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
http://www.earth-dog.com/lounge/viewtopic.php?t=1980&highlight=shaxul+interviews

John Gossard Interview March 23rd, 2004
http://www.earth-dog.com/lounge/viewtopic.php?t=2854&highlight=gossard

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 www.metal-archives.com 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!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Children of Technology "Future Decay" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10

Fuck this is killer. Sounds like "Motorbreath" from Metallica's first album. I mean, it sounds ALLLLOT like Motorbreath. Is it ok for me to like this? Singer sounds kinda German or something....ok so I looked it up and they are Italian! Anyways, this is fucking great it just sounds like "Kill Em All" if it was recorded with today's technology.

Ok so the whole album doesn't sound like "Kill Em All" but the drums sound EXACTLY like Lars Ulrich "Kill Em All" drums. So therefore, even when it doesn't sound like Metallica, I see Lars' headband in my mind....anyway...the rest of the abum is just a fine example of what Europe has to offer and how they really embrace the spirit of classic Metal...

Singer sounds like Tom Warrior mixed with...Tom Warrior. He doesn't quite hit those "grizzly bear" notes, but has a very grizzly delivery.

Corrosion of Conformity "IX" (Candlelight Records) 8/10

COC is a very interesting band. I especially love the way they bounced around over the years from hardcore, to Thrash, to bluesy doom, and then right on into who knows the fuck where??? What I hear from the first song "Brand New Sleep" is pretty much a perfect trip down memory lane through the heavy sounds of the 80s and 90s as viewed through the eyes of COC.

One thing that bugged me about the 90s era COC is that they got a little too close to the line between "grunge stoner pop" and genuinely cool grungy underground music. Thankfully, this new album dwells in a similar area, but with much more feel and less produced sound. SO basically, this accomplishes that medium between the Bluesy Sabbath side without mocking it, yet retains the attitude and experimental feel the band has been known for lately.

The sound is VERRRY raw and dry sounding. I mean this almost sounds like it was recorded in the 70s. These guys REALLY have their tones down. I mean from the awesomely cheap bluesy leads to the vintage sonic wall which punishes you from slow down blues to up tempo hardcore. A sound like this is highly evolved in a way that is deceptive. Hats off to the effort put into this album.

I'm a huge fan of Reed Mullin's drumming, and this rhythm section really compliments him. So it's just really a pleasure to hear a band with so much chemistry jam out. It's really rare.

I wouldn't say anything here was particularly "amazing" just REAL kick ass.

Goatwhore "Constricting Rage of the Merciless" (Metal Blade) 8/10

I never really liked this band, but this sounds pretty good. It's an interesting mixture that I suppose can only be the "Goatwhore" sound.

I guess what really annoyed me about this band initially was the perhaps overly eager effort to assimulate Black Metal sounds just because it was becomming really hip in Ameria at the time. To me, it contradicted the whole "southern hearcore death" thing they seemed more rooted in. Kinda like Pantera when they went from Glam to Thrash. Well, not quite but you know what i mean...At least with regard to the singer's former band. To me it sounds like Goatwhore stopped trying so hard to be "Black Metal" and are now playing something a bit more true to their roots. So while there is a little edge of the "blackened" sound, it tends to compliment, rather than contradict the otherwise Death/Hardcore laced obscurity.

"Baring teeth for Revolt" is a very kick ass song. I mean it's just awesome fucking hardcore, with a touch of classic 80s Thrash thrown in. Very nice combination of sounds. I like this band better than I used to. Super fucking solid. Very Thrashy at times. In a VERY GOOD WAY!!!

"Reanimated Sacrifice" has a nice backward 80s Slayer riff that will have you struggling to find it on one of their albums. Shit, I did not expect a lesson in violence here, but this is a lesson in violence I won't soon forget!

Overall, more variation here than most albums. From obscure blackened passages, through a thrash metal lesson in violence, a good hardcore pounding in the way Carnivore may have resembled, and what you have is a pretty fucking nice pakkage I shall purchase!

Midnight "No Mercy for Mayhem" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10

Well Midnight delivers them goods as usual. Like a cosmic battle between Lemmy and Cronos, the music strides comfortably from d-beat death punk to classic thrash metal, ala Metallica's FIRST album. Some nice other elements are thrown in for some good ecclectic bangin throughout.

It's easy for a band like Midnight to lose their charm. But so far, they seem as strong as ever and even more classic sounding, if anything. But in a way they sound like they are progressing musically at times. However the raw nature and image of this band is going to limit how much they can experiment - so it'll be interesting to see how the next few albums are. For now, no complaints!

Sacrocurse "Unholier Master" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10

So here is some ultra satanic sonic hate noise of hell. It drones in the way Beherit does I suppose. But with more singular intent and with more of a death metal execution. This is more hateful death than it is black metal. It doesn't matter to the band I'm sure.

