Monday, September 29, 2014

Wreck and Reference: Want (2014)

Machine of Confusion

Wreck and Reference isn’t a metal band, but it’s certainly extreme. Sort of like Botanist in that way—Botanist’s Otrebor is actually the one who told me about this project. But this is the first time I’ve heard some Botanist influence in Wreck and Reference, particularly the piano parts in “Apollo Beneath the Whip.” But that’s jumping too far ahead.

Wreck and Reference is more of an industrial band, I guess? I’m not really clear on the proper terminology when you get into that area. Simile and metaphor are my preferred tools, so let’s try it out. W&R is like Nine Inch Nails reimagined by Sigh. A much more off-the-wall beast, vastly more intimidating and chaotic, but with some root similarities.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Slipknot: Slipknot (1999)


The history of how I came to be the metalhead I am today has been thoroughly documented on this site. But I don't think I ever explained just how much I loved Slipknot around the turn of the millennium. There was a time when Slipknot was, if not my favorite band, at least in the top three. They're not even close to that now, but to a teenager who had never heard anything more extreme (with the exception of Meshuggah) they really resonated.

So now they're coming to Omaha with Korn, another band I loved at the time, and my neighbor asked me if I wanted to go. Because I want to hang out with him, and for the nostalgia factor, I said "yes." That's right: two fathers of three going to see Slipknot. It's now officially "dad rock."*

But I haven't really paid that much attention to the band for a long time, and they're not really in my regular listening rotation. Hell, I barely know the songs on All Hope Is Gone. What better time, then, to revisit this catalog, to understand why I liked it so much and see whether any of it holds up. Now, a 15-years-removed look at Slipknot.**

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lucifer's Fall: Lucifer's Fall (2014)

Checking All the Right Boxes

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

All hail us some doom metal, probably my favorite of the sub-genres in metal. "Traditional" doom. This wizard of a genre is (not really) suffering a lot lately from offshoots of the death, sludge, and gothic variety. Not counting Pallbearer, there are only a couple of bands out there doing it - Hour of 13 and Magic Circle spring to mind.* The thrash revival came and went (and maybe never left us)? But there's not been a traditional doom revival. It has been a long time since this author has heard some recently recorded straight up doom, a la Reverend Bizarre and Candlemass. Enter Lucifer's Fall, with their self-titled debut.

Lucifer's Fall tick all the right boxes for the traditional doom category. Band name: suitably epic and downfallen, this is a straight up homage to Milton and that short poem he wrote about losing paradise. Check! Album artwork: putting a Paradise Lost painting right on the cover, keeping with the Milton theme. (Of course one thinks of Candlemass looking at it, as well). This is the right thing to do. Well done, Lucifer's Fall. Check! Song titles: Having a band name song (and by default the album name as well) is not really a traditional doom metal endeavor, but I'll give them a pass because otherwise the songs are about suffering wizards, summoning things, sinners, things unknown, death and deceivers. Traditional doom box: checked. Music: check!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Witch Mountain: Mobile of Angels (2014)


South of Salem came out of nowhere. A dormant doom band of little note recruited an unknown female soul singer, and suddenly they were a legitimately one-of-a-kind band. Not only that, but a compelling one, who garnered a whole lot of attention. Cauldron of the Wild expanded their palette even further. In the three years since, I don't think anyone has once come close to Witch Mountain's sound.

Unfortunately, singer Uta Plotkin will be leaving the band after this week, two days before this album is set to release. Mobile of Angels will serve as epitaph--or, at the least, the end of a remarkable chapter in the band's career. This is the band that got me to go to live shows again* (on occasion), so you might guess that this departure means a lot to me. It does. So perhaps it's my own feelings on the subject, but the new record reads as a sad farewell.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Death Metal Briefs 2014

Seared Flesh--Hold the Tomato

For the most part, I haven't been devoting much time to the simple pleasures of death metal. But there's only so much depressing folk and doom I listen to before I've got to break out the audio junk food. To pair with the reliable joys of death metal, I'll be breaking out the tired tried-and-true metaphor of music as food--specifically, fast food hamburgers.

Empatic: Ruined Landscape
3 out of 5 stars

When I think of the audio junk food type of death metal, I of course think of Poland. But even as far as Poland is concerned, Empatic stands out as pure pulp. Sometimes, that's what you need. They combine death metal (with some small resemblance to Behemoth) with very strong influences from big-name, groove-inflected death metal like DevilDriver, Lamb of God, and Dååth. It's extremely accessible, with moshing breakdowns and leads that any metal fan could latch onto. This is the McDonald's cheeseburger of death metal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ides of Gemini: Old World New Wave (2014)

Ides of Apollo

When we last left our heroes, they were doing a little something I called "dream doom." I wasn't the first to call them that, but I found it appropriate enough. The earthy female vocals delivered in an ethereal style, the slow but not terribly heavy guitar riffs, and overall dreamy feel was pretty well summed up by that.

With Old World New Wave, they've changed direction. They still do a bit of the dream doom ("White Hart" or "May 22, 1453"), but new influences have taken a prominent place. Opener "Black Door" is a bold statement of the change, with an uptempo riff and big chorus that--other than the vocals--sound like a completely different band. Indeed, it could be a Dawnbringer cover. But that's not indicative of everything else on the new album.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of the Darkness

This weekend is the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk in Omaha, which I will be attending. As many of you know, my brother committed suicide nearly two years ago.

I've embedded a widget in the sidebar that you can follow if you would like to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wolvserpent: Perigaea Antahkarana (2013)

Not Merely Amplifier Worship

Wolvserpent is an accessible drone doom band. At least, if that’s possible, then they are it. If there is an entry point to this realm, Perigaea Antahkarana might be it. Or perhaps that’s asking too much.

The thing about Sunn O))), or Nadja, or some manifestations of Boris: they sound cool and everything, but a lot of what they do doesn’t sound like a song. Throughout this album, Wolvserpent always sound like they’re playing a song. For a perfectly listenable 80 minutes, by the way, and if you know my reviews you know that I am extremely critical of bands who go on longer than necessary. Wolvserpent did not overstay their welcome.

Summary Judgments, Volume 14

These are the ones that don't get a full hearing from me. But that doesn't necessarily mean you won't enjoy them.

Volume IV: Long in the Tooth (2014)

Volume IV is named after my favorite Sabbath album, and they have influences I really like: mid-period COC ("Blackwater"), Mastodon ("Utero/Long in the Tooth"), Alice in Chains ("Save Your Servant"), doom, hard rock, and more. But it doesn't have an identity of its own, and I don't feel compelled to put this on again.

Common Eider, King Eider: Taaleg Uksur (2014)

Taaleg Uksur is nothing but quiet droning, largely but not entirely vocal, and occasionally tribal-sounding. Which is kind of neat in the background, but without a tense/eerie movie scene to pair with it, I don't know. If Devin Townsend ever hosted Saturday Night Live, they could make a skit about a band like this, and I'm not confident I could tell the difference between the real thing and a parody.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Earth: Primitive and Deadly (2014)


After a while, you start to pick up on key words and phrases in promo e-mails that will help you sort things out. There are certain words that are meaningless, but then there are words that say “download now” and others that say “you can safely delete this.” As far as I’m concerned, “instrumental” is an easy ticket to the trash bin. It’s not that I hate all instrumental music—it’s just that the odds of it being interesting all the way through are next to nothing. You can only go about 15 minutes without before I start to lose interest.

I will make exceptions for a known entity, and even though I knew Earth is an instrumental band, I still kind of like them. Earth manages to show up in both my “Smooth & Heavy” iTunes radio station as well as my “Dark Americana” station, and it fits well in both places. So I forgive them for lack of vocals because they are a rare band who combine my disparate musical interests.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

More Death Metal Briefs


I know you want to read about three more death metal albums that are going under the radar.

Vassafor / Sinistrous Diabolus: Split (2014)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Let's take that murky Incantation aesthetic and run with it. Take it to the logical extreme. That's a common enough idea behind many bands, but these two groups did a remarkably good job of it. Vassafor is a bit more death metal and Sinistrous Diabolus is a bit more doom (with some black metal thrown in), but both of them sound evil as hell and play long songs that don't feel like they're longer than they have to be. Very good work.