Friday, August 31, 2012

Tankard - A Girl Called Cerveza

The alcohol-driven melodic thrash metallers Tankard are back with what I believe to be their best album. I didn’t know of their existence until they signed a multi-album deal with the world’s best and most respected record label, Nuclear Blast (which I happen to follow very closely). Due to the slightly weird artwork, I initially let first impressions and prejudice get the better of me and I decided to wait on this one. But when I looked the band up on Spirit of Metal and was surprised by the 740+ members that had admitted to being fans of Tankard! After doing a bit more research, I discovered that these guys are not only one of the most famous European thrash metal bands (along with Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction), but are also one of the biggest thrash metal bands ever!

Tankard is one of the thrash metal bands that still sticks to the melodic old school thrash sound from the 1980s rather than converting over to a MUCH heavier and faster sound like most of today’s long-lived thrash bands have done. A lot of you know that I’m a HUGE thrash metal fan (my favorite being Havok), but I can also be pretty picky when it comes to all things thrash metal. The reason why I can be so picky is because of the vocals. Because most of these vocalists are yelling with their natural voice (as opposed to doing full-on screams or growls), if a vocalist doesn’t have the right sound, they can irritate me to death. This is the reason why I’m VERY picky with rap, because it’s not singing, and it’s not growling/screaming, it’s the natural human voice. And let’s be honest, regardless of whether the music is good or not, we’re not going to listen to a band that has a vocalist that we can’t stand. I know that different people have different tastes because even the music is good in almost all of these bands, it’s not long before Megadeth, King Diamond, Mastodon, and Limp Bizkit get on my fucking nerves and which is why I rarely (if ever) listen to these bands.

The vocalist for Tankard (who has an odd obsession of showing off his slightly enormous beer belly) isn’t one that bothers me because he has some roughness to his voice. When it comes to thrash vocalists, I like the ones with really rough vocalists (an extreme example being one of my favorites, Rob Dukes, who is pretty much borderline screaming). And then you’re going to come up to me and say “well what about Slayer?? Tom’s voice isn’t super rough! Why can you stand to listen to THEM?” and my response will be BECAUSE IT’S MOTHERFUCKING SLAYER, THAT’S WHY! Whenever I say this kind of stuff, people always like to find counterexamples to lower the validity of what I just said. Yes, I know that Dave Mustaine’s voice can be pretty rough sounding, but that’s not why I dislike his vocals, it’s just because the sound of his voice gives me that weird subliminal impulse to give myself a paper-cut to the eyeball.

Although Tankard is, in fact, melodic and that they don’t play the traditional Slayer-style where the guitarists and bass tremolo-pick low power chords and the drummer does seemingly constant double-kick, they can still be pretty damn heavy. You can tell in the recording that in many of the songs, the drummer is hitting the drum set as hard as he fucking can, which adds an immense amount of crushing blow to the sound. In songs like Witchhunt 2.0 and Not One Day Dead, the fact that the drummer is playing SO FUCKING HARD and with an impossible amount of energy is what gives these songs their heaviness. Listen to any one of those two songs and try to block out the drums and focus on the guitars, if you do this, you should find that the guitarist is playing melodic riffs! So if you have that and put the drums in, but with less intensity than Olaf, it would sound pretty fucking weak to thrash metal standards.

If you want a NEW “old school” thrash record, this is what you need to have. German thrashers Tankard broke the 30 year mark by releasing their best album since The Meaning of Life. I would recommend this to ALL thrash metal fans and to anyone looking for a more groovy and melodic side of the genre. This album gets 17/20.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Music

I always think of myself as being on-track with almost all of the legendary and/or amazing extreme metal bands out there. Well, there are two bands that I've heard about WAY too much, and I literally JUST got them three days ago and HOLY SHIT! WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO GET AROUND TO LISTENING TO THESE BANDS!!! The first one is the Canadian technical death band Neuraxis, and the second one is the ultimate legendary brutal death group Disgorge from the USA. Expect plenty of positive reviews on both of these bands in the future!!

Gutted - Human Race Deserves to Die

I mentioned in my review of Gutted’s first album that they were one of the best death grind bands I’d heard since Cattle Decapitation first reached my ears. If you haven’t read my review of Defiled, I would recommend reading it before you read this one (click the album title, it’s a link). So after reading that, you now know that I FUCKING LOVED Defiled and that I almost instantly got their other two albums. To be honest, Human Race Deserves to Die isn’t any less impressive than Defiled. Actually, let me rephrase that: just like Defiled, this album doesn’t have any negative elements whatsoever, BUT if I had to choose between the two, I would choose Defiled because that one tends to speak to me with more originality and color.

One thing that bothers me is what was done during the production process of the album. I noted in my review of Defiled that one of my favorite things about it was the obvious amount of goddamn energy. Well, I can hear the musicians playing with the same intensity in this record, but the way everything is tuned really lowers the intensity in the overall sound of the music. The guitars don’t have as loud of a distortion as I would like, the vocals take a little TOO MUCH of a front-row-seat, and the bassist shouldn’t be as much in the background.

But in some ways, the production work has intensified some of the elements. For example, the vocals have a very deep and hollow sound similar to the growls on Aborted’s Strychnine.213 record. Except the hollowness of the growls on this album is much more extreme than on Strychnine.

After FINALLY tracking down and talking to some other Gutted fans over the internet in order to get other people’s opinion on the band, there were two specifics that they (myself included) loved about this band. The first thing was their drummer. I did a tiny bit of research on the drummer to see if he was in some huge technical death band, but Gutted is the only professional band that he’s ever been in! Now, logically speaking, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest bit if there were hordes of drummer-less European tech death bands contacting this guy asking for him to be their drummer. Unfortunately, this is the album where you can hear the drummer’s technicality the LEAST. The way the drums sound in Defiled and Mankind Carries the Seeds of Hell make them sound like a technical death band that’s mixed death grind into their music! But if you’re someone who’s used to listening to albums with wonky sound, you shouldn’t have any problem at all hearing the complexity in the drumming.

Another thing that I’ve heard people mention when talking about Gutted is more of a unique quality than anything else. Almost every single member of the band does vocals. No, that doesn’t just mean that the other members only join in all at once for one or two verses in every song; each of them actually get some time under the main spotlight! Of course, those moments are at least somewhat brief, because the unique gutturals (no pun intended) of the lead vocalist are the ones you hear the most, which brings up the possibility of the other members having large amounts of effects in order to make them sound more like the lead vocalist. But because I don’t know for sure (nor am I interested), I’m not going to take the time to make false accusations off of virtually no evidence at all. Because three of The Beatles figured out how to all sound (99.9999999999%) the same while singing. I’ve never HEARD of that kind of thing being done with death metal vocals, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

The sophomore release by the Hungarian death grind group Gutted amazes me ALMOST as much as their debut, which means that Defiled wasn’t a fluke; these motherfuckers are for real. And from the sounds of their third album (which is also an amazing album), they have a hell of a lot more to deliver to the world. But unfortunately, if they keep sticking to the pattern they’ve been following of releasing an album every four years, we (sadly) won’t be hearing anything new from them until 2014. This is Gutted’s second album and after you get their first album (Defiled) and listen to it, I would HIGHLY recommend this (and the rest of Gutted’s discography) to all fans of brutal death, technical death, death grind, and just death metal in general! I would give this juicy slab of death grind 16/20. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bolt Thrower - Realm of Chaos

When it comes to just pure death metal, this album is one of my favorites. When it comes to old school death metal, this is one of my favorite albums. For those of you that may ask, my VERY favorite old school (pre-1995) death metal albums are Tomb of the Mutilated by Cannibal Corpse, Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, Leprosy by Death, Legion by Deicide, Mental Funeral by Autopsy, Into the Grave by Grave, The Grand Leveller by Benediction, and Realm of Chaos by Bolt Thrower. Being one of the biggest British extreme metal bands next to Napalm Death, Carcass, and Venom, Bolt Thrower not only contributed to the formation of the death metal genre itself, but their music is actually GOOD! Let’s be honest, I could easily write a review on how influential this album has been and how it’s a classic and all (which it is), there’s so much more to this album than the impact it’s created. I want to talk about this album like I do with ever other album.

For me, there are only two problems that I have with this album, and one of them isn’t really a “problem”. The first thing that bothers me is that Bolt Thrower seems to have a tempo issue; they’ve never done the best job when it comes to keeping time and staying tight. In a lot of the breakdowns, the drums and the guitars don’t consistently match up. But thankfully, the breakdowns on this album aren’t as pronounced and obvious as the more modern breakdowns that the younger crowd knows only too well. Some people might beg to differ with me on this, but the drummer (on this album at least) isn’t really that good. He has AMAZING technical skill and really helped solidify the (at the time) brand new genre known as “death metal”. But his timing and strength limit him. In songs like Through the Eye of Terror, the hand that’s playing the snare during the blast beats completely fails at keeping time. And since the snare is the most audible part of a blast beat, if it doesn’t keep time, it completely ruins everything.

Even the kick drumming tends to be off a lot of the time. But the lack of technical skill the drummer has is made up with a lot of innovative creativity. Almost all of the fills that the drummer does are really unexpected and just not something you would be used to hearing out of ANY death metal band! I find a lot of the patterns that the drummer plays during the breakdowns to be really unique. But then again, he’s pretty fucking lucky to have so much goddamn creative talent because if it weren’t for that, Bolt Thrower wouldn’t be NEARLY as legendary as they are.

If you’re someone that really likes the really raspy mid-ranged growls from the REALLY early albums by Grave, Obituary, Unleashed, Dismember, and Fleshcrawl, you’ll like the vocals on this (and pretty much any Bolt Thrower) record. It reminds me a lot of Corpsegrinder’s (post-1994 Cannibal Corpse) growls: a lot of lower end that’s overtaken by a really high-pitched raspy sound. The one issue that some people might have (not including me, in this case at least) is that there isn’t much of a variety in the vocal sounds. I know that in most cases I can be pretty harsh when vocals (especially inhales) sound EXACTLY the same and remain completely monotonous and unchanging for the entire duration of the album, but this is an exception for me. No matter what point the music is in, the vocals ALWAYS give the music an extra spark that helps it reach higher levels, even though the growls sound almost exactly the same everywhere in the album.

Let me change that thought, because I literally JUST noticed something as I’m listening the album while typing out this review. The growls do, in fact, change in several places in the album, but they change in INTENSITY, not PITCH. When people say that the vocals have a lot of variety, they usually mean that the vocalist lets out different sounding vocals that are at different pitches. For example, in order to put some variety in the vocals, vocalists will do both growls and screams. Some vocalists do really low guttural growls and then occasionally do some less-intense mid-ranged growls. When I’m talking about INTENSITY, I’m talking about how hard the vocalist is belting out those growls. There are some parts where he’s growling so powerfully that you’re expecting one of his lungs to suddenly fly out of his mouth. And there are some sections where his growls don’t have as much power or intensity; this is usually when the music is at a slower section or a quieter part.

Anyone that listens to death metal needs to have the first two Bolt Thrower albums because they are ESSENTIALS. For me, Realm of Chaos is better than In Battle there is no Law, but I would HIGHLY recommend both of them to ANYONE who has even the slightest interest in investing a bit of their time in the old school death metal world. But not just because of that, I would give this album 17/20 for having innovative creativity, blasting riffs, and just for the fact that death metal can’t really get any purer and more raw than this.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Abandon All Ships - Infamous

To be honest, I’ve never really liked Abandon All Ships. I was introduced to them by a girl that I dated in 2010, the same year they released their debut. This was when my love for Attack Attack! was at its peak, so there honestly couldn’t have been a better time for Abandon All Ships to come into the picture. Although I completely respected the ideals and progressiveness of Geeving, I only truly enjoyed listening to one song off the album, Take One Last Breath. I loved (and actually still do) the melodic trance that they put into that song and the atmospheric catchiness the song has. I mean, besides the fact that both of the vocalists in that song suck, it’s pretty damn epic! When someone brings the band up (which rarely happens), I always make it a point to mention that particular song because I’ve never gotten tired of it (although I almost never listen to it)!

Ok, so two years later, the Canadian screamo band is back with their follow-up (notice that I didn’t say anything suggesting that it was strongly anticipated in any way). One thing that I’ve always known about this band is that they’ve been closely involved with (brace yourselves)……the crunkcore scene. Not only is their main influence Attack Attack! (definitely a bad band to have as your MAIN influence, but not a bad band) but they’ve taken the whole mixing techno and screamo thing to a COMPLETELY new level!

In order to avoid any false accusations, I know for a fact that mixing techno and metal can be pulled off. I either enjoy or appreciate the bands that do a good job of that, like Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria, and I See Stars (I guess I never noticed how small the list was).

Here’s the thing with this new Abandon All Ships record. You know the whole “attitude” that most rappers and male pop singers have, the “I’m so badass you don’t know what you’re messin’ with” kind of attitude? Why the fuck is it that I get the same “I’m so badass” vibe that I get when I’m listening to rap? I decided to look up some of the much more recent live videos of these guys, and their vocalist is making the EXACT same body movements and hand movements that people like Eminem and Snoop Dogg make!! Ok, I’ll admit that I do listen to some rap (mainly just Tech N9NE, Cypress Hill, early ICP, Kottonmouth Kings, old Snoop Dogg, old Eminem, and Kings of the City) and, to be honest, the “I’m so badass” attitude actually fits the music in most cases! That’s just the feel that a lot of rap gives me! But in this case, it just doesn’t fucking fit! Oh, and get this: they actually have a guest rapper in the second song! GO MOTHERFUCKING FIGURE!!

So with the lead vocalist with the attitude of a black gangsta rapper, we now have the singer that has the attitude and style of Chris Brown (whom I’m not familiar with AT ALL, I’ve only listened to his music once and it was on some late-night comedy TV show). And I’ll be honest AGAIN: I enjoy a couple of pop artists/band (much fewer than rap ones). But pretty much all of them are females, so I guess that doesn’t really improve my chances of appreciating this guy.

