Sunday, September 30, 2012

Initial Impressions: Revocation: Teratogenesis

Revocation has not been around a long time, but they have already made their mark.  The progressive thrash metal band has released several high quality recordings at this point and their last full-length album was my #3 Album of the Year in 2011.  Revocation decided not to wait long before making their next release with this five track EP being released only slightly more than a year after their last full-length.

Revocation continues to improve on their sound on this release.  Their songs have gotten even tighter and catchier on this release.  All of the elements fit together into a cohesive package.  At times on previous albums Revocation would throw in something completely out of left field which would result in kind of a disjointed feeling.  There is none of that on this release.  There are some unexpected moments but they do not feel thrown in.  There is a progression leading to them that was missing sometimes previously.

The band continues to grow.  Their first album was more of a straightforward thrasher while their last album saw the band experimenting with progressive structures.  This EP finds the band improving on that progressive aspect and leading to some great songs.  Revocation continues to improve.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Initial Impressions: Testament: Dark Roots of Earth

Testament finally returned in 2008 after a long hiatus in which singer Chuck Billy was fighting cancer.  This is the band's second release since coming back and it is easily one of their best albums in years, yes even better than The Formation of Damnation.  The band still sounds amazing.  I am a huge Testament fan so any time this band releases something, you can bet that I will be there to pick it up.

Testament has always been a little bit more politically and socially minded than a lot of other bands.  That is not to say that none of their music has dealt with death and destruction or other stereotypical metal topics, but a large amount has been devoted to various current issues.  The band has even touched on Chuck Billy's heritage in past songs, in particular "Trail of Tears" on their Low album.  On this album, Billy's Native American heritage is a common theme, complete with a rather powerful video for first single "Native Blood".

Musically, this is bottom-end heavy, grooving thrash metal, the kind that Testament has perfected over the years.  Once the band stopped trying to be a clone of other thrash metal bands and found their own sound, they have never really looked back, other than a couple of albums where they experimented with death metal.  This is the sound present here and, if anything, Testament has further tightened their sound.  The last album had a few missteps on it, but those have been mostly eliminated on this one.

The band does a decent job of keeping things interesting, as they always have.  Ballads have been a strong point for Testament over the years with "The Ballad" and of course my favorite song of all time "Return to Serenity".  Another ballad appears here with "Cold Embrace".  It is another triumphant, powerful track.

The limited edition, which is the one that I have also features covers of songs from Queen, Scorpions, and Iron Maiden.  Kind of an eclectic mix, but very interesting.  The Maiden track in particular is done quite well despite the fact that Billy does not have anywhere close to the same type of voice as Bruce Dickinson.

This is yet another very strong album from Testament.  As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the band.  I think this is one of their best efforts in a very long time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FMA Reviews: Lord Impaler: Admire the Cosmos

Originally reviewed here.
Greece has one of the more underrated black metal scenes. Most people are familiar with Rotting Christ of course, but not a lot know about Kawir, Varathron, Dodsferd, or Ravencult. Well add Lord Impaler to that list as well, because this band is just as impressive as other black metal bands from their home country such as the ones named.

Lord Impaler has actually been around for quite a long time, though this is their first full-length. They have released four demos and a split with three other Greek black metal bands in the past. Lord Impaler does not have a full-time drummer, so the position is filled with a guest each new recording.

As with many other Greek black metal bands, Lord Impaler's sound is melodic and atmospheric. There is a wealth of tremolo riffing present in each song, which makes up the bulk of the melodies. The vocals are delivered in fairly typical black metal style, although they are not as ear-splitting in pitch as some other bands. They are still very harsh and intense vocals. The band does occasionally delve into melodic, Burzum-esque keyboard lines during songs. There is also one whole track of this. The bulk of the album feels cold and sinister.

