Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Hulder and Skeleton in Lincoln - July 12, 2022

I went back and forth on whether I would be going to this one.  Things have been crazy busy at work and the day of the concert, I was scheduled for a long day.  The other issue was that when I first heard about this concert, I was under the impression that Devil Master would also be on the bill.  Devil Master released the amazing album Satan Spits on Children of Light in 2019, which was a top five album for me that year.  They also released another great one earlier this year.  But upon further examination of the tour, I realized that Devil Master would not be at the show in Lincoln.  So, it was just Skeleton, a band I had not yet heard, and Hulder.  I do enjoy Hulder quite a bit though, so I decided to go after I got done in court a bit earlier than expected.

The venue was the 1867 Bar in Lincoln, which is located downtown.  I had never even heard of that bar before.  It is a fairly small venue, with a small bar area and a larger room for concerts.  The stage, such as it was, was only a slightly elevated floor.  That promised a rather close and cozy show.

Opening the night were a pair of local metal bands that I have seen several times now.  First was Ungoliant.  This is the third time I think that I have seen Ungoliant.  They are always impressive and strike me as down-to-earth guys who just love to play at these shows.  They need to release something though.  Ezra was next.  This was the fourth time seeing Ezra, I think.  Ezra is sort of notable for being led by the brother of a former University of Nebraska football legend.  Ezra has been around for a very long time and mentioned that they were playing mostly songs from the mid 1990's.  Both bands were impressive for local bands. 

Skeleton was on stage next.  The power trio is from Austin, TX and, in something I do not see too often, their singer is their drummer.  As such, rhythm is very important to the band's sound.  Apparently the band started out as a punk band, before going in more of a black/death metal sound.  They were able to really get the crowd moving with their no frills, bludgeoning riffs.  The songs were all on the shorter side and got to the point quickly.  It was a raw and primal sound and damn, was it impressive.

Hulder was the headliner.  Hulder has been making noise in the metal underground for a few years now.  The one-woman black metal band from Portland, by way of Belgium, first caught my attention with a two-song EP in 2019.  Of course, being a solo project, a backing band had to accompany the band leader, who now goes by the name of Hulder.  The sound was primarily amped-up, aggressive black metal, complete with tremolo riffing and shrieking vocals.  Hulder has an extremely powerful voice and it hits hard in concert.

Hulder hit the stage and promptly bulldozed through an incredible set, then left.  There was no talking between songs, or even after the set.  Hulder came, Hulder saw, and Hulder conquered.  I was blown away by the set though and set to picking up the rest of the band's releases.  I was damn glad I decided to go to this one.

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Cavalera Brothers in Lincoln - June 8, 2022

It has been a long time since I have posted here.  There has not really been much to post.  This is the first concert I have been to since December, 2019.  Fucking pandemic.  I keep meaning to get around to doing top albums from the last couple years.  I need to figure out what those would be first.  And that will take some work, because I have been picking up a ton of albums during this time.

Anyway.  So, the concert.  I will get to the headliners in awhile.  The first band taking the stage was playing as I was getting there, so I did not see their whole set.  That band was local metal band Deadechoes.  Deadechoes started out as something of a nu-metal/groove metal band, but they have ditched most of that in exchange for a much more thrash-oriented sound.  They sounded damn impressive honestly, much better than they did on the album I have from the band.  Apparently it was the band's last show with their bassist.  I am not sure what that means for the future of the band.  It is always nice to see a local band at these shows.  Nebraska has some surprisingly good metal bands these days.

Healing Magic was next to the stage.  Their name really does not fit with the band's sound, which is a dark and aggressive form of stoner doom metal, with some rough vocals.  Healing Magic is fronted by Igor Cavalera Jr., oddly not Iggor Cavalera's son, but Max's.  I was fairly impressed by the band, much more than I was the couple times I have heard them on Liquid Metal.  I may even pick up an album one of these days.

Up next was Warbringer.  This is actually the third time I have seen Warbringer live.  The first time was when they were a young band supporting Overkill.  Oddly, I was wearing my Overkill t-shirt on Tuesday.  The second time was when they were supporting Dark Tranquillity about five years ago.  Warbringer always puts on a great show.  They are easily one of the better modern thrash metal bands and each of their albums absolutely rips.  Warbringer played a nice selection encompassing much of their history.  They were electrifying as usual.  

