Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Reviews Posted on Full Metal Attorney

Just a quick post to provide links to two new reviews I have submitted for Full Metal Attorney.


Mass Burial

Monday, May 28, 2012

Concert Review: Volbeat, Megadeth, and Rob Zombie May 24, 2012

I went to my first concert in a couple of years on Thursday night.  Volbeat, Megadeth, and Rob Zombie were playing at Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa.  Since that is only about an hour away from my home, I managed to talk my wife into going along.  I had seen Rob Zombie several years ago, so Megadeth was the main draw here.

I am not terribly familiar with Volbeat.  I kind of bristled at some of the praise heaped upon them by Metalsucks and since my tastes are typically not in line with that website, I never really gave them much of a chance.  I will say that the Danish band impressed me quite a bit on Thursday night.  They played a fast-paced and energetic show.  Their variety of influences were on display Thursday night as elements of rock and roll and  punk shined through.  The vocalist's crooning howl was definitely a strong point.  It was also obvious that Volbeat knows their metal, playing excerpts from Motorhead, Metallica, and Slayer among others.  We did not see their entire show as we were running a bit late, but I may have to check out some more Volbeat material.

As I said, Megadeth is the reason that I wanted to go to this concert.  If it was just Rob Zombie and Volbeat, I would not have gone.  I have been a Megadeth fan almost as long as I have been a metalhead.  They were the second band after Metallica that I got into.  But I had never seen them in concert so I had to go.  Megadeth has not lost a step, they played a very fast-paced show.  We did not get much of Dave Mustaine's personality as the band leapt into the show and did not really slow down until it was over.  The show featured a sort of greatest hits collection.  There were a few tracks from their latest album, but otherwise they played the usual classics: "Symphony of Destruction", "Peace Sells", "Hangar 18", and "Sweating Bullets" all made it into the set.  They of course closed with "Holy Wars" as they typically do from my understanding.  They sounded great.  It's hard to believe they have been active for over 30 years at this point.  My only complaint is that the video accompanying some of the songs seemed to skip a bit.

As I said, I have seen Zombie before.  I had an idea of what to expect.  I was a little disappointed that they relied almost entirely on video screens for the effects this time around instead of the moving set they had the last time I saw them.  I have not really checked out much Rob Zombie material since being disappointed with the musical direction taken on the new tracks on Zombie's Greatest Hits collection several years ago.  Turns out I did not miss much.  Zombie only played three songs I had not heard before.  The rest of the material was mostly from his first two solo albums and of course "Thunder Kiss '65" and "More Human than Human".  Zombie did play us the trailer from his upcoming movie Lords of Salem which looks interesting.  My wife particularly enjoyed his show.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Soils of Fate: Sandstorm v. Soils of Fate: Crime Syndicate

I have not done one of these faceoff posts for awhile, not since the last slam week in fact.  So here's one, since I recently added both Soils of Fate albums to my collection.  Since we are talking Soils of Fate against Soils of Fate, picking a better album is not going to be easy.  But here it goes anyway.

The debut album from Sweden's impressive slam death metal band was released in 2001.  The band is a little divisive due to their somewhat thuggish image, just look at the band picture on the Metal Archives for an idea.  Soils of Fate establish their reliance on rhythm early on in this album.  While it is not as pronounced as on their second release, the band clearly shows some rap influence.  The Goodfellas samples early on are definitely entertaining.  The vocalist also experiments with some raplike vocals here and there.  Soils of Fate do throw in some impressively fast songs here, most notably the title track.  To switch things up a bit occasionally, Soils of Fate do throw in some decent, if short, guitar solos.

If I did not know any better, looking at the album cover and song titles, I would assume this was a rap album.  Seriously, when was the last time you saw a metal album with a song title like "Killaz Beware"?  This is groove-laden slam death metal with several instances of raplike vocals delivered in a grunting death metal style.  Sgt. D used to refer a lot to "wigger slam", something of a derisive term for slam death that clearly has a lot of rap influence.  Well, here is a good example.  There are breakdowns that sound very similar to rap songs in which the vocalist does his death-rap thing.  This album is as close to a rap album as slam death metal can possibly get.  I bet you never expected to see that sentence in writing.  The most impressive moment comes in "Vs." when Ruben Rosas of Devourment shows up for some exceptionally brutal roaring vocals.  They also do a decent job of covering Suffocation on the final track.

THE VERDICT:  It is clear from the debut album what Soils of Fate were attempting to do, which is slam death influenced by rap.  They perfected it on their second album.  The second album is probably my favorite based on the more complete ideas here.

