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!

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.

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, 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

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, 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.