Thursday, January 30, 2014

Havok: Unnatural Selection (2013)

Not Suited to Survive Evolution

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Ah yes the retro thrash metal scene. This movement rose to prominence around 2005 to 2009 or so. There were a lot of people who loved this, myself included, and a lot of people who just wanted nothing to do with it. I think the scene resulted in a number of good bands who continue to put out excellent releases, such as Warbringer, Evile, Revocation, and the amazing Vektor. But there have been a number of short-lived or forgettable bands as well, such as Merciless Death and Bonded by Blood. After their first album I was pretty convinced Havok would end up in the first category.

I am not really sure what happened with this release. I never did hear the band's sophomore album Time is Up, so I am not sure if there were any issues at that time, but I did hear their EP from the next year and I was still very impressed then. The song compositions are still reasonably impressive and Havok still plays with a lot of speed and intensity, most of the time. It just does not sound as fresh and invigorating this time around.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Avichi: Catharsis Absolute (2014)

Relative to Nothing

What’s the deal with black metal, anyway? No, I don’t want to start that debate. I mean, why is there so damn much black metal out there? It seems like I get three black metal promos for every two other promos. Even if you’re picky about your definition of the genre, it gets close to a 1:1 ratio.

Whatever the reason, the sheer volume of black metal out there makes it easy to spot a lot of trends. Then everything you hear gets put into one of those trends. Everything fits into a box that already exists. Avichi, on the other hand, is a rare exception. It’s not tr00, it’s not hipster, it’s not Cascadian or Brooklyn or Norwegian or anything else. That’s refreshing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Exhumed: Necrocracy (2013)

Friendly, Violent Fun That's Good for All

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Exhumed perfectly captured their sound with the title of their 1998 album Gore Metal. The California-based bashers have long played a disgusting, blood-soaked mix of death metal and grindcore with lyrical themes running the gamut from gore to death and everything in between. Not exactly subtle, but then some bands can get away with that.

My only real previous experiences with Exhumed have been with their covers album Garbage Daze Re-regurgitated and the fact that two former Exhumed members are in Ghoul. Not the most helpful foundation to get a feel for their real sound.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Abyssal: Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius (2013)

Profound Boneheads

I made some minor proclamations from my ivory tower here (or unfinished basement, as it were) about how 2013 signaled the return of death metal, after what I saw as a pathetic 2012. The UK’s Abyssal is yet more evidence to that effect.

Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius was released by the band early last year, and was re-released by Profound Lore back in April. It is now seeing an additional release courtesy of the reliable Iron Bonehead. The Profound Lore reissue got an extremely positive review here back in March by joanismylover. I don’t normally set out to re-review albums, but this one really intrigued me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Deeds of Flesh: Portals to Canaan (2013)

Finally Doing the Deed

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

There are so many bands that I hear good things about that I keep meaning to check out. The problem is I often simply do not have the time. It is kind of depressing sometimes. Deeds of Flesh was one of those bands. The band has been around for about twenty years now and I just have not gotten around to them. Their albums are typically well-reviewed, but it is just hard to listen to everything.

When I saw this album art, I knew I had to get it this time. Deeds of Flesh is one of a number of bands to combine brutal death metal with a fair amount of technicality. I would not go so far as to call them a technical brutal death metal band, because their sound is so much more organic than that. There is enough technicality in the riffs and progressions to keep things from being too dumbed down, but not so much that it takes away from the music and becomes extremely difficult to listen to. The band is far more similar to groups like Spawn of Possession, Psycroptic, and Origin, than Brain Drill. The songs are complex, but they are actually songs.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Metal Briefs: Two by Two by Two


More two-sentence reviews for two-song releases. That is all the information you shall receive.

Afterworldsmen: Afterworldsmen (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

The first song demonstrates a lukewarm allegiance to the more progressive branch of USBM. But the second also shows an awesome, heavy metal-influenced side.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coffins: The Fleshland (2013)

Hellhammer Laced with Valium

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Coffins is what you would get if you played Hellhammer at half speed on your record player. Seriously. The Japanese death/doom trio plays a slow, sludgy, dirgey style of metal that sounds like the soundtrack to the darkest, most disgusting zombie movie imaginable. Coffins is one of the most prolific bands going and releases multiple recordings every year. It has to be exhausting to have to write and record new music this often, but it does not seem to bother Coffins much. Each new album sounds fresh, in a rotted, exhumed corpse sort of way.

This is actually only Coffins' fourth full-length album since their formation in 1996. They typically release their material in the form of EPs and splits. This is also the band's first full-length on a label with a wider audience as Relapse has picked up the band for this release. Whether this results in the band becoming more well-known remains to be seen.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Graveborne: Through the Window of the Night (2014)


Back in 2011 I told you about Finland’s Graveborne. Their debut record was a monster of pure black metal riffery, including some of that awesome lurch-and-stumble rhythm of the best Immortal songs. Now they’re back with more of the same.

A common criticism I give out to bands, whether they want it or not, is that they’re not reinventing the wheel. Do something original, or don’t do anything. Unless, of course, you can fucking kill it. If you can fucking kill it, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re original or not. Graveborne leave no survivors.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 11


Here's more of my second musical obsession. Let me know what you think.

