Saturday, November 28, 2009

My thoughts on Decibels Top 40. #40-#21

40. Funebarum - The Sleep of Morbid Dreams: I haven't heard this one. Not for lack of trying. It's been on my search list for months.

39. Millions - Gather Scatter: See above.

38: Municipal Waste - Massive Aggressive: Their punk/thrash crossover is fun but it doesn't pull me in the way it does a lot of other people. There's not many un-serious bands that I can get into.

37. Javelina - Beast Among Sheep: see 39, 40. If it's half as good as their self-titled debut, I'll be superstoked when I hear it.

36. Suffocation - Blood Oath: This must be some kind of mistake. Did they put a 3 in front of the 6 by accident? Easily one of the best death metal albums of the year.

35. Goes Cube - Another Day Has Passed:  I honestly can't remember if I heard this one or not. Must have made quite the impression!

34. Culted - Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep: I've only heard this once so far but it's fucking awesome. DOOM!!!

33. Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough: This is on my iPod. Haven't got to it yet. Maybe I'll throw it on when I finish listening to the Baroness album for like the 10th time.

32. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution: I think it was pretty good. I haven't heard it in MONTHS.

31. The Red Chord - Fed Through The Teeth Machine: I don't like my death metal too technical but I enjoyed this the first time around. It deserves another spin or two in a better environment. (not my van) It's better than Clients and Prey For Eyes anyway!

30. Keelhaul - Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity: Pretty original. Not many bands can blend noise rock, math metal and stoner vibe and pull it off. They do.

29. Katatonia - Night is the New Day: I haven't gotten past the first track yet. Not really my thing.

28. Gaza - He's Never Coming Back: Haven't had the chance get this yet. It's on the "to download" list. I'll probably love it.

27. Goatwhore - Carving Out the Eyes of God: Another apparent typo. Should be closer to 7. This album is so kick ass it's not funny.

26. City of Ships - Look What God Did To Us: Not bad. Not great either. I'd have to really be in the mood for it. (read: stoned)

25. Burnt By The Sun - Heart of Darkness: Too bad it's their swansong. This is the first BBTS album I've heard. And it's great. It's easy to call it metalcore but it's better than 99% of bands with that label.

24. The Gates of Slumber - Hymns of Blood and Thunder: I was disappointed by this. Their last album was great but I couldn't get into this one.

23. Funeral Mist - Maranatha: Never heard of them.

22. Mournful Congregarion - The June Frost: I enjoy some funeral doom now and again but I found this one boring.

21. Altar of Plagues - White Tomb: Heard it once. I'd need more before I can say. I know it was a while ago too.


I'll give my opinions on #20-#1 in the next few days.

I wish I could write better.

Admission time, folks. I don't feel I'm a very good writer. I read Decibel and various metal blogs and think, "Wow. They can write much better than me." But I don't beat myself up about it. I didn't go to Journalism school. I was never good at english. And I played tuba (very poorly) in Grade 7 and 8. It doesn't really set one up to be a master of writing about music's most complicated genre. But I do what I can. I write what I feel.  I don't know an arpeggio is. I can't tell you what time signature anything is in. Hell, I can't even properly define pinch harmonics. But I can tell you what kicks ass and what sucks balls. And I'm not talking about kinky sex. Sometime soon I hope to have the time to look up the definitions of some common metal lingo that I am too embarrassed to admit I don't know. Anyway, I was just bored and don't have any specific album to talk about at the moment so I thought I'd just throw that info at ya.

Concerning my year end list, I'm working on it. I have about 90 artists on my iPod that made it to the last round so to speak. Some albums aren't on there (Clutch, Mastodon, Lamb of God) because I actually bought the album and if I paid money for it, it's making the list. There's some albums on it that I just need to listen to at least once more before probably cutting them. (Kittie, Daath, Divine Heresy) And there is a couple EPs on there that go on a separate list. Nevertheless, I have quite the task ahead of me. I have a hard time believing I can make it a list of 50 and I'd have to be especially cut-throat to make it a Top 40. Also, there is at least 3 albums I need to listen to that I haven't been able to obatin a copy of yet. (Javelina - Beast Among Sheep, The Company Band - The Company Band, and the new Blacklisted (if it gets released this year) Anyone wanna help me out with these?)

Maybe for something to do later, I'll give you my thoughts on Decibel's Top 40.

Friday, November 27, 2009

These Are They

Yesterday I didn't listen to much. I was in a supremely pissy mood. And I wasn't in an environment where I could properly vent. (Screaming violently in the break room at work doesn't go over well) I spent some of my break time alone and quiet. I didn't even want to see people. Anyway the only album I listened to all the way through was Blood Oath by Suffocation. I picked that because I was wearing a Suffocation shirt. (and it's a fucking KILLER album) When that was done, the next album of the iPod was by These Are They. I believe the album is called Who Linger. There's really nothing overly special about it. At least on first listen. I think it's a grower. I found myself enjoying it more at it progressed. I wouldn't really throw it into any particular sub-genre. The vocals are more or less "death metal" but the music is more varied than that. I'd like to give a more accurate description of the sound but I was listening to Agoraphobic Nosebleed before I started writing this so my mind is in a grind state. I will be listening to Who Linger again (maybe sooner rather than later) so I can give a better breakdown then. But the reason I even feel the need to mention These Are They right now is because of the last song on the album. It's a cover of Soundgarden's "Fourth of July". My favourite Soundgarden song. It's a fair rendition. The vocals are a bit flat and the singer doesn't have Chris Cornell's range, but I can't fault him for that. What I found most interesting was the backing vocals. On the Soundgarden version, Cornell is double-tracked. One low voice, one high.On the These Are They version, there is a clean and a rough. Like a deathy growl. It's a pretty evil sounding song to begin with. The backing growls and the flat clean delivery make it even more so. To my recollection, this is the first cover of "Fourth of July" I have ever heard. Instant props to These Are They. I'm in a "Tops of 2009" mode right now, listening to my fave 75 albums or so, but this cover has earned These Are They some more of my precious time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hatebreeed - Hatebreed

First of all, I like Hatebreed and I like this album. I'll admit, it's not their best. (Not by a long shot) There were lots of better albums released this year. But I've heard a LOT worse than this this year. That being said, I'm going to play the bad guy and rip Hatebreed to shreds. Just because I can find fault in something doesn't mean I can't enjoy it to some degree.

I'll start with the music itself because I can speak of that in a more or less general sense. In a word: stock. I bet if you took the time, you could find all the riffs in some form, on one of their older records. The few times they do branch out a little it either sounds forced and/or weak and/or Not Hatebreed. Case in point, on the instrumental track, "Undiminished", it doesn't sound like Hatebreed at all. If I had heard that song by itself randomly, I would never, ever guessed it was Hatebreed. Not in a million years. I would have guessed it was an instrumental Paradise Lost track. And if you told me it was Hatebreed, I'd call you a liar.

On to the vocals. The majority of the gang vocals on this album suck. Either they down right sound bad or they detract from the song. For example, on "No Haloes for the Heartless" the "whoooa" gang vocals sound awful. Ruins the song. And on "Every Lasting Scar", they shout along with Jamey at some parts and it's completely unnecessary. That song is one of the most aggravating on the album. Other than the gang vocals, it features his "Kingdom of Sorrow vocals" as I like to call them. You know, the voice he has where it sounds like he's trying to sound like Kirk from Crowbar but can't? No-one can. He's too awesome. (Isn't a new Crowbar album like, way overdue?) They are "okay" on a KoS album but they don't fit on a Hatebreed album. Plus, it's so damn catchy I can't get it out of my head!!

I don't know if it's just my copy (digital) or what, but the "Escape" cover at the end is horrible. The music is pretty solid and accurate but Jamey, Jamey, Jamey. I hope it wasn't his idea to put all the effects on his vocals.I don't know what they were shooting for, but they missed the mark. Oh, that accursed vocoder!

