Omnizide - Death Metal Holocaust

Posted on Friday, April 11, 2014

When you see an album called Death Metal Holocaust, you can be reasonably sure that you’re not getting Power Metal. Omnizide is a Death Metal band in the Swedish style and though this is their debut LP (their only previous release was the 2011 Pleasure from Death EP, the songs from which are also on this LP), the members have been in numerous other bands (Craft, Dark Funeral, and Avsky) prior to this one. This isn’t a gang of new kids by any stretch of the imagination. For a debut album, this sounds pretty tight and professional, as you would expect from guys who’ve been at this a while. The songs might not be very original sounding, but they’re solid. Musically, Omnizide reminded me of a more Death Metal version of Dark Endless by Marduk. It had the same Doom-infused Death Metal style and the vocals sound similar in terms of delivery. Omnizide is a bit heavier, though, with deeper and more brutal guitar tones. The songs also have somewhat more memorability, sporting catchy riffing and the occasional bit of melodic guitar-work to spice things up. While this isn’t anything I haven’t heard dozens of times before, it is well executed and does what good Death Metal should: it kicks ass. Also, it sounds evil, which is always a good thing where Death Metal is concerned. It might not be “drop everything and call of your friends” awesome, but it doesn’t disappoint by any means. If you want solid evil Death Fucking Metal, this will satisfy your needs quite handily.

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The Kennedy Veil - Trinity of Falsehood

Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2014

As usual, there’s very little guesswork involved with what you’re getting from Unique Leader. Yet this sophomore outing from Sacramento’s The Kennedy Veil isn’t so much a technical Death Metal album for the sake of a technical Death Metal album as it is a half-hour long blastbeat assault for the sake of a half-hour long blastbeat assault. From the moment you press play, it’s evident that these drumsticks are on that Heisenberg. I don’t know what this snare drum did to piss off Gabe Seeber, but dude isn’t going to be able to wipe his ass by 40. A surgical beating so ruthless that by the third track, my wrist hurts. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to approximate that roughly 93% of The Trinity of Falsehood is blanketed by Seeber’s berserker blast barrage. What’s troubling is that the rest of what’s going on is buried beneath, simply overpowered by the relentless blast onslaught. It’s unfortunate because KC Childers actually knows his way around a riff. Compared to the drumming, his playing is not overly technical. Sure, there are sweeps and million-mile-per-hour scales, but it’s mostly a melodic, hook-oriented style. Vocalist Taylor Wientjes has a nice present-day Frank Mullen meets Mike DiSalvo circa Whisper Supremacy balance of brutal yet semi-understandable going for him. The problem being that by mid-album, the incessant jackhammer drumming lulls the listener into a near-meditative state of mind-wandering that transforms his vocal patterns into wallpaper. It hardly seems fair to fault a drummer for being too brutal —perhaps some blame should fall on the mixing job as well— but a few times per song, Seeber takes his foot off the pedal (…well… not literally…) just long enough for the rest of the band to show off a penchant for high-quality songwriting. It’s these moments when the songs are allowed to temporarily breathe —see “Seventh Circle”— that the album elevates from sleeper to keeper. I just wish there were more of them. Here’s to hoping that future spins will reveal additional worth.

Rating:
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Mystica Girls - Gates of Hell

Posted on Tuesday, April 08, 2014

After being completely blown away by 2011’s stunning Metal Rose album (perhaps EP would be more accurate, as it was only 25 minutes long, but let’s not stand on formality), I was somewhat concerned about the subsequent lineup changes. I’m not sure if Alice (drums) and Sofia Renie (vocals) both left at the same time, but although getting a new drummer is usually survivable, replacing a singer often is not. I guess that I had my head up my ass and missed out on the 2012 re-recording of Metal Rose, this time fleshed out to inarguably full-length status at 44 minutes, and the next year’s follow-up EP, The Conquest, both featuring the revamped lineup of Yolanda Moreno on drums and Mon Laferte singing, so Gates of Hell is my first exposure to them. I’m unclear if it happened during the recording of this album, or perhaps just after, but I’m sorry to have to report that bass goddess Red Jane has also parted ways with Mystica Girls, leaving the apparently unstoppable Cinthya Blackcat with an entirely new band since the last time I heard them. The fresh Girls seem to have brought more Hard Rock influences to the songwriting than I was expecting (or wanted), as the Metal elements are occasionally toned down -sometimes way down, as in the disappointing “Spooky Cookie” and “The Boogie Biker.” Mon’s voice is strong, although I’m still getting used to her decidedly Hard Rock style, and she seems more comfortable singing in English than Sofia did -all of these songs are in English for some reason. When the band keeps to the Metal side of things, sometimes mainly evidenced in the drumming, then everything is fine, if not excellent. But there is no “Tortura” or “Mi Sangre” here, demanding that I listen to it over and over, although the intense title track and “Tiny Blue Dot” come the closest, and there are certainly many other moments of greatness. The mix is also a little different, somewhat de-emphasizing the bass. (Possibly because it’s at least partially Red Jane’s successor, Kathy Whitewolf?) Many groups have trouble with their second album; the old saying being that you have your entire life to compose your debut, but only a year or two for the follow-up. Considering that and the almost complete lineup overhaul, Gates of Hell is impressive in many ways, but overall still doesn’t quite hit the very high mark set by Metal Rose. Hopefully this lineup is stable now, because it will be interesting to hear what Blackcat and company do next, whether it’s more Metal focused or moves further into Hard Rock territory.
PS. Just throwing it out there, but what if Red Jane, Alice, and Sofia reformed under a new band name?

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Tengger Cavalry - Ancient Call

Posted on Friday, April 04, 2014

Tengger Cavalry is one of a very small handful of bands that mixes Chinese and Mongolian Folk music with Metal. Of all of the groups I’ve heard, Tengger Cavalry integrates the Folk music aspects into their music the most. Chthonic is known to use Chinese Folk rhythms and song structures in their music, but for the most part, they’re solidly Metal. Tengger Cavalry, on the other hand, blurs the line between a Metal band incorporating Folk into their music, and a Folk band that’s incorporating Metal. It’s a very interesting listen, to say the least. As much as 2013’s Black Steed was Folk-influenced, Ancient Call takes that even further. Admittedly, some of the songs on this LP are a bit on the “Chinese equivalent of a Renaissance Faire” side, but for the most part, it’s like listening to the soundtrack to an epic tale of ancient China (maybe something like Red Cliff or Hero). If there is a flaw in the band’s sound, it’s that they’re sometimes too heavy on the Folk music and too light on the Metal. Tracks like “Brave” are essentially straight-out Folk with only minor Metal parts. You can barely hear the guitars sometimes because the Folk instruments push them so far into the background. Still, when they successfully integrate the two styles, they strike musical gold. Fans of Folk Metal that are looking for something different should definitely check this out if you can find it. I’ve noticed that a lot of this band’s material is difficult to get, but based on the recordings that I’ve heard, it’s well worth tracking down.

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Carnifex - Die Without Hope

Posted on Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Huge congrats to Carnifex. New year, new record label, and a new album that has penetrated the Billboard 100 (circa piracy age) via pure brutality alone. This accomplishment must feel all the sweeter done in the face of so many bitter haters. These overnight Metal authorities who bash Deathcore because it’s cool to talk shit about what “the kids” like. Oh, boo-fucking-hoo… you live in a place where the youth support extreme music. You poor jaded faggot. Come live in the ghetto with Daddy. I certainly don’t hear anyone on the block bumping Hell Chose Me. “The kids” like a steady diet of Chief Keef and Waka Flocka Flame ‘round these parts (and to be honest, I’ll take that over Watain and Skeletonwitch anyday). These people want to pretend they were born the boring old assholes they’ve become. Like their elders never persecuted them for their musical taste in between rapes. The relentlessly horrible misery of life does not discriminate against age, and neither does the music that heals the pain, if only for a short while. I feel that I also need to address these My Little Pony Metal mags who label bands like Carnifex “neanderthal,” “dumbed-down,” and “trendy,” only to turn around and put Phil Anselmo on their covers. As if his musical output is some classy, original, thinking man’s shit?! Name a trend in Metal. Fake Phil has fucked it bareback. These delusional bastards pen their critique through some haze of narcissistic make-believe in which the opinions of their imaginary friends affect their own. How does it feel to be the sad white defender getting dunked on in the Dr. J poster that is life?
Die Without Hope is as solid a heavy record as you’ll hear all year. Taking a longer time in between albums than usual seems to have refined their attack, as much of their ‘core elements have been scaled back in favor of big league Death Metal chops. It’s not all blast/pit riff soup anymore — not that there’s a damn thing wrong that formula. Shawn Cameron gives the most bestial vocal performance of his career, while his bandmates provide a significantly honed songwriting approach as the backdrop. Slower tempos, pummeling chug, melodic leads, and occasional atmospheric experimentation allow the songs more room to breathe, giving those aforementioned blasts and pit riffs more of a finishing move effect. I am slightly disappointed by the complete absence of the band’s signature heart-stopping breakdowns. I suppose they’ve bowed to the critics somewhat in that sense. Still, if this monster doesn’t get your fingertips tapping the steering wheel, I don’t want to know what will. If you hate Carnifex, you must love puppy dogs, flowers, rainbows, and Jesus. I just hope the band doesn’t get into any legal trouble for using Indiana’s copyrighted State motto as an album title.

Rating:
-
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Babymetal - Babymetal

Posted on Friday, March 28, 2014

Only in Japan could anyone think of combining “Death Metal” with little girls singing and dancing. But before you dismiss this completely out of hand, take a moment to consider what it means. In America, Metal is looked down upon. Most sheep people listen to totally worthless, disposable bullshit, such as whatever is popular at the moment you’re reading this. I don’t even want to type any of their undeserving names. Things are different in Japan. The awesome Animetal recorded Thrash/Power Metal covers of Anime theme songs, and were so popular that a US version of the band now exists, covering that band’s covers. That is how crazy Japan is. So, when I first heard of Babymetal, a couple years ago, I think, I stopped everything to immediately check them out. It helps that I just love Japan, of course. Osamu Tezuka, Go Nagai, Ichiro Mizuki, Akira Kurosawa, Ishiro Honda, Stan Sakai, Yoshitaka Amano, Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima are among the greatest artistic geniuses the human race has ever produced. (If you don’t know who they all are, I truly feel sorry for you.) Babymetal released a few singles (and videos to accompany them, of course, as this is a visual band) which are compiled here with several new songs, so I went into this having already been familiar with some of the material. The new single/video, and the album-opener, “Babymetal Death,” is the heaviest thing they’ve ever recorded, along the lines of Dethklok’s most intense moments, with “Death!” chanted over and over comprising the bulk of the lyrics. I don’t make the Dethklok comparison lightly, as both bands are just about as equally fabricated (although both groups consist of actual live musicians when performing on stage), and if you can find any enjoyment in the music of the animated Americans, you might be able to do likewise with the very Japanese Babymetal. The music is generally within the realms of Thrash or modern Death Metal, plus some electronic elements, and of course the currently 16-year-old Su-metal singing with occasional vocal help from the even younger Moametal and Yuimetal. They’re better than you might think, although I don’t believe that any of them are unleashing those sporadic Death-growls. If you listen to any amount of Power Metal I guarantee that you’ve heard lighter-weight singing. The only real problem I even have with this, since I don’t expect it to be “art” any more than I would a PG-13 Hollywood movie to be, is that a few of the songs are written to cover specific musical bases that I don’t like. After about a minute-and-half, the very Pop-Metal “Ii ne!” suddenly becomes a Rap song for 30 seconds, before getting what I can only describe as “brutal” for the next 30, then going back to normal. I think that “Akumu no Rinbukyoku” starts with (and later goes back to) what may be a Djent riff. I avoid that type of supposedly-musical abomination like AIDS-infested Indiana meth/crack whores, so I’m not sure, but it’s an unbelievably terrible riff. Even so, it’s only a small part of the song and Su-metal just completely ignores it and signs a beautiful vocal line over it as if that stupid riff didn’t exist at all. “Uki Uki ★ Midnight” has some Dubstep elements, which I guess I didn’t really mind. I don’t even know how to describe what happens during parts of “4 no Uta.” But I do expect some weirdness. Admittedly, more than a little is lost without the visuals, and I don’t mean that in any perverted way (this time), but if you can get past the fact that this is three little girls and an anonymous (supposedly) backing band, there is actually a lot to like here. I mean, would you prefer that something like this is popular (which it is in Japan!), or… just look at the Billboard Top 10 this week. As with a great many other things, I’m with Japan.

Rating:
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Drudkh / Winterfylleth - Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates

Posted on Monday, March 24, 2014

Much like getting that semi-hot bar slut home for the first time only to find out her cavernous vagina is where they filmed The Descent, there’s a slight degree of disappointment involved when getting this ultra-rare split from Drudkh and Winterfylleth undressed. Unless, of course, pussies so large there’s graffiti inside is your thing… or you’re just really into obscure cover songs. First off, this isn’t technically a split. Ukrainian mainstays Drudkh get three covers, while British Black Metallers Winterfylleth only get one. You don’t need to major in economics to realize that isn’t a fair deal, and it’s the better band being shafted to boot. Drudkh is a mysterious horde. Not just in terms of their elusive nature, but of their inconsistent album-to-album effort level. On some records, Roman Saenko & Co. prove to be the real wolves in Black Metal’s throne room, then on others they merely coast on atmospheric autopilot. Their renditions of Heyfestos’ “…W Krainie Drzew” and Unclean’s “Ten, Ktery Se Vyhyba Svetlu” are as bland and forgettable as I can only assume the originals are. They do end their half three-quarters of the “split” in fine fashion with a blistering recreation of Sacrilegium’s “Recidivus,” but as far as this personnel is concerned, I much prefer Hate Forest and Old Silver Key. (Sad to say I’ve only recently discovered the latter, and if you still haven’t, I must insist you immediately track down their sole full-length at all costs. Absolutely amazing stuff with Neige from Alcest on vocals. Essential.) Hey… speaking of Hate Forest, Winterfylleth fucking nails “The Gates” to the point of outright ownership. That instantly recognizable guitar sound, that instantly recognizable tortured scream, that second-to-none drumming… If there’s a better Black Metal band going right now —that isn’t named An Autumn for Crippled Children or Deafheaven— I’d really like to know about it. More Winterfylleth, please.
Note: this 12-inch vinyl collector’s piece is cruelly limited to 666 copies. So, yeah… don’t illegally download it or anything.

Rating:
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Van Canto - Dawn of the Brave

Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2014

I like checking out bands that are odd or different in some way. Even if the vast majority of music I end up hearing sucks Godzilla’s giant mutant reptile penis, there are times when checking out a new or different band pays dividends and I get to hear a truly exceptional album that would have been overlooked otherwise. Van Canto is one of those oddball bands that caught my attention because they triggered my “WTF?” alarm. Van Canto describes themselves as A Cappella Metal. That caught my attention because you don’t ever see the terms “A Cappella” and “Metal” together in the same sentence unless that sentence happens to be “A Cappella music isn’t Metal.” I walked to the cash register of my local record store with this CD and paid for it knowing that there was probably a 1% likelihood that it was going to be awesome and a 99% likelihood that it was going to be an abomination of epic proportions. Let me begin this review by saying that Van Canto is what you get when a Power Metal band has to sell their instruments in order to pay the rent. Rather than selling each other into prostitution, they decide that going A Cappella might be something strange enough to lure a few more people to their concerts with the added bonus of not having to lug a ton of musical instruments to each show. This is all speculation, of course. They might have decided to do this whole “Metal without using real instruments” thing on their own without the aid of drugs or alcohol (or impending rent payments that needed to be made), but that would just make them stupid instead of creative. Much like Diablo Swing Orchestra, this is one of those records that you use to show an activist college girl how open minded you are in hopes that she’ll give you a blowjob. It says something, then, that the best material here is on the bonus CD that comes with the “limited edition” version of this release. Yes, it’s that fucking bad. The nature of A Cappella music requires the vocalists to use their voices to simulate the melodies and rhythms that would normally be created by guitars and keyboards. This leads to a ton of laugh out loud moments where the song takes an unintentionally funny turn when one or more of the singers attempts to simulate a guitar riff or some form of melody. It sounds so stupid that you can’t help but laugh. Face it, when you can make the original version of “The Final Countdown” sound awesome in comparison, you fucking suck and you should probably quit music altogether. I think Joey Tempest (Europe) is laughing his ass off right now because now he can honestly say that his version of the song isn’t the worst one out there. What saved this release from being absolute trash was the aforementioned bonus CD. All of these bonus tracks are reworkings of older songs that Van Canto recorded prior to this LP. The first three songs are orchestral versions played with real symphonic instruments and without any vocals. The fourth track is a Techno remix that uses effects to alter the vocal weirdness in such a way that it doesn’t sound stupid, which is quite a feat in and of itself. The final two are an acoustic track with only the lead vocals and acoustic guitars, and a choir rendition of one of their songs. The A Cappella gimmick might get a few curious people (such as myself) to check out one of this band’s releases, but after listening to this, I don’t think I’ll ever buy or listen to another one. One track of this nonsense is enough to give you all you’ll ever need to hear from Van Canto. If you’re able to download the bonus CD material without purchasing the rest of this LP (either through iTunes or Amazon), I’d do that instead of buying the whole thing. The rating below reflects only the LP tracks. The bonus CD is worth an 8 on its own merits, mostly because it’s as far away from this A Cappella bullshit as you can get - most of which probably doesn’t even involve the members of this band. I wouldn’t bother with the rest of it. If you want to hear good A Cappella music, buy a Pentatonix LP. Don’t waste your money on shit like Dawn of the Brave because you’ll probably regret it (unless that activist college chick actually does give you a blowjob, then mission accomplished).

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Prostitute Disfigurement - From Crotch to Crown

Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I must confess to not keeping up with Prostitute Disfigurement at all since 2001’s Embalmed Madness. I know… shame on me. I don’t really have an excuse or a logical explanantion as to why its been a baker’s dozen worth of Braves’ calendars since I last checked in on these humorously-named Dutch sickos. I loved that aforementioned debut and the demo that preceded it. What’s not to love about timeless family favorites like “Choking on Defecation,” “Chainsaw Abortion,” “Cadaver Blowjob,” and “On Her Guts I Cum”? I suppose the general gayness of life and an influx of 10,008 new extreme Metal releases per year inadvertently separated me from PD’s progress. I did manage to cum on a few guts during that span, but unfortunately those women were alive. Enough about the past. What do the cadaverous quintet bring to the embalming table circa now? Very little I’m afraid. Not sure who outgrew whom, but I’m not feeling From Crotch to Crown much at all. The demented lyrical content and delightfully disgusting cover art thankfully remain in tow, but musically the band has taken a far more conventional approach to brutal Death Metal. This sounds like the filler from Cannibal Corpse’s Gore Obsessed and Deicide’s Earache era fucked and had a crack baby. So… basically it’s a Severe Torture record now that I think about it. There’s a few serviceable pit riffs and guitar solos hidden between never ending walls of non-stop machinegun blast, but nothing you’ll remember once the album’s over. Gone are the beyond bestial low-end gurgles. Niels Adams (Centurian) still has a solid set of pipes, but his vocal patterns are equally elusive to the hippocampus, forgotten mere seconds after they’re growled. No more drum machine set to “annihilate.” Michiel van der Plicht (ex-God Dethroned) might as well be a machine. The only problem being that machine is an oscillating desk fan with a baseball card wedged in it. Guttural, guttural, where for art thou guttural?? Rotting away is still better than being gay, but From Crotch to Crown is all bore, no gore.

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