Mark Kozelek: Like Rats (2013)
4 out of 5 stars

Growing up in a small town in rural Nebraska: It turns out, that's not a great way to keep up on things. I'm always finding out about music and trends from the 90's that I had no idea existed. For example, slowcore. Mark Kozelek was one of the big names of slowcore, with a couple of bands, but on Like Rats he plays dark Americana, pure acoustic folk/rock. He manages to make the style consistent among covers of such varying artists as Danzig, Bad Brains, Bruno Mars, and Genesis, among others. There's even an unironic cover of "I Got You Babe" that is way better than it should be. But the best songs are his take on "Green Hell" that rivals the Metallica version, and a rendition of Godflesh's "Like Rats" which sounds like Wovenhand.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nocturnal Fear/Seges Findere: Allied for the Upcoming Genocide (2013)

One of the Most Impressive . . . Just One

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I love splits some times. What could be better than picking up an album that has new music from two different bands? Especially when the bands have wildly different backgrounds.

I will admit that Nocturnal Fear was the big draw for me here. I own several of the band's albums because I thoroughly enjoy their take on Sodom-esque Teutonic thrash metal. Nocturnal Fear do a lot of things that Sodom did, from their blazing fast riffing speed, to the throaty growls of singer Infernal Desekrator, to the fact that the band uses similar war-ravaged scenes on their album covers. Nocturnal Fear even has a similar character show up on all of their albums.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Red Fang: Whales and Leeches (2013)

Good, Dirty Rock Music

I like to DVR Craig Ferguson’s bizarre self-parody of a late night TV show and watch it the next morning. Because of the timing of late night TV, this usually entails skipping through some garbage music on Letterman. This morning, it didn’t. It was Red Fang playing “Blood Like Cream,” and it was awesome. I’ve been sitting on this promo for a while, listening off and on, but seeing these guys perform convinced me that I need to talk about it. Seeing a Relapse artist on Letterman isn’t something that happens on a regular basis.

Whales and Leeches is good. It’s real good. But the only way I can describe it is going to do it a disservice, and it’s going to make me a broken record.

They kind of sound--just a bit--like Mastodon.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lord Dying: Summon the Faceless (2013)

Enter Lord Dying

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Over the last few years, the face of sludge metal has shifted. The genre was mostly created in the swamps of Louisiana with groups like Crowbar, Acid Bath, and Eyehategod. An unholy union of hardcore and doom metal, the music was extreme in its way. However it has become bastardized and changed over the years as groups like Mastodon and Baroness have taken it out of the boggy depths and made it almost radio-friendly. Oh the horrors.

Enter Lord Dying.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Iron Dogs: Free and Wild (2013)

Reinvigorating the Steel

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Motörhead in their heyday were literally† a metal factory, a monstrous steel mill metal record releasing machine. In March 1979, the band released Overkill, a veritable five star classic and seminal release for metalheads everywhere, each track ripping the listener from limb to limb. In October 1979, Motörhead released Bomber, a standout release in its catalog featuring such classics as “Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “Stone Dead Forever”. At the end of 1979, they released No Parole, re-recording different versions of previously released of songs. They followed that in 1980 with another five star classic which some (not me) would argue was their best release, and many (including me) would call a must have record. They had something good so they lived free and wild, releasing records and touring. FMA’s* favorite album cover fun band, Iron Dogs, have released Free and Wild, their second in 2013 hot on the heels of their debut Cold Bitch from 2012.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Summary Judgments, Volume 8

Grinding, with No Core

I decided to just download a bunch of albums that I had passed on earlier, and give them all a chance. That doesn't always turn out well.

I've decided to stop including info about how far I made it into an album in summary judgment posts, but be advised, I may not have listened to the whole album in all of these.

Soen: Cognitive (2013)

If you've heard of Soen, it's because of the Opeth connection, but that's hardly relevant to the worth of the prog rock band's Cognitive. I can't say it's a bad record. It's got some minor resemblance to Opeth, but very strong resemblance to Tool's more introspective moments, musically and vocally. Sadly, none of the songs reached out and convinced me to listen again.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Djinn and Miskatonic: Forever in the Realm (2013)

Man Gin and Doom Tonic

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

If you start your album out with a cool spoken intro from an English professor type talking about witchcraft and its influence throughout the ages, you have my attention. If you gradually introduce a drum roll and a slow but heavy Electric Wizard style riff, you have held it. If you bottom out the end, let me hear the cymbals clash, and sing in a discernible but monotone drone-like chant, while keeping my head nodding in a slow doom march you have earned my respect. When you bring back the spoken word sample at about eight minutes in a break down, to return to even heavier riffs and a doom conclusion, I want to know who you are, learn what you are about, and to hear more.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Culted: Oblique To All Paths (2014)


The world we live in today is an amazing place. Take Culted, for instance. Their vocalist, from Sweden, has never met the other band members, from Canada, in person. I can imagine that type of situation could result in artificial-sounding music, but that is certainly not the case here.

In fact, the sound of Oblique To All Paths is about as organic as it gets. It’s raw and dirty black/doom. Black/doom can mean a few different things, but in this case it’s mostly doom metal with a blackened guitar tone and raspy vocals, with the occasional tremolo picking. Culted also use atmospheric noise of the kind you typically hear from atmospheric black metal. The sound is very awesome, and isn’t the kind of thing you hear from three dozen other bands every day.