Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Haul and Upcoming Posts

Well it was a pretty decent Christmas for me. My wonderful wife felt bad that I have been unable to buy many albums this year, so she bought me three. They were the new albums by Iced Earth, Vader, and Warbringer. My little brother also bought me the new Obscura album, so four new albums after several months with only one or two.

Next week, I will begin my end of the year lists, so look out for those. My big jury trial scheduled for the entire week settled just recently, so I should have time to do some posting.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reader Submission: Jehovah in Pain: Demos '09-'11

I was recently contacted by Max from Australian death metal band Jehovah in Pain to check out his band. It has been a little while since he contacted me and I do want to apologize that it took so long to get this out.

Jehovah in Pain is a band that prides itself on performing pure death metal with no alternate influences and nothing really accessible about it. While definitely influenced by death metal, it is not as if their music is completely inaccessible. This is music influenced heavily by the classics of the death metal genre but also having some modern sound as well. The songs are surprisingly catchy for a band claiming that their music is not accessible. This is heavy, groove-laden death metal with a fuzzy, heavily-distorted guitar tone and snarling vocal style.

The band clearly hates Christianity, as the song titles make obvious. We have "Downward, Christian Soldier" and "Re-Animate the Christian Corpses (So We Can Slay Them All Again)" as well as the simple and direct "I Hate Christians". It gets a little silly. I am not offended by this. Anti-Christian lyrics are not something I feel particularly strongly about. It just gets a little redundant after awhile.

Despite that one complaint, the music is not bad. This is a relatively new band just trying to find their way. They have an interesting sound. They have some room to improve. That's not rare.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reader Submission: Monarch

I was recently contacted by Alex Pickard, bassist of the Vista, CA thrash metal band Monarch to check out his group. Being a big fan of thrash metal like I am, I was very interested in hearing them. I must say, I came away very impressed.

Monarch is an old-school thrash metal band with some brutal thrash influences. If I had to try to explain their sound, it would be a mix of Slayer and Dark Angel with some Demolition Hammer thrown in. The music is fast and intense with some absolutely shredding guitar parts. The songs presented on their page really do resemble something that would have been released in the mid to late 1980's.

Monarch has recorded four songs for their page, link can be found below. Each track is a monument to the thrash metal greats of the 1980's. The songs fly by with lightning speed amongst a fury of chaotic riffs, pounding drums, and shouted Araya-esque vocals.

The production values are also extremely impressive. The album sounds clean, but it does not lose any of the aggressiveness inherent in this style of metal.

I am very impressed with Monarch. I look forward to hearing more from them.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reader Submission: Outrage: Go to Hell

Why is this the first I have heard of this band? Outrage is a German blackened thrash metal band in the vein of early Hellhammer, Venom, and Sodom. That happens to be one of my favorite styles of metal, so it's bizarre that this band has escaped me. Especially since the band was around in the mid 1980's before hanging it up and then returning in the early 2000's.

Obviously with the above comparisons to early Hellhammer, Venom, and Sodom, most of you probably already know what to expect. Fast, raw, and filthy blackened thrash metal that is also surprisingly catchy. The guitar tone is extremely impressive, cutting through like a knife. The atmosphere is dark and evil-sounding, just how I like it. The vocals sound like a cross between Tom Warrior and Cronos, with the singer occasionally emitting some surprising shrieks, which sound a little goofy at first.

The only gripe I have is the production. It is a little too crisp and clean, which for this style of metal is not really the best fit.

Obviously this band is just out there to have a blast playing the kind of music they want to play. It's a hell of a fun ride. I am surprised that this is the first time I have heard of this band, but I will definitely look into their past material.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One and Done? Pt. 8: Outworld

Outworld was an extremely impressive progressive/speed metal band out of Houston, TX. Musically they sounded somewhat like a faster version of Symphony X with Painkiller-era Rob Halford belting out the lyrics. The band only managed to release one album, the self-titled release from 2006. They did put out a couple of demos, but even though there were some rumblings about a follow-up, it never happened. Vocalist Kelly Carpenter left the band some time after the release and the band just never put another full-length out. Such a shame, because the one and only release they did have was simply incredible.

