Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tyrant Goatgaldrakona: Horns in the Dark (2013)

I got this promo four years ago when Blood Harvest released a 12" LP (since sold out, long ago presumably). And even after all this time, I still find occasion to listen to it.

Tyrant Goatgaldrakona is a Hungarian band who were on the leading edge of the burgeoning old-school death metal revival of the era. Vastum would be a close analog to what you find here.

It's primitive death metal with relentless drumming and riffs that shift from standard detuned thrash to tremolo-picked to slower, groovy sections peppered throughout. The solos are simplified, atonal, Slayer-esque, in the grand tradition of primitive death metal.

You'll hardly be able to tell the songs apart, mostly (a couple do stand out, like the longer cuts which open and close the record). But you will enjoy it. And that's all you really need.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, June 03, 2017

On Negativity, Etc., and the Time Machine

Yes, it was bad form for me to come back from a long hiatus with a negative review.

But indulge me for a minute.

My queue of albums to review became extremely long, and clogged with stuff I didn't feel strongly about one way or the other. I didn't want to listen to them again to write a review. I put on Cough the other day, thinking that it should be a rare glimmer of light, and it sorely disappointed me, filling me with a rage.

So I've set about the task of clearing out the stuff I don't care about from the queue.

And soon I will have more reviews for you. Because I filled up that queue so long ago, it may feel like a bit of a time machine. Some of this stuff is OLD.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cough: Still They Pray (2016)

I'm Still Alive

Yes, I'm still alive, and on occasion I'll review something. If it stands out to me. And it will probably be ridiculously out of date by the time I get around to it. Like this one.

Cough was awesome. Seriously, you should go back and read my review of Ritual Abuse. And then go buy Ritual Abuse, because Still They Pray sucks.

Ritual Abuse was dynamic, and the riffs had a beat you could bob your head to. The vocals were good, there was variety to the riffs, and they never dragged anything on.

Still They Pray is plodding monotony and the vocals this time around are just annoying.

I fell like that's all you need to go. But seriously, they used to be good.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Baroness: Purple (2015)

Mostly I blame myself for the lack of posting lately, but you can also blame Baroness. These assholes have been keeping me from checking out new music, because I keep listening to Purple. I haven't had time to listen to much of anything else, and I haven't needed to.

I know you've probably already heard it by now, or maybe you don't care about the band. But either way, it deserves another listen. I've been listening to it constantly. Several times each week--sometimes twice in a day--since it came out six months ago. I haven't listened to a single album this much since the days of the CD, which for me has been over for more than a decade.

Less experimental than its predecessor, Purple distills the essence of Baroness as a rock band, presenting a more focused, yet more fully realized picture than did Yellow & Green. It also makes the band's finest statement to date. That's saying a lot when you consider this is (at its core) the same band who created Blue Record.

These are catchy, pure rock songs, with masterfully crafted hooks and just enough solo shred to remind you of what they can do. It's less melancholic than their prior masterwork (Blue), but only in the sense that it's more dynamic. It hits that melancholy, with more joy, more hope, more lament, and--surprisingly, considering this is no longer a metal band--more anger.

Simply put, these are as good as the best riffs Baroness have written, in some of the best songs they've performed, and certainly the best collection of songs they've put together. Now, put that in the high-resolution realm of a rich, textured mix.

This is the defining album in an already-impressive catalog. And it's one to which I will keep returning for many years to come.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lifting Goal: Combined 1000 Pounds in July

In an effort to get back into blogging again, I think I'm moving somewhat away from reviews, and moving toward talking about music in the context of my life. To that end, I present Mortal Torment's album Cleaver Redemption.

It's ridiculous, brutal death metal. The kind of stuff music writers like to make fun of, because it's dumb. But it's also awesome. Hilarious sound bites ("Yes, it's true. This man has no dick.") introduce this music that's perfect for weight training.

The album has been a powerful ally as I've been seeking my weight training goals. Those goals have now become more concrete. I plan to participate in the Cornhusker State Games this year. That's a Nebraska multi-sport series of events. And the powerlifting event is slated for July 16. That's where I plan to hit a combined 1000 pound total on the bench press, squat, and deadlift.

Where do I stand now, and how far do I have to go? Right now I have a confirmed total of 920. That's 250 bench, 260 squat, and 410 deadlift. Obviously making 80 pounds in gains in just four months sounds like an unattainable goal, but I'm stronger than that confirmed total would suggest.

I don't always push myself to my absolute one rep max. For one thing, that's not an advisable way to train for the long-term. But there are formulas you can use that have proven to be extremely accurate. You take a lesser weight, lift it as many reps as you can, and plug those numbers into the formula to find your predicted one rep max.

My bench press has been stuck at 250 since last July, which has been an endless source of frustration to me. But I've recently tweaked my bench press training, and showing results. An extra rep at 215 pounds now, which translates to a predicted max of 258.

In terms of my squat, back in October I found I was not squatting deep enough. So I scrapped everything and started over, slowly building. Though my confirmed max is only 260, my predicted max is 293.

And my deadlift continues to improve, thanks in part to some helpful tips from others. The predicted max there is 424.

