great album from the mid 1980's. Nothing else from that time sounds quite like it. Coroner did put out some more good albums after this, but in my opinion, nothing was quite as good as the band's debut.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Initial Impressions: Witchsorrow: Witchsorrow

Witchsorrow is a traditional doom metal band from the U.K. This is the band's first album released on the label Rise Above, a label that has been making pretty big waves in the doom metal genre with groups like Electric Wizard, Ghost, Blood Ceremony, Witchcraft, and others.

Witchsorrow is a power trio utilizing crushing, yet agonizingly slow riffs. The band sounds a lot like the latter five tracks off of Reverend Bizarre's second album. All doom and gloom. The band does use guitar solos from Necroskull to add a little color to the otherwise bleak and destroyed sound. The riffs are bottom-heavy and very distorted. "Thou Art Cursed" stands out as the most somber of the songs, particularly in the early minutes.

The band does occasionally pick up speed, proving that they are not a monotonous band. However, they rarely do anything extra when they do pick up speed. The most obvious example is toward the end of "The Trial of Elizabeth Clarke" where they pick up a lot of speed, but revert back to the slow and gloomy riffs of the beginning of the track. "Gomorrah" is the fastest track on the album, though it could never be mistaken for speed metal. It does however, also slow way down several times, but otherwise is propelled by a Sabbathian galloping riff.

Vocalist Necroskull delivers the vocals in a dry, deathly groan. Occasionally the urgency in the vocal delivery increases and Necroskull is found yelling, but for the most part, his vocal style does not change.

There are only five songs on the album, and yet the album is nearly 50 minutes long, so obviously all of the songs are epic in length. This is not necessarily surprising given the style of metal though, so it is certainly not a complaint. Witchsorrow has found a way to make slow and plodding doom metal interesting enough to not lose the listener's attention, despite the length of the tracks.

Overall, I came away very impressed. There have been a lot more doom metal bands appearing of late. I do not think we have reached the saturation stage in this where there are too many yet, but it may not be long. As it stands right now, I do enjoy listening to new traditional doom metal bands, and that certainly includes Witchsorrow.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Initial Impressions: Enslaved: "The Watcher" Flexi Disc

"The Watcher" is a live track of a song that originally appeared on the album Vertebrae. It begins with a little acoustic noodling and then takes off into a rumbling heavy riff and some typical black metal vocals. The choruses are sung in a clean vocal style and sound incredible. I have seen Enslaved in concert and they really do sound this incredible. This is a heavier song than a lot of their other more recent output, but it definitely still has its melodic parts.

As mentioned the song does appear in its original form on Vertebrae. It is a great example of a latter day Enslaved song, bearing black metal and progressive metal in equal amounts. This is not a mandatory release for any casual fans, but it is nice for those completists out there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Flashback Video: Melvins: "Revolve"

Melvins - Revolve
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I used to love this song in junior high. The Blaze (the local hard rock station) used to play it quite a bit. I never really got into the band though, as The Melvins are pretty damn weird. The Melvins were a major influence on grunge, sludge, and drone. Their own sound shifted from album to album and even song to song.

If I could find a compilation featuring this and their other more metal songs, that would be ideal. I am not sure such a thing exists. Pity, as this is a great song. Enjoy.

Decibel Came Through

Earlier I mentioned that I did not get my Enslaved flexi disc in my recent issue of Decibel. I contacted the company and received a response within 24 hours from someone explaining the issue and he said he would send a replacement. I received my replacement today. This is very impressive customer service. Thank you Decibel.

I will post my thoughts on the flexi disc as soon as I have had a chance to listen to it.

Initial Impressions: Holy Grail: Crisis in Utopia

One of the most highly anticipated debut albums last year was this one from the traditional metal band Holy Grail. After a critically lauded and successful EP, Improper Burial, the band was set to release their first full-length in 2010. Featuring three former members of trad metal band White Wizzard, Holy Grail had already built up a bit of name recognition and were able to release the aforementioned EP on Prosthetic Records.

Musically, this is is high-speed traditional metal drawing on such influences as Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer, and some other bands of the American power metal scene in the 1980's. Oftentimes the sound does come close to being more of a power metal style, although not the flowery European power metal. The album is somewhat similar to Cauldron, of whose 2009 album I was a big fan.

Holy Grail writes very melodic, but oftentimes powerful, and otherwise very fast songs. The riffs fly by quickly and they also utilize shredding guitar solos. The vocals are done in a typical traditional metal style, clean and soaring over the riffs.

The band often hints at more extreme metal styles, such as in the song "The Blackest Night" during the vocals over the power chords. Holy Grail never quite reaches this more extreme sound, but does throw in a thrashier riff once in awhile.

Holy Grail is lumped in with the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, and for good reason. This album clearly sounds stuck in the 1980's. It is a a great fast album to listen to, making it a great album to exceed the speed limit to. Do not take that as legal advice, even though I am a lawyer. Just listen to the damn album.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Initial Impressions: Cradle of Filth: Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa

I mentioned before that Cradle of Filth is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I do not mean that in the strictest sense, as I am more than willing to discuss the fact that I enjoy the band. I have most of their albums, and a couple of their other miscellaneous releases. There's just something about the songwriting, lyrics, and overall atmosphere of the band that attracts me.

So, this is their latest album. Like some of their previous albums, the concept of this one is biographical. Covering the story of Lilith, the original woman scorned by Adam in Jewish folklore.

As usual, the music is impressive, CoF have always had a flair for the epic. The album is quite long, and there is always a lot going on musically. Symphonic passages weave eloquently through the blackened-thrash riffing. Nevertheless, unlike Dimmu Borgir's recent output, CoF accomplish this without sounding too bloated or losing the metallic base of their music.

As usual, Dani Filth's vocals range from a snarl to a high-pitched shriek. He is joined frequently by a female vocalist playing the part of Lilith. With these vocal parts and the bombastic, epic music, the album has the feel of a metal opera. That is not an unheard of concept in metal, but CoF pulls it off quite well on this release.

I know Cradle of Filth is not for everyone out there, but this is a pretty damn good album, one of the band's best recent releases. If you do like Cradle of Filth, then I highly recommend it. If not, this probably is not going to win you over.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Thoughts: Decibel, Rob Halford

A couple things I have been thinking about tonight.

1. A recent comment I made on Full Metal Attorney here, made me think about who would be the best person to be an ambassador for metal. Now that Ronnie James Dio has died, I really believe the answer should be Rob Halford. Here's why: Halford is one person who has really embraced the heavy metal label. He has also expressed enjoyment of a variety of metal styles, including going so far as to say he would like to do a project with members of Emperor. Lemmy Kilmister has never really warmed up to the metal label, instead classifying his band simply as "rock & roll". Halford has also been around a long time and is universally respected in the metal genre.

2. Decibel shorted me on a flexi disc this month. Of course it's the Enslaved one, and I am a huge fan of Enslaved. I have contacted them and thus far not received a response.

3. After having read an interview with Tom "Angelripper" Such in Decibel, I have a huge amount of respect for him. Sodom has been one of my favorite bands for awhile, now even moreso.

4. I have read the last three issues of Decibel in the last week. I find myself becoming a bit disenchanted with it. They cover an awful lot of hardcore, grindcore, and noise rock. They also seem to prefer those albums to the metal albums. Metal albums seem to have lower overall ratings than those of the other three genres mentioned above. Anyone else notice this?

5. I tried listening to Converge's Jane Doe last night after re-reading some of my posts. I cannot stand it. I just do not get it. And for Decibel to choose that as the album of the decade last year bothers me.

6. Wedding plans are coming along. It still feels like there is a lot to do, but I am looking forward to getting married to my fiancee this year.

7. Still have not officially opened my law firm, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

8. My fiancee and I are moving to an acreage in the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Year in Metal: 1998

This album found Behemoth at a crossroads. For years, Behemoth was an underground black metal band out of Poland. However, this album found Behemoth adding more and more death metal influences to their sound. The same death metal influences that would later come to define their sound. Behemoth was still mostly a black metal band, but their sound was undergoing changes. This is a very powerful and aggressive album, and is one of the better albums by the band.

This album is a concept album covering J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Silmarillion". I am not a Tolkien expert by any means so I have no idea of the accuracy of the story, but Blind Guardian does a masterful job of spinning an epic tale. There are short spoken interludes between several of the songs which are meant to further the story along. Such interludes are helpful. Otherwise, this is typical epic power metal by a band that has forged an amazing career at it.

A comeback album of sorts by Bolt Thrower. This is the first album after Karl Willetts returned. In the meantime, Bolt Thrower had done a few tours with other vocalists, such as Martin Van Drunen. However, the band never released an album with another singer. This is fairly typical Bolt Thrower output, fantastic old school death metal. This album does include one of the band's best songs, the anthemic " No Guts, No Glory".

Of course this album was going to make it on here. This is one of my favorite albums of all time. Death's swansong is an amazing slab of progressive death metal. Chuck Schuldiner did a masterful job of songwriting on this release. The album completely transcends the death metal genre to become a certifiable work of art. Schuldiner's riffs, song structures, and lyrics are completely without par. Unfortunately, this was the band's final album.

Iced Earth, the amazing power/thrash metal band from the United States, had been around for nearly fifteen years by this point, but this is their first truly great album, in my opinion. All of the elements seemed to come together on this release. Jon Schaefer's riffs have always been the focal point in the band, but Matt Barlow's vocals really shine through on this album. The songwriting is also very strong on this album, and it featured the prelude to the Something Wicked concept in the final three songs.

Honorable Mentions: Cradle of Filth: Cruelty and the Beast; Fear Factory: Obsolete; Hammerfall: Legacy of Kings; Metallica: Garage Inc.; Opeth: My Arms, Your Hearse; Slayer: Diabolus in Musicana

Bands that Formed in 1998: Chimaira, Tyr

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Grammy Nominations

I am usually on the ball with this, because I have kind of a sick desire to know what the Grammys nominate for the Best Metal category. It's like a trainwreck, that I just cannot look away from.

Well, here's this year's nominees, quite a bit late this year:

Iron Maiden: "El Dorado"

Korn: "Let the Guilt Go"

Lamb of God: "In Your Words"

Megadeth: "Sudden Death"

Slayer: "World Painted Blood"

Okay, so, completely predictable. Lamb of God and Slayer seem to get nominated every year, whether they actually released an album or not. Megadeth has been nominated several times lately as well, but I am not sure what this song is, it's not on their last album. I guess it appeared on a recent Guitar Hero game. Iron Maiden was, of course, a high profile release from a high profile band, and they will likely win it. Korn is the obligatory "what the fuck?" band.

Iron Maiden wins it in a sort of tribute to their larger discography, which has heretofore been ignored by the Grammys.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: Year in Metal

It's been another strong year in metal this year. We endured some tragedies, such as the deaths of Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele, but we also had some amazing albums. Filling out a Top 10 list this year has been a little difficult, I had several albums that I wanted to include, but ultimately did not.

Unfortunately, I missed out on a lot of albums the last couple of months due to the unsettled nature of my law practice, but I will catch up eventually.

Now, for the Top 10:

Darkthrone has been veering away from black metal or years. This album found the band experimenting with more traditional heavy metal and hardcore sounds. It's also Darkthrone's best album in years, sounding like a black metal band covering Motorhead.

For a long time, this was my top album of the year, an absolutely breath-takingly epic concept album. Orphaned Land combines middle Eastern melodies and instrumentation into their progressive metal. This gets the nod for the most beautiful metal album of the year.

It seems like every year a traditional metal album comes out of nowhere and blows me away. 2010's edition is this album from Enforcer, a band devoted to playing NWOBHM-style metal. Having the pop sensibility of Def Leppard certainly helped them as they put out some amazingly catchy songs on this release.

Immolation has continued to put out amazing release after amazing release. One of the most consistent bands in death metal, Immolation's twisted and sadistic riffs keep getting better. The best death metal album of the year.

It has been a long time since the last release by Melechesh, and there was some question whether the band would be able to match their last amazing album. Well, question answered. Another classic album from these Middle Eastern blackened thrash merchants.

Watain has long been saddled with the tag "The Next Dissection", and while not earning that tag, they have put out some good albums. With this release though, Watain has really come into their own. The addition of traditional metal elements has made this a truly amazing black metal album.

Probably the comeback album of the year. Overkill has never released a bad album, but this one may possibly be one of the band's greatest albums ever. Blitz Ellsworth still has his trademark sneering vocals and the twin guitar attack is still in top form. This is incredible thrash metal. Overkill deserves a lot more accolades than they have received.

The Greek black metal outfit once again has put out a truly exceptional album. Essentially sounding like the soundtrack to an Ancient Greek battle, Rotting Christ's album is melodic and powerful, and eerily beautiful.

The thrash metal album of the year comes from an unusual place. Made up of members of long-gone Texas thrash metal bands Gamacide and Rigor Mortis, and released on Phil Anselmo's Housecore label, this is extremely aggressive and razor sharp, raw thrash metal. Forget all the retro bands, this is the real shit.

Amazing album, all the way around. Tom G. Warrior's new band picks up right where Celtic Frost's last album left off. It's dark and eerie, and heavy as hell. The most amazing thing about it though is that it sounds better every time I hear it.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: This does not mean I don't like the albums, but they were overhyped or overanticipated.
I loved Sigh's last album. It was an incredible mix of black metal, thrash metal, and symphonic bombast. Unfortunately, on this release, the symphonic elements were a little overdone. It's not a bad album, but not nearly as good as their prior album.

Again, not a bad album, and I do like it a little more than their last one, but it's not the return to Brave New World that it was hyped up to be. Besides, what is the deal with missing Eddie?

I was very excited when I heard Armored Saint would be releasing a new album. I always thought John Bush's voice was better suited to traditional metal than his time in Anthrax. Unfortunately, this album sounds more like Nickelback than older Armored Saint.

If I had not heard their prior album, this would have been amazing. But I have, and this is virtually the same album.

It's got a great cover and it had some hype that it was a cross between deathcore and melodic death metal. Unfortunately, it just was not a very good album. It's certainly brutal, but that's not the most important thing in the world.

SURPRISES: Other than Enforcer and Warbeast, there were some surprisingly good albums from unusual places.
Danzig came back and released an album on par with his first four albums. I am not sure anyone really expected that.

I did enjoy their previous album, but I was not originally all that excited to hear this one, however, this is an incredible album.

Technical death metal is not one of my favorite genres, but this was not just any other technical death metal album. It is an epic album in the purest sense, just amazing musicianship.

When I first heard this album, I was not terribly impressed by it, but as I continued to listen to it, I liked it more and more. When I recently re-evaluated my Top 10, this was #11.

ALBUMS THAT HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO SINK IN: New albums that I have not heard enough yet to evaluate.




CONCERT EXPERIENCE: I saw the Killfest 2010 tour featuring Woe of Tyrants, Evile, Warbringer, God Dethroned, Vader, and Overkill. I missed the first two bands, but the other four were amazing. Overkill is a fantastic live band. I own the most recent albums by all of the bands and enjoy them all.








WINTERSUN (maybe?)