DERANGED - The Redlight Murder Case CD
There's nothing really revolutionary going on here. It's your basic sounding Death Metal played well but not enough to catch one off guard. Yeah I'm always harping on about old fashioned Death Metal being superior but that's as long as there's a few refinements thrown in. DERANGED stick with a format that's predictable and yet at least enjoyable. It's like having friends over your place partying. One of em puts the wrong CD into a jewel case after it's played out. A month or two later you drop said CD into the stereo and it's, "Ah that's not this band". Sure the music is the same as you were expecting but it's not the thing that you really wanted to hear. But what's playing does the job at satisfying whatever cravings you were going through. DERANGED are that way plowing through aggressively onward. Sometimes no frills dining is just as good as getting the whole shebang.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
NEURAXIS - The Thin Line Between CD
Quebec must be the new musical capital of Tech Death Metal since they've bestowed on us such acts like ION DISSONANCE and DESPISED ICON to name just two, there's plenty more up there. So here we have NEURAXIS from Montreal who by the way are not newcomers at all. Their "Trilateral Progression" release from a few years ago is still on the minds of those who were punished by it. To the band's credit NEURAXIS perform what I'd say is mathematical precision when it comes to their musicianship. They've also got some brass balls by putting on here an eight minute plus title track. Songs like "Dreaming the End" display guitarists William Seghers (who replaces their former guitarist Steven Henry) and Rob Milley as a tight cohesive duo playing to one another's strengths. The same can be said about them on other cuts in particular "The All and the Nothing" and on "Deviation Occurs". Vocalist, Alex Leblanc, (who replaces the departed Ian Campbell, no he's not dead, he just left the band) has got the classic Death growl vocals to muscle his way through all the cuts on here. But that's all the props I can hand over to this band from the great white north.
My problem, or maybe I should say prejudice, with this is that it's too intricate. By the mid-way point through this release I lost all interest in it. The Tech Death Metal genre has become the home of mechanized drum sounds, computer processed guitar tones and studio enhanced vocal chord shredding. This musical genre is completely soulless. It's progressive boredom where technical skills and polished production values overshadow gut feelings which Death Metal once had. So fuckin what if you can play your way out of a paper bag. The key to all good music is whether or not I will remember you. And in the case of this CD, it's memory is fading away fast.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
OPHIOLATRY - Transmutation CD
If I were to rate this on a scale of one to ten. I'd give it a twenty-five for it's sheer brutality of speed. This Brazilian Death Grind trio gives us relentless noise with the exception of the final cut, a classical guitar ditty. Yeah like that's supposed to lesson the pain from the migraine the rest of this has given me. I hope your rain forest burns to the fuckin ground!
OPHIOLATRY are so fuckin fast that they can't even come up with words to their songs. Which explains why there's plenty of instrumentals scattered throughout this dink or should I call it a maelstrom. This is the musical equivalent of violent torture to your ear drums and senses. Songs blur into one another to the point where you just wish they kill you and end it all. If you're insane and the concept of actual music is beyond your grasp then "Transmutation" should be playing constantly in your padded cell.
Friday, September 26, 2008
DARK FORTRESS - Eidolon CD
Century Media Records
Here's your Extreme Metal Cultural lesson of the month. "Eidolon" is a Greek concept of an astral double or mirror. We're talking about a magic ritual in which the mirror functions as a gateway to another dimension. Musically on this release these Germans don't take you any further than your basic melodic/symphonic Black Metal style. Not at all bad considering that guitarist, V.Santurf, cuts loose alot of clean sounding thrash riffage amidst the plethora of keyboards. If you're waiting for a reference point think mid career EMPEROR, NAGLFAR, or even SATYRICON. Vocally there's plenty of tortured screams, growls and shrieks as if this was playing along to a template of sorts. That's not a complaint because DARK FORTRESS are really epic sounding and heavy as fuck at times. A special treat here is that there's guest vocals on the song "Baphomet" done by Tom G. Fisher. Another CELTIC FROST connection is that DARK FORTRESS guitarist, V. Santurf, was the second guitarist on CELTIC FROST's past reunion tour. And if you've been keeping up with the news out of that band's camp you'll know that will never happen again. But as far as this goes. "Eidolon" is a good Black Metal release but nothing that my tortured neighbors haven't heard me blast late at night before. And for all of you who were waiting for me to drop another Black Metal band's name who are also epic sounding like DARK FORTRESS. Sorry but I had to stay away from the fucking irony this time around.
HAIL OF BULLETS - Of Frost and War CD
Metal Blade Records
What we have here is the debut CD from a virtual who's who of Dutch Death Metal history. The band's lineup includes vocalist Martin Van Drunen (ASPHYX, PESTILENCE), guitarists Paul Baayens (THANATOS) and Stephan Gebedi (THANATOS, LEGION), bassist Theo van Eeklen (HOWITSER) and drummer Ed Warby (GOREFEST). So with references like that you can easily guess that this release is going to be old school sounding and brutal. The release's basic premise is the misery of war. It's a concept album that deals with Germany's invasion of Russia during World War Two, (aka: Operation Barbarossa). Listening to this you can almost picture scenes of battle. The drums and bass come across like an artillery barrage. The guitars bring to mind utter hopelessness and despair of endless miles of carnage. Almost mechanical like a meat grinder, plus with Van Drunen's throaty growl you get a real picture for agony and suffering.
Doom laden Death Metal being the soundtrack of war, but not exactly what you would think. Lyrically this is not at all trying to glorify the warfare on the Eastern Front. In fact it's the opposite ideas being put forth but not at all in some sort of peace protest way either. Think of Martin Van Drunen as a living witness (he's not but you get the idea) giving a first hand account of the scenes he encountered. The rest of the band sets the tempo as a musical backdrop albeit a Extreme Death Metal pounding. You get stories about massacres, grim force marches during the cold winter, fighting frostbite and the enemy at once. You get the feeling of what would be better, to die from the elements of the weather or of bleeding to death from multiple bullet wounds. "Of Frost and War" definitely brings you into the cold cruel reality of the past. I like this alot and hopefully HAIL OF BULLETS will not suffer the fate of many past super groups. If that's the case then this could just be a one off shot in the dark. Like a sniper's round piercing you in the chest leaving you wondering where it came from as your vision grows darker and darker, then you're dead.
CEREMONIAL CASTINGS - Salem 1692 CD
Dark Forest Productions
I haven't had this much of a Black Metal listening smile on my face in a while. Oh sure I have given an evil grin towards many releases this year and last. And don't get me wrong I've listened to some incredible bands. But here we have something that's unique at this time within the USBM genre. There are some big name US bands and some from abroad who have decided to dumb down their sound in order to appeal to certain audiences. These being the mainstream losers, scene jumping hipsters or worse the critics who actually hate Black Metal. I am not mentioning any names but you can all guess who's into the hipster appeal these days. CEREMONIAL CASTINGS, from the state of Washington, has given us all something that'll appeal to Black Metal fans and piss off the hipster metal crowd who are looking for something accessible (aka. non-threatening).
The title pretty much explains it all. This is a concept album about the witch trials which took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Except this whole release is based upon the witches' point of view which is a cool concept indeed. There's an old saying, "Until the lions learn to write than history will always consider them the predators". That saying also applies here. So on this their sixth full length CEREMONIAL CASTINGS give the witches their due through aggressive sounding symphonic Black Metal. Now for those of you holding your ceremonial daggers let's not get crazy and start stabbing your computer screens in disgust after seeing the word "symphonic". CEREMONIAL CASTINGS are not about to drag you out of your basements and into the mainstream. Once again we'll mention no names but you can guess who we're talking about. This release has a delicate balance of atmospheric torment and vicious blasting to keep even the most jaded raccoon eyed, hooded face grinning in hellish delight.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
AETHERIUS OBSCURITAS - Viziok CD
Here we have one pissed off Hungarian Black Metal dude. AETHERIUS OBSCURITAS is Arkhorrl who handles vocals and all instruments except drums. He's definitely not a fan of irony when it comes to the movie Spinal Tap. Then again neither am I. But when it comes to one man Black Metal releases I'm expecting alot of BURZUM worship, alot of ambient psych metal damage, and alot of, these days at least, boredom. Fortunately none of it is part of this release, which the title in English is "Visions". What all I hear is some solid sounding Black Metal that has me pumping my horned fist into the air while I type this damned review. I like how Arkhorrl adds some acoustic guitar into areas where you would not expect it. Occasionally you need some Folk elements woven into a pattern of darkness in order to keep the listener on their heels of anticipation. Another thing here which sets this apart from alot of one man Black Metal releases is the sound quality. This Hungarian has set his standards higher in that this release sounds above your average one angry dude release. The idea that shitty sound quality is the "troo" way to go has been thrown away. Whether purists will go nuts for this is any one's guess. As for me I'll take whatever this mad Hungarian is doing.
BEFORE THE RAIN - One Day Less CD
Major Label Industries Records
When it comes to most modern Doom Metal bands, grave robbing is not a crime. In fact it's looked on as a excepted career path. Just take a month or two of over dosing on past releases by PARADISE LOST, MY DYING BRIDE and ANATHEMA. Then pick out the parts you like and can copy easily. Practice your asses off, maybe play a few gigs to the home town crowds. Once that's finished it's time to head into the studio to record your debut. Now I'm not saying it's the case here with this Portuguese band's release. But I will say that they chose to stick with the Doom Revival sound instead of producing something atmospheric that will bend minds. BEFORE THE RAIN dives head first into the bottomless pit of past Doom greats which I've already mentioned. They provide a wall of sound that suffocates the listener until a guitar interlude pops in conveniently placed of course. This is the kind of release for suicide junkies. People who just wanna die and should but some how they come up for air. This rhapsody only lasts for a short time then they're back on the misery train.
ABYSMAL DAWN - Programmed To Consume CD
There's a revival going on and while the jaded Metal media music critics are staring down their young noses on Thrash. Old School Death Metal being done by younger people is starting to take over the whole fuckin realm. Here is a band that's playing the old school Death Metal style to it's modern lengths plus adding some Black Metal touches and Thrash to the mix. And it has older fucks like me, and hopefully you, excited. Actually it's to the point that we're over the top nuts then most of the crowds that are waiting for the next Tech Death mass media push. For as much as there's an audience for continuous progression into brutality. There's always gonna be one for what's being produced here.
This Los Angeles, Calif. four piece, on their second full length release, gives us one of this year's better releases by far. The musicianship on this will take the listener back to a time which alot of people see as lost. ABYSMAL DAWN are not some retro act if that's what you think I'm getting at. If that were the case then why bother with this when you could just as easily put something else on. No here we have a band who know the roots of their sound very well and have added some modern touches to come off more original. It's vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliot, who I give the credit to. Vocal wise this guy mixes Death Metal growls on some songs then hits us with some Black Metal screaming/shrieks but then adds a little dose of whispered dramatic evilness. As far as his songs and playing ability go, well the music speaks for it self.
I am saying that this CD is like a tour through 1993. Songs like "Walk The Path of Fire" and "Cease to Comprehend" are worthy of jumping out of your chair, slam into the wall and saying to yourself, "What the fuck just happened?" And if you don't then you are a loser! We're talking about nine fuckin songs that blast forth under forty minutes. "Compulsory Resurrection" just shreds all over alot of today's "faster than now" bullshit. Play my fuckin town! I wanna hear "Grotesque Modern Art" live you sons of bitches. And if you will, please leave "The Descent" obviously near the end of your set since it's crushing riffs are worthy of a show ending pummeling. Yeah, this is what Death Metal was all about, CRUSH KILL and DESTROY!
Monday, September 15, 2008
WARBRINGER - War Without End CD
Century Media Records
I first learned about this band after hearing their two scorching tracks on the Speed Kills Again Thrash Compilation from Heavy Artillery Records last year. I was immediately hooked and looked forward to the day when a full length was out. Well here it is and I've been blasting it for well over a month without even thinking about a review. It's just one of those releases that's hard to write about since it's so great, you don't know where to start. This is the CD which should be played for all of those detractors of the so-called "Thrash Revival". It's violent energetic Thrash Metal for people who still like to throw down to SLAYER or EXODUS. Also it's not a throwback to the past as some whiny post-metal losers in the Metal media would have you believe. Actually this is homage that stands up on it's own to the forebearers of the genre. I just can't see bands of the past looking down their noses and saying "Ah yeah we did all that before dude so stop". Instead I see em giving the horned fist in tribute as a passing of the proverbial torch. Think about this all of you anti-Thrash fucks. This was recorded, mixed and mastered by producer Bill Metoyer who has also worked with past legends like SLAYER, DARK ANGEL, DRI, COC,etc. Not only does that guy know the difference between pure aggression and rehash. I doubt that the guy would bother with something that's supposed to be a simple flash in the pan, short lived revival. WARBRINGER are just one of a handful of new California Thrash bands that are on the attack with a sound that's fresh and definitely needed now.
PROSTITUTE DISFIGUREMENT - Descendants of Depravity CD
When it comes to Death Metal sometimes brutality is not enough. Now I know that such a statement will most likely ruffle a few feathers or worse it'll spark reprisals. So I wanna worn you now don't do nothing stupid because I'm armed. And the first sullen faced fuck I see lurking outside my house. I'm gonna let you have it with both barrels right in the gut. And don't try to bullshit me by saying you're here to read the gas meter. No one does that with a meat cleaver. OK back what I was saying, yeah brutality is great but decent bands within this genre have found longevity by adding more to the mix than just pummeling the listener. I know some people like to believe that great Death Metal is innovated and more extreme than what has been done before hand. But for me there's a fine line between brutality and listenability. It's one thing to be pounded down into mush. But it's better to be pounded in order to give you strength and rising up to bash back even harder. The great bands like SUFFOCATION and CANNIBAL CORPSE have been doing this for years. Tearing listeners down to pulp sized chunks and then building them back up. This is what modern day Death Metal should be about. And that's what PROSTITUTE DISFIGUREMENT does on this nine song CD. There's alot on Descendants of Depravity which will satisfy all of you brutality perverts. But there's much more than just blastbeats and growling. This Dutch band tosses in lot's of melody plus intense riffing and solos that'll send volts down your spine. The Dutch have a history when it comes to creating a brutal hostile environment while at the same time inviting in the listener to take part in the carnage. Although this is not for jaded video gamers hellbent on being mouth-fucked by their heroes.
The SEVENTH GATE - AOTTMLHDYETP? CD
Satan Rock Records
I picked this up at an ADMIRAL BROWNING show earlier this year. There were a bunch laid out on the club's bar for people to pick up along with a Satan Rock Records CD compilation. The SEVENTH GATE throw everything at you including a filthy bathroom sink from a crustie punk's squat house. The basic formula here is Powerviolence, extremely fast like a cheetah late for a meal. Or painfully slow like the current of a sludge filled river. But that's not to pigeonhole this band of psychos. There's also plenty of industrial blasts and progressive experimentation to keep one's attention excited. The vocals vary between Death Metal barks and growls to Hardcore tormented banshee screams. All of which is appropriately recorded at primitive levels in order to keep with authenticity of the genre. By the way this was mastered by some guy named Bill Wolf who's no relation to me. This dink wins for sheer audio extremism and it's something I would never have picked up on a whim. An over the top professional recording would ruin this. It's definitely a throwback to 1989/91 when the Powerviolence scene on the Left coast was running at full bore. Unfortunately this was released last year, no wonder they were given away for free at the show.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
VARIOUS ARTISTS - This Comp Kills Fascists Volume One CD
Normally I would never comment on the themed artwork of an Extreme Metal release but on this one I must make an exception. I have nothing against people who have political/social opinions different than mine, as long as they're based on reasonable facts and not fiction. The fact about Fascism is that it's an ideology based on state control. An ideology which in the past hundred years of history has been embraced by the far left-wing and taken on new names like Socialism, Nazism, Communism and of course Liberalism. It has also recently been embraced by certain religious denominations in particular radical Islamists. Therefore to equate the U.S. or the Bush administration Fascist is completely ignorant of the facts. But here in America you have the right to be ignorant. Now with that said let's talk about the music.
This dink was compiled and produced by Scott Hull, guitarist of the band PIG DESTROYER. Seeing that their Phantom Limb release from 2007 turned up on every one's "best of" lists, including mine. And it probably sold more units than any other of their label's releases. So I'm sure Relapse Records would allow Scott Hull to do any fucking thing he wanted. Even taking a dump at Relapse Records corporate office. Thankfully this compilation of Extreme music is not a dump. Music wise the bands comprise of a who's who in the Underground Grind genre with some twists. Obviously some people don't wanna be confined to just one genre. There's 14 bands and 51 tracks in all. Yeah I couldn't handle all of it but there were plenty of standouts to satisfy.
KILL THE CLIENT do that on here with their three cuts of pure hate filled gore-grind. Very good but too bad you have to wade through two other bands to get to their good shit. Yeah the bands AGENTS OF SATAN and WEEKEND NACHOS bored me. SPOONFUL OF VICODIN are old school power-violence. They even garnered six cuts on here. But they run through them faster than a crustie running from a shower. MARUTA are fuckin death grind who at times made me think the fuckin CD was scratched and the damm thing was skipping. But that only happens when I put a CD on and then fall asleep to it. Then I wake up maybe four hours later to it skipping. Yeah my neighbors hate me. MARUTA's two cut contribution is definitely unhinged brutality.
One of the highlights for me at least are the cuts by INSECT WARFARE. At the present time they are the hottest name in the underground grindcore genre. Although their sound and style varies from grindcore to 1980's hardcore crust. The heavy stuff that sparks of relentless violence like mid-period NAPALM DEATH. And since we're talking old school then that's what the band SHITSTORM are all about. Their six tracks on here are untamed, chaotic and fast like they stepped out of the past. MAN WILL DESTROY HIMSELF are local veterans of the Raleigh, NC underground music scene and lean more towards insane hardcore than the other bands on here. They contribute two songs where their singer, Earthworm, sounds like someone going through the ravages of rabies. While the rest of the band blasts out an aggressive sonic barrage. I've seen them live a handful of times and I just get more impressed by them with each show. TOTAL FUCKIN DESTRUCTION, who I think are great live, were a disappointment on here. Way to much jazz for my tastes as if NOMEANSNO were a grind band. Still Rick Hoak is an exceptional drummer to watch live. By the way that's a stab to all the fuckers who missed them earlier this year at Volume 11 Tavern. Also the BRUTAL TRUTH contributions also with Rick Hoak are much better. CHAINSAW TO THE FACE, now that's a great band name, are specialists in simple death grind which is very punishing to say the least. MAGRUDERGRIND were much in the same vein.
All in all yeah this is a great compilation for anyone into Grind shock and awe. Which means those idiots, who've been getting arrested for destroying property during the Republican National Convention, will hate it. Relapse Records are a evil corporate entity. Everyone knows that.
TERROR - The Damned, the Shamed CD
After listening to this their fourth full length. I can see that there's quite a few things scary about TERROR. The first and foremost is that they believe themselves to be Hardcore. Pardon me but when I think of old school Hardcore I'm thinking of bands like POISON IDEA, BATTALION OF SAINTS, BLACK FLAG, etc. As far as new bands there's the DESPISED, DOUBLE NEGATIVE and MAN WILL DESTROY HIMSELF. What this reminds me of is all those shaved headed thug bands from Victory and Revelation Records in the late 80s and early 90s. They all had this generic sound which came with a wanna be tough guy attitude. Some of those bands were into straightedge too. Who in their right mind would think to call this hardcore? Oh yeah, really ignorant people who were not around during Hardcore's heyday from 1980 to 1987. After that things got boring which is why this CD by these Los Angeles bunch reminds me when Hardcore took a nose dive into the crapper.Actually, like Punk, it branched out into sub-genres. Some bands just called it quits. While others saw the future and dived into the Metal mainstream. Still other bands continued on either by staying true to their cause or expanding on it. So for anyone to call this old style Hardcore simply means that whenever they got into the genre they failed to investigate all of it. Instead they just took what they saw at face value. Obviously the good stuff is going to be hard to find and deep into the pile and not up at the top. Always remember shit floats.
The second scary part of this dink is that it sounds forced as if time requirements ruined any chance at creativity. The opener "Voice of the Damned" is so predictable in it's tough guy "core" style. All the songs follow the same pattern afterwards, with a few exceptions like on "Betrayer". They actually switch speeds for a whole twenty seconds and get melodic. They do the same thing on "March to Redemption". But for the most part this is as exciting as watching paint dry. Thirteen songs all dealing with themes like betrayal, suffering, pain, and getting screwed over. All emotionally and pathetically screamed by Scott Vogel. I know how the guy feels too since all this phony mosh pit music leaves me feeling betrayed. It's like I'm getting screwed over by listening to this bullshit. Actually "Voice of the Damned" is a halfway decent cut and belongs on the A-side of a 7"er. Yeah this band should just be putting out singles with two or four songs on them.
Finally the third scary part of this is that there are people out in the world who will eat this up. You've see them at some Metal shows wearing those over sized hoodies, over sized sport team shirts, shorts, baseball caps, etc. I think they're called juggaloes. But don't mistake them for thrashers. Yeah all of this music is geared towards pissed off youthful misanthropes who need to get laid but can't. (I'm betting that almost all of their Myspace friends are guys.) Songs like "Crush What's Weak" and "Still Believe" carry that attitude to the hilt. Hey I have nothing against violent themed music, just look at all the Extreme stuff I like. But this is almost a silly joke to be honest with you. Oh you poor sad fucks. You're in pain. You feel betrayed. Stop your whining pussy! Why don't you grow a pair of balls and stop crying like a little baby. And if you don't stop it then I will give you something to cry about, losers.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
UNLEASHED - Hammer Battalion CD
Here we have the latest from the Viking Warriors of Swedish Death Metal. And after all these years they still sound like a barbaric horde rampaging across the planet. Just look at the fucking title? Anyways this is what the Death Metal genre is all about, pummeling. If the opening cut "The Greatest of All Lies" does not knock you into the next room then your volume control is turned down too low. Turn it up because this band was one of a handful long ago to forge what we know today as Scandinavian Death Metal. And they are as important and powerful today as they were some twenty years ago. Don't even think that this is going to be some mediocre release by another bunch of oldsters trying to cash in on the genre's new found popularity. This is better than what alot of the new school bands are doing these days. Especially ones that try too hard to be intricate and meticulous, aka: Tech Death.
UNLEASHED stick to their brand of antisocial noise, diving head first into the Death Metal meat grinder. Yes the energy on this dink is incredible that even when the band does slow down to plod through a cut like "Carved in Stone". They still push the wattage meter up. Don't be put off by the excellent production either. And bassist/vocalist Johnny Hedlund can still pull off a guttural growl. I'd say that this will be on alot of people's end of the year best of 2008 lists.
TIAMET - Amanethes CD
Nuclear Blast Records
Uber Goth and gloom is what TIAMET are all about nowadays. When their rhythm section is brutally pummeling and the synth sounds hit you like ice then they are a decent listen. But that's too far and too few many times for me. The bad stuff just over powers throughout. The opening cut, "The Temple of the Crescent Moon" is a drone with vocals that sound like mine in the morning if I smoked a carton of Marlboros. By the way, I don't. "Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again" sounds like something PARADISE LOST threw away. "Lucienne" is just so damm slow and we're not talking Doom here. There's just no fuckin excitement coming from TIAMENT overall. Songs like "Equinox of the Gods" and "Misantropolis" show some spark amongst the sleep inducing other cuts. I had to keep poking myself with a lit cigarette to stay awake.