I'm not a huge fan of this repetitive, singular sonic delivery because it demands much of the listener. And it is rare I am in the mood, as I prefer more dynamics in songwriting. For example - "Altars of Madness" absolutely stunned me with brutality, the way this album is doing right now. But Morbid Angel manages to make it extremely musical, whereas this band is more about the "vibe" and are not as intrictate as I would prefer with regard to songwriting.

It's funny, the more I think about it, this sounds like Altars of Madness in many ways. I say that's good!

For fans of hateful death noise, this is great.

Wolves in the Throne Room "Celestite" (Artemisia Records) 7/10

I never liked this band but this is easily the best I've heard from them! It's not Metal at all, it's just spacey hippy trippy shit. But I tell you, it puts me right in that 60s-80s class Sci Fi movie head space. I mean, I keep waiting for Hal's voice to bust in.. "I'm sorry Shaxul. I cannot stop the self destruct sequence. Goodbye!"

These fuckin guys..."let's make an album that sounds like the milk bar scene in "A Clockwork Orange."" Hey, you know Master's Hammer did something like this. And I actually love that album (Slagry?) so this here is technically in the confines of "something a Euro BM guy coulda done" category, so they are good.

All bulshit aside - I actually like this. Hate to admit it. Someone kick my ass please. Cannnot...like...does...not...compute....

Wolvhammer "Clawing into Black Sun" (Profound Lore) 0/10

Fuck they still writing this shit? This fucking arty Hitler Haircut college thesis on "distressed" black metal or whatever the fuck they call it...I refuse to listen, even if it does sound nice at times!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TRY BEFORE DIE!!! (Reviews 5.20.14)

I was gonna post a picture of Nunslaughter's new album here, but it's just not as good as this album cover. But then, how the FUKK are you ever gonna top that???

Brutal Blues "s/t" (Selfmade Gods Records)9/10

Wow! and What the FUCK? Ok so this is a Swedish grind band. But they really set out to sound different and I am very glad because I almost didn't even give this the time of day figuring it'd sound like the last 5,000 grind bands I've heard. Fuck, I was way wrong here!

So the drums blast the whole time, the structures are very frantic and power violence-ish at times. But the guitar tone is so awesomely cheap and vintage. They "grind" but in a soft, cheap way. Like a garage band playing grind. The vocals skitter across the top way in the distance, coming off like the grunts of a man passing by at light speed riding a UFO. It is very chaotic, and reminds me of Exit 13 at times. Kind of randomly insane - but never relents on the brutality. Very raw and stripped down. No "bong hit" samples or anything, just in your face and chaotic. I guess if you took Voivod's "War and Pain" and sped it up to grind speed, you'd be in the ballpark. Interesting chords, great time changes, this has brains.

Very cool to hear this new sound. Recommended!

Cutthroats 9 "Dissent"7/10

I remember this band from years ago in the Bay Area, but had not heard of them in years so I forgot what they sounded like. I was not a big fan of Unsane so naturally I wasn't rushing out to check out the singer's other band. But here it is, in all it's heavy sludging glory. The drums and bass are very solid and heavy and a pleasure to hear. But without better songs or something to stand out, it just fades away in the background after the last line of crank is snorted. Maybe I need me some of that to appreciate this. Pass it!

Eyehategod "s/t" (Housecore)8/10

I been a casual Eyehategod fan for 20 years or so. I say casual because while I love seeing them live, I rarely listen to them at home. But when it comes to the New Orleans POWER SLUDGE sound, you can't beat em.

Billy Anderson is back producing, and he would seem the perfect guy to capture the hectic hardcore and the painful bluesy doom passages. The sound has the same loud as hell riff racket you'd expect. It's very clear while being full and nasty. Drums have taken on a new level of clarity and brutality. I like hearing the drums. that's what does it for me.

Ghoul "Hang Ten EP" 7/10

It's been a few years since I heard Ghoul. But I do recall listening to "Splatterthrash" and "We Came for the Dead" quite a few times over the years and nothing ever really sticks out in my head. I just remember it being kinda chaotic and reminding me of SOD with the occasional horror sample or something. On the new album I'm noticing alot of influences I didn't before. Like melodic Death Metal, perhaps a little doom, and....surf? It has the same fun/Addams Family/dark carnival sorta feel, but musically it's more Metal overall I'd say. Mostly Thrash I guess. Splatterthrash?

I guess my problem with Ghoul is - although I dig pretty much everything they do from their image to their music, nothing ever quite kicks my ass. It's all just kinda clever and cool and at times pretty fuckin heavy. But for me, I wish one of the many cool elements would stand out a bit more. As it stands, it all just blends into each other and feels more like a Rob Zombie film short or something. But if yer a fan of interesting mosh music, or thrash in general you probably already heard these guys and I don't need to tell ya to check it out.

This band makes me think of Gwar too. Because Gwar is another band who I never was completely sold on. I think Oderus is a genius though, and funny as hell (RIP). But for me Gwar's songs never got better after "Scumdogs" so it was mainly for nostalgic purposes I woulda considered seein em live again. Funny enough, I think if Gwar had more the music of Ghoul, I'd have dug Gwar more! And I suppose if Ghoul had Oderus as a singer - well that'd be what they are missing as far as I could see. So basically, play this AND Gwar at the same time and you'll have the perfect band!

Incarnated "Try Before Die" (Selfmade God Records) 9/10

Try before die. I like that. Very positive message! Who says brutal death metal music doesn't have positive messages!

So fuck, this is some fucking buzzsaw brutality. I mean it sounds like a fucking buzz saw. Blasting away like a roller coaster to hell. Fucking singer sounds like some mad creature from the black lagoon. What in sam hill is THAT sound??? This is just extreme fuck you in the face hard death metal! And by that, I mean it's good!

Try before die my friends!

Graves at Sea/Sourvein (split) 8/10

So Graves at Sea has really gotten quite fast and soft. Just kidding. This is heavy and slow as a fucking tractor pushing 100 tons of horseshit up Lombard street on a rainy day. I like the singer's "troll being buried alive" screach. Quite original as far as I know. I mean, I'm sure he's got his secret cult influences, but I can't say I've heard too many voices like his. It's still that Nathan dude right? I think his buddy is in there too yellin near the middle range, but maybe it's the same dude using a different voice. I don't think it's GOS's goal to really have a bunch of songs that cover alot of territory. It's pretty much that wet, slippery street with a bulldozer pushing 100 tons of shit up it the whole time. So expect these two songs to clobber you in pretty much the same manner.

There is a mid almost hardcore sound I don't recall hearing before with these guys, but then I don't really follow them so maybe they been goin this direction for a while. Guitar tone is wonderfully crushing and sludgy.

Sourvein is a band I haven't heard in a few years, but they are a bit faster than G.A.S. And since they have a whole 3 songs on here, I'm gonna guess the songs are a little more standard structure wise than G.A.S. The mid paces sludge riff goes well with the vocals, which are ylled but controlled and bordering on melodic. I actually like this singer. He's a good yeller. That's not easy because most people who yell just sound kinda dumb or painfully average at best. This dude reminds me of Buzz Osborn.

The second song on here is almost psycadelic. Well, it is I guess. Psych-sludge. It's pretty fuckin cool sounding actually. I like Sourveign. I need to listen to more Sourveign. I am...hyp....no....tized...

Locusta "Dendromorphosis EP" 7/10

well, I kinda hate the vocals. I mean, he's not bad at growling. He just sounds like Chris Barnes too much and it would be nice to hear something more original sounding. Especially with such interesting music.

The music grinds to a point, but clearly these guitarists wanna show off a bit, which is cool. I guess these riffs are kinda like really fast thrash riffs. Kinda At the Gates at times, but more fucked. Less melodic and more hectic. Kinda like newer Carcass if it was a little faster and more fucked sounding. At points they remind me a Vector.

These guys are pretty good and I'd like to see em live. But I feel something is lacking in the vocal department and makes this feel incomplete to me. Musically, very impressive and somewhat original though. So if you like technical brutality without falling into the generic death grind abyss, check these guys out or at least keep yer eye on em.

Mournful Congregation "Concrescence of Sophia" (20 Buck Spin) 8/10

What, you don't know what CONCRESCENCE is? Well what kind of dummy are you? I use that word HOURLY! Guess I am just smarter than most people HAHA! And Sophia? Well, she is an ex of mine. Why the band wants to write about that procedure she had done in the middle ages is beyond me. Sheesh...anyhow...

Here's 2 long ass songs which are really heavy but relaxed. Each section unfolds like a dying flower - exposing new dead layers with each moment. I know, so poetic right? Seriously though, this is really good. And when it comes to Funeral Doom it doesn't get much better than this. The problem is, lots of bands are trying to make this sound, and so it makes it hard to hear this with open ears. But if you can, you'll enjoy it quite a bit. Of course, this music requires many listens to fully enjoy.

I've seen this band before and this is pretty much the same feeling I got seeing them live, only a little less powerful for obvious reasons. But basically, this is like a very dark, mournful sermon (surprise!). I don't want to take other bands apart to illustrate what sets this band apart from similar acts, but they just have a way of constructing songs, building progressions, and shifting dynamics that sounds very natural and orchestral. It's the sort of thing that is hard to pin down, but few bands can deliver convincingly. I'm convinced!

