Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colossal Supremacy

Now, I've been anticipating Koloss like the fucken second coming of Christ. Never have I been so pumped about an album as with this one. Were my hopes too high? Hell no, they weren't even close . Fuck me sideways, upside down, backwards, pretty much any fucken way you want. God help us all. This is what will make the world end in 2012.

The band themselves said that this album would be a bit more "straight forward" than, say, ObZen. A bit more back to their roots, if you will. Something I'm sure is welcomed by many a fans. Because this is what Meshuggah are the undisputed kings of. Yes, they sure as hell know how to absolutely fuck things up beyond mere human comprehension, but I don't think that's what they are truly about and most certainly not what they do best.

I'm gonna sidetrack a little here, but hear me the fuck out, will you? No? Well, fuck you.

obZen felt to me like an experiment from the band. And people who got into the band through that album might have got the wrong impression of what they truly are about. (I'm mainly looking at you, "djent"-people). Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love obZen as I love every other album they've done. But it's not about how fast or technical you can go with Meshuggah, it's how heavy, or with this album, colossal you can get. They are, in the end, about creating mindbending sonic experiences. Cosmic greatness. And since obZen, unfortunately, spawned this absolute fucken pile of manure people call "djent", I couldn't be more happy with their direction on Koloss. Thank you, Meshuggah. You have just absolutely ass-raped the "djent"-scene silly. I love you even more than I did before.

I just felt like I had to clarify that. Hatemails from djentsters are expected and by all means more than welcome. I could use some free entertainment. Ha! You've got nothing on me.
Now let's get back to Koloss, shall we? Right.

With their two released tracks, "Do Not Look Down" and "Break Those Long Song Titles", I had mixed feelings about what to expect. "Break....." is one hell of a monster track, alright. Relentless, goddamn straight to the point bulldozer heaviness, right there. Not much to discuss, really. "Do Not Look Down" is, on the other hand, ridiculously groovy and it pretty much makes me want to dance the fuck out to it. Well, not really dance, that would just look plain retarded. You wouldn't want to see me dance, trust me. There are enough awful things in this world as it is. I don't even know where I'm going with this myself.

Anyhoo, I was not really sure what to expect, but I thought it'd be wise to wait until I've heard the entire album before my verdict, naturally. Well, duh.

Well, those tracks definitely shows two sides of the coin, alright. but they certainly do not show what the entire album actually has to offer. This is like all of their previous albums had sex with each other, and Koloss is the sick, demented and dark offspring that came out.
This is heavy as fuck, it's groovy and it's fucken evil. In other words, they focus on all the things that they can execute like no other band out there. It's safe to say that they are back, and they're fucken pissed off. This blows obZen right the fuck out of the water.

What I like the most is the production. It all sounds like actual instruments again. Everyone shines through so well on this album. Rather than having a compressed-to-clusterfuckness sound like on obZen they went for a more organic and alive sound. Best point of reference would be the Nothing album, but warmer. You can actually hear how an amazing drummer Tomas really is again. Also, Fredrik and Mårten has to be two of the tightest goddamn rhythm guitarists out there.

The bass is there sometimes, sometimes it just blends in completely with the guitars, but this is because when they play the low 8-string stuff, Dick plays in the same octave as the guitars, thus giving them that characteristic guitar sound. As far as I'm concerned, he is a damn fine and way too underrated bassist. He even gets some spotlight in "Break..." with a kind of a drum and bass interlude, something you haven't really heard since DEI, more or less.

But what probably struck me the most is Jens. His vocals sound so much more inspired and pissed off than on obZen. Something or someone must have pissed him off before entering the studio. He is definitely back in the shape he should be. Which is something you can't say that often about vocalists, so this is a huge plus. Few people can compete with his badassness and he definitely puts the icing on the cake, the cum on the face, and the grädde on the mos on this album. His live facial expressions alone should be enough to have people fucken throw all kinds of awards at them.

The musicianship is just out of this world. But this needs no further ellaboration, I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with their skills at this point. Just listen to the damn albums if you don't know what I'm fucken talking about.

Another point worth mentioning is the lyrics. Tomas writes pretty much all of them, and he is a natural talent at it, too. They make you think, they are interesting, and they all have meaning to them. They give the songs further dimensions and fits them like a glove while at it. Do yourself a favor and put on some good headphones and listen to this while reading along in the booklet. Fantastic.

At first I decided that to write about each track was a good idea, but it just proved to be pointless and it turned out a little too long to keep the read interesting. I'm pretty sure that you don't have the same feelings about the tracks as I do, anyway... So fuck that shit.

Koloss is heavy, it's atmospheric, it's groovy, it's evil, it's apocalyptic, and it's pretty much everything that I absolutely have come to love about this band over the years. It is a mix of what they've done in the past and it is a perfect representation of what they are. It's the soundtrack to the entire galaxy being crushed into a black hole. And the final track of the album, an instrumental clean guitar interlude (which is also something they are fucken excellent at, Catch 33 would be a perfect example of this), is the emptiness and dead silence of space that is all that remains afterwards. This, folks, this is what Meshuggah are all about and are the unmatched masters of doing.

