Friday, September 19, 2014

Death Metal Briefs 2014

Seared Flesh--Hold the Tomato

For the most part, I haven't been devoting much time to the simple pleasures of death metal. But there's only so much depressing folk and doom I listen to before I've got to break out the audio junk food. To pair with the reliable joys of death metal, I'll be breaking out the tired tried-and-true metaphor of music as food--specifically, fast food hamburgers.

Empatic: Ruined Landscape
3 out of 5 stars

When I think of the audio junk food type of death metal, I of course think of Poland. But even as far as Poland is concerned, Empatic stands out as pure pulp. Sometimes, that's what you need. They combine death metal (with some small resemblance to Behemoth) with very strong influences from big-name, groove-inflected death metal like DevilDriver, Lamb of God, and Dååth. It's extremely accessible, with moshing breakdowns and leads that any metal fan could latch onto. This is the McDonald's cheeseburger of death metal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ides of Gemini: Old World New Wave (2014)

Ides of Apollo

When we last left our heroes, they were doing a little something I called "dream doom." I wasn't the first to call them that, but I found it appropriate enough. The earthy female vocals delivered in an ethereal style, the slow but not terribly heavy guitar riffs, and overall dreamy feel was pretty well summed up by that.

With Old World New Wave, they've changed direction. They still do a bit of the dream doom ("White Hart" or "May 22, 1453"), but new influences have taken a prominent place. Opener "Black Door" is a bold statement of the change, with an uptempo riff and big chorus that--other than the vocals--sound like a completely different band. Indeed, it could be a Dawnbringer cover. But that's not indicative of everything else on the new album.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of the Darkness

This weekend is the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk in Omaha, which I will be attending. As many of you know, my brother committed suicide nearly two years ago.

I've embedded a widget in the sidebar that you can follow if you would like to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wolvserpent: Perigaea Antahkarana (2013)

Not Merely Amplifier Worship

Wolvserpent is an accessible drone doom band. At least, if that’s possible, then they are it. If there is an entry point to this realm, Perigaea Antahkarana might be it. Or perhaps that’s asking too much.

The thing about Sunn O))), or Nadja, or some manifestations of Boris: they sound cool and everything, but a lot of what they do doesn’t sound like a song. Throughout this album, Wolvserpent always sound like they’re playing a song. For a perfectly listenable 80 minutes, by the way, and if you know my reviews you know that I am extremely critical of bands who go on longer than necessary. Wolvserpent did not overstay their welcome.

Summary Judgments, Volume 14

These are the ones that don't get a full hearing from me. But that doesn't necessarily mean you won't enjoy them.

Volume IV: Long in the Tooth (2014)

Volume IV is named after my favorite Sabbath album, and they have influences I really like: mid-period COC ("Blackwater"), Mastodon ("Utero/Long in the Tooth"), Alice in Chains ("Save Your Servant"), doom, hard rock, and more. But it doesn't have an identity of its own, and I don't feel compelled to put this on again.

Common Eider, King Eider: Taaleg Uksur (2014)

Taaleg Uksur is nothing but quiet droning, largely but not entirely vocal, and occasionally tribal-sounding. Which is kind of neat in the background, but without a tense/eerie movie scene to pair with it, I don't know. If Devin Townsend ever hosted Saturday Night Live, they could make a skit about a band like this, and I'm not confident I could tell the difference between the real thing and a parody.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Earth: Primitive and Deadly (2014)


After a while, you start to pick up on key words and phrases in promo e-mails that will help you sort things out. There are certain words that are meaningless, but then there are words that say “download now” and others that say “you can safely delete this.” As far as I’m concerned, “instrumental” is an easy ticket to the trash bin. It’s not that I hate all instrumental music—it’s just that the odds of it being interesting all the way through are next to nothing. You can only go about 15 minutes without before I start to lose interest.

I will make exceptions for a known entity, and even though I knew Earth is an instrumental band, I still kind of like them. Earth manages to show up in both my “Smooth & Heavy” iTunes radio station as well as my “Dark Americana” station, and it fits well in both places. So I forgive them for lack of vocals because they are a rare band who combine my disparate musical interests.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

More Death Metal Briefs


I know you want to read about three more death metal albums that are going under the radar.

Vassafor / Sinistrous Diabolus: Split (2014)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Let's take that murky Incantation aesthetic and run with it. Take it to the logical extreme. That's a common enough idea behind many bands, but these two groups did a remarkably good job of it. Vassafor is a bit more death metal and Sinistrous Diabolus is a bit more doom (with some black metal thrown in), but both of them sound evil as hell and play long songs that don't feel like they're longer than they have to be. Very good work.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dying Out Flame: Shiva Rudrastakam (2014)

When Death Metal Was Born Again for the Seventh Time

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

During law school my wife's Sikh friend got married in Vancouver and we were privileged to take part in the elaborate, striking and lengthy wedding ceremony. My wife had the henna administered (it looked totally metal!), I ate the Kara Parshad and the three days flew by. It was wonderful. Of all of the things I learned that weekend, the most important was the light bulb dance. For the uninitiated, this was a particular dance move performed in traditional* Indian dance by which one alternates raising a wrist and twisting it high in the air like he is screwing in a light bulb, while the other hand goes down behind. Switch hands, twist the light bulb. Repeat. I have since wielded it to measurable effect at another Sikh wedding in Vancouver - also a blast! - and to earn second place at the father - daughter dance contest last year. I also like death metal.

If there's incongruity in me dancing the light bulb to pop music and listening to death metal, I don't see it.** That's me. Dying Out Flame play death metal but with a (light bulb) twist - and what would appear to be completely incompatible is what's on their release, Shiva Rudrastakam (Vedic Death Metal). I've written before about how we search for something new in metal but we don't want it too new or different. For a metal band to even try it is brave - it's fraught with the danger of cheese and failure of metal power principles.*** Dying Out Flame blend brutal death metal with classical Indian music and female sung hymns. Danger! Cheese alert! Power failure! But guess what?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Opeth: Pale Communion (2014)

A Darker Shade of Pale

For about a decade, Opeth was the most important band in metal, to paraphrase an occasional contributor to this site. You are no doubt fully aware of their sound, and have probably heard most if not all of their music. And I don’t feel that anyone has a misunderstanding of the band, either; metalheads understand Opeth, whether they enjoy it or not. You are no doubt also fully aware of their well-publicized abandonment of metal. So I will avoid any kind of detailed discussion of the band’s history and legacy, which I am always tempted to do when I know a band's catalog as well as I know Opeth's. I’m going to simply step into the music.

Pale Communion is a continuation of the band’s progressive rock fetish. Not completely but in part, it sounds like it could have come from the late 60’s or early 70’s. You already could have guessed that. As with the last record, the vocals are wonderful and the production has a deliciously broad dynamic range. They still display a mastery of dynamism, and they sadly are still handicapping themselves by refusing to go into death metal mode for a minute or two. But there are some differences between this record and Heritage which preceded it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

R.I.P. Countess Bathory

I just found out that the other day (August 21) was the 400th anniversary of the death of Countess Bathory. Since she inspired my favorite song, I thought that was worth noting.