I enjoyed this album quite a bit. Greek black metal is somewhere right behind Australian war metal and German thrash metal as far as my favorite regional subgenres go. This band proves why.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reader Submissions: Mortalicum: The Endtime Prophecy

Wow.  That's really the only word that comes to mind here.  I loved this album.  There is nothing quite like a good, hard-rocking doom metal album to pick you up in the morning.  That is exactly what this is.  Instead of the sometimes plodding, slow-paced doom metal, this is somewhat fast-paced and definitely infectious.  It reminds me more of groups like Cirith Ungol and some of Reverend Bizarre's more upbeat stuff such as "Doom Over the World".

"My Dying Soul" immediately kicks things off with a hard-driving riff.  Once vocalist Henrik Hogl comes in with his crooning voice, it is evident that this is going to be a powerful album.  The vocals are the biggest bright spot on this album.  They definitely attract the most attention.  The guitar tone on this album is incredible.  It is beefy and somewhat bluesy and it fits in very well with the vocals.  Many of the tracks have kind of the same structure.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part many of the songs are alike, which is not at all a bad thing here because the songs are so entertaining.

This is not really an album for doom metal lovers.  While there is doom metal riffs present, the music is faster and more upbeat.  This is more geared towards lovers of traditional heavy metal.  The band brings a lot to the table in songwriting and musical talent.  There is not a single weak track on the entire album.  This is a very good album and possibly one of the year's best.      

Monday, September 24, 2012

FMA Reviews: Warclouds: A Disturbing Presence

Originally reviewed here.
South America has some of the best, and most underrated, metal scenes in the world. Some of the black and death metal that has been coming out of that continent proves that there are still some great, original bands out there. It has actually always been that way with the mighty Sarcofago, Sepultura, and Vulcano all rising out of Brazil in the 1980's.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of fairly mundane acts from the continent. Bands that do not really bring anything new to the table, but simply rehash many of the same ideas that other bands have.

Warclouds fits in with the latter. There is nothing technically wrong here, other than the programmed drums which can get a little obnoxious at times. There just is not really anything to love either. This is basic death metal without a whole lot to really distinguish it from any of the other thousands of death metal bands out there. The riffs are quite fast which can get be entertaining at times, but it is kind of ruined by the mechanical precision of the drums. A real drummer might have been able to add some interesting fills at times to keep things from being too boring. It is kind of a shame because some of the riffs are actually very interesting, in particular the opening riff to "Flawless". They just get ruined.

Beyond the riffs and the drums, the vocals are also fairly straightforward death metal fare. Delivered in a deep guttural roar, they are not really distinguishable from many other bands. They also do not really branch out much over the course of the album. They typically stay at about the same volume and inflection.

There are some interesting ideas here, but unfortunately they are often overshadowed. A real drummer would do this band a lot of good. This is the band's first recording so there is room to grow.

FMA Reviews: Vesen: This Time It's Personal

Originally appeared here.
What a ridiculous album title. Seriously, this is the kind of thing you would expect from some Nickelback clone or rap artist, but for a long-running blackened/thrash metal band, it comes off as juvenile and embarrassing.

The first track kind of continues with a little bit of this juvenile style. It's much more of a teaser for the album as a whole with the band building in intensity toward the very end. The vocals are presented in a layered format which gives off the impression that they are actually yelling at the listener. So subtlety appears not to be Vesen's strong suit at this point.

The title track though turns everything on its head. It has a terrific guitar riff that calls to mind early Sodom or Hellhammer. From there the band settles into a relatively constant Impaled Nazarene-esque style. They have the same feisty, raw, punk attitude that ImpNaz has in spades. Songs are short, simple, and highly aggressive. But underneath this brutal simplicity lies some compelling moments, such as the clean singing portion of "Where the Children Go to Die" and "Pressure".

What results from all of this is a highly aggressive and caustic sound that never relents in intensity. Vesen is not at all subtle nor apologetic. They just make noise.

It started off low, but being a fan of Impaled Nazarene, it is impossible not to get into this a little bit.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reader Submissions: Skelator: Agents of Power

Skelator huh?  I suppose I should not be shocked that the He-Man arch-nemesis has spawned a band name.  It's just kind of funny really.  I don't take Skelator particularly seriously myself, but that could just be me.  The band Skelator has been around for quite some time, though this is the first I have heard of them.  This is the band's third full-length album and they have several demos over the years as well.