Since this is a screamo band where the techno/pop elements are very important, let’s take a moment to analyze them. In Geeving (if you took the time to run through it a couple of times, especially Take One Last Breath), the kind of techno used in there was trance. For those of you that have no fucking idea what the hell “trance” is, it’s extremely melodic, ambient, and atmospheric techno music that just sounds like a sheet of clouds flying over you; it can actually be VERY beautiful and relaxing. Anyways, that was the thing that they did in Geeving, which I though was fairly innovative and creative since I’d never heard it in metal before. Infamous doesn’t have any of that at all. There are some bands that have that really cheesy bubble-gum techno/pop in their music, which is the kind of thing that you can find in A COUPLE songs off this album. But that’s not really the main thing.

The type of pop (it’s not even techno) that Infamous has is the type that the BIGGEST and most mainstream MALE pop singers do. But since I’m not familiar at all with that kind of thing (I seem to have to repeat myself a lot to people that I’ve been almost completely disconnected with the mainstream for the past four and a half years, I only KNOW OF Justin Bieber, I’ve never heard his music!). But from the amount of male pop songs that I’ve heard (the amount having less than two digits), it’s enough for me to easily make the connection. Also, in some of the songs (the first track in particular), the keyboards play that “I’m so motherfucking badass” sounding shit that you hear in the really poppy rap music!

The song structures do have signs of organization, but there are still a lot of transitions that are way too sudden for me. The individual musicians suck, but as a band, they’re not what I would call TOTALLY weak. There are some parts that actually got my head nodding…but not for long. Whenever they seem to have a really catchy part going, they apparently realize that and attempt to prolong the moment by simply dragging it out until I’d rather take a papercut to the eyeball than listen to that chugging riff that had long since lost its catchiness. I really don’t like either vocalist from Geeving, and that statement remains the same with Infamous. That’s the ironic thing, the title fits the album a little TOO accurately, which I know wasn’t originally intended by the band. This album is just disgusting. There isn’t anyone that I would recommend this INFAMOUS piece of SHIT to NO ONE. This one gets 4/20. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blind Witness - Nightmare on Providence St.

Blind Witness made their debut by releasing a mediocre metalcore record that caught the attention of a handful of listeners. Then, after several lineup changes, the band decided to go in a much heavier direction by combining death metal with their melodic metalcore sound (aka deathcore). This album was their real breakthrough, getting the attention of thousands from around the world. Although the hype that this album created died out about a year or so later, it still remains something that I feel that needs to be reviewed. In case you didn’t know, the band broke up due to the loss of passion for their music and not making any money on tour and played their last show earlier this month in Canada. Well, with that said, which is somewhat unfortunate, let’s jump into this thing.

For those of you that are deathcore nerds, don’t expect ANYTHING that you haven’t heard before. The sound of this album is deathcore with more metalcore than death metal (like Heaven Shall Burn, Bleed from Within, etc.). The drums are what dominate everything else. Every aspect of the percussion is front-and-center over EVERYTHING: the guitars, the vocals, and even the bass. Although I know that the drums tend to be the dominant instrument in the deathcore genre, this is a bit much. But thankfully, the drummer isn’t a total fuck-up; he can actually play some legit blast beats, his kick drumming is tight during the breakdowns (which is very important), and he can play some blazingly fast fills.

When it comes to deathcore, I like it when the vocalist does more growls and mid-ranges than screaming. This is mainly because it tends to be quite rare that the vocalist has a scream that actually sounds good. The Blind Witness member that takes his place behind the microphone has a style that focuses primarily on really gritty mid-ranged yells and growls. The cool thing is that his screams are actually really good! But you usually only hear them when they’re put on top of really low gutturals.

The most unique aspect of this album is the groove it carries. When listening to it, you can tell that the metalcore element takes a higher place than the death metal element. And that the specific TYPE of metalcore used in this album is that really groovy and catchy metalcore that’s used by bands like Threat Signal, Mnemic, and Architects. Blind Witness isn’t the only deathcore band that puts the catchy metalcore aspect in a higher place; it’s also done by Attila, Bring me the Horizon, Veil of Maya, and Innocents Massacre. There are more metalcore-styled guitar harmonizations, guitar solos, and drum patterns than death metal ones. But there’s still enough death metal in the music to undeniably place this specific record (not their first one) in the deathcore genre.

One thing that I do notice in some of the guitar solos is a prominent hard rock vibe. I’m not saying that it’s a new thing that no one has ever done before, but it is something that one isn’t typically used to hearing in deathcore. But then again, it’s not something that I would make a big hairy deal over because this album honestly isn’t anything special. If you are a deathcore fan, I would highly recommend checking this particular album out because it’s nothing short of a good addition to the ol’ deathcore collection. But for those of you deathcore nerds, don’t expect anything you haven’t heard before. I would give Nightmare on Providence St. 12/20 for just being another deathcore record. 

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong

Yeah, you all know who this motherfucker is. The first human being ever to set foot on the moon died today (I literally just heard, I don't know how he died). Wow, this is a shocker and a huge loss for...well...anyone who gives a fuck about space exploration! R.I.P. man!

Cerebral Bore - Maniacal Miscreation

Scotland’s biggest brutal death band, Cerebral Bore, has been on track to become one of the biggest new bands in the genre ever since the release of this album in 2010. Since then, they’ve headlined tours in both North America and Europe, performed at numerous huge festivals, and, most recently, had a spot on America’s biggest death metal tour of the year, Summer Slaughter 2012. The question whether these guys could be the new Pathology or not isn’t really one that I want to discuss until they get a second album out on the streets. But that aside, this album is without a doubt one of the best brutal death albums of 2010 along with Disentomb’s Sunken Chambers of Nephilim and Pathology’s Legacy of the Ancients.

This is one of those albums where the immense amount of brutality isn’t mostly caused by the type of guitar distortions or the careful work at the mixing board during the production process. I can actually hear that every member is putting 100% of purebred ENERGY into everything that they’re doing. I guess that although this isn’t one of the most brutal albums out there, it is definitely one of the most energetic. I was going to see them when they were supposed to have a spot on the 2012 tour that included Goatwhore, Hate Eternal, and Fallujah, but apparently their visas didn’t go through and they couldn’t even make it into the United States. Now that I had the long-awaited pleasure to see them on stage a couple of days ago at this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, I now know that not only is there an intense amount of energy amongst the members on stage AND in their music, but they have the special talent of directing some of that energy into the crowd in front of them.

I will say that when it comes to this kind of music, the sound of the vocals can really have a huge impact not only on the overall sound of the music, but the brutality. Som’s inhales aren’t really deep like the Devourment vocalist, but they’re not TOO high pitched (most of the time) like the vocalist for Slaughterbox. Som’s vocals have more of a really guttural and wet mid-ranged sound than anything else. But what I respect the most about her style is that she has variety in the pitch, intensity, and sound of her vocals. After listening to her vocals very carefully for the duration of the album, I can point out about 10 fairly different sounds that she makes. Yeah, I like inhaled vocals and brutal death and grind, but there seems to be a problem in a lot of the vocalists where they only make one or two different sounds, which eventually gives of a monotone sound.