Considering all of this and the overall good flow that this album has, I cannot give this anything less than a full score. Call me a fucken fanboy if you want to. I totally am, so I'm all fine with it. Like, I don't even care. Koloss certainly lives up to its name.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Groove gods reaching a new height!

First of all, let me set the record straight. Many have compared Gojira to Meshuggah and I think that's not accurate. Sure I guess in the same heavy experimental odd time signatures and bizarre chord using way, you could call them similar. However what this album demonstrates is how far apart the two bands are and given time listening to this album, you forget about Meshuggah all together.

This is not metal for the simple minded and one quick listen won't do it justice. Gojira fans will be expecting this complexity and they will also tell you that's exactly what they love about them. Some bands chug along but Gojira kind of stutter along. This sounds quite bad but it's this stuttering that makes them so unique. Previous albums have impressed me but I think this album is where they really hit their straps. There is something about The Way Of All Flesh that is so familiar yet so fresh at the same time that after 30 or 40 listens you're still not bored.

"Oroborus" is an unusual opener. It starts with a strange riff of hammer-ons and pick-offs which sets the scene for the entire album because you know you're not going to listen to a straight forward metal album. Many songs from other bands have several ideas that change and progress as the song goes on. Yet on this track it seems Gojira have done the opposite, in fact keeping the same idea and vibe then adding and taking away from it. It's a technique Gojira has used many times before but I think this could well be the archetypal track.

They back up the incredible opener with "Toxic Garbage Island" which starts out with the stuttering along that I described earlier. That is until it gets to a moment of sheer power with the chorus. At mezzo tempo and with Joe growling "Pain is killing me", it's one of the highlight moments of the album. The whole track has a painful feel to it which seems to reinforce their deep belief in enviromental issues.

The album continues with many awesome tracks until it gets to "The Art Of Dying". This track is probably one of my favourite songs of 2008. Starting with a "The Link" feel of a deep groan underlining the snare tapping, it builds and builds until it explodes into a melee of drums bass and guitar fighting against each other until the drums bring it all together with a pounding beat. There are several breakdowns and change of directions in the song. The most notable is the second and final breakdown after which one of the most epic riffs of the 00's starts. It's so good they repeat it for nearly 3 minutes straight but it never gets boring. You can't help but bang your head everytime you hear it.

It's an all round incredible effort from the Frenchmen and I hope it's not a carrer peak. I'd like to see them get better and better with every release. I think they have it in them because even though all albums have common themes, no two are alike and that makes a perfect band. One that can release quality after quality.


Friday, May 11, 2012

French people made this?!?!

I've long awaited this release, ever since I first heard their last effort; Insane Cephalic Production, which was a pure and everlasting masterpiece - i still enjoy every track on that very album.
It's hard to describe what this band is about...Their music contains so many different elements. Yet mostly very brutal they still manage to influence some melody and even harmony right in center of pandemonium without losing momentum in this destructive force.

The riffs are all excellent and fits beautifully into the whole picture. Very versatile riffing, one riff always fades into another. It's a rare thing these days, that the guitar work is not monotonous. Aswell for the vocals that vary along with the riffage and contributes to a very satisfying symbiosis of sound. It's thick and indestructible.
Julian Truchan is a very sick man I tell you. He range from disturbing screechs to more ordinary growls and from time to time even pig like kind of growl. You know that really obscure guttural grunt. I hate it, I always hated it but here it suddenly makes sense. Because it fits so well into the music. Sick music needs sick vocals... You can't sing like fucking Bruce Dickinson in a brutal and obviously sick death metal band. It would just sound completely and utterly wrong.

And now for the drums, what can you say? It's not overly done in a technical matter, though Fred "Fight" Fayolle (pity he decided to depart) drumming is technical he puts more effort in different rythms that he constantly change along with the music.
Sure he can blast away your face from time to time but that's not important. Because this band is not focused on speed. This band is all about riffs, rythms, subtle melodies, obscure segments and sick sick breaks.
Every part of this band, even the base combines in a flawless way. Making this absolute and incredible sound...And the best thing is, it's completely original, I've heard infinite numbers of different bands but nothing sounds like this, nothing!

Compared to their last effort "Identisick" proves a more mature and definite sound. The music sounds more confident in every aspect. The madness starts out with "Nemesis" and this track is so characteristic for this band. It's fast, versatile and of course, sick as hell. It contains all elements that makes this band what it is.
And this massacre of fast, brutal sickness continues to the last second, it never ceases to break your bones. You will always beg for more because the album improves, it grows successively along with every track.
Just listen to the sample in the beginning of the second track "Collapse", it's so simple and out of the picture it gets irresistible.

Aswell as the last effort this album has no weakness. All tracks has something that makes them stand out. How many albums out there contains that balance?
This is definately one of the best albums I've heard, it's even better than it's predecessor and that concludes everything. So if you haven't heard this band I suggest (read; force) you to get your hands over this release along with their other efforts. If you're into sick brutal madness, that is. All I can say, you won't regret it - this music is completely rapturing.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's darker than you think

Ah, the strife I went through to actually get my hands on a copy of this album when I first got into black metal at the beginning of this decade. Ordering it and not coming through, then on back order and again ordering it and finally coming through to my dealer who accidentally sold my copy to another customer, then to finally arriving again and it did not end in vain the third time. Carpathian Forest's "Defending The Throne Of Evil" is truly an evil, dark, and immensely entertaining release and is probably their best to date. All of their previous work has finally led up to this point, their high point, with two Nattefrost solo albums on the side to boot (which really have nothing to do with Carpathian Forest at all). The cover art appears to be four goat heads at each corner of the CF logo with a forest in the background, a mausoleum on the tray with the words "Spill The Blood" and "Carpathian Forest Wants You Dead!!" on the side tray, and the Carpathian Forest ten commandments in the center of the booklet to let you know who's in charge here. Twelve songs clocking in at fifty one minutes and not one stale track, along with Terje Refsnes' killer clear production which works great here and makes "Defending The Throne Of Evil" an exception among third wave modern black metal releases.

"It's Darker Than You Think" starts off with a creepy symphonic introduction with the violin strings crying tears of blood to an ambush of TNBM blasting you straight out of your skin. "Skjend Hans Lik" contains badass riff after badass riff to only stop in the middle to blow you off your chair again while "The Well Of All Human Tears", my second favorite song here, is an absolute headbanging masterpiece of sorrow and torture that draws you in with its layers of ultimate brutality. "Put To Sleep Like A Sick Animal" is a straight forward hellish tune with no compromise and a violent onslaught of paranormal musicianship. "Hymne Til Doden" is dedicated to the one who carries a sickle and is a slaughterhouse symphony of vile hate while "One With The Earth" is my favorite song on "Defending The Throne Of Evil" and is by far the shortest, most straight to the point track ever created by Carpathian Forest besides "Carpathian Forest" on "Through Chasm, Caves and Titan Woods" and "Morbid Fascination Of Death". You must hear this for yourself to fully encompass and enjoy the sheer genius of it.

The other songs on here are good as well and not boring in the least. The one song I have not spoken of but I will mention is "Cold Murderous Music", a truly grimy, filthy, and morbid piece. Motorsen again appears with his tenor saxophone, destroying all doubters by creating a strangely cold trip-hop track along with Nattefrost's vocals beckoning the listener to commit suicide in several different uniquely fun ways. The guitars, bass, and drums on "Defending The Throne Of Evil" are the best yet out of the whole Carpathian Forest discography. Nattefrost's vocals are at their most misanthropic and vicious while the synth and keyboards on here are fresh, intriguing, always surprising, and never leaves you hanging.

"Defending The Throne Of Evil" is my favorite Carpathian Forest release next to "Through Chasm, Caves And Titan Woods", though I cannot compare the two as both are very, very different from each other. The one thing I will say is "Defending The Throne..." will leave your neck aching more. Even to you metalheads who don't headbang, you cannot but help it here whilst "Through Chasm..." will have you contemplating whether your life is worth living in all its claustrophobic glory. If you enjoy "The Divine Comedy" and want more visuals to go with Dante and Virgil's exploration, then you will love this album. If you love hating human existence, wish to eradicate Judeo Christianity, and are a bitter person, then this is your ticket to Hell, and if you're like me and need to own every single album in a band's discography, then you probably own this already and I have to say no more. An excellent, enjoyable, and vibrant listen to accompany your journey to the underworld.


Probot the superband

Sorry. I can't fault Dave Grohl. I know a lot of my fellow metal head brethren would be the first that see this as not being tr00 enough (I own albums by Blasphemy, Beherit, and Inquisition....go listen to Manowar faggots!) and that would be their own fault. Yes this isn't the perfect album that makes everyone hold hands and essentially sing a song/tale of forgive and forget. Obviously metal heads have a hard time dropping grudges and getting over the fact that their shit don't stink, I mean if it was a perfect universe we would still be stuck in 1989 listening to Mordred clones and wearing acid-washed jeans....sorry. Like we really needed another decade of pissing and moaning of why "Bounded By Blood" never got the same video airplay as say fucking Poison or Nelson. Do we really want that bad of a stgnation or was Nirvana actually needed in order to air out the castle so to speak? Nirvana didn't survive. Exodus and all of the GOOD thrash acts are still touring in their twilight years of their careers even if their music quality has dropped. But regardless of how one man literally changed everything and provided some much butthurt for metal heads, the shocking fact of the matter was that he was a metal-head himself all along. This album proves it more than anything he has done with his other 2 bands.

