Monday, February 28, 2011

Initial Impressions: Napalm Death 3 CD Set

As mentioned before on this blog, my fiancee gave me the recent 3 CD set from Napalm Death for Valentine's Day. Quite the romantic gesture. The CDs come from the middle period of the band's existence when they had added a lot of death metal influences to their grindcore foundation and had already been fronted by former Benediction growler Barney Greenway for a few albums. I will not spend a ton of space going over the minutiae of each album. If you have heard Napalm Death, you have a reasonable expectation for what these albums sound like.

The first album in the set is the band's 1997 album. The album featured the return of Greenway after a messy split for a very short amount of time and was a comeback album of sorts after the much-maligned Diatribes. This however, is a fucking monster of an album, featuring some great riffs, and some of the best songs Napalm Death has ever come up with, such as the title track, "Breed to Breathe", and "Lowpoint". This album is a bit slower than some of the other band's albums, grooving along at a medium pace, but that does not make it any less brutal.

Napalm Death released this the very next year and it does feel like an extension of the previous album, moreso than an individual release. The major difference between the two releases is that whereas the prior album was a mid-paced groovefest, this is blindingly fast and grinding. This is an even more potent album than the previous one and is one of their best albums during the death/hardcore/grindcore phase the band went through. The album also features three classic songs from a live performance as a bonus.

A short EP released after Inside the Torn Apart, this release has the title cut in common with the full-length album. Otherwise, it is full of outtakes from those sessions. It does feature one surprise: a cover of the ND classic "Suffer the Children" performed by underground U.S. death metal band Fatality who apparently won some contest to be featured here.

This was a very impressive and enjoyable release featuring three largely forgotten Napalm Death releases. It also serves as a great introduction to the band.

Reader Submission: Heathendom: The Symbolist

Heathendom is another traditional metal band from Greece. The band's sound definitely has a cinematic quality to it. There is a lot going on musically and it is all very dramatic. This is just the band's second album, but Heathendom has the presence and skill of a band that has been together for far longer. And, in fact, the group has been together since 1998, so the fact that they are only releasing their second album is deceptive.

The whole album is incredibly melodic and majestic. The musicianship is impressive and the songs are all well-crafted epics with a bit of a progressive tint to their overall structure. The band frequently changes tempo within the songs and the riffs are constantly evolving throughout. There are some power metal elements as well, most notably the vocals, but the music is more traditional and progressive style metal.

The vocals of singer Dimitris Koutsouvelis are extremely interesting and are probably the biggest standout element of Heathendom's sound. Previous reviews of the band's material suggest a combination of Candlemass's Messiah Marcolin and King Diamond. I can definitely see the similarity. Koutsouvelis has a very melodic style and uses a lot of vibrato in his voice. He also occasionally switches to a falsetto style reminiscent of King Diamond.

On Heathendom's previous album, the band had more of an epic doom metal sound. The doom this time has been replaced by a more upbeat and melodic, faster style. It is not a massive change as the band is still clearly more of a traditional metal band, but power and speed have replaced the more somber and slower elements. Guitar solos twist and turn within the riffs and the melodies are complex and powerful.

Heathendom is not a band that I was very familiar with before hearing this album. They do not get mentioned much in even the underground metal press. However, now that I have heard this album, I can say that Heathendom should receive a lot more attention. In the somewhat tired and monotonous international power metal scene, Heathendom has crafted an extremely memorable album. This is certainly an album that should get notice.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reader Submission: Wishdoom: Helepolis

Wishdoom is a traditional/doom metal band from Greece, which is a country that is not known for a lot of heavy metal, other than the Hellenic black metal style groups such as Kawir, Rotting Christ, and Varathron. This is the band's debut full-length album after releasing a demo and an EP previously.