All told, that's a predicted total of 975 for now. My true total may be slightly less than that, but it puts things in perspective and makes that goal of 1000 pounds appear to be well within reach.

Now, today and tomorrow are rest days. Then it's back to the iron, and the Greek brutality of Mortal Torment.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


A reader checked in on me due to the lack of updates around here. This is what I wrote in response.
Hey, thanks for checking in.

When I really ramped up the blog, my job had me assigned to a pretty mind-numbing task. It was a matter of checking a few yes/no things and putting the right information in the computer. That let me focus on the music, and then I could crank out a review over my break. The past few years, I've been on something much more demanding. I've got to read a lot, check a bunch of computer databases, write e-mails, make phone calls, and then make some pretty tough decisions and write out an explanation of everything I did and why I made the decision. The work is a lot more fulfilling, but it doesn't accommodate my old method of blogging. Sometimes I'll look around and realize the album I was listening to has been over for 20 minutes and I've been working in silence. Instead of cranking out 20 cases in an hour, I consider it a pretty good day if I can complete two of them. Many take eight hours of work over several months. That's why the blog has been updated with less and less frequency. I don't think I'm giving the music the thorough listens I used to. And with my life being what it is, work is really the only time to listen to music. Then, and when I'm lifting.

I still plan to write, but it's not easy to keep it up. I need to figure out a new way to approach it. I have been thinking about it, but haven't quite settled on anything just yet.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

400 Pound Deadlift

I'm just finishing up my second 5/3/1 cycle tonight. My biggest achievement is the 400 pound deadlift I pulled a few minutes ago.

Apologize for the lack of posts lately--sick kids, holidays, etc. I'll share more metal soon.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vhöl: Deeper Than the Sky (2015)

Vhöl is turning out to be--as their debut might suggest--more than just a supergroup. It's a worthy, unique band in its own right. As I described them before, they're sort of an American Darkthrone, combining black metal with old-school heavy metal, crust, and thrash.

The formula from the first album is intact, but this time around the song lengths are more varied. The title track here is a mesmerizing 12 minute piece, but most of the other tracks tend toward more conservative lengths. But more importantly, the thing that sets Deeper Than the Sky apart from its predecessor is pure riffage. The riffs here are simply unimpeachable, incredibly memorable, and they will make you bang your head.

Again, I must mention Mike Scheidt's vocals. I'm not a long-time YOB fan--I've come to appreciate them more--but here is where his high-pitched, old-school metal voice really shines. This was his calling all along.

This one is definitely worth your time and money.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 13, 2015

First 5/3/1 Cycle Complete

I've completed my first cycle on the 5/3/1 weight training program, and I've accomplished some things:

- On bench press, I did 200 for 6 reps, and 190 for 11.
- On overhead press, I increased my max from 150 to 160.
- On deadlift, I increased my max from 375 with straps to 390 without. I had always been training it with straps before, but Wendler's right--you shouldn't do that. I've focused a lot on grip strength as well.
- I've learned more about programming accessory lifts.

I attempted a new bench press max, but I was using my bench with the leg extension/curl attachment, which sits higher off the ground. I was trying to dig my feet into it, and all I did was cause pain in my hamstrings trying to brace myself. I'm going to start using my other bench for bench press and get myself in a proper position next time around.

My squat is on a different rep and progression schedule for now, to make up for a lifetime of not squatting deep enough. I'm going at it twice every week, with a 5 pound increase each time. It's at 155 right now, and the plan is to get it to 250 on January 18. After that, I'll go back to once a week on squat, but continue increasing it by 5 pounds every week until I stall out, at which point I'll put it on the 5/3/1 schedule as well.

Unfortunately, my attempts to build mass have had little impact. About three months ago I weighed 170. Ever since my lifting during my junior year of college, I have weighed somewhere between 160 and 170. I managed to build myself up to 180 as of a month ago, but despite eating like a ravenous beast I may have lost a pound or two in the month since. For a month I've been adding Slim-Fast shakes in the afternoon, which worked for me in college. Over the past week I've taken to downing shakes of peanut butter, milk, chocolate, banana, and oatmeal, but that hasn't done the trick yet. Today I added a hardboiled egg to the blender, and I'm looking for other ways (short of adding olive oil to the shake) to pack in more calories. I'll keep you posted on that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Author & Punisher: Melk En Honing (2015)

In case you don’t remember, Author & Punisher is the one-man band of Tristan Shone. Well, one-man in the same way that a BattleMech pilot is a one-man army. He creates his noise with a bunch of homemade, manually-controlled, analog machines, like something out of a steampunk/industrial world

The spectacle must be fantastic to watch. But in the past, I’ve been a little underwhelmed by the recorded output. Melk En Honing is getting a little closer. Throbbing rhythms like an obscene factory floor, pounding percussive forces, and a rising or falling buzz: These things define Author & Punisher, and should redefine the meaning of “industrial metal.” And it’s quite dynamic, loud, quiet, fast, slow, all of these things are used in good measures. But it feels more expertly planned than brilliantly written.

Ultimately, the songwriting still isn’t there. Shone is obviously a fantastic hobbyist engineer. But I don’t think he’s going to truly make a great album unless he collaborates with someone else.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars