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”