Would love to hear this band progress a little bit, but I'm certainly not complaining with this offering.

Nightfell "The ever living Mourn" (Southern Lord/Parasitic) 9/10

Wow I wasn't expecting something so old school Swedish Death Metal here. I mean at times I think I'm listening to Paradise Lost's first album. Perhaps a bit slower and doomier, but that is saying alot since "Lost Paradise" is pretty goddamned slow and heavy. Pffft! Well I have never felt so stumped on a review. I mean, it sounds like a fucking lost classic Swedish Death Doom album that just got recorded. ON TOP OF THAT, at times it sounds like Viking era Bathory. Some of the heavier "Blood on Ice" songs come to mind. I dare say this is an instant classic! I guess this is an all star group of sorts, but I really don't care all I know is my ears hear glory of death! Damn, you better pick this shit up, these fuckin guys know what the fuck their doing! Hard to believe they are American. Very Euro sound to my ears.

Nunslaughter "Angelic Dread" (Hells Headbanger) 8/10

Well, what can I say about Nunslaughter? They are the keepers of a dying breed of filthy old school death thrash bangers. Here we have a nice fat collection of filthy old school Slayer, Sodom, Death, Kreator, whatever other legendary band you wanna throw in the blender - it's here. Delivered mostly at MOSH speed, but a nice dose of blast beat is added where needed. More importantly, it's left off where not necessary! (staring at you tech math deth shite!) The onslaught never stops for the entire album. Instant classic!

There's also some old shit they recorded here as a bonus so it's a double CD/LP.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Carcass releases fun arena banging album...

Carcass "Surgical Steel" 7/10

A new Carcass album is not like a new Metallica album. I don't expect a new Metallica album to be good. I don't even expect a new Slayer album to be good (although with gary Holt in the band that might change). But Carcass, I expect ALOT from. That's because "Necroticism: Descanting the insalubrouse" is not just a Death Metal classic, but a serious piece of musical genius. Sure, I like the early grind stuff. And Heartwork was a damned solid, if more commercial sounding effort. But Necroticism was different. Very anal and single minded. A conceptual piece of art. Layer upon layer of melodic classic slow Slayer riffs, with a dark classical feeling - set to the scene of madness and butchery. Solos were also very advanced for a Death Metal band, and showed a high level of both skill and melodic understanding. Not just wank! "Necroticism" has it all...perfectly raw, thunderously heavy, chunky, shredding solos that never brighten things too much, sludging/pounding aggressive drums... I could go on and on about the perfectly psychotic vocals, brilliant lyrics...oh there is humor there. But it's very dark and not a happy type. More demented. Can you tell I like this album?

There is a certain "cult status" bands can obtain inadvertantly by merely disappearing. ANd while Carcass certainly was regarded as legendary pioneers of gore-grind before they broke up, the time spent away has somewhat erased the bitter taste of "Swansong." And while Death Metal as a genre has pretty much past its creative prime, it hasn't stopped countless bands from emulating Carcass or even trying (absurdly) to one up them. Thus, they have remained valid in the underground and have attained far more fans while gone and are now bigger than ever.

I have to admit, I pegged Mike Amott as the "aresehole making things all happy and commercial sounding" in Carcass. But this new album shows I was dead wrong, as Bill Steer is just guilty, if not even more guilty, of turning Carcass into a "guitar world magazine" band. There is alot of "wankety wank" on this new one. ANd while "Heartwork" had plenty of "wank" as well, there managed to be a disinct darkness to that album this one doesn't have. (not to mention the sound was just SO crushingly heavy on it) "Surgical" is a happy album for the most. And I think it was in the band's mind to have fun and pay massive 80s homage on this recording. Unforunately it gets a little rediculous when you can acually pick out bands and sections they are "resurrecting." Especially when it's recycled Carcass material! And that is a good example what is REALLY disappoining about this album.

Now let's not kid ourselves...the first couple Carcass albums, while "crust punk accepted" and such - were rather rediculous recordings. Amateur, but also brilliant and pioneering. It wasn't till "Necroticism" that they got WAY serious. And I think the new album is not just a rebellion against that, but a bit of an "F-U" to the elitist mentality that has come to surround them while they were absent. So for this, I have to respect that songs like "Thrasher's Abatoir" really are what they sound like. A sencere homage to their 80s Thrash influences. In fact, this whole album is more of a Thrash album with Death influences more than it is a Death Metal album,and this both intrigues and bugs the shit out of me at the same time. But it is funny how few people so far praising the album really seem to hear all the homage going on or commenting on it.