This is a fairly typical swords-and-sorcery type metal band.  Their lyrics are mostly pulled from Michael Moorcock, especially after the first four tracks.  I am not really up on fantasy literature a whole lot so you will have to forgive me if I have no idea who that is.  At any rate, you can probably guess that fantasy stories make up the lyrical content here.  Titles like "Gates of Thorbadin", and "Elric the Dragon Prince" certainly make that plainly evident.  I am not the biggest fan of bands like this, especially since I am not a big fantasy fan, but if the music is done well, I can usually look past it.

So that brings us to the music.  Skelator definitely fits the mold of other bands that center their songs around fantasy themes.  They play music in the vein of early American power metal and other classic metal styles, owing a lot to the music of Manilla Road, Omen, and the like.  The music is typical for power/speed metal with guitar-driven riffs and anthemic choruses.  The leads show a heavy Iron Maiden influence and the dual guitar attack is done quite well.  The individual songs are certainly memorable and highly infectious.

The vocals took a little while to grow on me.  Initially they came off as too high and abrasive, but as I continued to listen, they fit in quite well with the music.  They sound like a mix of vocal styles from Rob Halford, Geoff Tate from Queensryche, and Steve Grimmett from Grim Reaper.  Once past the initial shock and dislike, the vocals actually sounded quite good.  Jason Conde-Houston has exactly the type of voice you would want in a band of this style.

Overall I think this is definitely a grower.  Initially I was skeptical that I would really like it at all with the fantasy lyrics and vocal style, but I got into it as it wore on.  This is actually not unusual for me with this type of metal.  Domine took awhile for me to get into as well, and Skelator has a lot in common with them.  Overall this is an impressive power/speed metal album.  Another good slice of classic metal.

FMA Reviews: Mongrel's Cross: The Sins of Aquarius

Originally reviewed here.
Kicking things off with some evil-sounding keyboard melody that sounds like it would be found in a 1970's horror movie, Mongrel's Cross definitely know how to set the atmosphere for their own brand of bestial brutality. The fact that this is just the band's debut full-length is shocking. The band sound like seasoned veterans of the Australian scene. 

Yes the Australian scene. Mongrel's Cross bear a sonic resemblance to groups like Gospel of the Horns, Destroyer 666, Denouncement Pyre, and Atomizer. So right away, this band is definitely up my alley.

What is found on this album is the same type of frenzied guitar riffing and psychotic-sounding vocals that have become well-known traits coming from many other bands in Australia. And yet, I can never get enough of this sound. Mongrel's Cross still manage to make things sound fresh. Their sound is different enough, featuring plenty of U.S.-grounded death and thrash metal elements than their decidedly more Australian and South American-sounding peers.

Their sound is not as raw and unpredictable as some of their other peers. While still plenty destructive and evil, it is a bit more refined. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact it is different enough from other Australian bands that it causes Mongrel's Cross to stand out a little bit more.

This is an absolutely impressive debut that proves that the Australian scene that I love so much is still pumping out new bands.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Site News

You might have noticed an increase in posting this week.  I wouldn't expect it to continue.  I have not been as busy this week, but starting the first week in October, I have a lot of trials scheduled.  However, I am trying to set aside time each day to try to get through one post.  It helps that I recently went on a bit of a CD buying binge when there was a big sale at the local music store.  So I have a lot to review.  Add in trying to catch up on Reader Submissions and bringing stuff over from Full Metal Attorney and I have quite a bit ready to go right now.  I will try my best to keep going.  I just ask for patience.

FMA Reviews: Terror Empire: Face the Terror

Originally reviewed here.
The thrash resurgence must still be going reasonably well. Here we have the debut EP from Portuguese thrash band Terror Empire. Terror Empire has only been around since 2009 and this is their first ever release.

True to their name, Terror Empire's EP appears to mostly be about the war on terror. Featuring samples from speeches by former U.S. president George W. Bush and song titles like "Dirty Bomb" make that fairly clear.

The problem Terror Empire really face is the same one that a lot of newer thrash metal bands face. They just do not really bring anything new to the table. Their EP sounds a lot like the albums of just about any other newer thrash metal band. They just do not do anything to distinguish themselves from the pack.

What Terror Empire lacks in originality, they make up for in fierceness though. Terror Empire is fast and relentlessly intense. Featuring razor-sharp riffs, hoarse, shouted vocals, and pounding drums, Terror Empire definitely has the chops to compete with most of the rest of the new thrash metal scene.

They are just not there quite yet and that should be expected from a band releasing their first ever EP. Very few bands are at this point in their careers.

Not a bad start. Terror Empire needs to find their own voice, but they definitely have strong ability.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Initial Impressions: Dying Fetus: Reign Supreme

Dying Fetus was once one of the pioneering bands in the slam death genre.  In the years since then they have moved into more of brutal death metal band with the occasional slams and of course some more technical riffing style thrown in for good measure.  None of this has detracted from the band's music.  I have liked every single Dying Fetus album I have checked out to this point.

Dying Fetus singer John Gallagher has gotten a lot of flack in the past for his statement about liking some rap music better than some heavy metal.  It is even clear from his vocal style on some tracks that rap has influenced him quite a bit.  Some of his vocals would sound like rap if they were not delivered in Gallagher's distinctive deep guttural croak.  The pacing and rhythm of his vocals, particularly when he is doing his deepest frog croak are the most obvious times.  This continues on this release.

Fans of Dying Fetus will know what to expect here.  A whirlwind of squealing guitars, crushing riffs and breakdowns, and quick but brutally heavy songs.  Dying Fetus does not re-invent the wheel here, they are just doing the same thing they have always done, crush skulls.  Even after 20 years, they still sound pretty damn good at it.

Reader Submissions: Sacred Gate: When Eternity Ends

Metal on Metal Records has sent me a number of requests to review their bands.  I have noticed one thing about a lot of the artists on their roster.  The label is very committed to the classic metal sound of the early and mid 1980's.  Many artists are reunion projects from that time or are bands with a sound that is undeniably influenced by artists from that time.

Sacred Gate falls into the latter category.  This is the band's debut full-length having only released an EP last year.  The band's sound is a mix of traditional heavy metal and early power metal that calls to mind groups like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, and Brocas Helm.  Hell, one of the songs is called "In the Heart of the Iron Maiden", a not-so-subtle reference to a major influence.

Sacred Gate's music is energetic and fast-paced.  There are no filler tracks here.  Every song is a straight-forward rocker.  The guitar leads weave in and out of the highly competent rhythm section easily.  The vocals carry a lot of the songs.  This is definitely fist-pumping, hard-driving pure metal.

While Sacred Gate do not really bring anything new to the table and probably will not set the world on fire, this is a highly enjoyable release.  It's metal through and through and that is definitely a good thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reader Submissions: Heretic: A Time of Crisis

Heretic is yet another band that has not released an album in years but reunited recently and put out some new material on Metal on Metal Records, which is quickly becoming a specialty of theirs.  In this case, Heretic released a reasonably well-regarded, if unfairly forgotten album in 1988 called Breaking Point.  The band broke up thereafter with the singer leaving to join Metal Church and the other band members forming a new group with the former singer of Metal Church.

I was never really familiar with Heretic so this is new to me.  As I understand, this is not really a complete reunion.  The only old members of the band to return for this release is guitarist Brian Korban and vocalist Julian Mendez who was out of the band by the time they released their only album, though he was present for the band's EP.  The other three members are all new to the band though they have done time with a number of other groups.

