Scott's Hyperbole-Riddled Metal Reviews!
BEARVSSHARK – Terrorhawk (Equal Vision)
Not unlike a young Mandy Patinkin trying to decide whether or not to capitalize on his critically-acclaimed performance as Che Guevera in Andre Lloyd Webber’s smash hit musical Evita by taking to the stage again and solidifying his position as one of the true rising stars of the American stage or hightailing it to Hollywood where the paydays and fringe benefits are oh so rewarding, today’s post-post-post “emotive” “screaming” “hardcore” bands are left with a similar art/mammon choice of their own. Do they help to extend and build and transform the post-hardcore canon a la Fugazi by refusing to bow to the marketplace and steadily become more “difficult” and less “catchy” or “fun”? Or do they realize, with a sinking feeling in their stomachs, that being assless, gasless, and grassless, while making for good tortured lyrical set-ups, gets old in a hurry and that, yes, while you can try to deny it for a little while, nobody rides for free. Or is there a third choice? One that doesn’t involve large amounts of eyeliner, a date with Avril, or a steady starvation diet of van-food and skate-shop fill-in work. Sure there is! This is
Blut Aus Nord – The Work Which Transforms God / Thematic Emanation Of Archetypal Multiplicity (Candlelight)
“Aw yeah, we are back! I’m Hellion, and you’re watching Black Metal Dance Party on MTV. Today’s special guests are none other than those fearsome French funkmasters Blut Aus Nord, and they are here to get this party started rightly! As you may remember, Blut’s 2003 release The Work Which Transforms God dropped like a bizzomb on the black metal universe with its mix of searing misanthropic guitar fury, industrial ambience, belief and praise for evolutionary theory, and passages of dub-like psychedelic headfuckery a la Controlled Bleeding or some such shit. The whole thing was sweeeeeet! And now, with the re-release of that album comes a bonus ep that will have da headz buggin’! Some straight-up EBM Darkwave-stylee shit along with some hella-dopetastic funky monk chanting and some crushing doom that’ll have the hotties beggin’ for mizzercy! So, let’s take it to the stage, playa! Blut… there it is!!!!”
“Greetings, mortals. It is our extreme displeasure to be here. It is is true what this human says. Our new extended play release is a departure from our past unmitigated fury. Do not judge us, however, as you would a lesser weaker musical performance unit. We are beyond your terrestrial realm. We will not be put in your earth boxes to be probed and dissected like so many tiny earth rodents. Our mission is the total and complete annhilation of past thought and if the path to this goal is revealed to be the motherfunkiest dance beats your ears have ever been blessed with, then so be it. Our word is law. At the proper time, I would like everyone in the room to raise their arms in the appropriate manner and scream: Go Satan, Go Satan, Go! After that, I would very much like the crowd to scream Hell Yeah! in response to my leading exhortation of: If You Believe In Hell On Earth, Say Hell Yeah! Is all of this understood? I should hope so. But first, we are going to slow things down a little and play what I believe you humans call a “storm of quiet” from our masterpiece Thematic Emanation Of Archetypal Multiplicity”. This one is for the female of your species.”
Candlemass – Candlemass (Nuclear Blast)
The ‘Mass is back and they’re ready to attack! The legends of 80’s doom are taking names and handing out asses on platters! Their return to the metal arena is nothing less than a stone cold masterpiece! Oh, wait, I don’t write for a metal webzine. Fuggit, this is too much fun. BLACK DWARF!!! “Black Dwarf” owns! ANY band who starts their album off with a song called “Black Dwarf” and then proceeds to bang that mother down with a badass choo choo train kept a rollin’ riff of plenty has already won my love. The rest of the album is an afterthought. I’m easy too please though. Basically, any band that ever played the game of “what if we lived in a world where everyone just remade Paranoid FOREVER” has my vote. Even if they aren’t running for anything, I’ll still vote for them. Trouble, Candlemass, Cathedral, St.Vitus. It didn’t matter. They all spoke to my heart. Granted, you could listen to the new Candlemass (With the classic line-up! Messiah on vocals! Viva
Circle Of Dead Children – Zero Comfort Margin (Willowtip – 2005)
Gun Metal Grey – Solitude (Indianola-2005)
If I had a little sister I would encourage her to listen to
Immolation – Harnessing Ruin (Olympic-2005)
When I die and go to hell, I’m taking a copy of Immolation’s Harnessing Ruin with me. That and a toothbrush. In fact, I hope I die soon, because I really want to hear how the song “Challenge The Storm” sounds as I’m crossing the river
Primordial – The Gathering Wilderness (Metal Blade)
Fans of epic mid-tempo Irish pagan tree metal rejoice! All four of you! Primordial, those brooding sons of Erin, come thrashing back to life on their first album since 2002’s Storm Before Calm with that unique blend of blackened doom (Or doomed black metal, take your pick.) and hymns to the blood-soaked earth. It’s also their first release for Metal Blade which means you will actually be able to find this record at CDs & Such next to the food court. The opener, “The Golden Spiral”, is inspired. All tribal drumbeats (That double as disco beats for all you fancy dancers.) and a roar of hypnotic and subterranean riffing that builds in intensity around the anguished howls of tortured soul/vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga. Billy Anderson’s patented wall of sod production works like a lucky charm with a band such as Primordial, because they are all about the wearying trudge thru unforgiving landscapes. Lyrically, the band will appeal to any darkefolke-loving Hansel & Gretel-obsessed Wiccan princesses spooked and aroused by high winds and excess precipitation. Musically, A.A.’s fierce growl to near-operatic swoon coupled with massive war drums and the rising tide guitars that swell and roil will appeal to fans of latter-day Neurosis as well as all those people who still haven’t forgiven Anathema for becoming a Pink Floyd cover band. The Gathering Wilderness is a shaggy beast of a record, and there is nothing hip about it. Primordial have been following their own dark (And possibly treacherous!) path for years, and it has led them to possibly their strongest album yet.
Swarm Of The Lotus – The Sirens Of Silence (Abacus – 2005)
Okay, it’s official. Kurt Ballou of Converge is my new favorite producer. The dude made *three* albums this year that might make my top ten. Quite frankly, I think he’s a bit of a show-off. First, Transistor Transistor’s wall of awesomeness hit me between the eyes, then Gospel’s prog-metal album The Moon Is A Dead World put me into interstellar overdrive, and now he is behind the boards for
The Unseen – State Of
The Unseen make punky punk for punks who believe that punk will never be dead because punk belongs to the punks. Got that, punk? They’ve been working the
Zatokrev – Zatokrev (Earache/Codebreaker)
It takes a band to fuck a village. Wait, no, it takes four bands. And wait, it’s not a village, it’s modern metal. And those bands aren’t fucking modern metal as much as they are “inspiring” it, for better or worse. And those four bands are At The Gates, Neurosis, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Converge. 73.8 percent of all new bands sound a little like one of those bands. Most of the rest either sound like a combination of those four or a combination of Darkthrone, Slayer, Napalm Death, and Gentle Giant. Zatokrev – which loosely translated from the original Czech means “all the best names were taken” – sound, at times, like very heavy Neurosis combined with very heavy Godflesh. And if you are anything like me - and if you are, you would be stoned right now - the idea of this combination has your shorts as soiled as your grandma’s bloomers after an all-nighter at the Polish-American club. Repetitious hypno-sludge riffs are a dime a dozen. As are down-tuned thru the floorboards bass players who miss your face by a mile. As are stuck-in-a-beartrap caterwauling garglepusses. As are doped up drummers forced at gunpoint to play four beats per minute. But, as any suicidal day trader will tell you, it’s all about synergy and the different ways that unforeseen market forces can make everything come together. That last Cult Of Luna album? As Neur/Isis knock-offs go, it didn’t do much for me. But the new Callisto album? Groovy like in the movies. Go figure! And I’m adding Zatokrev to my all-star doom squad. These Swiss misters have got the plod that keeps on giving. And their slow motion stomp and mock pain is definitely my gain.
Aborted – The Archaic Abattoir (Olympic)
Belgian goregrinders Aborted must have eaten a baaaad batch of waffles, because they sound even more pissed off than usual on their latest, The Archaic Abattoir. (Why do Belgians make such great death metal singers? Because they’re Flemish! Hahaha! Sorry.) According to the predictably hyperbolic press notes, their new album takes things to the dreaded “next level”. Which begs the question: You are in a brutal straight-ahead grindcore band that plays at a million miles an hour, how many levels could there be? Did the band spontaneously combust after recording the last song? Is actual death the next level? I don’t know if I buy it. If they did take things to the next level, why are they still stuck in an archaic abattoir? Shouldn’t they be in a state-of-the-art killing facility by now? There is a cool stereo phasing technique used for about five seconds toward the end of “The Gangrenous Epitath”. I don’t know if this counts as level-jumping. Maybe the three indistiguishable guest singers from Illdisposed, Mnemic, and Hatesphere provide next levelness. Unreconstructed gore masticators who found new heroes in life when Aborted put out Goremageddon (Let’s face it, with that title, they would have bought it no matter how bad it was.) will no doubt hear the few added melodic guitar touches and those guest hardcore barkers and cry that the band has gone emo or something (They are an excitable bunch.). But to these ears, there isn’t enough variation for me to call The Archaic Abattoir anything more than what it is – A highly proficient and technically stunning slab of ultraviolence complete with crushing breakdowns, stupefying stickwork and bruised rib riffing. Which is nothing to sneeze at.
Blessing The Hogs – The Twelve Gauge Solution (Goodfellow – 2005)
When I first put on Blessing The Hog’s The Twleve Gauge Solution I thought to myself, who are these lamb-of-god-come-latelys? These johnny-one-growls? Don’t they know we’ve destroyed all the pigs? Didn’t they get the memo? Then I got drunker. And right around the song “Let’s Play Doctor…Kevorkian” (Ha ha, good joke. And one that I, myself, might have made…when I was six!), I could feel my thrash-love growing stronger. I started nodding my head a little. To a hip-hop fan, this means he’s done.
Bruce Dickinson – Tyranny Of Souls (Sanctuary)
He’s the master of disaster. The king of the cod-piece. The super-dooper trooper who will run his sword up your pooper if you dare get in his way. Well, he used to be anyway. And I’d be lying if I said that I have been keeping close tabs on big, bad Bruce Dickinson’s solo career over the years (Or Maiden after, like, 1988. Sorry!) I could say the same about a lot of my fave boyhood yelpers. Dio runs a string of car washes, doesn’t he? They move on. I finally have sex for the first time. It happens. It’s great to hear his hearty, operatic pipes again, on this, his first solo album in seven years. Vocally, he hasn’t lost a step. Song-wise, the album is fairly subdued and slow-moving. Even up-tempo songs like “Power of the Sun” have somewhat mushy middles. “Devil On A Hog” (Great title! Definitely makes up for the horribly titled, “Believil”.) should be a rollicking biker-metal rave-up. But it’s not. And it’s all due to the, um, “fiscally conservative” sound and production. Mud, anyone? Which is a shame, because the songwriting is surprisingly (To me. At this late date.) strong. Dark, mythical, incomprehensible. All the things that made Iron Maiden great. Even that horribly titled “Believil” is a cool tune. Do you know what I would love to see one of these noble warriors of old do? Think outside the cage. Instead of trying to mimic their million dollar sound from decades past with two bucks and some change, they should hook up with some shit-hot euro power metal band (Who would probably do it for nothing just to work with their leige and lord.) and hang out at Albini’s house for a few days. Come on, wouldn’t that be cool! Eh, it’ll never happen. In the meantime, there is that voice. And if you were ever a fan, that might be enough for now.
Debris Inc. – S/T (Candlelight/Rise Above)
Shit. Dirt. Crud. Crust. Piss. Smack. Glue. Carlsberg. Blatz. Strongbow. Mad Dog. Sorry straightedgers, but these are some of the original ingredients of punk rock. The spirit and unhealthy by-product of those ingredients can be heard on the new Debris Inc. record courtesy of Saint Vitus’s Dave Chandler, ex-Trouble bassist Ron Holzner and a cavalcade of sludge champs on drums from bands like Crowbar, Goatsnake, and my hero Jimmy Bower of Superjoint Ritual/Eyehategod fame. As a whole, the album is lazy, dirty, drunken, stupid, sleazy, juvenile, and sounds like shit. I think you will really dig it. These dudes got together to make an inebriated goof of a thing that in no way sounds like anything other than an inebriated goof. Which is a novel idea these days. Sloppy as hell old-school punk shouters and grimy doom rock numbers that can barely stand up on their own two feet are given a one-take stuporcore workout by grizzled vets who have seen more shitty clubs in a year then most teeniepunk pipsqueaks will see in a lifetime. Used to be, bands would get together all the time for a rotgut hoedown, record some stoopid punk covers and put it out on tape for fans like it was no big deal. Now you’ve got stuff like Dave Grohl and his vanity Probot project. Dude probably spends five grand a week just for his personal whisker trimmer. Or else a drunken goof ends up being a profitable business like with Bloodbath. Yo, Swedish dudes, it isn’t a drunken goof if your albums sound better than most ACTUAL death metal albums. Or if you start making more money on Bloodbath belt-buckles than you do selling your real band’s albums. So, here’s to Debris Inc. Long may they puke! Just as long as they, you know, don’t do it forever.
Gorod – Neurotripsicks (Willowtip – 2005)
Thomas De Quincey once wrote, “Here, perhaps, the reader will exclaim – ‘Avoid, Satanas!’ to me, falsely supposing that I have some design upon his eyes, and wish to blind them with learned dust. But, if he thinks that, he is in the wrong box; I must and will express scholastic phrases; but, having once done this, I am then ready to descend into the arena with no other weapons than plain English can furnish.” Gallic gore-goons Gorod take this to heart. You may think, upon first listening to their epic assault on the ears, Neurotripsicks, that they are trying to confuse your senses with dizzyingly high-tech noodle-grind guitar solos of a sort that would no doubt incite Yngwie to unleash the fucking fury in a highly pressurized cabin if he ever heard them on his in-flight headphones. You may think that 4000 riffs and shifts in tempo per song is a tactic designed to keep you on edge – a little uneasy - and perhaps make you rethink that whole “college is for sheep” philosophy you’ve been working on at mom’s house for the last ten years. And, by the way, that’s not your bong you are filling, that’s the vacuum cleaner. But, no, Like De Quincey, Gorod put on their fancy duds – those prog-level displays of nimbleness that are every guitar-store cowboy’s dream – only to share simpler reveries in a plain English that anyone can understand. For instance: “Gutted/Minced/Mashed/Soiled/We stay horrified/We must find him/GOROD can release us/Damned as spectrums/Gorod open its stone door/To pillar Neurotripsicks/Easy to smell/Pig’s bloated face/Zero tolerance for uncunt creatures/Pig’s bloated face/Pityless under sauvagery.” An entire worldview as easy as you please. See, the Gorod is the ancient enemy of the Neurotripsick, and…but that’s not important. What IS important is that
Hand To Hand –
Ever get the impression that within the hearts of some of these “melodic” hardcore bands lies an old school power metal group yearning to break free from its emo bonds?
Phobia – Get Up And Kill! (Deep Six)
For everyone who has had it up to here with all those sine wave sludge metal art-project albums featuring 20 minute endurance test cuts with titles like “Contemplating A Speck Of Dust On God’s Ass, Parts 1-10” made by people too incapacitated by their bong collections to even realize that most folks don’t buy albums based on how long they think their next car crash-induced coma might last, have I got an album for you! Get Up And Kill! By
Soilwork – Stabbing The Drama (Nuclear Blast)
If Soilwork were meaner, and not the fine upstanding Swedish lads that they are, they would have this to say to all the American metalcore bands trying to ape the sound that has made them one of the leading lights of the NSNWOSMDM (Not So New Wave Of Swedish Melodic Death Metal for those of you out of the loop.): “Hahahahaha! You wish!” Because one listen to their new album, Stabbing The Drama, will reveal to you, whether it’s your kinda thing or not, one thing: This is some state of the art shit. This album (And their last 2 or 3, come to think of it) could serve as some sort of reference standard for modern metal. The band has worked with Devin Townsend in the past, but on STD they opted for fellow Swede Daniel Bergstrand and he does right by the band by making their noise swing mightily.( I can’t help but feel that if Slipknot had taken some of their t-shirt money and gone to Sweden to record their last album that I might have listened to it more than twice. Why not go to the source?) Critics of the band will say that Soilwork make Volvo-metal:Suitably heavy, well-made, but it’s not gonna kill anybody. Plus, they’ve gone soft, Gothenburg-lite, blah, blah..And yet, there’s something so satisfying about an album with such a shiny well-recorded surface AND drums that kick ass AND guitars with bite and heft AND good writing/playing AND melodies that are actually MEMORABLE. Plus, Bjorn “Speed” Strid can sing his ass off, both as hardcore grunter and as moody boy blue. STD is as good as the very good Natural Born Chaos, “true” death metal fans will hate it (Just call it “melodic metal”, okay? Does that make you feel better?), and unfortunately it won’t be replacing the Hoobastanks of the world on American radio any time soon, so cool it with the sell-out talk.
The Locust – Safety Second, Body Last
To be a great spazzcore band, you need method actor levels of commitment. Case in point: Yamataka Eye of Boredoms fame is one of the sweetest guys you could ever meet, but on stage he has given unhinged performances worthy of Brando in his prime. He knows that there is a thin line between “inspired lunacy” and “some idiot running around in dirty underwear”. The moral: If you are gonna flail and gnash your teeth, flail and gnash your teeth like your life depends on it. Which is why the highest compliment I can give to a band like
Ulver – Blood Inside (Jester – 2005)