Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reviews 1/11/15

Goat Semen Guy

Child Bite "Strange Waste" (Housecore) 8/10

This band has great song titles. But I think "Garbage Odyssey" is my favorite. This is the sort of band that you really won't like unless you are at least a little fucked in the head. The songs are mostly driven by the singer's fucked up stories and lyrics.

Musically I'm not sure how to describe it. I guess it's basically early 80s punk with a slightly modern heaviness to it. It reminds me of the first Gwar album, which I love. It's got the same funny ass energy. Singer even sounds like Oderus at times. Jello Biafra at others. This would be a great live band.

The music seems to lend itself very well to visuals. But again, it's got a more street level punk feeling. Very Dead Kennedys at times. Just very hectic storytelling epics. Crazy demented circus guitar lines thrown all over the place. Very acid friendly music, this is.

Dreadlords "Death Angel" (Not Just Religious Music) 7/10

This initially sounds like the Doors if they tried to play doom metal. But in the 60s, there were no big fat riff layers, it was more about the "fuzzy guitars." So that's what we have here. Really fuzzy,thin guitars, but which sounds like it's coming out of an old radio. Drums are almost comically simple and cheap sounding.

The songs vary quite a bit dynamically- but always retain that extremely lo fi sound which recalls the Cramps as much as it recalls Danzig or even George Thorogood. Satanic Thorogood? I guess you could say it's like America's answer to Ghost. I dunno exactly how to rate this because I find myself tripping on the sound so much. I guess the songs are pretty good, but it will take many more listens and time to see if this is real or some sort of Rob Zombie experiment.

Goat Semen "Ego Svm Satana" (Hells Headbangers)

I've known about Goat Semen for many years just like most people who know about them because of their rediculous name. Not sure how many times I've checked em out, but they are certainly living up to my expectations here.

Being from Peru, it's hard not to first compare them to Brazil's Mystifier. Especially given the crazy, brutality that rips out of the speakers like 100 drunken serial killers who just got thrown into a mosh pit. SOme crazy vocals, some crazy laughter, blasting away at mayhemic tempos..

I would call this Death metal, but it has that primitive South American energy that only they possess. At times sounding a little more 80s thrash. But mostly just sickness. And I mean that in the old way, where "sick" was a high compliment with regard to Death Metal. This is sencerely sick.

Necrofilth "Filling my blood with Poison" (Hell's Headbangers) 8/10

I feel like I'm giving lots of "8s" this time around, but there is a point where a recording is really good, just not "over the top" good. And this recording is in that area. It's got a very nice garage kind of sound. I mean, rehearsal room. There is actually an art to this, as the one "Bedemon" album demonstrated.

Anyway, this has that Hellhammer sort of feel with the music. Almost crusty punk at times. Vocals are ery punk/thrash. The dude is just basically talking and yelling very hard. So you can hear what he says. Right now he's saying "You're rotting!" over and over. So you get the idea.

This band seems pretty inspired so they are a nice diversion from Midnight who thankfully, are not the only band playing this raw type of punk/death/thrash/whateverthefuckyouwanna call it.

PORTAL / BLOOD OF KINGU Split 7" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10

I guess the Portal song was recorded on 4-track in 1999. Why Portal dug it up for this, I'm not sure but it's not bad. It's basically a cheaply recorded demo song with non-stop drum machine blast beat. It's hard to make anything sound this good with such lo-fi production, which is a testament to Portal's ability to make crazy sounding shit with very little to work with so early on. Guitar riff is simply MAD on this. No way to describe it. But if you've heard Portal's windstorm of madness before, you can probably guess. I've seen Portal but I don't listen to much of this shit as it's not really my thing at the moment.

Blood of Kingu has a similar relentless blast to their tune, but there's much more of a detectable death metal influence. It's really good, gutteral death metal. I would check out more songs by them - some nice guitar layering and strange melodies happening.

Primordial "Where greater men have fallen" (Metal Blade) 8/10

This album begins on a very strong note. Well, it's more the overall power of melody, vocals, and riffage. All of which come together perfectly to bring fourth something that suits the song title very well. Impressive.

I saw this band once and the singer's presence was felt around the room, regardless if you liked the music, which at the time, I wasn't real familiar with. If this is the same singer (Alan Averill?) then I am more impressed by his studio performance. Very good combination of melody, screaming, and just very apocalypic energy this man emits.

Musically, things are mostly mid paced to slow. Guitars are not so much heavy as they are just very full sounding. Yet, there is space in the sound unlike most bands these days in the "extreme metal" genres who fill every space with walls off guitars. It is very cool to hear a band with some a real and unified sound. The guitar melodies are so very effective. Notes pop out at just the right time, evoking a somewhat early 90s black metal vibe at times. At others, kinda like Blut Aus Nord or what's that band... Winterfyleth? Anyhow, they got their own sound more than anything. Solo wise I suppose I could ask for more, but these songs are so well composed you don't miss them too much.

Things get a little faster at points and when it does, it sounds pretty much exactly how good black metal SHOULD sound today (yet rarely does). Because this does not ignore the past, yet it is not trying SOOOOOO hard to immitate the past. It's very natural. Sounding kind of like early Enslaved or the first Aeturnus promo ep.

Only criticism is that perhaps thigs tend to sound a little the same after a while, but the energy is very good here so I can handle quite a bit of it.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Break on through to the DOOMY side! (and do it quick please)

ANAAL NATHRAKH "Desideratum" (Metal Blade) 0/10

This is industrial Black Metal. It really sucks.

Ancient Wisdom "Sacrificial" 8/10

This is a combination of I guess Gothic Rock and perhaps a softer doom. Pagan Altar comes to mind in terms of the combination of a folk atmosphere with gothic doom sections and restrained but solid riffs. Not many solos, so don't expect any of those.

The vocal melody drives the songs clearly, it's not about huge guitars here. I actually like this because it's not trying to be "extreme" it's just rocking and well put together. Alice in Chains anyone? It's kinda in that category. Real sad but kinda pop-ish. Not as heavy though. And no solos (but this has other things going on).

I like the understated quality of this, but it's hard to say it "kicks ass" upon first listen. But clearly this band has worked on its sound for some time and i'd advise checking em out if you just want some good original "dark rock."

Atriarch "An Unending Pathway" (Relapse) 7/10

I saw this band years ago in some small club in San Francisco. They had a heavy atmosphere and sound. The singer does this Tuvan throat thing which is very cool for like 10 minutes. I think they burn incense and shit to make the environment all "cult." After that I start wanting riffs. These guys like to wait a long time though, to build up a dark feeling before they start "rocking." That's exactly how this album begins. It never quite delivers the "sabbath riff" I wann hear though.

So once the shit inevitably hits the fan, what do we have? Mostly obscure doom with lots of dead noise floating around. The singer rambles in a kinda Jim Morrison/Peter Murphy kinda way. I think he's trying to conjure some ghosts up or something, which I'm certainly in support of! His voices range from gothic moans to more black/death style, but it's all over the map the whole time.

This is very atmosphere oriented and gets monotonous. But I think that is the point. To get the whole "trance" thing going. What's interesting about these guys is it's not one specific sound. It's fairly original and is pretty cool at times. It seems most comfortable at a Doom/Goth area. It tries to be black or death at times, but this feels a little more forced and thrown in. But I salute the attempt, as it's not entirely bad.

Worth checking out. Is is brilliant? Very hard to tell without a few more listens. But it certainly rises above most bands swimming in the sea of artsy doom/noise (of which there is a tremendous amount of - and it's mostly forgettable.)

Execration "Morbid Dimensions" (Hells Hedbangers) 9/10

This is some very excellent, raw Death Metal. Quite original, and way more atmospheric that you'd expect. It's kinda like a combinaton of early Paradise Lost, Obituary, and perhaps a touch of shit, I dunno...early Gorguts.

Put it this way - it's well produced, but way more raw and listenable than most modern Death Metal. The feeling is almost closer to obscure Black Metal. Very doom at times, but without the usual thick production you'd expect. Which just makes it that much more interesting.

A very good obscure treat if you are tired of the same old Death and need a fresh injection!

Nunslaughter/Perversor (Split 7") (Hells Headbangers)
9/10 Nunslaughter/Witchtrap (another split 7") 9/10

Fuck, Nunslaughter has got to be close to breaking some sort of record (pun intended) for all the fukking 7" and splits they been on! These 2 happen to be with 2 killer South American bands.

The Nunslaughter tracks on the first 7" are well recorded. Very clear, more of a thrash production. Like a more raw version of Carcass' last release. The vocals are kinda Jeff Walkerish too. Musically it's the usual dependably classic Death metal with a solid foundation in old school Thrash education.

Perversor has a really brutal sound. And I don;t mean the sound - the energy is just very heavy. The singer is quite dark sounding (in the evil sense). Very good, thrash tempo, old school RAW Brazilian Death metal. Like the early Sepultura shit. I hate to say it, but Perversor kinda outshines Nunslaughter here with their sheer brutality. The riffs are more sketchy too. Fuckin killer! Sounds like old Morbid Angel at times. Perverson - fuck, check these fucks out asap!

The 2nd split is a bit more aggressive in terms of Nunslaughter's performance. Kinda reminds me of old Exhumed. Or maybe it's the other way around? This is real killer old school Death Thrash. Some very headbanging riffs here! OLD OLD OLDSCHOOL all the way...I will see Nunslaughter anytime they come into town. They are a band that keeps the fukking fires burning!

