Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drug Honkey: Ghost in the Fire (2012)

What's In a Name?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Yep, Drug Honkey. I think it is pretty obvious right from the get-go what kind of music Drug Honkey plays. Sludgy, stoner-y doom metal with lots of feedback and lots of almost psychedelic sections. But this is one really bad trip. This is vile, hateful, and crushing. It is the soundtrack to an overdose of heroin and crack combined, with a little bit of methamphetamine for good measure. It is a dark and twisted album that lurches and crawls and heaves itself at you. It's a nightmare.

The sound of this release is spacey, yet malevolent with a lot of reverb and tortured screaming. This album is basically full of the kind of bad moments from Eyehategod, when they were at their most drug-fueled, alcohol-soaked antagonistic. The difference here is that Eyehategod would occasionally snap out of it and provide some lighter moments. Drug Honkey never does this. The entire album is full of that kind of spiteful, twisted malevolence.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Triptykon: Melana Chasmata (2014)

Dethroned Emperor

I started reviewing extreme metal albums in earnest back in the first part of 2010. At that time, Triptykon blew me away. Since 2010, no metal album has been as good as Eparistera Daimones, despite the best efforts of Subrosa, Evoken, Ulcerate, and countless others.

The usurper is Melana Chasmata.

An interesting thing is happening here. Thomas Gabriel Fischer is not so old as Johnny Cash was when he embarked on the American Recordings, but there is an analog there. The man has dug deeply into his roots, the roots of a genre he shaped, and has found a creative peak there late in his career. Fischer strikes me as an artist who has the right blend of self-criticism, drive, expertise, and sense of identity to create nothing but genius at this point. Mistakes, though made, are all in the past.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Metal Doesn't Give a Shit

No Masters. Not Even Liberal Ones.

On my first day of law school, my class was all gathered in a room to hear boring people talk. One of them made a joke about everyone there being a type A personality, which got a chuckle from everyone but me. This was absolutely news to me, a guy who spent undergrad surfing the Internet until 3:00 a.m. and finishing everything at the last minute.

Now I occasionally come across offhand references to metalheads being mostly liberal. I feel about the same there. I suppose I'm liberal on a few things, and conservative on a few others. But that's not really the point.

My impression was always that real metalheads don't give a shit.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Epistasis: Light Through Dead Glass (2014)

Burying the Lead

There have been no shortage of bands drawing from black metal and making something that's not quite black metal. Add Epistasis to that list.

I'm going to bury the lead here, so stick with me a minute. This band plays dissonant, angular material that draws to mind, mostly, the most metal parts of Norway's Shining. You might also be reminded of New York hardcore-inflected black metal like Castevet or, to a lesser extent, whatever Krallice is. Some of the riffs are cool (opener "Time's Vomiting Mouth" is the best) and others seem like a bit of weirdness for weirdness' sake, but every moment of Light Through Dead Glass is at least interesting.

Seriously, there's not much further to go. Just pledge $6, if that's what you're willing to do.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Botanist Kickstarter

I've never backed a Kickstarter before, but you already know I love Botanist. So I've backed the Kickstarter to release III: Doom in Bloom on vinyl. It might have been prohibitively expensive for the Israeli label that originally released it (TotalRust) to ship it anywhere.

If you'll recall, I gave the record a perfect score and put it at number 8 on the best albums of 2012.

You only have until May 14 to make sure this gets backed. And, if you've never used Kickstarter before (like me), you might be surprised at how easy it is. I didn't have to set up an account, I just used my Facebook, and I didn't have to enter payment info, it let me pay through my Amazon account.

Check it out.

Hell: Trilogy (2014 Compilation)

Long Is the Way, And Hard

I don't normally review compilations, but I'll make an exception from time to time. Hell (the U.S. band, not the U.K. one) has interested me for a long time, but it wasn't until Trilogy that I decided to dive in.

This comp consists of the band's three full-length records which were originally released on cassette (now all sold out). A release lasting nearly two and a half hours might seem a daunting prospect, especially when it comes at a handsome price (for an admittedly very attractive 4LP picture disc box set). But if I have to justify it to you, then you're probably not into developing a prestige cult vinyl collection.

Of course, you can still get digital versions of each album from the band's Bandcamp.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shoegaze Briefs 2014

Nice Laces

About a year ago, I wasn’t even sure of the difference between shoegaze and post-rock. (To be honest, I’m only 90% there.) Despite that, I ended up with promos for a lot of shoegaze albums in the first four months of 2014. Even Relapse is getting in on it. You know—Relapse. Maybe you’ve heard of them?

Alcest: Shelter (2014)
3.5 out of 5 stars

I might have to take back nearly everything I've said about Alcest. To be fair, I have always said that Alcest were really good but that I don't like them. Now that they've discarded the last remnants of metal, and I've expanded my own horizons a bit, I can really appreciate it for the shoegaze excellence that it is. It's hauntingly beautiful, shimmering guitar and soft singing. And for once, I'm not saying that as a criticism. I may have to revisit this band.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kuolemanlaakso: Tulijoutsen (2014)

The Canada of Scandinavia

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Kuolemanlaakso are from Finland and I'm thinking that Finland is the Canada of Scandanavia. Hear me out. (Sweden would be like the U.S. and Norway would be the Mexico, if Mexico had a killer black metal scene in the early 90s. No?) The Finns are good at hockey, right? So are Canadians? Both cold. Still no? Ok, I actually only think that Finland is like Canada because are producing some killer metal these days! Canada has Chapel and Finland has Kuolemanlaakso. (Say that three times fast).

Kuolemanlaakso are doom and death. They have a good screamer. They have great production. They have heft. They have songs with titles I don't know what they mean. They have tension and atmosphere (song 2 I'm hearing you). They have a grand funk inspired cover, even if they don't know it. (See?). And they have good songs, if they are a little long. Nothing to shake a stick at the tracks chime in at mostly around 7 minutes, so shorter than the Wounded Kings of the world but longer than your average Mastodon song. I reference the doom and then the sludge because these overlay here, and in a good way.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pet the Preacher: The Cave & the Sunlight (2014)

Denmark's Volume Dealer?

About 10-12 years ago, I was really into southern-sounding metal. Black Label Society was my jam--this was back when they were fucking awesome (and had just begun the downhill slide*). I doodled the BLS logo and "SDMF" (Strength-Determination-Merciless-Forever) on scraps of paper at my shitty night job. I even listened to Zakk Wylde's Pride & Glory album on at least a weekly basis.

To this day, I still think Deliverance-era COC is the real COC.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Impetuous Ritual: Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence (2014)

Band Next Door

If Portal's Vexovoid was too radio-friendly for you, then, well, you are one sick, twisted motherfucker. But also, Impetuous Ritual has your back with the Inquisitorially-named Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence.

Of course, Impetuous Ritual are best known for sharing two members with the legendary Portal, and every review has to mention that. (So it is written.) Fittingly, they share an impenetrable, lo-fi death metal aesthetic. But in contrast to Portal's relatively cleaner production, Impetuous Ritual still sound like the most evil band in the world playing in the apartment next door.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spirit Animal

It was my birthday today. Not much to report, except that I met my spirit animal.

While on my nightly 3+ mile walk with the dogs, I encountered a fox, about 20 feet from me. He followed us for a bit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Metal Briefs: Two by Two by Two . . . . Part Three


Two-song releases are a great way to get to know a band. Two-sentence reviews are all you need to make that commitment.

Persekutor: Power Frost (2013)
2 out of 5 stars

Persekutor was presented as the most awesome and trve underground black metal possible. Despite a pretty cool riff on "The Twitching Hour," I'm not convinced it isn't a practical joke from Brendon Small.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nocturnal Breed: Napalm Nights (2014)

The Smell of Napalm at Night

As the immortal line goes, “I love the smell of napalm at night.” Well, not exactly, but close enough.

It’s not like I’ve suddenly started wearing bullet belts and ignoring anything with “ambient” or “avant garde” in the description. But lately I’ve developed a new appreciation for the most unpretentious kinds of metal. Maybe I’m not flying the flag 100% of the time, but I’m definitely listening to the anthem. Norway’s Nocturnal Breed fit right into my renewed love of down-to-blackened-earth metal.

Gene Wolfe: The Shadow of the Torturer (1980)

This weekend, I finished reading the first book in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun series, The Shadow of the Torturer. I'll do a full review of the series when I'm finished with it, but a few things jump out at me immediately that demand mention.

1. I can't tell whether it's science fiction or fantasy.

2. How the hell has there not been a movie made of this?

3. Parts of it are grim as fvkk.

4. The main character was raised in the guild of the torturers, which is exactly what it sounds like.

5. Like The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings, the book is ostensibly written by a major character from the book. He uses an execution as a metaphor for writing a book.

I'll be detouring from the series to read a book that was sent to me for review, but if this intrigues you, stay tuned.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Halahkuh: Desecration (EP 2013)

I'm Influenced by Bobby Flay

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I'm not totally sure how a band can claim that their music is influenced by a historical figure. Maybe I just don't understand. But here we are with Halahkuh, an Indian melodeath/thrash metal band who claim that their influences are Genghis Khan and his son Hulagu Khan. I admit to being a little in the dark as to Genghis Khan's son, but I am certainly aware of Genghis.

Halahkuh take influences from extreme thrash metal bands from the 1980's and mesh them with early Swedish melodeath, prior to the softening and bastardization of the Gothenburg sound. Think heavier At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity meeting Kreator. It is a heavy and aggressive sound. Much like their historical influences the music is relentless and driven with fast-paced riffs and abrasive vocals.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dornenreich: Freiheit (2014)

An Intimate Epitaph

I've previously expressed my admiration for Austria's Dornenreich. Freiheit will not change that, but the specifics are going to have to change.

Flammentriebe was great because it struck a masterful balance between black metal and folk music, while making excellent use of a guitar-playing technique that I've come to identify with Dornenreich above any other band. Freiheit is quite different. It's almost (though not completely) a neofolk album, more in line with In Luft geritzt but not as overtly intense. It's one of those records that lives and dies by restraint, and can't possibly be understood by hearing it in any way other than in its entirety.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Albatross: The Kissing Flies / Vestal Claret - Black Priest (2012)

Vestal Flying Albatross Priest

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

If you can parse this title then I am impressed. I think I represented it correctly. Essentially, this is a split album from Indian heavy metal outfit Albatross and the former vocalist of Hour of 13's new band. Now Indian metal is not something I am overly familiar with. I was not aware there was much of a scene in India. I have a lot of mental associations with India, mostly due to my first real girlfriend being from there, but metal music is not one of them. Anyway, enough of that. Only one band from this split is Indian anyway.

Albatross kicks things off with four out of the five songs on the split. Why so many? Well Vestal Claret's song is 18 minutes long, that's why. Albatross's music strongly resembles King Diamond's solo work and that seems to be the major influence. The songs generally tell some sort of horror story and feature very impressive lead guitar melodies weaving through traditional heavy metal riffs. The vocals are higher-pitched and include a lot of wailing and the occasional blood-curdling shriek. Singer Biprorshee Das does not have the range of King Diamond, but his voice is effective enough to match the horror atmosphere produced by the eerie melodies.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Metal Briefs: Two by Two by Two, Part Two


You put two songs on your release. I put two sentences in my review.

Ranger: Shock Skull 7" (2014)
4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a 7" called Shock Skull from a great speed metal band that's already impressed me. Honestly I should be able to stop at Shock Skull, because that title speaks for itself.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Chapel: Satan's Rock 'n' Roll (2012)

Why is Canada so awesome?

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

"Why is Canada so awesome?" This is the question I want all three of my children to ask in their teen years so they are less disappointed when we ship them off to the frozen white north for "university." So that we can have a carefree retirement, this U.S. heavy metal citizen intends to leverage his wife's Canadian citizenship to subsidize their children's higher education. We have laid the foundation for this question to be asked by saying outrageous things like, "Kids get free ice cream in Canada." (Long pause). "Whenever they want it." (Turn head, pinky to lip). Perhaps a new way to elicit the question is to let them, in those impressionable teenage years, listen to Chapel's Satan's Rock 'n' Roll.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Hiss from the Moat: Misanthropy (2013)

Italy is Becoming Awesome

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

I have been exposed to an awful lot of Italian bands recently. I won't complain about it. I love finding metal from other countries, especially countries that do not have a real deep and well-known metal scene. Italy definitely fits that.*

Hiss from the Moat is a blackened death metal band with their leanings much more toward the death metal side of things. This is definitely not a Behemoth clone, the production is much cleaner, with the razor-sharp riffs not as grimy or decayed, though they definitely have an overall evil vibe. The drumming is crisp and clear while maintaining the typical relentless pounding and blastbeats common in this style of metal. The vocals are delivered in two different styles, an Immolation-esque grunting roar and a more blackened raspy shriek.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Noctooa: Adaptation (2013)

Let's Ask Mr. Owl

According to my book on Hieronymus Bosch, owls are traditionally a symbol of evil. But owls are friggin' everywhere now. Aside from the decades-old Tootsie Pop commercial, I hadn't really given them much thought until about 2009, when an owl appeared on the cover of DevilDriver's Pray for Villans. Before long, I started to see owls in relation to Kvelertak. And in products made for infants. Peruse any trendy retailer for baby supplies, and you can't avoid the nocturnal avians. So I guess my twins' matching girl and boy owl-face knitted stocking caps are pretty fucking metal. Right?

Well, finally there's a band who speak for the owls: Noctooa. And I don't mean to diminish the owl theme, but merely point out the fact it has already been diminished. Owls really are a powerful symbol. But, you know, maybe it's not a good time in history for that. Noctooa's music deserves better.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Esoterica: Aseity (2013)

Underground Stalwarts or Shoegaze Infiltrators?

Esoterica is a sneaky, sneaky band.

Listening to Aseity in the background, I was firmly convinced I was listening to some serious underground black metal. Specifically, the aggressive and highly repetitive, trance-inducing kind of black metal as mastered by the likes of Fell Voices. Of all the more accepted styles of underground black metal, that's easily my favorite. So I just enjoyed myself. But then the record neared its end, and I realized I was listening to something completely different. The transition was a subtle one. I didn't know it was happening. But it clearly showed me that this deserved more attention.

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic


I recently talked about my favorite television series, which also happens to be a children's series. That's no surprise. I spend a good deal more time with children's TV than I do with TV for grown-ups. I've developed some pretty strong opinions on a lot of the shows out there. So here's another one.

Like most of you, I first heard about the new incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise when I heard about bronies. A brony is, of course, presumed to be an object of ridicule. A male, aged 13 or older, who enjoys a show that's aimed at girls aged 12 or younger. I thought it was kind of an odd thing, and mostly forgot about it.