Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taking a break for finals

Hi guys/girls/whatever you wanna call yourself,

I will be taking a rest from reviewing until I have all of my school shit done. I get out of school June 15th and will actually be seeing Marduk and 1349 that same day!

I'm going to the Occupation Domination tour this Saturday that features Origin/Cattle Decapitation/Decrepit Birth/Aborted/Rings of Saturn/Battlecross

I will also be going to the Six Feet Under/Dying Fetus/Revocation show June 20th.
I just heard that there's this big summer tour that will be coming through my area in the first week of July that has Fear Factory, Cattle Decapitation, Revocation (I think), Havok, and a bunch of other bands (Cattle Decapitation and Havok are enough to make me well as Fear Factory.

If you have extremely limited internet access and/or you don't like to follow the bands you listen to, there are several bands that are either writing or will be soon releasing new albums *s mean I've either pre-ordered it already or I'm REALLY excited:

*Nile (brutal death) new album early July via Nuclear Blast
Metallica (thrash metal) in writing process
*Kreator (thrash metal) new album in early June via Nuclear Blast
Bonded by Blood (thrash metal) new album in July via Earache
*Ex Deo (melodic death) new album in late August...and I'm not sure what label because the Spirit of Metal page says Nuclear Blast but the official NB website has Ex Deo under the "former bands" list
*Dying Fetus (death grind) new album in mid June via Relapse (and it is AMAZING!!)
Sonata Arctica (power metal) new album in a week or so via Nuclear Blast
Nuclear Assault (thrash metal) new album in early June via High Rollers
*The Agonist (melodic death) new album in June via Century Media
*Miss May I (metalcore) new album in June via Rise
*Whitechapel (deathcore) new album in June via Metal Blade
Ihsahn (progressive black) new album late June via Mnemosyne
Chelsea Grin (deathcore) new EP late June via Artery
*Mnemic (metalcore) new album in June via Nuclear Blast
*Deathspell Omega (progressive black) new EP in June via Season of Mist
*Gojira (thrash death) new album late June via Roadrunner
*The Word Alive (screamo) new album in July via Fearless
Disentomb (brutal death) new album in the works to be released 2013 (I'm really looking forward to that!!)
Slayer (thrash metal) has been working on new materal...should have an EP out soon and possibly a new album sometime next year
Devin Townsend (pretty much everything) three new albums should be out by the end of this year
*Suffocation (brutal death) have a new album in the works

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Humanity

After seeing them live twice (the first of which introduced me to them) and listening to The Harvest Floor to the point of practically memorizing the entire album, Cattle Decapitation has become one of my favorite bands ever. Just by knowing that, you can probably guess my reaction when the band announced the future release of a new album PLUS a teaser of the album being one of the new songs. If you look at the ratings I gave each Cattle Decapitation album on Spirit of Metal, none of them are below average (average is 10/20), the lowest one being Human Jerky which was 14/20, which is VERY good for a goregrind album. Having started out as a goregrind band (Human Jerky and Homovore), Cattle Decapitation only caught the attention of the grindcore/goregrind crowd. After the release of Homovore, Cattle Decapitation became one of the biggest goregrind bands in the genre.

Something happened in the band that caused a shift in creative interests, which then saw the unexpected sound of their next album, To Serve Man. This album got Cattle Decapitation’s existence acknowledged by millions worldwide (note that I just said ACKNOWLEDGED, not LIKED). This album had more of a death grind sound than goregrind (or even grindcore for that matter). There are some death grind bands out there that put out a grindcore album before stepping into the death grind realms to make the transition smooth and easier for their audience to follow and keep up with. But Cattle Decapitation didn’t want to do that, they just went ahead and made the giant leap to skip over that step.

After that…well…they’ve just been throwing out one mind-blowing album after another; and they’re showing no signs of stopping. Skipping to 2009, The Harvest Floor gets released and album sales and concert attendance went up as high as a crackhead on the peak of Mt. Everest. The hype that the teaser for Monolith of Inhumanity created is nearly unspeakable. I’m seeing these guys on Saturday for the Occupation Domination tour and people are telling me that the people are going crazier for Cattle Decapitation than Aborted (the band right under the headliner, Origin). Here’s the quick summary of the new album: they’ve taken a step back to having more of a grind sound while managing to still be progressive. The big progressive sound of Karma Bloody Karma and The Harvest Floor is in what the guitars themselves were playing than the overall sound of the music, which was a very melodic and soft sound (especially evident in several parts of Gardeners of Eden from The Harvest Floor).

The first song that everyone heard from the new album was A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat. The sheer brutality and insanity that this song delivers is indescribable, yet there’s singing…wait…SINGING?? Where the hell did THAT come from?? Of all the bands that would incorporate singing in their extremely brutal music, Cattle Decapitation is one of the LAST bands I would have expected to do that. Here’s the thing about the singing that actually makes it an interesting and (as impossible as it may seem) unexpectedly FITTING element; it’s not your typical super clean and pure singing voice. The singing has an extremely unique sound that has a somewhat high-pitched rough sound (I’m having a really hard time describing it, so you should just listen to the teaser song.

That being the progression that they’ve made, Cattle Decapitation has worked to reanimate a lot of the brutality heard in albums like To Serve Man and The Harvest Floor along with some new insanity yet to be heard by the death grind fan (which could arguably be considered somewhat of a progressive element). Although I’m not going to pick specific favorites because the whole album is great, and those kinds of things form in my mind a couple of months to a year after listening to the album; I will say that the first track and A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat are the tracks that I’ve repeatedly gone back to the most.

Monolith of Inhumanity is yet another 20/20 album to add to the ol’ Cattle Decapitation discography. I would recommend this mainly to brutality and grind fans due to the increased amount in grindcore and brutal death elements that the record holds. Cattle Decapitation is showing no intentions of slowing down or decreasing in brutality or quality. My expectations for this album=surpassed.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Krypt - Preludes to Death

Krypt is part of the ever-thriving group of post-90s Norwegian black metal bands that include Sworn, Den Saakaldte, Sarke, and 1349. The thing about Krypt that sets them APART from this “cvlt” is the fact that they wind back the clocks and make an attempt at reanimating the old black metal sound heard in the early works of Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Mayhem, and Nargaroth. After listening to this album for almost two years now, I think it’s pretty safe to say they went above and beyond and created something new that brings listeners back to the early 1990s black metal scene. This one thing alone is enough to earn a bunch of credit from me; but that’s not the only quality this group holds.

Not only has Krypt proved their ability to have the “true” Norwegian black metal sound, they’ve expressed their ability to do so with the addition of modern metal “trends”. But then again, many of these little elements that they throw into their music have already been used by the EARLY black metal pioneers like Hellhammer and pre-1984 Venom, but have since died out to then be reanimated by bands like Krypt. Some of these elements include the slightly-gradual slowing down of the tempo that younger metalheads of today (like me) call “breakdowns”. This can be heard in songs like I Am God and Krypt.

Another element that is more of a dead black metal element than anything else is the specific vocal style used. When you listen to modern black metal bands, you’re more likely to hear an extremely developed high-pitched scream that generally has a very clean and crisp sound. Krypt uses the vocal style heard in early works of Mayhem and Darkthrone (and just about every black metal band that was around before the mid-90s). This vocal style is MUCH more gritty and rough than what you would hear in Naglfar and Dark Fortress. The vocals are a lot of what gives this album a very OLD and original sound, because of the rawness and the slightly-yelled sound that they have. And not only that, they do it PERFECTLY.

The musicianship and the songs themselves are an amazing story of their own. The originality of the individual songs is enough to leave any black metal fan totally satisfied. The sound of the instruments is perfectly balanced so that you can hear everything, but still have that RAW black metal sound that makes us smile. Krypt makes sure to cover the two general styles of black metal from that early time period. Most of this album consists of that early “thrash black” sound that some bands like Skeletonwitch and Bleeding Fist still do today. A lot of this thrashy sound comes from the utter abrasiveness given off by the rough distortion of the guitars and the bass along with the thrash black drumming style. The other sound that Krypt makes sure to include is the more atmospheric and melodic sound that is used more today than it was back then (some of the earlier bands that had that sound were Immortal, Burzum, and Emperor). If you ask me, this is a black metal representation of perfection. Krypt goes above and beyond in order to reanimate the old-school black metal sound. This gets a perfect score. 

Bonded by Blood - Feed the Beast

I guess being born in the mid-90s has caused me to listen to a lot more of the newer thrash metal than the older guys that saw the births of Slayer and Metallica. Well, if you’re an older thrash fan, let this review be a suggestion of one of the new thrash bands out there you probably haven’t heard of. If you’re my age and haven’t already heard of Bonded by Blood or just haven’t listened to them, YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS RECORD! This album has received critical acclaim from critics worldwide and the band is loved by thrash metal legends such as Death Angel, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Testament, Anthrax, and Overkill! Just that alone suggests that these guys have to at least be SOMEWHAT musically talented and legit. Well, my review on this album does nothing but further support the hype that this album (and their second album) has created.

I’m going to start off by telling you my absolute FAVORITE thing about this album (which ironically has very little to do with the music itself). For some reason, I can be a real tight-ass when it comes to how the drums sound. Maybe that’s not the right way to say it…let’s say that I have a HUGE soft spot for albums where the drums sound AMAZING. Here’s what makes the drums for this particular album so great: it’s the first thing you hear when you start the first song! Once you hear that extremely juicy drum intro, you’re yanked into the blinding speed of the 21st thrash metal sound at its best. But of course, this guy is nowhere near being the best in the genre, but that’s where my favorite part of this guy comes in, and that’s how his drums sound. The drums on this album have more PUNCH than any other thrash metal album in existence. Every piece of his set also has a really thick sound that has an immense amount of sharpness to make him sound more technical. Honestly, that’s the best way I can put it into words; LISTEN TO IMMORTAL LIFE to get the full experience!

The guitars have a really gritty crunchiness to them that helps make up for the punch of the drums. The bassist has also put quite a bit of distortion on his guitar in most of the album (except for when he’s soloing). There is one thing that took me some getting used to: the vocalist. I was a bit uneasy about his vocals having that belted-out girly sound because it didn’t seem to fit the music. After about a year of listening to Bonded by Blood, I got used to his yells and actually came to realize that he puts more power and force into his yells than most other thrash metal vocalists.

Before you get the impression that this is PURE thrash metal that has no unique or new qualities (which is what I thought at first), think again. There are GROWLS implemented in most of the songs throughout the album. Even though they’re far from being the primary vocal style used on this record, they do give it an interesting twist. There are some people (whom I’ve asked their opinion on this) that have told me they don’t really like this experimentation at all (some having stronger feelings than others). But most of the people that I’ve asked about this said that they don’t really know what to think of it, but it doesn’t bring down the music in any way. And yes, I know that this isn’t the first thrash metal band to do growls (others being Testament and Artillery), but this is still a mainly unexplored area that hasn’t been touched by very many thrash metal bands out there (let alone making it sound good).

Along with Killing Season (Death Angel), Let there be Blood (Exodus), The Formation of Damnation (Testament), and Death Magnetic (Metallica); Feed the Beast earns its position with these albums as being one of the best thrash metal albums of 2008. Although there are many other thrash bands out there that are far better, Bonded by Blood is one of the best thrash metal bands to form in the 21st century (Havok being the absolute best). I would give Feed the Beast 19/20. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review Requests

Are there albums that you would like to see me review? Are you part of (or know about) a new or underground band that could use some publicity? Feel free to leave a comment on this or any posts saying what albums you would like to have me review! (Please remember that all my reviews are raw and honest, I will not purposefully write positive reviews or take bribes!)


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Severe Torture - Fall of the Despised

Severe Torture had reached their musical peak and had achieved critical acclaim from critics worldwide. This was the album that made the breakthrough with their fan base. After this album was released, concert attendance and record sales skyrocketed to the point where they started headlining tours with big names like Cephalotripsy, Severed Savior, and General Surgery as opening acts and became one of John Gallagher’s favorite bands. This is one of those cases where despite the fact that their popularity exploded, I’m not as keen on this record as I am with Misanthropic Carnage and Feasting on Blood. But this album is still very strong and holds a permanent place in my music library (as do all of Severe Torture’s other records).

With a lot of bands with this much brutality that have achieved high popularity, they lose some of their brutality once they come out with their “breakthrough” album (Aborted, Cattle Decapitation, Veil of Maya, etc.). The reason why I say that is not only because it’s true, but because Severe Torture has lost NO brutality since Misanthropic Carnage. Severe Torture stays dependable and true to their word with Fall of the Despised and don’t let any of their well-known brutality slip away. But even though the brutality is more than evident, the quality of the music itself seems to have taken a slight decline; not so much the creativity as much as how practiced and thought-out the music is. Many of the songs seem a bit sloppy and sometimes weak. Obviously, there was something that happened within the band because they took an extra year to have the album “ready enough” for release. I guess this is a band that can’t write very much (or well) on the road because I noticed a lot of touring going on during 2002-04.

The biggest change that Severe Torture has made is that they’ve taken things more to the death metal areas than the grindcore realms. Not only that, but their sound has become even more similar to Dying Fetus than ever before! And I’m specifically talking about one element that they’ve added in that Dying Fetus is known for doing exceptionally well, and that is BREAKDOWNS. We have the (now much less) technical guitars with the blast beat drumming keeping the stampede at full-force to then compact the sound and drop it on the listener with a body-crushing breakdown. I will admit that Severe Torture’s breakdowns aren’t too shabby, but seriously, they went from using NO breakdowns to using three or four in every song! That was either the decision of the band or (most likely) the record label…why? BECAUSE IT’S WHAT THE METAL KIDS OF TODAY WANT TO HEAR! It’s what sells records! That’s why there’s shitty bands like Emmure and The Acacia Strain playing sold-out concerts and making tons of money simply by playing 3-4 minute BREAKDOWNS!

Although this is a huge downfall in quality for Severe Torture, the breakdowns are performed smoothly and never sound out-of-place. The transitions in and out of the breakdowns are done fairly well (considering that it’s actually not that easy), so it’s not like the introduction of that one element totally ruined the album; it still sounds pretty damn catchy. I would give this record 13/20 because Severe Torture made a major decline in originality and uniqueness, but still keep the Severe Torture sound that they’ve always played. I would recommend this to death grind fans…anyone else can let this one slide and keep headbanging to their first two albums. 

Spawn of Possession - Noctambulant

Noctambulant is the second release from the Swedish technical death band Spawn of Possession. Although I did really like this album when I first heard it, I never really got into this band until I was given an advanced copy of Incurso, which BLEW ME AWAY. Immediately after finishing my Incurso review, I went back and listened to Noctambulant and was astonished at the colorful and technical creativity that lunged out of my speakers. There are quite a few differences between this album and the other two, but I’m going to focus mainly on Noctambulant by itself with a little comparison with Cabinet. Because when I listen to a band’s sophomore release, I spend most of my focus on how they’ve changed since their debut (which is usually a compilation of older songs).

The creativity that is expressed in Noctambulant is more than enough to make any death metal fan happy. But be warned: if you’re really not into the type of tech death that has a lot of crazy guitar work (commonly referred to as “wankery”), then these guys aren’t for you; but at least give this album and Incurso a couple of good listens so that you can at least say that you gave Spawn of Possession an honest try. For those of you that are mega-fans of artists such as Obscura, Decrepit Birth, Origin, and The Faceless, this record should be paradise.

When you bring up the topic of shitloads of guitar technicality, most of the bands that end up in the conversation play a lot of their really frilly guitar riffs on the really high-pitched end of things (especially evident in The Faceless, Origin, and Rings of Saturn). The unique quality that I love the most about this specific record is that 86.4% of the guitar technicality is in the LOWER and MID-RANGES. Yes, the guitar solos get really high and crazy; but Spawn of Possession expresses the ability to create songs that don’t depend on high-pitched technicality. But of course, the INSTANT you start listening to this album, it’s obvious enough that the guitars aren’t the molten core of Noctambulant’s technicality.

Sometimes you need a break from the technicality and complexity being only in the guitars. That’s why you have tech death bands like Decapitated, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and The Black Dahlia Murder to give you a different kind of technicality that lies in the drums. Obviously, you can tell I’m implying that Spawn of Possession is one of those bands that have a hell of a lot of complexity in the percussion section. So having that uniqueness of the guitar technicality being in the lower and mid-ranges added on top of tons of drum technicality gives you a pretty fucking delicious album.

I’m a fan of Spawn of Possession’s first album, Cabinet. But that doesn’t even compare to the awesomeness of Noctambulant’s sound. Not only one of the biggest steps up, Noctambulant shouldn’t be kicked under the bed to be forgotten, it deserves the title as a good ol’ tech death classic. Although my love for Incurso is a thousand times greater, I would highly recommend this to all technical death fans and just death metal fans in general! I would give this 17/20. 

Six Feet Under - Undead

If you want the semi-ultimate overview of Six Feet Under’s history, you can read my review on their 2008 album, Death Rituals. But to help kick off this review, I’ll just say that Six Feet Under started off their career in the mid-90s releasing death metal classics. But after the release of Maximum Violence, the albums that followed can be described as unspeakable atrocity; some of them are even considered to be some of the worst death metal albums in history. But then they released an album that I not only consider a HUGE comeback, but an overall amazing album that won back the support of thousands. But the big question that I had was: is Death Rituals just a fluke? Well, this review is the answer to that question.

When I first heard about the release of Undead, I knew what I was going to be looking for. I wasn’t looking for something innovative and progressive, I was basically looking for a more developed and mature version of Death Rituals. I love the sound that Death Rituals gives, but there were still some loose ends and weak spots that needed work. It turns out that for the most part, Six Feet Under gave me what I was looking for. Undead has a sound that’s solid, confident, and proof that Death Rituals wasn’t a fluke. I think that all of you can agree with me when I say that our music library can’t be COMPLETELY made up of progressive bands; we all enjoy our fair share of “generic” bands (even though they might not be our favorites). But there are some people that would say “I fill my generic death metal needs with OLD classics from bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide!” Personally, I LOVE those old-school death metal albums, but eventually I’m going to want to hear something new (but still just pure death metal). There are a handful of bands out there that help satisfy that appetite many of us have, and Six Feet Under is one of those…although not one of the best because of their horrid musical history. But Undead is more than satisfying.

Those of you that know the modern Chris Barnes know that he has the ability to emit one of the most horrendous and appalling sounds the world has ever heard. One of my strongest hopes is to hear a Six Feet Under album where Barnes NEVER lets out that terrible sound. Here’s the good news: the amount of times that he makes that sound has literally plummeted. Here’s the bad news: there are two songs where he does it…but only once. This major absence of that sound makes this record a million times easier to enjoy! Not only that, but his growling has actually improved a bit (he doesn’t sound like a toilet).

I think that it’s official that Six Feet Under are out of the hole they dug themselves into. Undead took me by surprise and obliterated my negative suspicions with demonic vocals, super thick guitar distortions, skull-crushing breakdowns, and colorful songs with creativity yet still staying 100% true to the pure death metal sound. I would give this record 16/20 and would recommend it to all traditional death metal fans.