Saturday, March 24, 2012

I don't get to do this much.

It's not very often I get to just sit and mess around on the internet. Seriously. But tonight I've got a couple hours covering the lab at work. Which mean, a) web access and b) time to kill. That being said, I've been streaming some stuff and thought I would share my less-than-profound insights.

Author and Publisher - "Terrorbird": Um, maybe streaming isn't the best medium for me to experience this. It's a little "out there". I bet if I wasn't stone-cold straight it might turn my crank but at the moment it just weirded me out.

Hour of Penance - "Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God": Holy fucking shitballs. That's some seriously awesome death metal. I already had this album on my list of stuff to check out but after hearing that, I better get on it!

Jeff Loomis - "Surrender": While not usually a fan of solo albums, this isn't immediately turning me off. It's not great but it is good enough that I might check out the rest of the album. Even if just to hear Chris Poland and Marty Friedman on guitar again.

Meshuggah - Koloss (full stream): Um, I thought I didn't like Meshuggah. Then why do I like this? At least the first 3 tracks. Are they doing something different that is bringing it back in line with my usual tastes? I mean, I liked Chaosphere but not Obzen. The 4th track "Behind the Sun" tempers the fury a little bit. It allows you to catch a breath before the onslaught of "The Hurt That Finds You First". And the rest of the album is equally as good. Sometimes I surprise myself. 

My 2 hours of relief are almost over. Time to get back to my regular boring, music-less job and read more David Icke when I should be paying attention.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Biohazard - Reborn In Defiance

I never really thought Biohazard would release another album. I thought they were done. The members had moved on to bigger and better boobs, I mean, things. But in reality, none of those things was bigger or better than the 'Hazard. So it was with great delight that I read they had reformed (sadly short-lived however) and were releasing a new album. So you could say, the band was "Reborn In Defiance" of my expectations.
On first listen, even the next couple, I thought it was actually kind of weak. I wasn't expecting them to beat down the door like it was '94 but I was hoping for more. This turned out to be one of those cases of overreaching expectations. The best course of action was to step back and take the music for what it is. It just happens to be a very strong album after all.
Sometimes I can hear the maturity that inevitably wiggles its way into the album. The choruses on songs such as "Decay" and "Vows of Redemption" reel back on the aggression a bit and the instrumental closer "Season The Sky" doesn't sound like Biohazard at all. The vocals of Evan Seinfeld and Billy Graziadei are such an integral part of the Biohazard sound that their absence really caught me off guard. The results however, are quite pleasant.
Back to the meat and potatoes of the album. Biohazard are known as being innovators in the fusion of rap and metal/hardcore. Reborn In Defiance doesn't stray far from the formula Biohazard has laid down. But it's not in the least formulaic. Songs like "Skullcrusher", "Come Alive" and album highlight "Reborn" are hardcore heavyweights with huge riffs/breakdowns, gang shouts and all the heft you need.  In fact, the majority of the album would translate well to the live environment.  The opportunities for singing along run rampant. Especially on the aforementioned "Reborn". "From sickness I am torn/ Through suffering reborn/ No compassion, no control/ Only black inside my soul". The rhythms are tailor made for headbangin' and when the mosh parts hit, someone's getting hurt.  They've got the feel of a hundred mountain gorillas stomping poachers to dust in unison.
I haven't been a fan of rap since grade school (Run DMC!!) but when Seinfeld raps, I can dig it. My assumption is that it's mostly context related. The backdrop isn't hip-hop and the lyrics aren't about bitches, blunts and poppin' caps. They're about real life. Coupled with Graziadei's shouts (Seinfeld's too) and that vicious heavy hardcore, I hardly think of it as rap at all. 
All in all, Reborn In Defiance offers a tremendous return from pioneers of a style freakishly distorted by "rap metal" bands of the '00s. Most of which have faded into obscurity. Thankfully, Biohazard has stuck to their strengths and given us what will most likely be "Comeback Album of the Year".

Hopefully a North American release date is announced soon. The album was released in Europe back in January on Nuclear Blast.  I'm also interested to see what they will sound like with new bassist/vocalist Scott Roberts.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beneath The Massacre - Incongruous

I am trying not to rag on bands so much. Especially Canadian bands. But BTM's Incongruous just doesn't inspire my praise. Monochromatic death grunts over hyperspeed technicality completely devoid of any sense of melody. Yes, it's fast. Yes, it's extremely technical and executed brilliantly but it lacks any sort of soul. It's more of a simple display of chops than songs. The only times it slows down long enough to catch a breath is for mindless breakdowns. Incongruous has to be the biggest misnomer of 2012 thus far. Every song sounds completely interchangeable. I couldn't identify one from another if it was "Matrix-ed" on to my cerebral cortex. Is the title supposed to be sarcastic? Doubtful. If you were all about lightning fast riffs and drums, unintelligible grunts and growls and (admitted) brutality, Incongruous should do the trick for you. But if variation, a touch of melody and perhaps some breathing room sounds more like your style of death metal, steer clear.

