Monday, December 29, 2008

Aeternus - Hexaeon

(An old review)

Ever since Beyond The Wandering Moon, Aeternus has been a band that I have enjoyed a lot. Both their earlier black metal material and more recent blackened death metal fare. Although I will admit that Ascension of Terror was not a complete let down, I felt that Aeternus could do much better. The two tracks that I heard off A Darker Monument were, to say the least, not really my thing. I thought that it was possible that once again a band I enjoyed was going the route of a sneezing Houdini in one of his submersion tricks.
Add Image
And then, Hexaeon:

Ares has unleashed upon us nine tracks of dark, metallic, fury. The production is excellent. Every instrument screams with a need of acknowledgment. I want to mention the Vocals first because they are, in my opinion, the weakest aspect to this album. Its not that they aren't good. Certain times they just sound like Steven Hawking singing through the blades of a bedroom oscillating fan. But its not really as awful as it sounds. Anyway...Guitars, provided by Ares, cut shrill paths throughout the albums depthless flesh and gut and whatever is left over. Not technical, but pounding in every way. V'gander's bass is fantastic. No, hes not gonna be given any awards by the progressive rock fans but to these ears, he provides a lot of the awesomeness of the album with a fantastic tone and low end. Erik's drumming is also of mention, of course. A lot of cool fills and great groove complete the music of this album. If Ares is the blasphemous knight, V'gander is his steed, trampling the allies of their enemies beneath his blood-soaked hooves.

To the songs: This is a brilliant collection of music. It might be the song's arrangement... but awesome. Opening tracks "The Darkest Of Minds" and "Godhead Charlatan" are crushing mid tempo songs. Third track "The 9th Revolution" is the weakest track in my opinion. From the 4th track onward though is gold - possibly gold removed the walls of the Vatican by demons. "In The 3rd Dwells Oblivion" is a much faster track. The HUGE breakdown entering the final 40 seconds or so of the song is so utterly destructive in nature. Title track "Hexaeon" breaks the pace slightly with a clean guitar intro. The first usage of clean guitars until "Christbait." Track Six, "Punished" includes a bridge that erupts with innate violence. "Ageless Void", and "Christbait" are both solid songs but closer "What I Crave" hearkens back to the more black metal days of Aeternus with some enchanting clean vocals, grim melodies, and the albums finest, and most ironic, moment... a emotion tinged solo pulling together the album.

I think that this album is nothing but a precursor of things (great things) to come. The black metal days of Aeternus, as glorious as they were are well in the past. This new Aeternus is not better or worse than the elder/younger vision of Aeternus. It is simply a different method of showing that vision.

1349 - Hellfire

(An older review)

1349 are one of the few of the black metal bands of their kind that I can really get into. Hellfire, their newest album is a shining example of what black metal such as theirs should sound like. Relentless constant and never letting up without resorting to being redundant blasting on the drums and horribly produced monotonous guitar work.

Musicianship is of the highest order. Frost's drumming is impeccable. complimenting the music's aggressive attitude yet at times pushing it to a new level which few bands can venture. his stick work is a flurry of abysmal fury rarely seen across any of metal's genres. Archaon and Tjalve's guitar work is clear, crisp, and horrifically genius. Though Seidermann's bass playing is not at the front of the recording it does add some grit and dirty bottom end throughout the album. Ravn's vocals are a fitting end to the talented mix. This is an album which can boast some truly excellent production aside from the lowness of the bass in the mix.

The songwriting on this album is very good. Songs stick out, each holding their own against and not getting lost in the whole. The album employs a wide variety techniques at times including tremolo guitar work, more basic guitar powerchords and rhythms, some death metal influences areas, some thrashy parts, and some atmospheric sections also; its all here and then some. This is an album of songs. Nathicana is a personal favorite however Celestial Deconstruction and From The Deeps also are album highlights for me. To Rottendom is my least favorite song for some reason however that is not saying its not a good song.

The one thing that this album could have used was a little more variety tempo-wise. Its all extremely fast for the entire album with From The Deeps being the one exception and a well placed one on the album due to the fact it breaks up the speed. Perhaps not surprisingly this song also finds its way into the territory of 260+ bpm. Though there is a short clean break that works well aside from it existing for less than three seconds. A longer one may have been better placed but who am I to judge.

Slaves To Slaughter has an interesting musical break about a third of the way in that reeks of decomposed corpses and evil emanating from the very core of the human soul. Then goes off on a black metal journey to hell climaxing in a burzum-esque finale. Also a standout track.

Hellfire is the album's fourteen minute "epic." Though the first three minutes are pretty much buildup with little music except for some funeral-like organ melody. This however transforms - somewhat clumsily in my opinion - into the actual song. Hellfire is pretty much similar to everything else on the album and, for an epic track doesn't quite stand up to what the rest of the album offers before hand. By this time into the album it would have been more rewarding to encounter more doomy tempos and variation. Nine minutes in there is a more Deathspell Omega induced riff that, for me, gives this song some individuality. Thats not to say this isn't a killer ending track which it is. Some fantastic riffs, and brilliant-in-an-Einstein-kind-of-way drumming is, like elsewhere on this album the deciding factor and makes this another great song much like it makes the rest of the songs on the album great songs.

Overall, this is an excellent example of the possibilities that a talented, musicianship-oriented, black metal band can create when done right and done thoughtfully. I would personally consider this their best effort, more natural and flowing than Beyond The Apocalypse and more musical and professional sounding than Liberation. I await great things from 1349's next effort if this is any show of their progression as a black metal band.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hear N Aid - Stars

The concept behind this whole project is, in my eyes, a massive hypocrisy. To gather huge names like Dokken, Dio and Judas Priest together and do an album to raise one million dollars is folly and a clear attempt at "softening" the image of heavy metal. If these musicians wanted to help famine in Africa, they could have each reached into their deep pockets and simply written a check instead of dropping the load of dung that "Stars" is upon us. The release of this album is none other than a combination of covering up personal selfishness and reaping the rewards of an easily digested commodity / format. "Rewards? All the profit goes to charity!" you say? After you take off your blindfolds and eye patches, read the news; money isn't the only prize to gain from participating in an incredibly successful collaboration. Every single person participating in Hear N Aid knew that the single would sell like vanilla umbrellas during a chocolate syrup hurricane. Every single person involved knew that this would attract attention to their own projects, make parents slightly less likely to throw out their son's albums, and buy them a ticket to the promised land - and in the name of Heavy Metal they did this shit anyway. Blasphemy...

Now, I can't knock the music too much. It sounds like Dio except for the first solo which sounds like an alien spaceship recorded using a microphone and a rainbow scented distortion pedal (no pun intended). The solo actually makes me laugh if I listen to it several times in succession. The solo afterward is much more metal than the Martian tomfoolery of the first solo. Considering that the song was written almost entirely by the Dio gang, the traditional style of the tune is no surprise. While I can't complain that the song sounds like Dio, I can wholeheartedly wish that there were other people involved in writing the actual music for the song. There are a ton of awesome song writers on the album that could have contributed ideas and excellent riffs: Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (who only get a chance to contribute a barely audible melody line to the chorus), Ted Nugent, and George Lynch. I'm kind of surprised that Ted Nugent would ever agree to do a song like this or even take part in such a project. He seems like the "let them fend for themselves, and let me kill the boar on my acres of farmland" kind of character. Ultimately, the song is a generic 80's metal anthem-styled song with a raging hard-on for itself, "shredding" solos (notably in the extended version where the solo section is bearable (why did they chose the two worst solos to put in the single track?) and contains some actual interesting guitar work from egoist overlord Yngwie) and a catchy general melody that flows along like a nice little river from which deer drink happily and bunny rabbits fornicate besides.

I do really love the guitar tone on the single and the whole sound of the song. It is crisp, and has that vintage lots of mids and treble tone. It is clear throughout the whole track. The song would be laughable without the classic tone which is almost the only thing that allows this atrocity of metal history to survive without sounding like a joke. The cheese of the song is supported by the cheese we associate with the guitar tone. The keyboards are buried though you can hear them at points. The drums are clear too though I wish the snare was louder in the mix. The kick drum tone is beautiful though and sounds like a kick drum and not the marching band kid in math class tapping on his desk with his untrimmed fingernails. I also appreciate the clean, booming bass that cuts through the the rest of the instruments. Sadly, Jimmy Bain is not doing anything at all interesting. His plodding makes me wonder if he originally brought the idea to Ronnie as a joke. Like telling your friend "Hey lets go eat those ants that are always crawling near your front door" and then he says "Sure!" and you are pulled into eating insects off his stoop.