Heretic is a power/thrash metal band along the lines of groups like Helstar and the aforementioned Metal Church.  The music is melodic, yet aggressive and rooted in the music of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.  It features powerful, crunchy riffs and fast-paced energetic songs.  Heretic does not waste a whole lot of time setting mood or building up to anything, they are just here to rock.  All of the songs are very straightforward with a fairly simple structure.

This is not a perfect album by any stretch, but it is certainly entertaining.  The vocals can be a little grating at times, but do sound better with repeated listenings.  The other issue is the lack of a real standout track.  All of the songs kind of run together after awhile, not that there are any that are bad, there just is not one track that really grabs the listener's attention.

Heretic is a band that had some promise when they were around the first time.  Hopefully the band is rejuvenated enough to meet some of that promise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reader Submissions: Demon Dogs: Demon Dogs

Last year I did a review of a compilation of unreleased material and an interview with a thrash metal band called Bitter End.  Recently Russ Stefanovich of Bitter End contacted me about his new project Demon Dogs.

Where Bitter End was a thrash metal band, the sound on Demon Dogs' first EP is closer to traditional heavy metal with a little bit of American power metal thrown in.  The music is fast and upbeat with a lot of melody.  It is much closer in sound to the works of groups like Jag Panzer, Virgin Steele, and Helstar.  This album is full of energetic riffs, shredding solos, and the air raid siren vocals of Sean Aust.  On "Ticking Parcels", Aust's vocals in each of the verses even bears a strong resemblance to Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

"The Others" kicks things off on a high note with its galloping opening riff, calling to mind the trademarked riffing style of Iced Earth.  The band does not really slow things down from here.  Demon Dogs also features members of Coven and Midnight Idols, so these guys are no strangers to putting out hard-driving metallic anthems.  They certainly pull it off on this EP.

About the only disappointment that I can think of is that "Howl", which is posted on the band's website, did not make it onto this EP.  This is unfortunate because it is probably the most dynamic of the five songs I have heard from this group.

This is a very short, but very enjoyable EP.  There are only four songs here, but the energy is infectious on it. Each of the songs is catchy in its own way.  This is a very promising debut release from a new band.  I look forward to seeing what Demon Dogs will come up with next.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reader Submissions: Killjoy Corporation: Horsefly

Sometimes it's interesting to judge an album by its cover.  Once in awhile you will see an album cover so grotesque or monstrous that it is completely obvious that you are about to listen to a death metal band.  Sometimes the cover features all blackness with a little bit of white, and you know you are about to listen to a black metal band.

And then there are the times like the above album cover when you don't know what in the hell you are in for.  With the bizarre cartoonish art, complete with popular internet meme, this could be a humorous punk band, a  LMFAO-esque abomination, or pretty much anything else.

Killjoy Corporation is a Finnish band that incorporates elements of groove, thrash, and death metal.  The band fits in well with groups like Children of Bodom, Kalmah, Norther and some of the other Finnish bands. But the band is not content to rest on its laurels and play things exactly the same as their countrymen.  They take something of an experimental approach to songwriting.  Some of the guitar melodies seem pulled from the NWOBHM while there is a strong rhythmic crunch supporting the melodies.

Some of the highlights are the almost swinging riff of "Infected Prey" and the shredding riffs of "Superior of God".  But there are some truly bizarre moments as well.  The "Flight of the Bumblebee"-esque guitar line at the end of the aforementioned "Superior of God" and most of the samples used.  

This is quite the interesting EP.  It has some strong moments, and it has some very bizarre moments as well.  The band actually does a fairly good job of putting together a soundtrack to the strange album cover.  Sometimes you have no idea what to expect from an album cover, but sometimes it's worth it.

Initial Impressions: Kreator: Phantom Antichrist

German thrash metal is probably one of my favorite musical styles.  I first heard Kreator shortly after graduating from law school and finding my first job as an attorney.  They have remained a favorite band of mine ever since.  What keeps them up there is the fact that after all these years, Kreator still sounds as raw and fierce as ever.  New Kreator albums stand up well to the early works.  Obviously even Kreator put out a few bad albums in the 1990's but they have come back in a big way since Outcast.

