Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Since Mournful Congregation is coming out of mourning to play a lot of guitar solos the quest must begin to replace them. The first candidate is this German band, who seems some what since in their occult approach to this. Right from the 12 minute opener they are heavier than the new Mournful Congregation. The vocals have a lower death growl to them. The patter of double bass follow the ringing riff to "Ps. XII Maledictvm". There is a subtle dissonance embedded in the riffs. Ominous and melodic , I'm am not sure that I would call these guys funereal doom, but they are a very richly textured mix of death metal and doom.
The title track just kinda floats out of the other songs as this album begins to fade into the back ground. It sounds good, but perhaps it's just this song that sounds like it is beginning to drone a little even though the drummer is still earning his cut of the royalties. The spoken exclamations accent the gradual build.They like their chugs and double bass, which proves their death metal leanings. This does take them out of the drone and assures they are not dynamically flat. They sample some evangelist ranting about hell going into "est in fatis". As far as instrumentals go this is certainly one of the better methods of approaching it as the samples occupy the place the vocals would normally sit. I think this would work better opening the album than in the middle of it.
The album closes with "Current 218" which is six minutes wasted on not a song but white noise. I'll give this album a 7.5. They summon some powerful sounds , but like the rule around here "cool riffs alone do not a good song make" the same could be applied to these sounds woven together. That is not to say this is a bad album, there are many good ideas in play I would just like to hear them applied to song that make me want to listen to them again. If you are into death doom, then wawit for this one to come out May 4th on Iron Bonehead.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
These guys are a band I have appreciated for a long time, but never really got into. I saw them open for Converge when they were touring for "the Silent Circus", so my introduction to them was a hard core band with some technical acrobatics rather than the progressive metal band they have become. The first song on this album finds them returning to more of their metallic side. The clean vocals that follow the growls are almost like Korn. "House Organ" is more groove oriented. The verses narrated by growled vocals and the sung vocals come in on the dreamy passage that would serve as the chorus. I can hear the influence of touring mate Devin Townsend. They return to heavier more Opeth like chug on "Yellow Eyes". The song weaves around varied vocal styles leaning in a more grunge direction as it dances around death metal. At the midway point int breaks down into a mellower groove. Here you can hear traces of their other touring mate Cynic in the odd harmony choices of the vocals.
"Millions" kind of feels like it floats out of the previous song, particularly if you are leaving the album on and letting it play. This would not be the case if it was on shuffle mode. I like the off time groove of the song. The sung vocals alternate between Johnathan Davis and Layne Staley. The album closes with the ten minute prog Odyssey "Blot". In the first three minutes they have gone through more changes than most bands cover in an entire album. There is the vocal trade between the harsh and sung vocals as well as long instrumental passages. This album is really well produced. It is almost too clean. It has to be to some extent since their is so much going on, but I think this also dulls the edge and the guitars might sound heavier with a less fine tuned approach to lend some organic flavor to it. Some of the clean vocal melodies sound both too refined and flowery, when they could be sung with more grit.
Technically these guys are on point. They are heavier than Dream Theater and the current state of Opeth, but not heavy enough to make me take notice. Their songs even at the most melodic moments just don't have the hooks to make me want to give it another spin. If you are a fan then round it up past the 7.5 that I feel is being generous to a band that still manages to feign a sense of adventure in order to dial it in and have a reason to go on tour.
It's rare that I download an album from a band I never have heard before. I typically stream it. I sort through so much music and know such a small percentage will be music that I need to own that I listen to an album a few times, review it then move on. So it says a lot when a really heavy band like this grabs my attention. Hard core might be at the beating heart of this monster. I think what I like about this the most is the sonic intensity. They are brutally aggressive, but don't stop there possessing a wider scope of dynamics, after a minute of ambiance on "Parallels" they come back and hammer you before ebbing back down a few degrees to give you room to breathe.
"Armada" has a powerful chug set against the sonic sprawl that hangs over it like a storm cloud. The vocals are delivered in angry screams. I can hear them becoming the one element that might grate against me in time. I am surprised that a band so intent on this kind of raw heaviness keeps my attention . It's not that I do not like heavy music, as it's obvious I do or you wouldn't be reading this. It just that the bulk of band can see past the gain. There are some interludes of atmosphere. The first song where these two side are really combined is on "Appeaser". The thick bass line drives most of the song. They get more in your face on "Deplete". The more hardcore centered vibe really comes on strong here.
The title track that closes this album has the most metal riff, if we are talking about metal in the conventional sense, though is bass driven almost like Godflesh. The raw power of what they do begins to get a little dulled when they swell into their heavier side, because at this point I am now used to it. So it behooving of them to pull out these other tricks. Tricks like the sonic buzz that it builds into which holds an almost black metal feel. Not unlike bands such as Nails or Hexis, where many different sub-genres collide This band is powered by a dark metallic hard-core draped in cinematic ambiance. I'll round this one up to a 10.
Monday, March 12, 2018
This is the sludge band from Slovenia's second album. We know these guys are heavy so rather than convincing us that I am more interested in them convincing me they can write a song. The can add eerie ambiance to the background of what they do. They can play at tempos dismal enough to ride the line between sludge and doom. There are some sung chants in the background , but they are not remaking the wheel here. They use similar formula on the second song. There are some different accents though the riff is similar in it's dirge like drag. The vocals are in a dry rasp, a little more demonic than say Eyehategod, which has more of a punk influence.
The snarl of "Tar" picks up where the previous song left off. The only way I can tell the songs apart is where the chanted vocals drift in. There are a few variation in the riff, but we are getting pretty mush the same thing. There is a more whispered vocal that crops up here , but that is the only major change. Some odd bits of atmosphere haunt things here and there. At some points it sounds a little like Atriarch in places, but Atriarch is more dynamic and brings more musical colors to the table. I understand that the speed they play at dictates the length of the songs to some extent, but if you are going to have a ten minute song then you need to take me on more of a journey and less droning. I little drone can go a long way . Really pound it out for a good minute and you have made your point and can build from there.
The sung vocals leading into "Razor Nest" give the song more of a doom feel. I think this is because the melodies have more sorrow in them than anger or anguish. Samples are well placed here and used for atmosphere earlier in the album as well. The harsher vocals do return midway into the song. These guys are good at capturing a mood and creating the sounds to they succeeded at making the album they set out to make. I think what they made can be a little one dimensional for my tastes, so I will give it a 7. If you don't need much from you sludge and prefer it at more of a doom speed then this album is worth your time.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
The 4th album from Luis Vasquez finds him taking this project into a some what streamlined sound. It is not as dark and dense. The vocals continue to be just as brooding as they were on the previous album "Deeper". The first song sounds a little more organic like some of the sounds are looped guitar parts and an actual bass with strings might have been used. It sounds like early Nine Inch Nails though with less of a metallic aggression. Then it's decidedly less organic on the second song"Choke". The vocals float under more effects against the groove. The vocals come across as more chanted than sung. The sounds all work together , but it rides the beat rather than coming together as a song. While I can accept this early on in the album as it progresses I am not going to be content with grooves alone.
The vocals float into a higher falsetto on "Give Something" . The instrumentation under them is murky and distant. Like the first two songs it rides the pulse. There is a more driving dark wave like beat to "Like a Father". The vocals are more spoken behind a distorted filter. The song has a fuzzy coat of feed back around it. The chant of "Somethings got to give" keeps returning. "The Pain" sounds like more minimalist Stabbing Westward, until the more post-punk bass line falls into place. It is when Luis finds the balance of indie rock cool to make this seem vital, with the depth of 90s industrial that this really works best . Some of this rides heavily on the mix and how high certain synth lines are in this balance. He also needs to put a little more behind the vocals than the chants he uses on "It Kills".
"Ill" is a droning instrumental that is more of an interlude. The more throbbing dark wave direction of "Young" makes it one of the albums best songs. The momentum of this creative spark carries onto into "Born Into This" and it begins to make the first half of the album seem like filler. The album closes with the title track and it takes half of the song for it to really get wound into it. This album sounds great and expands on the over all scope, though song wise I do not think it's as good as "Deeper", so I am giving it a 8.5. Out on Sacred Bones.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
This band from Portland has gone through a few changes stylistically over the years and it sounds like they have finally landed on death metal. They do this with enough savage grace to be convincing, but it is far from remaking the wheel. It is intense. If you are really into death metal and not so discriminating when it comes to what you want aside from fast double bass powered drumming and low growls then you might really be into this. The third song is the first one that I begin to hear a shift from what they started in the albums first few blasts. So this should be filed under very straight forward death metal. I would not go as far as to call it old school, as earlier death metal owed quite a bit in terms of song writing to thrash.
They sound marginally more feral on "Genetic Memory". This alone fails to wow me. Iguess their grind core past taught them how to cram a lot into under two minutes. The dive bomb solo at the beginning of "Othering" give it a taste of Slayer. This comparison would be blasted back out of the water when they momentum builds and this song get going. The song eventually becomes a blur of dark distortion and growling. It is not until over half way through the song after this that it begins to take on a musical quality and tries to live off of sheer heaviness alone.
Fortunately this songs are very short so you are never having to endure more than just bursts of this intensity. I'll give this album a 5 as it is too one dimensional. Though that could be said of most death metal as it seems to rely on aggression.If you are into just aggression and not things like dynamic song writing then you won't be able to tell the difference between this and the 100 other death metal albums on your iPod when you put it on shuffle.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Al slows down and gives into his anger in a way that digs back into the darkness of "Darkside of the Spoon" rather than a struggle with addiction this album finds him struggling with the world around him. I interviewed Al Jourgensen back during the summer of the 2016 Presidential Campaign he mad his feelings known about the state of the union those can be read here...
So it's easy to hear how this form of catharsis might find him returning back to true form. I don't think any Ministry album since "Dark Side of the Spoon" has fully captured who the band is from front to back, their have been glimpse , but it has all been a hyper punk metal hybrid with samples thrown at it. I like some of those songs and albums, as they can be fun on their own merit, but I think this finds them picking up where they left off. They do launch off into the faster guitar driven barrage, on "We're Tired of It". The vocals are almost growled, while run through the characteristic wall of effects.
"Wargasm" is ominous build with more driven metallic guitars. So if you like the band's more metallic side , then that is here for you as well. I think what works best for me here is the fact that this album is a lot darker. The sung chorus on this offers a balanced more melodic side. "Antifa" is the first song that might not be as good as the other. It's not bad, just feels a little middle of the road. "Game Over" has a dense rubbery bass line. It finds them locking into the machine like crunch that defines industrial. The title has a more melodic ring in it's apocalyptic intent. If we want to revisit your golden years this is the way to do. There is enough new to make this feel like it's not a retro flirtation with their past. I'll around this one up to a 10 as it's well balanced and works off mood more than just being in your face. Sure it has more of a smack out feel than a speed ball blitz, so perhaps that is why I am more partial to this side of the band.