Wormreich - Wormcult Revelations

Posted on Friday, December 19, 2014

Formed from the ashes of Blood Stained Dusk, Wormreich is a band that revels in complex and chaotic arrangements. Their brand of Black Metal is heavily influenced by the likes of Deathspell Omega (they even do a cover of “Malign Paradigm” on this album), but with a few twists and turns thrown in to make things interesting. While I knew that they were heavily influenced by Deathspell Omega prior to ever hearing them, I was surprised by how little this band sounds like Blood Stained Dusk. Even when a group changes styles, there’s usually some remnant of their old sound left. That said, there’s very little Blood Stained Dusk remaining in Wormreich’s music now, though it’s debatable whether the band suffers because of it or not. It comes out the most in the keyboard based tracks which serve to break things up enough for you to appreciate all of the technical stuff the band is playing. For those who haven’t heard Wormreich before (and, for that matter, never heard Deathspell Omega either), the music is very hard to describe. It isn’t hyper-technical in the same way that Technical Death Metal and Progressive Metal are. It doesn’t sound like someone is wanking off with their chosen instrument or intentionally making long and meandering music that revels in obscure picking techniques or oddball musical structures. Wormreich, for the most part, sounds like a maelstrom of dissonant riffs that blend together to form a caustic and twisted whole that feels as though it’s ready to fly apart at any second. There’s a lot going on, to say the least. Songs like “Revelation III: Devotion’s Final War” are so multi-layered that just digging through the riffs to figure out what they’re playing is akin to deciphering a cryptogram. The production helps this record a lot, adding a level of clarity that makes the nuances and depth of Wormcult Revelations more apparent. If this had a muddier sound or rawer production, the whole thing would have degenerated into a generic ball of sound that might have worked (Black/Grind bands tend to revel in this sound), but you would have lost a lot. Listening to this album multiple times made me wonder if these guys can actually play this stuff live. I’d pay to see it, and even if it doesn’t live up to what’s on this LP, I’d probably still be plenty satisfied. Even though I’m generally not a fan of overly complicated music, this one kept my interest throughout its 37 minute playing time and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Rating:
Tags: -
(0) Comment(s)


Dizastor - After You Die We Mosh

Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dublin, California’s Dizastor is a band that isn’t going to get critical acclaim anytime soon. Most will pan After You Die We Mosh as unimaginative and trivial music that’s essentially the special-ed version of old Exodus performed by a bunch of guys who are a few tacos short of a bargain ten-pack of Doritos Locos from Taco Bell. That said, most of those same people will be right in front of the stage thrashing around like a bunch of drunken lunatics the next time Dizastor rolls into their area and plays a show. To think of After You Die We Mosh as a serious Thrash album is to miss the point. Besides, how the fuck are you supposed to take a band seriously when they have songs like “I’ll Eat Your Children” and “Beer and Baloff Attack” on their album? The answer is that you aren’t. To hammer that point home, the band included five live tracks along with the eleven studio recordings. If you had any doubts about the fact that all these guys just want to do is get drunk as hell and play Thrash, the live tracks put that to rest immediately. Dizastor is a reminder that Thrash (and to a lesser degree, the rest of the Metal scene in its entirety) doesn’t need to be 100% serious all the time. If nothing else, After You Die We Mosh is an indication that, when you see the band play live, you’re going to have a good time. It’s laden with memorable riffs and simple lyrics that implant themselves in your skull and, like the worst form of Pop music, you’ll find yourself singing along to one of their songs at the most inappropriate moments. I’d like to take this time to apologize to that Comcast rep who had to listen to me singing part of “Carpool Drive By” while I was waiting for her to finish doing something. I’m probably responsible for at least a couple years of therapy at this point. As unserious as this is, it’s effective at what it does. Is it the best Thrash LP ever? Hardly. It isn’t meant to be. Is it fun to listen to? Fuck yeah.

