Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
ReviewWhile looking deeper into crust, I happened across Oakland, California's Embers. Their first full-length, Shadows, is available for pay-what-you-want download through their Bandcamp page.
Picture the last smoldering remnants of a great fire, a destructive force depleted by exhaustion. At times, it crackles, threatening resurgence, and new fires ignite in the distance, burning and killing with the capriciousness of nature. Now imagine the soundtrack to that scene.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
ReviewThe drummer of San Francisco doomsters Nero Order contacted me about reviewing their debut album, The Tower. He made it sound very enticing--progressive doom, recorded completely with analog technology? I couldn't resist.
The music seems to fuse elements of post-metal and doom with Georgia sludge. The chords often make me think of Baroness, especially on the last track. They make solid use of the loud-quiet loud dynamic with their slowed-down Georgia-isms, complete with plenty of dissonance and progressive flourishes. Overall, the effect isn't too far removed from a combination of Neurosis and Unearthly Trance.
All of that makes it sound mind-numbingly awesome, but there are going to be some sticking points for many listeners: song length and vocals.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
ReviewLove them or hate them, you have to admire Japanese experimental rockers Boris for doing whatever they want. And whatever they want is two things: (1) being incredibly prolific, and (2) being incredibly unpredictable.
Heavy Rocks is the second album from the band by that name. It's also the most metal-oriented of the four full-lengths they've released so far this year. All in all, you could call this sludge metal, but as with any Boris release, any simple description is woefully inadequate.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
ReviewI've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it a million times again from now: I am not a fan of power metal. But when I say that, I really mean I'm not a fan of the uber-cheesy European-style power metal. Soulless shred and, frankly, pansy-ass singing does not interest me. But in fact, I love American-style power metal. There are so few bands playing it (Nevermore, Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, and Norway's Communic) that sometimes I forget it even exists. But what does exist usually blows my mind.
I picked up By the Hands of the Devil from Satan's Host based on a recommendation from Metallattorney, who called it an album of the year contender. He is not wrong. The sound is based in the thrashy American vein of power metal, with highly aggressive riffs and the good kind of over-the-top vocals. The Tyrant (also of Jag Panzer) sounds like Communic's Oddleif Stensland at times and at other times like Dio. As far as the riffs--have you ever wondered how blackened power metal would sound?
Monday, July 25, 2011
ReviewAmorphis need no introduction. Their tenth full-length, The Beginning of Times, is one of the highest-profile metal albums of the year.
If you've heard any of the previous albums featuring vocalist Tomi Joutsen, you know what to expect. This is folk-inflected melodic metal with the occasional melo-death. The songs are catchy, and the vocals are excellent (snubbing Joutsen on my list of the best metal vocalists was an unintentional oversight). He has one of the best clean voices and one of the best death growls. And, thankfully, he's using his death growl even more than before.
Amorphis have become as reliable as bands like Amon Amarth or Dark Tranquillity, and their output is arguably even better than those names.
Friday, July 22, 2011
As some of the commenters noted on my list of the most metal classical compositions, I missed a few. Well, I had to narrow the field somehow. Anyway, the third movement of Vivaldi's "Summer" is metal as hell (much of "Summer" and "Winter" are metal)--and given the heat wave going through most of the country right now, it seems appropriate.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
ReviewMonkey Defies Gravity turned me on to Acephalix and their newest release, Interminable Night.
This really doesn't look like the kind of album I'd review. This is apparently a compilation of some of their prior material, but despite a slight shift in production and musical style midway through the album, it hangs together very well. The musical shift is from metallic crust punk to crusty death metal, and I really like it. My knowledge of crust punk can be summed up pretty succinctly: I can name-drop Amebix, and I have a vague idea of what crust sounds like. But after hearing this, I'm going to seek out more.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
ReviewThe bassist of Slaughtery provided me with a review copy of their debut full-length, Path-(t)o-Logic, which was self-released this past May.
Belgium isn't exactly known for their metal scene. It's not that they don't have their fair share of bands--it's just that very few of them seem to be well-known. It doesn't help that the country does not have a distinct sound of its own, unlike the well-established scenes of their Dutch death metal, French black metal, or German thrash metal neighbors.
In the tradition of their Benelux hybrid culture, Slaughtery sound a lot like a couple of German technical death metal bands: Specifically, they sound like Necrophagist with some Obscura thrown in for good measure. That is not a bad thing. I'm a huge fan of Necrophagist, and Obscura can tear through some amazing death metal as well.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
ReviewNow that Morbid Angel's massive comeback failure is a matter of public record, everyone should be able to ignore it in favor of more interesting pursuits. It should boost the stock of sound-alikes Abysmal Dawn, labelmates Nader Sadek, and fellow old-schoolers Autopsy.
California's greatest death metal treasure came back with a well-received EP last year, making everyone froth at the mouth for the expected fifth full-length. And I can say with certainty that Macabre Eternal does not disappoint. Everything about this is old school, updated. It begins with excellent album art, which could be from 1991 were it less accomplished, and follows through with music that could be from the same year, only with a 2011 production. That is, the good kind, which is clear but not sterile.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I am more or less officially back now. The twins--Merrick and Halsey--are perfectly healthy. Despite the fact that we were moments away from "exsanguination" being more than just a cool band name, my wife is fine as well. I should be back to regular posting by the end of the week.
Monday, July 11, 2011
ReviewI picked up Last Sunrise, the sophomore full-length from Indiana doomsters Apostle of Solitude, on a whim when ordering from Profound Lore. Sometimes what you find can be far from what you expect.
Pay more attention to the band name than the horrible album art: this is straight doom metal. During the lumbering instrumental that opens the album, they sound more like The Gates of Slumber than anything else, and the riffs in the next few songs continue in that vein. But there's something very odd about them. Their vocalist sounds like he would be a better fit for Candlebox than Candlemass, with a clean, pain-filled singing style straight out of grunge. It's more than a little turn-off at first, but it could grow on you, and "Acknowledging the Demon" is a great slow-burner to whet your appetite.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
The Golden Era, Part 1The 80's were basically a formative time in death metal, with only a small handful of bands practicing the style--and nearly all of them in the US. But 1990 is the beginning of what I consider the golden era of the genre, which lasted until about 1994.
Entombed: Left Hand Path
Sweden absolutely stormed the death metal scene in 1990, with the likes of Tiamat and Carnage both releasing notable debut albums that year. But none were more important than Entombed. Their debut Left Hand Path is the quintessential Swe-death album: riffs over atmosphere, a crushingly heavy production, hoarse death growls, and that trademark buzzsaw guitar tone. There's a reason bands are still copying the sound today. The songs on the album are great enough to live up to the legendary sound as well, with memorable riffs and engaging skin-work. Plus, each track has a distinct solo style, from the more traditional to the Slayer-esque. The title track is the highlight, featuring a curveball eerie synth section that would make John Carpenter proud. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.