Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Evoken: Atra Mors (2012)


Profound Lore is a label that's been on a winning streak essentially since its inception, and over the last three years at least has become the premier all-around metal label. To mark a milepost in the label's history, PL tapped Evoken for its 100th release. The band is a wise choice for the occasion, since they released the classic Antithesis of Light and have never put out a bad (or even an OK) record. Atra Mors is the fifth full-length from a band that I have cited numerous times as one of the best funeral doom bands in existence.

This record is going to make me change my tune on that, because you're going to have to forget about being "one of" the best. They are now easily "the" best.

Monday, July 30, 2012

shEver: Rituals (2012)

Girly Music

Women have been making strides in the world of metal. Especially in doom, where it seems that every other new band has a female vocalist these days. But an all-female band is still quite the novelty, and most will treat them as if they need to do something extra to prove themselves.

The Swiss quartet shEver is an all-female band that's been around since 2004. Their only prior member was also a woman, so it seems that their gender makeup is by design rather than happenstance. But despite the fact that they are no doubt conscious of expectations, they don't seem like a band that feels they have something to prove. Instead, they seem quite comfortable doing what they do.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ash Eaters: Ibn Ghazi (2012)

13 Minutes of Hypnosis

As metalheads, we have long been accustomed to the idea that music should primarily come in full-length album form. But it hasn't always been this way. In some circles, especially those of the DIY ethos, the EP and the single are still paramount. The touted advantages are the reduction of filler, and the opportunity to explore many different ideas across smaller releases. Ideally, that's true, but as album-centric bands have used EP's for dumping grounds of unfinished ideas and miscellaneous garbage, the format has been stigmatized.

The Ash Eaters is a black metal project that has fully embraced the EP format, releasing a number of them over the past few years as free downloads. One of these, The Cruel Side, was my top EP of 2011. On top of original material, the repertoire has also included radically re-imagined covers of bands such as Black Sabbath and the Misfits. Taken as a whole, the catalog shows a mind which looks at music in a very different way, and draws on some very widely ranging influences. They also show a gradual evolution to an already-promising sound. With the newly-released Ibn Ghazi, the project has once again exceeded all expectations.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nether Regions: Into the Breach (2011)

The Domain of Unmentionables

At first blush, the name Nether Regions sounds like it refers to a dark and forbidden territory. But then the meaning of butts and genitals pops into mind, and then I'm not sure what to think of it.

Anyway, the band is purely a product of the Internet age, where labels are no longer an absolute necessity for getting your music out there, and regional scenes don't stay within their own (nether) regions. While the label-less band is based out of Portland, Oregon, their style is clearly drawn from the Savannah, Georgia scene. This may be of interest to those who were disappointed by Baroness's change in direction.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Resurgency: False Enlightenment (2012)


Sometimes I get really bored with death metal. Especially these days. I'm more likely to toss a death metal record after about three tracks than I am to listen to it more than once. I get more out of Locrian, the kind of stuff that used to bore me to tears. An endless stream of rehashed Swe-death, tech-death, and modern death bands fail to impress, and even the old-school revival ranks are flowing with mediocrity. Sometimes, it makes me ask myself if I'm going soft. But then along comes a band who prove that death metal still has its appeal.

Greek death metallers Resurgency are one of those bands. Catchy riffs, brutal sound, and headbanging rhythms. With a twist that, while not completely original, at least hasn't been done to . . . uh, death.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nephelium: Coils of Entropy (2012)

Savage Nomads

Guest review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I don't really know what to call this quality that certain death metal bands have that appeals to me. Apophis has it. Cenotaph, the Mexican band, has it. It is this particularly savage riffing and vocal style that comes across as exciting and fresh. It is like the bands truly enjoy what they are doing and this enthusiasm comes across in their intensity.

Nephelium has the same quality.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)

No Oroborus

Gojira is one of the most iconic metal bands of today. They have an instantly identifiable style, and a strong ecological message that may be entirely unique in the genre. They also write some excellent music that pleases a wide swath of fans, leading to a rare combination of both mainstream and underground appeal. While they aren't universally beloved, few bands come close.

They have this annoying tendency to take years between releases. They blew a lot of people away with 2005's From Mars to Sirius. It wasn't until 2008 that they released one of my favorite albums of that year, The Way of All Flesh. It was well worth the wait. They made us wait another four years before releasing L'Enfant Sauvage. Was it also worth it?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Xenakis Is Metal

[Y]ou have the good fortune of being Greek, of being an architect and having studied special mathematics. Take advantage of these things. Do them in your music.

--advice given to Xenakis early in his musical career

I first heard about Iannis Xenakis when he was name-dropped by SepticFlesh as an influence on their style. Metal points in his favor: +10.