5 More Favorite Slam Albums

During Slam Week Pt. 1, I listed my five favorite slam albums, which included releases from Wormed, Devourment, Sarcolytic, Defeated Sanity, and Dying Fetus.  Since I have added a bunch of slam albums since then, I figured I would update that post with some more.

Abominable Putridity is a Russian slam death metal band that has had a number of different vocalists over the years, including well-known grunters like Big Chocolate and Matti Way.  This album features the much less well-known Vladimir, but nevertheless was one of my favorite slam albums early on.  There is not much to say here, it is just typical slam, but it is performed highly competently.  There is a reason Abominable Putridity is one of the first bands recommended when getting into the genre.  It is a very good gateway.

I have not had this one very long but it made an immediate impression on me.  This is a truly original album by a slam death metal band with a variety of other influences and some highly unusual moments thrown in.  Part of the reason behind the odd moments is the fact that two of the members were previously in Stream of Consciousness, a progressive metal band.  I am not really sure what the decision-making process of going from progressive metal to slam death metal was like, but I have absolutely no complaints.  This is one of the best slam death metal albums in years.

This album is one of the very early roots of slam death metal.  It came out in 1995, after the beginnings of the genre were carved out by Suffocation and Pyrexia.  Internal Bleeding took some of those ideas and built upon them, which eventually lead to the basic sound of slam death metal as we know it.  Devourment then took the ideas from Internal Bleeding and kept improving on them.  This though is one of the early true slam death metal albums.  This was a hugely influential album on the beginnings of the slam death genre.  The music itself is fairly simple and it is clear that Suffocation was the band's major influence, but Internal Bleeding did not have the technical mastery that Suffocation had, which helped lead them into the slam genre.

A one-man slam/brutal death metal band, Putrid Pile is still an extremely powerful and extremely loud band.  The band is Shaun LaCanne who performs all of the vocals and guitar and bass parts and programs the drum machine.  The drum machine is barely noticeable as the rest of the music is done so well.  This is a very impressive album which shows the ability to make slam death sound fresh and interesting.  This is a much faster-paced album than some other albums from the genre and the speed of the riffs is probably its best quality.  I am also very impressed with the Deicide-esque layered vocals.

This is kind of cheating.  This album from Japan's Vomit Remnants is actually a compilation of the band's Supreme Entity full-length from 1999 and the Indefensible Vehemence EP from 2001.  So it is actually one and a half albums, but I am still counting it because I absolutely love it.  Vomit Remnants bring an almost machine-like precision to slam death metal.  There are parts that are almost industrial metal-esque.  Japan has been blessed with a number of very good slam death metal bands, Vomit Remnants is probably one of the best.

Slam Poll Extended

I decided to extend the slam poll.  As of this writing, there have only been three votes, which is not a terribly impressive turnout.  In case you are wondering, those votes were for Devourment, Wormed, and Abominable Putridity.  I expected votes for Devourment and Wormed.  Abominable Putridity was a bit more of a surprise because they are not as well-known.

Friday, May 25, 2012

One and Done? Pt. 9: Orchidectomy: A Prelate's Attrition

Orchidectomy is one of those slam bands that Sgt. D references a lot when talking about slam along with Repudilation, Vulvectomy,  and Artery Eruption.  So of course I had to figure out what all the fuss was about with this band.  Orchidectomy is a Canadian band who only put out one album and a demo before breaking up.    But that one album is highly regarded in the slam death metal genre.  Orchidectomy use pounding drums, slow, methodical slams, and some of the most guttural gurgling vocals any band has ever used in this release.  This is a classic slam release.  It's unfortunate that Orchidectomy did not really stick around afterwards.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Split: Split Torso Trauma

This is the biggest split in my metal collection at this point with five blistering bands that run the gamut from slam to grindcore to brutal death.  The split showcases five bands from around the world, mostly from countries not typically known as metal hotbeds.  It is a pretty good idea.

As you may remember, I usually look at splits to decide which band is my favorite.  There is more to choose from here with five bands.

Starting things off with the first two tracks is Italian brutal death metal band Antropofagus.  This group sounds a bit like Suffocation, only more brutal, if that were possible.  The vocal style is considerably more guttural and intense giving off the sound of a crazed monster.  Antropofagus does a lot of things very well.  I will definitely be looking for more releases from them.

Putridity is also from Italy although they play a different style of brutal death.  There is a lot less technicality here and Putridity throw in some slams for good measure.  The production on their first track on the split is horrendous.  It is very difficult to really hear what is going on.  The second track is a little better although the vocals are so deep as to be nearly lost in the bass.  I do like the guitar tone on the second track though.

Prion is an Argentinian death metal band influenced a lot by Morbid Angel and other occult death metal bands from the early 1990's.  South America has produced a number of good death metal bands, with Thornafire still being one of my favorites.  Prion definitely has what it takes to be a leader in the South American death metal scene.

Infected Flesh is a one-man wrecking machine from Spain.  This is grindcore/brutal death metal album with slam parts and Infected Flesh joins the ranks of other impressive brutal death one-man bands like Bloodsoaked and Putrid Pile.  Infected Flesh plays fairly fast when not busy slamming.  The vocals are typically delivered in the frog croak style.  The drum machine gets a little aggravating after awhile, but the riffs and vocals are interesting enough to keep it from dragging it down.

Greek death metal band Mass Infection closes things out on this release.  Mass Infection is a blastbeat-driven brutal death metal band similar in style to Hate Eternal.  The band plays crushingly fast brutal death metal with a dark atmosphere and deep vocals.  The band blends in some old school death metal influences to go with their more modern brutal death sound.  The result is an impressive mix of styles.

THE VERDICT:  I like all five bands for different reasons.  Picking out just one band is difficult.  Putridity and Infected Flesh are fairly impressive slamming bands.  Mass Infection does an amazing job of mixing the old and the new.  Prion is terrific dirty South American death metal, and Antropofagus do a great Suffocation impression.  I suppose if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Prion.  Even though it is slam week, Prion takes it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Initial Impressions: Dysentery: Internal Devastation

Dysentery had gotten quite a bit of hype leading up to this release.  Renowned for an impressive live show, up to this point, their recorded material had not been nearly as impressive.  But that has changed with this release as the band finally got the production job they needed to flesh out their gory brand of slamming death metal.

I read a review once that likened Dysentery to Cannibal Corpse with slams.  Upon listening, I do not think that comparison is quite warranted.  Although with the meaty production here they are a little closer than they once were.  The music is much simpler than Cannibal Corpse who have become very proficient musicians over the years.

This is an impressively brutal release with some punishing riffs.  The vocals are also comparable to Chris Barnes's work on earlier Cannibal Corpse releases.  The band for the most part plods along at a medium pace, sort of the sonic equivalent of Jason Voorhees.

Dysentery is on the right track.  This is a decent album with some good ideas.  It is short and filthy with the gory lyrics complemented nicely by the full and disgusting-sounding production.

Initial Impressions: Condemned: Realms of the Ungodly

It was the absolutely awesome cover art that pulled me in on this one.  I have a soft spot for hellish landscapes I suppose and the demonic entity in the center is pretty wicked looking as well.  Condemned features the drummer and singer from slam stalwarts Cephalotripsy, so I felt pretty safe checking this one out.

Condemned is a brutal death/slam death metal band with a hauntingly evil atmosphere and some impressive technical elements.  Condemned sound like a blend between Defeated Sanity and Suffocation with vocals similar to early Dying Fetus.  There is not a lot of originality in the riffwork, if you have heard any of the bands that I named then you pretty much know what to expect.  There are faster riffs and of course the slam parts.  Condemned is not really breaking any new ground here.

The vocalist is the most impressive.  With deep, gurgling vocals similar to Dying Fetus and Demilich, he has a truly extreme style.

As I said, Condemned is not reinventing the wheel here, but the dark and evil atmosphere makes things very interesting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Initial Impressions: Bodysnatch: Insights of a Rotten Theatre

This has to be one of the most ambitious slam/brutal death metal albums I have ever heard.  Bodysnatch is a Swiss studio-only project that pack a lot of surprises and do a lot of unique things that this typically creatively stagnant subgenre does not see a lot of.  Bodysnatch features Fredrik Widigs, drummer for Soils of Fate, a band I will discuss later this week, and two vocalists, who combine to create a hell of a racket.

The first thing that I will discuss is the only drawback to this album.  I want this to be a generally positive review, but there is one detraction.  This album is long.  The album is just shy of an hour long which is incredible for slam death metal.  Almost every song is more than five minutes long.  It is pretty incredible.

The length of the album though is hardly noticed because Bodysnatch does some amazingly creative things.  They have a lot of ideas that are thrown in making each song an intense and interesting listening experience.  Bodysnatch complements the crushing slam riffs with some surprisingly melodic passages at times.  In addition there are moments when the vocals are actually rapped, yet retaining the deep guttural sound.  It is quite the intriguing combination.