Be that as it may, Hatebreed can still get the blood pumpin'. If you allow it to permeate, it will raise your adrenaline levels. One of the few redeeming qualities on Hatebreed is "As Damaged As Me". The lines "You're just too fucked for words./You're fucked!" are the most honest lyrics I heard on the album.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest

Nile is a pretty kickass band. I wonder why I never got into checking them out til now? It's not like I'd never heard of them. Decibel inducted Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka into their Hall of Fame and I still didn't check them out. What is wrong with me? Todd would be ashamed. Whatever the cause of my idiocy may be, I'm glad I wised up.

As much as I like gory and evil death metal, it's nice to find something with a little more depth. The Egyptian themes that run through all the Nile catalogue intrigues me enough that I really want to see the lyrics. Very few bands to that to me. (Behemoth being another) Most of the time if I want to know the lyrics is just to scream along properly. ( I couldn't replicate Karl Sanders' growl anyway)With Those Whom the Gods Detest, I wanna know just to know. I think I'd find it fascinating. It's thinking man's death metal. Maybe not as cerebral as Buried Inside, but definitely more than your run-of-the-mill death and violence death metal.

This album is furious and heavy. It's wicked fast but is able to shift tempo with ease and purpose. Not like those other bands that I mentioned that do it just because. Just enough tasteful technicality in the brutal so as not to turn me off. I have no problem with tech-death to a point. (Dying Fetus, Origin) It keeps it interesting. I have a feeling this will make it into regular rotation. I might even have to buy it. Maybe. I still haven't bought the Slayer album yet.

WInds of Plague - The Great Stone War

Wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this one. I had heard something about it being Epic Metal. Okay. Epic is good. (Ex Deo!!) But this album didn't make me feel very epic. Yeah, there were brass instrument fanfare type stuff but it felt really disjointed. Just when it would get into a nice riff, a weedily woo part would get thrown in and totally disrupt the flow. I hate that. It seems so self-indulgent. It's just not my thing. That's the main reason I don't like a certain subset of bands. (BoO, BTBAM, The Human Abstract, PTH, the Sumerian roster.) Finger acrobatics have their place. They are called solos.

Anyway, not a bad album if you like that sort of thing. But I don't much care for it. I can't say I will never listen to it again but I have enough to choose from I really don't need to.

Listening to the Nile again. and then I might listen to the Hypocrisy album again. Get a second read on it. The problem is I'm reading The Lost Symbol and it's taking up a fair amount of my brain power. A good book vs. good music is a tough battle.


Disappointing first listen. Hatebreed just aren't what they used to be. Maybe the metal scene is saturated with bands that ape Hatebreed in some way. Therefore, they don't stand out from the pack anymore. Hatebreed deserves for me to listen to it a few more times at least. I can't make final judgment on one listen. At times it sounded too much like Kingdom of Sorrow for a Hatebreed album and the cover of Metallica's "Escape" was pretty pointless. Did I detect a hint of mild vocoder on that track?

I'm trying to remember what else I listened to yesterday and I'm coming up black. Oh! The new Nile. That was pretty kickass. Need to listen to it again before reviewing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank you, Chris Dick

I have to thank Chris Dick. I read his review of Revocation's Existence is Futile in Decibel and it made me glad to know that I am not the only person that thinks the album sucks. It makes me feel good when someone who writes for a respected publication agrees with me. So thanks again, Chris.

My favourite line to use when referring to that album is, the existence of the album is futile. I didn't like Empire of the Obscene either so really, the existence of Revocation is futile.

Speaking of pointless, I was listening to Evergreen Terrace. I think the album is Almost Home. Whatever the title, it's speedy and energetic but when my break was over and I was packing up my breakfast, I had to check to see who I was listening to. That's the kind of impression it made on me.

And speaking of almost home, it's almost time for me to go home after another joyous night shift. Yes, I will yet again be screaming along with Blood Tsunami on the way home.

I really need to reload my iPod.

After listening to Converge, I was kinda stuck on what to listen to next. There was a lot of stuff I just had to interest in and a bunch of stuff I wanted to hear but weren't on there (Baroness, BDM, Cannibal Corpse..). And some stuff that I have downloaded but haven't loaded into iTunes yet (Nile, Hatebreed). So I had to settle.

General Surgery - Corpus In Extremis: Analyzing Necrotism: It's death metal so it's automatically decent. It's not tech-death or (bad) deathcore, so that's 2 more "pros". Some nice groove going on, another "pro". But on the "con" side, it's really nothing special. Predictable even. I found myself tapping out the riffs with my feet even though I'd never heard the song before. Plus, I never once felt the urge to circle-headbang. Not a good sign. It's not bad per se, just kind of generic.

Forsaken - After the Fall: The intro was good. Women screaming for their lives, mob noise, and what I assume was werewolves snarling and growling. It put a cool visual in my head. Townsfolk offering virgins in sacrifice to the lycanthropes. Cool. But, that "cool" ended when the songs started. Pretty good tone. And the riffs and stuff weren't really bad either but the singer's voice just rubbed me the wrong way. It sounded too second-rate 80's for me. So, less than 2 tracks in, NEXT. I don't have time to listen to something I know I don't like.

Tombs - Winter Hours: This one is really hard to describe. Put them on a tour with Kylesa, Withered, (heavy) Neurosis, and early Baroness and they'd fit right in.

Converge - Axe to Fall

My experience with Converge is fairly limited. I don't think I've ever heard Jane Doe. I might have heard Petitioning the Empty Sky. And I haven't listened to No Heroes in years. So really, when I threw on Axe To Fall, it was almost like a new band. A new, incredibly awesome band. Right from the opening riff, this album is a monster. It taps into that part of the brain that says "throw yourself around haphazardly and if someone's elbow breaks your nose, it's totally worth it." I have no doubt that the mosh put at a Converge show is down right frightening. The Red Cross sets up buckets for blood donations. It's just impossible not to get worked up listening to Axe To Fall. The track with Steve Von Till as a guest vocalist is pretty mellow or the most part but when the heavy kicks in near the end, it's huge.

Jake Bannon is an amazing vocalist. The energy that he put into his performance is outstanding. You can't fake that kind of intensity. Kurt Ballou is one heck of a guitar player too. There is nothing simple or easy about his riffs. It's weird that something that intricate can be as catchy as it is. His style makes Converge a very fitting tour-mate for Mastodon. Mastodon may be "sludge" or "crust" and Converge "hardcore" but they are both so complex. And both bands are so tight. Like they were born to play together. I wish I was able to catch that tour. Dammit.

I still can't get over Jake's neck tattoo though. Those things weird me out. Back of the neck. Fine. Side of the neck. You're pushing it. Right over the Adam's Apple? Nope. Sorry. Not for me. Maybe it's because I hate turtlenecks.

I'm getting off topic. If you want to read about Axe To Fall from someone who's a way better writer than I am, check out the cover story in the current issue of Decibel. It's fantastic.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why can't I just have normal dreams?

I had a pretty messed up dream this afternoon. I can't remember most of it (I jotted down the main points, just haven't got back to it) but at the end, I end up in a park. In this park, I come across a scene of death. The bodies of 4 out of 5 members of Arise & Ruin are laying in front of me. I scream " NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" (Usually, I would wake up groaning at this point) Then I hear this high-pitched wail.scream. It sounded like Travis from Cattle Decapitation. When I find the source, it's Ryan, the lone surviving member of Arise & Ruin clinging to the bottom of the park. Apparently now the park is floating in the air. The scene was similar to Luke hanging from the antenna underneath Cloud City.  I woke up at this point. Nature called, I wrote down some key points and got back in bed. I tried to get back into the same dream but it didn't happen. I'm interested to look at my notes later and try and remember the rest of it.

Goreaphobia - Mortal Repulsion

Not too bad on first listen. Your basic death metal. Not too technical. That's good. Like I said before, death metal has been my chosen sub-genre this year. It kind of had an Obituary vibe to it tonally. On the vocal side, it was more of a black metal, recorded in a cave sound. I liked that too. I guess my only real complaint was that it was a bit long. Not really enough diversity to keep it interesting past the 30 min mark. Nonetheless, my toes were wigglin' in my boots, my fingers were ever so slightly air guitaring on the table and of course, the head nodding. Not full on headbanging in public, but I couldn't keep my head still.

I had planned on listening to General Surgery next but I was reading about the new Converge album, Axe To Fall, and decided to listen to that. Again. It's so awesome.


I finished the God Dethroned album. Yeah, it's pretty good. I'll have to hear it at least one more time to seriously consider it for the list. I've had like 1 hour of sleep in the last 24, so my judgment is a little off. I'm not exactly thinking straight.

I decided to skip Goreaphobia for now. I was reading an article in Decibel about The Gates of Slumber so I decided to give them another listen. Verdict still stands. Not turning my crank this year. Good tone, nice riffs. Not a big fan of the vocals. Overall it just wasn't intriguing enough for me to really care. Ya can't win 'em all.

Right now, I'm just looking forward to bed in about an hour, and screaming along to Blood Tsunami's "Laid To Waste" on the way home to keep me awake. I fuckin' love Blood Tsunami.

God Dammit!

I shouldn't really say that. Not in any "taking the Lord's name in vain" way. No, I shouldn't say that because cursing a god you don't believe in is pretty useless. I should have said "For the love of blastbeats!!" My point is, I thought I had my list finalists figured out. Then I listened to God Dethroned's Passiondale. It's pretty fuckin' awesome. And it's brutal death metal. I might have to consider it now! What's gonna happen when I listen to Goreaphobia next? And possibly General Surgery after that? It's all too much.

BTW, does anyone know what Justin Marler is up to these days?

Almost year end list time!

This year's "My Top Albums of " list, as always, will be very hard to compile.  I have it down to about 60-70 possibles.  However, I haven't heard the new Nile or Red Chord albums yet. And I think Blacklisted is releasing one this year too. In any case, I'm gonna have to be pretty damn cut-throat. For example, Culted's album, great but won't make the cut. The Gates of Slumber. Their last album made my Top 10 (I think) and their new one won't make the cut.

Strange Cousins From The West by Clutch will be ranked 0 because I am incapable of being unbiased when it comes to Clutch.

I am pretty sure that this year's list is going to be very heavy in death metal. Of the brutal variety. That's just where my head is at this year. There will be some not so heavy bands (Baroness) but for the most part, it's gonna be a heavy-ass list.

Hopefully starting this week, I can load the iPod with the 60 or so finalists and start paring it down. I'd like to have it done before February this time. Because by the time February hits, I'll have a list of 2009 albums that could have made the list if I had heard them IN 2009.

I can tell you this, I am 99% sure that nothing on Sumerian will make the list.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paint my world blood.

There is a reason that Slayer have the most devoted fans in metal. That's because they fuckin' rule. World Painted Blood is no exception.

Every band has their "crowning achievement" so to speak. Metallica has Master of Puppets, Sepultura has Chaos A.D., Megadeth has Risk. (JUST KIDDING!!) For Slayer, it's Reign in Blood. Nothing will ever match that album, so it's useless to even try to compare any subsequent Slayer album to it. That being said,World Painted Blood is pretty slaytanic. I've had it on repeat for about 3 days. I had to force myself to listen to something else. (YOB - The Great Cessation) I think people rag on recent Slayer albums because they haven't really changed their style much in forever. But when bands do change their style ( ie Metallica) they get ragged on even more. So you can't win. But really, why should Slayer change anything? Don't fix what ain't broke. Tom Araya can still bring it. ( Fuck you, Auto-tune) Nobody solos like King and Hanneman. And Dave Lombardo is a fucking god. He is phenomenal on this record. Especially on "Unit 731".

I need to stop listening to albums for the first time in my van. The sound is so comparatively shitty that it ruins first impressions. Actually, I listened to the first few songs of this on my computer. At 6am. At very low volume. On one speaker. Yeah, not a good way to introduce an album. When finally I was able to hear it with decent sound, at a befitting volume, I had to kick myself for the flicker of doubt that crossed my mind. World Painted Blood is awesome. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. It's fucking Slayer!! The worst Slayer track is 250% better than the best tracks from 95% of the metal out there.

World Painted Blood is fast, it's vicious, it gets stuck in your head. I can't stop discreetly air guitaring. Or drumming on stuff. Or singing "murder is my future!" under my breath.

Slayer fucking rules.