The bassist is my favorite member of the band. I can tell just by listening to and watching him that he learned how to play bass on a jazz theory. He knows how to tune the sound of his guitar to get the BEST sound out of his intense slapping. This is sort of like Evan Brewer from The Faceless; he plays with a definite jazz style, but an extremely technical and brutal jazz style (if that makes any fucking sense at ALL).

I know that making this reference has the ability to cause major controversy and pointless bitching, but I see Cerebral Bore as being the Attila of brutal death. For those of you that have no idea who Attila is, they’re a deathcore band that plays a style that’s not a really angry/brutal sound (i.e. Whitechapel, etc.), but more of an extremely energetic and fun sound. So if you take the energy and fun aspect out of that, place it in a brutal death atmosphere, put in inhaled vocals, max out the brutality, and practically break off the energy knob by turning it up, you’ll get the motherfuckers known as none other than Cerebral Bore.

My favorite song off the record is, hands down, 24 Year Party Dungeon. If you want a BRUTAL song that is literally OVERFLOWING with energy and hilarious lyrics, this is what you need. Cerebral Bore go to great lengths and do the math to figure out the formula in order to create what to many people (including me) is one of the most fun brutal death songs to listen to. Although this song is not only a perfect conclusion, but the pinnacle of the entire album, this entire fucking record is one of the strongest brutal death records I’ve heard in quite some time (which for me isn’t very long because I’m not even 18 years old yet). I would give Maniacal Miscreation 18/20 for being one of my favorite brutal death records ever. 

Cannibal Corpse - Bloodthirst

Bloodthirst is definitely one of the least talked-about Cannibal Corpse records. In fact, the Cannibal Corpse records that I hear the least about are the ones released within the 1998-2004 time period. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Gallery of Suicide, The Wretched Spawn (released in 2004) is one of my favorite Cannibal Corpse albums. But another record that I RARELY hear about from ANYONE is Bloodthirst. Of course, just like every other Cannibal Corpse album, it features artwork from one of my favorite visual artists: Vincent Locke. Although it’s not one of his best works, it definitely screams death metal all over it.

Obviously, since I wasn’t listening to death metal in 2000 (I was probably only six or seven years old), I can’t say EXACTLY why Bloodthirst never really got any major attention from the metal community (both mainstream and underground). But, I can say that some legendary metal albums were released that year, possibly temporarily distracting the metal community from the Cannibal Corpse craze. Some of these albums include (but are not limited to) Exhumed’s Slaughtercult, Lamb of God’s debut release, Origin’s debut release, Nightwish’s Wishmaster, Decapitated’s debut release, Children of Bodom’s Follow the Reaper, Nile’s Black Seeds of Vengeance, Immortal’s Damned in Black, Mudvayne’s L.D. 50, Pantera’s last album, Slipknot’s debut release, and Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory. But then again, that’s not a very valid excuse because…well…this is Cannibal Corpse we’re talking about!

From what I can hear, Cannibal Corpse has made two major shifts in their overall sound. The first one obviously being caused by Vile due to the vocalist change; this sound carried out into Gallery of Suicide. Bloodthirst marks the band’s second major change in sound; which has led to be the sound that they still have today. The instant that my favorite track from the album, Pounded into Dust, starts bombarding the listener with blast beats and Cannibal Corpse-style crushing guitar riffs, it becomes obvious that the band finally got their full footing back after the sudden vocalist change.

I’m not a fan of Corpsegrinder’s vocals in Vile and Gallery of Suicide not only because they don’t sound very strong and solid at all, but also because they sound out of place. Cannibal Corpse was almost done recording Vile when they gave Chris Barnes the boot, which meant that the music on that album was crafted to sound best with the sound of Barnes’ growls, not Corpsegrinder’s. So with that being understandable, Gallery of Suicide was the real test to see if they could make an album that had music that sounded good with George’s unique vocal sounds. Since Bloodthirst (for me at least) is the first solid-sounding Cannibal Corpse album with Corpsegrinder on vocals, Gallery of Suicide seems to be more of a rough transition into the sound that we know today that fits PERFECTLY with Corpsegrinder’s vocals.

I’m not saying that any of the musicians themselves were not as good or brutal as they’ve always been, it’s more of the actual musical structure and sound that seemed too weak for a band like Cannibal Corpse. So Bloodthirst gives you everything that just about every other Cannibal Corpse album gives you: purebred brutality, crushing guitars, bombarding drumming and blast beats, extremely low-tuned bass, and, of course, some of the most violent and disturbing artwork and lyrical content the world has ever seen. But on top of that, Bloodthirst delivers pristine quality through song structure as solid as titanium which has enabled the band to have a blueprint/skeleton to add creativity to with ease. If you haven’t heard this album, I would highly recommend giving it a listen whether you’re a Cannibal Corpse fan or not. Bloodthirst is a SPECTACULAR death metal release and gets my high score of 16/20. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012 Conquerors of the World Tour!!!

Not only have I already got my fucking ticket to this show, I'M EXCITED AS HELL!!! I'm excited to see the bands in the following order:

Ex Deo (this will be my second time seeing them)
Septic Flesh
Krisiun (this will be my third time seeing them)

Iwrestledabearonce world tour

Will I be going to this? Well, for the top two bands, YES! Although I've heard from people that saw Iwrestledabearonce on this year's Warped Tour that the fill-in vocalist sucks ass compared to Krysta Cameron, but what the hell. I'm excited to see the bands in THIS order:

Oceano (my favorite deathcore band and this will be my second time seeing them)
Iwrestledabearonce (this will be my second time seeing them)
Within the Ruins (I don't like them, but this will be my second time seeing them)
[the others I'm equally excited about because I've never heard them]

Goatwhore - Carving out the eyes of God

Thrash black tends to be one of the smaller genres out there. But one thing is for sure, there are a small handful of some pretty damn big bands from there. All of the ones that I’M aware of are Skeletonwitch, Melechesh, Hellhammer, and Goatwhore. I originally was introduced to Goatwhore when I saw them live in 2010 at a show headlined by DevilDriver (my first time ever hearing them as well) along with Suffocation (the only reason I was there) and Thy Will Be Done. Due to my lack of interest in Goatwhore at the time, I wasn’t really that impressed by their set. Then, sometime in the last year, Goatwhore set out on a headlining tour with Hate Eternal and Fallujah (Cerebral Bore didn’t show up, which is why they’re making up for that by being on Summer Slaughter this year). Of course, for me, I was going for Hate Eternal since they completely blew the fucking place apart the first time I saw them, as well as Fallujah. A couple of days before the show, I decided that since Goatwhore was the headliner of the show that I should at least check out ONE of their albums. Well, this was the one I got and after my second listen, I was hooked.