Rating:
Tags: -
(0) Comment(s)


Belphegor - Conjuring the Dead

Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It’s easy to take this Austrian Black/Death duo for granted. I don’t know of too many middle-aged-and-above Metalheads who flutter with anticipation at the mention of a new Belphegor release. Perhaps that whole scary makeup schtick loses its affect on the withered and souldying as we become slaves of time? (If a band really wanted to frighten adults, they’d have to dress up like IRS auditors.) I’d even be willing to wager that many a fan of this act fails to realize that Helmuth’s been at this for 22 years (23 if you wanna count the short-lived Betrayer) and that Conjuring the Dead marks full-length album #10 overall. Then again, when you have the disc in the stereo and the play button is engaged, all that really matters is the music, and that’s when Belphegor’s extreme sonic power refuses to go unappreciated. In fact, while you’re listening to them, it’s tough to think of any band who’s faster, heavier, sicker, or more brutal. The group converted me from observer to fan with their ‘05/’06 one-two punch of Goatreich - Fleshcult and Pestapokalypse VI. If memory serves, that’s when they began to wholly embrace the brutal Death Metal side of their spectrum (and one assumes that the success of Nile and Behemoth may have aided in the swaying of that decision). And though their last three albums since 2006 have proven to be unmemorable over time, it’s apparent from “Gasmask Terror” that Conjuring the Dead is a fully recharged and reinvigorated Belphegor. A lightning-fast beast of an opener given weight by majestic melodies. The title track follows with a much slower attack, and it could’ve worked if not for the main hook’s resemblance to the Oompa Loompa’s song from Willy Wonka. (“If you’re not greedy you will go far…” Damn you, childhood!!) Luckily, “In Death” follows with riffs that are every headbanger’s dream. This one should definitely be a crowd-pleaser. Not sure if I can say the same for “Rex Tremendae Majestatis.” A decent cut, with all the Nile trimmings, but one that reaches a bit too far for atmosphere at the sake of listenability. The atmosphere they should be chasing is the one of pure dread and elevated tension that follows on “Black Winged Torment.” This is simply Helmuth & Serpenth at their best. “The Eye” is nothing more than an instrumental queef, but a press of the skip button later and we’re greeted by “Legions of Destruction” —replete with guest vocals by Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Atilla— and “Flesh, Bones and Blood” — “FOR-NI-CA-TION 6 6 6!!” Two hellbent highlights worthy of many a repeated spin. The album closes with a far less exciting tandem —”Lucifer, Take Her!” and “Pactum in Aeternum”— that can only be classified as noise gymnastics. Just the guys getting a little cardio in after an LP of extremely heavy lifting. Their best workout session ever? You be the judge.

Rating:
-
Tags: - -
(0) Comment(s)


Inferi - The Path of Apotheosis

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I was initially interested in checking out this band because I’ve never heard anything that is both Technical and Melodic Death Metal before. Technical Death Metal bands are rarely melodic in any sense of the word. Inferi might have been more melodic on their earlier releases, but the technical aspects of their sound are edging out any remaining bits of that. These guys have essentially come down with a serious (and eventually fatal) case of wankerdom. The riffing on The Path of Apotheosis is mostly an exercise in hyper-technical playing interspersed with occasional melodic parts. When they have a melody going, regardless of how complex it is, it’s the highlight of the song. Take, for example, the opening part of “Prelude to a Perilous Fate” - maybe the first thirty to forty seconds of it. The playing on that segment is melodic and interesting. It then turns into a hyper-technical whirlwind of overly complicated and unmelodious riffing, blasting drums and growling vocals. The melodic stuff makes a brief reappearance before the blasting drums and hyper-technical guitar playing reassert themselves. A guitar solo near the end of the song brings some melody back in, but even that is fleeting. This is pretty much how all of the songs on The Path of Apotheosis are. It’s Death Metal with an identity crisis. On one hand, Inferi wants to be Technical Death Metal. They want to wank off with their guitars and play music for the subset of Death Metal fans that desire to hear a Death Metal version of Dream Theater. On the other hand, they also want to be Melodic Death Metal and have atmospheric bits and soulful guitar solos. The two identities don’t coexist very well here, and the music veers sharply between overly-technical and atmospheric Death Metal like a schizophrenic homeless guy trying to figure out if he’s Jesus or Satan. Listening to this album isn’t easy. There are parts that seriously kick ass, but they’re sandwiched between moments that are so needlessly complex that melodies and atmosphere disintegrate immediately. The guys in Inferi need to make a choice between melodic and technical styles because trying to be both just isn’t working very well.

Rating:
Tags: -
(0) Comment(s)


Crematory - Antiserum

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014

Germany’s Crematory is a band that has changed quite a bit over the years. They started out as an Atmospheric Death Metal band, adding Dimmu Borgir-esque keyboards to the standard Death Metal formula. After a short period of this, they morphed into Gothic Metal, incorporating increasing levels of Bauhaus and The Cure into their sound, making them something like a Death Metal version of Cradle of Filth, but without the annoying high-pitched vocals of Dani Filth. Now, they’ve gone through another transformation. Rather than sounding even more like The Cure, it’s something along the lines of Rammstein meets Peter Tagtgren’s Pain. The band is still heavily keyboard-driven, though instead of the massive Gothic synths hitting you in the face, they sound like they beat up Johan Van Roy and stole some leftover stuff from the new Suicide Commando LP from his studio. It’s executed competently, but when a band changes so radically and so abruptly, I wonder just how genuine it is. It’s not like the group has been inactive for a decade and decided to go a different direction now that they’ve reformed. No, this reeks of an attempt at regaining some relevance (though I would also argue that this band’s relevance was negligible to begin with). Crematory was never in the top tier when it came to any of the genres that they played in, often coming to the party late and only achieving modest success. The music is heavily Industrialized, but the new Cyber-Punk direction in the music isn’t reflected in the lyrics. Where a band like Mechina incorporates a lot of Science Fiction into their lyrics and themes, Crematory hasn’t changed that much outside of the obvious musical upheaval. Lyrically, it’s more or less the same old shit in a different package. It’s still angst-ridden Gothic Metal, but with a robotized voice effect added and a whole lot of Techno/Industrial keyboards. There are some nods to the futuristic, but the band really needed to go all the way. Going Cyber-Punk with the music and then dialing it back or not moving forward at all in the other areas defeats the purpose. Where Crematory falters is in this area and it’s symptomatic of a band that changes direction abruptly but hasn’t done so naturally. I did like this album more than their old stuff, but at the same time, there are plenty of other bands out there that do this sort of thing better. Sadly, this is also something that I said about their older music. If you want Industrialized Death Metal with real Sci-Fi lyrics and themes, Mechina eats Crematory alive like a horrifying cyborg great white shark chowing down on some random surfer at the beginning of a horror flick. Antiserum isn’t a predator, it’s a victim. Once again, Crematory has shown up at the party late and the only thing left for them is cheap beer and fat chicks. These guys (and girl) need to give Johan Van Roy back his keyboard parts and return to the drawing board. Change needs to be organic and this clearly isn’t it. Fans will appreciate good music as long as it’s played from the heart and the band clearly believes in it. The music on Antiserum sounds contrived and that’s what kills this for me more than anything else.

Rating:
Tags: - -
(0) Comment(s)


Darkest Hour - Darkest Hour

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014

If you haven’t been paying attention, the haters are having a field day bashing the living shit of Darkest Hour’s new self-titled LP. I haven’t seen an underdog take a pounding like this since Captain America inhaled a warehouse full of Heisenberg and beat Daredevil’s ass blue-black until his face resembled senior citizen scrotum. I refer to Henry & Schleibaum as underdogs because, honestly, what chance did they have at appeasing any fickle fuck whose life is so empty he writes about his CDs? (Sorry, computer files, or however the fuck you listen to music on the Starship Enterprise.) Painted into a corner by a remarkably solid but undeniably predictable career up to this point, they had one of two choices: keep rehashing a tried ‘n’ true Slaughter of the Soul-worshipping formula already stretched paper thin over the course of seven albums, or… they could change. If the last 15 years has taught me anything, it’s that Metalcore bands can only change in a couple of different ways. They can “go Deftones,” which is similar to “going Radiohead” (other street names: “writing a Jupiter,” or “pulling a Codeseven”); they can incorporate some kind of foreign genre (Glam, Gothic, Dance/Electronica) into an odd couple pairing that typically just sounds wrong; or, as in this particular case, the lifelong screamer gives actual singing a whirl. All paths lead to a softer, more accessible goal, and it either works or it doesn’t. Believe it or not, I think Darkest Hour has pulled it off in spades. Let’s face it, they couldn’t go on writing the same record every two years ‘til the end of time. I don’t care how good that same record is, eventually the shit gets stale. Sometimes you just have to bite Holyfield’s ear off. I’d imagine it’s better than getting knocked out. I honestly don’t see what all the critics are so butthurt about here. With album #8, these guys have written some tunes you might actually remember in ten years. John Henry can really fucking sing!! Who knew? I mean, the guy nails it as far as I’m concerned. The standout clean singing on “The Misery We Make,” “Futurist,” “Anti-Axis,” “The Goddess Figure,” and “Departure” creates instant memorability, not to mention staying power. Henry’s style often reminds me of Nicholas Brooks on It Dies Today’s The Caitiff Choir, and yeah, I do mean that as a compliment. Many of these songs still brim with that fiery Gothenberg energy, only now there are different levels they can operate on. Besides, if you want to hear them play only that signature style, you’ve got a mega-fuckton of old records to choose from. I think this is their best since The Mark of the Judas. I may’ve said that before, but this time I mean it. People just didn’t give this one enough of a chance before dragging it into a folder with the other 621 releases they downloaded that day. Either that, or they just can’t get around the paralyzing fear that they might just like something “the kids” are into if they’d listen to it more than once. People suck.
Speaking of which, make sure you hunt down the retinal scan-only bonus tracks, as they are two of the best songs of the bunch. Gee, guys… I’m glad I went out and bought the standard edition the day it came out… dicks.

