Friday, May 31, 2013


Bill Cosby said you should never challenge "worse." Things can always get worse.

You might have trouble taking care of all your kids while your spouse is out of town. Then she could get strep throat and you might have to take care of her and the kids. And you might order some expensive candy as an anniversary present, and she could get a tonsillectomy so you have to take care of everything for another month and lose most of her sense of taste, so she can't taste the candy.

Then you might wake up to find two deputies outside your door telling you your brother killed himself.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Metal Briefs: National Socialist Black Metal, Part 1

I Wonder Who A.H. Is

I've been wanting to do this for a very long time now. As I've repeatedly said, lyrics don't mean anything to me. I'm a Christian who is an avid consumer of black metal, so that should go without saying. It's not tough to ignore them, when you have to have a lyric sheet to pick out more than five or six words at a time. But I am interested in lyrics from a more academic standpoint, and I appreciate the strong correlations between musical style and lyrical standpoint. I have my theories as to why Christian bands so rarely make good metal.

While many metalheads will draw the line at NSBM, I don't see that line. To me, being against God is worse than being against a particular race. Neither is exactly a good thing, but like I said, it doesn't matter. And if you want to be logically consistent, I hardly think a racist viewpoint is worse than a misogynist viewpoint. So if you're drawing one line but not the other, you're being silly.

Anyway, here is my first exploration of NSBM, in an attempt to see if I can find any kind of connection between ideology and music. These are all courtesy of Cosmic Hearse.

Malveillance: Que La Mort Vous Emporte (2003)
3 out of 5 stars

Que La Mort Vous Emporte is the debut full-length of Quebecois one-man band Malveillance. I quite like two-thirds of this record. Between the writing style and the treble-overdrive guitar tone it sounds like a (comparatively) primitive blend of Nargaroth and The Ash Eaters. Unfortunately, two of the songs here are an abortion with blown-out production, so I can't give it a strong endorsement.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fell Voices: Regnum Saturni (2013)


You will of course understand that I approached Fell Voices with some trepidation, when I learned they were a “drone/ambient” black metal band. But I also approached with an open mind. I’ve attempted to make some kind of sense out of drone music a handful of times over the past few years, with limited success, but I may have figured this out.

Maybe I didn’t figure anything out. As I mentioned recently, I’ve been freed from headphones, and volume constraints. And I’ve been advised that drone music should be heard loud. That’s how I listened to Regnum Saturni.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

De Profundis: The Emptiness Within

At the Altar of At The Gates?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

De Profundis is a melodeath band, despite the materials listing them as a black/doom metal hybrid. But do not let that word influence your decision about whether to check them out. Because that term has become diluted over the years the same way that the music has. Melodeath has come to be thought of as just recent In Flames, Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity, and the like, but it used to be something different. Something more aggressive and powerful. And that is what De Profundis is.

My personal favorite era of melodeath was the early years. Think Lunar Strain-era In Flames, Skydancer-era Dark Tranquillity, and the like. Back when melodeath bands were just more melodic death metal bands. De Profundis has that kind of sound. Yes there are elements of black metal and doom metal present, but the basis of this album is in the tremolo riff-driven style of the early wave of melodic death metal.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Yesterday marked 6 years of fatherhood for me. The significance of that in my life can't be overstated.

For some people this won't be the case, but for me, it was the end of having friends. That wasn't really my choice, but I feel it's worked out for the better. I've become more self-sufficient. I may not be as fun to be around, but I'm more capable. More awesome. What is admirable is not what is fun; someone who is only out to have fun is a child and, if not actually a child, is an object of ridicule.

If someone can literally shit into your hand and you just deal with it, you are a person who can deal with things. You are not to be taken lightly.

Ask yourself, What are you capable of? In the most extreme situation, what would you do? If you are not a parent, your most extreme response is weak.

I have responsibilities that are beyond anything a childless person can imagine. And I take them, and deal with all of it in stride. It's work like you wouldn't believe. The things I accomplish in one day would stagger the non-parents among you, and it comes day after day. But it's also rewarding beyond anything else in life.

You may scoff. Mock all you want. This is not the most metal thing to say, by traditional metal standards. But until such time as Lemmy Kilmister takes responsibility for the life and well-being of a child, he will be less awesome than any real father.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pombagira: Maleficia Lamia (2013)

Not Short But Sweet

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

"Balance, Daniel-san." So stated the sensei in Karate Kid. Yin and Yang. Love and Hate. Studio output and live shows. Each of us needs to have a little variety, and "balance" in life, and by extension, his music collection. It's all well and good to have the fury and thunder accounted for - Slayer, Mastodon, Clutch, etc. But there's a place for introspection and breadth, and composition. It's not a big place, for me, anyways, but there's a place for it nonetheless.

Every year I try to expand my horizons a little bit and get something a little bit out of my comfort zone. Otherwise, High on Fire and Iron Maiden and Motörhead and the aforementioned bands might be the only thing in my collection. Pombagira - no idea what that means - apparently were a doom metal band at some point. I've never heard them before that release. But I'd not label them doom, and if there's metal here, it is in the margins. But does that make it a bad release?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summary Judgments, Volume 4


Sometimes, it's just not my bag. Sometimes, I've already got a bag like it, and I'm happy with that. Sometimes, it's a bag of shit.

As always, the X out of Y songs tells you how far I made it into the record before shelving it.

Persefone: Spiritual Migration (2013)
(5 out of 13 songs)

I haven't read the site in a couple years, but I bet the guys over at MetalSucks absolutely shit their pants over Persefone. It's very high-quality prog-metal with (synthesized) symphonic elements, like a heavier version of Symphony X (or to a lesser extent, Dream Theater). I'm not so much into that kind of thing anymore, but this was good enough to hook me for a while anyway. The thing that eventually turned me off was, I can hear how much these guys are a part of the metalcore generation. They have some of the rhythms I hate from metalcore, and the vocals (both clean and harsh) are right out of that school of metal. I'm just too old for this, but for what it is--it's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Be'lakor: Of Breath and Bone (2012)

Grayish Tranquillity

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Apparently "Be'lakor" is the name of a demon in the Warhammer series. I will admit to not knowing a damn thing about Warhammer, or any other table top/RPG game for that matter. I could not tell you the difference between Warhammer and Dungeons & Dragons. It is just not something I have ever known about. What I do know is heavy metal. And I know what I like.

Be'lakor is a melodeath band in the vein of mid-era Dark Tranquillity. Oddly they are from Australia, which is kind of bizarre for a band of this style. I would have assumed Be'lakor hailed from Sweden or Finland or some other country in that area. Australia is not really known for its melodeath.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 7

Home and Far Away

Riitaoja: Mantereelle (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Now here's something a little out of the ordinary for this series: a Finnish band with Finnish lyrics. But the fact it's Americana is undeniable, with Western-sounding electric guitars and banjos, plus a bit of harmonica, and an overall American folk vibe through most of the music. The promo spiel referred to Wovenhand (possibly because the promoter was catering to me specifically?) but it's a fair comparison. That's not to say the European-ness is absent. The vocal style (both female and male) is decidedly un-Americana, and a few lighter tracks sound very Euro. Complete with bass and understated drums, the best songs on here are fantastic, even bordering on heavy (as the title track). Besides the great songs there are also a few very good droning tunes, as well as some weak ones that might sound like lullabies or lifeless indie rock. Overall, much more good than bad.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Live Shows This Month

Tonight, I'm going to my second show in almost a decade. But if there's any band that can get me out of the house, it's Opeth. Them, and Wovenhand, but I think they're in Europe now or something.

I've been a huge fan of them for years, and now that I've had time to digest it, Heritage hasn't changed that. In fact, I listened to it on Tuesday on a system not unlike what people used in the 70's, and it sounded even better. With production that dynamic, you really need a system you can crank up, and get great separation.

Anyway, I'm mostly a hermit, as I'm sure you've gathered. But occasionally a band does come through town that I want to see. This past week, there have been too many. Boris was here on Monday, and Volbeat Wednesday. Clutch is going to be here with The Sword next week. Months and months go by without any bands I care to see, and then all of these within 10 days. Also, apparently the not-quite-Alice in Chains a day later. Sadly, I'm only able to make the Opeth show.

The Volbeat show was interesting to read about . . . . I've been saying for the last five years that they should be huge in the U.S. I found out they were headlining a local 4,500-seat arena and took that as vindication. That is, until I saw the follow-up message that the show would be at the Bourbon Theatre instead. That's a 750 capacity place.

That sure makes Volbeat look bad, but their last-minute move forced Mushroomhead to move. Also, whose bright idea was it to schedule two shows on the same day that are going to draw mostly the same crowd? Don't you think the second band's tour manager might have picked up on that, and realized in a town this size that's a problem?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amnion/Balmog: Grim Repulse of the Southern Lodge (2013)

Spanish Black Split

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I really enjoy splits. They are an excellent way to discover new music from a couple of different bands in one place. I usually prefer them when there are more than one song from each band on the split, as is the case with this one. No matter though. Amnion and Balmog are two black metal bands from Spain. Spain has quietly developed a fairly impressive black metal scene.

Amnion is a bit of a mysterious band. I can not find much current information on the band. This song is very dark. It is particularly hateful styled black metal. Nothing pretty about it. The drums are a bit too high in the mix and there is nothing remarkable about the instrumentation or vocals. The riffing gets a little repetitive at times and the song kind of drags toward the end. This really is not anything terribly new.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thrawsunblat: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings (2013)

They Like Trees

If I came right out the gate to tell you any specifics about Thrawsunblat, you might make the mistake (as I almost did) of dismissing them out of hand. So instead, I think it prudent to begin with my assessment of the quality of Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings.

This is some damn catchy music. Memorable leads, great vocals consisting of a hoarse growl and clean singing, plus some interesting riffs. Those elements conspire to make music of an epic quality that’s got a high-quality but not sterile production. It’s very, very good music. Yet, it’s from a Canadian folk metal band. I know! OK, OK, Canadian folk/melodic black metal sounds a little better, but still. The very term “folk metal” is enough to put most of you on notice that you probably won’t like it, and Canadians aren’t exactly known for the genre anyway. This just goes to show that general rules don’t apply in every case.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ragehammer: War Hawks (Demo 2012)

Fury Death of Steel Witch™

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I recall a review in Decibel many aeons ago regarding Iron Sword, I think. The premise was about the name. Alone, or in combination, the following words make a metal band name: sword, iron, fire, ax, steel, witch, blood, burn, coven, ceremony, ritual, fury, death. Add “rage” and “hammer” to that list friends. And while we’re at it, add “war” and “hawk” to it, as well. Ragehammer has hammered the metal rage into this ferocious five song “War Hawks” EP that you need to get right now.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Folk Briefs, Part 5

Folkin' It Up

Comus: First Utterance (1971)
4.5 out of 5 stars

After hearing Comus, a whole lot of things started to make sense to me. Hexvessel clearly learned a lot from this psych-folk/prog-rock band, for one thing. But perhaps less obvious (until 2011 anyway) is the influence on a certain band who lifted the line "My arms, your hearse" from "Drip Drip." Unhinged male vocals, acoustic guitar, violin, flute, and lots of getting weird is what First Utterance is about. At least, if you think a song that methodically deconstructs itself and eventually turns into tribal howling is weird. It's also extremely engaging, dynamic, and in spite of its bizarreness, shockingly catchy. I can't stop listening.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Roderick on the Line

Here's the thing: Music is not the only thing I listen to. There are also a handful of non-musical podcasts that I enjoy, and right now Roderick on the Line just may be my favorite.

The podcast consists of conversations between two men: Merlin Mann, an ADHD-suffering writer, and John Roderick, a musician who is either the most interesting person in the world or the best bull-shitter in the world. I find it beneficial to assume it's the former. Listening to an hour plus conversation between two people might not sound like the best use of your time, but I promise you it is.

Roderick has so many incredible stories that it would be hard to believe they're all true if he didn't sound so honest. He grew up in Alaska the son of a well-connected and well-to-do attorney. He then wandered the world with little more than the clothes on his back, at one point attempting to hitchhike to Mt. Kilimanjaro, and then pursued a successful indie rock career. He now enjoys eating meatball subs in his bathtub and learning voraciously about World War II. The contrast between his bohemian past and his seemingly sedentary present is one of the most interesting things about him.

He seems to be able to speak on any subject, particularly Hitler and music. They might talk about something like RealDolls instead, to hilarious effect. Roderick might explain how he makes efforts to shake a tail, even though he has no reason to think anyone is following him. Or, they might create an elaborate future scenario about how he could become the sheriff of a small town on the Washington-Canada border. It's always well worth hearing.

Roderick one of those middle-aged men who have opinions about everything. His tend to be extremely intelligent, and rarely do they track popular opinion. For example, his take on bureaucracy. “The bureaucracies in [the Eastern Bloc] countries have completely broken down, and when you travel to places like that and you see what it is like when people are living in a world without bureaucracies, you realize that bureaucracies are what separate us from beasts.”

Search for it in your iTunes store, or wherever else you can get podcasts, I suppose. Or click here. It is so good.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Survival v. Desagravio

Post-Apocalyptic Bukkake


TotalRust was one of the first labels to reach out and develop a relationship with this blog, so I always look forward to getting mail from Israel. They’ve been consistently sending me physical promos for a while now, some excellent (Botanist), some great (Lurk), a few not so good (Shever), and a whole lot somewhere in between.

My most recent Israeli post contained new records from Highgate and Lords of Bukkake. The two bands have a common genre and label, so I’ve decided to resurrect the X v. Y format to compare and contrast the sludge/doom albums Survival and Desagravio.

Kentucky’s Highgate contributed one of the first batch of promos I got from TotalRust, a compilation of their earlier material. It impressed me with “bile-filled vocals” and other blackened touches. This time they have improved production, so they sound heavier. And, there’s a noticeable change of style. All three tracks have an air of brooding melancholy, served well by the production if not by the vocal style. They’ve got the good sense to keep things dynamic, starting out slow but changing rhythm patterns and tempo often enough to make it interesting. The first two tracks are pretty good, but it’s not until closer “Nachwirkungen/Survival” that they get really good, playing with feedback and throwing in a rising tremolo-picked lead. At 20 minutes it accounts for nearly half the album, so on balance I’d say they did a fine job here.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Woe: Withdrawal (2013)

Trying My Best Not to Make a "Woe Is Me" Joke

Woe began as a one-man black metal band, but 2010’s critically acclaimed Quietly, Undramatically marked their first outing as a full band. That one was written more or less by the original member, Chris Grigg, but the follow-up Withdrawal is reportedly a truly full-band effort.

Writing credits notwithstanding, Woe still plays fast, deceptively simple US-style black metal of the kind that (at least I imagine) really pisses off any Scandinavian wearing gauntlets. But there are some noticeable differences. The most evident change is that the drums are no longer the primary instrument. Where Quietly had drums play the aggressive part and gave them a prominent place in the mix, Withdrawal gives them a more traditional role. Which is not to say that they’ve started blasting all the time; far from it. But they are much less central to the music.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Balam: Demo 2012

Drop the "L" (& an "A)

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

What makes a good doom record? As a long-time aficionado of the genre, I struggle a bit with the question because, candidly, Black Sabbath did it all from 1970 to 1975, laying Teutonic foundations for music that, 40 years on, doesn't really vary that much. Doom doesn't veer far from Iommi's foundations, and rightly so. If it does, we don't like it. Oh sure, there's variety, from the death crawl doom of early (and most recent) Cathedral to the gothic stylings of bands like Paradise Lost with the classical influenced doom of Candlemass somewhere in between. There's extremely slow (Sunn) and extremely heavy (Electric Wizard). And then there's Balam.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Across Tundras / Lark's Tongue: Across Tundras / Lark's Tongue (2013)

Desert Split

I’ve discussed the Denver-to-Nashville transplants Across Tundras once or twice before. Their combination of country, folk, psychedelic rock, and stoner metal is what you might call a perfect storm of my musical interests. They have the potential to be one of my favorite bands, but with as prolific as they are I’ve been unable to catch up on everything they’ve done. That’s especially so if you include guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson’s solo work (most of which can be had on the Across Tundras Bandcamp). He’s one of those guys who can’t seem to stop creating.

Their latest release is a split with Lark’s Tongue, out of Illinois. This is a band I’ve never heard of before, but there is definitely a common thread running between the two bands.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Bar Review: Two More from Tallgrass

Special Edition

Tallgrass Brewing Company out of Manhattan, Kansas, has captured my attention. They've crafted some excellent brews, and sell them in pint cans. Cans are metal, and a pint is the perfect amount to drink when it's not the weekend.

The grocery store where I used to buy beer regularly only carried two out of the Tallgrass roster, but I recently made it out to a very fine liquor store and found a much wider selection. I've discovered the brewery is a bit more hit-and-miss than I expected. Just a warning: I don't read much about beer, or even try all that many different kinds (compared to some), and I don't follow the seemingly accepted AASTMO style of reviewing. I don't even pour it in a glass first. That seems like kind of a snobbish thing to do. It's not wine.

Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat

Buffalo Sweat is one of my favorite beers. It's a delicious oatmeal cream stout that I reviewed a while ago, and I keep coming back to it. So, when I ran across Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, I had to try it. I've enjoyed at least one vanilla stout in the past. Our local brewery Empyrean makes Dark Side Porter, and it's by far their best. So, adding vanilla to an even better stout seems like a no-brainer.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Mortillery: Origin of Extinction (2013)

New Queens of Thrash?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

A lot of ink has been spilled discussing the topic of women in heavy metal. I am not going to waste a bunch of time rehashing that mostly tired subject. Suffice to say that metal musicians are mostly male. The rare female member garners a lot of attention solely based on her gender, fair or not. What I will discuss briefly is the fact that even for metal, women are underrepresented in thrash. One very notable exception is Sabine Classen from the underrated German group Holy Moses. Classen is who I would classify the Queen of Thrash. Unfortunately she has not really opened the floodgates to many young bands with female lead singers and thrash remains mostly a man's game.

Mortillery is a very young band from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As one can probably guess by the opening paragraph, their singer Cara McCutchen is a female. Their bassist Miranda Gladeau is also female. So Mortillery has two female band members. Certainly rare for a thrash metal band.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Altar of Plagues: Teethed Glory and Injury (2013)

Post-Post-Black Metal

Altar of Plagues was one of the originators of post-black metal half a decade ago, and since then it has been a growing field. I wouldn’t say it’s oversaturated, but it has become a corner of the metalverse that’s attracted a lot of “hipster” accusations, deservedly or not. Perhaps that’s why AoP decided to get away from the genre, or perhaps they simply wanted to explore something else. Either way, Teethed Glory and Injury marks a stark change in direction for the Irish band.

There are a lot of commonalities between the old Altar of Plagues and the new Altar of Plagues, but only at a genetic level. The expression of those genes has been altered. It’s as if they went into a cocoon and completely deconstructed themselves into a new form. You can throw the “post-“ out the window here. Instead, the terms “progressive” and “industrial” would be more appropriate, but any comparisons to Aborym or Enslaved would be facile. Just as when they began recording music, they are complete originals.