Wishdoom vacillates between traditional and doom metal with some songs showing influences from Candlemass, Cirith Ungol, and St. Vitus, and others more like Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, and the like. The one thing it all has in common is the epic feel. Wishdoom's lyrics deal a lot with battle and warfare and the music definitely has a glorious, victory-in-battle feel to it.

"The Battle of Platea" is the song that most impressed me upon initial listens. It has a doomy, power-chord driven riff that sounds like a march into battle. "Up the Hammers" builds throughout the length of the song into an impressive climax. The final, eponymous track also sticks out due to its uncharacteristic, piano-driven introduction.

The band does fall into some of the cliches that have marked this style of metal. The battle and fantasy lyrics are done to death at times, and the sweeping instrumentation can be a little overbearing. Some of the melodies start to sound the same after awhile as well. Nonetheless, the band shows some real promise. Their musicianship is incredible and the vocals are a real strength. The songs are catchy and enjoyable, and the album as a whole is powerful and uplifting.

This is a fairly standard release for this style of metal. It does not really offer anything new, but the musical abilities of the members is readily apparent. It is a competent and impressive debut from a band with a lot of talent. But there definitely remains room to grow and improve.

Flashback Video: Napalm Death: "Greed Killing"

Just because I have been on a big Napalm Death kick lately.

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Revolver Golden Gods Nominees Announced

Because we all need a little comedy now and again.

In particular, these are the Album of the Year nominees brought to us by the douchebags that brought us Affliction t-shirts:

Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare
Black Label Society, Order of the Black
Deftones, Diamond Eyes
Ozzy Osbourne, Scream
Stone Sour, Audio Secrecy
Volbeat, Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

Honestly, I have not heard a single one of those albums. I am surprised Iron Maiden is not listed.

Here's Best New Band:

Best New Band:

Asking Alexandria
Black Veil Brides
The Damned Things
The Pretty Reckless
Times of Grace
We Are the Fallen

And my head exploded.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Initial Impressions: Grand Magus: Hammer of the North

After the absolutely amazing Iron Will, I was very interested in hearing how Grand Magus would follow up. That album was my Album of the Year in 2008. This one did not make my list last year because I only just recently got it. But, after hearing it, it would have easily made my Top 10 once again.

This album picks up right where Grand Magus left off, with some absolutely amazing epic traditional metal. The band has a gift for writing infectious songs with great riffs and terrific melodies. This gift is shown in full force on this album. All of the individual musicians sound great on this release, and of course the vocals of J.B. remain a strength.

There really is not much to say about this release. It's absolutely amazing. A great album. Grand Magus remains a hugely underrated band.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Initial Impressions: Forbidden: Omega Wave

Forbidden is just another of the litany of 1980's thrash metal bands that have recently reformed and released a new album. Due mostly to the retro-thrash trend, many old school bands have decided to give it another shot, regardless of their success the first time around. Forbidden was always relegated to second or third tier status in the Bay Area thrash metal scene. Though they had a fantastic vocalist, their music was not received as well as other groups, so they languished with the likes of Laaz Rockit, Vio-Lence, and Death Angel.

This is the band's first album since 1997 and features a return of most of the members who made up the band's core during their best years. The only real exception is behind the drum kit where Mark Hernandez, who played with Vio-Lence, Defiance, and Heathen, among others takes over instead of Paul Bostaph.

This album is a fairly impressive return to form for the band. The album does feature the same sort of high octane thrash that the band was known for on their earlier albums. It also includes the same melodic sensibility that Forbidden always had. Forbidden has always been more of a melodic thrash metal band than some of their more famous brethren, and this fact is borne out on this reunion album. The band does slow down at times and produce more of a mid-paced or even slower track. This ability to change pace keeps the album interesting.

Russ Anderson still possesses a powerful voice, but he does not hit the same high notes that he once did and he does not hold them for quite as long either. Despite this, the vocals still remain a strength for the band and a defining characteristic separating them from other Bay Area bands.

The only real complaint that I have about this album is its length. The album is over an hour long. It does tend to drag at times. If it could have been tightened up and shortened a little bit, it would be a much more enjoyable listening experience.

Despite the issue with the length of this album, this is a very good reunion album. A lot of reunion albums fall flat and are either too different from the band's original sound or not different enough. This album falls into a happy medium, proving that the band did progress, but did not lose their original sound.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flashback Video: Alice in Chains: "Man in the Box"

This is the first time most people were aware of Alice in Chains. It's a powerful video and still my favorite song by the band. Clearly more metal than grunge.

Reissue for the Year 2010: Convulse: World Without God

Upon reviewing some of my recent posts, I realized that I did not include this feature for the 2010 review. I meant to, it just slipped my mind.

The Finnish death metal band Convulse had their epic debut album reissued in 2010 by Relapse Records. The release also features the Resuscitation of Evilness demo, a rehearsal from 1990, and a live cover of Venom's "Countess Bathory". Convulse was never quite as twisted as countrymen Demilich, but they were certainly dark and brutal. Sounding more like Morbid Angel and Immolation than anything, this is an impressive album from a mostly forgotten band. Convulse morphed into more of a death n' roll band as time went on, but this is a twisted, evil slice of death metal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reader Submission: Catch 22: Monumetal

Catch 22 is an American band signed to Metal on Metal Records. The band has been active since 1992 and are releasing their sixth full length album in 2011. The band's sound is a mix of power, thrash, and traditional metal. Think Iced Earth and 1980's U.S. bands like Jag Panzer and you have a pretty good idea.

The Iced Earth comparison is pretty apt, given that guitarist T.J. Berry uses a similar galloping, heavy riffing style. Although that is not to say that the band completely aped that style, just that they have a similar sound. In fact, more than likely, the band was influenced by a lot of the same bands as Iced Earth, early American power metal and Bay Area thrash metal. At times, the music sounds similar to groups like Queensryche and Sanctuary, with an almost progressive structure and mechanical sounding riffs.

The thing that I came away with impressed the most was the bass sound. The bass guitar is fairly high in the mix. It is also usually doing something very interesting. The bass is an integral part of this band's music. That is not something that a lot of other bands care much about, but it is very important here.

Vocally, Catch 22 uses two singers, each with very different voices so it is easy to discern them. The vocals are typically delivered in a harsh, almost snarled style, very similar to 1980's U.S. power metal and some Bay Area thrash.

The band is clearly influenced by American metal bands of the 1980's and they wear these influences on their sleeve. As I am a big fan of many of the scenes from those times, this is music that I can really get into. I think this is a terrific album, that though it will be released this year, sounds like it could have easily been released in 1988. The album name is kind of a play on words, but this album really does serve as a monument to metal.

EDIT: I have been corrected, apparently Berry is the only singer. He certainly has a wide range.

Random, But True Cartoon

It's pretty stupid, and I apologize about the size. Bring back 80's speed metal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Initial Impressions: Ghost: Opus Eponymous

Ghost has gotten an awful lot of hype over just the last few months, beginning with the praise they received from Darkthrone's Fenriz. The band essentially came out of nowhere and are one of the hotter bands right now. To go along with that sudden hype often comes scorn though and the backlash has started over the last few weeks or so.

I have heard this album a couple of times now and I have to say that I absolutely love it. I would have liked to have heard it earlier though so their place in my top albums of the year would have been clear. They would have likely come in somewhere in the Top 5.

I have read a lot of comments comparing the band to Mercyful Fate, but I think this is seriously misguided. The atmosphere of horror and darkness probably could be compared to that of Mercyful Fate, but I think the band sounds a lot more like 1970's rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, a group I have enjoyed for a long time. Many of the songs sound as if they could have easily been recorded by the same band as recorded "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "I Love the Night", "Death Valley Nights", and "Nosferatu".

Ghost's music is driven by heavy, doom-laden guitar riffs. The music is extremely infectious and often sticks with the listener after hearing it. The vocals too are very impressive. The singer, none of the band members are named as of yet, utilizes a clean tone almost all of the time. His vocals soar over the stunning riffs and catchy melodies.

Obviously, the aspect that gets the band so much attention is the lyrical content. Billed as Satanic ritualistic lyrics, they are clearly meant to capture attention. It is rare indeed for a metal band who sings about the kind of topics found on this album to also feature such stunningly clean vocals. Despite this, it does not feel like a gimmick to me. This band is serious about what they do, and they do it all very well.

I was looking very much forward to hearing this album after the hype machine began running. It is even better than I expected it to be. This is a great album.

Initial Impressions: Hypocrisy: Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is a Ludvika, Sweden death metal band that was a part of the Stockholm death metal scene. They have always stood out just a little bit from groups like Entombed, Grave, Dismember and the like though because of their more experimental nature. This album is a pretty good example of that.

By this point in the band's career, they had become much more melodic. But, this is still an incredibly brutal album. The band has also experimented a lot with atmosphere for this release. The usual elements that make up the Hypocrisy sound are here, such as heavy, chainsaw riffs and Peter Tagtren's distinctive vocal style, but the band has crafted a dark and gloomy atmosphere to go along with it. Tagtren also uses some clean vocals on this, which is a little unusual for him.

I absolutely love the fourth track, "Elastic Inverted Visions". It is melodic and somber, but with some great vocals delivered by Tagtren. It is a very good example of later Hypocrisy music.

This album turned off a lot of people from reading reviews of it. But there are a lot of people who absolutely love it as well. I fall into the latter category. This is already one of my favorite albums from the band, and I have only heard it once.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

Last night was pretty good for my fiancee and I for Valentine's Day. I got her the standard dozen roses and chocolates and took her to eat at a new Italian restaurant and then to the movie True Grit, which was about the only decent option around here.

She bought me this:What a great fiancee.

Initial Impressions: Dragonforce: Inhuman Rampage

Yes, I am pretty late to this whole thing. Dragonforce had a lot of hype and mainstream attention a few years back due to their inclusion on the Guitar Hero game. I did buy their debut album which was a decent piece of Euro-style power metal, but I avoided this one for a long time. Not to say I did not hear it, I gave it to one my best friend for either Christmas or his birthday back then as he is a big fan of power metal. But I did not spend much time with the album.

Now, I decided to change that and to listen to it without hearing any of the hype, or the requisite backlash going along with said hype.

Well, it is pretty cheesy. My fiancee immediately hated it upon hearing it, which I found pretty fucking funny. The lyrics are pretty cliche stuff for the style and of course everything is really upbeat and almost happy. Rare things indeed for metal.

Dragonforce of course made a name for themselves with their lightning fast riffing style and their blazing solos. Some of the backlash was due to their occasional inability to replicate this speed live in concert. I have no idea if that is true or not, I have never seen the band in concert or seen any videos of it. If it is true, then perhaps the speed of the solos and riffs is indeed a studio creation. Again, I have no idea if this is true or not.

Despite these issues, this is at least a reasonably enjoyable album, provided you like European power metal. I will be honest here, if you do not care for the style, you will not like this album at all. So do not even try. That said, even if you do like the style, there are better bands out there who do not get this kind of recognition. I think the album is passable at best, but then I can find something to enjoy in almost every style of metal.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Compilations: Relapse 2010-2011 Sampler

Some time ago, Relapse Records was offering a free digital download of a compilation album. Not being one to pass up free music, I decided to check it out. You can too here. As usual, I am looking for bands I would want to check into further.

I have this album. Baroness is of course a sludge metal band in the vein of Mastodon. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album, but there is not much more to say, since I already have this.

A band I have not heard much about. Red Fang sounds like a stoner/sludge/doom band. It's not too bad, but it's a little too similar to that Baroness song, not much more brought to the table. Pass.

Yet another sludge band with a John Baisley cover picture. I do like this one a little better than Red Fang, but probably not enough to check them out much more. I don't know, this sludge thing is getting a bit out of hand. I am sure I am not the first person to notice that.

I already own this album by this upcoming technical thrash metal band. Good stuff. They are supposed to have a new album out this year. Looking forward to that.

Technical death metal band from Germany. This is another one that I already own the album from. Nothing else to say. Good stuff.

I am familiar with this band, though not with this album. Abysmal Dawn is a standard death metal band from the U.S. They do not really do anything new or outrageous, but if you want solid death metal, they are certainly not a bad option.

Cephalic Carnage is another group I am familiar with, though not with this release. The Colorado grindcore band often incorporates other musical elements into their sound, including other styles of metal, mathcore, and even some free jazz. This is a bit more of a standard deathgrind song, though with a bizarre melodically vocalized part near the end that would not sound out of place in some modern rock. Pretty good actually. Not sure how this last album escaped me.

One of the godfather bands of the slam scene, Dying Fetus bears little resemblance to modern slam. They are basically another brutal death metal band at this point, but they remain very good at what they do. I own this one already.

Truly terrific deathgrind. But yet again, I own this.

Yet another stoner/sludge band. This one is not a John Baisley cover, though it certainly looks to be in that style. This is a slower, more somber track to begin with. The vocals are fairly extreme for the style. This is pretty damn good. I may have to check this band out further.

At last something truly interesting Black Anvil is a U.S. black/thrash metal band that I have been sleeping on of late. Not anymore. This is terrific and I definitely want to hear more.

This is a bit too post-rock for my tastes. Pass.

The band created by Kirk Windstein of Crowbar and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed sounds, well, like the singer from Hatebreed fronting Crowbar. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. But I would still prefer to just listen to Crowbar.

I have this album too. Excellent thrash/black metal that sounds like the early days of Bathory, Venom, and Celtic Frost/Hellhammer.

Short, fast, and brutal grindcore. Not quite metal enough for my tastes in grindcore though.

More death/grind. Similar in sound to Misery Index, though a little darker, if possible. It's not bad, but I do not go for this style too often.

In my business, if I did that, I would not get paid. That's just me though. It literally took me as long to type this as the song. It's that short. Pass.

More grind. I still don't really care.

And still more. Apparently this is a specialty for Relapse. Brutal Truth is a little better than some of these other bands though, so hurray for that I guess.

Not really metal, more of a mix of a variety of styles. I do not really care for it much so I will pass on it.

Stoner rock/noise rock. Pass. This thing is getting a bit old.

Also not metal. This is a mostly instrumental song with a lot of elements. Not bad, but not something I am terribly interested in.

And we are back to sludge/doom. We have lapped ourselves. This one takes a little bit to get going, but when it does, it is clear that the emphasis is on doom. I quite like this and might consider checking them out more.

And we're back to some kind of post-rock...something. Anyway, pass for sure.

Featuring members of Municipal Waste, Sonic Youth, and Tortoise, this sounds as bad as that description suggests.

We leave things with a classic. I already own this album, but at least it was a strong ending, there were times near the end that I wanted to turn this off.

So, I will be checking out Cough, Howl, and Black Anvil, but probably leaving everything else.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reader Submission: Metal on Metal Records

I recently received an email from Jowita with Metal on Metal Records. I will be reviewing several albums released by the record label over the coming days. Just a heads up.

Iron Maiden Wins Grammy

I believe I predicted this. Not that I really think this deserves it, but it was better than a lot of the stuff that was nominated. I still have no idea why in the fuck I care.

Year in Metal: 2000

Being a bit of a Clive Barker fan, I was interested in checking out an album inspired by his short story Cabal and the film version of said story, Nightbreed. This was the first album that brought Cradle of Filth widespread acclaim, and it abandons some of the more black metal leanings of the band in exchange for more of an extreme gothic metal sound. It also features some of the better songs by the band, including "Her Ghost in the Fog".