The "1985" intro is really quite silly, as it wreaked of Judas Priest "Hellion" mimickery. Not to mention it's similar to the "Heartwork" album intro. I kinda expected something with a little more thought put into it. It really seems lazy more than anything else. And LAZY is not something I expected from a band that farts brilliant riffs in their sleep!

Regarding the drums - well I used to think Ken Owen was the weak link in Carcass. Reason being, he always sounded like he was struggling to keep up and he caused the beats to drag a bit. But now that I hear this new guy (Ben Ash) well,he's so goddamned perfect and on the beat,I suddenly realized that Ken Owen's style really made the sound heavier! Kinda like Vinny Appice. He's not real fancy in Sabbath,but he's just got that heavy fucking feeling where he kinda demands the band to go at his speed. And that speed is headbang speed! It's one of those things you could really nerd out on (and I guess I have) so enough of that...point is, they lost alot of their sound with the loss of Ken.

That being said - we still have some legendary musicians at work. The brilliance is here, but it's so mixed up with average or otherwise overly commercial or happy sounding parts. So let's really break it down...

1985/Thrasher's Abattoir - VERY generic intro as I kinda stated already. But right into a somewhat generic but fairly ass kicking death/thrash number. I've spun this many times now, and it is not my imagination: this is a killer song, but man DO THEY HAVE BETTER. Also, the sound on this just isn't kicking me in the nuts the way Colin Richardson's recordings did. This is...good THRASH production. It's not that bloody dungeon Death metal sound I want from Carcass. This is a big part of what I think is missing on "Surgical Steel." Maybe they really are trying to connect with the younger "Warbringer" fan types?

Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System - this reminds me of some of the more hectic material on Heartwork and is one of the more solid numbers on here. MANY killer riffs and parts here, and Bill Steer really shows his 80s Death/Thrash chops - and man he's one of England's champion riffers - as this clearly attests. So when I criticise a song like this, I fully acknowledge that it still kicks ass on almost everything else. But again - this band wrote "Necroicism" so they are held to a higher standard. So overall, this tune is just way too busy throwing in 80s licks and fancy changes and manages to paint itself right out of the brutal room and right into forgettable "Hearwork" throwaway territory. The other, and very plausable theory, is that Carcass is again, trying to reach the younger Thrash audience. Which is really like Jeff Walker going to Hollywood for Steak at the Rainbow and a botox injecion for the weekend.

A Congealed Clot of Blood - Ok now this one pulls out a classic riff cruncher that only a gifted riff master such as Bill can come up with. Fuck, what a crusher! Sounds a bit like a Cannibal COrpse riff - but who knows, Corpse could very well have borrowed this style from Carcass first, as they did have the same producer back in the day. They probably heard "Heartwork" and went - "uh, we need their producer." Anyhow....this tune really brings back a little of the old "Necroticism" sound. Maybe more than the rest. The brilliant use of guitar layering mixed with grim key changes, heavily 80s influenced. Yeah, they hit the vibe right a few times here on this album.

The Master Butcher's Apron - Ok shit, now they really got the heavy guns out. What a classic brutal fucking riff! SOme very Carcassy song changes. Melodic shifts and riffs with that signature. It does unfortunately feel like light weight Wacken crowd pandering at points, but manages to shine at the same time.

Non compliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard - Wow, well again, some really golden fuckin riffs in this one. Real old school classic Death Thrash riffs here! But do we need all these token twiddly Heartwork guitar wank noodles? I mean what is there to prove technically anymore? I dunno if they just were listening to WAY too much 80s metal when they wrote this, but it just comes off more as emulation rather than a fist full of Carcass. But perhaps I am simply at odds with the direction they took years ago! More Wacken crowd pandering again perhaps (this is a disurbing trend!)

the granulating dark satanic mills - ok guys, I know you gotta be king of the long rediuculous song tiles, but really??? ANyway - more Judas Priest by way of Slayer melodic intros - which do have the Carcass stamp. But come on man, this shit sounds like a song on Heartwork. But not quite as good! HOWEVER....the main riff during the vocals? Fuckin hell - that is CLASSIC fucking Carcass. But Jeff, WHY? Why in the hell the lame Dave Mustaine sounding chorus? I'm talking about the number chant thing he does. It really wreaks of catchy 80s audience chant part. I never wanna think of Megadeth when I hear Carcass. Maybe I'm nuts for making the connection, but maybe a copy of "So Far So good" was in Bill's car CD player when he wrote this. The truth will have to wait!

Unfit for Human consumption - Well I'll be damned if just after I questioned my own assessment of said "Megadeth influence" here we get a riff that really sounds a hell of alot like Holy Wars. ANd then the chorus sounds like fucking Rest in Peace Polaris. Jesus man, really? Carcass emulating 90s Megadeth on their big come back album? (and not sounding quite as good)

316L grade Surgical Steel - This is pure new generation Thrash fan pandering. It's solid as all hell - but there is just too much pre meditation here. I ain't buyin it.

Captive Bolt Pistol - I guess you could say this was the first "single" they released from SS. If you wanna call it that, it was distributed free, but that's another topic...this carefully balanced song both massages the buttocks of people like myself who want something like Necroticism and smooches the vagina of those younger fans just arriving to Carcass today from new school Thrash and Dragonforce type backgrounds. Too much fancy flibbety flabb, not enough genuine Carcass.

Mount of Execution - No, it's not the first time Carcass had acoustic guitar on a song, it's just that it didn't sound like a Bon Jovi ballad intro last time. It also wasn't followed by a catchy british traditional heavy metal riff, followed by a massive classic Metallica riff, followed by a really pointlessly pop 80s chorus...or something...man, this song's really got me confused!

Last word on the drums. Dude, the guy's got chops up the arse. I ain't saying he sucks. He's badass! But drummers like this are a dime a dozen. He does what's good for the song. But he doesn't bring that groove and character Ken Owen has. And I think it is an ignorant Carcass fan who doesn't hear it. You don't have to be able to articulate it to hear it. So if you agree this album is lacking a certain heaviness - I can almost guarantee it comes down to the drum sound/style here more than the happy arena death song parts. I know, I'm so hard on the guy. What a fukking shaxhole I am!

Overall, it is a solid album full of classic moments. But these classic moments are likely not the first priority. Rather, the quality of musicians involved canno help but fart gold here and there, if we shake the corpse enough. It has more than one wink towards the Arena/Festival touring circuit. ANd I hate to say it but this album really does sound kinda inspired by money or at least the sort of hype I kinda thought the band stood against for many years.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

MANOWAR (for $75)

As an 80s kid, I dug the hell out of all the Van Halen hits. But being a kid, I didn't attend many concerts in the 80s. So when I heard about Van Halen re-uniting with David Lee Roth and playing Oakland, I had to go. I'd never seen em, and who knows if/when they'll break up again? So I shelled out $100, which was the most I ever paid for a concert. I'm pretty cheap so that was a big deal to me. I knew my seats would be less than awesome, but they were even worse than that. Way up in the back in the absolute highest, back row on the upper level, way off to the side. "I paid $100 for this?" So I chose to walk around and find some crevice with at least a better view. I ended up watching from the back center hiding behind some curtains so I wouldn't get booted by the staff. Anyway, Eddy is obviously past his prime, but it was still a great show. Would I do it again? Nah. Not for $100. If I bother I will spend $300 for good seats. What's the point of blowing $100 on shit seats? I guess the people I saw in the front paid $300? $400? $500? Shit, who knows? The shirts were absurdly expensive in the lobby. I saw a tee shirt for $35 I think. That was the cheapest thing there, and the line was like 30 feet long. All this for a band that sings about chicks, doctors, fighting, tattoos, etc...and has a singer famous for dancing around with no shirt and skin tight pants flopping his crotch bulge all over and doing the splits. THAT's worth it bro. But Manowar? Oh come on that's gay!

Now It's been a good 5 years or more since Manowar played the West Coast, maybe even the US. Being a Manowar fan, I naturally was excited to hear they were finally coming back. When I heard tickets were $75, I was a little shocked. But then I remembered how awesome the last Manowar show I saw was and compared it to the Van Halen show I saw and figured ok: I'll spend less than I did on Van Halen, I'll be up close, they are playing all of Kings of Metal, and they only come like once every 5 years or less. Say if they had come every year for the last 5 years and charged $20. Well, that's $100 right there! So if I see em once every 5 years or less at $75, it's actually a bargain! And for the record, Manowar kicked more ass than Van Halen did. It's not about lyrics, muscles, bulges, hits, irony, or any of that - I'm just talking about rocking hard at top volume with no musical compromise.

Now here's where I "justify digging Manowar..." A Metal band really has very few messages to impart. And regardless of what metal band you pick, they can mostly all be regarded as retarded lyrically. Rock in general is loud guitars, songs about sex, death, war, victory, wizards and warriors, etc...so rather than contradict themselves and pretend they are more sophisticated than that (like alot of punk does), Manowar embrace the stereo-types and even enforce them. So, xxx punk band sings about glue-ing their dickhole shut. Manowar sings another song about STEEL. Now, is Manowar more retarded because they take their message seriously? Is singing about glue-ing your dickhole shut cooler because the band is joking? Wouldn't this band be MORE intense if they were NOT joking about gluing their dick-hole shut? I mean, that would be pretty scary. And it's people like gg Allen who get idolized. A guy who certainly had a sense of humor. But he THREW SHIT ON PEOPLE with no real irony or humor I could see on his face! This was a seriously disturbed man. And his intensity stemmed from his SERIOUS abnormal condition. I don't think he was joking at all when he threw shit. I mean, when your parents name you "Jesus Christ" I don't think there is a joke left in the world you can laugh at.