Rating:
-
Tags: -
(0) Comment(s)


Aldious - District Zero Tour - Live at Shibuya-O East (video)

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My name is Ychoril and these are my confessions. You may know that I’m a huge Japanophile. I love Japan and all things Japanese. The only thing that turns me on more than a hot Japanese woman is a hot Japanese Metal chick. That said, I watch District Zero Tour - Live at Shibuya-O East like most men watch porn. It has everything I could possibly want in one package: hot Japanese women and Heavy Metal music. In fact, it’s even better than just hot Japanese women and Heavy Metal music, it has hot Japanese women PLAYING Heavy Metal music. Overdosing on Viagra might give me an erection lasting longer than four hours, but so does watching Aldious live in concert. The difference is that while most would turn the volume down to hide the fact that they’re watching porn, I turn the volume up to advertise the fact that I’m listening to Metal. Though the band is composed of five hot Japanese ladies, they aren’t lightweights. This group is as professional and as well rehearsed as any Metal band out there. Fans of Power Metal in the vein of Stratovarious and Iron Savior will appreciate the musical prowess that these ladies display here and on their studio LPs, which is considerable. Guitarists Yoshi and Toki can and do shred as good as any Power Metal band out there, and the rest of the group (bassist Sawa and drummer Aruto) are similarly proficient with their instruments. Vocalist Re:NO (Rino Nikaidou) takes a bit of getting used to, mostly because her voice seems more suited for ballads than for Metal. Previous vocalist, Rami (who departed the band in 2012 due to health reasons), was more in line with traditional Power Metal vocals, and Re:NO’s style had many longtime fans wondering if the bleached-blonde former vocalist for JPop group Suitei Shojo and former KERA magazine fashion model could handle being in a “real” band. The District Zero LP had fans divided, but this live DVD shows that she and the rest of the group can still deliver the goods in a live environment. The band is definitely heavier in concert and their enthusiasm is clearly evident. Re:NO’s stage presence is considerable, and though she is the front-person, she never hogs the spotlight. All of the members, even drummer Aruto, get plenty of camera time. Yoshi and Toki are often in the front, trading guitar solos and shredding away like they were on the Shrapnel Records roster back in the ’80s (for those who don’t remember or weren’t alive back then, Shrapnel was the record label devoted to guitar wankery), though their music never stops being melodic and engaging. And they stay mesmerizing throughout the entire two hours that they play. Yes, Metal fans, this DVD has an entire two hour concert on it, shortened only between encores (there are two) for the sake of time. The musical selection spans much of the band’s career, though the bulk of it is centered around the District Zero LP. They still play older cuts like “Mermaid” and “Ultimate Melodious,” though the vocal arrangement has been altered slightly to accommodate Re:NO’s style. A word of warning: this band is from Japan and everything is in Japanese. It’s also region coded for Japan so if you don’t have an all-region DVD player or you happen to live in an area where Region 2 isn’t your native coding, you won’t be able to view it. As a fan of all things Japanese, I don’t recall ever being without an all-regions capable DVD player, but I know most folks out there probably don’t have one, so a warning is in order before you drop a bunch of money on this. For me, it was well worth relegating myself to eating Maruchan Cup Ramen for about a month while recovering from the financial hit this put on me. Sadly, it looks like I’m going to be eating instant ramen for a while longer because I got this DVD paid off just as the band’s latest LP, Dazed and Delight, was released. Life as a Japanophile isn’t easy - or cheap, for that matter - but releases like District Zero Tour - Live at Shibuya-O East make it all worthwhile.

