Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sargeist - Let The Devil In

I am listening to this on pretty shitty speakers. I bet it sounds much better with headphones or on a decent stereo. Nevertheless, I not a big enough Black Metal fan to really get excited about this.

Sweet Cobra - Mercy

Does this feature members of Big Business? Sometimes it sounds like it does. Doesn't help it though. Just seems kinda average. I don't have time for average.
I prefer Black Cobra as far as that goes.

My thoughts on Decibel's Top 40 of 2010

I have nothing but respect for Decibel. It is my main source of recommendations for music to check out. I make time for the magazine whereas I don't have time to trawl the internet.  But, just because I think it's the greatest magazine since well, ever, doesn't mean I always agree with their lists. Enjoy.
40. Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons: Haven't heard this one. Doubt it would make my list anyway. Black metal is really hit or miss with me.
39. Lantlos - .Neon: Who?
38. Hail of Bullets - On Divine Winds: I've only listened to this once so far. Didn't impress me as much as ...Of Frost and War. Martin Van Druren as awesome enough that I will make time to listen to this more so I can give it a proper rating.
37. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis: I'm surprised this is so low on their list. I'm more surprised that I like it as much as I do. Never really liked DEP before. This one is great though.
36. Decrepit Birth - Polarity: A little too technical for me. If I am in the mood for techy, I'd grab this one over most.
35. Intronaut - Valley of Smoke: I prefer the old Intronaut. Before they got all proggy. If I were bathed in a valley of smoke, this would be transcen-fucking-dental. Maybe next time I go green, this will be my soundtrack.
34. Early Graves - Goner: I love it when names/titles are appropriate. Not in this case. RIP Makh Daniels. (Btw, this album is fucking awesome)
33. The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood: Haven't been able to "acquire" this yet. I must try harder.
32. Father Befouled - Morbid Destitution of Covenant: I think this is one of those albums that REQUIRES that you listen to it many times before you can make an accurate judgement on it. That's my plan anyway. Second listen was better than the first, so it only follows....
31. Deftones - Diamond Eyes: WAY better than their last one. It's really pretty incredible. Should be higher than this on my list.
30. Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt II: Is there something wrong with me? I just can't get into these guys.
29. Christian Mistress - Agony and Opium: Seriously? I've booed bar bands better than this.
28. Unearthly Trance - V: This motherfucker blew me away!!
27. Fear Factory - Mechanize: Totally surprised me that Decibel ranked this one. Glad they did though. I loved Dino-era FF. And I love this. One of the few albums I actually bought this year.
26. Pivixki - Gravissima: Say what? Who? Avant-garde pianist? Free grind? No thanks.
25. Withered - Dualitas: Are you kidding me? 25?! Fuck no! Must be much higher! Possible AOTY!!
24. Ghost - Opus Eponymous: See Christian Mistress. I don't know what the big deal is.
23. Integrity - The Blackest Curse: This is pretty kick ass. I don't know if I'd rank it this high but it's fighting for a spot on my Top 40.
22. Kvelertak - Kvelertak: This is a "holy fuck!" album. As in, Holy Fuck this is good! and Holy Fuck what is going on!? Holy Fuck!!
21. Deathspell Omega - Paracletus: Meh.
20. Electric Wizard - Black Masses: Those who know me best know I love EW. The music itself makes me high. And when I AM high, look out.
19. Atheist - Jupiter: I don't like Cynic, Obscura, Periphery or other super-techy death metal bands either.
18. Burzum - Belus: I don't care if he's a church-burning murderer. This album is awesome.
17. High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine: Another of the few albums I actually bought at a store this year. Matt Pike is god.
16. Kylesa - Spiral Shadow: I still haven't finished transcribing my interview with Philip and Laura about Static Tensions (My AOTY for '09). This is one won't top my list this year but it should come close. Love it!
15. Horseback - The Invisible Mountain: Yeah, I don't dig the vibe.
14. Coliseum - House With a Curse: Why haven't I heard this yet?
13. Sailors With Wax Wings - Sailors With Wax Wings: Sounds like Pyramids, eh? Zzzzzzzzzzzz
12. Immolation - Majesty and Decay: Fuck yes.
11. Castevet - Mounds of Ash: Good. Not #12 good.
10. The Austerity Program - Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn: Haven't heard this yet but I don't think I'll like it anyway.
9. Nails - Unsilent Death: Heard nothing but good things about this. But still have not actually heard it. Must rectify.
8. Thou - Summit. I don't know if I would rank it this high but it's pretty fucking awesome.
7. Ludicra - The Tenant: Deserves to be this high based on the riff in "In Stable" alone.
6. Torche - Songs for Singles: I'm really slacking. I haven't got around to this yet.
5. Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini: I want to like Enslaved, I really do. But I respect the hell out of them.
4. Dawnbringer - Nucleus: I think I tried to listen to this but couldn't finish it.  Not my bag.
3. Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones: I feel shame. I haven't got around to this one either.
2. Watain - Lawless Darkness: One of the best black metal releases of the year but #2 overall? I don't know about that.
1. Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit: I really am a slacker. It's on my "to download" list.

Valient Thorr - Stranger

Party music for not very tough bikers.

Death Angel - Relentless Retribution

You should know that I got in to the metal game a but late. I didn't start
listening to metal in earnest until around 1994. (Many thanks Pantera) So
I've been playing catch up with thrash ever since. Sure I knew the Big 4.
They're some of my favourite bands ever. But outside of that, I really
don't know much old thrash. So I have no history with Death Angel. I have
no basis of comparison to their other work. That being said, there is
nothing on this album that makes me want to rush out and find out what I
have been missing.
I also haven't told you anything about the album. Gallopping guitars, hard
hitting drums, bark/shout vocals that sound really fun to scream along
with. These dudes are tight. I like the speed and pacing. It sounds like a
really fun album that I should give at least equal credit to compared to
bands like Early Man and Municipal Waste. I'm gonna have to spend some more
time with this. And I expect to see this on my friend Todd's year end list.

Beneath the Massacre - Maree Noire

By rights, I should have turned this off as soon as it started. I don't
really like deathcore and I don't really like noodly guitars. This has
deathcore vocals and noodly guitars. The difference here is the vocals and
noodle are not there for their own sake. This is actual music. These sound
like songs. Not verse-chorus-verse no, but it's more than just showing off.
They do push my limits of tolerance for pure note overload but since it's
only an EP I can hack it. I bet the pits at their shows are SICK!

Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini

I can't say this is bad. It's just not my thing. I didn't hear much to
really captivate me and the unclean vocals aren't my favorite. I want to
like Enslaved but I just can't. Maybe I'm too narrow-minded.

Ghost - Opus Eponymous

Musically, this is somewhat tolerable. Almost. Even the vocals in and of
themselves aren't bad. But I still don't like it.
It sounds like the kind of band that you need to appreciate Mr. Bungle to
dig. I don't mind retro sounds but this is too weak retro. It's got no
edge. On shrooms, yeah this might send me off but 99.99% of forever, I'm
not trippin' on fungi so this does nothing for me.

Christian Mistress - Agony & Opium

You got the agony part right. It's agony listening to this. If I heard this
band at a bar is some shit town, drunk of my ass, I'd still say they suck.
How do bands like this get record deals?

Adversarial - All Idols Fall Before The Hammer

STOP!!!!!! The production on this is so horrible I don't give a FUCK how
good it is. It sounds like the drum mic is swinging from a cord from the
ceiling. What better way to violate eardrums with that fucking awful snare

What a letdown!

I've been rippin' through lots of albums lately. I was expecting to be
treated to a torrent of great music. If I didn't expect it to be good I
wouldn't have downloaded it to begin with. I was seriously mistaken.
I have listened to (or skipped) more crap in the last couple weeks!! The
next few posts will all be shit related.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Melechesh - The Epigenesis

Rarely when I have big expectations for an album am I not disappointed. This is not one of those times. It delivered everything I expected. Maybe even delivered more by doing less. It's been a while but I remember their last album being much busier. The Epigenesis seems more basic. Not dumbed down though. Melechesh are able to weave Middle Eastern texture, rhythm and cadence into black metal. Yeah, it may not be "troo" but it proves that Black Metal doesn't have to be bleak metal. And it doesn't have to be boring. The guitar tones and vocals make it black metal but the riff style and varied drumming break that restraint on what some people would consider Black Metal. I need to MAKE the time to listen to this again and again because even though my first impression was a home run, I have a feeling it will get even better every time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Skeletonwitch, Withered and Landmine Marathon @ Time to Laugh, Kingston, ON Nov. 26, 2010

I knew this was going to be a great night. How often do you get to see three bands of this caliber on the stage for $12? I would easily have paid $12 each! So in order to make things "fair" in terms of cost-to-enjoyment, I bought a shirt and vinyl from both Withered and Landmine. I got a 3/4 sleeve baseball style tour shirt from Skeletonwitch last time they were in town. So I ended up spending a bunch of money I didn't really have but it was worth it. However, my wallet wasn't the only thing that paid for it. A full 7 days after the show and I am still nursing a fairly painful bangover. (Special thanks to Chris Woodford of Toronto band Titan, for, to the best of my knowledge, creating that word.) Meh, some people pay for worse kinds of pain than pulled neck muscles. Like in Hostel 2, when the guy pays to kill the one chick and she ends up cutting his dick off with a pair of scissors. It can always be worse. Right, the show.
As usual I missed most of the first band. Fashionably late. I don't think I missed much with locals Ponderous Chain. They weren't horrible but they were brought down by the complete lack of stage presence displayed by their singer. This is metal, man! Put your fucking back into it! I do believe one  guitarist used to play for Rozea Haven and he's got some chops, so there is an upside here.
The other "beer band" on the bill was Darkness Rites. Pretty young band but they seemed to know what they were doing. Death metal with breakdowns but I wouldn't class them as metal/deathcore. Their singer was the polar opposite of the previous band's. He may have looked like a poser, but he had a pretty good set of lungs on him and he was VERY passionate. If I think my necks hurts, that guy is gonna need a team of Swedish masseuses to set him straight.
Landmine Marathon. This is where the self-induced bodily injury came in. I knew what to expect. I was quite well acquainted with their 2010 offering, Sovereign Descent. So when the band took the stage and singer Grace Perry started tearing us a new arsehole, (that lady can scream!) I (at least tried to) lead the neck-snappin' charge. Perry herself jumped off the stage a few times and engaged the crowd. At one point, she whipped me into the pit and tore another guy's shirt right off his back! That's fuckin' hardcore, dude. Despite having a shorter set, Landmine was able to rip out a mix of songs from Sovereign as well as some older tunes. I was a little rusty (ha!) with the tunes from Rusted Eyes Awake but that didn't matter. Their whole set was loaded with brutality. Their brand of doomy deathgrind is just as awesome live as it is on CD/vinyl/cassette (all formats were available). I'm not sure how many people knew who Landmine Marathon were at the beginning of the night (Let's be honest, most of the people were there to see Skeletonwitch), but by the time they left the stage, they'd gained plenty of new fans. And that's what touring is all about. Getting out there and getting the music heard. The merch table ended up being pretty busy but I did manage to get a shirt and a copy of Sovereign Descent on vinyl. In getting said vinyl signed by the band (Perry, guitarist Ryan Butler and Dylan Thomas, bassist Matt Martinez and drummer Andy York) I was able hang out with them for a little bit. I love when bands are approachable and easygoing. I tried not to be too much of a fanboy and since we shared some of the same views and interests, it was easy to talk about things other than music.(For example, how my daughter, Grace, insisted I tell Grace Perry that they have the same name. Spooky fact: my daughter was born the same year Landmine Marathon formed.) I sincerely hope Landmine is able to come back and play Kingston someday. They're the kind of band Kingston needs to see more of to help the fans embrace underground metal. Maybe next time I can stop moving my head long enough to actually SEE them perform. And maybe next time they can play "Steadfast Hate" because they just plain ran out of time. Right? (wink wink)
Speaking of not being able to see, Withered had all the stage lights turned off to set the mood. "Tortured blackened doom" doesn't call for flashy lights. It made perfect sense to create a dark and ominous atmosphere for dark and ominous music. Like Intronaut, the bass plays a central role in the band. And also like Intronaut, the bassist takes center stage flanked by both guitarist/vocalists. Being a bassist myself, I kinda like that setup. Again, I didn't SEE much of the performance as I did feel it. When I wasn't violently thrashing about to the driving black metal thunder, I was soaking in the soundscapes with my eyes closed. Like the time I saw Yakuza, the music goes so far beyond the visual that you feel the need to close off that input and let the sound penetrate. The blasts unleashed upon the masses came mostly from 2010's outstanding Dualitas. It was the first show by a more or less black metal band I've had the pleasure of attending. While I don't consider Withered your "typical" black metal band, by witnessing the raw force, emotion and passion of their set, I have gained a new level of appreciation for the genre in general. They are one of the first (that I know of) blackened doom bands to play Kingston and I felt like the crowd wasn't prepared for it. (Pre-Apostasy Behemoth came through once. I missed it.) I mean, there were people "into it" but I felt like saying "Come on people! It's fucking WITHERED!" Then again, I was one of the only people losing my shit when Jucifer, Psyopus, Cattle Decapitation, Yakuza, Terror and Intronaut played. (Not all at the same time!) I guess I'm just lucky to have a deep knowledge of great metal. It's hard to believe that after the aural pummeling doled out by these doom dealers, this now tortured soul was actually able to walk. The powerful and stirring set could just as easily brought me to my knees. (Bowing to the greatness, of course) Alas, there was some sah-weet merch to acquire. Besides, I wouldn't want to get trampled by the hordes crowding the stage for the headliners.
Ohio's Skeletonwitch are touring machines. Near constant touring as honed this band's abilities. By which I mean their ability to drink you under the table and still put on a killer show. These blackened thrashers know how to have a good fucking time! Master frontman Chance Garnette and Co have sharpened their live show to a razor sharp edge. They're tight, enthusiastic, and well, fun! Crowd pleasers to say the least. Back in July they played 3rd fiddle to High on Fire (NObody plays after HoF. Nobody) and Priestess but you'd never have known they were the openers. As headliners this time around, they were given more time to pound their catchy riffs and scream-along choruses into our eager eardrums. You can't help but at least nod your head or tap your feet. I've probably said this before but Skeletonwitch is fist-pumpin' metal. Cuz that's what you want to do the whole time. Throw your fists in the air in salute to a brand of metal that appeals to a wide range of fans. I saw fans there that looked 10 years old, and fans that looked like they were 10 years old when Black Sabbath first played North America. Long hairs, hardcore dudes, nerds (represent!), jocks, you name it. One of the most amazing things was that the bands they were touring with were just as excited as the people who paid to see them.That's when you know your doing something right. Rarely have I seen a crowd that unified. The band tore through a diverse set featuring tunes from their whole catalog. Whether it was a track from '09s Breathing The Fire or an older one such as my personal fave, "At One With The Shadows", the crowd gobbled up what the 'Witch was brewin'. It doesn't make much sense to have that much fun listening to songs about killing and dying but that's just what happens at a Skeletonwitch show. On CD, they feel much more sinister. But live, it's all about "having a good fuckin' time!" I guarantee you will. Skeletonwitch vowed to return but not without stipulations. Until they come back, we were instructed to "Drink beeeer! Smoke weeeeed! And eat some fucking pussy!" Sounds like a plan to me!
I was surprised that given the fact that some of the bands on the bill have a blackened element that there was no mention that show was on Black Friday. I thought that would have been a given. No worries, I got some shopping in and everything I bought was black!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Withered - Dualitas

Before I get in to the review, I just have to say that I am over the fucking moon excited to see Withered on Friday. I'd be stoked enough if was just them and some locals but they're playing with Skeletonwitch AND Landmine Marathon! I will barely be able to walk/talk/breathe by the time that show is over.
Anyway, I'll be reviewing the show so check back sometime next week to see how much self-destruction I caused.
Now, it's been a while since I've heard Memento Mori or Folie Circulaire but I get a different feeling from Dualitas. It could just be my horrible memory, but it seems more spacious than previous releases. While the oppressive parts are just as oppressive, they are interspersed with more, shall we say, reflective passages. After I actually shell out money to buy a physical copy of this (vinyl?) on Friday I may be able to confirm my theory that the theme of this album is duality. Not in a split-personality sense or "good and evil exist in all of us" way, but more of a two sides to every story idea. For example, some parts are loud and fast and powerful and make me think of war and destruction and all the adrenaline and hot blood that goes with that. That will then fall into a slower, more pensive sounding passage which brings to mind the other side of war. The loss and the sadness. But as I think about it more, the mournful side could be the reflection of the "victors" (no one wins in war). The part where the triumphant survey the destruction they have wrought and think, "What have we done?" "What have we become?" Every time I've listened to Dualitas I can't help but think about the two emotions that rise in my heart, triumph and sorrow. The driving black metal aspect conjuring images of militaristic conquest and victory and the slower, doomier aspect revealing the bloody aftermath and an overwhelming sense of loss. "Interlude" is one of the saddest sounding pieces of music I have ever heard while other parts of the record would flay the skin from your bones and laugh with terrible glee.
Withered have really outdone themselves in creating such an enjoyable yet emotionally draining album. Powerful, cerebral music with a soul.

Howl - Full of Hell

Quite often, a great album will conjure images in your mind regardless of lyrical content. Full of Hell does that very, very well. The following is what my mind sees.
The band are actually Cyclopean giants. They are performing the album in a natural amphitheater/cave opening at the top of a flaming mountain range.  This provides the soundtrack to an army of beasts laying waste to civilization below.
Now that may not sound like Harvard stuff but I have a feeling if I got my hands on a lyric sheet, there would be some upper-level intelligence going on. (somewhat unrelated but, RIP Buried Inside) See, to the best of my knowledge the members of Howl are vegan. And not to stereotype, but I don't know any meathead vegetarians.(See what I did there?)
Adjective time: thick, huge, warm, deep, resonant, frightening, destructive, desolate and as the Cyclopes' last notes echo across the mountains, mournful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yes, I'm alive.

I realized I haven't posted in over a month. But we just moved so that is keeping me really busy. Plus, we were without internet (!!) for a while too. But you don't want to hear about me, you want to hear about metal!

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow: I have only heard it once (so far) but that is all it took to know it kicks ass. Kylesa's previous offering, Static Tensions, took top spot on my Best of 2009 list so my expectations were high. The two are different enough that it's really not fair to compare them. Spiral Shadow sounds like a more mature album. It has a more spacious sound that Kylesa was moving towards with Tensions but instead of a small step, they took a giant leap. The album breathes more and allows Laura and Phillip to sing more rather than scream all the time. It also feels like a very deep album so I'll have to spin this many more times before I can give it the proper treatment. But one thing is for sure, Kylesa continue to push themselves in order to not release the same album over and over.

Salome - Terminal: I'm not even done this yet but, fuck me. Heavy fucking shit motherfucker. Bowel evacuatingly heavy. While wearing earbuds. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HELLYEAH - Stampede

You'd think something involving Vinnie Paul and members of Mudvayne would be good, wouldn't you? Okay maybe not. But at least something with Vinnie wouldn't be that bad? Sorry to disappoint. This is fucking horrible. "Metal" songs about "good ole boys", the "cowboy way", booze, etc. The whole thing feels like a joke but I know it's not. That's the sad part. No doubt my extreme distaste for country music lends some bias in this case it would be bad anyway. Most times a band will put their stronger songs near the front of the album but in this case, the worst songs are first. It doesn't get MUCH better but the cheese factor gets turned down a little. If you gave Kid Rock an extra shot of testosterone and slapped the hip-hop out of him, HELLYEAH wouldn't be far off. And if the studio version of "Alcohaulin' Ass" from the first record wasn't bad enough, they included a live version on this one!! Hellyeah! Fuck me. Metal for college jocks and posers. The members of this band used to be respectable! How does this happen?

As if that wasn't enough torment, I'm gonna listen to the new Helmet record now.

Heaven Shall Burn - Invictus (Iconoclast III)

I hesitate to class this as metalcore because I don't like most metalcore. But I like this and it's pretty much metalcore. It's got a hardcore "feel" and some breakdowns and a totally visceral metal vocal style. It's an angry SOB of a record. It makes me want to destroy things. Everything is great until the end of the record. The second to last track, "Given in Death" has some female guest vocals (I don't know or care who it is). It isn't a terrible song by any means but it's different enough from the rest that it doesn't really fit. The outro is sombre string piece. It's not bad either. But the bonus track...."Nowhere". Someone make it stop! It HAS to be a cover. Of who, I have no idea because I don't listen to crap. Eventhough the main lyric is "going nowhere" the song sounds upbeat. Poppy. I picture skinny jeans and bad hair. Neon shoelaces and all-over print hoodies. Shoot me now. This song has no right being on any record let alone this one. I would really like to know what possessed them to do this song. And if it's NOT a cover...why? Please tell me why?!

Gravemaker - Ghosts Among Men

Well that was fun!! Beefy NY-style hardcore!! Unbelievably mosh-worthy. Throw that puppy on with a few beers in ya and people could get hurt! Wicked! If you like Sick Of It All and/or Biohazard (minus the rappyness) you should like this.

Grave - Burial Ground

Short and sweet review.

Straight forward Euro-death. Unlike their (mostly) American brethren, Grave have no need for the over-technicality of much of today's death metal. They go right for the kill with brutal, working man death metal. Some melody and punk sensibilities work their way in to the mix so it's not just evil music and growling. Maybe some of these techni-death bands should realize that much of what makes an album good is feeling. Grave know that. Feel the death!!

Friday, October 8, 2010


I just listened to He's Never Coming Back. Gaza is one of those bands that I've always wanted to listen to but could never get my hands on them. I finally did and I'll be trying harder from now on. I'm not going to say much other than it sounds really pissed off and I like really pissed off. I can only imagine how cathartic it must be to perform those songs. It's almost exhausting just listening to their top drawer sludgy hardcore. A very satisfying exhaustion though. Gaza has a newer one out don't they?

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Mafia

I can't understand a word this Italian death metal outfit is singing about. That's fine. It's death metal, I didn't expect to. My guess is it's something about the Mafia. As far as the 4 originals on this disc go, I can give or take. Very well performed and all that. There is some operatic singing that I could really do without. Death growls are good and the riffage makes me want to circle headbang. Drums are pretty good. The snare seems a little sharp though. Quite machine gun like. The EP ends with a piano outro that sounds very Mafia-esque but again, I could do without it.
Where is EP stands out if a top notch cover of At the Gates' "Blinded by Fear". Kudos.
And of course, the band's name itself pretty awesome.
Take it or leave it. It's not horrible, but it's not something I will go back to again and again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Special K's

The other I was listening my way through the "K" section of my iPod. For such oddball letter, 2010 has produced some great (and not so great) bands that begin with the letter "K". I can't remember all the album names.

Kataklysm -  Heaven's Venom: Last year's Ex Deo album was great and the same dudes came back with a great Kataklysm record. Multi-dimensional Canadian Death Metal. Me likey.

Khoma: The name says it all even if it is spelled wrong. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Kingdom of Sorrow - Behind the Blackest Tears: Just what you'd expect from KoS. Better than Hatebreed but maybe not as good as Crowbar.

Kongh: The name makes me thing of King Kong and this band sounds that big and angry. Love it.

Kruger (can't remember album): Not bad. Actually not quite as good the second time around. Grower?

Kvelertak: What the fuck dudes?? At The Drive-in, Refused, The Hives and Billy Talent had a baby and named it Kvelertak.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crucial Update!

Just thought I'd touch base with the hordes of you fans anxiously awaiting my increasingly infrequent posts. I apologize for disappointing you.

I mostly write at work and I've been on holidays. Cut me some slack.

Anyway, I'm FINALLY transcribing the Kylesa interview I did last May. As in 2009. Combination of an unfinalized disc, a dead battery, a missing cord and pure laziness led to the delay. But I am working on it today and with any luck I will at least have it on paper. And I might even have it posted by the end of the weekend. No promises. Most of it is old news by now (they have a new record coming out soon) but there still might be some interesting info in there.

In the meantime, go listen to Kongh. You shouldn't be disappointed by that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pro Pain - Absolute Power

This actually a pretty easy review. It goes like this: Take any previous Pro Pain album, change the name to Absolute Power, and voila. This may sound  a little harsh but, for as much ass as Pro-Pain kicks, their brand of fist-pumping, metalized hardcore just keeps kicking the same ass with every release. One distinguishing feature may be that I think I hear some guests on the album. I don't have access to info right now but I think I heard some vocals that sounded "Disturb"-ingly like David Draiman. (i.e. everyone's favourite hypocrite) I hope my ears are deceiving me.
I own one Pro Pain album and I am okay with that. Funny story about that album. Back in the day (c. 2000), I was walking home from a party (drunk!) listening to [the album I can't recall the name of] and finding myself powerwalking along in perfect lockstep with the album. (minus the elbow action and butt wiggle) If you've ever heard Pro Pain you know how fast that is for someone who had no business being upright anyway. (That was during my tequila phase) It was pretty funny to me because my legs were seemingly acting of their own accord. The funny to other people part, is that inevitably, I would have to urinate on this walk. I happened to be walking by a construction site. Naturally, there was a porta-potty. As a testament to my level of inebriation, I decided I should pee behind it so no passing cars would see me. Aaaaaalways thinkin'. Of course, when coming out from behind the porta-potty, I tripped on some debris and bloodied up my legs pretty good.  But I carried on powerwalkin' to that relentless Pro Pain beat. Good times.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cephalic Carnage - Misled By Certainty

Misled by Certainty is a most apt album title. I was certainly misled. I was certain that given the amount of positive press and ample advertising that this album would blow me away. But I was misled. It sucks. It didn't feel as cohesive as an album as I prefer. I can see how people would like it but I don't. There is some good tracks and some good moments but they are few. The second half of the album is just kind of, there. There was nothing that really grabbed me.  Now, Cephalic Carnage refer to themselves as hydrogrind. Or in layman's terms, weed metal. Perhaps if I were to partake in some weed, I might hear the gold that some apparently do. And since I don't get high near as much as I'd like, I doubt the opportunity will present itself. There's already way better stuff on my Potential Pot Playlist.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yakuza - Of Seismic Consequence

I would just like to start by saying that I like Yakuza. As a band and as people. I've enjoyed their albums, seen them live and hung out with them for over an hour after the show. (I think I was the only person there who knew who they were. They opened for The Holly Springs Disaster a couple years ago.)
But I'm not really diggin' this one. For what they are trying to do, they do an excellent job. It's just a little too artsy for me. Maybe if I listened to their old albums I might find them too artsy now too. The title, Of Seismic Consequence, alludes to a heaviness that is going to affect things. I didn't so much get a feel of heavy as much as I did deep. I suspect that had I been paying attention to the lyrics (instead of reading album reviews) my "deep" theory would be validated. I'm sure it would be counter-productive to what Yakuza was trying to accomplish, but as a listener I am tempted to mess with the track listing. I'd split up the slower, softer tunes and the faster, heavier ones. Like 2 EPs rather than an LP. So one could listen to the softer tunes in the presence of those around them not so metallically inclined and not have it interrupted by a spazzed-out jazz-metal ball-buster.
Of Seismic Consequence is a nice deep, moody album interspersed with more metal moments. It's very much Yakuza and seems a logical step in that band's evolution. I just don't seem to be evolving at the same rate. I'll be sure to keep this on hand for those times when I feel like getting a little deeper.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A few words on, for the most part, crap.

I've gone through first runs of a lot of new stuff the last few days. I am been greatly disappointed. I don't have high hopes for much but I don't like being tortured.

The Acacia Strain - Wormwood: Sometimes I wish I was deaf. I think I got 2 songs into this before I realized I had a whole alphabet's worth of other stuff I could be listening to.

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza - Danza III: chug-chug-weedily-chug-weedily-weedily-chug-chug-chug-weedily-chug-etc. MELODY FUCKERS!

Danzig - Deth Red Saboath: Not bad. It feels like a grower but there is some pretty weak shit on it.

Soilwork - The Panic Broadcast: Brilliant musicianship. Above average songcraft. Not grabbin' me by the balls. Felt like it went on forever.Way too long.

Norma Jean - Meridonal: By rights, I should hate this band. But I don't. Have to listen to it more for sure. Heard most of it under less than ideal conditions.

Mendozza - (cant' recall right now): Pretty cool stoner/fuzz metal. I like it. Super bonus points for Sleep and Black Sabbath covers.

HELLYEAH - Stampede: They called it Stampede after everyone stampeded out of the listening party. Just plain painful to listen to at times. OH and a live version of "Alcohaulin' Ass"! What a treat. Why did that douche have to kill Dimebag?

On the bright side, I heard Sodom's cover of "Surfin' Bird". Awesome.

Friday, July 30, 2010

High on Fire, Priestess, Skeletonwitch @ Time to Laugh, Kingston, ON

July 21, 2010
When I first heard this show was coming to Kingston, I simultaneously came, shit my pants and suffered a minor heart attack. And that lasted for a good couple days. We're talking High on Fire playing a club show within a half hour drive from my front door. It doesn't get much better than that. Oh but wait! Look at the support! I knew it was gonna be a good time.
Thrashtastic rippage from Skeletonwitch started things off (well, for me. I missed the local opener) much to the crowd's delight. Between tunes, throat-shredding vocalist Chance Garnette engaged the crowd. He praised "old school fucking heavy metal!!", saluted the beer drinkers at the back, admonished the dudes standing cross-armed for being "too tough to have fun at a metal show," and implored Kingston to, until they return, "eat more fucking pussy!"  I'm glad my mom wasn't there. Performance wise, no disappointments. Well, I did wanna see them play "At One With The Shadows" but they only had a half hour set. I'm sure it woulda been the next song. Black/death thrash doesn't lend itself to much jamming per se so they kept pretty much to playing the songs as heard in recorded form. Which is to say, tight, precise and catchy. It was a half hour of fist pumpin, horn throwin, neck snappin, good times. They said they should be back around sometime in November. Sweet.
I own Priestess's first album, Hello Master but for some reason I never bothered with their second, Prior to the Fire. Until that is, I knew they were coming to town. I checked it out. It's good too! If you like catchy, 70's-ish hard rock. So upon realizing that I liked most of their tunes I was a little more excited to see the live show. Like Skeletonwitch before them, they played a tight set. They weren't flyin' all over the stage like the bands that bookended them but it was still high energy. Of course, they played their biggest hit, "Lay Down" as featured on Guitar Hero. And to my approval they played "Lady Killer". The first track off their newest album. However, I did miss a bit of it due to a very much needed pit stop. During their set they had a screen behind them showing some pretty trippy flowing images. Eventhough they wouldn't really be considered stoner rock, it really worked. The exploding blood cell and the psychedelic burning school bus were the highlights in my opinion. I didn't have very high expectations for Priestess but they exceeded what I did have. They impressed me enough that if the Montrealers were to come back as a headliner, I'll come out again.
High on Fire. High on Fucking Fire! In Kingston! I thought I would never see the day. One of my all-time favourite bands playing a small club basically right down the road. I was far from disappointed. It was incredible! One of the best performances I have ever seen. Guitar god Matt Pike, bass master Jeff Matz, and drummer extraordinaire Des Kensel were at the top of their game. The energy in the club was crazy. And it seemed the band really fed off that. Especially Matz. He put everything out there and left nothing behind. (except the setlist. I nabbed that.) Did I mention he uses his fingers? No pick. Right on! Every time I listen to a High on Fire album I marvel at how Matt Pike is able to play those guitar parts and sing at the same time. And still, after witnessing it in person, literally in my face, I still can't believe it. You add into that the seemingly effortless, room-shaking drumming of Kensel and you have an unstoppable force. A 10 tonne fucking Nuclear-power trio. The only other time I've seen HoF live was on the first SOTU tour. It was in some big warehouse type thing in Mississauga. There were a couple thousand people there. And it had a totally different feel. No comparison to the intimacy of a small club. I don't live near a major market and I don't get to see as many bands as I want to so seeing a band this big (in the underground) at a venue this small was really something special for me. As I said earlier, I grabbed the setlist. Spoiler Alert!! The set consisted of a really nice mix of old and new. Feel free to correct me ( I am HORRIBLE with song titles) but the only album not represented was The Art of Self Defense. I was kinda hoping they'd play "10,000 Years" but I'm not complaining. Anyway, here's the setlist.
Fire, Flood and Plague
How Dark We Pray (It was awesome!)
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Rumors of War
Blood from Zion
Snakes for the Divine
Sweet set, eh? Granted, they could fill an hour with any collection of songs and I'd fuckin' love it. I was some kinda sweaty when it was all said and done. And it wasn't all my sweat. I am 99% sure some of Matt Pike's sweat dripped on me. (Yes, I've showered) I was headbanging like crazy and expected to be in an assload of pain the next day but it was really quite mild. I've been in more pain from sitting at my computer too long. Maybe Skeletonwitch and High on Fire just taught me how to do it properly!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

FUCK! I wish I could listen to music while I worked!

But I can't. However, I can email blog entries. The problem is, the details get lost between the breakroom and the floor. But I'm gonna do my best because I am FUCKING bored as shit and it's about 4am. I tried to read some Alice Bailey but I can't wrap my brain around that shit at this time of day/night. So, here's some stuff I've heard lately and whether or not I thought it sucked.

Integrity - The Blackest Curse: This is what I like about hardcore. Good hardcore comes from the gut and is loaded with passion. The vocals are too low in the mix though.

Defeatist: This is some angry shit. Abrasive as all get-out. Having a bad day? Throw this shit on and break some stuff. You'll feel better in no time.

Howl - Full of Hell: There was a lot of hype around this release. IMO it was warranted. It's like a giant marching thru the countryside leaving nothing but havoc in his wake.

Ozzy - Scream: Um, not as horrible as I had expected.

I'm too tired to think anymore.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Malebolgia - Requiem for the Inexorable

After listening to Howl before this, Malebolgia is quite the stylistic shift. While Howl lumbers, Malebolgia races. Fast and brutal death metal. At this point, I'm not really sure whether I like it or not. It's not bad really, but I don't know if it's really my style. The vocals are on the verge of pig squeel and seem amatuerish at times. The guitars are very precise but not very inspiring. The drums are ridiculous. In a good and bad way. They're probably the best part of the album but they are pretty over the top. All speed, all the time. The bass drums have to be triggered. If not, the dude needs genetic testing. To have fast-twitch muscle fibres that developed and that kind of endurance, he'd have to be a mutant. Given the speed of the snare sometimes (likely triggered too) my money is on half-hummingbird.
 Requiem for the Inexorable was an enjoyable listen but nothing that's gonna rise to the death metal heap.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Speaking of Smashing Pumpkins...

In my previous post I mentioned Smashing Pumpkins. It reminded me of a post (or at least a tweet) I wanted to publish a couple weeks ago. Here goes. I have an old van. It has a tape player. Sometimes I'll pick up tapes for a buck at a thrift store. The latest one I snagged was Smashing Pumpkins - Melancholy & The Infinite Sadness. I want my buck back. Correct me if I'm wrong but the CD version had 2 discs right? Well, there is only one tape. And it sucks. It's like they took every song with balls and dropped them. "Zero" and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" are on it but that's about it. ("Tonight, Tonight" isn't all bad) It's so wimpy and slow and soft and horrible to fight through. I didn't recognize any of the songs so to get to the 2 afoementioned songs that I wanted to hear I had to listen to the rest of them. The tape started right AFTER "Bullet".

It's almost as much a waste of a dollar as the "digital cassette" version of Nirvana - Nevermind that I bought.  I should have taken that one out of the case and looked at it. Digital cassettes are not the same as tape and do not play in regular tape players.  I also bought a tape (can't even remember who know) but inside was a blank tape with a Scorpions album on it. FUCK! I learned my lesson.

Deftones - Diamond Eyes

I like my music aggressive. It doesn't have to be brootal or violent, just aggressive. i.e. No sissy vocals. But guess what, you're gonna find "sissy vocals" on a Deftones record. But in no way am I calling Chino Moreno a sissy. No way. Chino is just one hell of a vocalist. He can tear your ears new assholes as witnessed on "Rocket Skates" (Guns! Razors! Knives!). And he can make a song sensitive and emotional without sounding like a whiny emo (insert derogatory term of choice here). It's that balance that makes Diamond Eyes so great. Don't get me wrong, if these dude choose to just rip for a whole album, I'd be all over it. But that's not how they roll.
At times parts of the album remind of Filter, at times old-school Deftones and on "Sextape" it feels like are channeling their inner Smashing Pumpkins. And that just happens to be the song that gets stuck in my head most. Which is saying a lot because this record is ridiculously catchy. I've listened to 3 bands today since I listened to Diamond Eyes this morning and I can remember almost nothing about them. (Fleshgod Apocalypse, The Funeral Pyre and Hour of Penance if you're wondering) It think "Sextape" is permanently burned onto my brain.
I haven't listened to Deftones in a long time. At one time I could play all of Around the Fur on bass. But I don't recall being that fond of their post-White Pony output. However, after listening to Diamond Eyes a dozen times makes we want to dig out the old CDs and rekindle that flame. I might even dig out my old White Pony t-shirt. I might need a whole day for that though. Ah well, I'll just listen to Diamond Eyes while I search!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy

Just a quick note on this one. Rippin' tunes but not a big fan of that vocal style. Maybe it will grow on me the way the last Into Eternity album did. I didn't like the vocals on that one the first time around either. The Tea Party cover was a pleasant surprise though.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Burzum - Belus

I know who Varg Vikernes is. I know the story. But up til now, I'd never heard a Burzum album. I'm not surprised since I'm not really a huge Black Metal fan. I don't know why. I decided to listen to Belus more out of curiosity than anything. Varg's first album since his release is a big deal so what kind of metal "writer" would I be if I didn't at least check it out. Turns out, I'm kinda glad I did.
Remember, I have no experience with Burzum to compare too and not a whole lot of "traditional" Black Metal experience either.
At first I was put off a little by the lo-fi production but I remembered it is intentional and was instantly able to disregard that aspect and concentrate on the music itself. Other than the fact that the strumming almost never stops, it's not incredibly technical. It's the atmosphere. I think I might actually "get" Black Metal now. Belus has an atmosphere that I can understand now. It's bleak. It's evil. It's cold. I keep picturing a candle lit cave in the side of a snow covered mountain with a fierce wind in the depths of night. Since I'm from Canada, I can somewhat relate. Not really the mountain part or the cave part, but I have been camping in a tent in -30 Celsius weather in February. At least the sun was out during the day.
I really enjoy the subtleties I can hear if I really pay attention. There isn't any punch-in-the-face moments or anything but it has an energy to it nonetheless. There can feel a meandering in the flow of the guitar. Almost like flying with no real deadline or destination. The object flying just happens to be a bird of prey soaring over the treetops in search of its next meal. The drumming is uninspiring (not that I expected any different) and I can't understand a word he is saying. Most of it wouldn't matter even if it was English. Despite its indecipherability, I sense and theme or a story. A story of menacing desolation, isolation and loneliness.
Now, it's possible the Black Metal purist/fanatic/connoisseur may have a vastly different opinion than I do, but given my limited base of comparison as far as Black Metal goes, I think it's pretty good. I wonder if Belus could end up being my Black Metal gateway drug?

High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine (the real copy this time)

I have a hard time reviewing albums I really like. It's easier to pick apart a shitty band than praise an established band doing their thing. What makes it harder is I have virtually no theoretical musical background. I don't know a major chord from a minor. A sharp from a flat. An A from a G from a W. I don't even know what an arpeggio is. None of that matters because I know good music when I heard it. The problem is coming up with adjectives other than "awesome". But I'll try.
Frontman Matt Pike has a reputation. A reputation for being in great bands. From the legendary Sleep, to the short-lived Kalas side project, to the juggernaut that is High on Fire, you can be assured there will be high quality. High on Fire's latest album, Snakes for the Divine, is loaded with quality. From the opening dirge of the title track with Pike's fingers dancing over the fretboard, right through to the vocal blast that closes "Holy Flames of the Fire Spitter", there isn't a lemon to be found.
The many facets of the godlike talent and vision of Pike's guitar playing are on full display. Thunderous riffing, galloping rhythms, and masterful soloing paint a picture across the whole album. Pictures of movement, of battles physical, emotional and spiritual.
Of course with a such a formidable frontman, the rhythm section section has to be up to snuff. Jeff Matz and Des Kensel are certainly that. They really are a driving force. Matz doesn't lose a step against Pike and Kensel's drumming creates riffs in itself. The drums may be my favourite part of the album come to think of it. The steering wheel of my car has taken quite the beating the last several weeks. It provides a near constant pummeling with perfectly placed rolls and fills. It should inspire everyone who hears it to take up drums.
What High on Fire review would be complete without making mention of the gravel-throated rasp of Pike's vocals. Think Lemmy but more ravaged and with more range. In a previous life, that voice commanded armies. The fact that he can sing at all while playing guitar the way he does makes my head spin. Anyone outside the metal community (and many in it) would cringe upon hearing it. But in a world that almost shuns vocal perfection, it's the voice of power and passion.
As powerful as this trio is in recorded form, live is how they are meant to be heard. I saw them a few years ago on the first SOTU tour and I get to see them again next month. They are coming to town with Priestess and Skeletonwitch. In a small club.  It's gonna be.....(wait for it)....awesome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baby Varg?

My wife and I are spawning another minion, I mean, having another baby. I was looking through a baby name book while listening to the new Burzum album. Maybe not such a good idea. I mean, I wouldn't want to end up naming the kid Varg would I? Fat chance of that happening.
But, I wouldn't rule out trying to slip in a metal namesake.  The only one I can think of right now is Max (Cavalera). Metal isn't really known for having cool (and appropriate) names to choose from. Ozzy is out. I can't very well use Dimebag. Lars and Dez are out of the question. I'm at a loss.
Any ideas?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


As of yesterday, May 26, I have been a vegetarian for one month. My conviction to this new lifesytle has not wavered. If anything, it's only gotten stronger. The more I read about the reasons not to eat meat, the more peaceful I am with my decision. At first it was based on 2 factors. Nutrition and ethics. I totally forgot about the environmental!! The amount of  water and air pollution generated by the meat industry is astronomical! And the wasted resources! So much feed is given to animals raised for meat. If that land was used for crops for humans, world hunger would be a non-issue. As it is,the VAST majority of wheat, corn, soy etc is feed to livestock. Livestock destined for the plates of the world's elite.

I could go on and on but you either get it or you don't.

I'm pretty much just wasting time right now anyway.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

3 Inches of Blood, Goatwhore and Barn Burner @ Time to Laugh, Kingston,ON May 11, 2010

What a fucking Tuesday night! I usually go to meditation class (don't judge) on Tuesdays but this was a show I wasn't going to miss. Besides, metal therapy is just as good for mental instability. Right? I missed most of the opening locals. Completely missed Meathook and only caught 10 mins or so of October Blood. Nothing memorable but they looked like they believed in their tunes and they were having fun. That's good enough for me. But I still can't remember what they sounded like.
Of the touring bands, Montreal's Barn Burner were first to slay the masses. I wrote a small review of their set from last time there were in town but I can't remember what I wrote and at the time I had no idea who they were. Since then I've spun their disc (Bangers) a bunch of times and I was fully prepared for the awesomeness. Fast, rippin, driving, stoner/rock/punk. Party music for sure. The crowd didn't really start to get into it til the last 2 songs. "Holy Smokes" and "Brohemoth". Even though some of the crowd were bangin' along, I still felt like I was the only one that really knew the songs. Yay me! I was amused (in a good way) by the stage banter. These guys know how to have fun. My favourite was when he likened the checkered floor of the venue to a chess board and beckoned us to "bring forth your rooks and your bishops to do battle on the chess board of metal!" Right on, Dude. I forgot to mention the minimalist drum kit. Less than 10 pieces. Kudos.

Goatwhore. This is why I paid my 15 bucks. (BB was a very welcomed free bonus) I think this is the most "metal" band I've seen in Kingston. No other labels (ex. Trad Metal = 3IOB) or anything. They fuckin' destroyed the place. Pure blasphemous aggression. Vocalist Ben Falgoust towered over the gathered heathens as he spewed forth the filth from their latest, Carving Out the Eyes of God. They also added in some older tunes. I know I'd heard them before but I wasn't familiar with them. They kicked just as much ass. Enough so that I may have to dig up the older stuff and immerse myself in some additional darkness. It was a very engaging performance. We were all throwin' the horns and pumpin' fists in unison. If only we had forearm gauntlets too.  As much as I enjoy it myself, I'm glad the mic wasn't thrust into some random fanboy's face to scream a few words. Because, honestly, everyone in that building would sound like shit compared to Falgoust. He is one of the best growlers out there. And fucking amazing live. Maybe the best I've seen. I have to rank Goatwhore in the Top 5 acts I've seen in Kingston. Maybe even Top 3. Those rankings will surely change when High on Fire and Skeletonwitch come to town in July. Move over Cattle Decap!

Oh right. 3 Inches of Blood. Um, same show different date. I left halfway through. The setlist even sounded eerily familiar. There was a lot of people having a lot of fun though. I think they drew a different crowd than Goatwhore. I'm sure there was some crossover but they are 2 very different styles. I saw more than a few father-son combos. People were having fun and that's what the whole thing is all about. I had my fun during Goatwhore's set. I checked out about halfway through the 3IOB set. I had a pending bangover to tend to and I wanted to get home before the Blackhawks game was over.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jucifer - Throned in Blood

Jucifer releases have never been thought of as "light and airy" but there has always been a balance of the loud grind/death stuff and the lighter tunes. Not so on Throned in Blood. With the exception of closer, "Armageddon", there is no light and airy. Even it's not happy go lucky. It's all dark and claustrophobic. Not claustrophobic in the sense that there is too much going on and nothing has room. No, in the sense that it sounds like it was recorded in a basement. (Or their van) But really fucking cool.  Like they just set a couple mics on the floor and hit record. You can hear the hum of the amps and everything. Mind you, with Amber's backline, you can hear the hum 3 blocks away. The whole album has a very stripped down, DIY, personal feel that is lacking from modern metal anymore. It's all super-produced-cookie-cutter-for-the-masses-metal, where every note is planned and every mistake corrected.  Throned in Blood sounds raw and off-the-cuff. Sometimes I think that the whole thing is just a big jam session. Edgar and Amber have such great chemistry that I wouldn't be surprised if they could pull that off.
Jucifer are Jucifer for the music's sake. And that really comes through on Throned in Blood. You won't hear it plastered on mainstream radio, or see them opening for The Rolling Stones. You'll hear it on your stereo and in your head over and over again. And you'll see them in any venue that'll take 'em. And I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Soulfly tracks

So I've had the pleasure of hearing 2 tracks from the upcoming Soulfly release, Omen. Omen will be my album of the year. Yes, I am biased.

The 2 tracks the masses have been graced by are "Kingdom" and "Rise of the Fallen" (ft. Greg Puciato of DEP) Both songs are definitely Soulfly but aren't so heavy on the tribal influence.

"Rise of the Fallen" has some really cool elements to it. Namely Marc Rizzo. Dude is so good. Over Max's rythm riffs, Marc lays down some fancy fingerwork. It sounds almost electronic, or even robotic. To my knowledge, the song has nothing to do with the second Transformers movie, but the robotic guitar work and the title makes for a somewhat humorous connection. Might we see Megan Fox in the video? Please?  Other than that, Puciato's vocals are pretty killer. I've never really been a fan of Dillinger Escape Plan (or really gave them a chance) so I didn't know who the vocalist was at first. I was impressed. I like the power and rawness of his voice. The veins on his foreheard must be huge. So after hearing this track, I decided I should probably check out the new DEP release, Option Paralysis. While my socks remained on, it was the first Dillinger album I listened to all the way through. At the time it wasn't a terrible move, but Max and Co. sure have come a long way since "Bleed".

"Kingdom" falls a little more squarely into the Soulfly hole. Galloping riffs. Max's less-than-melodic vocals. Repetitive chorus. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's a great song. I just doubt it's the best song on the album. It's muscular. It's headbang inducing. It's potentially dangerous to listen to while driving. It's damn catchy. Kind of bummed they never said Kingdom of Noise in the song though. Ah well.

If my memory serves me correctly, Omen will be released May 25, 2010.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Black Sheep Wall - I am God Songs

Can't quite remember why I wanted to check out this band but I think it may have been Chris Woodford of Titan suggesting it. If it was him, I'll have to give him a big ole Thank You! This shit is HEAVY! It's a wonder their strings don't fall right off.  The downtuned glory comes at you slow and oppressive. It's not funeral doom but they're in no hurry. The vocals are just beastly. I swear someone is torturing a polar bear. The last track is a noise piece that I wasn't crazy about but I was so into the book I was reading (Bram Stoker's Dracula) that I tolerated it. Under other circumstances I would probably skip it. There were some spoken passages here and there that, to me, really contrasted with the aural image of the album. The voice sounded like it came from some kid with a small shirt and tight jeans who'd be blown over by the wind from the amps. And if your amp can blow someone over, it's pretty burly.
If I find out the significance of the band name, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, two heavy horns up to I am God Songs.

R.I.P. Pete Steele

Music lost an influential member recently. Peter Steele of Type O-Negative passed away at 48 due to an apparent heart failure. Type O-Negative were pretty much the only goth metal band worth mentioning. They doubtless inspired legions of like minded bands but none achieved the kind of success Type O did. The albums October Rust and Bloody Kisses lent their cover art to many a t-shirt peeking from under the white dress shirts at my high school. Black No. 1 was like an anthem to the sullen. Pete Steele's voice was what set him apart. It was deep and full of character. It suited his physical stature to a tee. He was an irreplaceable figure in heavy music and he will be sorely missed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just so you know I'm still alive

I've been on holidays for the last 2 weeks. I listen to most of my music on breaks from mind-numbing factory work. And if I have the house to myself on an off day, I just listen to something I already love really, REALLY loud.

So, for the last 2 weeks or so, I've been degrading my sense of hearing with copious amounts of Fear Factory's Mechanize and High on Fire's Snakes for the Divine. I own actual physical copies of both albums so I could listen to both while running errands and other normal people shit.

But alas, the bliss of not working has ended and I find myself relegated to earning money again. However, I have been able to start chipping away at the shitload of new albums I have stashed on my ipod. I have listened to the Bison b.c. (Dark Ages), which sounded pretty killer at moderate volume, with the windows half down due to no A/C and a heater that won't turn off and a non-metal loving (yet) 6 year old in the back seat. I heard Mammoth Grinder. Same situation but sub the 6 year old for a picky 3 year old. She prefers Slayer. What I heard really impressed me.

Black Sheep Wall - I am God Songs. Pretty good. Heavy. Slightly formulaic. Too anxious for something else new to make it all the way through.

Cancer Bats - Bears, Mayors, something something. Dumbass title but good tunes. I'm about halfway through. Nothing with the same impact as "Hail Destroyer", but it keeps ya moving. And pisses me off that I've yet to see them live eventhough they play near me often enough.

Next on the docket is the new Cathedral. I used to really dig them back in my "nothing but stoner-rock or doom" phase (I miss Man's Ruin). Double album. I'm stoked. Not stoned. Damn.

I will make yet another attempt to "get" Dillinger Escape Plan. Who knows? Maybe Option Paralysis will lure me over to the DEP-side.

and last of all, I did hear a couple tracks from the new Sevendust. Sounded pretty sissy to me.

FUCK ME! I STILL haven't transcribed that Kylesa interview! FUCK FUCK FUCK!

Friday, April 2, 2010

This is gonna make me look like an idiot.

And rightly so.

See, a little while ago I reviewed the new High on Fire album Snakes for the Divine. While I didn't hate it, I was kind of disappointed. Read it here.

Then I bought the album. I didn't listen to it for a couple weeks. I did today. Aaaaaand, the copy I downloaded months ago WASN'T HIGH ON FIRE!!! It was a FAKE! It was the self-titled Kalas album from 2006! I do believe that album made my Top 5 of 2006! How could I not have noticed? a) I listen to way to much music and b) my memory sucks ass.

I'm gonna listen to the real copy a couple hundred times and get back to you with a review of the correct album.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A couple more maybe

Abscess - Dawn of Inhumanity: After the first track or so, the best thing about this might be the album art. Robed creatures carrying a giant eyeball through the desert with pyramids in the background and rising or setting sun throwing rays. Black, red and white. Pretty badass. Music itself isn't that bad. Standard mid-tempo death metal. Some "noisy" parts and absolute atrocious vocals. Y-grade horror flick monster vocals. Most of the time it doesn't even sound like words. Just deranged shouting. I'll listen to the whole thing because I have nothing better to do but I think it sucks pretty bad. Wicked cover art though! As the album goes on there is some faster tunes and some slower ones but the horrible vocals ruin it all anyway.


Can you tell I'm bored tonight?

Nominon - Monumentomb: Um, black/death metal. Buzzy guitars. Screechy vocals. Evil sounding. Nothing overwhelming. However, I am listening to it on $2 portable speakers. Not the best for accurate portrayal of sound. Vocals are discernable if you pay attention though, so that's a bonus.

Teitanblood - Seven Chalices: This is not starting out well. Guitars sound like a hive of bees. Drums are tinny and too high in the mix. The lead guitar sounds like noise. The vocals sound like a demon hound on 2 packs a day with too much echo effect on it. If I was stoned, I'd either freak the fuck out and go catatonic, or throw up. I don't know how much more I can take. Fuck me with an ice auger this is terrible. Track 4 and I'm out.

The Wounded Kings - The Shadow Over Atlantis: 2:30 in and I wish I had some weed. Slow and heavy with wispy clean singing. This would put me into a fucking trance if I was high. Shit. Pretty much the same all the way through. Relaxing. Chill out tunes for metalheads.

More quick thoughts

Destinity - XI Reason to See: This started out pretty promising. Cool epic metal. Reminded me of Amon Amarth and Ex Deo. Impressive vocals, a little atmospheric. But somewhere around the halfway mark they morphed into an almost death/metalcore band. The vocals changed, the atmospherics faded, the whole feel of the album dissolved. Quite disappointing. It was still pretty decent. It didn't sound entirely generic. I'd feel different about it if it were two separate bands. I hope on their next release they just stick with the first half of XI Reasons to See.

Ludicra - The Tenant: Another stab at trying to enjoy black metal. I don't know why I am forcing a genre I generally don't enjoy on myself but sometimes a band will resonate with me. Now while Ludicra is not "OH WOW"-ing me, I actually hit Play again when it was finished. I suppose it's not traditional black metal but vocally it follows pretty close. It's not 100% balls to the wall atonal kick in the face. There is some colour. Yeah, it has it's moments of bleak-neck speed but it also has groove. The female vocals add some allure as well. I can see this one sticking around on my playlist for a little while should I be in the mood.

Mouth of the Architect - The Violence Beneath EP:  It starts out violent enough. The vocals remain kinda violent. But if there is more beneath, well, it's sorta staying there. Maybe I listen to too much music or something but I feel I've heard this before. Bellowed vocals, softer instrumental passages, tinkling guitar. Some softer vocals are present as well but all in all it lacks the oomph that I like to hear most of the time. There was a time I would have been all over this but that time is gone. I prefer my violence in the forefront.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Short words on recent ear torture

Armored Saint - La Raza: Weak. With John Bush's vocals I kept expecting it to be as good as Anthrax but it wasn't even close. Don't care if I ever hear it again.

Carnifex - Hell Choose Me: zzzzzz Oh sorry. Did I fall asleep? It must have been the generic deathcore crap. (I literally laid down and had a nap during a Chimaira show once. 1st SOTU Tour)

Chaos Invocation - In Bloodline With The Snake: This sucks ass. I am trying to get into black metal but this isn't helping. The vocals are just so terrible. So, so, terrible. Even for black metal vocals.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fear Factory - Mechanize

I have to admit that going into this I was pretty skeptical. I haven't been fond of any FF work sans Dino. So with Dino back in the fold, my skepticism should be unfounded. And it is. Mechanize is a killer album! Instead of just making me nostalgic for old FF, it stands on its own as one of their greatest works. I could care less about Christian Old-Wolbers, but I wish Ray Herrera could have been a part of this. But if you are going to replace the speed and precision of Mr. Herrera, it might as well be the one and only Gene Hoglan. He's a machine. Which fits well with the whole Fear Factory modus operandi. In my opinion, bassist Byron Stroud didn't have very big shoes to fill. Should FF have a full scale reunion (which I don't believe is necessary now), Christian would have to step up his game.
Speaking of game, Burton Bell sounds like he's at the top of his. As one of the progenitors of the clean/not clean vocal style, he is still head and shoulders above much of the competition. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of someone who does it better. Especially within the context of the music and content. Music and vocals meld to paint a picture on the mind. The clean vocals are like the human survivor amidst the machine destruction.
I know it's early in the year but Mechanize is leading the playcount of 2010 releases by a WIDE margin. Ahead of High on Fire if you can believe it. Tracks like "Mechanize", "Powershifter", "Christploitation" and phenomenal closer "Final Exit" beg to be heard over and over again. Nothing Fear Factory releases will ever live up to the status Demanufacture has achieved. Not because it's THAT much better but because it was their breakthrough album and it changed the course of industrial metal. Mechanize will never be seen as an equal to that album but history could prove it to be FF's second best.
P.S. Like Deftones did with....that guy, and Clutch (briefly) did with Mick Shauer, Fear Factory should just make Rhys Fulber a full-time member of the band. Dude has a golden touch.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Random thoughts on some stuff I've heard lately

Impetuous Ritual - Relentless Execution of the Ceremonial Excrescence: Dark atmospheric doom. Best heard in complete darkness. And only 2 songs over 4 minutes in length! That's weird for doom.

Hysterica - Metalwar: Their image is better than the music. A bunch of chicks in leather and spikes and armour, bearing swords. Pretty straightforward metal. Only heard it once and most of it was from another room. I'll get back to it.

Melt Banana - initial t.: The whole thing is just under 5.5 minutes. And what a great 5.5 minutes. Some pretty sweet riffs make an appearance. And the high-pitched Japanese chick vocals are pretty fun.

Overkill - Ironbound: This is the first Overkill record I've ever heard. (Sue me.) And it's pretty good. Musically they remind me of Megadeth. Lots of speed and dexterity. Vocally I feel NWOBHM. It's okay.

The Resurrection Sorrow - Hour of the Wolf: Um, it came off as kinda weak and unnecessary. No desire to hear it again.

Rotting Christ - AEALO: First experience with Rotting Christ. Interesting. Not exactly stereotypical metal but the worldly elements make it interesting. I have a feeling this one could really grow on me.

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics 3: I didn't even make it past the first song. I have better things to listen to.

Arsis - Starve For the Devil: WTF?

Barn Burner - Bangers: Fuck yes!! Rockin' stoner vibe. Serious party tunes. And AMAZING live!

Charred Walls of the Damned - Charred Walls of the Damned: NOT a Ripper Owns fan.

Deiphago - Filipino Antichrist: Sucks hard.

haarp - ep ii: I love it. It sounds like your local death metal band but for some reason, I don't think it sucks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I can't remember the album names but:

Squash Bowels: Interesting moniker. Pretty good deathgrind. A bit pig squeely at times but I'm not writing them off yet. Good vibe.

Sinister Realm: Sounded great until the vocals kicked in. I tried to fight through it but they were just so bad. Amateur. Didn't make it to the end of the first track.

A.N.S.: Came and went. I don't really remember it. I'll give it another listen.

HAARP - EP: It was kickass! I'll be spinning that again!! Broooootal!!!

Struck By Lightning - Serpents: This is on the same label as Javelina and Fight Amp, so, instant cred. I just wish I could remember the label. My memory is so bad. For the first few songs I thought it sounded like if Baroness and Kylesa listened to more Converge. But as the album evolved, the Baroness and Kylesa feel faded away and was replaced by a more D-beat feel. I could still hear the Converge-ness, mostly in the drums. I was also reminded of I Hate Sally (RIP). There was some similar riffs and tone. Love at first listen. Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine

I'll have to admit, on first listen I was less than impressed. That's what shitty speakers will get you. With better audio, I got it. Well, for the most part. It wasn't really what I expected. It's still no doubt High On Fire, but they've taken some of the speed out. Not that it takes any of the power away though. It's still a huge sounding album. It trudges more than it gallops. Very well produced as well. The guitar is typical HoF tone but it sounds a little crisper. To me, the drums sound live. That's fuckin' cool. As far as Matt Pike's unmistakeable vocals go, I feel anguish, sorrow and bitterness. I don't know if that has anything to with the lyrical content, but that's the emotion I hear. I'm on my 3rd or 4th listen (it's on repeat) and it keeps getting better every time. It's surprising how damn catchy it is! The songs have a way of implanting on your brain. At least "Frost Hammer". I can't get it out of my head. Eventually I'll have to listen to something else but for now I'm perfectly content to soak in the genius/godliness of Matt Pike and co.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More proof the Grammy's suck

Dissident Aggressor  (Winner)

Judas Priest
Track from: A Touch Of Evil - Live

Set To Fail

Lamb Of God
Track from: Wrath

Head Crusher

Track from: Endgame
[Roadrunner Records]

Señor Peligro

Track from: Adios...
[13th Planet]

Hate Worldwide

[American / Columbia]
A live song shouldn't even count. Slayer, LOG and Megadeth are way better. Of all the nominees, I'd go with the Slayer track.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blacklisted - No-one Deserves To Be Here More Than Me

First off, I hate the word no-one. Is it no-one, or noone, or no one? I think it might be no one. I don't now. Anyway, back to the album. 2008's Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God was a beast. It was great. It was packed with raw emotion. No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me is packed too. Packed with shit. I can't say I wasn't warned. A number of people on the KPP Forum said it was awful. I tried anyway. I got about 4-5 songs in before I decided I had better things to do than torture myself.  Unless backed by a cacophony of hardcore power, dude's voice sucks. And since this borders on indie rock (or worse, horn interludes) it was next to impossible to tolerate. And the vocals were WAY high in the mix. Bad. His "clean" voice is atrocious. Unbearable. Since I don't want to listen to any of this again to try and figure out what the title means, I'm just going to assume that "here" is the garbage bin. Take the advice I didn't and avoid at all costs. Don't ruin your opinion of their earlier works. Shame on you, Blacklisted.

The Company Band

I never thought I'd say that I am disappointed in a project featuring a member of Clutch. But I am. The Company Band is fronted by Clutch's Neil Fallon. It also includes The Reverend from Fireball Ministry, Jess Margera of CKY and somebody else that I can't remember/isn't worth noting. Now Fireball Ministry is decent, and CKY kinda sucks, but I thought Neil would make up for that. Guess not. (I feel so blasphemous!) It's kinda boring. It falls flat in a way. There's nothing to really sink your teeth into. Fallon's delivery lacks the vigor he brings with Clutch. The rest of it was just so classic rock. The riffs were over-simplistic (I'm reminded of KISS), and the drums had no flair. I would have hoped that if these musicians were taking time away from their main groups it would be to create something worthwhile. Not only was The Company Band not worthwhile, it was pretty much a waste of my time. Neil Fallon or not, I really have no desire to listen to this again. I probably will, but not any time soon.

Cannabis Corpse - The Weeding EP

I thought I'd check this out. Death Metal and weed. What could be bad about that? There isn't really, but there isn't much that's very good about it either. Well executed death metal with competent (if stereotypical) vocals. I guess where my hang up is is the gimmick. If you're going to rip off Cannibal Corpse with songs about pot, at least make it memorable. And really, for all the lyrics I could understand, they could be grunting and growling about Feng Shui or reciting Martha Stewart recipes. I just think that if you are going base your band on a concept such as this, try and make it somewhat intelligible. At least Brujeria had an excuse. They were singing in Spanish.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Top 40 Albums of 2009 Part 4: #10-1

10. Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague: This one might also fall into the “I don’t care what you think” pile. Some bands just have “it”. That knack for making brutal punishing death metal. “Corpsegrinder” has the best vox in the biz. And you can take that to the blood bank. Because that’s where you’ll need to go after Evisceration Plague tears you to pieces. For death metal, it’s pretty catchy. I don’t know how many times I get a riff from this album stuck in my head. Gory death and murder still have a place in metal and Cannibal Corpse lead the parade of carnage. Album highlight: “A Cauldron of Hate”

9. Cobalt - Gin: I’m not a big black metal fan. And you might not consider this black metal. It certainly doesn’t have typical black metal lyrical inspiration. But stylistically, it leans that way. There isn’t a weak spot on this album. The music is pure genius. All from the brain (and hands) of one guy. And the vocals! Oh yeah baby! Scathing to say the least. I recently saw an interview with Phil McSorley and you would never guess that voice came from that person. That gives me hope for myself. Gin gets better every time I hear it. Instant classic. Album highlight: “Arsonry” if I have to choose.

8. Burnt By The Sun - Heart of Darkness: THIS is what metal and hardcore is supposed to sound like. That full sound  of metal with the rawness of hardcore. If I saw them live, (which I probably never will) I’d have the world’s biggest bangover. It’s literally impossible not to throw yourself around violently while listening to Heart of Darkness. At least in private. This might be BBTS’s swansong too. A crying shame.  I wish I’d gotten into them earlier. I don’t know why I didn’t. This is one album that won’t get forgotten for a long time. Album highlight: The (simple yet) killer, album closing riff in “The Wolves Are Running”

7.  Converge - Axe to Fall: How to talk about Converge? That’s tough. And so is singer Jacob Bannon. Dude has tattoos on his neck! It’s basically hardcore but better. Complicated riffs abound. This train could fall off the rails at any minute but it’s Converge, so it doesn’t. Converge are at their best at lightning speeds (“Dark Horse”) but when they throw one out of left field, (“Cruel Bloom” ft. Steve Von Till, “Wretched World”) they still have a captivating impact. They’re just incredible. Bannon is a man possessed, Kurt Ballou is a genius both on the guitar and in the producer’s chair. I’ve (sadly) never heard Jane Doe, but as long as I have Axe To Fall, I don’t really need to. Album highlight: closer “Wretched World”. After all the chaos, it’s a nice cool down.

6. Megadeth - Endgame: As much as I like the classic Megadeth lineup, Mustaine really is Megadeth. And I think his giant ego is backed up by his music. He’s that good. I am amazed at his guitar prowess. You’d never know he was close to never being able to play again. Endgame is classic Megadeth. Maybe not Rust in Peace classic, but Countdown to Extinction classic. Or better. (Countdown was the first Megadeth album I heard.)I think I’ve referred to it as shred-tastic at some point. MegaDave has the same way of telling stories with his songs as always. He’s got the “love song” in there too. And of course, the lyrics are littered with clichés and common expressions/sayings. That’s just Megadeth style. I think Megadeth is  a pretty polarizing band. Not many people are on the fence. If you don’t like Mustaine’s vocals, you never will. Megadeth has always been one of my all-time faves and Endgame only strengthens that. Favourite driving album of 2009. Album highlight: Other than the shredding throughout, it’d be “Bite the Hand” I suppose.

5. Slayer - World Painted Blood: It was a hard decision to put this above Megadeth. Really. I think what put it over was Lombardo. Possibly the best drummer ever. Slayer is one of those bands that never has to change. They just do their thing and it’s awesome. Like Endgame, World Painted Blood reminds me of some of their older albums. There’s an urgency to it. It never lets up. Araya is still at the top of his game. If I caught myself with a tune stuck in my head, the majority of the time is was from this album. Even if I hadn’t listened to it in a few days. There’s not really much more I can say. It’s fucking Slayer! I think there was a stretch of a good month that this didn’t leave the cd player in the car. How else am I supposed to warp my young girls minds? Ha, my youngest (2) asked me, “What song is this?” Slayer, I said. “ I know Dad, but what SONG is it.?” I’m so proud. That song was...Album highlight: “Unit 731“. The drums on that track are just so fucking rad.

4. SerpentCult - Weight of Light: I cheated on this one. It was originally released in 2008 but the North American release wasn’t til Jan ‘09 so in my mind it counts. I bent the rules because this slab of doom deserves all the cred I can throw at it. Sometimes it’s categorized as sludge, but the band prefers doom and I agree. It might not be at a snail’s pace, but this fucker is HEAVY! Oh, so heavy! The tones are so crushing. You can really hear the bass guitar too. It sounds like the strings are gonna fall off. As low as everything is on this, they have a female singer. With a beautiful voice. Every once in a while she throws in a grunt just so we know she’s metal. I wanted to go see them play with Zoroaster and The Gates of Slumber but I was unable to make it. What a shame. I bet they destroy all live. They were on first but they should headline. That’s just me. IMO, the singer (I really need to get better at names) puts Christina Scabbia, that chick from Evanescence, or any of those chicks in goth metal bands to shame.  The album wouldn’t be as awesome with a male singer. Best new band of 2009. Album highlight: “Arkanum”

3. Baroness - Blue Record: Early in their career, Baroness were thought of like Mastodon clones. Like Mastodon, Baroness has evolved beyond that. Continuing with what they started on Red Album (My Top Album of 2007), Blue Record isn’t so much sludge metal as it is heavy rock. What makes Baroness so great is their song writing ability. Every song takes you on a journey. It consists of so many parts (not verse/chorus/verse) but every part is there for a reason. And it all flows so well. Every note leads to the next like they were meant to be together. Another great part is the range of tones. It’s not flat. For the most part the tones are very bright. Despite the name, Blue Record makes me feel good. Maybe because it makes feel like I’m flying. Or given the fish imagery on the cover, speeding through the clear blue sea. Something I usually don’t care for but do on Blue Record is the little acoustic passages. They sound like they fit. Almost Americana. Not Across Tundras Americana though. That IS too much. Blue Record sounds like it couldn’t have originated from anywhere but America though. I can only imagine what the future holds for Baroness given that this monumental, dynamic, inspiring album is only their second full length. I can’t wait to find out. Album highlight: “Swollen and Halo”

2. Blood Tsunami - Grand Feast for Vultures: There’s two main reasons this is ranked so high. 1. Overwhelming winner on play count. 2. Not a day goes by that I don’t want to listen to this. No matter what mood I’m in, I can listen to Grand Feast for Vultures. It’s new thrash but it’s not American. I can hear the Slayer influence and at times a riff is only a note or two off from Metallica. I don’t care. I get so amped up listening to this. If I’m in a pissy mood, I scream along to this and it gets that negativity out of me and I feel much better. Speaking of scream along, that’s my favourite part. The screaming. It’s so powerful. He’s giving it all he’s got. And so do I. I don’t know most of the words but I scream right along with it. I’m actually pretty proud at how well I can emulate his style. Their debut, Thrash Metal, was great but Grand Feast for Vultures is a big step up. There’s just something about this album that speaks to me. It’s hard to explain. It just must have the same resonance frequency as I do. Whatever the reason, this is one of my all time favourite albums. Album highlight: “Nothing but Contempt”

1. Kylesa - Static Tensions: I knew this was going to top my list from the first listen. There was no doubt. It has everything you could ever want and more. Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants are an incredible team. From the guitars to the vocals, they compliment each other perfectly. The album is very layered and complex. However, in a live setting, they can pull it off and nothing seems missing. Awe inspiring. While Kylesa’s not the only band to have two drummers, Kylesa’s the only band that does it this well. Eric and Carl are in perfect unison. (When they’re supposed to be) Cope did an amazing job producing. Sometimes the drums are separate and sometimes centered. It’s quite the experience with headphones. Seeing the two drummers live was one of, if not the, greatest concert experience of my life. My jaw was on the floor almost the whole time. Unbelievable. My buddy Mark McGee (drums, Architect) and I couldn’t get over it. I was also lucky enough to interview Phillip and Laura before the show. (transcription in progress) I was truly grateful they shared their time with me. There is no weak spot on this album at all. Amazing front to back. By this point in many bands careers, they’ve hit their stride but with Static Tensions, Kylesa is still accelerating. The jump from the last album (Time Will Fuse Its Worth)to this one is staggering. They were amazing before but they’re exceptional now. If you’re not in love with Static Tensions, shame on you. Buy it now!! I have but I need to get the vinyl now. Album highlight: “Said and Done” but really they’re all highlights.

0. (What? There’s a 0?) If any one of you has read my lists before you know that some bands have a special place in my brain that absolves them of all flaws. They can do no wrong and I am unable to be unbiased. So instead of just making them Number 1 every year, I just make them 0. It’s only fair. This year, like 2007, it’s Clutch. Strange Cousins From The West. Clutch’s blues tinged brand of hard rock is second to none. No matter hard a band may try, none sound like Clutch. Every member of the band has such a unique style which cannot be emulated. As with previous releases, SCFTW is just stylistically different enough from the rest that for the most part, the songs only fit on this release. It’s amazing how Clutch can still sound distinctly Clutch but never become stale. Neil Fallon has to be the greatest front man ever. As captivating as he is live, he commands just as much respect on the album. I think there’s so much going on in his head, he could write a new song everyday and still not run out of ideas. Between Christmas and New Year’s, Clutch was playing their self titled album in its entirety. Too bad I missed that. I’ll have to settle for SCFTW. That’s not so bad. It’s Clutch and they are better than you. Album highlight: “The Amazing Kreskin”
0b. Yup. A b. The Bakerton Group - El Rojo: It’s basically Clutch without vocals (with Per Wiberg from Opeth on keys). Fantastic!

