Monday, December 31, 2012

AOTY #39: D.I.S. - Becoming Wrath

Few bands are as appropriately named as D.I.S. See, that acronym stands for Destroyed In Seconds and that is exactly what Becoming Wrath does to the environment in which it's played. This is a half hour of furiously vicious d-beat hardcore I feel privileged to have heard in advance of its November release date. I can be a sucker for that Swe-death tone but it's really the energy that draws me to this Los Angeles band. They spew relentless fury that infects my nervous system and compels me to act in violent ways. A favourite while I'm splitting wood, the ripping riffs, bile soaked vocals and angry drums infuse me with power. Becoming Wrath's ability to distract the listener from the real world can get dangerous. Preparing meals with sharp knives, swinging the aforementioned axe and driving a car while listening to this album should be undertaken with the utmost care. The thought of seeing D.I.S. live both frightens me and makes me crazy with anticipation. Someday maybe.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

AOTY #40: Cancer Bats - Dead Set On Living

Toronto's Cancer Bats have become a perennial entrant on my Top 40 lists. Dead Set On Living. As with Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones, just squeaks onto the list. This band always makes me want to move and scream out the lyrics. DSOL took me a little longer to get into than previous releases but once it grabbed hold it never let go. 'R.A.T.S.' and 'Road Sick" in particular caused some sore throats. Their Southern fried hardcore (ugh, I feel so cliched even typing that) is basically a really fun, high energy formula for having a good time. Their positive energy rubs off on the listener. I am really looking forward to FINALLY seeing them live this February.
Buy it from Metal Blade here.

Kingdom of Noise Top 40 of 2012 Countdown

As I have done for countless eons (well, 5 years) I'll be counting down the 40 albums that rocked my world in 2012. They aren't "the best" in the traditional sense. This is no democracy. These are the albums that I wanted to listen to the most. And did listen to the most. 2012 has been a crazy whirlwind year for me. In addition to KofN I started writing for and The new year will see me take on yet another "job" writing short reviews for! This is could all cave in on me at any moment but I'm just running with the momentum. Anyway, I better start this countdown eh?
Here are the albums that almost made the cut. Any given day they could crack the top 40 but at some point you just have to call it a day and finalize.
The also-rans (in no particular order):

Pig Destroyer - Book Burner (Relapse): Great but I still don't hear what makes them special.
Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph): Not sure why this one didn't connect this time.
Hooded Menace - Effigies of Evil (Relapse): Starting to get formulaic.
Incantation - Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable): Killer OSDM.
The Secret - Agnus Dei (Southern Lord): Could be Top 20 any given day.
Wizard Rifle - Speak Loud & Say Nothing (Seventh Rule): I don't really like noise but this is awesome.
Vision of Disorder - The Cursed Remain Cursed (Candlelight): What a return!
Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus (Seventh Rule): Innovation, not a gimmick.
Xibalba - Hasta La Muerte (Southern Lord): Break down the ugly hardcore.
Witch Mountain - Cauldron of the Wild (Profound Lore): No doubting Uta's voice.
Norska - Norska (Self-released): Hard time keeping these doomsters out of the Top 40.
Encrust - From Birth to Soil (Self-released): Eardrums fully Encrust-ed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shooting Guns - Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976

I kept hearing great things about this Shooting Guns band but never really paid much attention. Most of the praise came from a resident of Shooting Guns' home base of Saskatoon. Therefore, I assumed a local bias was at least partially responsible. Much like the way I fawned over Kingston's I Hate Sally (RIP) and Guelph's Arise and Ruin (also RIP)(I lived in Guelph for 3 years). I might never have known how wrong I was about that bias had Born to Deal in Magic :1952-1976 not shown up in my inbox. I love being wrong.
Drinking deep from the well of doom (anti)luminaries Black Sabbath ("Dopestrings") and Electric Wizard ("Harmonic Steppenwolf"), this instrumental quintet has conjured a gem of an album from the ether of those cold prairie nights. Born to Deal's fuzzed out jams flow with hypnotic grace, lulling the listener into a state of total bliss. Sharp angularity has no place here as the smoothed edges of the groove transport you to a land of complacency. No need to worry about anything as you let the swell of psychedelia wash over you in waves of calming vibration. The wall of sound created is anything but oppressive. It feels more like non-violent explosions of warm light blooming in the darkness, the riffs floating on a sea of synths. EW and Sabbath aren't the only tributaries feeding these dark yet tranquil waters. Streams of Clutch ("Public Taser"), the almighty Sleep ("The Last Great Depression") and Karma To Burn ("Liberator") filter through the bedrock to augment the effectiveness of Born to Deal until you're neck deep in numbing coolness. Overdriven and delay-soaked, Shooting Guns drown the listener beneath texture and layers of sonic serenity. Not merely content to wallow in subsonic frequencies at an easy pace, "Stay Awake Forever" is a Hammond-drenched ride down a space highway with a Steppenwolf patch on its jacket while album closer "Cheater's Justice" sounds heavily informed by early Monster Magnet. And we can all use more Monster Magnet influence in our lives. It may sound like a lot of name dropping but this is no album of ripoffs. Shooting Guns merely take a queue from killer bands and reconfigure those methodologies into something unique and wholly satisfying.
It's been a while since I've heard something I'm so comfortable in labeling "stoner rock". But not even in the sense that it's music for stoners as much as music that makes you feel stoned. It's cantering rhythm and "bathed in smoke" feel pull the listener away from the physical sensations shackling them to their Tellurian existence to transcend dimensions on a cosmic trip. Pack your (dime)bags and bongs my friends, this is one journey you can't afford to miss.
Any band that can take a handful of my ALL TIME favourite bands and sew them into an album of considerable greatness is worthy of all the praise I can throw at them. I can't get enough. Get some. NOW. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I meant to post this a while ago but internet issues put a kink in that plan. So without further adieu, here's a new track from the upcoming EP Anthology of Terror Vol 1 from thrashers AXESLASHER!! Mark of the Pizzagram - Invasion of the Babe Snatchers!!

Mark of the Pizzagram - Invasion of

And don't forget to go to to order your Pizzagram shirt!! Click the Tweet button and 50% off!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mortor - Shoot 'Em Up

