[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....