Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Partner in Crime: Louder Than Hell

This is actually pretty big. I was recruited to be a part of the team for Louder Than Hell, which seems to basically be a heavy metal webzine with other stuff. I'm going to be writing reviews, interviews, live reports, editorials, and just about anything having to do with black metal. The website will be officially launched for public view sometime in January. I will be adding them to the list of "Partners in Crime" in the right-hand column so that you can go to the site whenever you want. For now, click the link below to view the website "teaser".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Swallow the Sun - Emerald Forest and the Blackbird

Just like their brothers in Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Swallow the Sun has always been one of the most melodic death metal bands out there. For some reason, Swallow the Sun never really got the attention they deserved from the majority of metalheads out there. Their major breakthrough album, Hope, got the attention of all of Europe and much of the people here in the states where I am. Hope’s follow-up, New Moon, didn’t prove to be as successful as far as attention and sales though; but the album received generally positive feedback from the critics. When Emerald Forest and the Blackbird was released, it was like the whole world completely forgot about the new Arch Enemy album and wouldn’t stop talking about “this amazing Finnish melodic death album”. Almost every webzine, magazine, reviewing site, metal blog (now including myself), and metal news source that I’ve looked at have reviewed this album. Well, I can at least somewhat understand how the immense hype for this album was possibly created, because well…look at the goddamn artwork! Just seeing the artwork on the ad I saw on the internet made me check it out (and of course my pre-existing love for Swallow the Sun); that and the slightly over-mentioned and over-hyped fact that Anette Olzon (Nightwish vocalist at the time) makes a momentary guest appearance on the fourth track.

One aspect that I keep coming across again and again about what people say about this album; in this case the people that had a more critical opinion towards it, is the trendiness. I’m going to be honest right off the bat, I love this album, it’s amazing, but I also know that there are several trends that Swallow the Sun have chosen to partake in (whatever the reason was). This is something that’s popped up very recently, there are suddenly A LOT of people that absolutely BASH any death metal or black metal album that has a lot of orchestral and symphonic elements. What the fuck happened? Last I heard, it was cool to have tons of epic keyboards and symphonies in your music. But when I read several reviews on newer albums like Scar Symmetry’s The Unseen Empire, Wintersun’s Time 1 (that pisses me off), Ex Deo’s Caligvla, Dimmu Borgir’s Abrahadabra, Epicloud by the Devin Townsend Project, and Stones Grow Her Name by Sonata Arctica, for EVERY single one, the PRIMARY reason for most of the criticism is one or more of the following: “too many keyboards”, “too digital”, “too dependent on symphonic and orchestral elements”, “the fact that there’s a real orchestra instead of keyboards is made too big of a deal”, or something like that. I guess I’m way behind everyone and what’s “in” and what’s “out-of-style”.

There’s always a risk that metal bands take when using an excess amount of keyboards and symphonies in their music, and that’s cheesiness. It’s just WAY too fucking easy to unintentionally compose and arrange the symphonic parts in a way that sounds really hokey and cheesy. In some cases, it’s on purpose, but it sounds cool (i.e. Epicloud). But there are some bands that have recently figured out how to have that epic sound created by the symphonies without the cheesiness (like Wintersun, Ex Deo, Septicflesh, etc.). Except the mood that the orchestras and keyboards in Swallow the Sun creates is much different than most other bands. Instead of the mood being a really epic, powerful, and upbeat one, the mood that the keyboards in Swallow the Sun’s music creates is one of deep emotion, tenseness, sorrow, and pain. And to be honest, it’s one of the most beautiful moods I’ve ever heard a melodic death album create. My evidence to back this up: the first track (also the title track) when the heavy guitars and the agonizing growls and screams come in with undeniable intensity and edginess. Swallow the Sun has always had this quality about them in their music, but now that I’ve heard Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, I now know that they have truly mastered it. Bands such as Katatonia, Eternal Tears of Sorrow, and Agalloch are among some of the other metal bands that have mastered the depressive sound without going full-on raw black metal like Xasthur and Woods of Desolation.

The vocals in Emerald Forest and the Blackbird are particularly interesting because you hear every vocal style that has been used throughout the band’s career. You can hear the extremely deep, mouth-watering growls and the tranquilizing singing from Ghosts of Loss and The Morning Never Came, the nasty screams from Hope, and the high-pitched shrieks from New Moon (although every album had its fair share of that BEAUTIFUL singing). Going back and using all of those different vocal styles helps create a vast number of possibilities for more original-sounding material (see, recycling isn’t always bad, it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be completely new). The deep growls aren’t NEARLY as deep and powerful as the growls in Ghosts of Loss and The Morning Never Came. If they were to bring those exact same-sounding growls back to be used in this record, the power of the overall sound would have skyrocketed. But, since they haven’t, the extremely powerful, but not QUITE as deep growls that we hear in Emerald Forest (that’s what I’m going to call that album from now on) are what we’re going to have to live with; and don’t get the impression that I’m saying the growls on Emerald Forest aren’t anything short of demonic.

Now that I’ve listened to Emerald Forest more than three dozen times, I can now say that this is Swallow the Sun’s most melodic album to date. This moving in a much more melodic and less death metally direction is another one of these so-called trends. Since the newest releases by melodic death and progressive death bands like In Flames, Opeth, Amorphis, Scar Symmetry, and Wintersun (not really much to work with) are much farther from a pure melodic death sound than their earlier works, people are pointing fingers at Swallow the Sun and considering them part of this trend because, seemingly out of pure fucking coincidence, this is their most melodic album to date. For me, since they still hold that extremely gothic doomy sound, the vibe of Emerald Forest seems to fit Swallow the Sun very comfortably.

Oh, but how could I write a review on this album and not mention the major guest-appearance!? Anette Olzon, at the time, frontwoman of the biggest symphonic metal band ever, Nightwish (well, it actually seems to be a tie between them and Apocalyptica, but you get the picture). Yes, I do think that Anette’s voice is beautiful and unique, but it’s obvious to everyone that the reason Swallow the Sun has made such a big motherfucking deal about her guest appearance (it’s mentioned in every single press release the band and their label made on the album before and on its release) is publicity and sales increase. OH FUCK, THEY’RE SELL-OUTS! Yeah, you can fuck off now, because that’s not the case. Because although this helped boost album sales and attractiveness as well as the artwork, Anette’s singing truly does add in an outside touch that helps further the beauty of the ballad-like song that she’s on. It’s actually really surprising how much of a positive effect Anette’s voice has on that one song. But seriously, the significance of it is over-exaggerated and was over-mentioned to the point where it was beyond obvious that they were taking advantage of her fame and using it as a marketing tool to boost sales. Why not make it a cameo appearance and have it secretly mentioned in the liner notes? Like when Suicide Silence had Frank Mullen of Suffocation on one of the tracks from The Black Crown.