If you want, the album is available now from Prosthetic Records.

BARN BURNER and guests at The Mansion, Feb. 25, 2012

Some things in life are a given. The oceans will be salty. The government will suck. And Barn Burner will put on a great show. It's natural. It's logical. It's a universal law. In this case, Barn Burner just happened to be headlining. As an added bonus, the three local support acts didn't totally suck. Win-win!
The night's festivities were kicked off by a band called Basalisk. This young band really impressed me. Definitely not a one-dimensional band, they mixed a handful of styles into their songs. I could hear influences ranging from Iron Maiden, to latter-day Mastodon and other proggy outfits. The keyboards were a pleasant surprise. I'm not much for keyboards unless  they're Hammonds and I was worried the Korgs would remind me too much of Dragonforce but that wasn't the case at all. I could put it this way, when I noticed the drummer was wearing a Scale The Summit shirt, I was not in the least surprised. The band gave me a copy of their demo and I look forward to giving it the full treatment in a future KofN post.
 I have to be honest. I don't remember much of Ponderous Chain. Their set coincided with the peak of my 3 tall cans of PBR buzz. I haven't seen them play with a clear head yet. It's not intentional though. The tiny stage at The Mansion can tend to hinder the performance of the band but these guys didn't let it get in the way. However, the somewhat technically precise nature of their music doesn't necessarily lend itself to much in the way of jumping around and such. I originally labelled them "Meshuggah-core". While not entirely inaccurate, it was kind of an off the cuff remark. While not nearly as "djent" as Meshuggah, that "flavour" struck me along with their otherwise melodic deathcore sound. I'd have to hear them again to really figure it out, but I can say, their performances have been improving each time I see them.
As of yet, I have been unable to find any sort of internet presence for Vera Pearl. Thus, I had no idea what to expect. Sometimes that's for the best. You can't be disappointed that way. There would be no chance of disappointment anyway. Vera Pearl floored me. Despite being down a couple regular members and having the venerable Dan Vokey (ex-I Hate Sally, ex-The Chariot) fill in on bass/vocals, they still delivered an extremely energetic and intense show. Math-core, noise-core, whatever you want to call it, it hit me like a cinder block to the face. Complicated arrangements, red-faced screams/bellows/yells, absolutely crushing (on a small kit) drums and a tight, tight performance left nothing to be desired. Except more of it. These guys could do some damage on the Canadian scene alongside KEN Mode and Fuck The Facts. And beyond.
 With what little hearing I had left at this point, it was time to damage some other parts of my body. You guessed it. Bangin' time! Montreal's Barn Burner blew the roof off that place. By my estimate, the turnout was low for a Saturday night. But what may have lacked in numbers, was counter-balanced by enthusiasm. Adequately lubricated by $4.25 tall cans of PBR, the gathering of bangers put on a clinic in "How To Fuck Up Your Neck." But that's typical for a Barn Burner show. Tunes like "Scum of the Earth" and "Holy Smokes" were made for banging your head. The Kingston show was originally supposed to be in support of Priestess (as I assume the rest of the date on the mini-tour were). But from what I hear Priestess is pretty much kaput. Barn Burner decided to press on and as such, turned the string of dates into headlining gigs. Deservedly so. During part of guitarist/vocalist K. Keegan's always entertaining between song banter, he informed the attendees that the last handful of shows all went very well. He said "That's what we call steady giggin'".That would actually sound pretty good as the name of their as yet untitled third album. Bangers III: Steady Giggin' sounds pretty good to me. In fact, Barn Burner played two songs from said (unsaid?) album. The first was untitled and the second was dubbed "No Rest For The WIccan".Both were rip-tacular. Don't you just love the BB play on words? As on other setlist inclusions such as "Beer Today, Bong Tomorrow "(one of my personal faves), "Dark Side of the Barn", and "Brohemoth". Their phenomenal set was bookended by "Earth's Crust" and "Wizard Island". They say "Saturday night's alright for fighting". Not this Saturday night. This Saturday night was alright for banging. I can't think of a better band for a night of beers, bongs, bangin', and the brotherhood of metal camaraderie. All hail the Giggernaut!!
Barn Burner's most recent release, Bangers II: Scum of the Earth is now available on vinyl! Get it here:  But, um, save me one will ya? I've been busy.