Thursday, February 27, 2014

Summary Judgments, Volume 10


Ephel Duath: Hemmed by Light, Shaped by Darkness (2013)

Even though I kind of liked The Painter's Pallete, there is now a confirmed pattern of Ephel Duath's music making less and less sense to me with each release. I'm not saying it's not good. I won't even say it's not brilliant, because it could be. But if you say it is, I'll just have to take your word for it.

Leaf Hound: Live in Japan (2014)

The proto-metal movement spawned a lot of semi-mythical bands who quickly faded into shadow. My knowledge of it is tenuous, so I'll just take the press release on face value that Leaf Hound is a real band from the time. Reuniting them for a live set 40 years later sounds like a risky proposition, but the results from Live in Japan are certainly no train wreck. Not indispensible, but definitely respectable.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tiger Junkies: D-Beat Street Rock 'n Rollers (2013 Reissue)

Pay No Attention to the Name

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I had seen mention of Tiger Junkies quite a bit but I never really looked into them. Part of that is probably due to the band's ridiculous name. It is the kind of name you might expect for a hair band. And the "D-Beat" in the album name is more of a reference to something hardcore, rather than metal. I never really looked much farther than that and certainly not enough to see who was attached to the project.

If I had looked at the two individuals responsible for Tiger Junkies, I would have felt a lot different about checking them out. That is because Tiger Junkies is made up of Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust (a favorite of mine) and Yasuyuki Suzuki of Abigail (who I am not as familiar with but still enjoy). The band began as a tradition between the two in which Grind would play with Suzuki whenever he happened to be in Japan. I am a big Toxic Holocaust fan and also enjoy Grind's work with Yellowgoat, even though both projects are basically the same thing. This is a re-release of the project's 2008 album with some extra material thrown in and one song removed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm a Nerd Wannabe

An Examination of My Nerd Pursuits

Given the crossover between metal and a whole lot of nerd pursuits, I don't think it will come as any surprise to anyone that I've been into some really nerdy things in my 31 years. When I say that, I'm referring to the kinds of things usually mean when they say "nerdy," even though people can be nerds about anything.

The weird thing is, I've never been able to fully commit to nerdery, or any other subculture for that matter. I've often said I'm a wannabe nerd, because I want to do the things that nerds do, but I fall short. I've got some theories on that, but it's better to start at the beginning.

Science Fiction

Of course, the ultimate nerd thing is science fiction, and that's where I started. Here, I'm using the term broadly to encompass true sci-fi as well as stories that take place in space or the future.

It started with Star Wars. What else? I grew up with it. Every year some channel would play all three movies in three nights, and so we would miss the first one and record Empire and Jedi. My brother and I watched those VHS tapes every day for a whole summer. I drew space battles all the time in 2nd grade.

By the fifth grade, I was reading the Robotech novelizations, and a year later I was on to the BattleTech books. There was a pretty dry spell there for a while, but late in college I started onto classic science fiction books, which I still read today. Dune and the Hyperion Cantos are great examples. I discovered Firefly late (thank you, Aaron!), and love it intensely.

But otherwise, there's a lot about sci-fi that I can't commit to. I've never really cared for Star Trek, because it's objectively terrible. I've never watched Dr. Who or Battlestar Galactica. And Star Wars was ruined, that's a matter of public record. A big part of me wants to be the guy who dresses up like a Storm Trooper, but aside from building a model AT-AT I just can't do that.

Comic Books

Comic books were my next nerd pursuit, but I never made it very far. I had a subscription to the G.I. Joe comic for a while, until it ended, and had a few issues of some TMNT comics. But, as you can tell, that interest was just collateral to my interest in the worlds surrounding my toys. I also had Spawn #6, which had excellent art, but I never got around to getting another issue. My brother and I did have some Marvel trading cards, but that wasn't out of any affinity for the characters.

Some of the art is cool, and I like the movies, but that's mainstream. Something about comic books makes them the least appealing form of nerdiness to me.

Video Games

I played video games almost as far back as I can remember. We had an Atari 2600. But, seeing that I skipped the 8-bit generation (other than playing at friends' houses) I didn't get into it until the Sega Genesis. Streets of Rage 2 was my first game. But the Final Fantasy series has almost always been my favorite since I watched my cousins play the original. Unfortunately, I had to play them with friends until the Playstation era. I faithfully played the games until XI. I tried it, but less than a month into that grueling experience I quit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

OvO: Abisso (2013)

Punishing Electronics

It seems I have a continuing quest to find music that’s not metal, but is still metal. You know what I mean? OvO is a great example of that.

I know pretty close to nothing about electronic music. I have some stuff from Iannis Xenakis and the Fight Club soundtrack, so . . . probably not a representative sample of what's out there. Luckily, I do hear a bit of the Dust Brothers work on two of the songs from Abisso, specifically on “Harmonia Microcosmica” and “Harmonia Macrocosmica.” There’s also an industrial side to this.

Now, this is crucial: The drums are real. Just throwing that out there, because for me, programmed drums can be a deal-breaker.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Profanatica: Thy Kingdom Cum (2013)

Hateful, Vile, and Blasphemous

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Here we have the infamous Profanatica, one of the U.S.'s early black metal acts that took shock and extremity to vile new heights. For instance, in their live video, the band's bassist ejaculated onto a Bible and vocalist Paul Ledney licked it up.* See? Vile.

Profanatica originally formed when death metal stalwarts Incantation broke up with John McEntee continuing as Incantation and the other members forming Profanatica. Profanatica lasted for about two years in the early 1990's before re-forming in 2001. Despite the fact that the band has existed in some form or other since then, Profanatica did not release their first full-length until 2007, relying on a steady stream of demos and splits until that time. Since then though, they have had three full-lengths.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Casualty of the Psychic Wars v. To Corrupt Your Sons and Lust After Your Daughters

Longest Post Title Ever


Ah, some New England Black Metal (NEBM). OK, that's not actually a thing. It just so happens that Eternal Death sent me two CD's, in the mail. (I think they may also use stone arrowheads to hunt.) These CD's happen to be from black metal bands out of New England, but the two have very little in common.

First, Grue. This is a two-piece out of Boston. The music on full-length Casualty of the Psychic Wars lands somewhere between Brooklyn and the Ukraine. By which I mean, if you weren't paying close attention you could believe it was a side project of people in Krallice or Drudkh. I, for one, think that's pretty cool. The first two tracks are fast-paced and quite excellent. There is an over-long interlude featuring cello and that instrument that makes the rustic "boing" sound. (Is that a Jew's harp? I'm not sure what that is. Is it a problem to mention Drudkh and Jews in the same paragraph?) After that, there are two tracks that are somewhat slower, and less enticing than the fast songs but still good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Artificial Brain: Labyrinth Constellation (2014)

Not So Artificial

Normally I ignore technical death metal. But that has nothing to do with the essence of the genre itself. Sadly, the majority of it is all showing off and lots of polish. Emphasis on the "technical," not the "death metal."

That hasn't always been the case. If you go back to the genre's roots, there was real songwriting and real ugliness. Notably, there were Cynic and Demilich, the former exemplifying the art of the song and the latter being as ugly as a demon from a Bosch painting. Artificial Brain channels that spirit of technical death metal in a manner that makes the shorthand "tech-death" feel, somehow, wrong.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Convulse: Evil Prevails (2013)

It's Not Unusual

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

In the early 1990's, a couple of death metal bands formed in Finland that would prove to have a very unique style. Demilich was an extremely unusual band with oddball riffs and frog croak vocals. And then there was Convulse. There was just something unsettling about Convulse's sound. It was not massively different from other bands, but their ability to develop a frightening atmosphere was uncanny.

Unfortunately Convulse did not last long. They had just two albums, including the amazing World Without God before breaking up in 1994. With the resurgence of old school death metal and the multiple reunions going on, it came as no surprise that Convulse came back together in 2012. Original members Juha Telenius and Rami Jamsa re-formed the band in 2012 and already have a two-song EP that released that year. The band followed that up with this album.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Metal Briefs: Thrash Metal

I Don't Always Go Along with Memes, but . . .

Thrash metal is not normally on my diet. Whether that's just because Metallica and Slayer had done everything worth doing before 1990, or what, I can't really decide. But I like to keep some of it around from time to time.

Scythe: Subterranean Steel (2013)
4 out of 5 stars

One of about two-dozen metal bands named Scythe, this Chicago outfit managed to make something really remarkable: A pure thrash metal record that I actually care about. There's usually about one of those each year. It has the same kind of energy and aggression that I recall from Artillery's When Death Comes, but with growled vocals and an extreme metal edge that might qualify it as "brutal thrash metal" if we needed to engage in that level of taxonomic pedantry. Subterranean Steel is catchy, too.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Satan's Host: Virgin Sails (2013)

Infinite Impossibilities

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I love Satan's Host. I have made absolutely no secret of that over the years. Their last full-length of original material nabbed the top spot on my end of the year best albums list. I even enjoyed a lot of their black metal material when their Satanic lyrics and image were overwhelming. Of course even though Patrick Evil's stunning guitar work was the star attraction, as it has always been throughout the band's history. Their blackened power metal style of their last album is still my favorite. So I was pretty excited when Satan's Host released a new album.

This is the long-running evil Colorado band's second album since Leviathan Thisiren, aka Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer, returned to the band for the first time since their 1987 EP. His return had brought back a clean vocal style instead of the blackened rasp of former vocalist L.C.F. Elixir. This change in vocal style brought a significant amount of attention back to the band, even though their black metal material was actually pretty strong.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Windhand: Soma (2013)

Less Wizardly

It's no secret that a lot of bands make their careers copying other bands. Even the bands that don't do that, still do it sometimes. Well, if that's your goal, you could do a lot worse than copying Electric Wizard.

Windhand do just that. When reviewing their split with Cough a while back, I said it's "heavy, slow, and so warm and fuzzy it’s like lying back on a bed of chinchillas." The vocals I compared to "Frankie Valli on tranquilizers." That's a pretty damn good start, and they've kept all of that intact for the full-length.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Revocation: Revocation (2013)

Banjo Metal

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Recently I covered Havok. I was a little disappointed with their most recent album and cited them as a reason that a lot of people are disenchanted with the retro thrash metal movement that arose in the last decade. They just do not really do anything new with their obvious influences, content to rehash ideas that were a little stale 25 years ago. Thankfully not all Havok's peers fall into the same trap. Enter Revocation.

Revocation is a band that easily takes their old-school influences and makes an intriguing, unique sound that stands out from their retro thrash peers. Revocation does not entirely fit within that movement as their sound is much more modern and refreshing, but they obviously still have a lot of old-school thrash metal influence.

Off-the-Wall Briefs 2013

Comfort Zones Disregarded

I like to edge outside my comfort zone from time to time, and when I do, it's worth talking about.

Chelsea Wolfe: Pain Is Beauty
5 out of 5 stars

How the hell is this so good? I'd never heard of Chelsea Wolfe before she started showing up on a whole lot of metalheads' end-of-year lists, but I am completely sold on Pain Is Beauty. It's a strange amalgamation of goth rock, drone, a tad of Americana, and those haunting vocals. But such descriptions can hardly do it justice. It's more intense and dark than nearly anything else I've heard in the last year.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Goya: 777 (2013)

Rites to Re-Hash the Wizard

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

A wise heavy metal reviewer recently wrote that there ain't anything new out there, so if you are going to bring it, BRING IT.* This author agrees, and that sentiment fits seamlessly with the Powerwolf Rule. Most of the good shit already kicked your ass and its damn near impossible to be darkly original or scary, at least to the seasoned heavy metal aficionado. As previously noted, the heavy metal masses like what the like, so attempts at originality either fall flat or are not novel.** So this leaves purveyors of the heavy with only one option. What's left for the band is to feel it. To love it. To pour heart and soul and (goats') blood into the art. In short, to BRING IT. Goya have not - wisely - tried to be original, different, or "scary." The question remains: Did they BRING IT?

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Summary Judgments, Volume 9

Grinding Through

Here are a few more records that I didn't give a full, fair hearing, but they might interest you.

Sound & Fury: Pulsacion (2013)

This is actually extremely interesting: Instrumental music made primarily with rock and roll drums with saxophone. It reminds me somewhat of Dead Neanderthals and Pivixki, but overall it's less intense, more experimentally-minded, and sometimes even sprawling. Though, while I find it interesting, I'm not convinced it's in my wheelhouse.

Ektro Records

Monday, February 03, 2014

Pyrexia: Feast of Iniquity (2013)

Feast of Inadequacy

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Pyrexia used to be amazing. The band formed in New York in the early 1990's and helped usher in the slam, technical, and brutal death metal scenes. They were part of the same scene as Suffocation and Internal Bleeding and their debut album Sermon of Mockery is cited as one of the principle influences on the slam death scene in particular. That was then, however.

Since that time, more and more groove influences have crept their way into Pyrexia's sound. I enjoy a strong groove in death metal, but sometimes bands can take it too far. Just look at the latest Obituary album for proof of that. But then Jungle Rot pulls it off quite well. Unfortunately this album by Pyrexia falls a little bit closer to the Obituary example than the Jungle Rot.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Geryon: Geryon (2013)

Death by Drum and Bass

At first I wasn’t sure what genre to call Geryon, but then I became convinced of one solid truth: 2013 was the best year for death metal in the last two decades.

I’m pretty sure there’s a law written down somewhere which obligates me to tell you Geryon is a two-man band comprised of the rhythm section from Krallice. Listening to it, I don’t find that fact to be particularly relevant. People tend to have very strong opinions on Krallice, but I don’t think those opinions will carry over to this band. It’s the weird guitar work that dictates public opinion on Krallice. Geryon, however, don’t have guitar.

If pressed, I could name a handful of metal bands that use only bass and drums, but they would all be in the sludge/doom phylum. The drum and bass take on death metal is worth your attention for novelty alone, but its quality will surprise you.