Emerald Forest and the Blackbird is Swallow the Sun’s best album to date. Thanks to excess marketing, advertising, and a guest-appearance from one of metal’s most loved (and most hated) female singers, this album and the band have acclaimed well-deserved and much-overdue success and attention. Not only to fans of doom metal, gothic metal, and melodic death, but to any fans of emotional, melodic, and dark music is who I would give out high recommendations for this album (and band). Swallow the Sun achieve many obstacles, including completely mastering several things that they have been doing for their entire career. The only question left is: what’s next? I can’t possibly begin thinking of possible directions that the next album will go that would make it better than Emerald Forest. I would give Emerald Forest and the Blackbird 18/20. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wedard - Eiskrieg [EP]

This was my first Wedard record. I think I first came across this during the 2010-2011 winter season. Since then, and the release of the Eiskrieg II EP, Wedard’s auditory beauty has continued to grow on me with every listen. This German duet has a discography made up of splits, demos, EPs, and full-lengths that covers nearly a decade of true depressive black metal. Although Wedard is one of the slightly-bigger acts amongst the depressive black metal scene, there isn’t very much background information or other topics that they have for people to discuss and say about them. Wedard owes much of their minimal success to the praise that numerous other like-minded artists have given them. Nocturnal Depression, Woods of Desolation, Xasthur, Elffor, Striborg, and Anti are among the many depressive black metal artists that have given Wedard praise over the years; a few of them even doing split records with Wedard. But despite all that, Wedard’s reputation among the non-musicians has remained minimal. Anti and Striborg have both named the two Eiskrieg EPs to be Wedard’s best releases. I can’t say whether I can agree to those statements or not because I haven’t heard Wedard’s entire discography yet.

The one thing that (for some unknown, but probably ridiculous reason) many depressive black metal artists choose to do that just absolutely fucking KILLS their music is that infamous vocal style where it sounds like a high-pitched “woooo”. Ok, I have no idea why the fuck someone would want to do that, let alone turn it up to the point where it’s obnoxiously loud, but for some reason it’s become fairly common. There are some artists that have done this where it doesn’t bother me (Suicidal Anorexia, Life is Pain, Starless Night). This is because they either push it far in the background or they put some kind of distortion or effect on it; and to be honest, if done right, it has potential of sounding really cool. Wedard, on the other hand, doesn’t do that. Let me rephrase that: Wedard does something that could be considered similar to that, but nowhere near as annoying and disturbing. The vocals have A LOT of reverb, they’re pushed in the background behind the guitars and drums, and they’re much more high-pitched than, let’s say, the vocals you’ll hear on a Happy Days album. In the case of this EP, the vocals sound best when they’re let out during the most agonizing and melodic parts of the music. But there are some instances where the music is going at a much steadier and faster pace and the vocals don’t quite fit in as perfectly as they do in the melodic parts.

Drumming on this album is far from being an issue. Not only does the drummer show that he knows how to do more than one thing, he also shows real instrumental skill. Here’s ANOTHER thing that can get pretty damn irritating for me in depressive black metal, and that’s if the drummer does THE EXACT SAME FUCKING THING for the ENRIE duration of the record. I mean seriously, doesn’t that get even a LITTLE boring for you? Wouldn’t you feel much more engaged if you played more than just a boring blast beat or whatever simple drum pattern you’re doing?? The drummer, going under the stage name Karmageddeon, lays out a generic, but very well-practiced blast beat in all of the songs. On top of that, he shows his ability (I don’t even know if it’s a guy or not) to always stay on-tempo, use his whole drum set, change the pattern and speed every time the song goes into a different movement, and even kick drum with considerable speed throughout the EP. The third track of the album (also the title track) is where I consider the drummer to be at his best, although the last song is also great (I’ll talk about that later on).

In depressive black metal, the guitars are the absolute most important part. In order to create the right atmosphere, vibe and sound that you want, since there’s typically the absence of a bass guitar, the guitar player NEEDS to make sure that the distortion, the tuning, and what’s being played is spot-on. I’ve noticed that if there’s even one little mistake being made, like if the guitar distortion is a little too soft, or if the guitars are a little too loud, or if there’s a little too much reverb, it can make a HUGE difference. It’s sort of like looking at something really closely under a microscope; if you make even the SMALLEST adjustments, it can fuck you over and completely ruin or lose what you’re trying to see. Since depressive black metal is less complex and there aren’t nearly as many instruments, everything needs to be as perfect as can be. This was why Scott Connor’s project, Xasthur, was so damn successful and lasted for so long, because he was a damn perfectionist and always knew that every single alteration and change that was done needed to be exact and precise, or else it’ll completely change the sound of everything.

My favorite song off the album is, without a doubt, the last track, A Desolate Song for Desolate Hearts. For the few that I know of that actually have this record, this song is often overlooked due to it being more than five minutes shorter than all the other songs. The slower tempo and extremely melodic guitar solos create a tranquilizing ambient sound that doesn’t even compare to the other songs off the record. The guitarist shows expresses emotion as well as skill in the solo that pretty much lasts the whole track. Not only that, but the drummer throws in these really fast fills that seem random, but fit since they don’t stick out from everything else. The muffled pianos that take up the last half of the song leave the listener absolutely relaxed and ends the EP with the perfect vibe. This piano part proves that this EP was intentionally created to be listened to from start-to-finish, not just for individual songs; because it won’t have the same effect.

Being part-1 of the Eiskrieg EP series, Wedard has obviously crafted a work of art that, like Striborg said, deserves to be recognized. Having everything working for the duet in a positive way, Wedard avoids all of the extremely annoying and negative trends that depressive black metal artists (for some odd fucking reason) like to do. As well as that, Wedard repeatedly expresses their instrumental skill to set themselves apart from many others in their genre that have only their creativity to work with. I would give the Eiskrieg EP a score of 16/20. What I’m mainly going to be looking for in Eiskrieg II is more musical creativity, less monotony, and more unique elements. 

Upcoming Reviews

Finally, now that I've gotten all of these big school projects out of the way, I have much more time to spend on writing. As well as that, with all of these Thanksgiving and winter breaks happening, I'll have even MORE time to do what I love to do. So here's a list of stuff that I would like to review during that time:

Diskreet (technical death)
Soreption (technical death)
For Today (metalcore)
Ensiferum (folk metal)
Swallow the Sun (melodic death)
Goatwhore (thrash black)
Destruction (thrash metal)
Absvrdist (grindcore)
Putridity (brutal death)
Wedard (depressive black metal)
Enthroned (black metal)
Mayan (progressive death)
As I Lay Dying (metalcore)
Insomnium (melodic death)
Final Thoughts (depressive black metal)
Bilskirnir (depressive black metal)
Beherit (black metal)
Thunderbolt (black metal)
Suicidal Euphoria (depressive black metal)

Atheretic - Apocalyptic Nature Fury

Montreal not only has a very healthy metal scene to begin with, but they also have an unusual amount of technical and progressive death bands. Atheretic is one of the much more underground bands. Unfortunately, Atheretic is one of those bands that are pretty much only known by the hardcore tech death fans and the huge supporters of the Montreal metal scene. The reason why these guys haven’t released an album since 2006 is because most of the musicians are in much, much bigger acts. Founding member and vocalist Alexandre is the recent, but already legendary vocalist for tech death monsters Neuraxis, and the drummer was part of one of the biggest death metal acts of the local Montreal scene, Vengeful. The member that attracted me to these guys more than any other is the guy who I consider to be one of the best metal bassists of all-time, Dominic Lapointe, who is currently the bassist for the AMAZING progressive death band Augury, as well as having played with Quo Vadis and Negativa. I’m not the biggest fan of the Neuraxis vocalist, but he’s never disappointed me, I have no idea what Vengeful’s music sounds like, but I would never hesitate to listen to something that features one of my favorite bassists.

Although this doesn’t really seem like it should matter much, everyone (for some reason) HAS to point out that Atheretic started in 1997 as a traditional death metal band under the name Satanized. After releasing one demo under that name, I’m assuming that they had a shift in musical creativity and decided to start off fresh under a different name. Atheretic then went on to release their first full-length that has much more of a really brutal and experimental death grind sound than anything else that didn’t really get the best feedback (it’s ok, but not really that special). Two years after Dominic’s other band, Augury, released their legendary debut known as Concealed, Atheretic went under yet ANOTHER shift in musical creativity and release what I am going to talk about today, Apocalyptic Nature Fury.

Just about everything that was wrong with their first album is gone. When you listen to it, you hear an immense amount of creativity, but not enough instrumental skill to release it. I’m not aware of any direct relations or connections between Atheretic and the Kansas technical death behemoths Origin, but the number of similarities in the music surprised me. Something that a lot of technical death bands are trying to do is sound extremely tight by playing primarily staccato notes with the drummer playing mainly the toms and kick drums. Not only in the bigger acts, but also in some of the new and uprising underground bands like Ayin, Carnophage, and Slaughtery have been shaping their sound like this. Origin, the guys who are considered the forefathers and leaders of this sound in their genre, are technical, but rely more on speed, blast beats, and having a wall-of-sound feel to their music that sounds more like constant stampede of brutality than complex arpeggios and polyrhythmic breakdowns. This is what Atheretic does, except they still have some hints of grindcore in their music here and there.

The thing that Origin does that Atheretic DOESN’T do is that ultra-high-pitched guitar shredding. Atheretic uses the same method to create that noisy wall-of-sound that Origin does, and that is use an extremely fuzzy guitar distortion that isn’t as metallic and crunchy. Just to create some examples of contrast so that you know what I’m talking about, guitar distortions that are the OPPOSITE of what I’m talking about are used by Fleshgod Apocalypse, Decapitated, and Hour of Penance. Like a lot of things in music, everything that is used has some drawbacks, and the major drawback that comes with the fuzzy guitar distortions is that it’s much harder to hear what chords and notes the guitarists are playing. It’s not impossible, don’t get that impression, but for those of you that make a big deal out of being able to hear what notes are being played and other stuff like that, this could definitely bother you after a bit.

Besides the occasional guitar solos, Atheretic goes against the generic technical death method and puts most of their complexity in the drums and bass, just like Decapitated…only three times faster. Obviously, you could probably already tell before that the bass is what I love the most about these guys. And as a matter of fact, I’m not the only one that thinks so; and after reading other reviews on the internet by people that were drooling over the bassist, a lot of them either didn’t know that he was from Augury or had no idea who the fuck Augury was! Pretty much 94% of the soloing is done by the bassist alone, and it’s almost constant. Behind the wall of monotonous blast beats and noisy tremolo picking, you can hear Dominic playing scales, arpeggios, solos, shreds, and just random licks where he repeatedly and gracefully goes up and down the neck with no effort at all. That’s what I love about Dominic’s playing; he makes it sound so damn effortless! When you hear his playing, it all sounds so relaxed and almost psychedelic at some points. After reading over what I literally just put down, I can see how that doesn’t seem like it should fit with this immense brutality that Atheretic plays.

Dominic’s playing style has always been the much more abstract type that isn’t always perfectly sound with the rest of the music. But that’s part of why I love him so much! The unfortunate problem we have here is that there are many parts of the album where the bass is SO out-of-place and SO abstract that it actually doesn’t sound good. Those bassists that sound like they’re playing an entirely different song but still sound good with the rest of the band can sometimes have trouble because it’s more than possible to overdo it. In Apocalyptic Nature Fury, there are just too many parts where Dominic overdoes it. When we have the guitars shredding the lowest-possible chords, Dominic is in a different dimension where’s he’s playing all this complex shit on the two highest strings on his bass and, well, it just doesn’t match up at all! I love the idea of it, and I’ve seen it be done before, but this is just crossing the line WAY too much.

Besides that, Dominic couldn’t possibly be more in-sync with the guitarists and the drummer as far as tempo and the complex riffs go. Here’s another problem that I have with this album: each of the songs sound a little TOO similar. Something that’s definitely become a source of competition amongst technical death bands is making the individual songs much more unique rather than focusing more on making the overall sound of the album itself unique. When you look at some of the more recent efforts by Spawn of Possession, Rings of Saturn, Psycroptic, Obscura, The Faceless, and The Black Dahlia Murder, you can tell that they’ve been putting more focus on each individual song than before. And fortunately for many of them, this has been helping them out immensely, especially the bands that still created an album that has its own unique sound while managing to make each song differ from each other. This is similar to the problem that Dominic had is that it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s TOO much. The songs end up being TOO monotonous and a little TOO unmemorable.

I couldn’t ask the drumming to be any different. The drummer’s blast beats are brutal, tight, and give the music a bit of a grindcore vibe that was probably pulled from the band’s first album. Although I may have made the drawbacks this album holds sound much worse than they actually are, they’re still drawbacks; but honestly, I can see through them easily to the point where if I’m listening to all my technical death stuff on shuffle, I don’t notice any of it. Apocalyptic Nature Fury is a technical death album that anyone looking for something more obscure to have in their collection NEEDS to have. Atheretic have surprised me with this piece and I have high hopes for a follow-up to be released sometime down the road…after Augury gets around to releasing their much-needed Fragmentary Evidence follow-up. I would give Atheretic’s Apocalyptic Nature Fury 16/20. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I feel like I'm being forced to give-in to this online social networking thing more and more each day. I just created a Google+ account and hooked it up to my blog. So if you're one of the 3 or so people that are actually on Google+ you should "follow" me or whatever you guys like to do. First Twitter, now this..damn...oh, I also have a big surprise for you guys starting in early January ;) so stay tuned. Once I'm on winter break, I'm going to start posting a shitload of more album reviews (goddamnit school). After that, I'm going to do what all of the other webzines/bloggers are doing out there and put together my personal "best albums of 2012" list. I can tell you already, I've known that the #1 album was going to be #1 when I listened to it for the first time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Awesome Scott Conner Interview

One of my favorite "bands" ever is Xasthur. There haven't been very many official and good interviews of Scott Conner (aka Malefic), the guy behind Xasthur, but this is by far one of the best and most detailed ones I've ever seen. For those of you that aren't aware, Scott has just released the first album of his post-Xasthur project, Nocturnal Poisoning. It's all instrumental stuff that's pretty much just acoustic guitars, tambourine, and some drums here and there. I bought the CD from him (which you can purchase through the Nocturnal Poisoning Facebook page) a day after it was released and just received it in the mail a couple of days ago. Since then, that and the new Enslaved album have been the only things I've been listening to.

I'm not ready to state an official pos/neg opinion on it because even though I listen to A LOT of non-metal stuff, this is like nothing I've ever heard before in my life. To be honest, it was pretty weird at first listen, but it's one of those things where it eventually starts to grow on you in the exact same way that Xasthur does. I guess Scott unintentionally writes music that takes a little getting used to before one can fully take it in, understand it, and enjoy it. In fact, I highly doubt that I will ever even review it because I don't know what the hell I'd say in the review. In other words, I didn't know what to think at first, but so far, I've come to quickly love it and have become addicted to it. I HIGHLY recommend that if you have $13 to spare that you should give it to him so that he'll send you a copy of it.

Anyway, because I'm a diehard Xasthur fan, I want to know about the background story behind the demented project that lasted over a decade. This is the interview where you get an EXTREMELY in-depth and raw explanation of Xasthur, the history behind it, the reasoning behind the lyrical themes, and a lot about hating people and the struggles that Scott went through during the Xasthur era. As well as that, Scott gives you an early in-depth look into Nocturnal Poisoning, which is actually quite interesting! Follow the link below to read the interview.


Click here for the official Nocturnal Poisoning/Disharmonic Variations website/blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Roadrunner Records is Dying

Want another reason to hate Warner Bros? Although this isn't COMPLETELY at the fault of Warner Bros, but ever since they bought the biggest rock/metal record label Roadrunner Records, things have just been plummeting for them. Don't know Roadrunner? Well, they're the label that HUGE acts such as Slipknot, Korn, Trivium, Machine Head, Opeth (my favorite band), Dream Theater, Rush, Killswitch Engage, Soulfly, Gojira, and Porcupine Tree call home.

What happens first? Because of bad business, Roadrunner is forced to close their European HQ. BIG FUCKING LOSS for RR because Europe, especially Germany, where their office was located, has a MUCH healthier music industry than that of the United States. This was back in April of this year.

Next, the guy who is 70% responsible for the label's success, A&R executive Monte Conner, after being the president for the label for more than TWO WHOLE DECADES steps down from his position and leaves RR all together! So now, the label no longer has one of the best band-recruiting machines in the history of professional music, and are now stuck with a bunch of half-asses that they're obviously just talking nice about to maintain their disintegrating reputation. Read the more detailed Metal Injection article on that incident and the post on RR's website here:

What I just did recently was check out the good ol' RR site to see if they had recruited any fresh meat. Well guess what I found: the biggest heavy metal record label in history currently has a roster of only 29 bands. Does that seem like a lot to you? Let's take a look at other metal labels that aren't nearly as mainstream as Roadrunner: Century Media currently has a roster of 92 bands and artists, Relapse Records currently has 73 artists, Victory Records has 70, and Metal Blade Records takes the cake with a whopping 117 bands that are CURRENTLY on their roster! 29 bands? 29 FUCKING BANDS!? And not only that, ALL OF THEM ARE MAJOR BANDS! Listen guys, I know that since you're a mainstream metal record label, you're money-whores, it's not a secret. But I never knew that you were going to be THAT DAMN PICKY about the bands they sign! Sometimes it's a really good thing to sign underground bands because if you have a good A&R guy (hint hint!!!!) that knows good music that has potential when he/she hears it, then you'll sign unknown bands that then get your promotion therefore selling awesome records and getting you the damn money you want.

Roadrunner Records is going down the drain, and I'm hoping that all the bands that are still signed on to them are seeing that are are doing what they can to get the hell out of there. Opeth has already gone through that once, when KOCH records went out of business and got bought by a metal-hating label, Opeth was label-less until good-ol Monte Conner swept them out of the dust to then have them release their two most successful albums of their career, Ghost Reveries and Watershed (and then Heritage in 2011).

Music Banter

Those of you that either know me in person or have had extensive 1-on-1 conversations with me know that I'm a big fan of online public forums. Of course, I'm NOT a fan of forums where everyone including the administrators beat you down to a pulp in response to everything you post..those ones are just annoying and not worth my time. I'm a member of plenty of forums including Spirit of Metal, Metal Injection, and others. The most recent one that I just signed up for today and am taking a personal liking to is Music Banter (if you can't see very well, if you click on those two words, it'll take you to the site). Unlike most of the forums I'm a member of, this is not a metal-oriented forum; it's about ALL music as well as metal. Come to find that there aren't any asshole metal elitists on here and that there ARE, in fact, metalheads and music fans alike that actually know shit about what they listen to. Anyway, you can find me there under the pseudonym that I have on just about every site I'm on. Contact me, chat, and yeah. Since it's already bedtime for everyone east of me, I'm expecting to actually get responses to the posts I made and the threads I created on there. See ya there. More reviews to come.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Decay - Decay [EP]

It seems that we’ve been having a bit of an uprising recently of bands playing old school death metal…or…at least they’re TRYING to do that. Most of the bands that I’ve heard that claim to play “old school death metal” aren’t that good. In fact, some of them are pretty shitty. Decay is, by far, one of the much better ones out there. After receiving several demos and EPs, as well as taking a look into the flow of demos that have been circulating around the interwebs, I’ve come to find several bands that don’t CLAIM to play old school death metal as much as they do actually playing it. One of the first bands that I enjoyed hearing was Lago, a band whose EP I received through Spirit of Metal that I really enjoyed both listening to and reviewing. Decay is a band that takes on less of a deeper sound and more of a raw approach on death metal’s roots.

I give major kudos to the band and/or whoever produced this 6-song EP for making actually sound like a vintage death metal record straight from the mid-90s, but that’s not where the best of it is. The best part is the actual music itself. One of my favorite things about a lot of the older death metal bands is how much fucking groove and catchiness they have in their music. Whenever it comes to these bands that are trying to revive the original sound of their style of music, whether it be thrash metal, death metal, or black metal, the question ALWAYS is are they still being original with the music they’re writing? That’s the primary questions I’m going to be asking while analyzing this 6-piece slab of death metal.

Because of the lack of damn info on this band, I don’t know what bands THEY claim to take the most influence from. But I can tell you this, the vocals sound like something from one of Possessed’s albums or Death’s Scream Bloody Gore. I’m not really a HUGE fan of this vocal style due to its premature sound, but when it’s put in the right context, like this album, everything works out. Because of the unfortunate and slim possibility that you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about those growls that are more mid-ranged, not super powerful ones that have a raspy sound; sort of like the early Bolt Thrower records. Similar to many of the early death metal shit out there from the 80s and 90s, none of the musicians in Decay have any excessive skills or notable talents. The guitar solos that take place during the second half of every song have a classic thrash metal sound to remind the old farts of the Altars of Madness and Slowly we Rot days.

The guitars have a raw, crunchy distortion that can only be achieved through lack of production. The drums and vocals have noticeably more reverb than the rest of the band (I don’t know why the hell all of the old death metal albums sound like that), and the bass, well, kind of lays hand-in-hand with the guitar. UNLIKE a lot of the early death metal records, Decay is extremely tight and makes sure to tie any loose ends before recording. The drummer doesn’t screw up, the guitarists seamlessly harmonize with the bassist without fault, and the bassist reminds me of the bass work done on Death’s Human and Leprosy albums.

All of the tracks on this EP are something to be said about, but none of them spoke out to me in the same way that Armies of the Dead did. The very moment that those extremely gritty guitars came in on full attack, I knew that this was going to be the best song off the record. The drum patterns on this track are pretty much what can be found on almost every early Death, Bolt Thrower, Possessed, Asphyx, and Grave album. But then again, the Decay drummer manages to still keep everything he does as original as possible by throwing in his own twists and fills. Since this is an EP, my review on it is going to be considerably shorter than my review on a full-length because…well…there’s less material for me to talk about. If you can find this rare EP, do not hesitate to get your hands on it because it’s a death metal treat like no other. I would give Decay’s self-titled EP 15/20. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Neuraxis - The Thin Line Between

The world needs more melodic technical death bands. That’s why Neuraxis is here. Neuraxis is almost ALWAYS described as being a “melodic technical death” band due to their colorful melodies that are laid out in an extremely complex fashion. Here’s a disclaimer: melodic does not mean any less heavy and energetic. Neuraxis are more than brutal enough to satisfy ANY tech death fan, but they’ve let in some melodic influences to add their own unique twist. I don’t have all of their albums, but I do have most of them. After about seven months of listening to them, I can now say that The Thin Line Between is by far the most entertaining and addicting record in the Neuraxis discography. The majority of the success and status that Neuraxis has achieved is more-or-less just amongst the tech death community. Whenever they go on big tours, they’re almost always (unfortunately) one of the first opening acts. But despite the fact that most of their headlining shows were strictly in Canada and that their sales have remained marginal, Neuraxis has done a hell of a job of making a name for themselves as being one of the much better technical death bands out there in the world.

Although some of their sound has come out of pure experimentation, Neuraxis has cited both melodic death and thrash metal as being huge influences on their sound. Honestly, The Thin Line Between is where the thrash metal part of that statement speaks out the most. The intro of the first track, Darkness Prevails, reminds me STRONGLY of the Exodus songs Raze and Riot Act (more so Raze than the latter). Because the drums are where most of the action is at, let’s start with them. Tommy McKinnon, who made his Neuraxis debut on Trilateral Progression in 2005 after being a live drummer for them on tour, is who I think should be noted as the most talented musician on this record. His extremely technical thrash metal drumming style is what gives this album a lot of the unique twist that it has. For example, most of the speed is played through the kick drums and occasional blast beats. What do I love most about him? He’s not excessively fast and technical like SO many other tech death drummers are! Even many of the best technical death bands EVER have excessively chaotic drummers. I’m not saying that being over-technical and fast is a bad thing, because oftentimes it fits the music. But when you flip through the individual tech death drummers in your collection, almost all of them don’t express very much tempo variety (i.e. Fleshgod Apocalypse, The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, Origin, etc.)

This is why it’s nice to just fucking chill out for a bit and have drumming with more varied tempos like The Faceless, Atheist, and Martyr. Tommy acts as a refresher for us metalheads by giving us a piece of music where the drumming in the verses have more experimentation where needed, machine gun kick drumming where needed, and pummeling blast beats where needed; instead of just one or two of those. Some would point that out and assume that it’s because the drummer doesn’t possess enough skill to play as fast as Fleshgod Apocalyspe, but they would be wrong. Tommy wipes those kind of assumptions off the board by writing and playing PLENTY of fills in just about every song that sound like random explosions of blasting technicality; whether it be just in the kick drums, a blast beat, or something completely different. There is just one problem that I have with the drums, which isn’t as much of a problem with the drummer as is it with Jef Fortin, the guy who mixed and produced the album. The problem is that the drums are just WAY too loud. Those of you that have read my reviews in the past know that I LOVE kick drums that have a meaty, bass-filled sound that just pounds you into the pavement. Well, this is an example of what I love being a LITTLE excessive. I’m not kidding, the kick drums (and the whole drum set really) just overpower EVERYTHING. I shouldn’t have to cite certain tracks or examples because this applies to the entire album. Other than that fuck-up that lasts for the duration of the album, the drumming is absolutely fantastic.

The vocals are mediocre. Unique; but mediocre. I like how the really…however you want to describe it…I don’t know how to describe them. The really deep, but not crisp growls fit the music great, but I would rather that they had more of a punch to them. Don’t know what I mean? Listen to the growls on any of the three albums by The Faceless. The growls are deep, powerful, crisp, and punch you square in the fucking face. I can definitely see those fitting in Neuraxis’ music PERFECTLY. But, since I like to stick to reality, I’m aware that the vocals are not like The Faceless and that we’re going to have to make the best out of them instead of whining. I’m aware that there are some guest vocals on three of the songs, but I can’t really hear them; all of the vocals on this album sound like they’re coming from the same guy. Because I didn’t catch Sepultura when they toured with Keep of Kalessin, Hate, Belphegor, Bonded by Blood, and Neuraxis, I don’t really know if the growls are any good live or not (and no, live videos on YouTube aren’t the same as seeing them live in person). If you’ve seen Neuraxis live, let me know what you thought of the vocals by dropping a comment, because I’m curious to know.

Guitars in technical death usually take place as the single most dominant instrument. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing; I’m just stating the fact because in The Thin Line Between, they’re not. No, having the most technicality and volume doesn’t always mean that you’re the dominant instrument on an album. For example, in just about every Decapitated album, the guitars are obviously the loudest instrument, but really, the drums are where most of the action is. In both of Augury’s albums, the bass is the main driving force, even though it’s neither the loudest OR the most technical (yes, I know Augury isn’t a tech death band, but I thought they would be a good example to point out in this context). Speaking of bass, where is the bass on this album? I mean, I can HEAR that there is bass (even when you remove the overpowering kick drums), but I can BARELY hear the bass guitar unless there’s a really quiet part like in the instrumental track, Stranding Despite.

I mean, isn’t the bassist more important in technical death (for some odd reason) than in most other death metal variations? I can hear the extremely loud guitars and drums just fine, and I can mostly hear the vocals when they’re not getting drowned out by the drums, so what the fuck is going on with the bassist? After going back through their older material (this time focusing on the bassist), the only album where I can hear the bassist more than 20% of the time is on Imagery, which was released in 1997. Ok, so it looks like this isn’t as much of a problem because since the band has had over a fucking decade to fix it, they obviously want it that way. This THEN brings up the question: is the bassist really not playing as important of a part as what I was expecting? Considering the fact that the bassist on this album was the only remaining original member, this explains why the bass is much more interesting in their 2011 album than the rest of their discography.