All of the unusual inclusions though do not detract from the crushing riffs and slams.  The band still rolls along at a mid-paced grooving chug, a la Jungle Rot and others.  This is an incredible slam release and one that has definitely risen to be one of my favorite albums in the genre.

Initial Impressions: Cerebral Effusion: Impulsive Psychopathic Acts

You know it's a slam death metal band when you can barely read the band's logo and the artwork is an absolutely grotesque picture of a corpse.  So yeah, you can tell that Cerebral Effusion is slam from one look at the cover.  And if that did not sell it then the first few seconds definitely will.  Even my wife took one look at the cover and name of the band and asked if it was slam.

Cerebral Effusion definitely follows the Devourment approach to slam with devastatingly crushing riffs and pounding drums.  There is a little bit of brutal death to be found in this album.  The most impressive aspect is the incredibly deep guttural vocals.  This is one of the most intense vocalists I have heard, putting many other brutal death metal vocalists to shame.

As you can see, the cover is pretty disgusting, and the riffs and sound of the album definitely fits the cover.  I am not usually a big fan of the more disgusting and filthy subject matter or artwork, which is why Wormed is one of my favorite slam bands, but it works well on this release.

For some absolutely depraved slam death metal, Cerebral Effusion's latest is definitely one to check out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Initial Impressions: Short Bus Pile Up: Promo 2009

Recently, there was an article over on my former law school colleague's blog, Full Metal Attorney, which discussed metal band names.  One of the more politically incorrect, but somewhat humorous names I have heard is this one: Short Bus Pile Up.  I first heard about SBPU in an article on slam death metal a few years ago, which is still one of my favorite articles the magazine ever did.  The name was so preposterously stupid that eventually I had to check them out.  It certainly did not hurt that they were becoming a pretty big name in the subgenre.

This is without a doubt one of those recordings that I will point to for years to come when someone wants to know what slam death metal is.  The recording is short and loud and possesses all of the qualities one would expect to hear from slam.  Deep, guttural vocals, grooving slam riffs, powerful drumming complete with gravity blasts and some damn impressive bass drops, which occur once per song.  Of course there is also the repulsive lyrical content common to the subgenre.  Each song is short and intense as well.  Instead of dragging along as a lot of other slam bands tend to do, SBPU knows what they want to accomplish with each song, accomplish it and then move along.

This was a promo release to tease the band's second full-length album in 2010, but standing alone it is impressive as hell.  This promo is better than a lot of bands' full-length albums.  I will definitely be checking out the full-length as soon as I can locate it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Poll: What is Your Favorite Slam Death Metal Band?

I just listed a bunch that I am aware of, but by no means is this meant to be a complete list.  I would ask anyone who clicks "Other" to let me know who you picked so that I can check them out.  Thank you.

Slam Week Pt. 2

I actually do not have a ton of stuff going on this week and I have a pile of slam albums that have been adding up for some time, so it's time for a new theme week.  Woo-hoo.

This week I will mostly just look at new albums.  I may do something else.  Who knows?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Song of the Day: Sonata Arctica: "Wolf and Raven"

Due to the post last night, I've been listening to my Sonata Arctica quite a bit.  I am pretty sure the keyboard player immediately contracted carpal tunnel syndrome after learning to play this song.  Bad stuff, carpal tunnel syndrome.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Metal Breakup Songs?

QUICK NOTE: The subject matter of this post is not meant to be taken as any sort of clue into what is going on in my personal life.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  My wife and I have our first wedding anniversary coming up in June, and I could not be happier.  This post was inspired by a song that has been stuck in my head for some time.

Metal frequently depicts the darker side of the human experience.  It is stereotypically about the negative parts in life.  Anger, sadness, and all the other nasty stuff that happens to us all.  So of course there are a few breakup songs in the heavy metal canon, despite the emotional nature of the event.

This is the song that influenced this post.  I have no idea why, but this song really gets to me.  The song is about the narrator (possibly even the singer, I am not sure how personal this song is) finding his significant other in the process of packing all of her things and moving out.  An argument ensues with the narrator pleading with her to stay.  It's heart-wrenching really.  The song culminates with the woman telling him "No, I have to go.  It's too late, I'm going away and there's nothing in the world you could say to make me stay."  The music is extremely somber with some very impressive horn lines.  Unfortunately, singer David Gold recently passed away.

Megadeth wrote a breakup song?  Yes they did.  The song deals with the pain of moving on and finding peace in the breakup.  But it is kind of funny in a way because the song incorporates some samples or recordings of a woman explaining the reasons for the breakup, which run the gamut from "I don't feel the same way about" to "I met someone else" to "I still want to be friends" and culminating with the hilarious "I love you like you're my brother".  Someone has been friendzoned.

This is a bit of a guilty pleasure album for me.  Bleeding Through is a metalcore band with some black and death metal influences.  This track is also for the most part about the lead character finding peace in moving on with his life.  Obviously a lot of the typical emo tropes are present in this song, complete with faux-deep lyrics about pain and suffering.  Nevertheless, for some reason, I really like this song.  Sue me.

I first heard this one at a time when I was dealing with a breakup of sorts.  It starts out with the closing moments of the breakup.  The last embrace, when there is one, is often very painful and that pain is exhibited here.  The song continues and finds the narrator seeing his former lover with a new flame and all of the pain that comes with that.

In a song with very few words, Daylight Dies still manages to pen an absolutely devastating song.  As I said, there are not a lot of lyrics here but the pain of a lost relationship is clearly evident here.

So there's a few songs.  Obviously there are more, but I feel pretty good naming off five.  It all makes me very happy to be in the stable relationship I currently have.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Initial Impressions: 16: Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds

It took me awhile to really get into sludge.  Sort of.  I was a big fan of groups like Corrosion of Conformity, who had some sludge elements.  However, most of the other bands from that genre took a bit longer.  I really got away from it when Mastodon was becoming the big band in the genre.  Not that I really disliked Mastodon, just that they did not do a lot for me early on.  They seemed a bit too mainstream for me, I don't really know.  I also stayed away from groups like Baroness and a lot of other bands featuring similar sound and cover art.  You know what I am talking about.

And then I started getting into Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Acid Bath.  From that point, I started getting into Mastodon and Baroness as well.  While I would not say that sludge is a particular favorite genre of mine, I have gotten enough into it to know that I can enjoy other bands in the similar style.

Which brings us to 16.  I had been aware of 16 for a long time, but never really checked them out.  Until just a day ago.  I was in the local music store and saw this album sitting on the shelf.  I debated between picking it up or Cannibal Corpse or Exumer.  I chose 16 to give a band I had never really checked out a chance.  Sometimes that does not work out, and then sometimes it does.

This time it worked.  16 plays a particularly savage brand of sludge metal with a lot of aggression and power.  16 is not quite as extreme as Eyehategod but exists in sort of a middle ground between the more mainstream-minded Mastodon and Baroness and the psychotic stylings of Eyehategod.  The band's riffs are earth-shakingly heavy and the songs carry on at a somewhat medium pace.

The album does tend to drag a little bit as it goes on.  Most of the songs are fairly similar.  But the pace and energy are still infectious enough to keep things somewhat entertaining.  It is a pretty good album, but not essential for the genre.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's My Birthday

My wife and I went to Kansas City on Monday to see the Red Sox play the Royals.  Boston has been terrible this year so far, but at least they won on Monday.  Nothing to do with metal here, just sharing.  I will have some posts up soon, I promise.  I have another jury trial scheduled in a little more than a week, so things have been pretty busy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Song of the Day: Nifelheim: "Storm of the Reaper"

It's been storming lately, and here's The Reaper, my beloved blue heeler.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Song of the Day: Morbid Saint: "Scars"

I have been listening to this song all day long.  From the great underrated thrash/death metal band Morbid Saint is this song.  It is very unfortunate that Morbid Saint only released one album, but what an album it was.

Initial Impressions: Overkill: The Electric Age

Quick question, who is the most consistent U.S. thrash metal band that formed around the time the genre rose to prominence and continues to be active today?  It's probably an answer that is different for a lot of people, but I would think Overkill absolutely has to be near the top of the list.

Overkill has once more put out a great album here.  This is their 16th full-length album, an incredible number for a thrash metal band.  And Overkill has never put out a bad one.  There were a couple of groove metal albums in the late 1990's, but even those were powerful enough to put Pantera to shame.  Overkill shows absolutely no signs of ever slowing down.

Which brings us to a discussion about this, the band's newest albums.  2010's Ironbound was one of the band's best albums in years, which is really saying something.  So I was prepared to be a little let-down on this album.  After all, it happened when Metallica and Megadeth both released their best albums in years, Death Magnetic and Endgame respectively.  That letdown never came in listening to this release.

This album is ten tracks of punk-infused thrash metal fury.  It is absolutely relentless with the kind of speed and intensity that Overkill has become known for over the years.  The energy and riffs coming from the band on this album sound like they should be from a band half Overkill's age.  The individual performances all sound great.

Some bands just never age, Overkill is definitely one of those.  The band just keeps putting out classic release after classic release.