Tuesday, December 29, 2015

R.I.P. Lemmy

I was never the biggest Motorhead fan, though I did enjoy everything I heard from them.  I just never bought too many of their albums.   That being said, their influence was undeniable.  Lemmy will be missed.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

So, My Wife Dragged Me to Two Concerts This Year...

I assume this is all in retaliation for dragging her to see Slayer.  She got us tickets to see two concerts which do sort of fit in here.  She has been going through a little bit of an 80's rock obsession, and in particular the hair bands.  I don't really get it either.

The first one came on the same night as our return from Las Vegas and was Def Leppard, Foreigner, and Night Ranger.  Going into the concert, my familiarity with the latter two bands was somewhat limited.  My mom used to listen to Night Ranger a lot, so I knew a number of songs pretty well, only one of which they actually played.  I had heard of Foreigner before, but did not really know any songs by them, or so I thought.  You see, Foreigner is mostly well-known for songs that make you stop and think "Huh.  I had no idea that was Foreigner."  Songs like "Cold as Ice", "Double Vision", "Jukebox Hero", "Head Games", "Hot-Blooded", and "I Want to Know What Love Is".  Def Leppard arrived at around the same time as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and did have a metal-ish album early on.  But they don't play any songs from that album because there are not any big hits there.  They played all of the songs you would expect from Def Leppard.  All told, this was not a bad concert, but I certainly would not have picked it out.

As if that was not enough, we went to see Alice Cooper and Motley Crue a couple of weeks ago.  Now this one was a little more interesting.  Alice Cooper was a big influence on other shock rock acts over the years and Motley Crue has some undeniably metal songs.  Alice Cooper was first to hit the stage and he played all of the songs you would expect from him: "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "School's Out", "Feed My Frankenstein", "Billion Dollar Babies", and "Poison".  His stage show was still very impressive despite his age.  The typical stage antics were there as well, the fencing foil with dollar bills stuck on it, the snake, the guillotine, the straitjacket, and the Frankenstein's Monster.  Motley Crue took the stage and played all of their big hits as well.  Vince Neil completely flubbed the lyrics to "Dr. Feelgood", which is one of the songs I actually really like by the band.  They did play "Shout at the Devil" and "Looks that Kill", which are also much more metallic tracks.  Tommy Lee did have a revolving drum set that moved across the auditorium on a track, often "playing" upside down.  I am not convinced he was actually playing.

The major frustrating part about the Alice Cooper/Motley Crue concert was that there was apparently a bomb threat and security (which was understaffed) was patting down everyone that came through the door.  This meant a nearly hour-and-fifteen-minute wait to get in from the time that we arrived.  Alice Cooper started his concert late and we made it just a few moments before he took the stage.  There were still a ton of people behind us that must have missed out on a lot of his show.

Neither concert was bad.  I have a new respect for Foreigner, though I am not likely to pick up any albums any time soon.  I did enjoy the show by Alice Cooper and can definitely see where groups like White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Gwar got their ideas.  Motley Crue sounded pretty good despite fucking up "Dr. Feelgood".  I would not have chosen to go to either concert myself, but I had a good enough time.  My wife was happier than hell and that is all that matters.  Now, next month, I will be seeing Black Sabbath.  That is one I am excited about.   

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I'm Back After a Long Hiatus

Sorry, I have been very busy with work.  I have a ton to catch up with.  Let's start with the concert I attended this summer: Slayer and King Diamond.  And Hellyeah too, but they suck.

I went to Council Bluffs, IA for the Rockstar Mayhem tour which only included the main stage bands, not a huge deal though I would not have minded seeing Jungle Rot.  Nevertheless, I was not going to pass up a chance to see King Diamond and Slayer for the first time.

I missed The Devil Wears Prada which is absolutely okay with me.  My wife and I both had to work the day of the concert and had to stop at Raising Cane's for some chicken fingers before heading to the concert.  I would not have minded missing Hellyeah either, but we managed to make it to their set.

Hellyeah was about what I expected.  The singer, previously from Mudvayne made one of those "metal saved my life" speeches which is kind of meh.  The music was pretty bland.  I have never been a big fan of Hellyeah.  I just think they are kind of boring personally.

King Diamond was next to the stage and they sounded amazing.  King's voice got stronger as their set rolled on and they played some great songs.  They did not play "Don't Break the Oath" to the dismay of one fan that kept screaming for them to play it.  I did enjoy the inclusion of some Mercyful Fate tracks.  The decorations were a nice touch to the stage and King made things very entertaining with his onstage antics.

I ran into Kelly from Full Metal Attorney and we spent some time catching up.  It was the first time I have actually seen him since law school.  We chatted about the bands and other concerts we have been to and laughed at my wife who was reading the first Game of Thrones book during the concert.

Slayer took the stage and played a blistering set hitting all of the typical Slayer tracks.  "Raining Blood", "Angel of Death", "South of Heaven", and "Dead Skin Mask" all were played.  I was a little disappointed about the lack of "Seasons in the Abyss" personally, but that is a bit of an oddity in the Slayer catalog.

All in all, it was a great time.  I don't get to too many concerts these days, but I had to make it for Slayer and King Diamond.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blog Update

My plan is to get back to posting soon.  I am very sorry for bands that have sent me stuff that I have not responded to.  I will try to get to everything.

Decisions, Decisions

A couple of weeks back I missed an opportunity to see At The Gates, Pallbearer, and some other groups.  I was a little bummed by that, but it turns out there are three upcoming concerts that I would love to go see.  Unfortunately, I can't justify the expense in seeing all three so I had a decision to make.

Here are the choices:
1.  Judas Priest with Saxon.

2.  Volbeat with Anthrax and Crobot.

3.  Mayhem Fest featuring Slayer and King Diamond.

As much as I would love to see Judas Priest at some point (and I probably won't get another opportunity), I don't really care much for Saxon.  I saw Volbeat opening for Megadeth a few years back and don't care for Crobot, but Anthrax would have been interesting.  Ultimately though, Mayhem Fest was the way to go.  A lot of the other bands there are terrible, though I do enjoy Jungle Rot.  But I cannot pass up an opportunity to see both Slayer and King Diamond.  I may not have another chance to see either of them.  So I made my decision.  I will probably just show for the last two bands, have work and all that since the concert is a Tuesday and two hours from home.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fuck the Grammys

Call it morbid curiosity.  I really do not give a fuck about the Grammys, but I find myself checking out who won the Best Metal Performance Grammy each year.  Usually I do not even see the nominees until that night, but I check it out anyway.  This year saw Tenacious D win the Grammy for Best Metal Performance for their version of Dio's classic "Last in Line".  That is fucking ridiculous.  A cover version of a song written 30 years ago by a joke band headed by actor Jack Black is not a very good representation of where metal is today.  I'm not even mad about it, the whole thing is just so ridiculous that it defies explanation.  I would prefer it if the award show would just drop the Metal Performance Grammy altogether.  They have no idea about the genre and don't seem to care.  What's the point?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Odota: Fever Marshal (2014)

Some time ago I reviewed an album by a band called Talbot.  That was a pretty interesting sludge/doom album that I really enjoyed.  I was recently contacted by the former drummer/vocalist from the Estonian band to take a look at his new project under the name Odota.  Having enjoyed Talbot, I was eager to see what Odota had to offer.

Odota is actually quite dissimilar from Talbot, which is definitely not a problem.  It was just a little surprising.  Where Talbot played murky doom metal, Odota plays sludge-laden black metal with a bit of a psychedelic tinge to it.  It is fairly similar to the terrific Silencing Machine by Nachtmystium.  The experimental elements add a lot of depth and intrigue to the otherwise straightforward black metal riffing style.  The vocals are more aggressive black metal-style rasping which fits well with the music and distinguishes it from being too much like Nachtmystium.

There are some exclusively experimental tracks here, most notably "Staked Plains", that kind of drag things down a little bit.  I don't really understand the desire to throw in mostly atonal, noise tracks onto albums, but then it is not my decision.

I'm not really sure if there is some sort of lyrical theme here or not.  I do not have any access to any lyrics sheets, but the song titles seem to lead to the conclusion that this may be a Western-themed albums.  We have words like "marshal", "horse thief", "plains", "eagle", and "rattlesnake" in each of the titles.  Kind of odd choices really.  I suspect this is the first ever Western-themed psychedelic black metal album in history.

I thought this was a pretty decent release.  It is hard not to compare it to Jarmo Nuutre's other band, and I think it falls a bit short of Talbot.  But it is a very good effort and it will be interesting to see what this band can do in the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vanagloria: La Dinamica del Miedo (2014)

Power metalcore?  Powercore?  What would you call this?  Whatever it is, it is definitely a unique take on a couple of metal genres.  Vanagloria is a Spanish metal band that actually got their start playing plain old power metal, well there is not really anything plain about power metal.  Over time though, the band began incorporating more modern, mainstream metal influences to the point that we get to this.  The promotional materials describe it as black/death/thrash, but I am not sure that really accurately reflects this, maybe power/thrash, but there are some definite breakdowns at times.

Well enough about the genre, what do we have here?  The riffing style is at times edgy and aggressive, and at others incredibly melodic.  The band makes liberal use of keyboards and techno/industrial elements at times, particularly in the intro track.

The vocals are definitely on the extreme end for this style of metal, but not all power metal features particularly melodic vocal styles.  Just look at Helstar and the weird Finnish groups like Children of Bodom and their ilk.  On occasion, the vocals are delivered with a more extreme backing track, or the vocalist actually uses more extreme vocal styles at times.  There was also a female guest vocalist on one track which brought quite a bit of dynamics to the track.  The vocals are all in Spanish, which is not surprising.  My Spanish is a tad rusty so I have a little bit of trouble figuring out what they are singing about.

Despite the disparate styles of metal combined by this band, the songs were surprisingly cohesive.  There are definitely some unusual things going on at times, but the band is talented enough to keep things from turning into a mess.  In fact, the album is quite interesting.  It is likely one I will need to hear a few times to really get a good idea of what is going on.  But it was definitely good enough to bear repeated listens.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 14 of 2014

It has been a pretty bad year for me on this blog.  I have been a little burned out as I have been very busy with work.  It has been hard to find time to listen to new music as much as I would like.  I have been really bad with bands contacting me.  I still heard a lot of great new music though.  And I managed to put together a Best Of list.  Here we go:

The reunion of the year finds the pioneering melodeath band releasing their first new album since the landmark Slaughter of the Soul.  At The Gates manages to recapture the spirit of that album without remaking it.  Sure a lot of bands copied it over the years, but At The Gates still manages to sound fresh, even after all these years.
Other bands have come around that do what Septicflesh does better than them.  Rotting Christ does Greek mythology better and Fleshgod Apocalypse does symphonic tinged extreme metal better.  Nevertheless Septicflesh keeps going and they still do their thing damn well, as evidenced by this terrific album.
If I had to name a favorite thrash metal band, I would honestly have to consider Overkill at this point.  Mostly due to the fact that the band has never really softened their sound.  Sure they were groove metal for a little while, but they were still good.  And they continue to put out amazing, kickass thrash metal albums.
Slightly disappointing after the terrific Carving Out the Eyes of God and Blood for the Master, this is nevertheless still a very strong album.  Goatwhore continues to put out uncompromisingly brutal metal.  They get more extreme with each release.
Ex Mortus bring a lot of symphonic and classical influences to their style of riffing.  The solos in particular display these influences.  The band even goes so far as to cover "Moonlight Sonata".  Seriously.  The rest of the album is unapologetically cheesy and metal as fuck.  It's campy and fun, and we need that once in awhile.
Finland's Insomnium are easily one of the best melodeath bands still going.  Their somber and melodic style comes as a welcome change from some of the other groups in the genre.  This is yet another melancholic masterpiece from the band that just keeps getting better.
Easily one of the most controversial albums of the year, particularly due to the album's insane cover art, Lord Mantis's third release is also one of the year's best.  Their take on filthy rotten sludge metal puts a lot of the mainstream sludge acts to shame.  Those who refused to check it out due to the cover are missing out.
Grand Magus makes this list every year they release something.  That should tell something about the quality of this band.  They just continue to put out terrific album after terrific album.  They are quite simply on of the best traditional metal bands going today.
First of all, awesome name.  Secondly, awesome death metal album.  Corpsessed reminds me most of groups like Angelcorpse and Teitanblood, filthy, disgusting death metal that blows everything else out of the water.  This is just the band's first full-length album, which is shocking because they sound like seasoned veterans.
Vader is simultaneously one of the most consistent and most underrated metal bands in the world.  They just never seem to get the respect and notice that they deserve.  Every single album by Vader is terrific and the fact that the band has been doing it since the mid 1980's is astounding.  This is once more a very strong album in typical Vader take-no-prisoners style.
Triptykon was the release I probably looked most forward to this year.  After all, their first album was my Album of the Year and it did not look at all like this would be a disappointing sophomore album.  While I do thoroughly enjoy this album, some of the songs seemed to be a little too similar at times and the band was often comfortable plodding along.  Certainly not the case with the opening crushing track.  All in all, a great album, but one that pales in comparison to the first one.
I have always liked Mastodon, but none of their releases have been so great that I listened to them frequently over and over again.  Until this one.  This album features some of the catchiest songs I have heard all year.  Mastodon seems much more focused on crafting songs rather than the meandering psychedelia the band once used frequently and they are that much better for it.

One of the most hyped releases of the year managed to exceed even my expectations.  Behemoth has always been a favorite band of mine, but some of their releases have lacked dynamics, focusing instead on simply blasting away.  This release is incredibly dynamic and therefore blows away everything the band previously released.

The debut album by this Australian death metal act is incredible.  Dark and mysterious with an obvious Lovecraftian influence, the album features twisted riffs and psychotic, gibbering vocals.  It is one of those death metal albums that simply grabs you on the first listen and will not let go.  I have mentioned that certain death metal albums, particularly lesser-known ones, sometimes have an intense quality that makes it difficult to turn them off.  This one has that same quality.