So...when you spend all day hating work, your boss, your wife, yourself, etc...and here comes these fools, living out some Lord of the Rings trip, playing the part without irony, even having the nerve to call themselves the "Kings of Metal?" Well you know what, that's a fun, retarded trip I'm gonna take. At least they won't throw shit at me ;)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reviews 9.28.13

Dead Man "The All Too Well Known" (s/r Tape?) 7/10

This tape looks like a good home made demo, but sounds quiet more powerful than it looks production wise. Not to say it is pro sounding, and it would only be a distraction if it was "better." To me, this is the perfect balance for such destructive, tormented music. It has a heavy Weakling feel in terms of the sound and song dynamics. There's the promitive apocalyptic Black Metal sound mixed with a Neurosis sort of orchestral heaviness that is not easy to pinpoint exactly. But it's a very good peice of genuine dark heaviness. Vocals are quite tormented and music just sort of swirls around into various stages of hell. Drums have more death/doom elements than the music alone suggests,and to me this is a plus. As it is very easy for music like this to be a carbon copy of something else. At times it tries too hard to be "true Black Metal" but then it does something a little unexpected and keeps it interesting. I keep hearing Weakling for some reason. SOme good hellnoise, this. Live they are as dramaic as they sound and I recommend seeing them if you can.

Exhumed "Necrocracy" (Relapse) 6/10

The current drummer Exhumed has (I think it's the dude from Vile) makes them sound tighter and more like Cannibal Corpse. This is both good and bad. It's solid Death Metal for sure, and is full of solid riffs without getting lost in over technical changes. At the same time, for me Exhumed always had a little bit of a sloppy "garage" sort of edge, and I guess they are trying to get away from that. It's a tough call because since it is not "more extreme" than other bands, yet "not as raw" as, say, the classic swedish or grind sound - it's in an area where it only can rely on great songs to stand out. It reminds me of the latest Six Feet Under. There's a few moments (like the riff on "Dysmorphic" where I go WOW, that's a brutal riff!) And the solos are great, but pass you by without really slapping their own signature. Overall, I would say this is very solid, but not amazing in any respect. Dare I say, this has more "groove" than previous exhumed albums? And I'm going to blame the drummer. This is not what I am used to from Exhumed, but in my opinion this is a good thing. I would recommend this to fans of Death metal without any bullshit. Just straight and killer, nothing really amazing. More groove than you'd expect. Mosh it up!

Nekrofilth "Devil's Breath" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10

Well I'm gonna call this album cover "Splat." Because it basically looks like some dude smashing his face against a wall where we are on the other side and can see through it. Anyway, the music has a very Punk vocal approach and the music is just straight ahead nekro Thrash hardcore. Uh, yeah. This band is pretty much EXACTLY what you think. Only a little better than you would expect. Conjures up images of particularly fearce mosh pits with a stench that could not be created by posers. Piss, sweat, b.o., and maybe a hint of whiskey and garbage. This crowd does not take showers and they drink every day. If DRI is too old school, try this. A touch of Eyehategod and perhaps Carnivore. In fact, Exhumed used to kinda sound like this. This was what I was talking about in the other review. Anyways, what band was I reviewing? Oh yeah, Nekrofilth...buddy, if you like it raw, aggressive, and filthy look no further!

Nocturnal graves "From the bloodline of cain" (Hell's Headbangers)6/10

SOunds like a slower Angelcorpse. I was never a huge fan of Angelcorpse. I mean, they have some awesome songs - but a slower Angelcorpse could potentially be better. When Angel Corpse sound "Morbid Angelly" these guys are a bit more "old school Death Thrash" Some very good sketchy ass death thrash riffs. The music here is some old school fucking fury. Uh...yeah, this is some aggressive shit. South American, german, Swedish, sure...all of the above. Nice and violent. Drums sound kinda plasic. That's the main drawback. I hear some Slayer in here too. Lot's of Slayer. Old school. Not quite old school enough in production. SOme good violent shit. Slaughter? Yes, Slaughter from Canada is what this sounds like! Repulsion? SOme of that. You get it by now.

