Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lightning Swords of Death: Baphometic Chaosivm

Lightning Swords of Death is one of those ridiculous names like Lair of the Minotaur that makes it hard to take the music seriously.  Not in a "this is terrible" sort of way, more in a cheesy, ironic sort of way.  It is just such a bizarre name, how could you look at it any other way?  And after their first album I still thought that the band name was more of a joke.  Then this one came out.

The first thing that needs to be discussed is the stylistic change.  Lightning Swords of Death definitely had some black metal influences shining (darkening?) through, but thrash and death metal seemed to be the foundation on which the band built their sound.  This album though is almost entirely black metal.  I am not quite sure how to feel about that in this case.  I enjoyed the last album, but I always like black metal as well.  This album bears very little sonic resemblance to their last one.  This album sounds more like something one would expect from melodic black metal acts like Naglfar or Nifelheim.

LSoD went for more of an occult, mystical vibe with this release.  The atmospheric riffs, vocals that sound like they were recorded in the pits of hell, occasional chanting sections, and swirling melodies add to the mysticism.  But there is still something of a lighter sense of fun going on at the same time.  It is strange.  Black metal is not typically known for having a sense of humor about itself, but there is something about this album that tells me that it is not entirely meant to be taken seriously.  I missed it the first few times but as I listened more and more it became more evident.

This album has been a grower for me.  I was initially turned off by the perception that LSoD had gone completely serious.  I no longer think that is the case.  The music is much more rooted in black metal than their previous work, but it is still well-done.  This is not terribly original, but there is an energy that is surprisingly infectious.  This has grown on me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Apology

Things have been extremely busy with work the last several weeks.  I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule next week some time.  Much of the issue has been the fact that up here we had two judges retire last Fall.  This has caused things to get backlogged which is only now starting to unclog.

I have a lot of reader submissions that have built up and a lot of new stuff to review from the last few months.  Hopefully I can start getting to that soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FMA Reviews: Striker: Armed to the Teeth

Originally reviewed here.
I took one look at that cover art and knew that I absolutely had to check this one out. It is an animated skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur, can not tell which one, possibly a tyrannosaurus. But the skeleton is equipped with two machine guns on its arms and a mini gun on its back. It is seriously awesome.

So the album art definitely grabs attention, but the music really keeps it. An album is disappointing if the music does not live up to the artwork on the cover. Luckily Striker is not a disappointment. This is Canadian speed metal, very much in the vein of Exciter and other underground bands from the Great White North. The music is certainly energetic and fast-paced and it is almost impossible not to find your self keeping time with it.

I will say that my first listen to Striker did not lead to me being terribly impressive. The vocals kind of turned me off on the first attempt at the album, but on repeated listens, this was less and less of a problem. The vocals are very similar to those in other power/speed metal bands like Hibria and Lost Horizon. So if you enjoy those bands, you will likely not have any problems with Striker's vocalist.

The music really resembles the kind of album that would have come out in the early 1980's when metal was still finding its own voice away from the glam and arena rock sound. The result is music that definitely gets blood pumping while remaining heavy enough that it would not have been heard on the LA strip in the mid 1980's. There are a lot of bands playing this style of metal these days, so groups need to be really impressive to stand out from the litany of groups that sound the same. Luckily for Striker, their keen sense of songwriting and penchant for writing fist-pumping anthems like "It Could be Worse" and "Feed the Fire" is just what they need to stand out.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Forlorn Chambers: Unborn and Hollow

I mentioned some time ago that I have been getting some random packages from Finnish bands.  Well I initially thought this was pretty random until I was digging through some old emails and actually came across the email requesting me to review Forlorn Chambers.  I must be getting old.  I am slipping.  I will blame work for it.

Anyway, on to Forlorn Chambers.  This is a very short, three-song EP, which is disappointing because there is some really intriguing stuff here.  Forlorn Chambers is a death/doom metal band in the vein of Insomnium, a band I very much enjoy.  The music is oftentimes incredibly solemn, and yet it retains an aggressive bite to it.  The lead vocals in particular are delivered in a sharp and aggressive low-pitched growl.

The first track is a slower one with a lot of emotion behind the tremolo riffs and melodic guitar leads.  The second track is a little faster, but it retains the melodic tremolo riffs.  The backing vocals are clean and add a level of eeriness to the sound.  The final track sounds a lot like the aforementioned Insomnium with a pained delivery and sense of mourning throughout much of the proceedings with the occasional much more hopeful moment, such as the buildup halfway through.  It is fittingly titled "Desolate Resolution".

I really enjoyed this EP.  I like a lot of the melodic death/doom metal bands and Forlorn Chambers definitely belongs in this group.  Forlorn Chambers has a strong grasp on blending the solemness of doom metal with the aggression of death metal.  This mix is particularly potent in the hands of this band.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

FMA Reviews: Joel Grind's Yellowgoat: The Yellowgoat Sessions

Originally reviewed here.
I am not really sure what this session is that is referred to in the above title. Joel Grind is the mastermind behind Toxic Holocaust, which is a band I particularly enjoy due to its mix of thrash and early punk, calling to mind Hellhammer, Bathory, and Venom. This Yellowgoat project is not considerably different than Toxic Holocaust although it tends to settle more on the speed metal/hard rock stylings of Motorhead, which of course was a big influence on the earlier-named bands. So I am not really sure what to say to introduce this recording. It's basically Toxic Holocaust but with a different name.

I suppose the major distinction between this release and the more recent Toxic Holocaust albums is that this has a little bit more of a rock 'n roll vibe to it. It grooves and swings a bit more than previous albums. Is that enough to distinguish entirely from Grind's other big project? Who knows? But at least it is something of a distinction rather than saying that this is a Joel Grind project with a different name but the same sound.

Obviously if you have heard Toxic Holocaust before, you are going to have an idea of what this project sounds like. But for those that have not, it is fast-paced, thrashy speed metal with some early black metal influences. Yellowgoat sounds like a band out of the early 1980's at the time that Hellhammer, Venom, and Bathory were just starting to break. First wave black metal with a lot of Motorhead influences.

This album is a lot of fun. It is a fun album to listen to while exceeding the speed limit down the highway. Probably. I don't know I haven't done it, I swear. But I am still not completely sure why this is not just a new Toxic Holocaust album.