In his early 20's, he was involved in street fighting against British tanks. He was shot in the face by a tank shell and survived, one eye down and seriously scarred on the left side of his face. Don't re-read that section. He was shot, in the face, by a tank shell. Metal points in his favor: +10,000.

For his part in resisting the monarchy's efforts at restoration, he was sentenced to death, in absentia. I think we can pretty much stop counting his metal points here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Inner Blast: Sleepless Monster (EP 2012)

That Name Just Sounds Gross

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards Etc., home of metal, beards, and more.

Inner Blast are a Portuguese gothic metal band who released their debut EP Sleepless Monster in January of this year. The five tracks run pretty uniform lengths, totaling 27 minutes.

One of the big concerns that this type of metal often brings is a tendency to drench the music in grossly excessive piano/keyboards. While there is a keyboardist in Inner Blast, I'm happy to report that they employ the instrument with an appropriate level of moderation. It just fits in with the band, but it never overwhelms the rest of the music. And speaking of the rest of the music, the mix gives every instrument enough volume and clarity to play a role. The guitar has a pleasantly crunchy tone and solid riffs, the drumming is reserved but effective, and even the bass makes an audible contribution to the rhythm section. In general, I find the instrumental end of the record to be quite satisfactory.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Howling Wind: Of Babalon (2012)


The Howling Wind is a two-man black metal outfit. Given that the two members are based out of Portland, Oregon, and New York, it's a safe bet that they're not plying the trade of "pure kvlt black metal." Tellingly, their third full-length Of Babalon was recorded by Colin Marston. Yet I don't think it's fair to place them completely within the realm of what some call "hipster" black metal, either.

Starting at the end, you'll find a cover of Hellhammer's "Horus/Aggressor," and it's quite faithful to the Tom G. Warrior original. It's entirely possible they chose it purely because they're huge fans of Hellhammer. On the other hand, it could be a calculated decision, an effort to guide discussion and opinion on their little contribution to the USBM scene. Either way, I'll bite.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baroness: Yellow & Green (2012)


Baroness has become the latest beloved metal act to abandon metal. Blue Record was the most widely-touted metal album of 2009, appearing on more end-of-year lists than perhaps any other. So the shift away from the genre will be met with antipathy. Among metalheads, the double album Yellow & Green will surely be the most debated record of the year.

Opeth's shift to Heritage is a lot like Baroness's own transformation. In both cases, there is a distinct 70's prog rock influence ("Sea Lungs," or the bass/synth combo of "Cocainium"). In both cases, the transformation should have been expected, given the bands' respective career paths. And in both cases, the work still quite obviously bears the stamp of their respective styles. You can still hear the Baroness all over this one. It's in evidence on the solos, the very Blue mellow parts with harmonized vocals ("Twinkler"), or other Southern-inflected melodies. But there is much more to it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summary Judgments, Vol. 1

This is sort of a new feature here at Full Metal Attorney. As the number of promos I have access to has increased, I have changed my criteria somewhat for a summary judgment, i.e., a very brief review of something that I didn't listen to all the way through. It may be that I just decided I didn't like it, or it may be that I decided there was no way I could write a full review of it that would be worth reading. Either way, I didn't devote enough time to it to give it a fair shake, so take its appearance here for what it's worth. I'm going to gather up handfuls of these at a time and tell you what my thoughts were, and I'll let you know how far I got into it.

Sophicide: Perdition of the Sublime (2012)
(8 songs out of 11)

Sophicide is one of those technical death metal bands who can't write a song. They are extremely proficient musicians, but the music sounds as if they lifted sections from better bands or reverse-engineered them into something slightly different. How else can you explain the Egyptian-inflected Nile-isms, the Opethian acoustic break, and a Necrophagist buffet of severed parts? It sounds cool, guys, but I've already heard all those bands before, and the some of these combinations do not work.

Preview at Decibel
Buy Perdition of the Sublime

Friday, July 13, 2012

Danzig: Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)

Motion for Reconsideration
20th Anniversary

As a junior high kid first getting into metal, without any guidance from an older and more knowledgeable metalhead, I had few methods to discover new music. One of the most eye-opening was the shotgun method, i.e., blindly buying a whole lot of stuff all at once. At that time, there was no such thing as music downloading, so the next best thing was to sign up for one of the music clubs. Younger readers will have no idea what I'm talking about, but you could sign up for these "clubs" and get a dozen or so CD's for very cheap. They then planned to send you unsolicited CD's and charge you for them afterward, but most everyone would cancel immediately.

When I signed up for one of these, I got albums from Black Sabbath, Korn (this was before Follow the Leader), Type O Negative, Sepultura, and a handful of others. But out of these, the one that stood out the most to my developing tastes was Danzig, the debut by the band of the same name. Later I began collecting all of the band's albums, and I've listened to them, especially the first four, many times over the course of nearly two decades.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Azoic: Gateways (2012)

Deathportal Mitochondrion

Icelandic two-piece Azoic contacted me a while ago regarding their debut release Gateways. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that someone they talked to leaked the album, because a month later they announced they were giving it away for free.

I wasn't really on top of this one. I thought, "Well, how good could a black metal two-piece out of Iceland possibly be, if they aren't represented by a label or a PR company? I'll just get to it when I get to it." Apparently I forgot all my good experience with two-man black metal operations (e.g. Rite). I'll be sure not to make that mistake again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Samothrace: Reverence to Stone (2012)

Don't Look Them Up on Metal Archives

Samothrace is a band that you should never, ever, under any circumstances, look up on Metal Archives. You will not be able to listen to them if you do.

I managed to listen to the band's sophomore album about five times before looking them up, and I formed my opinions about the record before seeing that page. What they play is often described as stoner doom with crust punk influences, which makes me think Electric Wizard and Amebix. But I find that couldn't be much further from the truth. It sounds like Isis interpreted by Swallow the Sun, or in other words, melodic death/doom with post-metal influences. OK, so they're both doom descriptions, but completely different otherwise.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grime: Grime (EP 2011)


I've mentioned before that I have a truly first-world problem. That is, there is more music vying for my attention than I have time to explore. OK, it's not really a "problem," it's a good thing, but it does require that I prioritize. Usually that means the bigger bands and bigger labels take precedence. Which I should kick myself for, because it's the smaller bands and labels that made this possible in the first place, and you can read about the bigger names anywhere.

I still allot time for a handful of unknown releases, but most of them don't get a complete review unless they grab me right away. Grime fucking grabbed me.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Sons of Tonatiuh: Parade of Sorrow (2012)

Primordial Sludge

The early years of sludge metal's existence found it marginalized and ignored by the core of metal's audience. Corrosion of Conformity did have success with their brand of Southern rock-inflected sludge, but the core New Orleans scene (Crowbar, et al.) labored in obscurity for a decade. Thanks in large part to the high profile of Phil Anselmo, Down brought sludge metal into the public eye. Mastodon then proceeded to blow it apart, resulting in the rise of the Atlanta scene, and the eventual infiltration of sludge into every branch of metal's family tree. Sludge is now a ubiquitous, fully-formed, developed, and mature style of music.

For whatever reason, Atlanta's Sons of Tonatiuh have rebelled against that development and maturity. Sophomore release Parade of Sorrow deconstructs sludge into its primitive elements.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mystagog: . . . of Old (2011)

Unblessing the Black Metal Purity

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards Etc., home of metal, beards, and more.

Mystagog are a Hungarian black metal duo who released their debut album "...of Old" in December of last year. According to Metal Archives the band has already split up, but the same pair have collaborated before as part of another group, so I don't really know if any future exists for these two or not.

This album is really, really lo-fi black metal. That is of prime importance, because it dictates the remainder of the listening experience.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Ihsahn: Eremita (2012)

After After

Ihsahn’s After was easily the best progressive metal album of 2010 for most of that year—until Enslaved showed up right at the time that everyone began putting together their end-of-year lists. Still, the Norwegian metal veteran had a strong showing on many of those lists. I personally didn’t spend a lot of time with that album; while I recognized its excellence, there were simply other things that occupied my attention. Yet whenever I do put it on, it digs its tendrils a little deeper into my skull.

Eremita continues the progressive, saxophone-infused extreme prog of the last album, not straying too far from the formula. It differs in a few respects, however.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Wreck and Reference: No Youth (2012)

A Personal Recommendation

When one of metal’s most innovative artists personally contacts you with a specific recommendation, it’s probably a good idea to listen. Otrebor (of Botanist fame) contacted me about Wreck and Reference, so I listened.

If that name-drop alone doesn’t pique your interest, perhaps you should know their sophomore effort No Youth was mixed by Krallice’s Colin Marston, a.k.a. the producer du jour for avant-garde extreme music, and the vinyl version will be released by The Flenser, a.k.a., the next Profound Lore. From all that information, you’re probably pretty sure whether this is something you’d be interested in, or if you’re just going to move on to the next Hell’s Headbangers release. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But if you’re still on the fence, it might help to know that it’s available for a pay-what-you-want download.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Antigama: Stop the Chaos (2012)

Personally, I'm Progama

I really admire guys who can write cogent, meaningful reviews of grindcore albums. I simply don’t have the required skillset to pick out all the subtle differences as they flash by in 0:20. It doesn’t help that I’m grossly under-educated about the genre and have very little practice writing about it.

But when it comes to deathgrind, like Antigama, I’m a little more comfortable. Stop the Chaos is a 15-minute EP from the Poles. It’s my first experience with the decade-plus old band, but from what I gather, their recorded output has had a spotty reception. You’d never guess it from the confidence displayed on this EP.