The huge chorus would be awesome if they were not shouting "We're Stars." No shit you're stars assholes - your all singing on a heavy metal fund raiser album with the Dio. Is it possible that this song is a hidden attempt at making fun of the mentally handicapped? "Hey guyz! I'm da Staaauurrr!" If they were shouting something like, "We're Napalm Warriors!" it would be total kick assery though not at all appropriate for a famine relief fund raiser album. I get the same basic feeling from the chorus that I get from Dream Evil's (Hah, Its like everything is a Dio reference) Made Of Metal - big balls to the wall chorus with lame lyrics. If there is one thing I always prided Dio for, it was his lyrics. He has written some of the best lyrics in metal in his time with Sabbath and with Dio but the lyrics here are trite and meaningless. Does Ronnie James Dio really "cry for the children?" Or how about Chris Holmes? Maybe when he was floating his Vodka filled pool in the blue raft he looked to the 'stars' and wondered if the hungry African children were looking at the same night sky. Holmes wondering if famished African children have anything to eat while downing bottles of vodka in a pool is an image I would love to see a renaissance painting depiction of. Maybe David Alford really cares for "the shrunk up kids" as he gives his best Tom Hanks in Forest Gump impression. The attitude towards the starving children is less than concerned by almost all those involved. I think Rob Halford is the only one who actually says anything meaningful in the interview.

Don't get me started on Gale Murphy from Rock Network Affiliate KLOS in Los Angeles. The title for the interview is misleading. It's not four and a half minutes long. It's five grueling minutes of strung out rock stars trying to sound intelligent. But then, so is the single track itself.

Friday, November 28, 2008

At Rest - Demo 2008

This is tedious, heard it before, chop and mash death-core that should frighten just about anyone looking for something with a sense of character and heaviness. Take your balls, cut them off and throw them in a blender with some fruit then drink the contents afterwards because you might as well be doing something to hurt yourself if your enjoying this. When I can tell that shit has been copied and pasted and done up in pro-tools, I just want to turn it off and listen to Grave or Dismember; a band that didn't pay way too much of their parent's money basically. I know there are the Necrophagist / Aborted / Arsis crew out there who will hear this and literally vomit forth expletives to their scenester friends about how utterly brootal At Rest is.

Think of a second rate Necrophagist with hardcore breakdowns. That is all the description you need. Where at rest falter is mainly in the structure and architecture of their riffs and guitar lines. The guitar lines are typical, the vocals are both typical low and high attempts at being masculine but when I can hear lyrics in the songs about cutting wrists or kissing lips or something like that, I just don't care. There are moments of guitar that come out of nowhere to add nothing to the song except some long hammer-on-pull-off section. Clearly Mike Newman and Dan Ladin are good guitar players and have excellent technique but where is the heart? Charlie, last name unknown, basically follows the guitars throughout the cesspool of failure At Rest has excreted upon us. I would mention something about Phil Fontana's drumming but I doubt he actually played any of this crap, it was probably all fixed and edited digitally without any regard at having a natural sound.

Pass this shit by.

Methadrone - Horizone

Methadrone is pretty fucking awesome. Craig Pillard's side project from Evoken is centered around somber, melancholy yet hopeful soundscapes. This single is downloadable for free from the Foreshadow Productions website and is an internet only release which is absolutely terrible. This would fit perfectly on a 7" or one side of a 10" Split. I see it being paired with Nortt or something similar, maybe a new Catacombs song or unreleased material. Methadrone seriously sounds like the younger brother of the two except with his room painted white instead of black and a record collection that is more geared towards Jesu and Isis than the black / bleak metal records that compose the collections of his black forged brethren.

The first cut, the single's title track, "Horizone" is an airy, reverb coated birthday cake of captivating quality. It doesn't get boring as subtle accoutrements are added to the song's layered mass throughout. The low end is breathtaking. While the percussion is minimal, echoing effects create the feeling of being in a vast cavernous expanse mesmerized by the loneliness and the scope of feeling inferior to your surroundings. Each cycle of the song's basic structural component draws you further from the world you exist in and closer to the world that Methadrone is focused on plastering over reality. Throughout the song you get multiple vocal approaches used not as a vehicle for reciting lyrics but as a method of drawing attention away from you're surroundings. Whispers, chanting, choral arrangements in the background add to the intimacy.

Second track, a shorter piece titled "Nalbuphine" is as cleansing as the drug which it is named for. The general tone is somber yet distinctively different from the cave-like loneliness of the title track. Much more, personal than the opener, I find myself placing my body in a decaying hospital, left for dead with a slow drip of the drug being pumped into my body to remove whatever pain I might feel as the world around me died. The song drones more pulses with an acoustic guitar providing the main cadence in the track; its steel strings decisively rusted with the decay of ages.

For a free download, you have no reason not to hear this. My gripe with it not being a physical release is a personal gripe though it really should be presented to fans in a physical release. Where is the fun in downloading something? I am left in a state of urgent need for their full length releases. I can find myself drugged to sleep listening to this.

Download here

This Is A
NJ Band

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Exxplorer - Symphonies Of Steel

This stuff is like candy. Exxplorer's unknown classic "Symphonies Of Steel" is filled to the brim with metal goodness. Perhaps maybe a little bit "too full." This album is like those beakers in high school that you filled with water and then tossed a little weight in and watched as the water over flowed. This beaker must be filled with a bizarre liquid, because if my facial expression was the meniscus, I would be frowning at one moment and smiling the next. I go from loving every note that comes from Ed Lavolpe's twittering fingers to hanging my head in shame at other moments as Exxplorer try too hard, make amateur mistakes and / or mock the very song they are so intimately involved with.

While Ed Lavolpe's guitar playing is nothing to frown at, his tone could use a small kick in its bony ass. Fellow axeman Kevin Kennedy is in tow with talent and a general lack of heaviness. The guitars have a vintage sound to them that anyone could enjoy but a slight tonal adjustment would leave one to face a slightly angrier bear. Both rip through a scattering of dual leads and solos across the album. Lenny Rizzo's vocals are decent though varied throughout the album. His vocals in "Going To Hell" are prepubescent. He could be singing this song while having his braces adhered to his front teeth. He makes up for this in the "Objection Overruled" duo where he sounds like Paul DiAnno on the mellow songs on Iron Maiden's self titled. Rizzo's vocals have a natural reverb to them that fills in some of the space they lack. He has the range but the power isn't there at times. Jimmy Gardner's bass playing is fantastic throughout the album and really helps the album matter. He has that 80's bass style down pat. He has a really good tone and is tight throughout the album. Mike Moyer's drums are typical and nothing special but he lays a strong foundation and pounds out some noticeable fills.

The album's songs are generally awesome. Opener "City Streets" is a memorable and standard metal tune with a great solo and those old school riffs that no one can live without. It's got plenty of headbanging moments and will make you want to romp around your room while being careful not to make the phonograph skip. "Run For Tomorrow" is, for me, the album's highlight with a great flow after the intro, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a few measures too long, and a powerful essence which leaves me wishing the song was just slightly longer. The band's namesake track chugs and gallops though never amounts to much - a let down because the opportunities were there. Cool solo though. "Metal Detectors" is stuck in my mind as the finest example of metal's acknowledgment of its own image. It's a song we've all heard before, talking about all those things metal talks about. You know...metal, steel... With lines like these, Manowar can sit proudly and smile at their disciples. "I'm hungry for metal, I'm searchin' for steel" or "The power of metal, is driving you near" and "Our numbers are growing, like a metal storm" And my favorite... "Don't let them tell you that metal is dead, they listen to Springsteen, it's gone to their head." Eric Adams would be enthralled with this track.

The two tracks / segments which form the "Objection Overruled" section of the album are no lackluster pieces of crap. The the first part is mainly slow, raunchy and doomy until the last two minutes. Basically, I would compare this entire track to "Strange World" or "Remember Tomorrow." I also get a hint of Geddy Lee in the vocals along with DiAnno. Rizzo's vocals are on full display here and they are wearing a fucking full patch covered tuxedo (damn I want one of those!). While the track picks up pace in the second half, It still maintains a general mid paced tempo and has the albums best solo section as well. This is as good as any of Fates Warning's B-sides. It ain't "Fata Morgana" or "Guardian" but I like it just as much as "Giant's Lore" or "Orphan Gypsy."

The field has some stumps though. The only-piano second track "Prelusion" is placed terribly and really doesn't prelude anything. It shares a theme that returns at the end of "Run For Tomorrow" though I'm left wondering who had the idea that a four minute piano piece as the second track on the album would help pacing and move the album along. Granted, the piano piece is really good, it just doesn't belong there. Fourth track "World War III" is a ballad. Yeah, they were all the rage at the time and the lyrics really aren't entirely about people dying, machine guns and German bombers dropping their payload on England's Anderson shelters but the song just drags. "Going to Hell" is the album's weakest track by more than a longshot. Rizzo's vocals sound stolen from Jane's Addiction. The song's lacks much drive and though a generally good riff appears once or twice, it is lost amidst awkward chord choices. A skipper if I ever heard one.

Still, of all the traditional metal that came out of New Jersey or the USA in general, for 1985, this was out there and tried to stand apart from the pack of NWOBHM imitators. If you're still skeptical that this is really that good, take note that this was originally released by the same label putting out the classic Manilla Road albums. That should be word enough that this is a worthy forged piece of metal. And Exxplorer are still exxploring! Check these guys out if you get a chance, I have a feeling you will feel like it was 1986 again. Don't forget your denim and leather though, or you won't be allowed to enter.

... or raise your fists in the air and shout "The metal detectors are losing control!!!!"

This Is A
NJ Band

Dirge - Fleshcrawler EP

Sadly, Dirge's last EP has lost a bit of the bite that Soulstorm had in favor of a more heavy-set crushing style. The punk influences, thankfully, are still visible throughout this six song testament to the lost art form of thrashing crossover goodness. Though moments of the release make me laugh outright at the vocals - usually because after I hear them I immediately associate them with the vocals in the chorus of Thor's Devastation of Musculation (look this up on Youtube drunk for a good laugh) - other moments put a wide grin on my face and remind me of why Dirge became one of my favorite unknowns from the garden state.

Whereas Soulstorm had a metallic, crisp and brittle production, Fleshcrawler has a moist, fluid and dingy production as if the whole album was properly recorded in a dank city punk club with fourteen extremely drunk audience members extruding enough energy to make forty lesser men run and cower. Erik Tucker's guitar playing is nothing to drool over but he weaves some invigorating "I have no shredding talent" solos across the album. The guitar is a bit thin though the beautiful bubbling tone of the bass fills in and plays an integral part in supporting the album's mediocre songs. Dan's drums are a bit low in the mix though they cut through with the thin guitar not providing much masking power to cover the dullness of the drums.

Boilerplate opens the album slow and heavy and points to an emphasis on the bass. Corrupted is faster and uglier. The album's third and fourth spot are generally lackluster and forgettable with Predictions suffering from some poppish moments that the band would never have been caught dead doing earlier on. Small Scene matches the bands earlier style best of all the tracks on the EP. After an Obituary-esque lead, the composition flows into a smooth jazz section before dissolving into a hasty scathing guitargasm; strongest track yet still nowhere near five-star gourmet dining.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dejecta - The Sound Of Dejecta

Aaron Freeman and Matt Olivo's post Repulsion project Dejecta grind though three catchy, memorable and blistering songs on their second demo "The Sound of Dejecta." Easy to enjoy, abrasive but accessible, this is shit that the whole family can listen to at dinner while talking about how the benefits awarded by their eight-to-five job are too nuanced. You can throw this on in the background while drinking with friends and no one would get bothered by it. It sounds less like a Demo and more like Dejecta's half of a split that was never released.

The drums are clear and cutting like a broken shard of glass from the car window you broke with that baseball bat you stole from the irascible kid next door just to piss him off and egg him on. Bill Bradley is steady and precise, never overplaying. Matt and Aaron's guitars have a vintage, grating crush to them while Sean MacDonald's bass is mixed absolutely perfectly in the mix. You can hear him lumbering along and sitting nicely in the music's groove, punching out some bass licks worth making the three songs deserve replaying just to appreciate them. Lee William's vocals have attitude and a sense of urgency necessary and suitable for the pacing of the demo. He sounds like a more genuine and ballsy Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste). At other times, I am reminded of a less old school Scott Ruth during his "The Beast" era.

Though the album starts off a bit weak for me, "Shit For Brains" has its moments though I don't get dragged in until second track "Love You Madly" which starts off with an absolutely blistering metal riff then descends into some off the wall catchy thrash shit and a tripped out solo. If it only had a bit more impact it would be one of my favorite grindy tunes in a good long time. "Shit For Brains" is a good song though a bit drawn out for me. "But its only three minutes long man!!??" Shut up, I know what I mean. It should have been played faster. Got it? Good? Best part of the track is when Lee yells "Shit for brains!!" with a decisively vicious snarl. "Hearts of Darkness" ends the three tracks with a groovy, disjointed three minutes of grinding, disharmonious metallic aggression complete will a nifty bass fill and another noisy, kick ass solo. Well worth the ten minute playing time though one or two more songs would have made this absolutely necessary for die hard grinders.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ad Hominem - Omnes Ad Unum

The first and most immediate thought racing through my head as I suffer through Ad Hominem's first demo "Omnes Ad Unum" is "who the hell puts this shit out?" I want to find the perpetrators and ask them how they sleep at night knowing that they are wasting everyone's time... the pressing plant, the artists making the covers, the plants manufacturing the Cds or, in this case, cassettes these albums are printed on. I understand the importance of maintaining a "true status" and releasing material that only "true metal warriors of the anti-Zionist regime" will understand but I can't help but pity the people buying this load of crap.

The guitars sound like a happy swarm of hornets buzzing around your ear and whispering to you when you are about to walk into a very clean clear glass door or something wholly inconsequential. The vocals are about as generic, lo-fi black metal as you can get. The drums are seeping with glue that oozes out from the tape holding the hardware together and I can guarantee you that the drummer is sitting on a milk crate disguised as the head of some Jewish leader that no one has heard of or cares about. I don't think that the bassist knows what he is supposed to be playing as he is off time, confused and out of touch with what is going on. His bass might as well be made of cheap sausage. It would sound like a more convincing instrument and only because I am currently hungry.

"In Odio Esse Sibi" brings the pretentious personalities to the forefront with keyboard interludes and clean guitars. I get the sense that Ad Hominem feels they are going to write the next great black metal masterpiece and will be loved by everyone. The problem is they can't write even a song that approaches "meh" status. The minute long keyboard pieces "Noesis" and "Requiem For Humanity" are the most interesting songs until "Ceux Qui Perirent Jadis" which somehow sinks its wintry claws into my ears and I find myself somehow maintaining a sense of fondness for the track. It keeps me engaged for some reason, the buzzing guitars adding a sense of being-chased-by-bees-that-don't-want-to-help-you kind of way.

As much as I found myself not bored senseless with the previous track, I laughed outright at the beginning of "Total Volkermord" which is, in my opinion, one of the funniest tracks I have ever heard. It almost tops Countess' Blood On My Lips. Almost. If retarded circus clowns got incredibly hammered on the cheapest and foulest beer available and attempted to make black metal it might begin to resemble the keyboard part in this song. The comedic and humorous cadence takes the cake for worst attempt at 'spooky atmosphere' that there ever was. The vomiting forth of lower, bassy vocals halfway through is a tedious attempt to save an album that has already drowned. Like a gay lifeguard trying to resuscitate a random male swimmer who drowned last year and was already buried. Just... don't listen to this.

Aceium - Wicked Metal

Heavy Metal and Canada are not two words we would usually associate with each other. Canada gave us nothing but Eskimos, Rush and Voivod. Though I wouldn't be so daring as to add Aceium's name to that list (who the hell is Aceium anyway?) this is a competent demo with some excellent, play-worthy songs. Wicked Metal is very much typical early 80's metal. The album falls into the category of "albums to play in the background when friends are over." This is one of my main problems with the album though - there are spans of minutes when nothing at all interesting happens and my mind begins to wander, towards the beer I am drinking, the porn I am watching or what I would like to put on the sandwich I am making.

Anyway... for a demo in 1982, this is well recorded and well produced. The guitars could bite a bit harder, the bass could be less passive, the drums could be more up front and the vocals could be less distant. The whole album has a "distant" feel to it. You know, that one where you feel like it was recorded in an empty hotel and the guitars were next door and the microphones were in the wrong room but the band was so loud that it cut through the walls. As the demo goes on, the severity of this distance becomes less apparent as your ears acclimate, like focusing on a friend on the other side of a class whispering to you the answers to that test you never studied for because you were too busy enjoying Saxon's full length.

The most stand out aspect of this bygone product is the guitar playing. There are leads scattered throughout the songs like gnats on a moist lawn bunching up and then floating to another part to irk you when you are trying to mow. They hit your ears and are stuck there and if you try and push your finger in they just get pushed further in and you need to run inside and get a q-tip to fish them out. The solos are like that. There will be one somewhere that will make you want to listen to it again just for the nostalgic feeling of a solo that was nothing more than a chance for the guitarist to "Let Loose." Major points to Mike Code for the guitar work on the album. Though his rhythms are a bit uninspired to these ears, those solos...

The rhythm section is quite ballsy though, as mentioned, the drums are very much in the background and at times very difficult to really latch on to. The perspective the listener is given to the drums is one of the main reasons for the whole "distant" feeling to the album. The reverb on the vocals as well adds to this. Though the drums are distant, Steven Lederman's percussive talents are very apparent. He pounds through the harder parts, throwing down some interesting and inspired fills such as in "Let Loose" and "Eyes of Pain" yet he displays expert reserve at the more mellowed sections. Richard Fulham's low end is the most recognizable instrument on the entire record. It is up front, distinguishable and of major importance in the structures and melody of the songs. He mainly plays straightforward bass parts however at the times he plays through his fills on the album, many of which seem to be improvisations at the moment of recording, he is on. Douglas Adam's vocals are competent but he is no Eric Adams as hard as he might try to be.