First thing's first: the collaborations. I don't know if many people remember how fucking DISMAL the year 2004 was. The tail-end of Nu-metal and the commerical success of Metalcore/scene music. Next to that everyone was still in their Pop-Punk phase with baggy Dickies shorts and were witnessing the rise of...and I will say this....Emo music. It was bleak. It was probably bleaker then than in the mid 90's when Metal was going through a major identity crisis as far as what genre of music would conquer not only the underground, but give hopes to the mainstream. And for Dave Grohl to come out with an album that featured Cronos of Venom, Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Lemmy of Motorhead, Mike Dean of C.O.C., Wino of Saint Vitus, Lee Dorrian of Cathedral/Napalm Death, etc.....that was possibly the most epic thing any major MTV superstar could do. It's not a million fucking blastbeats, it's not uber-satanic, it's not technical guitar wizardry that resembles nothing short of stroking yourself and thinking your shit don't stink, it's not angsty(thank-god), it's not anything that is so overly-redudant within the metal universe that hasn't been done a million times over. It's basically Dave Grohl's musical vision and collaberation with some of his favorite musicians. And for what it was, at least least 15 minutes of the summer that this album came out was damn good. It was FUN. It was enjoyable. It was groovy, dark, heavy, it essentially felt like listening to a Black Sabbath album and feeling like a kid again and having summer vacation off. And fuck off to those who think that's EVER a bad idea.

Now the main thing with a lot of metal heads including myself was that....what would it sound like? Would the songs sound exactly like those Dave had on the tracks sound like the glory days of their former bands from a decade that everyone is still trying to out-do? Yes and no. Yes in that SOME tracks sound what you would expect and others are a slight let-down like for example the tracks from Tom G. Warrior or Max Cavalera. The tracks with those who have fallen far from their once reigning thrones(NOTE: Since this album, Tom G. Warrior has long since atoned for his sing with Celtic Frost and Tryptykon, where as Max Cavalera still hasn't.), but other than that...the rest of the songs are fucking good. They rock.

First song up is "Centuries of Sin" that features Cronos of Venom which really starts the album off on a killer Venom almost and I stress the word "almost" a very heavy D-Beat/Discharge edge. Not bad. Cronos is singing and Dave is pounding the shit out of his drums in the background. There's also this creepy-sounding outback-type Aborigine sounding howl that makes it sound somewhat diabolical sounding. Good effort on setting the atmosphere and tone. The following song just takes away that cool 'good' feeling of the opening and flushes it down the toilet. You would think that Dave would beg Max to pull something ala "Beneath The Remains" or fucking "Arise" at LEAST but no, we get another modern-day Sepultura/modern-day Soulfly song with Max Cavalera damn near rapping with that fucking annoying "WATCHYOBACKWTACHYOBACKWATCHYOBACKWATCHYOBACK!!1!1" part. Max you are fucking hopeless when it comes to getting away from your stupid bushman/wigger hybrid persona. Hate this song. Next song features Lemmy "Shake Your Blood"....guess what? It's sounds just like Motorhead. No surprise there. Not saying it's bad, but it's Lemmy and you know what to expect from big guy himself. "Access Babylon" features Mike Dean of C.O.C. and here we get back to the good groovy shit where it sounds a bit like "Technocracy" e.p. "Silent Spring" is the catchiest song off the entire album with Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. fame and that is sounds more Sabbathy than D.R.I. It has that bottom-end heaviness you might have gotten the pleasure from D.R.I. songs such as "Under The Wheel" or "5 Year Plan" during their "4 Of A kind/Crossover" days. "Ice Cold Man" with Lee Dorrian of Cathedral/Napalm Death sounds exactly like Cathedral. "The Emerald Law" featuring Wino of St. Vitus...sounds more like The Obsessed. Another damn good one, where it actually starts with a trippy psychedelic/stoner vibe in the beginning and the burst into a wall of feedback and driving distortion. Great song....and now we have an intermission.

Why? Because of the next track. This one specifically. As I write this, when this first came out, I was majorly fucking disappointed. Of course as I mentioned previously, it's been a number of years but when this song promised me a CF fan a possible return to that sound, it failed. It's a half-assed doom/industrial/pop track in the vein of Apollyon Sun. Fuck me for not being open-minded enough, but this is boring. Just flat out sucks. This song ranks up there next to "Red War" with Max Cavalera as the worst song on the entire album.

....back to the show.

After the shit fest of "Big Sky", we get to the song "Dictatorsaurus" featuring Snake of Voivod, and we're getting back to that comfortable spot where songs sound like they should. Snake sings his little heart out and the song even fucking sounds like Voivod....not so much like "Killing Technology", but take the best of post-"Nothingface" and it's what you have. Eric Wagner on "My Tortured Soul"??? Oh fuck yeah! Sound just like Trouble. Never a bad thing. And we come to the final track featuring none other than the king himself.....King motherfuckin' Diamond. The track is titled "Sweet Dreams" and it's a snoozer. It's a bit boring for the most part. Don't expect anything Andy LaRocque-ish here. Don't expect "Abigail", "Them", "Conspiracy", "The Eye", "Voodoo", or even "The Graveyard" for that matter....King Diamond and heavy Sabbath-sounding riffs don't tend to go together. You know what I mean, King Diamond's vocals only go with a certain sound and this song just doesn't cut it for me as a major fan of the King for both his solo and days in Mercyful Fate.

So a total sum-up for this album would be good. It's just good. It's not a must-have, must-own, nothing that would make it something worth shilling over $10-$15 over(oh hell, I'm sure you can find a used copy for cheaper these days), but it's one of those albums that you can listen to on Youtube and check out if you have some down-time. As far as Dave Grohl is concerned, he made up in my book at least. And I'll leave it at that.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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Old school death metal

Deicide is most definitely one of my favorite death metal bands. Glen Benton is an incredible front man and behind him is an arsenal of metal gods. Deicide has always been one of the most Anti Christian bands on the face of the earth if not the most. Most albums are incredibly solid except for 2008's album Till Death Do Us Part. To Hell with God though, is a fantastic comeback album that shows that this band still has what it takes be to a leader in the death metal genre.

Every song on this album is for the most part pretty solid. The title track and How Can You Call Yourself a God would most likely be my favorites. Each song has very solid riffs and great musicianship as far as death metal goes. Benton's vocals have in a way changed in a tiny way. The Stench of Redemption was a deeper growl then the past two albums and the change isn't necessarily a bad thing. These vocals sound a bit more complex and they are easier to listen to for longer periods of time. If you have been a Deicide fan for a long period of time and respect what they do then you're going to love this album. It has everything that a Deicide fan enjoys, heavy riffs, dark lyrics, and complete brutality.

There are however though a couple problems. First the album is very predictable. Deicide has accomplished no new ground lyric wise so if you're looking for something different then you might as well just skip this album. Music wise it is very basic which you really can't just blame on them; it's the problem with all Death Metal. If you are into bands with more complexity like with Thrash Metal then this album really isn't going to impress you. What I really would like Deicide to try is change some lyrical content to mix things up a little bit. They remind me quite a bit of Cannibal Corpse. Both bands use the same lyrical content album after album and it would really be nice to see something new.

All things aside this is a very solid Deicide release. To Hell with God is the strongest release they have had since Legion or Once Upon the Cross. Content and music wise nothing has changed but Deicide still continues to be a very dominant force in the Death Metal genre. If you don't mind repetitive lyric content and music then you will definitely enjoy this release. Any Deicide fan will enjoy this record and it is definitely worth picking up in stores. I give props to Glen and the guys putting up another solid release.


Talking about Black Metal without Burzum?

Only a year after releasing Belus, Varg returns to release his second album after being released from prison. This album does not deviate too far from the Burzum formula but there are many experimental moments that pay off. Although many people know of Burzum only because of Varg's connections with murder and church burning, he proves once again that he has artistic merit and that Burzum is much deeper than mere shock value.

Much like Belus, Fallen starts with a short experimental intro. This one is very ambient and features eerie whispers and deep rumbling. It conjures up haunting images of gargoyles overlooking a dark cathedral. As the black metal comes into play, the first thing that is apparent is the production. Varg has said that this album has been produced in the same way as classical music. It is hard to know if this is true or not, but the new approach to recording has certainly paid off. The guitar is dense and heavily distorted, yet still easy to make out. There is very clear production on the drums, which are simple but highly effective. Many metal bands drown their songs in relentless and monotonous blast beats, but this is not the case with Fallen. The bass plays a very important role in the atmosphere of this album. There is one point in "Jeg Feller" where all the instruments but the bass drop out and Varg half speaks and half whispers in a very creepy way. It is experimentation like this that makes the album so interesting. It would be a good idea to listen to this album on high quality headphones, as there are subtle elements that are crucial to the album, such as the bass lines, that might not be audible on cheap earbuds.

There is not a bad song to be found on Fallen. "Jeg Feller" showcases Varg's surprisingly melodic clean vocals. Varg's clean vocals have gotten very good on this release. His rasps are powerful, without being over the top. The riff on "Valen" is one of Burzum's best riffs. It is simple, repetitive and highly effective. In fact, much of the album is like this. It is in no way complicated, but the repetition is hypnotic rather than tedious. "Enhver til sitt" features slow melodic sections that are almost reminiscent of doom metal. Like most black metal albums, there is no shortage of tremolo riffs. "Til Hel og tilbake igjen" is a very interesting outro. There is a slow hypnotic drum playing for most of the track. The instrumentation has a vaguely Eastern vibe to it. Varg's willingness to try new things has payed off on this album. This album has an old-world European feel to it. When compared to much of the stale black metal that seems to be spreading like a plague, this is very authentic sounding and a breath of fresh air.

While many people accuse Burzum of playing boring, typical black metal, that is not very fair or accurate. Its not Varg's fault that so many mediocre bands have ripped off his sound. That said, it is true that there have been bands that have successfully added to Burzum's style and incorporated new influences. Without Burzum, black metal as we know it would not exist. With Fallen, Varg shows no signs of slowing down. This is a very welcome addition to Burzum's discography. With so many black metal bands happy with playing mediocre music, Varg deviates from the trend, continuing to write original and interesting music.



The second full-length release by Savannah everything-metal quartet Baroness is a lot like the artwork that graces its cover. It was painstakingly created, it is unparalleled in beauty, and you're bound to notice new things each time you sit down with it.

After guitarist Brian Blickle famously departed to be replaced by Pete Adams, questions hung in the air about whether the band was capable of another record as strong as 2007's Red Album. The sonic result achieved on Blue Record should put those questions to bed. This could be the band's masterpiece.

The effect that the new album has isn't as immediate as that of past records by the group. There's no riff like the attention-demanding intro to "The Birthing", nor is there a two-minute pure metal attack like "O' Appalachia". Instead, Blue Record is the sound of evolution, progression, and a band coming into their own.

Everything that was great about the band's earlier music has been amplified and carefully balanced on the new album. The riffs aren't as immediate, as I mentioned, but they're better. Frontman John Dyer Baizley has finally come into his own as a vocalist, his honey-sweet shouting draped elegantly over complex chord progressions and cymbal patterns that are an anomaly in music this heavy and groovy. Baizley and Adams almost sound like they could become full-fledged guitar heroes, too, with the Mastodon-esque leads in songs like "War, Wisdom and Rhyme" and "Jake Leg". Even the pure beauty has been turned way up. Interludes "Steel That Sleeps the Eye" and "Blackpowder Orchard" make great use of acoustic guitar and provide perfect complements to the heavier tracks.

Perhaps the most significant thing about this album is the fact that there are now songs that sound like Baroness songs. Even in their finest hours prior to this record, it was easy to point out which parts of songs were Mastodon parts, which parts were Kylesa parts, which parts were Melvins parts, and so on. But the instant classics on Blue Record like "A Horse Called Golgotha" and "The Gnashing" sound like Baroness songs, plain and simple. The band is in its own category now, and it's only a matter of time before reviews of young upstarts start to feature the phrase "Baroness worship".

This can only be seen as a good thing for the band, and by the time the inevitable Green LP and Yellow Full-Length are released, I wouldn't be surprised if they're regarded as one of the finest bands in modern metal.


Opeth you say?

Unlike many of their peers, Sweden’s Opeth were never one to tread water artistically… at least, not until recently. With 2005′s Ghost Reveries and 2008′s Watershed, it seemed as if the band’s melding of death metal and progressive rock stylings had at last run its course. After nearly twenty years of pushing boundaries, vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt’s vision had stagnated, and while the two albums in question were by no means bad, they weren’t the genre-defining masterpieces that earlier Opeth efforts such as Blackwater Park and My Arms, Your Hearse were either. The band was in danger of becoming complacent, mired in what it had initially sought to transcend.

Which brings us to Heritage, Opeth’s tenth album and the next step in the quintet’s musical evolution. This album has already seen its share of backlash due to Opeth’s total abandonment of extreme metal elements in favor of full-on King Crimson/Jethro Tull/Rainbow-esque progressive proto-metal. I have a hard time believing that any Opeth fan worth their salt didn’t see this coming, as Akerfeldt has long professed his love for all things prog in interviews, and the band has often embraced these more mellow tendencies on prior releases. The new direction is not only logical, it’s also welcome. In listening to Heritage, it’s clear that Opeth chose to challenge themselves and follow their hearts instead of vomiting out another half-assed slab of death/prog just to please others, and for this they should be applauded.

At this point you’re probably thinking, why is it okay to for Opeth to rip off Aqualung and In the Court of the Crimson King, but not okay for some fifth wave black metal band to rip off Transilvanian Hunger? There is a difference between shamelessly ripping off and using an established style to create something brand new within its framework. Opeth might have borrowed some style from the prog gods of old on Heritage, but they have injected it with their own substance. In spite of the supposed “left turn” the band has taken in the eyes of many, this is still an Opeth album through and through. Sometimes, one must look to the past in order to move forward.

Of course, all this highfalutin talk of evolution and progression would be nothing more than pretentious bullshit if Heritage didn’t have songs. Opeth haven’t sacrificed any of their trademark craftsmanship, if anything they’ve become more focused and concise than ever before. Tracks such as “The Devil’s Orchard” and “Slither” are among the catchiest, most streamlined and flat-out rocking pieces of music Akerfeldt has ever composed, yet they still possess the intricate musicianship and emotional gravitas that Opeth has become known for. Progged-out, spider-fingered riff-workouts intermingle with ’60s psych-style keyboards, acoustic folk and soothing, jazzy passages; standout track “Famine” even features some freaky flute-work from Bjorn Lindh and percussion from former Weather Report drummer Alex Acuña. It’s all wrapped in a warm, earthy production scheme that never comes off as forced or retro and perfectly suits Heritage‘s heady brew of styles and sounds.

To me, Heritage sounds like Summer dissolving into Fall. It could have something to do with Travis Smith’s sultry, psychedelic cover art, or perhaps the “Summer’s gone and love has withered” line from “Slither”. There are also several references to Winter on the album, but in spite of this, Heritage is definitely the music of sticky, stifling days giving way to cool, breezy Samhain nights, all burning leaves and pink-orange sunsets. Something sinister lurks under the album’s surface, an ethereal, seductive darkness that Opeth’s previous works only hinted at. Think of it as the musical equivalent of Rosemary’s Baby, with a prevailing sense of dread and the forbidden behind its seemingly quiet, pretty exterior. Indeed, the Devil’s orchard is a place of eternal damnation as well as earthly delights, and Opeth’s occult prog is enticing in it’s exquisite subtleties.

With Heritage, Opeth have taken a much needed step forward. By shedding the excess baggage of death metal and diving ever deeper into the realms of airy yet insidious prog, psych, jazz and folk, Mikael Akerfeldt and co. have crafted a bold declaration of total artistic independence, flinging open wide the doors of musical possibility. I noted earlier that the album felt like the changing of the seasons, but it also feels like a jumping off point, or like the beginning of a meandering, hallucinatory journey into parts both familiar and unknown. I look forward to accompanying them on the long, strange trip to come.


What happens when prog metal meets melodic metal

This is certainly an interesting change in direction. Mastodon seemed quite happy to be moving further into pure prog territory, leaving their sludgy roots behind almost entirely with Crack the Skye. And yet here we have this, something completely different. A curveball if you will. This is a step backwards, perhaps, from its proggy predecessor, but don’t take that to imply inferior quality – The Hunter is just as good, if not better than the much acclaimed Skye.

There’s a wide variety of songs here, which, while not always a positive point, certainly acts in the band’s favour here. There are the fast paced songs, the slow, crushing ones, and the languid, drawn-out soundscapes. It manages to, rather than sound mix and match and poorly defined, create an intriguing contrast. Look, for instance, at ‘Creature Lives’ and its follower ‘Spectrelight’ (which sees Neurosis’ Scott Kelly guesting) – the first a slow, relatively soft sounding song that builds up to a climax, the next being a fast assault on the ears.

This glorious mixture is most apparent on the best songs of the album. ‘Curl of the Burl’ is, at heart, a down and dirty rock and roll song with a metal overlay. It’s the sort of song that makes you want to bang your head, and is a siren song throughout the whole album. It genuinely seems addictive, with a riff and chorus focus that is surprisingly common on The Hunter and which, more importantly, works. That’s not to say it is overshadowing in any way – excellent songs like ‘Dry Bone Valley’, ‘Black Tongue’, ‘All the Heavy Lifting’, ‘Thickening’ and the title track keep things going steadily, despite the changes in pace. Indeed, all the songs on here are obviously well made and all have their own unique flair and charm, which flirts with the flairs and charms of the other songs on the album. Once again, the playing is all top-form, with a relatively reserved performance from all concerned – less flashy than before, but just as tight and jaw-dropping as always. There has been something of a shift in vocal styles as well, with little growling to be found, and Brann Dailor seems to be taking more of a vocal role – in particular on ‘Creature Lives’, composed and sung entirely by him.

The aforementioned contrast spreads from just the songs themselves to permeate every part of the album. Emotionally, this is a very multi-faceted beast. Mastodon seem to have refound their sense of humour with the likes of ‘Stargasm’ and (at least in terms of its title) ‘Octopus Has No Friends’. There is an anger here as well, as is to be expected – at times a quiet rage, at others a raging beast. But there is also a deep sadness. The catalyst for this album was, according to members of the band, the deaths of those they held close, and it shows here. The slower songs show it more, the title track in particular being rather somber, but it is most evident on closer ‘The Sparrow.’ A simple song, it has only four words for lyrics, repeated over and over – “Pursue Happiness With Diligence.” And it is amazing how touching it is – this is a beautiful end to an album, and a beautiful farewell. It is a testament to Mastodon, perhaps, that they can produce something so schizophrenic, so delicately multifaceted, and yet make it sound entirely coherent.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stoner Metal anyone?

Static Tensions just pushes forward everything Kylesa’s done in the past and takes the band a step further without diverting from their signature sound. And what’s that? you may ask. Well, it’s experimental sludge, but hard-hitting nonetheless. It’s also progressive, without having 20 minute songs, and certainly it has a 70’s psychedelic rock feel. Early Floyd’s really an influence on these guys. But again, certainly also Crowbar or Eyehategod.

The experimentation here lays on their cool, sludgy, beefy riffs, memorable melodies and their signature double drum assault. It’s pretty effective, creating tribal trance-inducing rhythms. This experience is enhanced with earphones; trust me. One drum plays to the left and the other to the right, with slight tuning variations. Sometimes both drummers will go the same way, but also they play contrasting stuff, making it even more interesting.

There are no solos, not that there’s need of them. As I mentioned before, the riffs and melodies are quite a delight. From deep crushing sludge to eerie melodic (almost ethereal) guitar passages.

Another highlight of the album is the vocals. Laura Pleasants manages to combine her more aggressive vocals with cleaner ones, something she had attempted on their previous release, although here it’s done in a more adventurous (and efficient) way. Sometimes she even whispers softly to great effect. And to add even more texture, her voice sometimes intertwines with the deeper screamed vocals of Phillip Cope, the band’s other guitarist. 

So there’s nothing really to complain about! The bass, though at times lost within the rhythmic section, shines on its own. The production is dirty, in a good way, suitable for a sludge band, and clean when it needs to be. And to round up the perfection of this album, it has an excellent and surreal cover illustration by Baroness singer and guitarist, John Dyer Baizley which complements the abstract lyrics and motifs of Static Tensions.

There are no fillers here, each song stands strong on its own, but if I had to pick, my favorites are “Unknown Awareness” with its catchy chorus, “Nature’s Predators”, and the extremely headbangeable “Only One”. 

Highly recommended to any metalhead searching for something heavy, enthralling and unique!


A journey through nostalgia..

Welcome to the music of nature, where you can easily forget yourself inside the voids of the soft black metal - shoegaze sounds, where the chord progression falls like a colorful cascade of charming and atmospheric melodies around your ears. It doesn't matter how we classify the music of Alcest, because the materials spread to cover a wide range of musical taste, from the slow drifting single-note melodies until the black metal riffs that coat the blast-beats. Neige has come back with a fifty-minutes album to continue his captivating career with Alcest, eight tracks of true relaxation and memorable melodies, eight tracks of seductive clean vocals and crispy black metal vocals from time to time, Les Voyages de l'Ame (The Journeys Of The Soul) is the third full-length album, and it represents the same prosperous factors of the great previous albums, I've always been a fan for this French band and I can say clearly that this album is satisfying.

The album starts with the track "Autre Temps" (Another Time),this track can slowly rape the attention of the listeners because this song is a great experience to live, the progressive acoustic guitar progression is splitting the imagination into a thousand fields, the clean vocals of Neige surrounds the guitar sounds like a big black cloud covering the winter sky. The second track "Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles" (Where New Colors Are Born) shows more aggressive distorted guitar works and grim crispy black metal vocals, the riffs here are memorable enough for you to remember them in the last day of your life, more than eight minutes of a daydream experience exists here in this track.

The arrangement and the compositions on the tracks are way better than the previous albums, the tone of the distorted guitars are heavier and clear enough to draw you an unmistakable visions of grimness and professionalism while listening to the songs, and we can easily notice that in the third track "Les Voyages de l'Ame" (The Journeys Of The Soul). The tremolo picking in this band was always my best element in the previous albums and here is the tremolo picking is chasing another direction but with the same touches and with the same effects. The track "Nous Sommes L'Emeraude" (We are the Emerald) has more misty riffing work and more fuzzy guitar sounds, and it also represents a great drums work.

The ethereal intro of the track "Beings Of Light" masquerades as a slow relaxing song, but the blast-beats and the catchy black metal riffs haunt the ambiance of the song, between these walls of distorted guitars I expected some crispy screams and vocals, but no one single black metal has been born here, only spiritual voices surround the whole heaviness. The sixth track "Faiseurs De Mondes" (World makers) contained grim black metal vocals and even clean vocals, the guitars work and the drums-line followed the same path of the previous tracks, a break in the middle of the song has been composed as well to create a very wonderful world within the outer world, the drummer Winterhalter did a great job here.

Havens is a short Instrumental track followed by the last track "Summer's Glory", this track is simply one of the best tracks in this record, this song is majestic journey into your own imaginary world, a world full of memories and unforgettable moments, the vocals are floating above the surface of the total sound as the drums-line builds a mystic base under the total sound, the guitar tone is grim enough to jail you inside this world for more than eight minutes.

The influences of this album is really countless, the formula of the total sound is a total enigma, Neige creates his own imaginary world and translated successfully into eight tracks of shoegaze-black metal melodies, If you are searching for creativity and fresh extreme metal experience then you have to own this record in your library.

Recommended tracks : Autre Temps, Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles, Les Voyages de l'Ame, Summer's Glory.

Link >> 

Friday, February 10, 2012

If you are a black metal fan check this out..

Cobalt is a two-man band, with the vocalist/lyricist in the military and only able to work on the albums sporadically. It would appear that kind of hardship has yielded something amazing.

As simply as I can put it, they sound like mid-to-late-90's Satyricon covering Tool material from the same period. This is, of course, an over-simplification, but they show the same kind of brilliant interplay between bass and guitar as Tool, similarly phenomenal drumming (see "Two-Thumbed Fist"), and the same knack for including moments of beauty in otherwise aggressive compositions. The tracks tend to start off more in Norwegian black metal, and then branch off to explore other, more progressive or post-metal territory (see "Arsonry").

Like I said, though, that is an oversimplification. "Dry Body" doesn't fit either mold, with its extended droning vocals dark enough to keep a motivational speaker from getting out of bed for a week. They have acoustic/electric interludes of both startling beauty ("Throat") and incredible sadness ("The Old Man Who Lied for His Entire Life").

They also give it a distinctly American feel to go with Hemingway on the cover. "Pregnant Insect" has clean vocals which sound like traditional Native American song. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is an instrumental with audio clips over the top, which sound like a monologue from a soldier. And to top it all off, there's a hidden track which sounds like Southern prisoners singing at hard labor.

All of these elements fit together seamlessly, with beauty and ugly not just balancing each other, but emphasizing. This is not just great music, this is amazing.

The Verdict: Cobalt deserves every ounce of attention they've gotten for Gin, and probably deserve a lot more. This could well be the high watermark for American black metal. This is an album I would seriously consider for my "if you were stranded on a deserted island" list. 

Download Link >>

Hello there Metalheads!

Here you will find the links for all the latest albums. Feel free to request!
Stay heavy brothers! \m/