Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vorum: Poisoned Void (2013)

Oh Yeah, That's Why I Love Death Metal

I used to do death metal album reviews to the tune of about one a week, maybe even better. That rate has fallen off drastically, but it’s not because the genre no longer interests me. The output is what’s lacking. Aside from Horrendous and Ataraxy, 2012 simply didn’t have much on the bone that was sufficiently rotten to satisfy my zombie cravings. I still list it as one of my two favorite genres (along with doom), despite the fact no death metal managed to even get an honorable mention from me in my end-of-2012 list.

Thankfully, 2013 is already shaping up to be much better. Case in point: Finland’s Vorum, and debut Poisoned Void. Vorum did a split in 2010 with the incredible Vasaeleth, so as you might expect their maggot-ridden bread and butter is old-school death metal. In contrast to their American counterparts, they’re not here for swirling, hellish Incantation-worship. These Finns are all about the riff, Altars of Madness style.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Demona: Metal Through the Time (2012)

It’s Speed Metal

Let’s talk about genre for a minute.

I know, you’re probably sick of this endless, ridiculous debate. On the one hand, you have people who hate classification of music in any form, and on the other, you have the people who want to explain the ins and outs of Eastern European psychedelic pirate metal. (I’m a lot closer to the second camp.) But wherever you fall, you have to admit that some genre identifiers are more useful than others. Take black metal, for instance. If both classic Darkthrone and recent Wolves in the Throne Room are equally described by the same two words, then it cuts a pretty broad swath. On the other hand, there’s speed metal. That’s a pretty specific genre. Stray too far in one direction, you become thrash metal; a little further left and you’re black metal; if you pull back too far, then you’re just plain heavy metal.

Which brings us to the subject of Demona. Demona is a speed metal band. That tells you a lot of what to expect, right there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sinister: The Carnage Ending (2012)

What's Better--The Music, or the Art?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

In recent years Sinister's music has been somewhat outshined by their amazing and oftentimes brutal album covers. They put out a couple of terrific death metal albums in the early 1990's with some terrific artwork on the cover. But since then their music has been lacking something. One thing they have always managed to do is grab attention on the CD racks though. The music just has not been able to live up to the promise of the cover.

This year Sinister once again released an album with an eye-catching album cover. Unlike prior albums though, the music contained within is extremely impressive and powerful death metal. Sinister definitely has an old-school death metal sound, not at all surprising since the band has been around for a long time now. They have resisted the urge on this album to add more modern touches to their music, just letting it speak for itself. The result is an absolutely blistering and relentless death metal attack that shows that there is some life (death?) left in this old band. Seriously this thing will leave you gasping for air and with a broken neck. It is that good.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Immigration Reform

The news says that immigration is the next big issue on the President's agenda. I expected it sooner--like three years ago--so I wrote a series on the issue. The thing that strikes me about it is that everyone has an opinion on it, but almost nobody knows anything about it. If you click here you can find my simple explanations about how the law works now. Here are the individual articles in my Immigration 101 series:

Immigrant Petitions
Getting a Green Card
Refugee/Asylee Status and Diversity Visas
Nonimmigrant Visas
Citizenship by Birth and Naturalization

Nunslaughter: Christmassacre (EP 2004)

What Does the Laughter of Nuns Have to Do With Anything?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Well this is certainly interesting. A little bit of background on this release first. This is not a new release. It was initially released on Christmas Day in 2004, in a variety of formats. It was reissued this year to celebrate Nunslaughter's favorite holiday. So this is not a new release, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Nunslaughter has released a filthy little EP full of good times and Christmas cheer. We have the immortal classic "Deathlehem", the positively uplifting "Jewrusalem", and who could forget the popular children's song "Unholy Scriptures". It is pretty obvious how Nunslaughter feels about all of this.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fastkill: Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer (2011)

You had me at "Bestial"

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I have seen a lot of complaints that all of the thrash metal released today is just bands copying what has been done by the big-name bands of the 1980's, in particular the Big Four. This is simply not true. Obviously there is the wave of bands from the United States and England that are trying to recapture past glories of the Bay Area scene. Of course there were other scenes in the 1980's, scenes that have been largely ignored by newer thrash metal bands, for some unknown reason.

Enter Japan's Fastkill, a band clearly influenced by the much more chaotic, and yes, bestial, thrash metal bands of the 1980's. We are talking clear Slayer, Destruction, and Kreator worship here. Japan has produced a few bands like this, with King's-Evil being another name.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Xul: Malignance (2012)

Cybernetic Organism

Technical death metal and blackened death metal diverged from a common ancestor years ago, and only a few mules have spawned since that speciation. Canadian band Xul is one such mule, as debut full-length Malignance attests.

In terms of presentation, they (consciously or unconsciously) choose a decidedly old-school aesthetic. The cover art is charcoal-black occult high school art project all the way, and song titles tend toward hordes, winter, and tombs rather than words out of a science textbook. But there’s plenty of evidence that there’s a love of tech-death in the band as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Schattenbrandung: I - Apophänie (2012)

I Don't Know What these Words Mean

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Blackened doom metal is kind of an odd concept. Some of the earliest better-known black metal bands were often very fast-paced with thrash metal and punk influences. Think Immortal and Gorgoroth's earlier work for examples. Doom metal on the other hand is quite the opposite. Obviously over time the atmosphere became the major element in black metal and that is where black and doom metal were able to eventually find a common ground. Blackened doom would not have worked in the mid 1990's. It works better now.

Meet Schattenbrandung, a German blackened doom metal band. This is the band's debut album after forming in 2009. Their songs on their album are not named, but instead represented by Roman numerals that are weirdly out of order and missing VI. Their inability to count notwithstanding, this is some surprisingly decent stuff in places.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Metal Briefs: Up the Irons!

Iron: The Original Black Metal

Briefs by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Iron “is the most common element (by mass) forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. . . Iron metal has been used since ancient times.” Add the right amount of carbon, and iron “produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron.” These “[s]teels and low carbon iron alloys … are by far the most common metals in industrial use, due to their great range of desirable properties and the abundance of iron.”*

So too is “Iron” the most common word in my iTunes metal library, a search of which results in six different artists, 39 different albums, and a whopping 420 songs. Certainly, iron has been employed “since ancient [metal] times” being wielded to all time heavy metal thunder perfection by Iommi and co way back in 1970 – “Iron Man” practically started it all.

And now, thanks to the FULL METAL ATTORNEY, I have three more Iron Bands: Iron Curtain, Iron Dogs, and Iron Kobra. Certainly these bands recognized that Iron is “by far the most common [of the] metals in [] use, due to their great range of desirable properties.” And we get some great, some desireable, and some that need work in this range of Iron metal products.

Let’s start with the great. Iron Curtain hail from Spain and play straight up heavy metal. There’s nothing new on "Road to Hell", and that’s the point. Releases like this live and die by how well they execute. How well they execute is usually a byproduct of how much they love what they are doing. Iron Curtain love what they are doing. They are doing it well. I will play “Taste My Whip”, “Scream & Shout”, “Black Fist” and “Marshall Law” over and over as much for their clever word play as for their memorable choruses and ripping solos. “Road to Hell” is the best produced of these three and Iron Curtain don’t waste that production with pointless intros or interludes. They were “Ready to Strike” and get to the point. A lesson many bands would do well to heed. 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Void Paradigm: Void Paradigm (2012)

Hypnotic Dodecatonic

TotalRust sent me the self-titled debut of Void Paradigm quite a while ago. It’s taken me quite a while to fully digest it, because it’s the kind of record that demands that kind of thing. Much like the Austrian deviance that inspired it (more on that later).

Void Paradigm is a part of the ascendant French black metal scene, although in sound they have as much in common with underground California (e.g. Kallathon) as they do with their fellow French. I always get a kick out of made-up genre names, because 99% of the time they don’t make any sense. These guys refer to their style as “hypnotic dodecatonic black metal.” That sounds ridiculous at first blush, but there could be something to it. Picking it apart might let me explain their music to you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Melencolia Estatica: Hel (2012)

But, is Italy Awesome?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Sounding like a dream that keeps getting stranger and stranger, going off the rails towards oblivion, Melencolia Estatica's Hel is one of the more surprising albums of the year. The album is a concept piece centered around Fritz Lang's masterpiece of early cinema, Metropolis. I will admit to being somewhat naive about that piece, having only read about it or heard others talk about it. I have never seen it myself, though the pieces I have seen would suggest a fairly powerful message.

Melencolia Estatica is the project of Climaxia, who performs the bass and guitar duties. She, that's right she, is the only stable member of the group. The vocals are handled by Afthenktos, who possesses a fairly impressive range for a black metal vocal style, which is used to terrific effect over the course of this album. Melencolia Estatica has been making some noise in the depths of the Italian black metal underground for a few years now. This is the group's third full-length album.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Metal Briefs: Death Metal 2012 (EP Edition)

A Quick Death

I didn't pay nearly as much attention to death metal as I should have in 2012. In an effort to rectify that, here are three death metal EP's from last year, all of which tickled my fancy.

Hammerdrone: A Demon Rising
4 out of 5 stars

All my information states that Hammerdrone is a recently-formed Canadian band, but I'm pretty sure they're from Sweden circa 1999. They play melodic death metal the way it was originally meant to be: uncompromising and ridiculously catchy. There's nothing especially original about their style--it can be summed up as a combination of The Chainheart Machine Soilwork and Versus the World Amon Amarth--but good luck getting these songs out of your head. Very good stuff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

War Possession: Through the Ages (EP 2012)

Quick and Dirty

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

This is another quick and dirty death metal EP from Hellthrasher Productions, the people that brought out the Engulfed EP reviewed earlier. War Possession is a Greek band. I have heard a lot of black, doom, and heavy metal from Greece, but I have not heard too many death metal bands.

War Possession is another band interested more in the old school death metal sounds. Their influences are the more brutal bands from the early days of death metal such as Asphyx and the Swedish scene with groups like Immolation and Incantation thrown in for good measure. Most of the music is faster-paced with a few doom-laden sections to keep things interesting. The vocals are delivered in a sort of decayed and dessicated guttural gasping croak. It is not a style done frequently and it sounds very impressive with the down-tuned and eerie atmospheric style of the music.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Engulfed: Through the Eternal Damnation (EP 2012)

Blasphemous Incantations

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I have been able to find virtually no information on Engulfed out there, so I really went into this one blind. The little information I have been able to find is that Engulfed is a death metal band from Turkey and that they are made up of members of Deggial, Burial Invocation, and Decaying Purity.

This is a very short EP, featuring only four songs and being less than 25 minutes in length. But do not mistake its brevity for being an easy album to listen to. Engulfed is brutally intense. Engulfed's style of death metal is most similar to Incantation and Angelcorpse and other more occult death metal bands. The music is a whirlwind of riffs and pounding drums and deep guttural roars. There are some black metal elements thrown in to the point that many will probably call this a blackened death metal band, but for the most part this is just a fast and furious underground death metal band.

De Magia Veterum: The Deification (2012)

Sonic Chaos

Most of us have at least one person in our lives who has to tolerate our music. Most of it ain’t pretty, after all. For me, it’s my wife. She can for the most part ignore it (or at least appear to ignore it), while I entertain the kids and my toddlers dance to the music.

But there are some exceptions. There is a kind of music that even metalheads can only describe as “fucked up”: Your Portals and Mitochondrions, and to a lesser extent your Ulcerates and Deathspell Omegas. This is the stuff that sounds so abrasive and runs so counter to the typical rules of music that even among our odd contingent, you must say it’s an acquired taste. De Magia Veterum is most certainly that kind of band, judging by my wife’s reaction to hearing it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Varg: Guten Tag (2012)

Ich Bin Ein Metalhead

We already had another review of this record, but I would be remiss if I didn't post this second look by Metallattorney.

Okay this one threw me too. I decided after some bad experiences that I needed to investigate bands before listening to them. Just to get some kind of an idea of what I am in for. So I checked out the ever-reliable Encyclopedia Metallum for some information about this band. I saw that they were listed as a pagan metal band with lyrical themes about Norse mythology and fantasy. I suppose that may have been true at one time, but it is definitely no longer the case.

My first clue was the album cover. It does not look like the kind of moody landscape picture you would normally expect out of a pagan metal band. It looks more like something that a dirty hard rock band would use. So already things are a little strange.

Spawn of Possession: Incurso (2012)

Demon Spawn

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Spawn of Possession is yet another technical death metal band. The band has been around for awhile now, though I have not previously had an opportunity to check them out. This is the band's third full-length and their first one in six years. I had heard good things about their prior albums, with some calling them a cross between Obscura and Necrophagist. So I was kind of anxious to hear this group.

The first thing that I noticed with this release is that the band bears a much stronger sonic resemblance to Obscura than to Necrophagist. I have mentioned several times my standard for what is good technical death metal compared to bad stuff. Even though I like Necrophagist, their sound can sometimes come off as cold and sterile. It is as if the band exists to be as technical as possible without much concern for crafting decent songs. Again, I like Necrophagist, but some imitators such as Brain Drill come off as far too mechanical. Obscura on the other hand sounds more human, though still very technical.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 3

I keep on listening to more and more of what I call dark Americana. I wrote these brief reviews before my brother died, but the music speaks to me now more than ever. Raise a glass to pain.

The Builders and the Butchers: Dead Reckoning (2010)
4 out of 5 stars

After wading through dozens of unknown entities without any discernible connection to metal or punk, I finally found one that was really worthy of attention. The Builders and the Butchers is a folk-rock band that sound like a combination of Man's Gin and 16 Horsepower, fronted by Eddie Vedder. It's catchy, mostly dark (drug themes, etc.) and has the right Americana vibe that I'm always looking for, with a laundry list of different instruments all making an appearance. The search has been worth it, and will continue. Check out Dead Reckoning.

Tangentially, why would you have a laundry list? You wash the dirty ones.

Buy Dead Reckoning

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Malignancy: Eugenics (2012)

Reckless Technicality

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Malignancy has been around for a long time, forming in the early 1990's, but despite hearing of the band several times, for some reason I had just never gotten around to checking them out. Until now that is. Malignancy formed out of the same area of the country and in the same general time frame as Immolation and Mortician. But other than playing death metal, they really do not have a lot of similarity to them. Malignancy is far more technical than their more straightforward death metal peers.

The music on this release is hyperactive, technical, and bizarre. Malignancy is a brutal death metal band that utilizes a lot of very technical riffs and sweeps throughout their songs. But there is just something off-kilter about their brand of technical brutal death metal. The whole thing feels off somehow. Malignancy does not really follow a lot of the cliches and expected ideas that a lot of technical death metal bands do. Though their style is definitely technical, something about them just does not fit in with groups like Necrophagist, Obscura, or any other bands. I am not sure how to explain it really, something is just different about Malignancy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Call On Me Darkness

I was cleaning up the basement tonight, organizing and generally making it a nicer place to be. The last part I did tonight was picking up Legos. Most of them are my brother's old Legos. That's when it hit me hard.

As it happens, I was listening to music on shuffle, and Soilwork's "Sick Heart River" was playing. I know I preach about lyrics being unimportant to music, but that comes with the important caveat: Except when they are important. A few lines seemed fitting:
Leaning against what' next to me
Have no fear, won't see
Will it eat me up or bring me down
I'll gradually make up my mind, my mind...

Revolution within myself
I'm puzzled, still overwhelmed
By the stories that you would tell
They always send me something

Revolution within myself... within myself...

Let me give my best, I won't depend
This time I will make another plan to find
What's left and nothing less, still I won't tread
I'll find my own way to make it all worthwhile

Call, call on me darkness

Wait, wait on me now...
Won't you say...
Say that I'm sorry
'Cause I won't wait

I've found another form
It's breeding life
It must have been there
The whole time when I was dead
'Cause I was pledged to emptiness
And now I've let myself
To see all the things
I just didn't expect

Still I remember, still I repent
I'd walk through
The never
Despite my descent

Reborn, acknowledging the part of me that once was lost
I have repressed, too many years, my utopia was within my grasp

Doomed in absentia, left to be sentenced
Still rising to cherish, all the things I have left...

Call, call on me darkness

Wait, wait on me now...
Won't you say...
Say that I'm sorry
'Cause I won't wait

Sorry, but there won't be a review posted today. But I originally envisioned this as a blog where I could post anything I want. I hope you get something out of this.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Heimdalls Wacht: Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal (2012)

More Cowbell

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Accompanying his referral of Heimdalls Wacht latest release, the right honorable Full Metal Attorney advised "I liked the last album I heard from these guys, so you might like this one too." I don't much like black metal, so I was not sanguine about his prediction. But duty calls - and I'll not shirk duty in the Full Metal Attorney Court - Internet Web Blog Division. Respectfully submitted, ladies and gentlemen of the metal jury:

The opening intro is, as with most of these types, a waste of time. Uninteresting and in furtherance of no purpose. Then the song which should've opened the album: an apparently typical black metal song "Ekte Westfäölske Svatte Metal" - screaming and noise without any discernable song or structure. On first listen. But then about a minute in the song starts to swagger. You should start to nod that head a little bit in here. We get a little hint of some of what's to come. Things get more interesting with "Unsiälige Kiär" which combines one of Slayer's most famous riffs with some Pink Floyd type choruses for an atypical but interesting aural experience. It isn't earth shattering but it invites further listening.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Satan's Wrath: Galloping Blasphemy (2012)

Worshiping at the Throne of Extreme Metal Pioneers

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Greek band Satan's Wrath make their debut on this release. The band is the new project of former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou who appeared on EW's last full-length release but has since moved on. Satan's Wrath is very much Tas's project as he performs the bass, drums, and the vocals with only Stamos K making up the rest of the band on the guitar. Tas has always been something of a menacing presence in EW so this project promised to be intriguing.

Things definitely start out ominously with some bass strings being plucked along with the screams of some poor tortured souls. This immediately leads into an opening guitar melody that would not sound out of place in the opening strains of a Slayer album, just to set the mood.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Zatokrev: The Bat, the Wheel, and a Long Road to Nowhere (2012)

Feel the Fire

It takes some serious balls to put the words a Long Road to Nowhere in the title of your album, when it’s a 76 minute slab of progressive doom metal. The jabs write themselves. But Zatokrev’s The Bat, the Wheel, and a Long Road to Nowhere is so damn good, they don’t need to worry about that. It may be exactly what you need to replace the hole that Opeth left in your life.

That paragraph could lead you in all sorts of wrong directions, so let’s clear some things up. The label “progressive doom” usually does not bode well, typically signifying some kind of psych-instrumental jam session, but that couldn’t be further from what Zatokrev has accomplished here. They’re not progressive metal in that sense, but in the sense that’s used to describe bands like Opeth or Enslaved. In other words, it’s not aimless noodling; it’s a series of interconnected but radically different parts creating a dynamic whole.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I plan to get back to regular posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed my top 12 list. Happy 2013! For people in my family, it's hard to imagine it would be worse than 2012.