"Cold Steel" is a tough act to follow as an opener and "Let Loose" doesn't quite live up to the intensity of the harder, more varied, more interesting and catchy lead off track. The opening riff is awesomely and unfathomably metal to the point that someone should have already written it. Who knew that three notes could have such an effect? Sadly, most of the other rhythms fall short. "Let Loose" meanders on before becoming interesting. "Walking With Evil" is skippable, containing a few generic yet cool bass fills and a very rock 'n' roll solo while "No Peace" and "Eyes of Pain" comprise the second half of the offering's interesting tracks. "Wrong Place," though not a very good song, is worth the listen to just to hear. It seriously is the first surfing anthem / detective television show theme metal tune ever. "Satan's Laugh" is, well, laughable and can be compared to sitting down to dinner with your grandparents and waiting for them to ask you how school is and how is work going.

While not the greatest album to search for from this time period, Canada has once again given us something that maintains a certain kind of mediocrity that can be pleasing at moments and irritable at other times. As hard as this band tried to release something awesome, they fell a few feet short of the mark, possibly on concrete and possibly hurt themselves slightly which resulted in them running home to have their mother's patch up their cuts and scrapes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Black Anvil - Time Insults The Mind

Black Anvil are a black metal band comprised of the members of New York Hardcore outfit Kill Your Idols who are also involved in several other hardcore bands. Black Anvil's take on black metal falls somewhere between competent and average, though I find the whole idea of three hardcore guys playing black metal insincere at the best and provoked by ulterior motives at the worst. The musicianship is definitely there and the tone pounds sufficiently but the riffs sound less like black metal and more akin to groovy thrash with black metal vocals plastered on a hardcore template with copious amounts of tape and glue desperately trying to hold the whole thing in place. "Time Insults The Mind" is a prime example that talented musicians can accomplish playing a particular style and make it sound good but still fall short in regards to accountability.

The album opens with "Margin for Terror" which, reasonably demonstrates what the album has to offer. It trudges on through some typical riffs similar to what the next Primordial album will sound like if Alan and the boys have lost their will to be creative and run out of ideas. Paul Delany's vocals sound exactly like Jeff Walker's vocals on Heartwork. I wouldn't be driving all over the road to say that there is potent Heartwork / Swansong influence at times, notable the second half of disjointed third track "Deathsomnia." The long pause mid track before the second half of the track could be occupied with something to blend the two segments together. "Ten Talons Deep" begins with some excellent usage of subtle melody and dynamics though falls into a post-black styled verse and chorus with a somewhat upbeat and enticing melody.

Gary Bennet's guitar is right up front and crisp with some fuzz and grit. Paul's bass throughout the album is, thankfully, prevalent however it sounds a bit too clean, like a bum after a shower. It has weight but only enough to balance the see-saw in the park with the neighborhood fat girl on the other end. The bass is used to great effect though and complements the guitars without doing any drastic progressive wanderings or spacey shit. Good for Paul. Trudging along with a disregard for those looking for the next technical masterpiece. He does his thing and does it well.

The second half of the rhythm section is where I find the album lacking. Raeph Glicken is tight and varied even though he sounds like the guy who was dragged into the project and got bored halfway. "On This Day Death" is a prime example of his lackluster emotion. He does little interesting except the toy monkey-like cymbal play a quarter through the song before the slower, droning section with screams in the background that sound like a school bus of children frightened by the spiders in the arachnid exhibit at the city zoo. The screams sound like they are behind glass or deep down in a dank well. Nice touch.

The second half of the album is where the interesting songs are. "And You Thought You Knew Pain" contains the quality riffs on the album. 777 contains the weird lead section of the album though the lack of balls in the bass is most noticeable during this section. Still, the arpeggiated lead is interesting and unique enough to support the fragment. The albums shortest song, "L.T.H.L.T.K" has the most irritable opening riff, sounding downright silly. Dethroned Emperor sounds like mediocre doom.

Overall, the album is consistently mediocre, providing little if any remarkable content. Though the ideas do present themselves and the riffs are at times noddable, not once is the music engaging enough to warrant multiple listens or to necessitate added listening in the car.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Forcefed Trauma - Enslaved In Hatred EP

It's like putting whip-cream topping on your hot chocolate, only the beverage has become cold and the whip cream has turned sour. Instead of enjoying a delicious, heart warming treat, you dump out the mug's contents into the sink and go find something more rewarding. Forcefed Trauma do the whole death metal with breakdowns gimmick competently but that's about as far as they get; they have the ingredients but they are too late, the genre has turned too cold to embrace them and their take on hardcore mixed with death metal is past its prime. Instead of taking the high road and incorporating some new ideas, some interesting bursts of experimentation or even a half-way decent guitar solo, they continuously rehash done to death groove beats and pull every cliche "listen to how many balls I wished I had" riff out of their collective asses.

While I can't knock the production on the album, it is extremely generic sounding. The guitars have a slight cardboard chug to them though for the most part they have a heaviness - roughly around 180 pounds, and the bass, when left alone lacks power but has grit, yet when mixed in the music, it lacks grit yet contains some semblance of presence. The drums sound natural though I can't stand the snare-sounding-like-a-high-pitched-tom tone. I dare say there is emotion in the drumming; drummer Jim sounds half asleep at a pot-party. I guess if you like shit like God Forbid you might find it heavy though its a kind of pseudo heaviness - the heaviness lies not in the music but in what could be considered, maybe, and only for a flutter of a heartbeat, decent production.

Michel Foucault said that "the use of concepts of discontinuity, rupture, threshold, limit, series and transformation present all historical analysis not only with questions of procedure, but with theoretical problems." While I am oblivious to what Foucault is talking about, it sounds more interesting that any of the lyrics presented on the album. The band seemingly try to maintain a sense of "seriousness" and, possibly even, "intelligence" to the lyrics, though they all come off sounding like hollow tough guy, heard it from an angry hippie in the park one night, dung. I find it ironic that the lyrical themes of "fighting trends" and "rising up" in the lyrics really fall flat due to the entirely trendy nature of the music presented.

On a second listen, I had begun to doze off during the second song "Blinded By Greed," and was woken up by what I thought was George W. Bush giving a speech. It was only the sample beginning track three and I fell asleep again after the song started.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Black Sabbath - The Black Sabbath Story: Vol I 1970-1978

Of all the Black Sabbath material I have seen, heard, or experienced in my lifetime of experiencing Black Sabbath videos, cds, clips, etc. this video has to be my favorite. I prefer the Dio years to the Ozzy years, but the reason why I love this video so much is due to the attention given to Bill Ward and Geezer Butler - Geezer in the interviews, and Bill Ward in the video clips and segments. You can really get a feel for both of their playing and for their immense musical prowess (as if that was ever an issue). In short, this video exemplifies the two members of the band that, in my opinion get the smallest amount of attention yet deserve the greatest amount of attention.

There is some truly golden footage here. The conceptual video for "Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath" is hilarious due to Ozzy's facial expressing during cutaway segments of the video. Also, Ozzy's dancing in War Pigs is also worth seeing for the laugh but as comedic as the videos are, it is important to remember that this video is as much of a sociological and historical account of the early Sabbath years and the culture at that time as it is a documentation of Sabbath's early material. I do laugh at times at the video, its hard not to sometimes with Ozzy's stage clothing seemingly borrowed from the nearest hippy-cowboy store - at times I wouldn't be surprised to see Geezer or Iommi or Ozzy riding a tie-die pony onto stage - though the magnitude of each song presented always makes me stifle my laughter and bow down to such masterful progenitors.

Amongst the classic footage of War Pigs and the unbelievably classic footage of Paranoid are videos of Bill Ward singing solo accompanied by Geezer Butler on bass (It's Alright) and a decisively rock and roll song way different from what we are normally used to hearing from the Birmingham godfathers (Rock N Roll Doctor). These two songs reveal a much more expansive and varied ability on the part of Black Sabbath. Though Iommi has always had a certain talent for the blues - most evident on the debut - Rock N Roll Doctor shows him in top form years later.

The quality of the videos is excellent. The sound quality on each song is strong. None of the videos are bootleg recordings or difficult to hear. "Children of the Grave" gets my vote for poorest quality though the footage is incredible. A sea of fans, elated to see the band shot from the back of the stage above the drums occupies a large portion of the video though my favorite shot is of Ozzy removing his tasseled shirt and throwing it into the audience - it makes me wonder if that shirt still exists somewhere, a fragment of musical history lost to the years.