Profanatica "The Kingdom Cum" (Hells Headbangers)8/10

Nice fukking album kover! I mean, cliche as all hell, but rarely does a scene of a hot naked grey chick laying on a throne surrounded by Satan and his green half goat buddy look so stylishly midaeval cool! The skull emblem on the ground kinda ruins it with it's vaguely "Harley Davidson" looking eagle wing design, but overall very badass. Or should I say "kult." I may have heard this band or maybe not - but the sound I have heard. I think on "Foul the Air with Blasphemy" I heard the same riff from Necrovore's "god of the dead." In fact I will almost call it a rip off. But if you are going to rip someone off, Necrovore is a good one for those super evil "backwards" sounding riffs. Of course Morbid Angel perfected this long ago. But Profanica is now surrounding me in some great backwards demon resurrecing riffs. And this is a rare skill few band excel in. Keep it koming guys! Frantic old school Slayer riffs, more Necrovore, and some nice "you're in deep shit" Possessed "nigity nigity ning!" riffs. Vocals are of the "black shit" variety. (that's a kompliment by the way. It means it sounds like the speakers have been covered with shit so the vocals creep out with a grotesque splat) AKA "wet vocals." As if they croak and screach out from some slimey abyss. This stands out. This is not your average kult ripp off. As the tracks go skittering by, it becomes true that Hells Headbangers has NOT deceived us and this is WORTHY musik!

Rude "Haunted Demo" (s/r tape)9/10

Now here's something interesing. A band from Oakland which almost literally sounds like a classic first album by some early 90s Death Metal band. Well to be more specific, this sounds like "Scream Bloody gore!" It almost seamlessly draws from that album, the infamous Necrovore demo, and Morbid Angel's first official album (do I really need to name it?) I'm seriously confused how these dudes managed to create something so literally devoid of all the crap that basically ruined Death Metal. These dudes did their homework. Really studied and listened to early classic Death Metal and avoided lisening to shite and created an album that sounds like a lost early Death Metal classic. But, as The Wolf famously stated, "now let's not start sucking each other's dicks yet." This is not really original by any means. But these days, I'd rather hear a good homage than a futile attempt to be original. There is a solo on here that caused me to flinch. I stopped and went, "no way, what the fukk?!?" I mean it really sounded like some dude from early Pestilence or Suffocation jumped in and I was shocked. How in the fukk did these guys come up with this??? (true story, mate!) So I look into the inner notes to discover Patric Mameli from Pestilence literally does a guest solo here! There is also a song with a riff of note here. Now due to the fact it's a tape and I am too lazy to figure it out, but I believe it is the song "memorial." It contains a genuine classic Death Metal riff. This riff is above average and will make the most jaded old Death head stop in the middle of his shitty job and wonder, "what the fukk is up with that riff? I have to hear that riff again, I still can't believe my ears!" Anyway, this is something I can truely recommend to any old school Death head who is fukking BORED TO FUKK with this screamo nu-tech art death shite...

Shitfucker "Sucks Cocks in Hell" (Hells Headbangers)7/10

Ok, well there it is. Uh...album cover kinda looks like a Nazi flag, but the Swastika was altered to look like an "S" and an "F." What a clever joke! Anyway, let's go see what cocks bein sukked in hell sounds like! Hmmm...angry person just woke up outta bed. Or was that the introductory "here we are!" vocal? Ah I see...this guy kinda sounds like Nocturnal Culto on "Under a Funeral Moon." In fact, the guitars kinda do too. I guess these guys are taking the super cult Black Metal, focussing on the "punk" part of it and just adaping it to their own folk lore. Which would be Swastikas, Linda Blair, and a daily dose of Darkthrone? Seriously though, a punked out "Under a Funeral Moon?" Ok, I'll take that. I'm glad Hells Headbangers started sending me these promos. I was begining to think I just hated everything new. But I guess I was just listening to shite promos from shite labels for too long! Would I wear the shirt from Shitfucker? Probably not. Nor would I wear a gg allen shirt. But I like some of his music. Even Shaxul has his limits! It seems Midnight has sort of taken the credit of being the "drunken venom worship blackened punk band" but clearly there is much more shit out there, and this is easily as good, if not better. It draws from more influences, and frankly sounds crazier. Sick of Midnight? Check this shit out.

Zemial "Nykta" (Hells Headbangers) 7/10

What is this, a "Blood of my Enemies" cover? Oh wait, ok this is just a grooving old school Metal song. Yikes, these are some shite amateur vocals! Is this guy singing or screaming? These drums sound like shite. Damn, go back and record this again guys! Second song is much better - keeps it more simple and Thrash. Sounds more like classic Celtic Frost now, complete with death grunts. Fucking strangely cheap guitar solo on this one, followed by cheap ass 80s prog synth solo. I kinda like this actually, but god it's cheap as Manowar's "gloves of metal" video. I'm not sure what to make of this, but I like the fact that it doesn't try to stick with just one sound. It's really an interesting hybrid of thrash, traditional, and trippy random shit they throw in. I imagine with about 25 more listens I will call this amazing, but for now it's just kinda odd and interesting.