Friday, May 29, 2015

Metal Briefs: Otaku Edition

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m a nerd-wannabe, and that includes a minor case of Japanophilia. For better or worse, though, my Japanophilia is not uncritical. Also, you should know that there’s Japan—which can put forth such magnificent, serious music as Corrupted—and then there’s Japan, which apparently has giant robots and synthesizers in everything. I turned my giant anime eye to three metal releases that seem tailor-made for otaku.

Blood Stain Child: Epsilon (2011)
4 out of 5 stars

This may be the least cool thing I've ever rated this highly, but so be it. Blood Stain Child is an unholy blend of mainstream metal with beauty-and-the-beast vocals, a hint of Lacuna Coil, and ten tons of Dance Dance Revolution. Holy shit if it isn't infinitely better than that formula might suggest. I'm not recommending it, exactly, but I am pointing it out and telling you that for some reason, I like this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sigh: Graveward (2015)

Sigh would most likely be the craziest thing to come out of their own country, if they were from anywhere other than Japan. But as the popular wisdom has it, Japan is home to some crazy pop culture. Now, it’s been my experience that crazy Japanese pop culture stuff is mostly terrible, and occasionally brilliant. Sigh has been mostly brilliant. I mean, their last album was just one example of a brilliant masterpiece. At their worst, they’re just pretty good.

Graveward isn’t one of their best albums. It’s not one of their worst, either. Over the course of their long and storied career, the Japanese masterminds have honed their craft to a level that they’re simply not capable of putting out weak material.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Solefald: World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud (2015)

Why the hell isn’t anyone in America talking about Solefald? Their full-length Norrøn Livskunst was the most criminally underrated album of 2010, and now they’ve got a new full-length, and once again nobody is talking about this brilliant duo.

World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud is unmistakably the work of this avant-garde Viking metal oddity. It’s got catchy riffs, both high-speed black metal style and slower stomps. It’s got growled and sung vocals, with infectious melodies. And then, it’s got everything else thrown in to make it insane.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dwell: Vermin and Ashes (2015)

I have to confess that I’m more inclined to check out bands from Denmark than bands from anywhere else. (LLTK, for those in the know.) Dwell is one such band who caught my attention for just that reason.

They’re billed as a death/doom band, but I think you’d find it difficult to pick up any death metal in this at all. The vocals might fit that mold, but the rest does not. The first song sounds like a less sophisticated Agalloch, from the slow progression of chords to the clean guitar interlude. It’s followed by a five minute ambient track, which is a hell of a downer way to kick off an album. Don’t worry. It gets better.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Hands of Orlac: Figli Del Crepuscolo (2014)

"You're All the Same, The Lot of You"

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I had the distinct pleasure on Monday (April 20) to see Electric Wizard in Santa Ana, California. This is a band so steeped in doom and B movie horror films that it feels like they invented the melding of the two. They probably did. Emphasizing their prominence in this doom meets 70s horror genre, Satan's Satyrs opened. If that band's name didn't give it away, their biker metal with EW fuzzed tone did. Horror stoner doom. (Totally unrelated - In the interlude EW has the balls to play both Slayer ("Hell Awaits") and Celtic Frost ("Procreation of the Wicked"). I was head banging at the bar to Celtic Frost before EW took the stage because that riff is sooooo amazing. Talk about confidence). EW tore the house down. Everything you'd expect and want: a bottom end cavalcade of riffs TOO BIG to handle and a montage of all that x-rated 70s eurotrash satanic movie clips in the background. It was awesome. But what of Hands of Orlac?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Royal Thunder: Crooked Doors (2015)

Remember when Relapse only released metal albums? That was weird, huh?

Crooked Doors is the second album from Georgia hard rockers Royal Thunder. The style hasn’t changed much—bluesy rock and roll with a female vocalist oozing swagger and soul. But I hear a lot less doom influence this time around, and a few more radio-friendly elements (even some 90’s R&B) that are a little surprising. But just like CVI, it’s starts strong right out of the gate.

They bring the hooks with tunes like “Time Machine,” “Floor,” “The Line,” and “Glow.” Mlny Parsonz has a sultry, powerful voice, and she lays it all out there for you, to great effect. No surprises there, honestly. We already knew this was a good band, and they could do this.

Friday, May 01, 2015


Here are some sketches I've done recently. One is concept art for a book I'm making for my son's fourth birthday. The others are for a placard for my neighbor's weight room, where I've been lifting a couple times a week.