Between each of the ten tracks are interviews with Iommi and Butler which provide context and anecdotes for the songs, moments in time, and Black Sabbath story. These interviews show both men in as professionals artists and, most importantly, simple good friends.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Andromeda - Chimera

Andromeda's third attempt at being a progressive band fails about as hard as Mickey Mouse in a knife fight with Jack The Ripper and Minnie Mouse in a rape scenario with the Boston Strangler. Instead of being a progressive band with a set of worthwhile songs ready to spread like the next sexually transmitted disease from your local college, Andromeda, content with leaving their only truly worthwhile release, Extension of the Wish, working double time without overtime pay, seemingly have felt safe releasing the next album to hailed by fans of musicians pretending to be the next breakout progressive metal band. The lack of balls in the album's tone, seemingly exchanged for a Fabergé egg production with a focus on NASA level precision and clinicality and slip-n-slide slickness, holds much of the album back - especially the good parts (there are no great parts) - This bland tone has inclined me to be more comfortable with categorizing Chimera as a prog-rock album instead of a progressive metal album. Yes, in Andromeda's search for the sky, NASA production has screwed them over.

David Fremberg and Martin Hedin, I'm convinced, ruin everything they touch. David Fremberg's would feel comfortable in a airy white button down shirt that cost too much dancing gaily with Martin Hedin belting out slightly more technically proficient Backstreet Boy tunes. I loved Andromeda when I heard the pre-Fremberg (Fremberg?) version of Extension of The Wish - Mackrory was nowhere near as talented a vocalist as David however when he unleashes in The Words Unspoken, I am hooked for some reason.

Sadly, Johan Reinholdz has really held back on the recent releases. You can tell I am a die hard fan of Extension of the Wish. Chimera is the perfect example as to Reinholdz's recent impetus to "focus on the song." The main problem with this line of thought is that, I never cared about how convincing the 'song' in Andromeda was... I just wanted to hear Johan unleash guitar leads blistering enough to compel Petrucci to suck his thumbs and Herman Li to desperately search for his diapers and pacifier. On the whole album, Only near the halfway mark of "Blink of an Eye" do you really get a taste at what Johan can do with his instrument. While prog-heads would sit in amazement at the density of the lyrical prowess and well defined (yet to my ears fairly straightforward) compositional structure, I find myself wishing I was listening to the energetic and decisively metal attack of the debut and, I must admit, moments of II=I.

Going Under is a perfect example of why this album bothers me - Bombastic keyboard / guitar lead transforming into an anti-climatic, boring and nu-metal sounding (uckk) verse. The song picks up whenever Johan is playing but he constantly takes a backseat to the rest of the less interesting instruments. Granted, Fabian Gustavsson's bass playing is impeccable and excellently performed throughout the album and Thomas Lejon maintains an excellent presence behind his Sabians and Pearls but the song falls flat on it's face, like much of the rest of the album, in terms of excitability. Throughout the album, I feel less like I am listening to the band who released a seminal album in modern progressive metal and instead, more like I am listening to every Dream Theater fan's wet dream.

But it can't be all band right? I mean, aside from some of the horrendous vocals on "The Cage Of Me," I find the track momentarily charming in a cute girl walking past me "Yeah, thats nice," kind of way. Though, Before the song is halfway done I'm running full speed to a Wendy's, searching for the beef. Opener, "Periscope," also contains one of the album's highlights. While not as intense, or memorable (I swear I've heard it before), or even catchy as the worst riffs on "Extension," the main riff is worthy of mention as one of the high points on the album and the chorus in "Periscope," a song which, I must mention, also gets my vote as worst titled song since Disemboweled's awkwardly titled "Sperms Flowing From Nun's Vagina" and until Necropedophilia's 2006 track "Grandpa Gave Me A Japanese Vaginal Expander For X-mas," actually retains some replay value - one of the only parts of this album worth listening to maybe twice. Maybe.

Bottom line - you've heard it all before - the clean guitar interludes, the underlying keyboard, the intricate guitar lines, the competent rhythm section doing everything right but nothing wrong, the production, the song content and lyrical direction, melodies and even the vocals. Its all better found in other bands doing more interesting things better - Time Requiem for one. I wouldn't call the album stale - it's edible. Chimera is that lunch you ate every single day of the year when you were in seventh grade and your school only served one meal which had just enough taste to create the saliva to get it down, but still tasted about as vivid as the cardboard you were dared to eat by your friends.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gridlink - Amber Gray

Imagine, if you will, yourself sitting in your room enjoying a book when the neighbor's dog begins barking. You try to drown out the dog's barking with the most abrasive grind you can get your hands on. Instead of overpowering the dog's barks however, the dog is killed by the blasts and speedy riffs, your book is thrown across the room in a fit of rage and instead of enjoying a pleasurable night sitting in your favorite chair diving into an abused piece of fiction, you throw on your stompin' boots and run down the neighborhood crushing small animals skulls while indulging in a Popsicle that, by some miracle, happened to be laying in the gutter. Its kind of like that - a midnight, fit of rage erupting out of nowhere.

Jon Chang's vocals are ear piercing and constant from the moment this eleven minute album - a full length according to the band but eleven minutes? Seriously? - begins. Amber Gray, the title track barely starts before second track 3 Miles Below Sea Level begins. Both sound relatively similar with the same basic idea coursing through both - speed, blasts, screaming scratchy death, etc. Matsubara is an exceptionally speedy guitarist - his right hand moving at pick melting speeds and his left, creating a tornadic blur on the neck. Though he can play, I find the short song lack a hook.

Something must be said of Brian Fajardo's drumming. I'm not entirely sure where he can possibly pull the energy to move and blast at speeds this fast. He does stir up some incredibly technical and impressive fills at near - blackout inducing speeds. Okada conjures up some excellent bass fills... hypothetically speaking. I can barely hear him at all though I will use my imagination and claim that he is not playing jazz fusion. The moments when he is audible - notably the beginning of "Stake Knife," also the most memorably song on the album for me - he impresses. Some extra low-end would do a lot to increase what I would deem a "thin" overall tone with emphasis on the highs and mids. A note on this song, as the central portion of the song - thirty / forty seconds in - shows some interesting composition work.

Not something I would find myself listening to over and over again, but there is a slight bit of charm in this blistering rocket ride into oblivion. The lack of any noticeable tempo variation and only minor song variety and vocal variation leave me feeling as though this is an incomplete piece of grind. Luckily, this doesn't fall into the same ditch as most modern grindcore. Heavy on the grind, no core. Lots of noise and harsh abrasive vocal destruction.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

News 10-03-08

Lethal Strike

All recording is finished for the Lethal Strike demo. The mixing phase has begun. Shouldn't be long now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Carnivorous Vagina - Istinto Omicida

If you like death metal thats technical, brutal and coherent then this album is probably not for you since it has none of these characteristics. In fact, this album is probably the exact opposite of any of those things. First let me say that I'm guessing this band is attempting to be some kind of Gore-Grind / Death Metal hybrid. If your wondering what brings me to that assumption let me explain. The "band"'s name is Carnivorous Vagina and they have songs with such titles as "Hatchet Punishment", "Infanticidio" and the aptly titled "Worms." Its quite possible that they somehow found a broken Mortician album that skipped or was broken directly in half and through some hellish bit of bad luck on the listener's part still worked when Dr. Morbus first started learning how to play what could possibly be considered a musical instrument. Now, don't take that as meaning that this band sounds like a horrible Mortician clone. In fact this band sounds nothing like Mortician. In fact the only reason I used that analogy was because every track sounds like a single three second chunk of music that they looped over and over and therefor sounds like a skipping CD. I'm guessing that the band was hoping that this music would eventually kill the listener due to its horrible-ness and then be spread across the world as being the first album to immediately kill those who listened to it. Not because it was so utterly brutal but because it sounded so utterly bad.

I'm going to first skip directly to the production. Though I've heard worse production, I've never heard a production sound that sounded as if the microphone was placed inside a man's ass and recorded from the inside of his stomach. The overall distortion sound is something between a yeti hypophenating and Micheal Moore having a orgy with the fattest human and non-human women possible. The bass is akin to Neanderthal love grunts and the vocals, when audible, are much of the same. The drums are quite strange. They are programmed first of all but what immediately sets them apart from any other recorded drums is that they must have been recorded in an airplane hanger; the drums positions in one corner and the drum mics in the other corner as far away as possible. The drums are so distant that you have to strain to hear them. Of all the instruments however the drums are possibly the best part of all of the horrible parts that were pulled together to comprise this disgraceful piece of music. I use the term 'music' lightly.

The Songs are quite short with each averaging maybe two and a half minutes. There is however one five minute song. In short there are no "epic" songs on this album. If there were, theres a good chance that particular song would actually suck time out of the universe and we would never gain it back. Let me give you a run through of the tracks. "Buried / Undead", "Abomination", League Of Evil", "Captured", "Hell Massacre", "Zombi Ritual" (Not to be confused with Death's Zombie Ritual which far surpasses anything that this band could ever excrete), "Tortured", "Bloodbath", "Slip In Bloodshroud", "Ravish", "Deathouse", "Circle Of The Damned" and "Primitive Ravage" could all be the same track for lack of anything remotely different about them besides the horrific spoken segments before each. The Intro track, "Worms", and "Infanticidio" are all what I would call noise tracks and comprised of nothing but random noises and slight bits of melody... possibly. The only two songs that actually stuck out in any way were Hatchet Punishment which employed some interesting snare rythyms (I think it was a snare drum but it may have been a human butcherer banging on steel pipes with a cleaver) which i actually did hear over all the Moore orgying and through the stomach of the unlucky mic-stand, and the title track which was another noise track but was not actually nearly as bad as anything else on this record.

Warning! This is the utmost worst sounding noise ever recorded. In all I sincerely hope that they did not make too many of these. To be perfectly honest with you, there is not enough room on earth for more than one copy of this album. I would have preferred to pay three dollars for a rock of the same size than this album. The PMRC should make a new rating to place on this album and label it H. H for the following words: Hellish, Horrible, Heinous, Horrendous, Hideous, Horrid, and also Hairy - hairy just for kicks though I guess you can also say that the album sounds hairy in some places. I may not be the greatest music critic however I have heard enough music to know that music is not supposed to sound like the inside of a garbage truck. This album is evil. Not because its meant to be or sound evil but because anything this horrible has to be evil. I once heard someone die. This album was the cause. Actually in the song "Bloodbath" you can hear the people in the recording studio dying. Its around one minute and fifteen seconds into the song. If your feeling the need to listen to music that is nothing but sheer crap or looking for a unique way to commit suicide this is your album.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mefisto - The Puzzle

Sometimes, I wish that the intro to Mefisto's "The Puzzle" would last for the length of a drive across the emptiness of Monument Valley's roads and highways, erupting into the chaotic extremity of it's bulk only while finally reaching the wasteland I had been searching. I could imagine opening the trunk of my rusting used vehicle and grabbing the shovel I had purchased shortly after I had murdered the random prostitute on the side of the road and burying her dismembered and beaten corpse deep in the dry earth beneath the shadows of the buttes.

There is clearly something special residing in the the first track of this demo - a somber memory of a time when everything was simple. The eruption of distortion is welcome however and "Hunting High, Die" is a fitting opening to the album. Without mentioning the excellent melodic base tormenting the underlying structure, Omar Ahmed rips through some excellently executed leads and solo material, proving himself an expert with the bar. Sandro Cajander's bass playing is appreciatively audible and well played as well. While he fails to do anything of major merit bass-wise, his vocals are another beast entirely. As close to black metal as anything you would hear in the mid 80's. Venom have clearly been an influence on his voracious appetite for his snarling nasty vocal approach.

Although a minute into the demo's title track I detect a slight change in tone, it is roughly at the same time I recognize that I've never heard a snare sound like the punch effect from a cheap action movie before. It might just be me though it has a distinctive "ka-pow." This is even more noticeable on fourth track Underground Circus. Returning to title track, The Puzzle, the exceptional solo section escapes being just a tad too long due only to its varied and building internal structure. The riff beneath it is simple and rather stale. A mediocre effort during this length would prove destructive to the song. The more melodic and melancholy harmony section closer towards the end of the track is welcomed however, providing a more interesting underlying structure - more depth of melody and rhythmic variation.

Another beautiful acoustic introduction into Os Liberty cements Ahmed's position as a criminally underrated and unknown yet incredibly talented guitar player. He flawlessly skims through what could be one of the finest and most mature moments on this demo. His ear for harmonious disharmony once the lead kicks in is just another bullet on his resume of guitar tricks. Roberto "Thord" Gornath's drumming stands out on this track. He displays an ear for dynamics and percussion composition. Sandro's bass playing is my only gripe on this track, as I feel he has ultimately taken the easy way out of the song, playing what is expected and not providing anything exciting to the four minute instrumental.

Underground Circus, the final track is a long, eight minute attempt at something epic though I feel it fails halfway there. I get the instinctual notion that it would work better as two shorter songs though Neither half have the riffs to be good enough for a song each. This is the one track I don't think works on the demo. Yes, it shows the band can play but it isn't as in your face, attacking, and effective as the previous three tracks. It suffers from sub par writing on my part with little direction. It has moments of inspiration but they fizzle shortly after.

Eliminator - Breaking The Wheel Released!

Get it at Suffering Jesus Records.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

News: Sept 2008

Lethal Strike:

Everything except vocals are done. Shouldn't be long now.


A little note about images that are not available at the moment, those images are linked from the Metal Archives website and therefore when Metal Archives is having issues with their image database the images will not show here. Upon the resolution of the database problems, the images will become available again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Human Remains - Using Sickness As A Hero

Circus sideshows, industrial ventilation fans and a whole heaping load of mad-scientist-experimentation gone terribly wrong, "Using Sickness As A Hero" is seemingly influenced by random objects and, in the case of Paul Miller's vocal approach, Patric Mamali and John Tardy's lovechild. Ultimately seven songs of recklessly composed fragmented riff ideas and bizarre transitions that never develop fully.

Sludgy guitar tones and a penchant for bending virtually a note in every riff, clearly Jim Baglino and Steve Procopio were moving towards a goal of shunning any notion of pretentiousness or virtuosity. Dave Witte shines amidst guitar sludge and Teddy Patterson's furry bass. It seems Dave had the opportunity to basically use any part of his kit and his playing is in stark contrast to his drumming in Municipal Waste.

"Swollen," starts the album for me. Yeah, its the fifth song but its the first one that actually made me curious. It's the first song on the EP that actually made me want to hear the rest of the song. I can't say that I enjoyed where the song went - ultimately the song dissolved into a platter of out of place riffs all connected with those aforementioned transitions. "Human" contains Pikmin voices in the intro and a bass so fuzzy that Jame's peach was jealous. "Rote's" initial genetic make-up is equally awash in guitar widdles, like scraping the strings with a paper clip at varying speeds.

A massive amount of consideration was put into the last track on this EP. "Beyond Human Perception," if my copy serves me correctly, is, ultimately thirty nine seconds of silence. You be the judge on that attempt at musical philosophy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Metal Inquisitor - Doomsday For The Heretic

While Metal Inquisitor is certainly their own band with a certain classic style, I believe it isn't outlandish or without (crystal) logic to say that Doomsday for the Heretic can best be described as a more thrashed and, definitely far more British (shhhh... I know they are German), version of a band that rhymes with "vanilla code" and comes from Kansas. El Rojo's vocal style is definitely reminiscent of Mark Sheltons with a healthy dose of Saxon's Peter Byford's own, anthemic style mixed in.

The tone suits everything that this album is about. The guitars are edgy with lots of treble and mid range, allowing the bass to really fill up the low end audibly. The drums are basic in sounds and in technique. Don't expect blast beats, crazy fast double bass or a four minute long drum solo halfway through the third track.

A lot of the band's sound is a clever reworking of other influential acts. The short acoustic intro immediately reminded me of the intro to Fight Fire With Fire though with a more romantic-era underpinning than Metallica could ever muster although Restricted Agony sounds like a less interesting throw-away song from Kill Em All right down to the Seek and Destroyish "ALRIGHT!." Vocally this one sounds much more like Bobby Blitz on Taking Over than Shelton or Peter Byford leading me to believe that El Rojo seems to still be finding his own style.

Although Thane of Cowder's opening riff reminds me of "Losfer Words" and other parts remind me of the chorus in Blind Guardian's "Don't Break the Circle," I find that the this and the next two songs are the strongest part of this album. Star Chaser - though somewhat Priesty in its naming and even more Halfordesque in its possible connotations) is catchy and easily singable. El Rojo's voice becomes more distinct at times during these songs. Midnight Rider continues with the memorable riffs and Priestisms.

Throughout this album though there is no doubt about what era Metal Inquisitor wished they were in. The entire album reeks of forgotten high tops, patched denim and leather, and mullets. Hell, Metal Inquisitor make me wish I was around during the heyday of metal. The album's title track is one of the best fist pumping and air guitar playing tracks I've heard in a long time. The last song on the album is a CD only track (the LP has an LP only track) with a guitar tone that I would compare to AC/DC on The Razors Edge album.

Now, don't go thinking that this is a modern day, flawless representation of what 80's metal sounded like because this album has its flaws. Infamia is the "epic" twin guitar dueling track on the album and yet, for its memorable melody falls short due to a haphazard structure which rears its ugly form most noticeably in the guitar lead section which, though interesting at first, ends rather sloppily with an awkward transition back into the main song section. Legion of Grey, though the shortest track suffers from the inclusion of a strange instrumental section and Logan's Run has some excellent sections though it could use some lead riff boostage. It has a great chorus and a great solo section but is thin otherwise. The inclusion of a sample mid song doesn't do much for me either.


Edit 2012: This album has become one of my absolute favorite albums and in hindsight this review is not accurate. This album is as close as we've gotten to a modern day classic in most regards. GET THIS AND BUY IT TONIGHT!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Beast - Power Metal EP (1983)

The Beast's Power Metal EP, their first recording, epitomizes the energy and passion of punk infused metal. While I would never say that The Beast are entirely a metal band, I would neither say they are entirely a punk band. For me, they reside as both, maintaining the best qualities of each; the simplicity and edge of punk and the raw power and attitude of metal. Songs like Enemy Ace and The Shape - which also appeared on the Born To Metalize split (I may upload the track from this split as well for a comparison for anyone interested) - are expertly crafted classics with all the necessary qualities needed to be perfect examples of the hybridization of the two base genres.

One of my favorite aspects of this release is the moment you first hear Scott Ruth's vocals. They cut, like glass against the sole of your bare foot or against the wrist of a suicidal drug addict. Neglecting the fact that I prefer a more traditional vocal approach, Scott's vocals are miles ahead of his Ripping Corpse vocals. Its also refreshing to hear how important the bass is in the recording. It really ties so much together. Without Jeff Gross, this EP would really deteriorate into an unpleasant and amateurish quagmire. Even with such excellent drumming on the part of Doug Ryan and wild, yet reserved, guitar playing on the parts of Jack Pitzer and Ron Ace, Jeff Gross' bass playing is vital.

Opener "The Beast" forces you straight into the release, no release, no bullshit. No, epic elongated and abstract intro with mood setting purposes. Hell, there is no mood here. No attempt at pretentiousness. While "Radical Man" passes me by, almost always completely disregarded, "Enemy Ace" demands my attention. From the opening chug, to the growing intensity up to the awesome lead before the verse, Ruth's vocals ooze tension, especially during the masterful middle section. As well as having the greatest example of perfectly panned guitar effects, the section is fierce. Aggressive vocals, perfect return to the introductory riff which, once again, builds up to a memorable solo... and the Sabbathly intro of The Shape. While another great tune, with little to complain about, The Shape on this EP is nowhere near as metallic sounding as on the Born To Metalize split.

For a release that runs the same length it takes to listen to Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner once, you are given a heaping quality of material. Hell, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose "Power Metal" over the classic Maiden track.

The Beast - Power Metal EP (1983)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bloodbath - Unblessing The Purity

Bloodbath have unleashed upon our virgin ears a deadly force composed of rotting remains and reanimated souls. There is no doubt in my mind that this is what modern death metal is meant to sound like - crushing, relentless and yet blessed with embalming melodies. Relentlessly Swedish in every way, Unblessing the Purity is demanding of attention. Demanding those who claim death metal has no new gold to pan retract their statements and grab their pick-axes.

The combination of Anders Nystrom and Per Eriksson is awesome. They manage to create some brilliant harmonies and riffs. The album would have benefited from a slightly dirtier, rawer guitar sound however and at times, I am wondering if the Katatonia relation has had an impact on the choice of guitar tone. Martin's drumming is tight and expertly played though, as I normally feel of his work ultimately un-noteworthy. Jonas Renske is soon becoming one of my personal favorite bass players. His rich tone on this album really helps dirty up moments that would sound tame and possibly empty (bass section in Sick Salvation).

Blasting The Virginborn reminds me of Grave mixed with Iniquity-esque tricks and treats. The ghoulish and haunting intermission is somehow more deadly than the fierce main riff. While the main riff leaves a single bullet in your skull, the subtlety of the slow, drowning interlude is more akin to being slowly crippled with disease. Eaten by maggots, you watch your own limbs fester and fall away. Weak Aside is torturous. Hidden amongst the rich tones are staccato bursts of shrapnel. Akerfeldt's vocals leave me wondering why he doesn't do Bloodbath full time instead of Opeth. He is clearly having a good time cleaning out his esophagus and sounds refreshed.

Sick Salvation blasts as well, though it has one condemnation - that being the inclusion of what I would consider a novelty transition halfway into the song. It seems like Bloodbath took the easy way across that particular moment. I would have like to hear something more in line with their abilities. The wicked solos and leads constituting the ending of the track work double time afterwards though. I think that my displeasure for the transition comes from a general annoyance on my part of each song having some segment of a slower melodic moment. Neither of the four songs really crush on straight through. Luckily for Bloodbath, these segments are not ill received as they are expertly written and consistently fluid however that small irksome quality is, nevertheless, there.

Mouth of Empty Praise seals the coffin for me. It may be my love of twisted rhythms in death metal but this song has some twisted fucking shit - like an evacuating centrifugal test-subject forgotten in his cage, gravitational forces crushing his internal structures. The empty chanting and fly buzzing closing the album is one of the more unique outro's an album has divulged in my listening years. I appreciate the mood setting of the outro and find it suits the song as well as the album.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grand Magus - Monument

Grand Magus have been a band that has sought me out and crushed me last year with the release of Wolf's Return. Being my first foray into the music of this Swedish trio, after one listen I was hooked. The power they produce as well as the shear lack of pretentiousness their attack is constructed of is a welcome change to mass of bands that are trying to use Albert Einstein -like equations to write riffs that are then compressed into a dizzying blur of four hundred notes in the span of four seconds. Thats a note every hundredth of a second. Though I enjoy bands such as Decapitated and Necrophagist (Intestinal Incubation is brilliant) and all their ilk, its a blessing to hear the other end of spectrum. Wolf's Return, with brilliant songs like the title track, Blood Oath and Nine along with the opener Kingslayer and second to last track Light Hater makes this album not only an enjoyable listening experience, but as far as I'm concerned, an album that blows away mostly everything else that was put out last year (2005).

The album that Grand Magus released previously is, much like its follow-up, a brilliant boulder of doom that, when unleashed from its position, rumbles onward crushing anything in its path.

To start, the tone of this album is beautiful. Every instrument is mixed perfectly. Fox's bass shakes landscapes. Janne's guitar rips through the air like lightning spreading charged riffs all over the space with Trisse's drums pulling the entire package together. Janne's vocals are, without a doubt, some of the best in metal. Band's would be hard pressed to find someone with as much versatility as he has in range and effect. In some ways, he reminds me of a more metalized Chris Cornell. What I really like about his vocals are that words are easily distinguishable but still heavy as a beached whale. The mixing of all these elements is spectacular, nothing overwhelms anything else with the bass and guitar sounding almost like one instrument. Though I would have liked to see some of the solos a little higher in the mix, this doesn't impede on anything and they still stand out memorably.

With seven songs clocking in at forty three minutes, the album is neither too long nor too short. If Grand Magus could write an album which started in April then ended in July, I don't think I would turn it off except when I slept and only so I can press play when I wake up without missing anything. Regardless, for mere mortals, forty three minutes is a fine album length. The first song, is Ulvaskull which, though I don't speak Swedish, I would guess means "First of Seven Destroyers." Song two, Summer Solstice is a mid-tempo rocker worthy of much head banging and boozing. Brotherhood Of Sleep and Baptized In Fire continue in this style continuing to employ the wizardry of the mid-tempo-groove-masters. Chooser of the Slain, with its sick intro and bridge riff, iron-like verse and archaic atmosphere is a mid-album masterpeice. The fastest track - though still barely topping a residential speed limit - Food Of The Gods mercifully leaves us unscathed however doom-struck in a "wow, that was faster" sort of way, after an album of slower doomsterpeieces. The last track is the album "epic." Clocking in at ten and a half minutes, He Who Seeks... Shall Find erupts like Hawaii's constantly-slow flowing yet unfaltering volcanoes after a minute of drone. Half-way this drone picks up again, alone with a well placed bass solo from Fox. Though a hell of a track, a faster track may have been a more suitable closing track however, this track better represents the band's style and, though by far a mid paced album at most, selective sections of speed burst forth at places to up the tempo and also hint at the band's next, faster, album.

In all, this is a great album for any doom lover and even for those who have yet to take a dive into the sub-genre. Though I'm not going to go into depth about their lyrics, I will say that lyrically, this band also exceeds the vast majority of bands. Lyrically, they destroy whole swaths of the metal-genre. Incredibly reflective, personal and yet also socially conscious lyrics - much like Wolf's Return. For me, this album, more-so entire band, are making me yet another doom-aholic. Their blend of doom, groove, and tone is a truly powerful sound, unconquerable and beautiful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage

Unlike "Valley of the Damned" which boasted excellent songwriting and a pure power metal foundation, "Inhuman Rampage" has rendered Dragonforce's excellent debut sheer luck. The problem with "Inhuman Rampage" is the myriad and unnecessary studio effects, and gimmicky tricks. Almost every song has a section that makes little if any sense in the grand scheme of the song. For instance, opening track and, thanks to Guitar Hero, every wide eyed guitar-hero fan's favorite song, could have been on par with a song such as Disciples of Babylon yet amidst all the excellent material exists a ton of needless crap. Both the beginning and end of the song are awful- beginning due to what is clearly studio created drum-placement and the end is longer than the closing to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Revolution Deathsquad, the following song, starts out with what sounds like a spaceship flying overhead and sprinkling fairy dust upon the world. Between each fragment and riff there is a multitude of guitar squeals and frills. Totally neglecting the fact that at two points ZP sounds like Cher, his vocals sound forced and even though he does do a second rate version of Tobias Sammet (Edguy) he doesn't seem to portray an ounce of fun such as he did on the debut album. The elongated solo section almost totally destroys the second half of the song but instead of relying entirely on wankery, they instead opt for the most un-metal of song destroyers - the Cher voice - again. The riff three minutes and change into the song (shortly after the first Cherism) flows awkwardly and showcases nothing but that Li and Totman can write a groove riff.

Storming The Burning Fields and Body Breakdown are totally forgettable. Probably because they are composed of the same terrible Ideas. Body Breakdown does sport some really questionable verse composition with random keyboard effects and singing that would make George Michael stand at attention. I am still concerned whether the guitar noodles that exist in these songs are pure unadulterated "studio dares." I can imagine Totman and Li sitting together in the studio - possibly in each other's laps - and Herman daring Totman to make a noise that sounds like an alien spaceship decorated by the Queer Eye guy flying into space. Also, I dont think that bassist Frédéric Leclercq is giving enough space to play. I would claim he is wasting his obvious talent being hidden behind the obvious guitar duo's need for spotlight.

Mentioning the other songs is really not too necessary. Operation Ground and Pound is long... too long. Although it would have the album's best intro if there were no keyboards, it becomes more of the same when the song starts - long drawn out solos and noodling. And what the hell is that slow, low chug riff with the keyboard solo? Cry For Eternity is also too long. Also, repetitive. A lot of the same melodies and harmonies, just not a lot of stand out moments for me. I continue to feel, throughout this album that the most memorable moments are the moments that are really not even part of the song. The Pac Man noise, the slap bass section... etc. Thats not a good thing. The Flame of Youth is simply the topping on the cake. It sounds like every other song, every other section, constant whammy-pinch harmonic experimentation, more alien saucer espionage. The placement of Trail of Broken Hearts is terrible. It should be in the middle to break up the tracks.

The album is very tiring to the ears. There is little variance in tempos, to much gimmicky effect noises and guitar lead work that in beneficial in no way. I'm left feeling that Dragonforce are now at a point in their career where they want to be known not as a good band but the band that is better than Dream Theater. I rarely say this, but Dream Theater is better. Dragonforce wont ever be better if they keep writing songs with little individuality and too much blatant masturbation.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Death - Human

Utterly pummeling. Subtly technical and simply brutal. Pure aggression, anger and beauty perfectly balanced in a precise unleashing of hatred towards society. Death's "Human" is one of the several albums that all death metal is measured against. It is a genre milestone, a glimpse into the future of death metal. It is the perfect blend of all that was death metal at the time - groove, brutality, and the imminent infusion of jazz elements with the genre's past thrash roots. It is an album that is as relevant today as when it came out almost sixteen years ago. For me, it is hard to be unbiased toward the album that introduced my once ignorant ears to death metal.

Thousands of words have been used to des
cribe this album. Thousands of hours have been spent listening to "Human" by fans all across the world. These fans have been drawn into the deep production, master songmanship, incredible musicianship and personality of each song. Listening to Human is an experience. Blasting songs like "Suicide Machine" and "Lack of Comprehension" is almost a spiritual awakening for many. The sheer impact of the music hitting you is enough to make you stop an allow the songs to absorb you and your attention. I once played "Lack of Comprehension" in a school class for a presentation and everyone simply sat and stared for three minutes, completely shocked. To them it was an eternity, for me, it was over too quickly.

As the drums fade into "Flattening of Emotions," you are completely unprepared for the sonic intensity of the guitar tone. I still get chills racing up and down m spine when that song erup
ts. It's like an orgasm of death metal fury - so powerful and close. One of the most powerful aspects of the album's tone is its depth. The guitars sound as if there are a million guitars playing simultaneously and hitting every note at the same time. Sadly, the bass is generally lacking and even the intro to "Lack of Comprehension," is a bit hard to decipher without close examination. Schuldiner's guitar tone is simply overpowering the bass. DiGiorgio should have been a bit more audible in the mix. Luckily the guitar tone that Chuck and Paul Masvidal discovered for this album is simply incredible. The tone is beautiful and fucking HEAVY. It is absolutely uncompromising.

This production supports one of the strongest song collections that any album has ever had. Ever. Eight songs, thirty-three minutes and fifty-seven seconds of perfection. The album neither lasts too long nor is is over too quick. It beats the crap out of you and then lets you get up only hoping for more abuse; more Death. "Flattening of Emotions" and "Suicide Machine" exists as a brutal opening combination only to be followed by "Together as One" and the intense "Secre
t Face." Hell, if that was all that was on this record, it would already be worth the price of a full length. Instead however, we get the lethal quartet of previously mentioned "Lack of Comprehension" and three closing tracks that fit perfectly onto the album yet hint at the future direction that death would take with its next three albums: Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic, and Sound of Perseverance. "See Through Dreams", "Cosmic Sea", and "Vacant Planets" are monumentally intense jazz/death hybrids with a hint of jazz more than the pure fusion of jazz and death metal that Pestilence (latter albums) and Atheist would become known for.
These songs are ultimately an extension of the musicians themselves, notably Schuldiner. Reinert's drumming is spectacular and compliments Schuldiner and Masvidal excellently. Guitar solos are superb, each one capturing the essence of the song and existing as separate memorable entities. These musicians and somewhat absent DiGiorgio - who we don't have to mention due to his undeniably incredibly talent - are masters of subtlety. The quick high pitched noises twenty-four seconds into "Suicide Machine," bassist DiGiorgio I believe, and the vocal effects used later on at the end of "See Through Dreams" are only two examples. The album's charming quality is found not in the music but in the musician's prowess at adding these minuscule yet personal touches to the music.

This album, "Human," is a piece of art that all must own. It is an example of metal, death metal and music at its very best. The effort and legacy of the musicians on human is unquestionable as is the strength and legacy of the release itself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

For Sale

I recently cleaned my room and I have discovered some stuff I no longer want. Mostly random tids and bits that were hidden underneath bits and tids but I figured instead of throwing them out, there might be someone out there who might want some of this stuff.

24 Disc Cd Rack: Holds, obviously 24 Cds. The interesting thing about this particular cd rack is that the cds lock in so they wont fall out and you push a button and they pop out for you to grab. It's kind of cool but I have no room for it and too many Cd's.
Portable Cd case: Car carrying case for CD's. Has a Zero Tolerance magazine sticker on it. Blue, good shape.
Hacride - Amoeba sticker
The Amenta Sticker
Metallica - No Leaf Clover T-shirt. Worn maybe once. Size XL. I'm a medium at best.
Edguy - Rocketride Mousepad

NP: The Beast - Power Metal - 3. Enemy Ace

Thursday, August 21, 2008

News: August 2008

Lethal Strike:

Some quick news about what has been going on around here lately. 95% of the guitars for the new Lethal Strike Demo are done. Bass was finished this morning so aside from some minor parts its all going along very nicely. Everything is sounding extremely thrashtastic. Sadly the release will not be ready for their show this weekend at B.B. Kings in NYC with Finntroll and Warbringer however it will be available shortly afterwards.


After three years (possibly more) there will be more Ascendant material out soon. Four songs are in the works: Three new songs and a properly recorded version of "The Masada Fortress" which originally was only available as a terribly quality live version which Mike recorded with a microphone next to his television speaker from a live DVD we did back in 2005. There is a possibility we will change names but I am still unsure of this. The whole release should be available sometime in either September or early October.


New material in the works at the moment.


I am looking for live videos of Primordial, Coroner or Opeth (Morningrise - era). If anyone has any of these available please contact me. I am open to trading for them. Also I may start uploading some rare demo's I have stocked away for everyone to listen since I don't want them going to waste. I have some stuff from Gangrena and Desolation Angels I do want to upload as well as some other bizarre material I acquired over a trip last summer to New York.

I'm contemplating writing a detailed walkthrough for Guardian's Crusade for PS1. I haven't played it in a while though it was such a fun and intriguing game. If all goes well and people enjoy it, I might proceed to do more games in the future. I figured that I would start with a simple game at first.

Other than that there isn't much to say. I will be doing more reviews and possibly interviews once the school semester starts. I will have a whole lot of time to do a whole lot of nothing and I figure that tossing more material online at warp speed (or slightly slower) is as good a method to waste time as anything else.