Witchtrap - well they are one of the best bands to come out of South America as far as Thrash goes. Really awesome early Kreator influence is all over this. These guys simply kick fucking ass. All I can really say is if you want some good modern thrash this is where you look. Some nice wailing solos here and there, but mainly just killer fast riffs and unrelenting vokills. They are awesome live too if you ever see them coming to town, DO NOT MISS IT.

Orange Goblin "Back from the Abyss" (Candlelight Records) 4/10

I know this band's been at it a while because back in 2000 or something I used to work with the chick that posed on this bands early album cover. I don't remember much about the band, other than they were in the "stoner rock" category.

Anyhow, the singer sounds like he's from the 70s or something. Kinda like the Molly Hatchet guy. I guess it's like Black Label Society if they didn't completely suck. It's got the retro thing, rockin riffs, and very few guitar solos. Mostly just rocks at a kinda mid pace with vaguely lame bluesy 3rd rate Thin Lizzy riffs.

I feel like I should "stay stone free" and wear a headband, get on my harley, and wear an Orange Goblin patch on my back right now. But there's no fucking way in hell I'm gonna do that because being a better version of Black Label Society is not really a compliment. Although if I heard this in the mid 90s I probably woulda loved it. The problem is, it needs more Saxon and less Black Label Society. Come on UK, wtf happened to you?

I gave Shadow over Innsmouth extra attention because I am a Lovecraft fan. It's a really lame instrumental that could been on Metallica's "LOAD" album.

Today is the Day "Animal Mother" (Southern Lord) 4/10

I remember this band from the 90s. I dubbed them in my mind "the short haired band that opens for Death Metal bands." I know, I'm such an asshole right? Well look - the music was very bland and I musta saw them like 3 or 4 times. They were ALWAYS underwealming...anyway, I guess they went away and then came back (yay).

This is kinda like a more riffy, doomier version of Neurosis. Which sounds like it would be a really amazing thing. But unfortunately, it isn't. This is the same bland forgettable shit they were doing 15 years ago. I would describe it if anything jumped out - but nothing does. It's just totally utterly boring and goes nowhere. Yeah, it's heavy I'll give it that. But ya need more than just "heavy." How about, I dunno...a FUCKING GUITAR SOLO???

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reviews 9/19/14

[Chris Barnes, inventor of Viking Metal]

Arcrania "Totalitarian Dystopia" (Unique Leader) 3/10

Ah jesus, forget it, I'm not reviwing this label's shit anymore! I mean I respect what the label is doing, but I'm just not into this super duper tech death. I'm beyond over it. And now they got England taking their stab at it. Come on England, how bout some more classic NWOBHM like you all used to make???

Brimstone Coven (Metal Blade) 0/10

Shameless GHOST worship.

Earth "Primitive and Deadly" (Southern Lord) 6/10

This is one of those bands that tries to leave their minds open when they write "heavy music." In other words, it doesn't really fit into a specific "Metal" category, yet it manages to remind me of countless forgettable artsy drone/doom bands. Er uh, "collectives" I mean. I guess they think it's acceptable to sound like other drone bands but don't dare play an actual METAL riff, goodness no! What was that one band that collaborated with Ian Astbury? That made no sense. Just like this. The irony of this style is that it still ends up sounding like a ton of other bands whilst avoiding the dreaded labels.

Singer kinda has Ian Astbury's vibrato. Or like Iggy Pop in his classic era. Honestly, he's too good of a singer for this band. My problem is not the sound per se. It's the monotony of it. I mean a SABBATH sort of monotony is about pummelling an amazing riff into your brain. This is a "wash of sound" approach, and I rarely dig it. I mean the drummer is just barely keeping the beat to the drone and it's crying out to be passionate - but only ends up sounding boring as hell. The vibe is really similar on the songs I checked. Didn't have the patience to dig deeper into the 8-9 plus minutes of all the songs.

It's a bit pretentious as well for my taste. I don't like music that basically says "hey, you have to like this because we know more about music than you." And these guys are definately trying to sell their sound to the listener, whilst practicing a well rehearsed "oh we really don't care what you think" sort of vibe. I mean maybe I am just looking WAY too far into this, but it just smells too manufactured. But all that said, these are clearly competent musicians and the production is very sculpted. It's an interesting sound. But I'm not sold on the sound alone - and that's what this band is selling. Sound, not necesarilly songs.

Embalmer "There Was Blood Everywhere (MLP)" (Hells Headbangers) 7/10

I'm not a big fan of "gore grind" these days, but this is the way to do it right. Very primitive and gory sounding. Deep vocals which were obviously influenced by the best Chris barnes era. Thee's also this crazy nut who adds his screams of terror for contrast. It's very close to sounding like power violence at times. It's basically really gory, gutteral, death metal influenced power violence. Early Carcass comes to mind. As well as a million grind bands I used to be able to name but have since forgotten. A typically, dependably GOOD Hells Headbanger's release.