Take a listen:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reader Submissions: Nomad Son: The Eternal Return

This album was technically released last year, but Metal on Metal Records re-released it on vinyl recently and asked me to review it.

Nomad Son is another in a seemingly endless line of traditional doom metal bands that has popped up in the last few years. Nomad Son is from Malta, the first band from that country that I have ever heard.

Nomad Son, as a traditional doom metal band, obviously has a great deal in common sonically with Candlemass, Trouble, and other usual suspects. That is, medium-paced epic-sounding metal with a heavy crunch and powerful melodies. The songs do not fall into the same trap that those of other doom metal band songs do, that is they are a little on the long side but without losing interest or meandering on aimlessly, unlike this sentence.

The most impressive musical aspect is the use of Deep Purple-esque keyboard lines. This gives the music more of a 1970's traditional metal vibe.

The vocals are a little different, evoking King Diamond and Dio with a little bit of rasp thrown in. It is a little bit difficult to get used to initially. After a couple of listens though, they begin to sink in a little bit better.

This is Nomad Son's second album and there are still some things that could be improved, but the band shows promise. There are a lot of traditional doom metal bands popping up these days and Nomad Son does not really stand out much from the pack, but that does not mean that the album is not well-done and a good listen. The band just has some growing to do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reader Submission: Battlerage: True Metal Victory

Metal on Metal Records contacted me once again with a few new releases to look into. Among these was this new release from Chilean true metal warriors Battlerage.

Battlerage was not a band I was previously aware of, but after hearing this album, I will definitely be watching this band. Battlerage is a throwback to classic, epic metal bands like Manowar, Manilla Road, and Brocas Helm. They fly the true metal banner quite proudly, particularly evident in song titles like "Raw Metal".

Their music is energetic and infectious. It is difficult not to bang your head along with this. They are not the most original band in the world, but they know their source material well and are extremely capable musicians.

The vocals are the best quality here. Singer Fox-Lin Torres does not have a huge range, but he has a lot of character in his vocal style. Whether performing with a gravelly sneer or a Dracula-esque clean, soaring style, his vocals always draw the most attention.

Even though this is the band's third album, it is the first I have heard of them. I will definitely be looking into them some more though.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reader Submissions: Veratu/Naakhum Split

Some time ago I was contacted by Pol Guasch of Naakhum to review the split album of two underground black metal bands Veratu and Naakhum.

This split is kind of strangely put together. The songs alternate rather than one band's songs appearing first. Veratu has the odd-numbered tracks and Naakhum has the even-numbered tracks. It is a little disorienting, but I suppose credit for doing things a bit different is due.

Veratu's music is a little bit more forward-leaning, giving off a somewhat industrial vibe to their black metal foundation. There are not a lot of really good industrial black metal bands out there, so hearing a good one is pretty rare. Veratu also incorporates some ambient passages into their music. The band frequently uses sound clips to add to the grim and disturbing atmosphere. The vocals are made up of the fairly typical black metal rasp. Each of Veratu's songs can best be described as unsettling.

Naakhum utilizes a lot of folk and ambient elements in their tracks. The vocal style is more of a sneering groan, similar to some of the works of Finntroll among other bands. Naakhum's music has more of an organic feel than the technological style of Veratu. The band's second track on this split was completely ambient. It was far more soothing than the erratic Veratu. Their third track had some interesting melodies opening up the song. It really did feel like a folk song with an almost Spanish melody to the acoustic guitars.

Picking a favorite out of the two of these bands really depends on what you prefer: harsh and disturbing black metal, or smoother folk-infused black metal. Both bands are impressive. I am curious as to the rest of their discographies.