Probably what most everyone likes about thrash black is the catchiness it has. Hellhammer is obviously filled with it; that’s what most people know about them. Also, when you listen to Skeletonwitch and Melechesh, along with the extreme grimness of the black metal sound, you can hear the slight catchiness that comes from the old school thrash metal sound. Goatwhore is the black sheep, though. They don’t have a black metal base with some thrash weaved about there and there and sprinkled around; their sound is of that description, but reversed. That’s the typical Goatwhore sound; but this album in particular is the most unique album they’ve put out so far.

This album is Goathwore’s most unique primarily because they’ve chosen to implement more death metal than they did in previous releases like A Haunting Curse. So think of it like this: the really fucking catchy thrash death sound of DevilDriver plus black metal equals Carving out the Eyes of God. That’s what I think is the overall best description of this album. So as far as influence goes, I would probably guess that DevilDriver had a HUGE influence on the sound of this album because of the resemblance it has of them. To the elite black metal listener, this album wouldn’t be at all enjoyable because it lacks the signature grimness that we black metal fans both expect and love to hear. Also, another aspect that has been completely taken out during the writing process of this record is atmosphere. You listen to the earlier works of Darkthrone, listen to Immortal, and just about any at least half-decent black metal band and hear ATMOSPHERE. Hell, even Skeletonwitch and Melechesh managed to stick atmospheric elements into their music while still keeping the thrash black sound they were aiming for. But in this album, no way in hell will you find any sort of atmospheric or traditional black metal elements.

It’s for that very reason why I initially labeled this album as a black death record. Because the death metal and thrash metal combination completely enclose the core black metal sound, there actually isn’t much black metal left. For those of you that can sniff out even the faintest scent of black metal in any situation, you’ll be able to hear SOME black metal sound in this record; but very little. When you listen to their most recent release, Blood for the Master, you hear that most of the death metal sound from Carving out the eyes of God was removed, therefore re-exposing the pure catchy thrash black sound.

What I love most about this album is the amount of energy it contains. I’m not talking about how the shitload of bass and the sound of the guitars give it grit and energy; I’m talking about how you can literally FEEL the energy that the music itself creates. You can hear that the individual members are literally putting every last drop of energy they have during the recording process and were probably sleeping for the next two days in order to regain it back. Of course, many of you will beg to differ, but that’s certainly the feeling that the album gives ME.

The song structure is completely organized and without flaw. The way everything was composed keeps the different elements evened out and keeps the different sounds from clumping together. Doing this has kept the general sound of the album fairly consistent. But the reason why it doesn’t feel repetitive is because the mixture of the different sounds aren’t COMPLETELY blended together. Think of it as like when you mix red and yellow paint; right before it turns to pure orange, it just looks like a bunch of red and yellow swirls with a tad bit of orange here and there. You can tell that there’s a blend of different sounds, but they aren’t tightly pulled together in order to make it extremely easy for the listener to digest and enjoy. In some cases this is a bad thing, but Goatwhore defy that thought by doing just the opposite and making it a good thing.

This album is a fantastic album and I would recommend it to just about any extreme metal fan. A good cacophony of black metal, death metal, and old school thrash metal gives this album a 15/20. As well as that, it’s just a motherfucking BLAST to listen to!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Contortionist - Intrinsic

The Contortionist seems to be getting more experimental and progressive (literally) with each release. Starting out as a traditional (aka generic) deathcore band self-releasing two EPs, the second one which is actually pretty good, then coming out with a “progressive deathcore” album as their debut full-length, Exoplanet. After releasing this, they hit the road with Periphery and Textures which caused their fan base to EXPLODE in both numbers and in anticipation for new material. Now, The Contortionist is in a similar position that bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, and Iwrestledabearonce were in: being VERY big, having only one album under their belts, and about to release one of the most anticipated albums of the year (yes, quite literally true for all of the bands I just listed).

Like I said before, The Contortionist are getting more experimental and progressive with each release. The reason I say that is because the content of this album is so fucking complex that it’s taken me a little over a month to fully be able to swallow and dissect it all. Yes, that’s the magnitude of the complexity this record contains. Although I’m a major fan of progressive music (metal, rock, industrial, etc.), even this was too much for me at first. When it comes to progressive DEATH metal, my favorites tend to be Opeth (well, duh, they’re my favorite band EVER), Augury, Fallujah, Augury, and Between the Buried and Me. Some of those (especially Augury and Between the Buried and Me) have a VERY high amount of complexity to their music. But really, The Contortionist really takes the cake with Intrinsic by not only being the most experimental and complex album of the year, but being the most experimental death metal album since Iwrestledabearonce released It’s All Happening in 2009.

I’ve gotten to the point to where the word “deathcore” doesn’t fit anywhere in The Contortionist’s music; they seemed to have completely stepped away from that obvious phase in their career in one of the smoothest and most graceful manners possible. It’s almost as if they already had this all planned out. They knew that they didn’t want to play deathcore; they wanted to CREATE, they wanted to INVENT, they wanted to ADD something to this! So they created a deathcore album with an extremely progressive Opeth-like sound to start the drift away without upsetting any of their fans. Now that they’ve gotten the “progressive” aspect buried within every element of their music, they were set to do what they’ve apparently always wanted to do, which is laid out in Intrinsic. But then again, this is all just critical thinking on my part, I don’t know for sure if any of this is fact; but I sure as hell wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest bit if it was!

The only negative thoughts that I have towards this album is the difficulty to describe its sound without simply saying “just listen to it, that’s how it fucking sounds”. For me, after the utterly atmospheric intro track, the action TRULY starts with Feedback Loop, which is a song that can only be described with phrases like “fucking weird”, “um…ok…I don’t know what I just heard…but I love it” and “what was THAT??”. When those weird keyboards kicked in after the song started, I had to start the whole song over due to not only my surprise, but the chaotic confusion all of the…I don’t know what to call it…all of the “stuff” that went on caused within my mind. Usually, in progressive albums like this, I can point out some pieces that were obviously inspired. For example, I’m ASSUMING that the use of the vocoder in Feedback Loop was inspired by The Faceless’ use of it in Planetary Duality, some of the guitar riffs remind me strongly of Periphery, and that the numerous acoustic guitars hidden in the background were POSSIBLY inspired by Opeth. But that’s pretty much it! There’s next to no other inspiration that I can hear, which means that most of this is coming from the minds of the members themselves. Progression made out of inspiration doesn’t last; progression made out of the minds of the creator(s) themselves changes music forever.

The singing obviously takes on a MUCH more prominent role in this album than before; which is probably because the singing is a hell of a lot better. Personally, I think that the growls and screams have decreased in quality since Exoplanet, which is possibly because they’re becoming less of a priority. Also, the melodic elements have COMPLETELY taken over the entity of the music. Along with the band getting more progressive with each release, I can also hear them getting more and more melodic with each record they put out. Because I’m someone that walks around listening to Katatonia’s newer albums wearing a Dying Fetus shirt, the fact that The Contortionist is getting more melodic isn’t a good or bad aspect for me in any way; it’s just change, nothing more and nothing less. The guitars don’t have a very crunchy distortion; in fact, they actually have a very generic clean extreme metal distortion that sounds perfect with everything around them. The drums sit in the background, but the kick drums stick out from everything else (which is probably the only remaining deathcore aspect in the band’s music).