And finally, the Cavalera brothers took the stage.  Max and Iggor Cavalera were founding members of Sepultura, one of my absolute favorite bands.  Sepultura was my primary gateway into the more extreme styles of metal.  The band was making major waves in the mid 1990's after the release of the Roots album, but some internal strife among manager Gloria Cavalera (Max's wife) and the rest of the band split the group in two.  Max left, creating Soulfly, and the band brought in Derrick Green to take over vocals.  Iggor left in 2006 and the brothers reunited with Cavalera Conspiracy.  

I am not really sure what they were calling themselves on Tuesday night, but they were playing much of the albums Beneath the Remains and Arise, two of my personal favorite Sepultura albums.  I had to go, it was as close as I was ever going to get to see the band that was my gateway into extreme metal.  I saw Sepultura before, but neither Cavalera brother was still in the band at the time.  The band sounded great live.  These two albums are known for their ferocity, and that came through in the concert.  It was a great concert and as close as I will ever get to seeing the classic Sepultura, the one I grew up with.

Friday, May 29, 2020

My Last Post?

I have been doing this blog for several years now and the last year and a half I have been working really hard to do a post every day.  Yet, I seldomly receive more than 20 views on any post for quite some time now.  I enjoy doing album reviews, but if no one is really paying attention any more, I guess I do not see a lot of reason to keep going.  Certainly not with content every single day.  It takes quite awhile to do a post every day.  Listening to the album a couple of times and then writing a review usually takes about two to three hours.  Time that I could better spend elsewhere.  I do not want this to come across as overly negative, but there has been virtually no interaction with readers for quite some time either.  Only a few random comments over the last year and a half that I have been writing posts every day.  So, I guess I am saying that I will probably not be doing posts daily any more.  At least for awhile.  I will still probably do concert posts and I will still probably cover the new releases that come out this year.  I will definitely do an end of the year post, but maybe it's time to move on to something else.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Lord Weird Slough Feg: New Organon (2019)

It has been a little while since I checked on these San Francisco-based metallers.  Last I knew they were still going by the abbreviated, yet still bizarre, moniker Slough Feg.  This is the first album since 2003's Traveller that the band's complete name was on the cover.  And no, I still do not totally understand the reference.  There really has been no difference in the sound of the band under either name, so it is more or less just an aesthetic choice.

Anyway, this is the first album I have heard since 2009's Ape Uprising!, and I was looking forward to hearing them once again.  At the foundation, the music really has not changed much at all.  It is still based around Thin Lizzy-esque, Celtic folk-tinged riffs and the husky vocals of Mike Scalzi.  And there are some great songs here as well, including the galloping "Being and Nothingness" and the epic "Uncanny".

If there is a complaint to be made it is that some of the earlier songs, particularly "Headhunter" and "The Apology" seem like they are trying to build to something great, but never quite get there.  It almost feels as if the band is holding back at times.

Obviously I cannot really say this is a return to form.  The Lord Weird Slough Feg has been shockingly consistent throughout their career.  I have truly enjoyed every single album I have heard from the band.  That being said, I can say this is probably my second-favorite album by the band, behind only Hardworlder.  I have not heard everything from them though, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.  It is damn good though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Vadiat: Darkness Proceeds (2019)

Here we have the debut release from Cleveland-based death/doom metal band Vadiat.  This is a very short release, containing just four songs, though the songs are a bit on the longer side.  Vadiat is made up of veterans from the Cleveland underground metal scene, two of whom did some time in the mighty Nunslaughter, so even if the band is new, the members certainly know what the hell they are doing.

Musically, the band has a great deal in common with early purveyors of the death/doom scene like Asphyx, and mixed it with the riff-based chaos of Bolt Thrower.  The songs are quite lengthy with a variety of musical sections that range from blistering intensity to devastating solemnity.  Opening track "Quarter Moon Chaos" with its twists and turns and some damn impressive leads.

This is a terrific debut release from a band whose members have done some great work in the past.  It is only natural that this release would be as impressive as it is.  I am definitely looking forward to more material from Vadiat in the future.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tiger Junkies: Green Tea or Die (2013)

I have covered Tiger Junkies once before with their sole full-length release.  This is a follow-up EP that came a couple of years later.  The band is a side project between Yasuyuki Suzuki from Abigail and Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust.  It was a way for the two to go back to show some of their punk roots.

This is an extremely short release, consisting of just four songs and just over eleven minutes in length.  The songs are fast-paced, usually based around a single punk-esque riff.  I am pretty sure most of the song titles, including the title track are jokes referencing other song titles, though I cannot quite put my finger on them, or tell why.  The vocals are usually switched off between the two singers, with Grind's vocals being a little deeper and less raspy.  The release flies by and is over before one really gets into it.

This release is fine, but it is probably a little closer to the punk side of things than metal.  That is fine at times and this is definitely a release to get the blood pumping.  Its brevity is probably its best feature as it is easy to turn on, listen to quickly and move on.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Just Before Dawn: The Aftermath (2014)

I did not intend to cover an album like this on Memorial Day.  It just kind of worked out that way.
Yesterday I covered the former Amon Amarth guitarist Anders Biazzi's war-centered project Just Before Dawn.  That was the debut album.  This is the follow-up, appropriately-named The Aftermath.  Just like the debut, this album starts off with the sound of a battle and continues on with that theme throughout.

This time around, the music seems mostly somber, reflecting primarily the horrors of warfare and an extreme sense of loss.  In that respect and combined with the buzzsaw-like riffing style, the album reminds me somewhat of a combination of Entombed and Memoriam. 

Like the previous album, there are a number of guest vocalists on this release lending their voices to the songs.  Some of them appeared on the previous album, such as Ralf Hauber of Revel in Flesh.  But this time around, Just Before Dawn scored a major coup by getting the legendary Dave Ingram (Benediction) to perform on a track.  Ingram was the vocalist on one of my all-time favorite death metal albums, Transcend the Rubicon, so it was exciting to hear him on this.

Just Before Dawn have improved a bit on this release, but it does still sound like more of a compilation album than just one band.  It is an impressive release nonetheless.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Just Before Dawn: Precis Innan Gryningen (2013)

Just Before Dawn is the war-oriented project of one Anders Biazzi.  Formerly known as Anders Hansson, Biazzi has had a long career as guitarist in a number of Swedish death metal bands, including most notably Amon Amarth.  Biazzi was with Amon Amarth through the release of debut Once Sent from the Golden Hall.  By the way, the album title is just the band's name in Swedish.

This release is the band's debut and it is a crushing, monstrous war machine of an album.  That is with a heavy emphasis on "war".  The album starts off with a sound clip of warfare and quickly follows that up with some massively intense riffs descending into chaos.  The album mostly continues in this style, giving the feel of being constantly under bombardment from heavy artillery. 

The most interesting aspect of the release is the use of guest musicians, primarily to perform vocal duties.  The list of guest vocalists reads like a who's who of underground death metal vocalists.  It includes Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, tons of other bands), Jonas Lindblood (Puteraeon), Ralf Hauber (Revel in Flesh) and several others.  With this collection of talent, it is no wonder that the vocals are constantly interesting.  The album also features a guest guitar appearance from early death metal legend Rick Rozz (Death, Massacre).

This album somewhat has a feel of a compilation album that happens to be built around similar ideas.  Nevertheless it is a very strong release and an impressive debut for the project of a veteran Swedish death metal guitarist.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Diabolic Night: Beyond the Realm (2019)

It is getting very difficult to keep all of these black/thrash/speed metal bands straight.  It seems to be a major trend to go back to the early 1980's and take influence from Motörhead, Venom and Bathory.  One band I think I am going to be able to remember though is this German group, because this album is truly awesome.

Diabolic Night throws in some obvious German thrash metal influence, incorporating Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, and even more melodic acts like Running Wild into their early blackened speed metal riffs.  The result is a caustic, yet shockingly melodic and infectious release.  Diabolic Night have mastered the ability to bring in some truly unique riffs.  Just look at the Egyptian-sounding riff to "Crescent Moon Rise". 

This album grabs the listener from the very first moments and refuses to let go.  There are a lot of bands these days playing this style of metal, but few of them have achieved this kind of infectious energy.  This album is just a ton of fun. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Hulder: Embraced by Darkness Mysts (2019)

Hulder is one-woman black metal band that is the project of former Bleeder vocalist/guitarist The Inquisitor.  The Inquisitor, despite being based out of the metal hotbed of Portland, Oregon, is originally from Belgium and calls on Belgian folklore as an influence for the lyrical subject matter.

This is a very short, two-song EP, Hulder's second release in 2019.  I was a little surprised given the album cover that this release does not have much, if any, folk influences.  There are some short moments, such as acoustic introductions and chiming bells that have some very minor influence, but by and large, this is a straightforward black metal release that seems to draw on influences from second wave Norwegian black metal bands like Mayhem, along with some LLN influence as well.  The riffs here are cold and raw, and are the primary highlight here.

I picked this up as a short introduction to a band I was not familiar with and came out impressed.  I will be checking out more from Hulder.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

When Your Debut is Your Best Album: Flotsam and Jetsam

I have been thinking about bands whose debut is their best work for a little bit of late.  It is generally well-accepted that a lot of metal bands tend to peak early on their first couple of albums.  That is true of a lot of the giants in metal music, including very obviously Metallica and Black Sabbath.  But it is also true of a lot of lesser bands as well.  Now, I still think it is at least somewhat rare for a band's debut album to be universally considered their best work, but there are a few out there.

One of the more obvious examples of this is Arizona power thrashers Flotsam and Jetsam.  Their debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver is an absolute monster, featuring catchy riffs and infectious hooks.  It is one of the best thrash metal albums of all time.  Yet the band was really not able to build upon that early success.  I like the follow-up No Place for Disgrace quite well, but I really do not think it holds a candle to the raw thunder of Doomsday.  And from then on, most of the albums by the band have been well below the standard set by the first two.  In fact the band went through a number of stylistic changes before at least attempting to return to their former glory.

Now there is a very clear demarcation between Flotsam and Jetsam's debut and everything that came afterwards, and pretty much anyone with a reasonable knowledge of metal knows exactly what I am talking about.  Jason Newsted, who rose to fame as Metallica's bassist after the untimely death of Cliff Burton, was originally in Flotsam and Jetsam.  In fact, he was the principal lyricist and a major factor in the songwriting.  His bass work on the album is absolutely killer and often drives the songs.  And he left very soon after the debut was released.  It really is a shame that Metallica never really allowed Newsted free reign to write some stuff for the band because his work on Flotsam and Jetsam is incredibly impressive.

After Newsted left, the band moved forward.  Newsted was not really a founding member of the band, but his absence loomed large.  They have never been able to adequately replace him in my opinion.  As I said, the sophomore album is damn good, but it's no Doomsday, and the band has not been able to come close since.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bosque: Nowhere (2013)

I want to start by saying that I really enjoy funeral doom metal, but let's be honest, there is not a ton of diversity to the music.  Playing as slow as these bands do, there is not all that much different one band can do from another.  And thus discovering new bands with something truly unique to add to the genre is somewhat difficult.

That brings me to Portuguese funeral doom metal band Bosque.  Bosque has been a fairly active band over the years, and this is the band's third full-length album, out of four thus far.  Bosque is a one-man project by multo-instrumentalist DM.  

What sets Bosque apart for the most part is the atmosphere and ambiance created beyond the heavy, thundering riffs.  The soft keyboard melodies, chanted vocals and dissonant chords make up a maudlin, emotional atmosphere.  Unfortunately it does not always prevent the songs from dragging a bit.

This is a release that one has to be patient with.  There is not a lot going on all the time and it does require careful listening in order to catch the moments that do have an impact.  At other times, it just seems to go on and on.  This is probably not the best album to check out as an introduction to funeral doom, it is more of an advanced release once one knows they enjoy the genre.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

One and Done? Pt. 15: Burial Choir

I guess technically I do not really know if this is a One and Done project.  Not much appears to be known at all about this Finnish funeral doom metal project.  They have released the one full-length album Iconoclast in 2016 and that makes up their entire discography.  No demos, no EPs, no splits, and nothing since 2016. 

The album is fairly typical for funeral doom metal: mostly lengthy and slow songs that creep and crawl, accentuated by monolithic riffs and deep, roaring vocals.  The album starts off with the chiming of bells that really give the early moments a funereal atmosphere.  That chiming continues throughout the entire first song, at times only barely perceptible, but it is definitely there.  It then continues throughout the album, appearing mostly at the beginning and end of songs, tying the entire album together. 

If this is it for Burial Choir, they certainly gave it their all.  This is a very impressive funeral doom release that does just enough to stand out from the pack, which is sort of difficult to do given the style.  The storyline is captivating and the framing chimes make this an album to experience as a whole. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Fetid: Steeping Corporeal Mess (2019)

With the band name and album title here, it is pretty obvious what kind of music this is going to be.  Hint: it is definitely not going to be pretty.  Fetid is yet another band from the Pacific Northwest and features a member from Cerebral Rot, which just makes sense.

This barely qualifies as a full-length, lasting five songs and a little over 30 minutes, but it is some of the most disgusting and filthy death metal there is outside of the slam subgenre.  The riffs are tuned down to the floor and there is a big, meaty bass sound.  The vocals are deep and gurgling, like an undead monster screaming with its mouth full of human flesh.  The band positively rips through these songs making some truly inhuman noise.

I am not going to mention yet again how great 2019 was for death metal.  Fetid is a very new band, and this is their debut full-length, sort of.  They will be another band to follow.