I find myself typically listening to a lot of doom, sludge, black metal, death metal and various mutations and mixtures of said genres. So, when this Mortor album turned up in my mailbox, I was struck with a refreshing change of pace. These Ottawa death-thrashers play a straight up, no frills, headbangin' style of metal on Shoot 'Em Up  This album is another notch in the bedpost of what is turning out to be a stellar year for Canadian metal.  What Mortor brings to the table is much like a home cooked meal. You pretty much know what to expect (death metal and trash) but all the same it's wholly satisfying and nourishing. This is not to say that Shoot 'Em Up is bland or lacking in excitement (like mashed potatoes EVERY FUCKING DAY. Sorry Mom). What I mean here is that Mortor is not out to dazzle with a flashy display disguising a lack of substance.
Founded by rhythm guitarist Dave Paquette and rounded out by drummer Jay Cross, Bassist Jonathan Boulay, lead guitarist Antonin Perras-Foisy and vocalist Yolin Lafreniere, Mortor packs that meal for the road and carries it through 14 tracks of solid and muscular metal sure to put hair on your chest. Part of the appeal of the album is while Mortor draws influence from some of thrash and death metal's best, they don't sound like they are ripping those bands off. The familiarity of the overall sound puts the listener at ease and let's them connect with the music in an effortless way. However, the lyrics aren't likely to put anyone at ease. Lafreniere's death metal bark is all about the violence, war, guns, guns and more guns. But that much should be obvious given song titles like "Locked and Loaded", "Trigger Happy", "For Glory" and the title track. His vocals may not be the most dynamic but I'm a sucker for good death metal vocals. In this case, they remind me of early Cannibal Corpse or even Nathan Explosion of Dethklok, but my initial thought was of Krisiun's Alex Camargo.
Comfortable at a range of bpms, Shoot 'Em Up never sounds like the same song over and over. From the blistering "Trigger Happy" to the chugging parts of  "Clusterfuck", and the mid-paced banger "Infidels", your neck should get a varied work out. While you're busy giving your chiropractor fits, the shotgun spray of catchy riffs will bury themselves deep in the flesh. With almost all of the tracks clocking in at less than four minutes, Mortor is a very efficient unit. Each song a well-planned mission bent on accomplishing the goal without compromise and no prisoners. Perras-Foisy's slick leads, Paquette's pummeling rhythms, Cross's concussive percussion and Boulay's rock solid bass combine to create a well-trained force fueled by the meat and potatoes of classic death metal and thrash. There's even some hardcore punk flavour thrown in on "Let's Deflagrate" (that bass lead is sick! Pardon my slang.) just to throw the enemy off.
Produced by Augury's Mathieu Marcotte and mixed and mastered by Cryptopsy's Christian Donaldson, the album is crisp and clear without sounding overproduced. I usually don't comment on production but in this case it really stood out for me. In addition, Marcotte and Donaldson lend their shredding talents to the solos on "For Glory" and "Point Blank" respectively. Shoot 'Em Up is a full clip best unloaded at full volume. It fires on all cylinders and finishes in a blaze of glory. No need to ration as Mortor serves up a full meal between an appetizer of Six Feet Under's Undead and a dessert of Testament's Dark Roots of the Earth. Eat up, Soldier.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ponderous Chain - Shackled

While I might not use the word "burgeoning" to describe the Kingston, ON metal scene, there are a number of talented bands around town. "Promising" sounds like a more apt descriptor. One of those promising young bands is Ponderous Chain and their self-released debut album, Shackled. I've seen the band perform a number of times and have witnessed the band's live show progressively improve. Unfortunately, I've yet to see them play while I was not in an "altered state". So it wasn't without a certain sense of excitement that I undertook the process of evaluating their work properly. The biggest and most obvious difference between the live, intoxicant-addled experience and the recorded material is the ability to actually hear everything. This is important because this progressively-minded five-piece packs plenty of nuance into their sound. Having the time to let those subtleties sink in helped to change my admittedly neutral perception of the band.  
It might be easy to play cut-and-paste with the band's influences, but not for this writer. Many of the influences either listed by the band or picked up by myself or others are somewhat out of my comfort zone. Progressive is usually a term I approach with caution. Maybe it's an attention span thing. But Ponderous Chain and progressiveness are inextricably linked. The band eschews traditional song structures, incorporating instrumental breaks (sometimes more than one), and neck-snapping tempo changes. Meshuggah are the most obvious band to have rubbed off on PC with their sharp, chugging riffs. Other influences (Opeth, The Ocean Collective) may be apparent but I have no tolerance for either of those bands (Don't hit me!). So any comparisons to them goes right over my head. But that's okay. I prefer to let the open, flowing passages between pummelling assaults wash over me without trying to draw parallels. 
While I would assume that jamming has some part to play in the process, the songs seem too "written" to leave much to chance. I'm not saying this in a bad way. In fact, it's what I expected when I first saw Ponderous Chain's lineup. I was familiar with guitarist Zach Aylesworth from his previous band, Rozea Haven. Having seen them perform a few times, Aylesworth struck me as a perfectionist. The few times he missed a note (which I couldn't hear) a pained expression would cross his face. Like he was coming as close to kicking himself in the ass as he could without actually doing it. So it was only natural that the intricacies found in Shackled would bubble to the surface. Teamed with fellow guitarist Colin Sinclair, the duo have crafted songs that can ground and pound one moment and challenge the listener the next. The songs have movement. Speaking of movement, the rhythm section of Jim and Dan O'Handley (bass and drums respectively) are well versed in dynamics, albeit in two different ways. Jim's rubbery basslines course through the album with fluidity. The phenomenal drumming Dan displays at times left my jaw agape. Not to be outdone, vocalist Christian Wolf's delivery lacks any stagnancy. I've seen many young bands with vocalists afraid to vary their bark/growl/roar to any degree. Not so with Wolf. Mixing the harshest of harsh with spoken passages and (almost) clean singing, he melds fittingly into the mold Ponderous Chain has made with lyrics on subjects such as the war on terror, revenge and sociopolitical ills. 
I'd be remiss if I didn't offer the band some constructive criticism. My points are minor and easily remedied. First, at times the lyrics sound forced and somewhat behind the music in terms of maturity. I expect that will evolve with time. Second, and this may be totally personal preference, but the five minute ambient piece ("Liquid Oracle") right in the middle of the album is a major buzzkill. Two relatively minor issues is really no big deal. Those points are overshadowed by the things that Ponderous Chain do well. The songs are well written and well performed. The songs are deep and layered enough that the listener is pushed to actually pay attention rather than let the album pass by as background noise. And while the progressiveness of Shackled is the main impression it leaves, the band still employs memorable riffs and the strong musicianship to really sink those hooks in. The band is young and eager. The fact that Shackled is as good as it is as a debut speaks volumes about how much potential is lurking behind Ponderous Chain. Do your self a favour and come out to experience them for yourself. You might have to come down here to Kingston to do it, but they usually open for some pretty serious acts so it would be well worth it. And besides, you might get to hang out with me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

So...who is this?

A while ago I downloaded an album, added it to iTunes with a bunch of other albums and carried on. Later, said album showed up as Unknown Album, Unknown Artist, Unknown Tracks. I have no clue who it is.
Take a listen and help a brother out.

01 Track 1


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sons of Tonatiuh - Parade of Sorrow

Upon a short but trusted recommendation from Gruesome Greg (ie a tweet) I decided to give Atlanta's Sons of Tonatiuh a listen. Their second album, Parade of Sorrow blew the doors right off my barn. Following the sludgy intro, “White Wall” erupts with bassist/vocalist Mike Tunno screaming the song title with all the pain of a chainsaw victim. His wail is only one aspect of SoT's multifaceted approach. I envision Sons one day finding a home with Hydra Head Records. Not only would they fit on that label stylistically but Parade of Sorrow has as many voices as the mythological Hydra itself. In addition to the aforementioned sludge (very little surprise coming from Georgians. Not to stereotype.) SoT bring doom and punk rock in to the fold. One moment plodding along crushing anything in their path with Godzilla-like weight, the next pounding out that unmistakeable punk beat while telling tales of social injustice both new and old. It may sound like this mix of styles may detract from the albums cohesiveness, especially given how quickly they can shift between them but that is far from the case. Across the entire album, the tone, the feel of the output remains intact. It's only natural that the many heads of the Hydra are fed with blood from the same heart. I keep making reference to myths of old but Sons of Tonatiuh are far more current than that. Along with guitarist/vocalist Dan Caycedo and drummer Tim Genius, SoT bring a social consciousness to a genre I've not recognized much in. Sludge and doom tend to be more personal or existential. Blending the punk element in both a lyrical and stylistic way makes it different. However, they do so without it sounding like an overt protest song. There is so much aggression behind it that you really need to read the lyrics. And THINK. Of course, you may be too busy tearing down the walls of whatever establishment you find yourself in, but when you're done, know that Sons of Tonatiuh are more than just crushing doom, syrupy sludge and righteous punk.

For the record, it's pronounced “Tahn-ah-tea-ah”. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vulture Kult - Don't Let Rock n' Roll Ruin Your Life

Don't Let Rock n' Roll Ruin Your Life from Saskatoon's Vulture Kult had me step outside my comfort zone. I'm more comfortable with less accessible variations of the "rock n roll" mega-genre. Black metal, doom, grind, thrash etc. I wouldn't even consider Vulture Kult to be a metal band at all. So why bother to review it on a metal blog? I'm not really sure. But we'll go with the theory that since it doesn't suck, and I was asked to review it, it was worth a bit of my time.
At only 28 minutes DLRnRRYL is over before you really know it. It' an efficient album. Much like I shop. Get in. Get out. Have something with you to take home. In this case what you can take away from the album is fun. From the first 7 tracks at least. It's a rollicking good time. The power duo of guitarist/vocalist Hans and drummer/vocalist Bradley write punchy hard rock tunes with a decidedly punky edge. The semantics of genre can get a little confusing but calling this Punk Rock makes perfect sense.
Vulture Kult goes all in with opening track "Electric Medication". The tremendously catchy riffs and vocal hooks set the benchmark for the rest of the album. Edgy but accessible, it will have you dancing whether you like it or not. The title track follows suit with swagger and attitude. This is where I can hear the influence of bands such as the Stooges. However, I can't shake off that If-Ozzy-Went-Punk feeling I get from the vocals. Not a bad thing. Rock n rolling right along, "Vultures From Above" is a booze fueled romp through Vegas. While I don't hate "Avenue H", I can really hear KISS on this one and I don't like KISS one bit. That, and this sounds like it should be on Guitar Hero. The sleaze continues with "Cyanide Hand Grenades". That's a pretty killer song title. The song isn't bad either. It's kind of tune that bar bands could learn from. It'll get people up outta their seats. If Vulture Kult was to roll through town, I'd go party. "Go Loose" and "Welcome to the Land of the Dead" showcase Han's vocal diversity. In addition to the Ozzy-ness, he can also sound like Lemmy and even Wino. In fact, fans of Motorhead could find a lot of Vulture Kult much to their liking. Hard-hitting and loud, raucous and bluesy, DLRnRRYL should appeal to most fans of good hard rock. The final two tracks really seem out of place though. Lacking the power present on the rest of the album, it's a real let down. "Movie Of Me"'s quiet guitar and drums and organ make it sound as if it was lifted from a Tarantino film. Not necessarily a bad thing but it doesn't fit the album. Closer "Checking Out" follows that line. It's actually a very fitting finale. It immediately brings to mind the sun setting behind a lonely and broken gas bar on a dusty New Mexico highway.
There's plenty to like on DLRnRRYL. It'll get the blood pumpin' and the body movin' yet won't cause the more conservative members of your family to get all bug-eyed with terror. As I said, it's a little outside my comfort zone but it didn't take long to get comfortable with it. Sit back, crack a beer and don't let rock n roll ruin your life. Let rock n roll enhance it!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Offending - Age of Perversion

This album was kind of weird to me. Not in an avant-garde, these guys are messed up, what the FUCK is going on? kind of way though. No, it's relatively straightforward stuff. What I mean is, Age of Perversion made me think. In a relevant yet unexpected way. It made me wonder just where death metal is headed. There is the uber-technical direction but bands like that (Obscura, Cynic, etc) don't really appeal to me. I much prefer my death metal more in the old school vein. Which is precisely what France's Offending delivers. Age of Perversion doesn't stray much from the foundations of OSDM laid down by the sub-genres forefathers. The riffs ripped from the phalangeal appendages of guitarists Gropoil and Manu drip with brutality, with a slight waft of ominousness. Bassist Yoni fills in the low end with equal dexterity. These three one-named axeslingers assault the listener with a level of technicality that has come to be expected of modern death metal without going over the top. The basis still lies in the realm of DM-catchy, chugging machine gun riffery and double-kick, blastbeat percussive castigation (courtesy of drummer Vincent Roubiere. Two names!).
Whether or not you find Offending offending all depends on which side of the Christianity fence your sitting on. Or at least how firmly you are on the "God is great!" side. Song titles such as "Raped by Religion" alone could be enough to get the fundamentalist's feathers ruffled. The rest of the song titles make the message clear; Christianity has soiled and corrupted its people and blinded them to the truth. Spouting these diatribes is none other than Jesus. I could be wrong but I don't believe the singer pronounces it Heyzoos. That would be way too coincidental. No, the irony of anti-Christian bile being spewn with (predictable but always welcome) death growls by a man calling himself Jesus is just too juicy.
Back to my point. The state of death metal.  Age of Perversion utilizes the same elements countless other OSDM/Brutal DM bands do. I found it to be just as enjoyable as other death metal releases, and even more enjoyable than other, bigger names. (I'll leave you to guess who.) Which begs the question; Why aren't Offending a bigger name? Is there that much parity in the genre that its successes are measured by their branding ability? I may be going overboard a little here. I'm not trying to say that Age of Perversion should be a death metal classic or anything like that but there's really nothing here not to like. Provided of course you prefer your death metal to sound like death metal. Just like everyone else.
Age of Perversion is available now from Deep Send Records.
Please note: The Metal Writers Association of the Greater Forest Mills Environs has insured that no writers were offended in the making of this review.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Last Call Chernobyl - Set Adrift EP

When my ears first beheld Set Adrift, the recently released EP from Halifax, Nova Scotia's Last Call Chernobyl, my first thought was "Oh great!" Sarcastically. My first impression was a vision. A vision of the band bouncing on stage in synchronicity to the syncopated rhythms. I wasn't entirely wrong but I will admit I was a bit harsh. I'm not going to make any grand proclamations of amazingness but I'm not going to throw them under the bus either. The main weapon LCC utilizes is the aforementioned syncopation. That stuttery chug-a-chug approach is used by a plethora of bands but it's not without it's merits. It's a highly effective tool for whipping a crowd into a slammin' pit. However, it is also accompanied by arm-spinning and karate moves. Something I still can't wrap my head around. The difference maker for me, and what prompted me to give my time to writing this review, is the lack of self-indulgent, masturbatory guitar wankery prevalent in other bands of this ilk. I hear it all too often. Yes, you can play every note there is all in one song. So.Fucking.What. That's not to say guitarist Matt Moulton (Not the New York Islander. That's Moulson.)is a hack. Far from it. At times, the all too brief melodies he plays have reminded me of the likes of Satriani and Vai. Some of the songs I heard from their previous EP have reinforced that feeling. Let this guy loose and he could shred. The rhythm section of bassist Jason Szeto and drummer Josh Pellerine are a tight tandem providing a solid base for screamer Kyle Mahar to shred his vocal chords over. His two-pronged death growl/screech approach can sound awkward at times but it's still not something that will totally turn me off.
Set Adrift might not be the most original or most engaging thing you'll hear this week but try as you might, the catchiness will find a way to bury itself in your brain stem. It's presence there might even go so far as to induce random use of garden tools or axe handles as makeshift guitars. Not that the other day..or..fine you caught me! (I actually broke my axe slamming it into a log in unison to one of the songs. Then used the handle as a guitar.) So if you're into some brutal breakdowns (and I can't argue with the abrasive tone either) with some added flair and bad cop/bad cop vocals you could do a lot worse than Last Call Chernobyl. In fact, I'd rather listen to Set Adrift than many of the bands LCC lists as influences. How's that for praise! The crazy thing is, when I started this review, I thought I would just slam the band, but they turned it back around on me. Just don't expect me to "dance" to it.
Set Adrift is available now from Diminished Fifth Records.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Huge False Tour!!

Minnesota black metal titans False are set to embark on a huge US tour in a few weeks. Man, do I wish I could make any of those shows but it's not in the cards. As if gas, food and passports cost money! Do yourself a favor see False live. Tell me all about it.  And try to look more interested than most of these folks.

8/31 - Minneapolis

9/1 - Milwaukee - House early show, late show at Quarters.

9/2 - Ft. Wayne, IN - Harrison House

9/3 - Detroit, MI - House

9/4 - Huntington, WV

9/5 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter

9/6 - Baltimore, MD

9/7 - New Brunswick, NJ

9/8 - Brooklyn, NY - Acheron

9/9 - Philadelphia, PA - Golden Tee

9/10 - Pittsburgh, PA - Roboto Project

9/11 - Columbus, OH - Carabar

9/12 - Indianapolis, IN - Vibes Music

9/13 - Chicago, IL

9/14 - St. Louis, MO

9/15 - Columbia, MO - Hairhole

9/16 - Kansas City, KS

9/17 - Omaha, NE

9/18 - Denver, CO - Blastomat

9/19 - Albuquerque, NM - House show

9/20 - Las Cruces, NM - The Trainyard

9/21 - Phoenix, AZ

9/22 - San Diego, CA

9/23 - Los Angeles, CA - Blue CafŽ

9/24 - Los Angeles CA - Vacation Vinyl (early show), LAPP Pad (late show)

9/25 - San Jose, CA

9/26 - Oakland, CA

9/27 - San Francisco, CA

9/28 - Santa Rose, CA

9/29 - Sacramento, CA

9/30 - Chico, CA

10/1 - Salem, OR

10/2 - Portland, OR - Beach House (early show), The Space (late show)

10/3 - Olympia, WA

10/4 - Seattle, WA

10/5 - Missoula, MT - Zoo City

10/6 - Billings, MT

10/7 - Minot, ND

10/8 - Fargo, ND

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Toronto's Vesperia to release live DVD

VESPERIA Releases New Video Clip From Upcoming Live DVD 'Untamed in Toronto!'

     Every week during the month of July, Toronto-based Celtic Viking Metal quartet, VESPERIA will be previewing to fans a selected video clip from their upcoming live DVD 'Untamed in Toronto!' that was filmed by AX Media during the bands past show at the Hard Luck Bar.

'We are very excited to reveal our first-ever live DVD that we filmed in our very own hometown of Toronto on our last tour." says lead vocalist and bassist Morgan Rider. "For anyone who has not been able to see one of our live performances, this will give them a unique opportunity to see the primal nature behind a VESPERIA performance; fully equipped with a high-end lighting rig and in high definition!"

To view the first video clip titled 'The Swordsman' please visit the following link here.

vesperia - the swordsman (live in toronto)


1. The Swordsman 04:42
2. Huntress 03:28
3. To Times End We Ride 07:47
4. A Silence Prolonging (In Longing) 04:58

I'm kinda wishing I didn't skip out on Bolero when they played near me!

Heads up, Western Canada!! Into Eternity tour! Laika too!

Into Eternity to tour Western Canada

INTO ETERNITY has returned! Revamped and stronger than ever, the Saskatchewan-based Canadian extreme progressive metallers will embark on a Canadian Headlining Tour on July 20th
at Vern's Tavern in Calgary, AB. Following the tour's wrap-up in Brandon, MB on August 7th, the critically acclaimed act head right back on the road for The North American Devastation Tour with SINGLE BULLET THEORY and RIKSHA, which begins August 9th at the Blue Pig in Cudahy, WI. All tour dates are listed below. Guitarist Justin Bender had this to say about the band's return to the stage:
"We are back, and we are extremely excited to see all of you again at our upcoming shows across North America! It's been a slow, but steady uphill climb getting back on our feet and getting ready to tour again. We are making sure we do everything right, and that we put together a killer show for you guys - our best yet! There is a lot of new material being worked on as well, but the focus right now is getting back on the road, and re-establishing the band... which reminds me, more dates are coming for this year - but that's all I can say for now... 
This is our first trip to the U.S. with our drummer Bryan, and with our touring singer Amanda as well. They are both great musicians, tons of talent and drive - you will NOT be disappointed! We also have too great bands, Single Bullet Theory and Riksha, joining us on the Devastation tour. We are long time friends with Matt from SBT - should be killer!
See you out there!
Canadian Headlining Tour:

07/20 - Calgary, AB - Vern's Tavern
07/21 - Armstrong, BC - Armstrong Metalfest
07/23 - Vancouver, BC - Funky Winkerbeans
07/24 - Victoria, BC - Lucky Bar
07/25 - Prince George, BC - The Generator
07/26 - Edmonton, AB - Pawn Shop
07/27 - Red Deer, AB - Scott Block
07/28 - Regina, SK - The Exchange
07/29 - Saskatoon, SK - Lepp's
08/07 - Brandon, MB - North Hill Inn

Laika also embarks on tour out West.

Canadian Melodic Death Metallers LAIKA have announced their return to the western part of its home country with several dates in July. Dubbed Laikaruptour 2012, the tour also features local technical death metallers Abhorupt. It has been a busy year for LAIKA after completing a massive Eastern Canada tour and the band is now gearing up to record their second full length album. The band has issued the following statement about the upcoming tour (dates below).

"With this new tour we are showing the newer sound of Laika and exposing fans to true Winnipeg Melodic Death metal.  We have enlisted Ronnie Ladobruk on guitar to join us on the journey out west. If this name sounds familiar, you may know him from this year's Canada's Got Talent! He was part of the Winnipeg Auditions. Ronnie has been putting a crazy amount of effort to make this tour a successful one. He's an awesome guitarist and we can't wait to show him the tour life."

After the tour LAIKA will be heading into the studio with Ryan Forsyth again to record the long overdue follow up to 2010's Crafting the Cataclysm, which was self-released and made available for free download at this location.


July 20th - Winnipeg, MB - Ozzy's
July 23rd - Regina, SK - Exchange/the club
July 25th - Prince George, BC - Pizzaricos
July 26th - Vancouver, BC - Red Room Lounge
July 27th - Edmonton, AB - Avenue Theater
July 29th - Calgary, AB - Lord Nelsons
July 30th - Saskatoon, SK - The Fez
July 31st - Brandon, MB - North Hill Inn

From the Archives

I was digging through my email trying to find something and I came across a curious message. I sent this message to a guy I met at an all-weekend bachelor party for one of my best friends back in 2005. We were shotgunnin' beers and passin' around joints and we got talking about music. Specifically stoner metal/rock. He asked me to send him a sort of, stoner rock primer if you will. Here is what I sent him. (I changed nothing)

ok, stoner rock. I would start with Kyuss, Sleep and High on Fire (I did)
if you want more 60's groove feel try Fu Manchu, Nebula, Orange Goblin
and Alabama Thunderpussy
sHEAVY is good too (singer sounds like Ozzy)
heavier stuff, Electric Wizard, Goatsnake, Sons of Otis, Bongzilla,
Sunn O))), Sloth
Canadian stuff:  Sheavy, Sons of Otis, Sea of Green, Electric Magma,
Flatblak, Nice Cat, Puddy, Floating Widget, fiftywatthead

Kyuss' guitarist is the leader of Queens of the Stone Age.
QOTSA's original bass player (who just left before their new album)
was also in Kyuss but now is the leader of Mondo Generator.
Kyuss' singer was in Slo-Burn, Unida, Hermano
Kyuss' drummer is Brant Bjork, he does solo stuff and Brant Bjork and
the Operators
Sleep and High on Fire have the same guitar/vocalist
Sleep's bass and drums are now in OM, only bass, drums and vocals,
it's really cool
Sleep's old guitar and drums were in the Sabians ( I fucking LOVE the Sabians!!)
My favorite band is Clutch. Best ever! if  you like them, check out
Sixty Watt Shaman and the Mighty Nimbus and Speedealer

There's some bands on there I haven't thought of in ages, let alone listened to. Nothing incredibly informative here but it is kinda neat to see where my head was at back then. I actually never got a response to the email. Meh.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Anhedonist - Netherwards

Anhedonist - Netherwards CD - Click Image to Close
Anhedonia can be defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. So it is not without a sense of irony that a band whose moniker suggests a lack of enjoyment would create an album so enjoyable. Yet that is precisely what Seattle, Washington's Anhedonist have done with Netherwards. That is of course, if you can find something enjoyable in music this depressing.
Whether unfolding at an evolutionary pace, rolling like a severed head away from the chopping block, or chasing down quarry from horseback, Netherwards is soaked in the sweat pooling on the floor from the walls of a dismal dungeon. The blackened shrieks and unearthly growls of guitarist/vocalist V.B. anchor the album to the sinister side of the psyche. Joined by guitarist K.H. and bassist D.F., the trio weaves a blanket of despair across the album's four tracks. Whether pointed or thundering, drummer Z.S. builds the foundation upon which the crushing filth of Netherwards is built.
The listener is subjected to a bevy of the darkest of emotions. The haunting aura of the album is cloaked in a fog of negativity. The listener's soul is torn asunder by the fear and anguish wrought forth over the course of the album's merciless 41 minute playing time. Much longer could prove unbearable for those not as seasoned as myself in this breed of blackened doom. Netherwards is the kind of album that takes root inside the body. There is no superficiality to be found within Anhedonist. This is music fed by the ugliness of humanity. It is meant to penetrate deep into the mind and saps the listener of satisfying serotonin.
Anhedonist may not rob music of its ability to please, but they certainly do not project any feelings of joy or happiness. Netherwards exists in the cold, dark recesses of doom and gloom where no light may reach. It is in these lightless environs that the album is best enjoyed. The full value of Netherwards would be left unfulfilled on a sandy beach or a walk in the park. Nay, to be fully disaffected by the most all-encompassing of art forms, the album beckons for a listening environment lit only by the blood red candles dripping wax over yellowed skulls. Multiple listens are essential for experiencing the full measure of the grimness contained within the bowels of Netherwards. Sink into your lair and release yourself to its vibrations.
Netherwards is available now from Dark Descent Records.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hell/Thou split 7": Resurrection Bay

Thou / Hell - Resurrection Bay
Back in April, the always reliable Gilead Media teamed with Pesanta Urfolk to release a limited (1000 copies) split 7' featuring the bands Hell and Thou entitled Resurrection Bay. How something like this escaped my notice until recently is a great mystery. Mystery solved.
Salem, Oregon's Hell contribute their track, "Sheol" on one side. I am shamefully ignorant of Hell's previous full lengths. So this split serves as my introduction to this Northwest duo. Should the uncompromising doom of "Sheol" be representative of their work, I need to dig into their back catalogue post-haste. One can practically smell the cobwebs festooned on the stalactites hanging overhead in the cavern in which the black metal shrieks of vocalist/multi-intsrumentalist M.S.W. must have been recorded. (Drums are handled by Adam Torrvella) If the lurching pace of the track is any indication, the floors of said cavern must be knee deep in rotting detritus. The filth sucking at the feet of the listener in their futile attempt to escape the darkness. Haunting noisescapes are injected to feed this misanthropic nightmare. Yet for a few tantalizing moments, a feeling of openness presents itself. Whether you view this as (misguided) hope or calm acceptance, the result is the same. No one breaks free from this Hell.
The ridiculously prolific Thou graces the other side of this white vinyl with the deceptively titled "Ordinary People". Ordinary people don't make this kind of music and ordinary people don't listen to this kind of music. Ordinary people don't know what they are missing. While still rooted in the same oppressively heavy doom as Hell, the overall feel of "Ordinary People" compared to "Sheol" is almost in opposition. "Sheol" felt very "under the ground" whereas "Ordinary People" feels more "above the ground". While Hell resides within the mountain, Thou strides across the range itself. The guitar tone is still bone-crushing but there is an airiness present as well. Almost a feeling of height. As if the riffs themselves tower over the feeble and weak, projecting authority. Within its six and a half minutes, the track contains a number of "movements". The cadence shifts from a foot-dragging crawl to periods of  half-gallop and purposeful march. Whatever the pace, the riffs remain muscular and full-bodied. Not to be outdone, vocalist Bryan Funck is equally as scathing in his delivery yet matches the difference in vibe given off by both bands.
More or less cut from the same cloth, the samples of Thou and Hell on each side of the 7" present as different shades in the same colour palette. Perfectly complimentary with a subtle contrast to define the edges between the two.
At this time, Gilead Media is sold out but it appears copies are still available from Pesanta Urfolk here. And they're only $8.50. (While you're there, check out the Ash Borer t-shirts. That logo is just as stellar as the music it represents.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

TITAN - Burn

We last heard from Toronto's favourite sons of sonic destruction on 2009's Colossus EP. Which means it has been almost three years of eager anticipation waiting for a full length release. The wait is over and it was well worth it. The period between releases has seen a minor personnel change (bassist Michael H. replacing Aleks S.) but nothing has changed with the ferocity with which Titan approaches their craft. Burn's ten tracks provide 58 minutes of aggressive and emotional force that threatens to pull you apart.
“Feast” opens the album on a rollercoaster of heart-wrenching despair countered by the will to fight back against the darkness. It's impossible not to get caught up in James M.'s vitriolic hardcore bellow as the song drowns in the murk of doom only to be pulled back out to battle with renewed vigilance.
Dungeon beast growls writhe beneath a simplified mournful riff on “Indulgence” before plowing forth from the pits only to plod through the track with the realization that freedom can be as imprisoning as chains. This type of exchange between oppressive doom and inspiring energy carries throughout the album. It's this ability for Titan to tear your emotions in multiple directions to such an extreme degree that you are unable to resist that makes the band such an abominable force.
While hardcore wasn't the first genre to come to mind when I first encountered Titan (my mind goes to NYHC first) the raw aggression of James's vocals brings that realization in to focus. The emotion he channels into lyrics not immediately personal is astounding. But deep down there must be a connection. That sort of conviction cannot exist with detachment. Nowhere else on the record is this more apparent than on “Myopic”
Chugging sludge, black metal and brooding funeral doom soundtrack “Sermon”. This sermon preaches of the pitfalls of humanity's belief in “something out there” influencing us internally and providing us a scapegoat to blame for our ills instead of taking responsibility for the outcome of our lives.
The centerpiece of Burn and the first single from the album is “Warmer Months”. (You can purchase the limited, one-sided 12” here.) I'm not really a big fan of the term “epic” but in this case it's the best term to use which accurately describes the majority of Burn and this track most of all. Just as a reptile will lay in the sun to warm its body and heat the blood, “Warmer Months” fires up the arteries with reckless abandon. Starting around the 3:30 mark, drummer Chris M. blasts into some fantastic jazz influenced moves as the guitars of Chris W. and Brandon M. build on a swirling vortex that slowly crests to explode across the expanse of time. In fact, the drums throughout this track are phenomenal. While this song does utilize plenty of double kick, sometimes it's not about the most notes, it's about the right ones. “Warmer Months” ends with perhaps the most “sing along chorus” of the album. The repeated “Thy immortal lust, does immortal last, See eyes, the summer months, in warmer past.” begs the listener to scream with every ounce of their being until the protest of the lungs can no longer be ignored.
The acoustic interlude of “Corrupt” provides a brief chance to regain a grip on reality before plunging headlong back in to the fray with “Little Seeds”. I suppose when discussing this track of roaring, blackened doom , it's a good time to note that all the lyrics to the songs on Burn have been translated and edited, without permission by vocalist James from a selection of obscure literary sources. The obscurity of the source material makes the compositions all the more fascinating and telling of the depth of the album as a whole. It's all very cerebral and in some cases, such as “Little Seeds”, the actual lyrics aren't even listed. This is thinking man's metal.
“Telepaths” features a slew of guest musicians/voices. The acoustic strumming that starts the track is somewhat unexpected yet not unwelcome. It serves as the calm before the storm. “Telepaths” is an exercise in insanity. When the black metal begins to dominate the consciousness and the guitars start to drive the listener deeper into the madness, those guests make their appearance. The climax is a truly frightening, schizophrenic display of the madness buried deep within all of us. Multiple personalities all with different voices battle for supremacy. The mind is a difficult thing to master.
The instrumental “Vitiate”, while being a somewhat calm and sorrowful break from the power that permeates the album, still conveys the strength of the emotions Titan is able to wrench from even the most unfeeling of individuals.
Burn finishes with the slow burning “Fire Sculptures”. It's a methodical sludge-driven (and bass heavy, courtesy of Mike H.) exploration into the human potential for violence and destruction. The song builds in intensity towards a grand declaration of our desire for change. We cannot build anew without first destroying the old. “Destroy it all, restore it all” not only speaks to Western society's constant yearning for whatever is “new” but may also be a call to arms against complacency. Instead of resting on our laurels and accepting that which is given to us by those that came before, new generations must be willing to wipe the slate clean and start over when necessary. The imagery of a fire sculpture serves as a perfect metaphor for the melding of destruction and construction. As a fitting end to the album it leaves the listener uplifted. And hopefully motivated to break the chains holding them back from doing what they feel the need to do. We create our own destiny and if that means burning away pre-conceived notions of what is expected, then so be it. Burn it all and sculpt our own future from the ashes.
With Burn, Titan has created a masterwork of doom-laden, sludgeoning, post-hardcore rife with black metal flourish. It's as powerful as it is emotionally taxing. Good music, and especially good metal should have “feeling” and emotion at its core. Burn runs the gamut of human emotions. Fear, sorrow, confusion, anger and even joy are thrust to the fore in just under an hour of pure, unquestionable heaviness. Titan were already considered a measuring stick (at least to this writer) of extreme Canadian metal and Burn sets the bar even higher. That comes as no surprise of course because well, Titan slays.

Titan will be slaying audiences across Europe after a hometown send-off show starting this Saturday June 23 at Soybomb in Toronto.

Burn is available NOW for FREE download at but it is highly recommended you exercise the option to make a donation to the band and support quality Canadian metal.

Burn will also be available to purchase as a 2xLP from React With Protest in Europe June 29 and from Hypaethral Records in North America August 3.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Emptiness - Error

The latest in a string of releases on Dark Descent Records to have grabbed my attention is the third full-length album from Belgium's Emptiness, Error. I can't quite remember what attracted me to the band initially but I strongly suspect it was the name. See, I study and practice Buddhism and the concept of emptiness is central to that belief system. However, this particular Emptiness is not all about peace and love. Quite the contrary. Instead of emptiness as the nature of all existence, the feeling I get from Error is the emptiness of the soul. Leading the charge through the ethereal darkness are bassist/vocalist Phorgath and lead guitar/vocalist Olve J.LW. Both of which are also members of (purer) black/death metal outfit  Enthroned. (Their 2012 album, Obsidium is excellent.) Rounding out the quartet on rhythm and drums respectively are Phil P. and Jonas Sanders.
Across the album's nine tracks, Emptiness captures the all-pervading grim atmosphere of black/death/doom much in the same way as Hooded Menace. One difference being, Emptiness manages to take the dissonance and angularity present in many of the bands of the so-called "Sumerian-core" ilk, slow it down and infuse it with the requisite level of darkness necessary to fit the band's modus operandi.  On Error you'll find that the weight of death metal coupled with the malicious fervor of black metal makes for an intense combination. Add to that a "noise" element and things really get captivating. In the title track there is even a saxophone that muscles its way into the melee.  And in my opinion, it works better here than the sax on the new Napalm Death album. (Gasp!)
Cutting through the sense fog of uneasiness and chaos that envelops the album is a sense that these songs are actually fun to play. The corn-free "mosh parts" are interwoven so seamlessly that the listener may be taken by surprise by the urge to throw oneself against another. I'm not suggesting an Emptiness show would be plagued by circle pits, but the riffs do compel one to be engaged beyond merely raising some invisible oranges and nodding along. Betraying that tonic for inducing metal camaraderie are the almost aqueous vocals.They are drowning in their own cold-hearted menace. They sound as if they belong to a sinister, disembodied pan-dimensional being occupying your cerebral cortex and manipulating your very existence. Underlying the bludgeoning force laid upon the listener of Error is a subtle beauty. Certain passages, riffs or even just notes elevate the otherwise drag-you-through-the-pits-of-hell atmosphere. Although, it very well may just dig its hooks into you do just that.
Emptiness has been around since 1998 with their first full-length, Guilty To Exist,being released in 2004. But I've just been turned on to them now. I feel like I've been missing out for the last eight years. But that's no reason you should miss out any longer. This misanthropic journey to the precipice of insanity is available now from Dark Descent Records.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where It Ends

Last year, the band Batillus rocked my core with its shear heaviness. This year, Black Sheep Wall has done the same. I'm not afraid to say they've even upped the ante. The lurching minimalist riffage and soul ripping vocals virtually pinned me to the ground with their gravitas. Guitarists Scott Turner and Garrett Randall, bassist Brandon Gillichbauer and drummer Jackson Thompson have redefined the term “crushing” with this release.
No Matter Where It Ends opens with two tracks, “Agnostic Demon” and “Liminality,” that literally weigh you down under their heft. The air in the room tin which hey are played actually increases in density. Technically, that statement holds true for the entirety of the album. But it's not all flatten-destroy. On “Black Church”, ever so briefly, the clouds part to reveal sunlight and blue skies before they are soon swallowed again by a darkness ever more malicious. A noisy voicemail “song” serves as a brief respite before the monolith rises again and rolls the sludgy doom machine at an ever slower and torturous pace wherein every riff explodes with a white hot fury, every note is like a Hulk smash the eardrum.
“Cognitive Dissonance” is a track I would usually skip because I'm not much for “noise” (despite my blog's name) but the visual it conjured was compelling. It went like this. You, the “subject” are in an isolation chamber. The sounds are all you know. As the ominous feeling grows, more strange noises filter into your existence. Disorientation and panic become the norm. You world explodes with sound as you are propelled towards and unseen destination. The throbbing “countdown” seems unbearable. Suddenly, you, the “subject” find yourself standing on a sidewalk beside a busy LA street. Someone asks for a lighter. And just as you start to get your bearings in this new and strange environment, the sound once again envelopes you in darkness and you recede from that world. Pretty heavy stuff.
The vocal bellows prevalent on the album may lack some dynamics but this just serves to illustrate the mercilessness of their delivery. They cannot be swayed by petty emotions. Not that there isn't any emotion here. Hate, disgust and contempt are emotions too. If that's what you are looking for, NMWIE is seemingly MADE of those feelings.
I get a machine vibe from the album. I guess in a sense that the things that would stand in the way of a human bent on destruction (weak flesh) have no effect on BSW. Nothing is left in the wake of the crushing, robotic, militarism that is the mighty riffs wrought forth. Overall, the tone matches the sonic resonance of an imploding dwarf star. The star implodes or course because it's cowering in fear of Trae Malone's galaxy shaking vocals. NMWIE is not an album for the faint of heart or the weak willed. It's a battle of endurance. Just how much heavy can you take? The key is to embrace it. Become the might. Let it encompass your being and take you to places few bands can.

No Matter Where It Ends is available internationally from Season of Mist now and is due for a June release in North America.

Basalisk demo EP Review

 The first time I heard this band it was live as local openers for Montreal's Barn Burner. During their set, I could hear the influence of bands such as Iron Maiden, Mastodon and Scale the Summit. A quick glance at their ReverbNation page reveals their influences listed as those three bands. Whether it's a lucky coincidence or they changed it after reading my live tweets that stated as much, I don't know. What I do know is that combination, with some Children of Bodom and Metallica thrown into the mix makes for four tracks that I feel are very good as they are but hint at the promise for even better things to come. This demo material is mostly based on concepts/songs first conceived about 6-7 years ago. Thus they reflect the struggles of later adolescence yet convey a maturity not seen in some people twice their age.
“Undone” is poetic representation of a common problem with those in their late teens and early 20's. You struggle to define yourself but it doesn't really work. So as the depression sets in, drugs become the answer of choice. Of course, in most cases, this only exacerbates the problem. It works for the moment but eventually you will become “Undone”. This hits home with me. In my first year of university, I sank hard trying to be what I thought others wanted and when that didn't work, I turned the drinking from social party guy to literally sitting alone drinking my sorrows away. I came “Undone”. It's in this song I heard the most Mastodon influence. Especially in the powerful chorus. It's fitting for just screaming it out to release whatever it is you have bottled up inside. “Reject. The Flesh. Upheaval. Destroy. Embrace. The Death. Becoming. Undone.”
“Chasing Me” opens with a sweet Iron Maiden style lick before evolving into a deeply personal and somewhat cryptic tome full of struggle and pain. Despite feeling hopeless, the character still retains enough fight to carry on. The duality of pain and anger (those feelings almost always run together) is reflected in vocalist James Wartman's vocal style which balances maturity and malice..
On instrumental “Abaddon” keyboardist Matt Kidson really gets to stretch his fingers out. It's still a guitar driven track but the keys are given more room to find their way to the forefront. The band's prog tendencies are on full display here. This is the track that made me think of Scale the Summit. It's like waves of the heavy, punchy (think Metallica's Justice and Metallica) and the softer, soaring keyboard parts. Drummer Thomas Fleming shows off here as well with timely accents and fills and does more than simply keep the beat. I got over my instru-metal phase a few years ago but I can still be swayed on occasion and this song does the trick. It actually opened me up to try the new Pelican EP that I was going to pass over.
The organ-ic tone of the keys on “Antitheist” really sets the mood for this track which is basically calling out organized religion. An infectious and groovy riff plays with the creepy keys until Wartman boils over with unrestrained venom. The frustration of the previous track's trials take their toll and he lashes out. It's placement at the end of the EP is quite cathartic. It also works well as a show closer.
The EP was recorded – rather hastily – for Band Slam Kingston prior the performance at which I first saw them. At the time of the recording they were without a bassist. Between then and the show they added Greg Sheir on bass and his addition really beefs up the overall sound and completes the band. Basalisk is working on revamped versions of the songs on this demo that include Shier as well as new tracks. The band is surprising themselves with the direction of the new material so I imagine us listeners will be surprised as well. Whether they get heavier (my hope for anyone) or proggier makes no matter. Basalisk, in my opinion, are a band to watch for in the Kingston scene. Hopefully they can get the opportunity to showcase themselves more in the area as well as spread their music beyond the region. Other cities (and you!) deserve to hear this band.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thoughts on "Until The Light Takes Us"

I finally got around to watching Until The Light Takes Us, a documentary about some of the criminal activities and the people involved in the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 1990s. I must admit, it wasn't a great documentary but it wasn't bad either. Some scenes seemed kind of useless but you get that with any film. I will assume that anyone reading my blog will at least have a general idea of the events the film is based on. Instead of detailing the suicide, murders and church burnings, I'm more or less going to summarize some of the things I took away from the film.
In no particular order:
I haven't finished reading Lords of Chaos yet. And since I wasn't a metal fan back then, and haven't really read a whole lot about what happened, the details of the events discussed in the film were rather enlightening. And frightening.
Varg Vikernes said something to the effect that Christianity is the root of all the world's problems. While I agree to a great degree, burning down churches just doesn't seem like the best approach to take if you are trying to make people see your point of view. People opened their eyes, yes, but instead of making people see that Christianity is a poison, they just branded the perpetrators as Satanists and that was the end of it. If anything it enforced their faith and built the walls of ignorance ever higher. Not to mention that being falsely accused as being Satanists, which had nothing to do with their motives. only further defeated their purpose. Which was to trying and "reclaim" their ancient Norse "pagan" culture.
Listening to Varg speak, I couldn't help but notice how intelligent he is. He seems like a guy that knows what he is talking about and can argue it successfully. His ideas might be FUCKED but at least he isn't some blind sheep playing follow the leader. (There's those darn Christians again....baaaaa)
I was also struck by how cold Varg is. Not frosty grimness cold. He has no heart cold. When he was describing the altercation that lead to his killing Euronymous there wasn't even a shred of remorse. Maybe he feels like he was justified in his actions as being self-defense but his description contradicts that notion.  He states that at one point Euronymous RAN AWAY from him. How is it self-defense when the victim runs away?! When he describes the moment he stabbed Euronymous, he says "so I finished him off and ran after the other guy." In that situation, another member of Mayhem had ran past Varg and he realized this guy had his car keys. So he just "finished him [Euronymous] off" and chased the guy down. What the hell? I believe at this point Euronymous had actually fallen down and was relatively vulnerable. It probably would have been easier for Varg to have just gone after the guy with his keys and left it at that. But no, he stabbed Euromymous in head instead.  Varg tells us that he died instantly. Like he wants us to think that he was doing Euronymous a favour by killing him quickly. I knew this guy was messed but I didn't fully realize just how cold he really is.
That picture of Dead, erm, dead was pretty fucking brutal.
I was shocked somewhat when Hellhammer was describing his thoughts on Faust killing a "fucking faggot" in Lillehammer. He said he was pretty proud of him. Are you serious? These dudes are fucking intense, man.
Demonaz looked like a bouncer in a movie or something. A bouncer you don't fuck with.  Especially sitting beside an equally imposing Abbath.
Fenriz seems to be a very complex man. He likes a wide range of music as well as modern art. He seems very open-minded but also firm in his convictions. He seemed very calm for the most part. but he got worked up pretty good a couple times. He seems to be a vast storehouse of metal knowledge. (I'm going to say "seems" once more time, ok? Seems.) But for being such a well respected and iconic member of the extreme metal community, the movie made him look very lonely. Perhaps he is, perhaps that's just the way the film was edited. Perhaps the events the film is centered around have left a mark on his soul that bled its way to the exterior durng the making of the film. Maybe it was all of those things, maybe none. Maybe I'm reading way too much into it. But it's just that he was alone in almost all the scenes he was in. Alone in the bar, his house, the office, the train. Ya, I'm probably just making too much of it. Fascinating individual though. I think I could listen to him talk all day.
I laughed out loud and the look on the kid's face that was sitting beside Frost on the train. And he wasn't even wearing full corpsepaint! 
I hang my head in shame as I humbly admit that my knowledge of the music that soundtracked these events is basically non-existent. Mayhem, Darkthrone, early Burzum, Immortal, all more or less foreign to me. Snippets here and there but I don't think I've really listened to any of their work from back then. (2 of the newer Burzum albums and that Demonaz one, I have heard.) I know, I know. Hand over my membership card. I don't even know what Bathory sounds like. (Fuck. Grim Kim's gonna kill me.) But, what I'm getting at is, I heard pieces of those bands in the film. What I heard sounded like my cup of goat blood! Which means I have to find the time to get my greasy mitts on those albums. I've known about these bands and their importance but for some reason just never got around to actually hearing them.
So if anything, Until The Light Takes Us, has exposed me to a taste of a handful of bands/albums that any self-respecting (wannabe) metal writer needs to know as a reference point to today's bands.
I suppose I have a task now, don't I?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity

Remember when you were a kid and you had that group of friends that did everything together? But there was always that one guy that had a little more going on. The group would want to go shoot hoops, or hang out under the bridge throwing rocks at trains, or some other such sport or shenanigans. But that guy was too busy playing video games, watching porno, or (gasp) hanging out with his girlfriend. The typical exchange: "Hey man, you comin' or what?" "Nah dudes. You go ahead and I'll catch up with ya later." And everything is cool.
Now take that scenario and apply it to Corrosion of Conformity. Bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman, and drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin wanted to make a new album. But guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan was too busy with Down. (That's a way better excuse than porno or a girlfriend.) That's cool.  They made the album anyway and Pepper will just catch up with them later. (i.e. no animosity) What that means, is that this album was made by the "classic" Animosity line-up. (I know. I know. I couldn't resist.)
Now, the last time I listened to COC in any capacity, if I recall correctly, was September 17, 2009. I don't have some crazy memory (quite the opposite) but it was the day after a night I will never forget. The COC material was actually Six Songs With Mike Singing. The night before must have had some effect because although I know I listened to it, I can't remember a damn thing about it. Point being: To my frequently misfiring mind, COC sounds like "Albatross" and "Clean My Wounds". Corrosion of Conformity sounds nothing like either of those songs. In fact, this new album sounds nothing like Animosity either.
I expected the Pepper-less COC to sound like the crossover of their early days but that's not the case. The dish we are served instead may actually be spicier than the pre- and Pepper-ed eras. These seasoned vets have thrown the proverbial curve ball. For the most part the album sounds almost like a COC record with the obvious difference being in the vocal department. I say almost because it has more, shall we say, balls, than "modern day" COC. The guitar tone is close to what I would expect but overall the album is more dynamic. Mixed into that southern hard rock vibe is more edge. More youthful enthusiasm. Not near the energy of Animosity mind you, but I can hear touches of that spirit throughout the album. Perhaps my favourite track of the album "Leeches", is by far the song closest to the crossover this lineup is known for. It's almost like this album is at a point in between Animosity and their later works. 
Crossover isn't the only other subgenre that makes its presence known. Throughout the album and mostly in the vocals, a doomy feel seeps to the surface. I hesitate to say it sounds like St. Vitus but that's what comes to mind. Maybe The Obsessed or Spirit Caravan would be a more apt reference point. If that wasn't enough, even grunge makes an appearance. On a couple songs, most notably "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here", a distinct Soundgarden vibe is heard. In fact, if you played me "Weaving.." without telling me who it was I would think it was a lost b-side from Down On The Upside. It's definitely better than the new SG song that is set to appear on The Avengers soundtrack. 
"El Lamento De Las Labras" is an instrumental track that sounds exactly like the laid back southern rock I would have expected from a new COC album. However, the song doesn't really go anywhere and it kind of kills the momentum built by the aforementioned "Leeches".
Detractors might look at the mix of styles as a negative. Perhaps if this was a new band just trying to discover themselves I would agree yet this is a band that been around for almost 30 years. So the fact that they mix it up and incorporate doom, punk, grunge, thrash, and southern rock into a new record is actually quite refreshing. Then again maybe Keenan's absence had something to do with that. For example, when I have the TV all to myself, I get so excited I can't decide what to watch. If there was a pornographic cartoon docu-action horror flick/series, that would make things much easier. (If Heavy Metal was true?) Maybe having the free reigns COC couldn't decide which direction to go so they just amalgamated it all together? Seems unlikely though. I prefer to think that they just made the music that was there to make as the trio. I see it as the band taking influence from themselves and others and making the album they wanted to make. I'm by no means trying to imply that Pepper was a control freak or anything. I can't speculate on the band dynamic.
I believe COC has succeeded in making a solid, enjoyable album with this lineup. Should Keenan rejoin the fold if/when things slow down with Down, so be it. I don't think it would hurt. I've got all kinds of respect for him. But should Dean, Weatherman and Mullin continue as a trio I see no reason to be upset with what they've accomplished and could accomplish in the future.

Corrosion of Conformity is available now from Candlelight Records.