Rating:
Tags: - - -
(0) Comment(s)


Those Who Bring the Torture - Piling Up

Posted on Monday, November 17, 2014

When it comes to Death Metal’s perverse and unholy backyard barbecue, there are those who bring the potato salad and Those Who Bring the Torture. Yes, I know that joke was stupid, but reviewing anything from the mighty Rogga Johansson is never an easy task. One has to get things off the ground however one can. You see, Rogga is in 72 bands that all put out 18 albums a year. I don’t know exactly how many that is, but I know it all equals 9. Fortunately for this writer, Those Who Bring the Torture records are slightly less daunting than most of Johansson’s similarly-veined endeavors. Despite the menacing moniker, this is actually one of the man’s more accessible outlets. No, that’s not another bad joke. Just listen to the first riff of album opener “Under Twin Suns.” That’s a hook with a groove you could almost rap to! Okay, so maybe it isn’t that accessible, but it certainly seems as though Rogga saves all his best melodies for this particular project. Of course, that’s not to say TWBtT isn’t still Death… the Rogga way. This prolific Swede knows no other means. However, tracks such as “The Gateway,” “In Orbit,” and “Towering Structures of the Damned” are graced with a slick melodic sensibility that doesn’t often reveal itself on most Paganizer or Ribspreader cuts. Elsewhere, “Incomprehensible” has an air of melancholy and dejection that’s almost Doom-like in essence, despite the song’s speedy double-bass-driven energy, while “A Dead Cold Space” achieves nearly the same vibe through a Punkish slant. If I had to pick a weak spot, all that’s really available is album closer “Turrets of a Forgotten Castle.” Not a terrible tune, but somewhat of a lumbering Thrashy clunker that doesn’t quite fit in with the flow of an otherwise powerful album. Then again, everything this guy does is pretty damn awesome in its own right. Just not always the easiest material to expound upon, as it’s typically the same brand of standard-issue sickness Johansson so effortlessly deals with the quickness of a veteran Vegas Blackjack dealer (talk about “piling up”). So, if you hunger for a side of something a little different with your helping of more-of-the-same, Those Who Bring the Torture might just be surprisingly filling.

Rating:
-
Tags: -
(0) Comment(s)


Slough Feg - Digital Resistance

Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mike Scalzi has been in and around the San Francisco Metal scene for a long time. He’s played in a number of groups over the years, but Slough Feg (also known as The Lord Weird Slough Feg) has always been his main band. I started listening to Slough Feg shortly after I saw Mike play a show as part of Unholy Cadaver (this was prior to the band changing their name to Hammers of Misfortune). John Cobbett is a good vocalist and guitarist, but Mike Scalzi is a better front-man. He impressed me enough with his stage presence and playing ability to check out his main band and I’ve followed them ever since. For those who have never heard the music of Slough Feg, they’re best described as Heavy Metal in the traditional sense. They draw from old Hard Rock and early Metal for inspiration, though they do incorporate some occasional Celtic melodies and Progressive Rock structures into their brew. Slough Feg does have a fairly accessible style (especially on this LP) and their melodic guitar-work and clean vocals would have been fairly radio-friendly had this been the early ’80s. It’s still some rocking stuff, though. If there’s one thing Mike Scalzi knows how to do, it’s make a fun record. The songs on here are mostly upbeat and though the message behind the album is serious, it never brings down the otherwise celebratory mood of the music. If you’ve listened to Slough Feg for any length of time, you realize that there’s always a message in there somewhere, and Digital Resistance is no different. A lot of the songs have an anti-technology edge to them, though not in a Luddite sense. The guys in Slough Feg don’t want you to abandon technology, they just want you to think about what it does to you and to the people around you. The lyrics make quite an interesting read, and for a Metal album there’s a lot of depth there. While those obsessed with all thing grim and dark will probably despise this LP, it’s one that I enjoyed quite a lot. It isn’t quite as much fun as seeing the band play live, but it’s pretty close.

Rating:
Tags: - -
(0) Comment(s)


Page 1 of 384 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »