Saturday, September 7, 2013

Witherscape - The Inheritance

You’ve probably been seeing this album cover on some pretty big metal zines and websites. Well, the reason behind all of this publicity is somewhat obvious when you learn that Dan Swano, the mastermind behind the progressive death band Edge of Sanity takes up ½ of Witherscape’s lineup. Of course, progressive death superfans are going to be jumping all over this new project, eager to hear what Dan has unleashed this time. I should probably start this review with a disclaimer that there isn’t really anything progressive about Witherscape; it’s just good old fashioned melodic death. The only reason everyone seems to be labeling this duet as a progressive band is because of Dan Swano’s reputation for being a progressive and forward-thinking musician. But regardless of what the intention was with Witherscape, we have a melodic death record on our hands. But not being innovative and progressive is never a bad thing. There’s always possibility that these two fuckers have created something awesome for us.

But, like every new band, there’s room for disappointment. And although Witherscape doesn’t exactly disappoint me, they do confuse the hell out of me. I can see what they were trying to obtain with this, but it sounds like they didn’t spend enough time on this. Everything just sounds choppy. You can hear that they’re doing sort of an Amorphis type of thing, except with more death metal and less power metal. So I guess a better way to put it would be Scar Symmetry without all the keyboards and electronics. The lack of transitions throughout the record makes the whole thing sound terribly rushed, which is a shame because they really nailed the death metal parts. Most of the time, there aren’t any transitions at all that can be heard. And when they’re actually present, they’re VERY sloppy and don’t do their job.

The second issue that I’m having with these guys is that the instrumentation doesn’t match up. Dan is a vocal MASTER, I have to make sure that point is made, because he really is one of the best extreme metal vocalists out there, especially with growling. His growling is VERY powerful, and his singing, although not perfect, has A LOT of energy. His singing actually reminds me of Symphony X when their singer is putting all of his energy into what he’s doing. So Dan is doing all the vocals, drums, and background keyboard stuff that you almost never hear. This other guy, Mr. Widerberg, is doing all of the guitars and bass. Although he is good at what he does, he COMPLETELY fails at creating enough energy to create a proper backing to Dan’s vocals. It sounds REALLY bad. The energy of the music is way too small for the power of Dan’s vocals. An example of a band that is very good at making the energy of the music match up with the vocals would be Amorphis. Aside from the complexity of their songs, the overall music itself is VERY powerful and does an excellent job of backing up Tomi’s growls and epic singing. If the music had a shitload more energy, this would sound a hell of a lot fucking better than it does now. Although the transitions issue throws the listener off, it’s this contrast in energy between the two members that really fucks with your head (not in the good way).

This album sounds pretty rushed in general, and it’s apparent that a lot of other people are hearing it too. If these two guys decide to continue Witherscape, I would be interested in hearing what they do to evolve their sound because this has A LOT of room for much-needed improvement. The moods on this album clash, the energy between the two members never matches up, the transitions are sloppy, and the overall composition sounds weak. But those aside, the individual members themselves are fantastic and have a lot of potential. And, to be honest, Witherscape in general was a great idea because if they work on the issues The Inheritance has, they would literally be unstoppable. So these guys have laid down a weak base, but if they put a lot of extra work into their next release, we could have something very big coming our way. But for now, The Inheritance gets a 7/20 score and I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone unless they were a hardcore melodic death fan. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

New Limp Bizkit

I'm not here to promote anything. I'm just here to talk about the new Limp Bizkit and well....Limp Bizkit in general. Because it's hard for someone like me to ignore them. So now that I've wiped the dust off my old copy of Significant Other and put it in the player for the first time in about five years, I can have have something that will hopefully trigger some old memories. This new Limp Bizkit single really inspired me to write this ramble or whatever you want to call it because it really helped me realize and understand this band better and now I know my true opinion on them. So now that I can talk about them without mindlessly bashing them, I'm going to write this instead of writing album reviews on one or more of their records.

Before I go into talking about the above video, I'm going to give you a brief history of my personal relationship with this band.

I was born in 1994, so I was a teenager when nu metal was still really big. So, like A LOT of people my age at the time, I loved that shit. Even though it was the classic metal my dad showed me that got me into metal as well as about two or three death metal-ish bands, I was very into nu metal. It was never my favorite genre, but I listened to A LOT of it from 6th grade up until my junior year of high school. I was all about bands like Saliva, Slipknot, Godsmack (my first nu metal band), Mudvayne, old Primer 55, Disturbed, Korn, Sevendust, the first two Linkin Park albums (read my review on Meteora HERE), Deftones, Drowning Pool, Otep, System of a Down, Papa Roach, and a few others that I can't think of at the moment. One of those included Limp Bizkit. And to be honest, I was never super crazy about them like my best friend was. Yes, I did listen to them and I fell in love with maybe four or five of their songs, but I never got excited every time I heard their name.

But after a few years, my music taste went in different directions. So even though I didn't think of the genre any less, I almost completely stopped listening to it by the time I was a senior in high school. It was also by this time that I really had a lot of sour feelings towards Bizkit. I came to senses with myself and admitted that Fred Durst's voice was very annoying, the attitude of the members was appalling to me, and 90% of their music grew extremely irritating for me after a few tracks. But there was, is, and always will be two things about them that I've never stopped thinking: their bassist is fucking amazing, and Counterfeit is one of the best nu metal songs ever produced. Yes, even Fred's whiny-sounding voice was outshined by the heavy energy and groove of Counterfeit.

Other than that song, I'm still disgusted by everything else they've released. Not because I believe it's utter shit, but because I've since discovered other music that when you compare the two, Limp Bizkit is complete bull crap compared to it. Every album that Bizkit put out was worse than the previous one. The last catchy song being Rollin' from the Chocolate Starfish album. But after that, they weren't even bad, they were just boring! They had totally lost it in my eyes.

Recently, I was talking to someone on an online metal forum. And we ended up talking about bands that we like, but no one else likes (referred to as "guilty pleasures"), and of course, I mentioned a lot of screamo and metalcore bands that I love (i.e. Underoath, Asking Alexandria, The Word Alive, blessthefall, Attack Attack!, Alesana, Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, etc.). And the band that he said was his guilty pleasure was Limp Bizkit. This was the first time that I've even THOUGHT that name in years. He said that this was a band that he has always loved and has always appreciated. So because I'm not a total asshole and I don't judge people like that, I decided to give him my opinion on them and shared how I used to really like them too. And the next thing that he did was send me a YouTube link, saying "this is what they are now". The video he sent me was the above song.

Now before you go and bash it upon seeing the phrase "feat. Lil Wayne" in the title. Just forget about him for now. I'll get to that in a bit. Let's just focus on the Bizkit part for the time being. The first thing that this song has helped me realize about literally all of Limp Bizkit's material is how much fucking energy they have in their music. It may not all be GOOD and likable music, but goddamn does it have energy. Now I have something else that I can appreciate about these guys, regardless of the mass amounts of shitty albums they've pulled out of their asses.

Second, the thing about these guys that bothered me the most is now gone. Fred Durst's godawful whiny voice. One look at him in the video and you can tell that he has aged. Yet looking at all of the live clips, you can still see the same energy in all the members that they had back in the late 1990s. That right there is something to at least give a thumbs-up to. Because there are a lot of bands that lose their energy after about 10 years or so of playing. Because he has aged, his voice doesn't sound all high-pitched and whiny, it still sounds exactly the same, except it sounds more midranged and...well...mature! It's much more tolerable and it's even enjoyable now.

The third, and the most significant thing about this song/video that, even after listening to it countless times for over a week, I can't fucking get over. Remember that I said that (to me) the times that Bizkit wrote a song with VERY catchy music was rare? The only truly catchy and powerful songs that they've written (to me) are Counterfeit, Rollin', My Generation, 9 Teen 90 Nine, and Clunk. Everything else they've written is either mediocre or just outright disgusts me. But this new track, this is the best fucking thing I've ever heard from them besides Counterfeit and My Generation! Yes, it still sounds like Limp Bizkit, and it definitely still has the same nu metal attitude that they've always had, but it isn't bad!! The drum pattern at the beginning is perfect. It's very heavy and creates a great base that has a lot of flexibility for anything to be built onto it without sounding bad.

Ok, time to bring up the guest vocalist on this thing. Yes, the infamous (to some) rapper Lil Wayne. If you didn't know, Bizkit and Wayne are pretty tight; they're good friends. Even to the point to where Limp Bizkit signed on to Lil Wayne's label, Cash Money Records, about a year ago or so (I can't remember exactly when). Does his voice ruin the song? I wouldn't say so. And that's probably mostly due to his voice NOT being 80% auto-tuned. That's right, we get to hear the stripped-down voice of Lil Wayne, which is actually still pretty fucking irritating haha. But here's the thing, he doesn't ruin the song. He actually kind of fits the song. Although they definitely could have done without having him as a guest, he gives the song diversity and some different faces/moods. So all in all, I let the fact that it's Lil Wayne slide because he's not in Limp Bizkit, he's only in one minute of the song, and he's in the background for about half of that minute. So what does it matter? Guest appearances aren't supposed to be outstanding and, well, most of the time, they aren't that impressive. Because the goal is not to make the guest artist look better than the band, so it's okay cause his appearance only makes Bizkit look that much better!

Of course, the video is pretty much your typical nu metal music video. A compilation of live clips, the band playing the song in random places (in this case, in someone's driveway), and tons of shots of the band fooling around backstage and other random places. So because that's something very common in the whole genre and means nothing about the band, I'm not judging the video at all. And the clip of the couple screwing around with the hose and the leaf blower is fucking hilarious to me. A lot of people will see that as retarded, but I've always understood the cheesy comedy aspect that Limp Bizkit has had their entire careers.

So although I'm currently addicted to this song, it's not making me look forward to their next full length because I don't even like these guys in the first place. This is all I need, and I'm glad that they decided to release this as a music video because I will continue to go back to it on occasion in the future. But most of all, this song has really helped me come to my senses and realize my true opinion on these guys and help me understand them better. But I don't like their music any more than I did three months ago. This is just another song that I would add to the "Limp Bizkit's only good songs" list.