Destroyer 666's second album incorporated more thrash metal elements, but still possessing all of the chaotic elements that made their first album so great. This still is not my favorite album from the band, their next one gets that distinction, but this is absolutely an amazing album from the Australian "war metal" scene. The best track is the absolutely epic "I am the Wargod (Ode to the Battle Slain)." It remains one of the band's best tracks ever.

After the groove/thrash band Fight and the gothic/industrial project 2wo, original metal god Rob Halford decided to form a new project getting back to his metal roots. Hiring a band of metal mercenaries helped Halford reach back into the past. This is the closest thing to the album Painkiller that Halford has been involved with. There are some great tracks and some awesome riffs on this album. It's unfortunate that so few really noticed it.

Bruce Dickinson rejoined Iron Maiden for the recording of this album, named after the Aldous Huxley novel that is one of my favorites of all time. This was a terrific comeback album from the great metal band. Dickinson did not have a lot left vocally, his operatic vocals were gone, but he still sounds decent enough. Also returning to the band was guitarist Adrian Smith, giving the band three guitarists. Unfortunately, the band would not be able to replicate the success of this album in the three subsequent albums.

The Danish blackened death metal band with a penchant for songs about warfare released their third album in 2000. Despite the English language title, the lyrics all appear to be in German. Drummer Reno Killerich was in the Guinness Book of World Records for speed drumming and he does do a fantastic job behind the kit on this release. This is a massively brutal slice of death metal.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: In Flames: Clayman, Macabre: Dahmer, Pantera: Reinventing the Steel, Sentenced: Crimson.

BANDS THAT FORMED IN 2000: 3 Inches of Blood, Arsis, Nachtmystium, Swallow the Sun.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flashback Video: Voivod: "Astronomy Domine"

I have been listening to a lot of Voivod of late. This is a cover of a Pik Floyd song and was one of the first songs I heard from the band.

Initial Impressions: Suicidal Tendencies: Lights...Camera...Revolution

Suicidal Tendencies is a band that I heard early on in my metal history. Nevertheless, I did not really check out much of their music after hearing Join the Army. Recently, I decided to change that as I found this album for cheap. I was familiar with the opening track "You Can't Bring Me Down", which is still one of my favorite songs by the band.

So, how is this album?

Well, it's a little bit uneven truthfully. There are some strong tracks on here, in particular the aforementioned "You Can't Bring Me Down", but there are also some very different songs here as well. Suicidal Tendencies stretched their musical limits on this album, experimenting with different styles such as funk, which Mike Muir explored even further with side project Infectious Grooves.

ST is at their best when they are playing their own mastered brand of crossover thrash. No, they do not exactly sound like Bay Area thrash bands, they sound like a punk group playing thrash, but they have perfected this sound and use it to great effect. They can write some impressive and catchy riffs, and they always sound like they are having a great time doing it.

ST has always been fairly well-known for their humor and this definitely shows through in songs like "Lovely" and "Disco's Out, Murder's In". Even the first track has some humorous lyrics.

Despite the inconsistencies, Suicidal Tendencies has put out a reasonably enjoyable album. They have always been a little offbeat, so the strange styles are to be expected.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reader Submissions: Opensight: The Voice of Nothing

Recently, Ivan David, frontman for the Colombian progressive metal band Opensight reached out to me. He provided me a way to listen to his band's music and write an article.

As mentioned, Opensight is a progressive metal band with tendencies towards groups like Symphony X and Lethal. Their music is incredibly dynamic, playing loud and powerful one minute and then immediately being able to soften to an acoustic interlude. They show some incredible musicianship as well. The musicians are easily able to change time signature and stay right on top of the other members.

This is the band's fourth release, after two demos and a full-length. This particular release is an EP, containing only five songs and with a runtime of 22 minutes. That is fine though, as this makes a perfect introduction to a band that very few people have ever heard of before.

The second track "Former Heroes" is probably my favorite on the release. Featuring an infectious chorus line and some impressive power chord driven riffwork and then quickly switching to a soft section, before going back to the riffs. "Deleted Scene" features some jazz-inspired, swinging opening riffs.

Ivan's vocals are dry, but seem to really fit the band's music. He sounds like a vocalist for a 1980's American power metal band. Given the style of music played, that is a good match.

The songs each possess a lot of dynamics, the listener is not sure what to expect out of each song. It definitely keeps things interesting. This is a very impressive gateway into a newer, underground band.

Initial Impressions: Annihilator: Alice in Hell/Never, Neverland Two From the Vault

Annihilator is a technical thrash metal band from Ottawa, Canada. The band basically consists of guitarist Jeff Waters and whoever else he decides is worthy enough to be in the band. I am really not sure that that is accurate, but with the amount of turnover in the band, it certainly seems that way. In particular peril are the vocalists, only one of whom has lasted more than four years, and there have been seven of them.

This release is from Roadrunner's Two From the Vault series, in which two classic albums are reissued in one package. I had two of these before finding this one, Exhorder and Gorguts. It is a pretty decent way to get a couple of classic metal albums.

But, back to Annihilator. These two albums were released in 1989 and 1990 respectively and are the first two albums the band released. Annihilator was a little late to the thrash metal scene and this is certainly not extreme thrash, being much more poppy and melodic. Jeff Waters is one hell of an instrumentalist, possessing extraordinary range, riff-writing, and melodic capability.

The debut album from the band included some of their most well-known songs, such as "Alison Hell", "W.T.Y.D.", and "Wicked Mystic". It starts out with the extremely melodic "Crystal Ann", which features some classical sounding acoustic guitar. After that brief introduction, the band kicks off "Alison Hell".

The songs are typically mid-paced or fast riff-fests with frequent examples of Waters's guitar skill either through the riffs themselves or through his soloing. Vocalist Randy Rampage has a style similar to Sabbat's Martin Valkyier, rough and staccato. Since I like that style, I do enjoy Rampage's vocals.

This is one of Annihilator's strongest albums, and probably my favorite from the band. If I had to recommend just one album from the band, this would be it.

Annihilator's sophomore album featured a new vocalist. Coburn Pharr's style is significantly different than Rampage's, it is far more melodic and matches the music a bit more. The sound on this album in general became a bit more melodic and light-hearted. This is definitely not extreme thrash, bearing more resemblance to the more melodic albums by Testament.

Waters still comes up with some faster riffs on this album, despite the more melodic bent, particularly "Imperiled Eyes". Other than the vocals, this album sounds very similar to the previous album. Some of the songs are a bit more humorous, not as serious, but other than that, it is fairly close.

The band's second album is not quite as good as their first, but it is still better than most of the rest of their material. Only the first few albums by Annihilator are really worthwhile, these are the best of them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Okay finally. I have some decent internet connection at the new home. I have also started moving into my new office. Things are progressing pretty well right now, so I will be able to post more often. My fiancee and I are very happy in our new home, particularly now that we have some contact with the outside world.

I have a lot of reviews coming up. I also have some other random posts in plans. Look for more posts from me starting tomorrow, when I officially start my new firm.

Also, congrats to my colleague Kelly at Full Metal Attorney for his upcoming additions to his family.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Flashback Video: Candlemass: "Bewitched"

This is kind of a cheesy video. Fun to watch though.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Initial Impressions: Type O Negative: Slow, Deep, and Hard

As I said, the other day I was filling in some holes in my album collection. One of the cheap albums I came across was this album from the great Type O Negative. This is the band's debut album. The band formed soon after the breakup of underground crossover band Carnivore.

I was very familiar with most of these songs, as I do own a pirated copy of The Origin of the Feces which I recorded after borrowing it from an ex girlfriend. These songs are virtually exactly the same as those on the other album. Origin was a fake live album and the songs were re-named on it. At any rate, I decided to finally purchase the original versions.

Now, people who like the most recent Type O Negative albums probably will not enjoy this one as much. The band had not gone off the deep end with their gothic tendencies at this point. This album is much closer to the sound that Carnivore displayed. That is to say, this is more of a crossover metal album than the band's more recent journeys into sadness and depression. This one is faster and angrier.

The band kicks things off with the hilariously titled "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity", or as it is better-known "I Know You're Fucking Someone Else". The song is over 12 minutes long and deals with Peter Steele's frustration with a girlfriend's cheating ways. The album also includes "Xero Tolerance" which features a rollicking climax. The other big joke is the track "The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences" which was designed to make the listener turn up their stereo to hear feedback only to be met with shocking noise at the beginning of the next track.

Type O Negative have always had the interesting ability to make the most unlikely things catchy as hell. They display this well even on this, their debut album. This is an essential listen for metalheads.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Initial Impressions: Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer

Black Sabbath has had such a long career with so many different moving parts that it is easy to forget about some of the albums they have released. I was aware of Dehumanizer, but for some reason I just never really bothered to check it out, even though I wanted to very much at one point. I decided recently to change that when I found it, and several other holes from my collection, for cheap at Hastings Bookstore.

As you may or may not be aware, Dehumanizer was released in 1992 and featured a reunion of the second major Black Sabbath lineup for the first time since the early 1980's. Ronnie James Dio was back on vocals with Vinny Appice on drums, and of course, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler on guitar and bass respectfully. This is the same lineup that would later record under the name Heaven and Hell. It is an album that is often forgotten because it came in between two albums fronted by Tony Martin. It is an oddity and seems out of place. The lineup broke up soon afterward, not releasing another album until the aforementioned Heaven and Hell release.

Musically, this is one of the most impressive Black Sabbath albums of the band's later career. Tony Iommi has always had a gift for riffs and he pulls out some truly great ones on this release, such as on "I" and "TV Crimes". The riffing style has returned to the sound of the band's previous tenure under Dio. It's doomy and heavy, sounding much more like the original Sabbath sound than the more power metal inflections of their previous release with Tony Martin.

Dio sounds great on this album. He is more focused and straightforward on this release as compared to his solo records. His vocals are not as geared towards epic heavy metal this time around, just good, old-fashioned doomy traditional metal.

This album is a welcome return to the Black Sabbath sound of the second lineup. It's a return to the bludgeoning doom that the band created. It's unfortunate that it's often overlooked. It is one of the heaviest albums Black Sabbath created.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Poll Results: NWOBHM Albums

Well, it's not quite over, but I will edit if anything changes between now and the end of the poll. However, the result almost certainly will not change.

Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast won with 10 votes. Now, I am a huge fan of Iron Maiden, but this is not even close to my favorite album from the iconic band. I much prefer Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Powerslave, and Piece of Mind. Actually, I find the title track to be somewhat overrated. I do enjoy other tracks off of it, but again, not as much as some of their other albums.

Venom's Welcome to Hell placed second with two votes. This is a fantastic album and a huge influence on the thrash, death, and black metal genres. The "other" category also had two votes with a commenter stating his preference for Sweet Savage. That is not an album I am terribly familiar with, but I will definitely check out. The other vote went to Angel Witch's self-titled album, and I agree quite well with this. The title track is a great song, and one of my favorites from the NWOBHM scene.

I was not shocked that the Raven album did not receive a vote, and the Blitzkrieg album is pretty much underground, except for the song "Blitzkrieg" which was covered by Metallica. However, I was shocked that Diamond Head did not gain a single vote.

My pick from these possibilities is the Diamond Head album. There are so many great songs off of it that are infectious as hell and generally a lot of fun. I am very surprised to see it not get a single vote.