So that’s the list. Argue with me if you like. It’ll be fun. Time to start on 2010!

Top 40 Albums of 2009 Part 3: #20-11

Before I start into my Top 20, it’s disclaimer time. I base these picks on what I like to listen to. Not necessarily based on musicianship alone. It’s not totally based on play counts either. It’s based on how much I WANT to listen to it. If it draws me in. If I can’t scroll past it and not want to hear it. Also, for much of the Top 20, the actual rankings are pretty fluid. So don’t have a fit.

20.  Mastodon - Crack The Skye: I may get some flack for placing this so low but it’s my list. It’s a great album and everything but I didn’t find myself coming back to it the way I have previous Mastodon releases.  That being said, it’s still better than everything but the 19 albums above it. More or less. Album highlight: “Oblivion” (and the artwork)

19. Skeletonwitch - Breathing the Fire: Worship the ‘Witch!!! Skeletonwitch rips flesh from your bones and keeps on shredding. The vocal delivery is superb. It’s totally evil without resorting to balls out screaming. I’d hate to be his throat doctor. Someday I’ll have the chance to see them live. And it’ll be awesome!! Skeletonwitch define “metal”. Album highlight: They’re all solid but I’ll pick “Crushed Beyond Dust”

18. Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares: I love these guys. I really don’t think they get enough credit. They bring a sense of honesty and fun to the table. Great to scream along with. The production here deserves credit as well. I can really hear the bass. And unlike some thrash, the bass plays an integral part. Definitely near the top of the “new thrash” heap. Album highlight: I can’t choose just one. “Living in a Whirlwind” and “Shadow From the Tomb”

17. Lamb of God - Wrath: See disclaimer. I haven’t seen LOG on many lists this year. So fucking what if they haven’t “evolved” or whatever criteria are needed. They still kick ass. I actually bought this one so I lost count on how many times I’ve heard it. You can’t listen to LOG and not get pulled into the energy. It’s riff-tastic. My throat and my steering cringe at the thought of me listening to this. Look out!! Album highlight: “Set to Fail”

16. Buried Inside - Spoils of Failure: Ottawa’s Buried Inside have been known for being very cerebral. I can’t tell. I can’t discern most of the bellows. I’m not complaining at all. I’m a big fan of the gut emotional delivery. Musically, they bring the heavy and work in lots of little atmospheric guitar work. The certainly plant and image in your skull. An image of highs and lows, pain and pleasure, triumph and sadness. Album highlight: This one is easy. “V” (de facto title track) One of the best songs of the year. The outro riff is phenomenal.

15. Birds of Prey - The Hellpreacher: Birds of Prey have taken a bit of a departure from previous works and given us a concept album about incarceration. The blatant vulgarity may be missing but the brutality is still there. The vocals are some of my all time favorites. Whiskey soaked, broken glass, gravel throated. Love it. Seriously headbang inducing. Oh, and it makes me want to fight someone. Did I mention the incredible vocals? Album highlight: “Juvie”

14. Suffocation - Blood Oath: I’m relatively new to Suffocation. When Decibel inducted Effigy of the Forgotten into the dB HOF, I checked it out and was blown away. Shortly thereafter, Blood Oath was released. It could be inducted itself! Brutal and technical. No self-indulgent horseshit. They have a great sense of groove too. I want to circle headbang nice and slow. So now I’ve heard near the beginning, and their latest. Time to bite into the rest. Album highlight: “Dismal Dream”

13. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue:  Man, oh man! The triumphant  return of AIC. When Staley died I thought I’d never see the day. William Duvall does a great job of stepping into Layne’s shoes. He and Cantrell compliment each other perfectly. I feel like I’m in high school again! I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a new era. The band sound like they never missed a beat. Now let’s see if Soundgarden can pull off a feat as great as Black Gives Way to Blue. I doubt it. Album highlight: That RIFF in “Check My Brain”

12. Goatwhore - Carving Out The Eyes Of God: Anything with “goat” in the name is usually good. Even better if it’s paired with “whore“. If there was a God, this album would carve out his eyes. It’s a huge chunk of everything that is great about Metal. Speed, tone, throat shredding vocals, thunderous drums and a skull on the cover. But it’s not just metal. There’s a real punk flair to much of it too. I know something is special when I get the urge to start a pit in my living room. Or play air guitar without bothering to close the curtains. I feel bad ranking this one this low. On any given day this could easily be Top 5. Album highlight: (Why did I start doing this?) “The All Destroying”

11. 16 - Bridges to Burn: Just when I thought I’d hate a band with a number for a/in their name (36 Crazy Fists, The Number 12 Looks Like You, etc) along comes 16. I love the energy! Dude is pissed! It’s obvious (I think) that the lyrical content revolves around personal pain. But sappy emo shit this is not. With song titles like “Man Interrupted”, “So Broken Down” and “ What Went Wrong” there’s no doubt. However, like I said, this is no roll over and die record. 16 fight back. I can’t get over how they channel all their internal crap into 12 seriously fucking awesome tunes. I would not want to piss these southern heavy crust bellowers off. Possibly my 2nd favourite “scream along” band of the year. Album highlight: “Monday Bloody Monday”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just so you're aware.

Before I publish my Top 20, you should know that there are a couple of glaring ommissions. These would be The Company Band and Javelina. At "press time" I still hadn't heard them. The Company Band may not have been included even though it has a member of Clutch. But I can almost guarantee Javelina's sophomore release would have made my Top 40 somewhere. I keep thinking there is one other band that would have a shot if I heard it but I can't think of it right now.

I am also drawing a blank on the handful of bands that just missed the cut. I thought I had it written down but I guess not.

The long wait is almost over. I will be publishing the Top 20 of my Top 40 Best Albums of 2009 by Monday. I have everything written out. I just have to go over it and paste it on here. I promise you'll disagree with me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 40 Albums of 2009 Part 2: # 30-21

30. Big Business - Mind the Drift:  Big Business usually ranks higher than this but 2009 was such a great year. Mind the Drift takes me on a nautical journey every time I hear it. This is almost as close to chill out music as I get. Album highlight: “Cold Lunch” (Bonus track version)

29. Asphyx - Death…The Brutal Way: There is just something about Martin Van Drunen’s voice that makes anything he screams over that much better. Not that this wouldn’t be incredible anyway. Militaristic buzz saw riffing behind the tortured screams of the dying makes Death…The Brutal Way the only way I would want it. Album highlight: Van Drunen's vocal onslaught.

28. Obituary - Darkest Day: Who cares if Obituary is part of the “old guard” of death metal these days? They still destroy eardrums better than most. I just love their classic death metal sound. Circle headbang factor is a 10. Album highlight: “Lost“

27.  Nile - I:  This is my first experience with Nile and it was a good one.  They are able to meld eastern themes and instruments into the brootal without it sounding fake or contrived. First impressions are important. Good show, Nile. Good show. Album highlight: “Kafir!” (mostly for “There is no god!”)

26. Dying Fetus - Descend Into Depravity: Also a first time for me. (My death metal history needs some work) I usually shy away from lots of technicality but not here.  It doesn’t take away from the songs the way some other bands do. The bass playing is incredible. Album highlight: "Conceived into Enslavement"

25. Napalm Death - Time Waits For No Slave:  What’s not to love?  These grind progenitors never fail to impress. I was listening to this in the car with the kids and my daughter says “Daddy, this sounds like you”. If only I were as good as Barney Greenway. Album highlight: "Downbeat Clique"

24. Pestilence - Resurrection Macabre: Yup, another first. If you haven’t guessed by now I’m all over the old school death metal this year.  I found myself going back to this one a lot. I don’t really know why but I don’t care why either. Album highlight: “Resurrection Macabre”

23. Doomriders - Darkess Come Alive: There's really a meld of genres here but what really holds it together is the groove. Some people would call it stoner rock but it's better than most of bands that claim that name. Isn't there a guy from Converge in Doomriders? Album highlight: "Come Alive"

22. Shrinebuilder - Shrinebuilder: Shrinebuilder puts the super in supergroups. Members of Neurosis, Sleep/Om, Melvins AND Wino?! Oh yeah. The best part is, they live up to what you would expect. Every member's contribution connects to make the whole something huge. Best supergroup since Down. Album highlight: "Pyramid on the Moon"

21. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse: Not a huge fan of Pig Destroyer but definitely a fan of ANb. Maybe I should go back and rediscover PD. Agorapocalypse offers barely controlled chaos and severe vocal aggression.When they aren't at warp speed, they sure can bring the heavy. Album highlight: "Druggernaut Jug Fuck" if only for the name.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Top 40 Albums of 2009: Part 1: #40-#31

40. Culted - Beyond the Thunders of the Upper Deep: Heavy-ass doom. Manitoba/Sweden collabo portrays bleakness and cold. This would be great on vinyl.
39. Unholy - New Life Behind Closed Doors: There's nothing entirely unique about this high-energy metal outfit. But it makes we want to scream, headbang and play air guitar all at the same time. And since when was that a bad thing?
38. Lord Mantis - Spawning the Nephilim: Again, nothing uber-special about it. But I like it. Good tones and great vocals. And if they are singing about the Nephilim, that's fuckin' cool.
37. Ex Deo - Romulus (Nuclear Blast): Ancient Roman concept album/band. Powerful and epic. Makes me want to buy a sword and rule an Empire!
36. Tombs - Winter Hours: There is a lot going on here. Intricate soundscapes and raw power merge to send the listener on a bleak and tortured journey from which he will return a changed man. Not a casual listen.
35. Magrudergrind - Magrudergrind: Magrudergrind is one of the reasons I am getting into grind more. It isn't just noise to me anymore. There seems to be actual thought and structure to it. (I'm looking at you, Anal Cunt.)
34. Cattle Decapitation - The Harvest Floor: This one could be a casualty of an early in the year release. Maybe over listening too. It's incredible though. The precision and vocal range are astounding. I was never a big fan before this album but I am now. Besides, they just might have the best t-shirts in the biz.
33. Om - God is Good: Same formula as always, more or less. That's partially the reason they are ranked so low this year. I usually have them in my Top 10. Kudos for including some extra instrumentation but points are taking off for the departure of Chris Hakius.
32. Mantic Ritual - The Executioner: The first of many thrash-tastic releases on my list this year. This album is RIPPIN'! It's like the last 25 years never happened! I love thrash.
31. Behemoth - Evangelion: It's Behemoth so it's pretty much an automatic. But this one kind of dragged on so it falls out of the Top 30.