This is the band's newest album, and yes it sounds a lot like the last couple of albums that came before it.  Kreator's most distinguishing characteristic is the vocal style of Mille Petrozza.  Petrozza still sounds like a rabid dog on this album, his voice is still as iconic as ever.  In addition to the vocal stylings, the music still sounds as sinister as ever.  The riffs are still sharp, the solos still shred, and the band still carries on as it has for the last nearly thirty years.

One thing that has changed is that Kreator has gotten a bit melancholic on this album.  Previous albums were exercises in anger and brutality, but this album finds the band a bit more introspective on tracks like "From Flood Into Fire" and "Death to the World".  Not to say that there still are not some of the classically angry songs we come to expect from Kreator.  "Civilization Collapse" and "Phantom Antichrist" still call to mind classic tracks like "Pleasure to Kill".  Kreator's songwriting shows some signs of maturity and an awareness of global concerns.

This is still Kreator doing what they do best however.  There may be more melodic moments and more socially-conscious lyrics this time around, but the band still makes a hell of a racket.  And that's what we expect from Kreator.

Initial Impressions: Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvage

I was a big fan of Gojira's album From Mars to Sirius, but for some reason I just never checked out The Way of All Flesh.  I have no idea why that is.  I never heard anything that dissuaded me from checking it out.  I certainly liked the band previously.  I guess I just missed it.  Well that did not happen again.  I have been eagerly anticipating Gojira's fifth album this year and picked it up just as soon as I saw it.  I am very late in getting this review up mostly due to being busy this summer.

I am very glad I did, because this album is phenomenal.  I honestly think it is a contender for my Album of the Year.

Gojira still do what they have always done so well.  They are monolithically heavy with bass-driven riffs and harshly shouted vocals.  Gojira is a very rhythmic band.  Many of the guitar riffs are almost percussive in sound.  There is not usually a lot of melody, though that is not to say that there is none to be found.  More than anything, Gojira just beats their listeners into submission with a constant wall of riffs.

Gojira is a little more bleak this time around.  On past albums there has always been a brightness shining through their music.  Sort of a ray of sunshine.  This time, the band is as depressive as possible.  Gojira has always been known for their environmentally-conscious lyrics.  This time it is as if the band has given up.  The world is coming to an end in the eyes of Gojira.

This is a terrific album, but it's definitely not uplifting in any way, shape, or form.  Best to listen to this on a cloudy day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

FMA Reviews: Chaos Inception: The Abrogation

I had not heard of this band before, so I did some checking before I listened to the album. When I discovered that Quinta Essentia madman guitarist Matt Barnes also performed the guitar work for Chaos Inception, I knew I was going to enjoy it.

Chaos Inception bears a strong resemblance to Quinta Essentia in that the band is not simply a middling death metal band. There is a lot of substance here, some real progressive song structures with complex riffing and a real organic foundation. This is not stale, modernized death metal focused solely on providing a brutal experience. Chaos Inception has the occult and doom-laden sound of an early Morbid Angel. Their sound is like a Lovecraftian beast, horrendous and otherworldly.

The playing of Matt Barnes is definitely the highlight, as I knew that it would be. His leads are incredible and really send chills down the spine. On top of that is his brutally intense riffwork when he is not playing leads. Chris White's vocals are also a strength. He is doing his best David Vincent impression on this material and sounds damn good doing it. The drum and bass work provides a pounding, thick and meaty bottom end to the riffing and vocals.

Each song is proof that brutal death metal can still sound intense without losing its blackened soul.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

FMA Reviews: Tribune: Elder Lore/The Dark Arts

Tribune (apparently pronounced TRY-BUNE) shows a large variety of influences. Elements of thrash, progressive, death, and even some metalcore are woven throughout this release. The band probably is most reminiscent of Into Eternity, a fellow Canadian progressive metal band with a variety of other influences. But, if anything, Tribune is even more varied.

One thing is for certain, this is definitely not a boring album. Tribune is all over the place with their sound. The listener truly does not know what to expect to hear next. One minute the band is speeding along with a thrash riff and then the next you could be hearing some doom metal. The variety definitely keeps the listener involved in the album. Along with the variety of styles in the music itself, Tribune also features a variety of vocal styles. There may be some death metal-esque roars followed immediately by some cleaner crooning.

"The World's Greatest Cynic" is definitely the highlight on this release. At nine plus minutes in length, it represents a microcosm of the entire album, throwing in as many influences as the band could and featuring a whirlwind of competing riffs and vocal styles. Otherwise, "The Warrior Mentality" and "Below" also made strong impressions. "The Succubus" is more of a radio-friendly metal song that would not sound out of place on a Killswitch Engage album.

This is a widely diverse album that keeps the listener on their toes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reader Submission: Satellite Beaver: The Last Bow

Maybe it's just me, but I don't really think of stoner doom as a genre with a big international following.  Most of the stoner doom bands I am aware of are American or British.  So it came as a bit of a surprise when I was recently contacted by a Polish stoner doom band by the name of Satellite Beaver.

With stoner doom, you pretty much know what to expect from a musical standpoint.  Heavy, fuzzed-out riffs, throbbing bass lines, pounding drums, and spaced-out vocals.  Stylistically this band has far more in common with the Southern sludgy, stoner/doom stylings of groups like Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar that the psychedelia-infused Electric Wizard.  That is to say that the tracks featured on this EP are much more straight-ahead, rock-oriented and do not tend to get bogged down in lengthy, trippy guitar noodling.  There is definitely something to be said for something you can put on and just rock out too.  Satellite Beaver provide that here.

This is a very short, but fun EP that shows off some decent songwriting skills.  There is enough variation in the individual tracks to retain interest.  The vocals in particular are surprisingly versatile, going from a sort of droning croon to the occasional blood-curdling scream.  The guitar riffs are ever-evolving and refuse to stay in one place very long.  This is definitely roadtrip music.  Hell, that's even the name of the last track.

Satellite Beaver has now released two digital-only EPs.  They certainly have the talent and a good enough sound to be picked up by some label or other.  I found myself very impressed with this band.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

FMA Reviews: Mass Burial: Of Carrion and Pestilence

It is entirely possible that Mass Burial has heard of the Swedish death metal scene. And that would be a huge understatement. Mass Burial is dripping with the buzzsaw Swedish death metal riffing sound. The band does one hell of a job at re-capturing the glory that was the early days of Entomed, Dismember, and more. Which is okay, because I am a huge fan of that particular sound. Unfortunately there have been a lot of bands aping the style over the last few years and it is getting a little ridiculous. So a band that wants to play that style had better do something good with it in order to stand out.

Mass Burial actually does an admirable job. I would not say I prefer their work to the early landmark albums, far from it in fact, but the Spanish band does stand a little taller than some of the other groups out there these days that are pulling from the same well of influence. Where Mass Burial excels compared to other bands is that their sound is a hell of a lot nastier and filthier. They are not worried about cleaning up their production or their lyrical content. They are not scared to go some of the places that Vomitory for example inhabits.Their sound is bestial and raw, with murky production values and a truly sickening guitar and bass sound.

The praise above is not meant to suggest that this is a particularly great album. There are some issues that wear thin after awhile. In particular, I am not really a fan of the vocal style. It stays at a pretty even sound throughout which is a fairly gruff growl, but it lacks some of the bite that made the early Swedish death metal groups so fantastic. It does not come close to the insane, haunting styles of early Entombed or the monstrous roar of early Grave. The vocal style is okay at first but after a few songs, it gets a little old. The other issue is with the songs themselves. There really is no standout track here. Most of the songs follow a similar formula and those that do not, do not really stand out for the reasons they should.

This is only the band's debut album. They formed in 2002 but took until 2012 to release this album. The band still has some time to grow and improve on some things. This is a nice album for a debut, but it does not hold up to the classics that it is clearly influenced by.