The Thin Line Between is a fantastic technical death album. Pulling in extensive influences from melodic death and thrash metal, Neuraxis adds another chapter to what I would consider to be a very interesting and unique collection of artworks. Experimentation with acoustic guitars, keyboards, and deep melodies take place in almost every song. This album has many downsides, but they don’t even begin to compare with the power of what’s good about The Thin Line Between. A quick trivial fact about this album is that this was the last album to have ANY original members on it. The following year, the last remaining original member (bassist Yan Thiel) departed from the band. I would highly recommend this to fans of tech death, thrash metal, and the heavier melodic death fans out there. This album gets my score of 14/20. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rings of Saturn - Dingir

Out of all the people that love Rings of Saturn’s first album, I don’t think there were very many (if any at all) that got into it instantly. Just like me, the majority of metalheads out there were either confused or disgusted after hearing Embryonic Anomaly for the first time (I was more disgusted than confused). But then, after about a couple months or so, I decided to go back to it so that I could review it. And woe and behold, I ended up falling in love with it! Especially after witnessing their live performance when I saw them with Decapitated, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Decrepit Birth, I was hooked. Ok, it’s always understandable that a band’s first album isn’t always going to be the most mature; so what a lot of us (myself included) were hoping for was a much more mature sound on the next record. I will admit, although I do love the hyper-technicality on Embryonic Anomaly, I would have loved there to be more to it than just technicality and a couple of brutal breakdowns. This was when the band released a teaser for Dingir on YouTube that had 30-second clips of each song off the record. And guess what, from what I remember, most of what was on that teaser wasn’t breakdowns OR really high-pitched wankery.

I remember reading a post on the band’s Facebook saying that they were going to experiment a little with polyrhythmic breakdowns (aka djent) more than just simple deathcore breakdowns. Knowing that Rings of Saturn is a VERY tight band, I was pretty confident that they could pull it off. But the trait that Rings of Saturn is known for is that high-pitched guitar shredding that sounds like either alien invaders or a broken arcade machine (listen to Seized and Devoured). For me, there was a little TOO much of than in Embryonic Anomaly. And because I like it, they need to keep that in Dingir, but build a much larger base under it so that it’s not the main focus. The biggest difference between Dingir and Embryonic Anomaly is that Dingir actually has a full lineup. In Embryonic Anomaly, there was the stoner drummer, the really freaky (and amazing) vocalist, and then this blond-haired guy that did all of the guitars AND bass. So really, this blond guy, also known as Lucas Mann, is the primary musical force of the band. In Dingir, we have what appears to be a quintet. There’s the short guy that replaced the live vocalist that replaced Peter after he left, Lucas, a completely new drummer, what seems to be another guitarist, and a bassist. Seriously, the number of lineup changes that have taken place over the past two years is ridiculous; which means that ALREADY, Lucas is the only remaining original member.

Let’s talk about this new vocalist first, because I was pissed as HELL when I saw Rings of Saturn for the second time, only this time missing Peter and his OUTSTANDING stage presence. My first impression of the new guy was that he wasn’t that bad at all, although I was left unsatisfied due to the stage presence that I wanted to see. Most of what he was doing on stage was screaming, not too much growling. That probably means that he’s your average deathcore vocalist that has great screams, but weak and not-so-deep growls. But here’s where it gets interesting. When Rings of Saturn decided to post their album on YouTube, I (of course) didn’t hesitate to listen (since I’m going to buy it when they come to Seattle again anyway). THIS GUY’S GROWLS ARE EVEN MORE BRUTAL AND DEEP THAN PETER’S! My biggest worry was the growls. If the growls weren’t deep and brutal like Peter’s were, I was going to be pissed like nobody’s freaking business. But holy shit, this guy is AMAZING! The screams sound exactly (almost too similar to be realistic) like Peter’s, and the growls are that of a beast with nothing but “kill” on its mind. My first accusation would be that the growls were pitch-shifted in the studio, but even then, if they were, Rings of Saturn doesn’t seem like a band that would make MAJOR modifications to the vocals. So if there’s any auto-tune or pitch-shifting that has been done to the vocals, it’s slight and minimal.

The music itself has much more of a lower end. Let’s take a minute and put the technicality aspect aside and take a look at what the heck is under all of it. In Embryonic Anomaly, almost everything that wasn’t the hyper-technical shredding was the drums; and even that isn’t saying much due to the amount of technicality and speed it had. In Dingir, the drumming is MUCH more creative. There’s much, much more going on than fast double-kicking, blast beats, and generic deathcore patterns. Most of what’s going on is stuff that I have a hard time describing, but that I’ve heard before in the technical death genre that Rings of Saturn call home. The guitars do more now. The amount of really deep chugging and low-ended chords help give the music a stronger sound and an overall fucking BRUTAL vibe, especially during the breakdowns. On top of that, I’m hearing some experimentation going on with keyboards. I first noticed this about halfway through Objective to Harvest, where the whole sound of the song goes in a melodic direction where these weird keyboards come to the front of the line. After that, like a semi driving off the edge of a cliff, the ENTIRE sound of the band drops into what I would call one of the most brutal breakdowns I’ve heard since the breakdown at the end of Whitechapel’s This is Exile.

My favorite part of Objective to Harvest is when the band fulfills their promise by driving into what is one of the tightest djent slams I’ve ever heard. I know that a lot of bands are getting into this whole polyrhythmic breakdown thing to the point where it’s gotten a negative image. But there are actually very few bands that actually pull it off extremely well (i.e. Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, Wide Eyes, Attack Attack!, etc.), but only a handful of groups have shown me that they can do it VERY tightly and are best at it. These bands include Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Meshuggah (the guys who pretty much invented the whole thing), The Faceless (although they don’t do it that much), Rings of Saturn, and more recently, The HAARP Machine. Embryonic Anomaly was proof that Rings of Saturn has mad skill; Dingir is proof that they don’t fuck around and actually know what the hell they’re doing.

In conclusion, this album is fucking awesome. Rings of Saturn have matured IMMENSELY over the past two-ish years. Although there’s still tons of technicality to satisfy the old fans, there’s much more to it than just that so the people who didn’t like them before can be impressed. In Galactic Cleansing, there’s this random groovy part that I can’t help but mention. My two favorite songs off the record? Objective to Harvest and my #1 favorite track off the album, Peeling Arteries. Probably the most surprising thing about this album is how much more brutal Rings of Saturn have gotten. Everything from the music to the lyrical themes have increased in brutality and violence, which is something that I love to hear in my death metal. For those of you that haven’t read my review on the most technical album of all-time, Embryonic Anomaly, I gave it a 15/20 score. Dingir gets my final score of 17/20. 

For those of you that want an example of Peter's stage presence, click here. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Enthroned - Towards the Skullthrone of Satan

When talking about the average black metal collection, Enthroned typically isn’t named as an “essential”. But for the ones that are much more into black metal and really want to have more than just “the basics”, this is where Enthroned steps into the picture. Enthroned’s sophomore release, Towards the Skullthrone of Satan, is the album you want to have. The only other widely-known black metal band from Belgium is Lugubrum; and their popularity/status doesn’t even come close to being comparable to Enthroned’s. Ok, so there isn’t really any “Belgian black metal scene” that has its unique traits like Ukraine, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greece, and Australia. That’s where I would include Enthroned with the German black metal scene (which is HUGE) that includes behemoths like Endstille, Nargaroth (black metal ist krieg), and Nyktalgia. But then again, there are way too many obvious differences to just include them in the German scene. But once I look at a map, I see that Belgium borders both Germany AND The Netherlands. Ok, now I know where all of this melodic influence is coming from. So, playing black metal that pulls influence from German and Dutch black metal, Enthroned has put together what appears to be a very unique sound.

The drumming, although lacking in skill and technicality, shines with tons of creativity (which is always most important). The drummer is also great at recovering from mistakes. Although what I would do is keep recording it until I get it right, these guys were obviously running on a limited (and most definitely low) budget, so it was more of a “make as few mistakes as possible” kind of thing than a perfection kind of goal. This all makes sense, and I’m not holding THAT against them…well, I guess I am, because the fact that the drummer repeatedly falls out of time and shows obvious signs of physical exhaustion bothers the fuck out of me. But that’s why I said that this guy is fantastic at recovering from those fuck-ups and getting back in tempo VERY quickly. It’s not something you’re going to notice unless you listen very attentively to the music and especially the drumming. So I’ll give him credit for being creative with all of the different kinds of patterns he uses, not being repetitive, and having the ability to recover from fuck-ups. But I’m not going to just let the fact that he does in fact fall out of time A LOT in EVERY song.

Attention people that say “I only like the melodic forms of black metal”, you’re probably going to like this album! No, it’s not a symphonic black record, so don’t be expecting something like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, but it does have the melodic aspect that both of those bands do. A better example of the sound I’m talking about is Drukdh, except with more keyboards and shorter song-lengths. Yes! There are keyboards! But here’s the thing with that, and this somewhat puzzles me, but the keyboards are VERY quiet and are WAY in the background. Part of me thinks that the music wouldn’t sound any different without the presence of the keyboards, but then again, the smallest elements can sometimes make the biggest changes in a band’s sound. The majority of the keyboards on the record sound like a synth pad, but there are other parts that have some minimal orchestral sounds.

The guitars are fantastic. I absolutely love the creativity that takes place with the different types of chords and the complex guitar harmonizations. There are several songs, like The Forest of Nazareth, where there’s a part where the guitars and bass play some random catchy riff. The reason why I love these so much is that they’re pulled off so damn well! The guitars and bass match up PERFECTLY and flow together in a seamless mix of vibrant dark colors. The thing that makes the breakdowns in some of the songs so catchy is the bassist. The riffs that he plays during all of the breakdowns are somewhat similar to what some of the first melodic death bands did, except it’s being used in black metal. When you compare Towards the Skullthrone of Satan to other underground black metal albums of its time, Skullthrone has a pretty good sound quality. Although all the different instruments sound really gritty and rough, you can hear everything perfectly! It doesn’t sound like a big explosion of high-pitched noise and shrieks; you can actually hear what the hell all the members are doing.

Although I’m a fan of their entire discography, especially their first two albums and their three most recent ones, Towards the Skullthrone of Satan is the one that I would tell people to look up first when being introduced to this band. I would highly recommend this album to anyone looking to have more than just “the basics” in their black metal collection. I would give Enthroned’s Towards the Skullthrone of Satan a solid score of 16/20. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Motionless in White - Infamous

Motionless in White released their breakthrough album Creatures in 2010. Ever since then, their popularity has continually increased to the point where they’re headlining tours all over the world. The big question: was Creatures a big fat fluke? Or is Motionless in White truly one of the better metalcore bands out there? Well, I was only minimally impressed with Creatures, the only song that truly stuck out to me being Abigail with its interesting vocal harmonizations and its unique sound and concept. But hey, the album as a whole was better than most of the other metalcore albums I’ve been hearing lately! Let’s take a moment and look at first impressions: the artwork, although slightly cliché, fits the band’s theme perfectly and has a nice dark look. The member of the band that gets the most goddamn attention here is Chris Motionless, who is (surprising as it may seem), a Marilyn Manson fanatic. How can I tell? Well, when he cut his hair sometime this year along with the extreme amount of makeup he puts on his face makes him look like…well…Marilyn Manson.

I’m a huge fan of Marilyn Manson, I always have been. I’m obviously not one of those ridiculous fanboys that only listens to Marilyn Manson and other random shit like that, but I thoroughly enjoyed his performance at the 2009 Mayhem Festival and currently own Mechanical Animals and Golden Age on CD, but seriously, Chris Motionless has taken this thing to a level that I haven’t even seen before! This new Motionless in White album, titled “Infamous”, has incorporated Manson-style industrial metal into their generic metalcore sound. This is an EXTREMELY risky choice and because of that, Infamous has turned out to be a disaster. Unlike other metalcore bands that incorporate industrial metal into their sound like Mnemic, and…well…Mnemic (I have yet to hear another band fuse those two genres and still sound good), Motionless in White completely fails.

It’s not so much the things that they chose to do that fuck everything up, it’s the way that the use those things that just piss me off. For example, the first song has a soft piano riff played in a minor key. Here’s the problem with that little piano riff: it’s cliché as fuck and just sounds cheesy. Also, the riff has nothing to do with the rest of the music AT ALL! You get this really soft piano section and then BAM!, something of a whole different world is thrown at your face. There’s no transition at all. TRANSITIONS ARE YOUR FRIENDS, USE THEM! So while I have yet to hear some sort of melody in this song, some really mystical-sounding keyboards rise out of the background and really give the music an amazing touch. Then you get a section where that same goddamn piano riff comes in, except this time, it’s a pipe organ, and it’s taking the dominant spot in the music. Seriously, that whole gothic minor piano/organ thing is a great idea! But all potential of it helping the music is butchered because the band didn’t have the motivation to come up with their own fucking riff to match the rest of the damn song.

Motionless in White’s reputation for having an extremely gothic appearance has inspired the band to introduce various gothic elements into their music. Along with the disastrous one that I listed above, there are others that are worth mentioning. The one that bothers me the most is the reason why I even took the time to type out Marilyn Manson’s NAME: and that’s the song A-M-E-R-I-C-A. All you have to hear is the muffled keyboard riff for you to notice the Marilyn Manson sound this song is going to have. This entire song is one big fat fantasy coming from the mind of Chris Motionless of his burning desire to have the reputation and persona of the legendary musician. The really creepy talking sound that he does, the effects he uses on his screams, and even the style that he uses to let out his lyrics are way too similar to Marilyn Manson for him to “just be a huge influence”. This is way more than that, and it doesn’t sound good at all. The level of cheesiness in this song can’t be measured by any scale that I’m aware of. And on top of that, what the hell happened to the singing? It’s just downright terrible! You want another example of this? Although A-M-E-R-I-C-A is a much better example, The Divine Infection is another example of a song that sounds like a shitty Marilyn Manson cover.

Another change that has taken place in Motionless in White’s sound is the style of the heavier parts. In Creatures, the heavy parts were made up of fancy breakdown-style guitar chugs. Now, the really heavy parts have more of a thrashy sound that is at a higher and more constant speed. I think this is a great direction for these guys to take, because the breakdowns are used more sparingly now; but there’s a problem. The problem ends up being one of two things. The first thing that happens is that the brutality gets butchered by a big block of cheese that could be a keyboard riff, a lyrical line, or anything else like that. The second thing that happens is that it gets old and tasteless a little too fast. Luckily, Motionless in White takes care of that most of the time by throwing in melodic choruses, breakdowns, or keyboard sections to help spice things up a bit.

Despite all of these major flaws that have caused me to give this album a below-average score, Motionless in White still manage to…wait, what the hell is this? WHY IS BJORN STRID A GUEST VOCALIST FOR THESE FUCKS?? Bjorn “Speed” Strid, the godlike vocalist for the Swedish melodic death band Soilwork, is featured as a guest vocalist on Puppets 2 (The Rain). Being the Soilwork fan that I am, I know Bjorn’s voice when I hear it (it’s just too unique to miss), but why is he being associated with Motionless in White? I understand better why he did guest vocals for Dutch symphonic metal band ReVamp, but DAMN! Soilwork is from a completely different league. Honestly, his singing doesn’t do anything more than offer the listener the luxury of having a break from Chris’ deteriorating singing. The breakdown at the end of that song is probably the pinnacle-point of the entire album (which is fucking pathetic).

Ok, now that I’m done ranting about something I (surprisingly) never noticed before when listening to this album, Motionless in White has proved to me that Creatures was a mere fluke. There are no songs off of Infamous that I would recommend, I wouldn’t bother spending your time listening to this album unless you’re a hardcore metalcore fan that’s likely to enjoy this album. But even THAT’S unlikely. I would give Infamous 7/20. 

Pig Destroyer - Book Burner

Pig Destroyer’s legendary Phantom Limb was the album that introduced me to grindcore. Why did I pick that album as my first impression over any other grindcore record? Simply because it was the first one that became accessible to me. I had looked these guys up on Spirit of Metal prior to getting this $5 CD, so I already knew that they were one of the leading bands in the genre. The reason why I haven’t (and probably will never) write a review on Phantom Limb is because I’ll get so sucked into telling you about my personal experiences when listening to it when I should be focusing more on the album itself and its pros and cons. Like every other grindcore fan out there, I grew annoyed with the wait for a new album from these extremely unique and (surprisingly) creative swine grinders. Of course, since I’m not WAY into grindcore like some of you are, this is literally the most hype I’ve ever seen preceding a grindcore album’s release. Well, duh, it’s fucking Pig Destroyer! That alone explains why, but now the metalhead community truly knows why the people that got advanced promo copies of this album were so damn excited.

This is not an instance where I’m going to compare Book Burner with its predecessor, Phantom Limb (although I’m probably going to end up doing that anyway, but I’ll try not to). What we know as generic grindcore has been getting less and less common over the years. Several grindcore behemoths like Fuck the Facts, Cephalic Carnage, Napalm Death, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been taking on more groundbreaking directions. These directions that are being taken are either directions that absolutely NO ONE has ever gone before or directions that have been minimally explored. Pig Destroyer’s sound has always been strongly influenced by Brutal Truth, which makes sense because the evidence of breakdown-like sections became present in Terrifyer. In Book Burner, Pig Destroyer take on a COMPLETELY different direction of their own, which only sets them apart even more than they already were from the majority of grindcore.

What is grindcore known for? Those drawn-out sections consisting of fast blast beat drumming and tremolo picked guitars. Ever since Terrifyer, Pig Destroyer has had less of that in every album. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re implementing death metal into their music, but there are definitely some new elements present in Book Burner. One thing that I would actually consider to be a new element is the fact that they have a different drummer in this album. Seriously, a new drummer? I’ve said time and time again how mind-blowing the drumming on Phantom Limb is, and that I can’t wait to hear the drumming on the new Pig Destroyer record, and now they have a different drummer? Because this band has always lacked a bass player, the drums and guitars have a much higher role as the driving force in the band in order to make up for it. Here’s how I feel that they pulled it off in Phantom Limb: the guitar distortion was just right so that it had plenty of loud crunch, but still had an intense lower-end, and the drums…well…the drums. The blast beats on Phantom Limb are undeniably brutal. They’re tight, they’re loud, the kick drums pound you into the dirt, and the drummer’s efficient method of playing all made it so that there wasn’t even a NEED for a fucking bassist!

Now we have a drummer that has a whole different way of doing things. After looking up this guy’s musical background, I have a much better understanding about where he’s coming from and why he does the things that he does on Book Burner. Along with being the drummer for one of the biggest death grind bands ever, Misery Index, this guy has also been in various death metal and death grind bands, and a stoner metal band that released an EP in 2009. So obviously, since this guy doesn’t have as much of a pure grindcore background as Pig Destroyer’s previous drummer. But to be honest, I love the drumming on Misery Index’s records, so this can’t be THAT bad, right? Well, to some people, it is, and although I wouldn’t say that myself, I will admit that this guy’s style just doesn’t fit Pig Destroyer’s music as much. The extremely fortunate thing is that it all works out in the end; the new drummer’s more creative and death metal-based style has laid out fresh grounds for the rest of the band to build on top of and to evolve their sound. I just miss those extremely chaotic blast beats from Terrifyer and Phantom Limb.

Because the drumming has taken on a new direction, the rest of the band has done a fantastic job at evolving their sound along with it to make everything match up. Since the amount of blasting in the drums have gone down, the amount of open-chorded shredding in the guitars has taken a decrease as well. Woe and behold, the two vocalists from Agoraphobic Nosebleed are back as guest vocalists! Remember those tracks from Terrifyer that practically gave Agoraphobic Nosebleed their big break? Well it looks like they’re back for more, with Katherine Katz being featured on Eve and The Bug, and Richard Johnson appearing on The Underground Man. Along with that, the new drummer bridged a gap between Pig Destroyer and Misery Index, therefore bringing Misery Index vocalist Jason Netherton to do guest vocals on The Diplomat. I’m not a big fan of the two vocalists from Agoraphobic Nosebleed (especially Katherine), but they do give Pig Destroyer’s sound an interesting twist that I wouldn’t want to have left out.

The sound production of the album is much cleaner and more refined than any of their previous releases. Of course, this was because of Pig Destroyer’s highly-acclaimed status that followed the release of Phantom Limb. But even with this more refined sound, Pig Destroyer defy the odds and STILL manage to create a chaotic and atmospheric wall of sound that leaps out of your stereo and rips your face apart. The answer to the big question is no, Book Burner (in my opinion) is not as good as Phantom Limb, but it is in NO way an album worth turning down. This is one of the most enjoyable grindcore records I’ve ever heard and it should be present in every metalhead’s collection. I would give Book Burner a score of 15/20 (which is one of the highest scores I’ve ever given a grindcore record). 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Been listening to this guy since 2005, damn that's almost 8 years. One of the most brutal human beings and musicians ever to live. I've been both frustrated and upset all day.


Since I'm rarely on Facebook since I hate it, follow me on TWITTER, why? Because I'm actually on it a lot and you can talk to me (personally) AAND watch me rant about random shit at the same time!! I'm going to be adding a widget on the right column where you can follow my profile pretty soon. More reviews on the way.