The Lurking Corpses "Workin for the Devil" 8/10 (Hells Headbangers) 7/10

This singer really tries to be like King Diamond. But like a cheap high school Thrash metal version. Riffs are cheap, yet effective. There was a late 80s Bay Area band that sounded like this and I think they were called "Nitemare." Basically, their shitty 80s demo I have stashed away some where sounds about like this. But this has sound samples which help give it more of b-horror feel.

Musically, this is very much mid paced Thrash. Recalling some of Forbidden's more classic gallop riffs. But the drums sound kinda cheap - so the sound never really gets too clean - which I assume is on purpose.

The classic Thrashing continues with Blind Dead Arise which totally reminds me of late 80s Suicidal or Cro Mags - but with some cheap King Diamond immitator and some other guy growling. It's kinda like a better version of 3 inches of Blood I guess. I never liked 3 Inches of blood. But I always thought they had good elements. It just doesn't come together right for me. But this here band LURKING CORPSES does it a litte better in terms of getting the old school melting pot fairly right.

There's a cover of Slayer "Tormentor" which is cool - I fuckin love that song. This cover isn't bad, but it sounds more badly recorded than Slayer's version and that is saying alot because the Slayer version is from 1983 and is VERY lo fi. But Slayer has the atmosphere to make up for it. This singer has an interesting variety of voices though, so it's not without it's cool moments. You never know if the guy's gonna howl or grunt or bark. Solos are nailed pretty good here - clearly dude spent some time tryin to learn em. Maybe this was a Jeff Hanneman tribute? They go into Crionics at the end of the song which is where they take things too far - just sounds like crap. Shoulda quit while you were ahead guys!

October 31 "Bury the Hatchet" (Hells Headbangers) 7/10

I know I'm supposed to think this is amazing because King Fowley is in it, but all it sounds like is some good fun time kinda retro thrash with a traditional leaning. Not enough guitar solos though. I guess it's too "punk" for that or something. Although there are a couple good ones here and there. Some nice "twiddly widdlys" every so often. But clearly the in your face vocals and melodies are the primary focus, which is cool. At times it kinda recalls Desaster's slower stuff - which is to say it's got some good old school Metal power behind it.

Under my Gun has a pretty killer catchy thrash riff. Nice and ugly. Vocals are really what set this apart. It's got character, which is hard to find with newer bands doing a similar style. Sounding kinda like Oderus Urungus at times and slightly Chronos in mannerism. But you know, I would say the guy is pretty original in his own right.

Drums are a nice balance of being straight forward to a headbang speed while keeping the fills and chops in plentiful amounts.

Basically, this is a meaner, uglier, fist banging Metal Thrash anthem sort of band. not my favorite, but certainly worthy and I could probably bring myself to memorize some of the lyrics just so I can sing them loudly at their show and look like a real TRUE motherfucker with beer in my hand. But then I probably wouldn't go home and listen to it after that.

Swashbuckle "We Hate the Sea" (Get this Right Records) 3/10

I don't really like this band, I'm reviewing this mainly to go into how much I don't like it. After all, it does suck, so it deserves an honest break down.

First of all, the Pirate thing is SOOOOO weak and fake here. I mean it makes about as much sense as putting a viking hat on Chris Barnes and calling Six Feet Under "viking metal" just because he has a stupid hat. And this whole "we hate the sea" thing - oh HAHAHA the irony! It almost reminds me of Slipknot. A band that relies on this violent circus energy where the music is just kind of soundtrack to a bunch of fools posing all angry in the pit. Only here, we're supposed to be pretending to thrash around in the water angrily because we're pirates and we...hate the sea....or something...[way to work out your fictional mythos guys]

The music is basically unmemorable Thrash which doesn't really know the line between Thrash and Death - so it kinda goes from frantic Death to thrash. The Keyboards don't seem to serve any other purpose than to qualify them as "folk" or something so they can get on the next Paganfest tour.

The only thing I can really say positive about this is that the drummer's got chops. But it sounds like a session drummer. There's zero chemistry here. So in conclusion: This is all just very generic and fogettable. Just crappy and disposable in every way. I seen them live to, and I got the same impression. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to put on my Darth Vader outfit and start baking a pie....

Monday, September 1, 2014

Shaxul's "crazy trade sale!"

Here is a list of some recent items I obtained through trade, as well as a few others I have in stock. Everything is $5! Most are new and in shrink. Used/imperfect items will be notated in the description. Email to order...


ADHUK "Rituals of Personal Universe "(2014) Black Metal from Poland featuring former members of Algor. Limited to 500 copies.
AMEZARAK "Daemonolatreia" (2014) Russian Black Metal.
BLACK CULT "Neo-Satanism" (2014) Black Metal from Croatia.
Conqueror "War. Cult. Supremacy"
EXTERMINAS - Seventh Demoniacal Hierarchy CD (2012) Blasting & bombastic Black Metal from Italy.
Folkearth "By the Sword of my father"
Folkearth "Drakkars in the mist"
Kerasphorus "Cloven Hooves at Holocaust Dawn" (EP) Black War metal project featuring Pete Helmkemp.
NAZGHOR "Through Darkness and Hell" (2014) Swedish Black Metal. Limited to 500 copies.
NOSCE TEIPSUM "At the Heart of Hell" (2013) Pummeling Misanthropic Black Metal from the Ukraine. Deluxe reissue edition includes 6 bonus tracks (the "Riders of Human Death" Demo from 2011). Features all new artwork & layout + all tracks have been remastered exclusively for this release.
PROCLAMATION "Advent of the Black Omen"
PROCLAMATION "Messiah of Darkness and Impurity"
PROCLAMATION "Execration of Cruel Bestiality"
REXOR "Nox Obscura Sortis" EP (2012) After sharing the stage in 2011 with legends like Mortuary Drape, Taake, & Aura Noir, the Italian Black Metal horde Rexor are back with an all new release.
WRATHFUL PLAGUE "Thee Within the Shadows" (2013) Wrathful Plague's triumphant return after a 5 year hiatus with an occult/medieval folk Black Metal opus, mixed at Kheper studios in Poland and featuring a member of Cryptic/Panzerdivision.


APOSTATE "Trapped in a Sleep" (2011) Top-notch Death/Doom Metal. A must for fans of early Paradise Lost.
DARKFLIGHT "Closure"(2014) Crushing progressive Black/Doom Metal from this Bulgarian duo. Limited to 500 copies.
EMPTINESS SOUL "Three Days" (2013) Crushing yet majestic Depressive Black/Doom Metal.
HALO OF FLYS - "Bloodier Shade of Red" (2012) Gothic/Horror Metal that evokes the wisdom of Charles Manson, the spirit of late 70’s Alice Cooper, & the atmosphere of Grindhouse horror films. Yes, there will be blood…
SLOW "Unsleep" (2014) Funeral Doom Metal from Markov of Eternium. Limited to 500 copies.
URUK-HAI "The Fellowship"(2014) Pagan/Battle Ambient/Metal. Limited to 500 copies.


BLASPHEMATION / BLOODINGTON / PIGSHIT "The Putrid Byproduct of a Lifelong Pursuit of Gross and Wreckless Excess" (2014) 3-way split CD of sickening Goregrind/Crust/Noise. Limited to 500 copies.
COLDBLOOD "Chronology of Satanic Events" (2013) All new material from Brazil's Coldblood. Old-school style Death Metal in the vein of Deicide.
DISCREATE "Contingent Development of Inanimate Modifications" EP (2012) Technical Brutal Death Metal from the Philippines.
LUCIFER D. LARYNX & THE SATANIC GRIND DOGS OF DEATH "Absolute Defilement" (2012) Blueprint Grindcore taken to it's pulverizing limits. Heavily influenced by early Napalm Death, Carcass, 70's and 80's B-Movie-Gore-Horror-Sexploitation Flix and related sickness.
OLD GRANDAD "The Last Upper" (Featuring Will Carrol, currently of Death Angel)
LYCANTHROPY - Totenkränze CD (2014) An album of hateful, dark, transcendental Black Metal from this prolific Russian band. Limited to 500 copies.


DEALER "First Strike" NWOBHM originally recorded in 1986. Excellent and aggressive. Similar to Tygers of Pan Tang and Angel Witch. (Booklet may be slightly wrinkled, but otherwise brand new)
EXOCOSM "Spiral of Decay" Technical Finnish Thrash. Fans of Coroner, Vektor recommended. (Booklet may be slightly wrinkled, but otherwise brand new)
LAAZ ROCKIT "City's Gonna Burn"
Queensryche "The Promised Land" (Used, very good condition)

SHAXUL FEATURED ITEMS....................

Embers of Euphoria (Self Released Full length)

San Francisco based traditional heavy metal with massively heavy/down-tuned rhythm section. This was the result of years of work by Jesse Ramada, who also produced Saros and Passive Aggressive. Songs have a mid/fast tempo with emphesis on strong vocal melodies and borderline virtuoso guitar work. At times sounding like Arch Enemy, and others sounding like classic Megadeth. But overall, quiet its' own character and quiet a bit more attention to detail than one would expect from an American melodic traditional Metal band. From the greek mythology inspired cover art to the painstakingly constructed songs - this is among the great underground Bay Area traditional Metal recordings. Music Samples:

Passive Aggressive "Hardchrist" (Shaxul Records)

Debut full length featuring songs recorded between 2003-2005. Here the material ranges quite a bit from Thrash, Doom, Black, and Death Metal. There seems to be people who really "get this" and people who just don't. There's not much in between! But time has told that those who "get it" are quite into this obscure collection. Fans of Bethlehem, old Darkthrone, old Entombed, old Danzig will all probably find something they like here. Dark, raw, and original. CD digipak fearures original artwork designed by Shaxul (who is also in the band) and drawn by Charles McNary (who created the band's logo.) Inner panel includes lyrics. Music Samples: "The Ancient Bitch"

Sangre Amado "Ancient Bitch" (Shaxul Records)

This was the last of 4 albums S.A. created. Songs range from straight ahead to long and somewhat progressive. Most were a collaboration between Stone Wolfgang (Shaxul Records, Passive Aggressive) and Bloodeagle (Weakling/Saros). Comparisons have been made to everything from Neurosis to Winter to Cannibal Corpse. If you are looking for something different, obscure, and very dark check this out. Awesome original full color "Ancient Bitch" painting was exclusively created for this album cover. Lots of creepy artwork on the inside panels, plus lyrics. Recorded in 2003 by guy Higby (Epidemic). Music Samples: "Bestial Virgins"


Hellhunter/Unholy goatfucker (split 7")

Hellhunter is a San Francisco based Black/Punk/Thrash band that has hints of NWOBHM at times. Songs are generally very simple, short, and to the point. Mostly Black Metal in sound, but leans towards the other genres mentioned at any given time. Cohesive overall and fairly original. Unholy goatfucker plays cold Black Metal in the raw old school style with a slight symphonic edge at times. Music Samples:

Passive Aggressive "Hardchrist" (Shaxul Records) (see CD description above) Music Samples: "The Ancient Bitch"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm NOT Nostradamus!

Judas Priest "Redeemer of Souls" 9/10

When a band has so many classic albums, it's hard to hear a new release with open ears. But since "Nostradamus" sucked so bad, this album immediately sounds proper right off the bat. And that's all due respect to "Nostradamus," clearly it was musical - just WAY overboard and, in my opinion, misses the mark it set to hit. So rather than attempt to do anything daring, Priest has gone the safe route if you will, and put out an album of classic heavy metal. Almost makes me wonder if K.K. was responsible for the blunder that was their last album? Hmmm...

Speaking of which - I don't know if K.K. was stunting the band's creative juices or if Richie Faulkner is just an amazing songwriter - but this album really has that perfect combination of classic metal and modern european style. It feels fresh and inspired. One of the problems with "Angel of Retribution" was that although it's very inspired at times, it's a bit uneven and sound kind of tired and forced at some moments (Revolution or whatever the hell it's called - the one with the Janes Addiction riff?) It's as if the metal gods themselves came down and said "ok guys, we will bless one more album with the magic!" The riffs are crunchier than ever, like a powerful Wacken sound system. When the band said they have been somewhat revitalized, this was actually not an exaggeration!

Vocals are subdued, but tons of conviction, without being contrived. Halford is simply inhuman. He must be (see "Halls of Valhallah" for more proof). I mean seriously, what the fuck is in this guy's blood, fucking propane??? There is a really good variety here of powerful Painkiller Halford as well as the more dynamic 70s version. It seems the band really had a concept to create great songs here, and the vocals are a real center point. This was not an attempt to show how high he can scream, although it certainly shows he can still belt it out. But there is a humbleness to his delivery that makes it more appealing than the last few recordings he's done. He's also a bit more creative and experimental than he has been for some time. Halford sounds engaged, and it almost sounds like he's been listening to some viking metal if I'm not mistaken! Does he sound old? Well yes, at times he sounds like he's fighting age, but so far he's still winning. And I think he's still got a few albums left in him yet.

Drums - well Scott Travis is the atomic clock at the center of the earth last I checked. But sometimes he can sound a little robotic. You gotta admit right? Well he lays off a little on the double bass, and digs a little more of the riffs. "Metalizer" has an almost raw swedish guitar tone - probably the meanest tone heard from Priest...but the drums are a great example of Scott's extremely brutal, yet clean delivery. "Crossfire" is the real surprise on here though. Scott is kinda forced to dig into the bluesy riffs, and this gives the whole album a much needed vintage feel at times - and detracts from the sometimes robotic sound Scott can fall into.

The solos are surprisingly subtle in the mix, although they are all over the place. It seems the band has focused more on extremely solid riffs and melodic passages. So although I can't say there are any solos which approach the greatness of their best 70s material, what IS here is more dedicated to the song than the individual ego. This is a first on a Priest album I would say! But there are so many amazing details besides solos here. I'm somewhat beside myself here, because you can really feel the effort the band put into this. And it is inspiring to hear how much this great band still has to offer.

The inevitable comparison to "Painkiller" needs to be addressed. And it's pretty easy to see the contrast. "Painkiller" was just a straight forward ass kicker, done as aggressively as possible. "Redeemer" is less focused on brutality and more on great classic metal fist bangers. But without getting into cliche Euro metal territory. And yet, there is a modern sensibility to this. Again, what the fuck? Must be Faulkner's influence. He's in some other power metal band right? Yeah it's true the title track shares a strong resemblance to "Hell Patrol." But I wouldn't say it sounds like a copy. In fact, "Hell Patrol" almost sounds like it could have been written after this song, if that makes any sense. It's a more varied tune, which kinda sums up the whole album. Varied, yet cohesive.

Richie Faulkner's playing is really distinct from Glen's, and I can tell it apart even more than I could with KK. He's got a really cool vintage tone that is rich and full of character. This is no "stand in" the band really knew what they were doing with this fellow! Glen lets him shine which is cool - he rips many solos here.

"Down in Flames" does kind of sound like a Halford tune. But Roy Z has a certain sound, and that's not what I hear on this. Which makes it superior, of course! Speaking of which - the last Halford album was not that great. And I was beginning to think Halford was going to start becoming kind of a self parody soon. But here on "Redeemer" he shows that he can still create some material on par with his best.

"Hell and Back" is a real obvious "Metal Gods" sort of crowd pleaser/fist banger and does tread the cheese line pretty steadily. But the tone is real heavy and gives the band more of that laid back bluesy feel they had abandonded some years ago. It heads into directions you would not expect, and Priest does this a lot on this album. Again, either the new guy freed them to branch out or KK was holding the band back creatively. (Sorry KK I know I am assuming a lot here!) Some real killer solo tones on this one!

Overall, what I like most about this album is that there is no feeling of "trying to please" anyone, or trying to capture a sound. It really seems as though this new version of the band has simply come together and made a killer album. Another true metal classic from Judas Priest!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

R.I.P. Lucifer's Hammer

[My first and last "security" gig - crouched on the left there behind the cow head....]

So Invisible Oranges recently produced a thingy on Lucifer's Hammer which I found to be far too brief. So I thought I would add a bit of info that might fill some gaps.

In case you haven't heard of it, Lucifer's Hammer was a weekly Metal Monday gig circa late 90s/early 2000s that sort of ushered in the new wave of San Francisco Metal that had been pretty much dormant since the death of the thrash scene a few years previous to that.

Since I played and helped book the first few shows, and 2 members of my band Sangre Amado went on the help form Weakling and Ludicra, I'd have a couple words to say about all this. So I went back and dug up what I feel are a couple of the most important interviews I did on this subject. They fill in lots of gaps if you wanna know more. Enjoy!

John Cobbett interview Dec 2nd, 2003

John Gossard Interview March 23rd, 2004

Friday, June 20, 2014

A review of a review of Tripykon's "Melana Chasmata"

If you are reading this you may have also read reviews of albums on or maybe not. Anyway, I am the type of person who will pass time by looking bands up and reading reviews. Some reviews are actually really entertaining or just funny as hell. In fact, my favorite reviews are the really bad ones where the writer just gets way to emotionally involved in the bashing! Anyway, I figure since everyone will be talking about the latest Triptykon and kissing its balls, I wanted to post a review some guy named "bitterman" wrote (who gave the album 0%) and respond to his observations. Here goes!

"bitterman" wrote: Aside from having the namesake of Tom G. Warrior attached to this project, nothing about this album approaches the artistic scope of past successes. Sounding like an even more disjointed and overlong (also, one-dimensional) version of Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium covered by Roots era Sepultura, Melana Chasmata is over an hour of half-baked doom and groove metal cliches of the single string 2 note vapidity variety, angsty lyrics ("why did you abandon me!?"), and flirtations with goth whininess. Completely unremarkable, this hasty mess of an album sounds like a focus group project that aimed to satisfy the simple tastes of pickup truck drivers attempting to appear "cultured" the world over (guys who wear Black Label Society t-shirts that claim Diamond Darrell is the greatest guitar player to have ever lived and watch Zeitgeist to "know what's up").

Shaxul: Well FUUUCKIN goddamn bitterman let it out! Let's see, well bitterman rattles off a number of potent visuals basically referencing, I think, an overall leaning towards nu-groove metal. that is VERY bad of course! But this is a tough one sometimes because there was plenty of heavy grooves in early thrash and Celtic Frost was one of the "grooviest." So it is a bold statement to compare "Melana Chasmata" so simply and quickly to "roots" era Sepultura. Upon a quick listen you could perhaps hear a few riffs from this album and pass it off as "generic groove," but a few minutes of this and it's quickly obvious that we are dealing with a "doom" groove and not a "nu metal" groove. So bitterman is being overly dramatic because he took a quick snapshot and made a quick decision without much thought, me thinks.

Maybe it's Tom's Beanie that pisses off bitterman. The thing about Tom's beanie is that it doesn't make you think of American sports teams. It makes you think more of Nosferatu trying to adapt to the trends. Or Frankenstein trying to dance. There is something...disturbing about Tom's fanatic insistence on appearing with that bloody thing on! And I like the fact that it is awkward and he still does it. True freaks in metal are a rarity these days. And let's face it, Tom is a legendary freak if there ever was one!!

bitterman is too focused on making modern comparisons to appreciate what is unique about the album. I think it is possible he has not heard enough 70s/80s hard rock/metal to get the fact that GROOVE was actually good in metal at one point. And just because NU Metal "borrowed it" doesn't mean they own it forever.

"bitterman" wrote: Songs plod along listlessly and do not resolve any of their conflicts upon completion. Constant unnecessary detours (I imagine for the sake of "quirkiness" or being "avant-garde") show that no real thought were put into making these songs work. When stepping outside the bounds of "doomy" tempos (like on Breathing), Triptykon fumble, sounding like tired old men trying to act "angry". Various forced vocal styles such as crooning, yelling, and spoken word (mumbling?) attempt to spice up the album with "variety", but the similar patterns of plodding rhythm riffs that are sometimes occasionally thrown next to discordant, jangly "goth" whininess (if not programming which accomplishes the same) remain constant throughout.

Shaxul: Man is this guy a former Celtic Frost member or what? I mean "Breathing" is such a godly awesome song! I guess he has a problem with the way it starts slow and then gets violently fast. The song starts kind of trippy and doomy. It's called an INTRO bro! So then a crazy discordant riff busts in, violent drums, and now we are experiencing a lesson in violence Triptykon style! Now the way in which Triptykon shifts from the droning notes of the intro into the violent chaotic thrash beat is perfectly well written. I mean, these guys know how to write songs! It takes you to 2 or 3 places. And the changes flow well. Tired old men? Man this drummer sounds like a young Scott Travis! I mean christ, what do you want? Killer tone, killer chops, killer sense of groove - where the fuck did Tom find this guy? Songs are fairly formulaic, so I think it's the drastic dynamic changes which bitterman is seeing as not making sense and being "lazy." I dunno, I think its just over his head. And this album is NOT that hard to understand really.

The spoken word stuff is a personal thing. I actually hated all of Tom's vocals from Into the Pandemonium through Vanity Nemesis. His "spoken word" stuff here sounds better. Not as annoying. I don't think Tom throws these sections in at random or to be overly "artsy", they are well placed and do enhance the songs and bring different moods. But you do have to buy into the dark concept of the album to appreciate them I would say. And I think bitterman wrote this off too quickly to embrace the mood.

bitterman really seems to be questioning the basic songwriting skills of the band here, which is kind of absurd because these guys (and girl) are pros! It sounds to me like bitterman made a snap decision not to like this and just totally overlooks all the intricacies and just goes "ah fuck it bunch of noise" like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Tarino." Come on bitterman, lighten up.

I mean look at classical music. A lot of times in classical music I find the dramatic changes to be a bit confusing and distracting. But with classical, the melody and changes are everything. In Metal, it is very much VISCERAL. So when a very visceral band such as Triptykon gets into arrangement and dynamic changes in a classical song structure sort of way, it can quickly alienate a certain group. But honestly, if you are a fan of at least the first 2 Celtic Frost albums, there is NO WAY IN HELL you can simultaneously DISLIKE this album so much. Because fuck me if it doesn't sound like Celtic Frost took a time machine from 1985 to 2014 and wrote a fuckin album called "Melana Chasmata!" I mean this shoulda came out instead of "Cold Lake" and that woulda ruled!

"bitterman" wrote: When this album ends, all that can be gathered is that Thomas Fischer is content to wallow in one fixed emotional state (angsty despair) to make money off those gullible enough to believe any of his music past To Mega Therion is worth listening to. I recommend purchasing the Hellhammer demos compilation instead to hear the sound of a musician out to change the world because this is just a lazily manufactured mainstream audience pandering media product at best. Dull and vapid.

Shaxul: duuuuude that is so retarded! Mainstream audience pandering??? I mean let's take a look at one of Hellhammer's heaviest songs: "Triumph of Death." What does it sound like? It sounds like a really shitty recording of Triptykon! Triptykon IS Hellhammer you fool! Ok yeah I know it's not the same band. But the DOOM element in Celtic Frost (and even Hellhammer to a degree) is really where Triptykon is at. All of the violence and darkness is here, it's just being done with the best production and best players. i think many fans get connected to the run down demo era of a band and have a hard time realizing that it sounded fucked up NOT on purpose but because they were BROKE! Some artists actually make great art even when they have a budget and competent equipment! So that's what this is. If you wanna sit there and go "dude this is so slow and boring" well - the riffs are interesting, they have dynamics, they are painful at times - I think bitterman doesn't "get" doom yet.

I rate bitterman's review 50% not on accuracy, but on entertainment value alone!