Intrinsic is the single most progressive death metal record of 2012 and seems virtually impossible to surpass before the year comes to a close. I’ve said time and time again that 2012 is possibly the best year that the metal genre has ever seen; with Dying Fetus, Veil of Maya, Whitechapel, Nile, Periphery, Overkill, and countless others releasing perfectly-scored albums, Intrinsic is what I would say is one of the heavy metal HIGHLIGHTS of 2012. Although I don’t like this as much as others, I would give this one 18/20 for blowing me away with almost everything an album can blow me away with. 

Upcoming Reviews

Looks like I got home a day early. Well although I might not be writing any reviews for at least two days, I feel that it's now time for another upcoming reviews list. Any of the bands that will be reviews on NEW (or newest) albums are marked with an *:

The Faceless (technical death)*
Ex Deo* (melodic death)
Bloodboil (brutal death)
Blind Witness (deathcore)
Katatonia (gothic metal)
Goatwhore (thrash death)
The Contortionist* (progressive death)
Abandon All Ships (screamo)
Cerebral Bore (brutal death)
Hour of Penance (technical death)
Anorexia Nervosa (symphonic black)
Cannibal Corpse (death metal)
Tankard* (thrash metal)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vacation Notice

I'm leaving to go camping somewhere in the Olympic National Forest or whatever it's called until the 21st. Also, I won't be here at all on the 22nd because that's Summer Slaughter (yay!). So I won't be making any new posts until about the 24th or so.

Please refer back to the most recent "upcoming reviews" post for any info on upcoming reviews. I will make a quick note on some new music I have obtained over the past few weeks. I've been getting into sludge metal (not Black Label Society OR Down), especially atmospheric sludge. I was introduced to the hardcore punk band Trash Talk whom I LOVE now. I got the newest releases by Tankard, Bonded by Blood, Abandon all Ships, and Taproot as well as a CD by the legendary Sarcofago.

I'm currently working on a We Came as Romans album review and will hopefully finish it by the end of today if I'm not too tired.

Emmure - Slave to the Game

Yes, we all know Emmure; one of the worst and most overrated extreme metal bands of all-time. For those of you lucky ducks that have only heard the name and not the music, Emmure is a deathcore band from New York City that is known for playing generic breakdown after generic breakdown…in every song. I’m not one that likes to get into the whole Acacia Strain vs. Emmure argument because let’s face it, they both suck anyway, but both of those bands have minds smart enough to know that a huge portion of the deathcore/metalcore crowd listens to that kind of music for the breakdowns. So they put one and two together and decided to basically just play breakdowns. But of course, this has proved to be very hard to achieve, so the bands that do that (Emmure, The Acacia Strain, Dr. Acula, etc.) always have at least SOME fill and extra stuff in their songs. But they all have one thing in common, and that is that they all rely 97% on BREAKDOWNS. The basic blueprint to literally every Emmure song is your average deathcore breakdown.

Anyway, because Emmure realized that people wanted breakdowns, they had enough logic to do so. And they fucking REEK the benefits. When you look at the tours that Emmure has been on, they’ve had numerous HUGE bands OPEN for them such as Winds of Plague, Despised Icon, Veil of Maya, Attack Attack!, Alesana, blessthefall, Born of Osiris, Iwrestledabearonce, All Shall Perish, We Came as Romans, and God Forbid. But in order to do my best to avoid making this a repeat of my Speaker of the Dead review, I’m just going to jump right into this.

In my review of Speaker of the Dead, I noted that it was Emmure’s best album to date (which isn’t saying much because it still got a below-average 9/20 score). Well guess what everyone; it still is their best album to date. One thing that you may have noticed that proves truly how thoughtless and half-assed their music is are the short amounts of time it takes Emmure to come out with a new album. And the one time where they decide to take an extra year to write/record an album ended up resulting in Emmure’s best album, Speaker of the Dead. So less than a year later, Emmure releases Slave to the Game.

With the predilection that this album isn’t really going to be any different than the rest of Emmure’s discography, I was met with what is actually the best individual SONG that they’ve ever written. Not being a TOTAL hater of Emmure (I listen to them sometimes), I was actually impressed by Protoman with its energy, digital effects, variety in vocal style, tightness within the band, and the thin melodic atmosphere that the song had. Of course, the song more or less consisted of less than four chords. Here’s the problem I had (even though I ALWAYS have this problem with Emmure): of course, the song is made up of a more fast-paced and jumpy breakdown, but it’s not until they go out to play the real SLOW breakdowns that you realize that they actually didn’t create any buildup at all. Not only that, the whole drop effect in the slower breakdowns is completely missing because the guitarists don’t change pitch; they play the EXACT same chord that they were playing the whole rest of the song. So I’m here to tell you that IT IS possible to squeeze out a few drops of enjoyment from this song after you wring out the agonizingly simple structure and chord progression, the dull tone, the simple breakdowns, the annoying rapping thing the vocalist does, the themes, and the fact that it’s Emmure.

So after the obvious fluke named Protoman, the band gives you exactly what they’ve been giving you since the release of Goodbye to the Gallows in 2007. Unlike Speaker of the Dead, there aren’t really any memorable topics that this album can possibly stimulate because it’s just so boring and fucking DULL! Speaker of the Dead was a very enjoyable review to write because not only was it my first Emmure album review, but it just had so many little things to get me started on in order to finish it. Slave to the Game doesn’t have any of that except for Protoman. The pitch of the guitars aren’t quite as deep as before, but they’re even duller and more boring than ever, the drumming is devastatingly simple except for the SLIGHTLY complex (but tight) kick drumming, of course, you can’t hear the bassist, but the bass is enough to shatter your eardrums.

But even then again, the bass in this album doesn’t even compare to Speaker of the Dead. I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone unless all they’re looking for is breakdowns. Although I don’t like Emmure in the slightest bit, I still have a TINY spark of anticipation for the day that Emmure stops re-recording the same album and actually writes some new and different material. I would give Slave to the Game a score of 6/20. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Upon a Burning Body - Red. White. Green.

Upon a Burning Body is a fairly new deathcore band that is signed on to the extremely well-known Sumerian Records. For those of you that don’t know about Sumerian Records, they’re known for signing a fairly wide range of artists all the way from screamo to progressive metal to technical death which includes The Faceless, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, I See Stars, After the Burial, Asking Alexandria, and Periphery. One of the artists on their roster is one that is mainly only known amongst the deathcore crowd, Upon a Burning Body. I haven’t heard anything special about these guys from other critics, but since I’ve been surprised by Sumerian Records before, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to give these guys a listen.

The general theme of this album is well…Latino, Mexican, and Texan pride. For some people, this is a relief since it’s basically a break from the typical hate/anger-oriented themes found in the deathcore genre that was pioneered by bands like All Shall Perish, Despised Icon, Lamb of God, and Heaven Shall Burn. So since the lyrics and general themes seem to be more up-beat, I guess the band is taking an approach similar to what Attila is known for.

But unlike a lot of people, lyrics and themes aren’t going to cut it for me. I couldn’t possibly care any less what the lyrics are about. Since the majority of deathcore bands seem to be doing (almost) the exact same thing, I’m looking for a band that could be appropriately be considered a black sheep. I’m looking for a band that either does something different/new or does what everyone else is doing, but better. One thing that I’ve noticed for sure, this isn’t a disaster in any way. And Upon a Burning Body has a better chance of succeeding because they’re creating music in a much underused territory (when speaking of DEATHCORE). What I’m talking about is combining the extremely energetic metalcore and hardcore punk elements and combining it with the generic deathcore sound. This kind of sound can be heard in Bring me the Horizon’s Suicide Season and Attila’s Outlawed (I’m positive that there’s more of it out there that I don’t know about). But this sound is most commonly found in the really heavy metalcore bands like Struc/tures and Architects.

This album has a shitload of energy, there’s no denying that. But I’m looking for a band that wants to do it better than its predecessors (or at least TRIES to). People have long-since figured out that the breakdowns are where the energy level reaches its pinnacle. It’s sort of obvious, whether someone likes them or not, it’s hard not to feel the explosive release of all the energy built up in the song. It’s when you start having breakdowns with little or no buildup at all where there’s a problem. I don’t give a fuck who did this first because I can’t stand either of these bands, but The Acacia Strain and Emmure saw that there was a lot of people that listened to deathcore in anticipation for the breakdowns; the breakdowns were where the fans would go absolutely nuts. So these bands decided to go with what was popular and said to themselves “If breakdowns are what the people are liking, then why don’t we just play breakdowns with occasional fillers?” Well, they did get the logic right because…well…look at how fucking famous both of those bands are! Emmure has had HUGE bands like Despised Icon, Winds of Plague, blessthefall, Born of Osiris, All Shall Perish, AND Iwrestledabearonce as OPENING acts! This sound, when combined with the more melodic sound of August Burns Red creates the modern (and unfortunately stereotypical) metalcore sound. But when you take that sound, take out the singing, and turn up the crunchiness and heaviness factor, you get a type of deathcore that’s still very new, but that’s growing at a horrifying rate.

Although it’s extremely catchy, the song structure is disappointingly simple and takes the fun out of anticipation. I even found myself ACCURATELY guessing the exact breakdown pattern before it even started! Even in the one song that actually grabbed my attention, Sin City. It starts out with this really cool soft guitar intro which then leads into the exact chugging breakdown pattern that I was expecting. One thing that I was surprised to hear was that in some parts there were some really moving parts that were created specifically to start a mosh pit. But all throughout the album, the band just makes it way too obvious when they’re about to play another breakdown. Fortunately, the band manages to maintain a high energy level for the duration of the album, so it’s not like the breakdowns are dull and without energy due to virtually no buildup. But it still takes the fun out of it for me and basically abuses and overuses the breakdown.

The bassist is the worst member of the band. He’s not tight with the drummer like he’s supposed to be, he’s not even tight with the guitars! There are some really tight breakdowns where he obviously practiced and managed to stay with the rest of the band. But it seems that he didn’t put much dedication and practice into EVERYTHING. Now this is JUST A GUESS, but I’m pretty sure that the producer of this album was also the producer for Struc/tures’ debut full-length because the guitar distortions sound IDENTICAL. They’re both EXTREMELY loud, very crunchy and have a really thick distortion; and the guitar distortions do nothing short of amplifying the energy level.

The drummer is where the true talent in this band lies. The kick drumming is fantastic; he likes to keep things interesting by switching back and forth between complex and simple fills. If your stereo has A LOT of bass or good subwoofers, his blast beats feel like a stampede of wildebeests pummeling you into the dirt. The vocalist uses a combination of deepish growls, screams, and really dirty yells (which could probably be easily considered really high growls). This album has grit, it has energy, and it has catch. But it still manages to leave the listener unsatisfied and empty. Basically, it’s all icing, but no cake. I would give this album 11/20 for having good qualities, one good song, good drumming, no bad qualities, but no satisfying traits what so ever. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gromm - Happiness-It is when you are Dead...

Recently, I’ve been getting into quite a bit of Ukrainian black metal. I’m not saying that black metal from Ukraine has its own unique sound (because it doesn’t really), I’m just saying that I’ve been getting more black metal bands that happen to be from Ukraine. Before these guys, the only Ukrainian black metal band that I had in my collection was the legendary group Drudkh. As of now, I also have Nokturnal Mortum, Anthropolatri, Astrofaes, Cold of Tombstone, Dub Buk, Hate Forest, Kroda, and Lucifugum (all of which I’m currently in the listening process of). Another band that I got was Gromm, and Gromm was the band that stuck out to me the most. Besides getting stuck on the Lunar Poetry record by Nokturnal Mortum, I just keep catching myself going back to Gromm’s discography. Although I’m going to eventually try to review at least most of Gromm’s discography, the record that I’ve been listening to the most is Happiness – It’s When you are Dead…

Gromm’s sound sticks to the bare rawness of black metal in its purest form. Obviously, that sentence in itself should tell you that if you require your metal to have high and professional sound quality, this isn’t for you. But for those of you that either enjoy or want to be exposed to what us black metallers refer to as “true” black metal, yes, you need this record.

Gromm is one of the better examples of a black metal band that makes their classical influence more obvious (some others are Burzum, Gorgoroth, Ulver, the symphonic black genre, and Angantyr). But then again, the classical influence is easier to hear once you realize, understand, and recognize the connection that black metal (and extreme metal in general, but mainly black metal) has with classical music. As much as I would love to go into that, this is an album review, so I’ll save that for another time. As far as production goes, the most unique thing that you can expect from this is that there is actually plenty of bass, but only in the bass guitar; there isn’t any bass in the drums/kick drums.

The overall song structure is very solid and keeps the music interesting for the listener. It’s black metal, so there’s going to be quite a bit of repetition, but it’s not like…”Transylvanian Hunger (the song)” repetition, it’s not that much. Each song has about five to six different movements, which is about the average amount that you would find in a traditional black metal record with songs 4-7 minutes in length. The guitars have a very gritty, high-pitched distortion, which is another black metal trait that can be found in just about every black metal band, just to name a few would be Darkthrone, Nargaroth, and Drowning the Light.

I absolutely love the really soft parts like in the beginning of Seeds & Bones because they remind me of Agalloch. Most of these quiet melodic snippets aren’t very long, but everyone that listens to Gromm says that they really have a HUGE influence on the overall feel of the music itself on this record. If the band has the ability to make those little parts have THAT big of an impact on the entire sound of the music, that’s what I call talent. I would recommend this for ALL black metal fans and would rate it 16/20.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Melechesh - The Epigenesis

Melechesh is one of Israel’s biggest metal bands. If you’re a fan of Skeletonwitch or Goatwhore, I would HIGHLY recommend reading this review because you’re in for quite the thrash black treat. I discovered this record early this year through my favorite record label, Nuclear Blast. Having confidence that the label wouldn’t put out a poor record, I decided to give The Epigenesis a listen. Before I found this album, I was positive that Nile was the only Ancient Egyptian-themed extreme metal band, but obviously I was wrong. But unlike Nile, Melechesh doesn’t exactly put as much focus on the mythology part of their music. Melechesh has a wider range of topics that can go as far as having a science fiction view on Egyptian-based Satanism with songs like Grand Gathas of Baal Sin and Sacred Geometry As well as that, you can also find topics of anger towards the corrupt state of Israel and the Middle East in the lyrics. But I’m not really one that likes to pay attention to lyrical themes; it’s all about the music for me.

Melechesh implements more thrash metal into their music than most thrash black bands. Either that or they just took out the melodic and atmospheric aspect that comes with the black metal sound like Marduk and Behemoth have done. But UNLIKE Marduk and Behemoth, they haven’t filled up the hole where the melodic element used to be with speed and brutality; they just leave it barren and empty. Obviously taking a considerable amount of influence from Nile, you can hear those weird Egyptian harmonizations in the guitars every once in a while. Here’s the thing, remember that Nile is a brutal death band, not black metal, so those ambient chords aren’t played in the same fashion. Melechesh place those chords in the thrash metal section, where they’re played in a sort of 90’s hard rock styled progression.

Here’s another thing that will cause to refer me back to Nile: singing. Those Whom the Gods Detest was released one year before The Epigenesis, which means it was possibly during the writing process of the record. I know that Melechesh had some singing in the album before this one, but it’s not buried by the distorted guitars and black metal vocals like in that one. In Sacred Geometry, you get to hear singing that is very crisp and that is obviously wanted to be heard because it stands at the front of the line. There’s nothing wrong with the singing at all, but the sound of his voice doesn’t fit the music at all and actually distracts the listener (not good).

The overall song structure tends to fall apart towards the end of each song. It seems that the band had their creative juices flowing at full-blast for about 80-90% of every song, but then came to the point where they were out of ideas…but they forgot to cap-off the end of each track. In other words, the songs are fantastic but with weak endings. Here’s something that ALL good musicians know: the most important parts of ANY song is the BEGINNING and the END. If you have a weak song, but a very solid beginning and a memorable conclusion, it’ll make it MUCH harder for the listener (with the exception of critics like myself) to notice any negatives and much easier to forget the bad parts. It’s not covering up, but if there’s potential for fuck ups during songs when playing live, as long as the intro and the end of the song are as tight as a baby’s ass, it won’t sound NEARLY as bad.

The end of each song seems to just drag on and grow monotonous VERY quickly. Yes, I can hear that in many of the songs, the band takes a guitar riff from earlier in the song and simply plays it again at the end. But for me, in black metal, I like to hear a completely new section that was crafted specifically for the end of that particular song; it makes it sound like the band cares THAT much more about their music. But then again, sometimes it is in fact the best idea to go back to the intro riff or something like that at the end because it can still sound extremely epic (depending on the riff, of course).

There isn’t much that I can think of to say about the individual members. The drummer is fantastic and was obviously built to be a thrash metal drummer, the guitarists and bassist stay VERY tight with the drummer. The vocalist isn’t THE BEST black metal vocalist that I’ve ever heard, but he fits the music. His screams are pretty weak and have an emotionless and dry sound that doesn’t bring up the music to that extra height. Having some of the old-school thrash sound in the black metal base sounds like it could have been inspired by Goatwhore (for this album in particular). I would give this album 12/20 for being good and solid, but not completely satisfying. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Upcoming Reviews

Here are some possible upcoming reviews:

The Contortionist (progressive death)
Goatwhore (thrash black)
Melechesh (thrash black)
Ceremonial Castings (progressive black)
Gromm (black metal)
Upon a Burning Body (deathcore)
Blind Witness (deathcore)
Hour of Penance (technical death)
Behemoth (black death)
Anorexia Nervosa (symphonic black)
Dying Fetus (death grind)
Nailed (technical death)
We Came as Romans (screamo)

The reason why this list is extra long is because I won't be making "upcoming reviews" posts as often anymore. I'm going to be making them like....every two or three weeks, possibly even just monthly. But once I at least knock out all but two of these, I'll post another one.

And I apologize for taking so long on The Contortionist review. It's on their new album (I've already done one on their first album, Exoplanet) and the music is just so fucking complex that it's taking me longer than normal to soak it all in and dissect it and whatnot. So I will try my best to possibly have it up by next weekend!

Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade

There comes a time for most metalheads where melodic atmosphere is all that can satisfy them. Of course, pretty much all of the black metal fans have at least one Wolves in the Throne Room album in their collection in case that time comes. Well, being the black metal fan and the local music supporter that I am, I have all of their albums. I also have my favorite, Black Cascade, on CD. Being one of the most popular non-traditional black metal bands besides Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and Behemoth, Wolves in the Throne Room solidified their high status with Black Cascade by being melodic, atmospheric, and even somewhat progressive at times.

I highly respect this band’s ability to have near-constant blast beat drumming, but not sound heavy at ALL. But then again, there are depressive black metal acts like Xasthur and Silencer that manage to do the same. But none of them can pull off being not heavy AND melodic like Wolves in the Throne Room. That aside, the drummer is fantastic. His drumming can get a wee bit monotonous, but when you look at that from a less musicianship/skill perspective, the monotony of his drumming only enhances the melodic atmosphere that the music creates. His blast beats are very tight and have a nice, crisp sound. There isn’t anything about the drums that I can’t hear even though they’re in the background behind the guitars.

The guitar distortion is one of my favorite kinds for this kind of music. The distortion is EXTREMELY high and has a fuzzy sound that can also be heard in the works of Xasthur, Blutklinge, Lost Inside, and the Smashing Pumpkins song “The Everlasting Gaze”. I absolutely love the album opener in Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, where you hear the patter of raindrops falling through the trees and onto the forest floor, and then you’re met with the BEAUTIFUL sound of the fuzzy guitar distortion that I was talking about before being played in a traditional black metal tremolo style. These fuzzy guitars are what lay out the blueprint for the atmosphere of the album, and I can’t stress enough how well it is done.

As far as I know, this is the only album by this band that doesn’t have a guest female singer in it; all of the vocals are screams with the occasional humming in the background. The vocals are great for black metal vocals. Although I’m more particular to cleaner sounding screams like Naglfar, these vocals are very good and are tuned in a way that blends in with the music and stick out from the wall-of-sound created by the guitars.

For those of you that are looking for true instrumental skill, I think you’d be better off going for Dark Fortress and Waning. For those of your that are looking for a record that can enclose you in a world of pure darkness and atmosphere that leads you down a path with a description that can’t be put into words, Black Cascade should be on the top of your “listen to” list. Being one of the most beautiful black metal albums in my collection, I would give Black Cascade a score of 15/20.