Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sargeist - Let The Devil In

I am listening to this on pretty shitty speakers. I bet it sounds much better with headphones or on a decent stereo. Nevertheless, I not a big enough Black Metal fan to really get excited about this.

Sweet Cobra - Mercy

Does this feature members of Big Business? Sometimes it sounds like it does. Doesn't help it though. Just seems kinda average. I don't have time for average.
I prefer Black Cobra as far as that goes.

My thoughts on Decibel's Top 40 of 2010

I have nothing but respect for Decibel. It is my main source of recommendations for music to check out. I make time for the magazine whereas I don't have time to trawl the internet.  But, just because I think it's the greatest magazine since well, ever, doesn't mean I always agree with their lists. Enjoy.
40. Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons: Haven't heard this one. Doubt it would make my list anyway. Black metal is really hit or miss with me.
39. Lantlos - .Neon: Who?
38. Hail of Bullets - On Divine Winds: I've only listened to this once so far. Didn't impress me as much as ...Of Frost and War. Martin Van Druren as awesome enough that I will make time to listen to this more so I can give it a proper rating.
37. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis: I'm surprised this is so low on their list. I'm more surprised that I like it as much as I do. Never really liked DEP before. This one is great though.
36. Decrepit Birth - Polarity: A little too technical for me. If I am in the mood for techy, I'd grab this one over most.
35. Intronaut - Valley of Smoke: I prefer the old Intronaut. Before they got all proggy. If I were bathed in a valley of smoke, this would be transcen-fucking-dental. Maybe next time I go green, this will be my soundtrack.
34. Early Graves - Goner: I love it when names/titles are appropriate. Not in this case. RIP Makh Daniels. (Btw, this album is fucking awesome)
33. The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood: Haven't been able to "acquire" this yet. I must try harder.
32. Father Befouled - Morbid Destitution of Covenant: I think this is one of those albums that REQUIRES that you listen to it many times before you can make an accurate judgement on it. That's my plan anyway. Second listen was better than the first, so it only follows....
31. Deftones - Diamond Eyes: WAY better than their last one. It's really pretty incredible. Should be higher than this on my list.
30. Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt II: Is there something wrong with me? I just can't get into these guys.
29. Christian Mistress - Agony and Opium: Seriously? I've booed bar bands better than this.
28. Unearthly Trance - V: This motherfucker blew me away!!
27. Fear Factory - Mechanize: Totally surprised me that Decibel ranked this one. Glad they did though. I loved Dino-era FF. And I love this. One of the few albums I actually bought this year.
26. Pivixki - Gravissima: Say what? Who? Avant-garde pianist? Free grind? No thanks.
25. Withered - Dualitas: Are you kidding me? 25?! Fuck no! Must be much higher! Possible AOTY!!
24. Ghost - Opus Eponymous: See Christian Mistress. I don't know what the big deal is.
23. Integrity - The Blackest Curse: This is pretty kick ass. I don't know if I'd rank it this high but it's fighting for a spot on my Top 40.
22. Kvelertak - Kvelertak: This is a "holy fuck!" album. As in, Holy Fuck this is good! and Holy Fuck what is going on!? Holy Fuck!!
21. Deathspell Omega - Paracletus: Meh.
20. Electric Wizard - Black Masses: Those who know me best know I love EW. The music itself makes me high. And when I AM high, look out.
19. Atheist - Jupiter: I don't like Cynic, Obscura, Periphery or other super-techy death metal bands either.
18. Burzum - Belus: I don't care if he's a church-burning murderer. This album is awesome.
17. High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine: Another of the few albums I actually bought at a store this year. Matt Pike is god.
16. Kylesa - Spiral Shadow: I still haven't finished transcribing my interview with Philip and Laura about Static Tensions (My AOTY for '09). This is one won't top my list this year but it should come close. Love it!
15. Horseback - The Invisible Mountain: Yeah, I don't dig the vibe.
14. Coliseum - House With a Curse: Why haven't I heard this yet?
13. Sailors With Wax Wings - Sailors With Wax Wings: Sounds like Pyramids, eh? Zzzzzzzzzzzz
12. Immolation - Majesty and Decay: Fuck yes.
11. Castevet - Mounds of Ash: Good. Not #12 good.
10. The Austerity Program - Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn: Haven't heard this yet but I don't think I'll like it anyway.
9. Nails - Unsilent Death: Heard nothing but good things about this. But still have not actually heard it. Must rectify.
8. Thou - Summit. I don't know if I would rank it this high but it's pretty fucking awesome.
7. Ludicra - The Tenant: Deserves to be this high based on the riff in "In Stable" alone.
6. Torche - Songs for Singles: I'm really slacking. I haven't got around to this yet.
5. Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini: I want to like Enslaved, I really do. But I respect the hell out of them.
4. Dawnbringer - Nucleus: I think I tried to listen to this but couldn't finish it.  Not my bag.
3. Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones: I feel shame. I haven't got around to this one either.
2. Watain - Lawless Darkness: One of the best black metal releases of the year but #2 overall? I don't know about that.
1. Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit: I really am a slacker. It's on my "to download" list.

Valient Thorr - Stranger

Party music for not very tough bikers.

Death Angel - Relentless Retribution

You should know that I got in to the metal game a but late. I didn't start
listening to metal in earnest until around 1994. (Many thanks Pantera) So
I've been playing catch up with thrash ever since. Sure I knew the Big 4.
They're some of my favourite bands ever. But outside of that, I really
don't know much old thrash. So I have no history with Death Angel. I have
no basis of comparison to their other work. That being said, there is
nothing on this album that makes me want to rush out and find out what I
have been missing.
I also haven't told you anything about the album. Gallopping guitars, hard
hitting drums, bark/shout vocals that sound really fun to scream along
with. These dudes are tight. I like the speed and pacing. It sounds like a
really fun album that I should give at least equal credit to compared to
bands like Early Man and Municipal Waste. I'm gonna have to spend some more
time with this. And I expect to see this on my friend Todd's year end list.

Beneath the Massacre - Maree Noire

By rights, I should have turned this off as soon as it started. I don't
really like deathcore and I don't really like noodly guitars. This has
deathcore vocals and noodly guitars. The difference here is the vocals and
noodle are not there for their own sake. This is actual music. These sound
like songs. Not verse-chorus-verse no, but it's more than just showing off.
They do push my limits of tolerance for pure note overload but since it's
only an EP I can hack it. I bet the pits at their shows are SICK!

Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini

I can't say this is bad. It's just not my thing. I didn't hear much to
really captivate me and the unclean vocals aren't my favorite. I want to
like Enslaved but I just can't. Maybe I'm too narrow-minded.

Ghost - Opus Eponymous

Musically, this is somewhat tolerable. Almost. Even the vocals in and of
themselves aren't bad. But I still don't like it.
It sounds like the kind of band that you need to appreciate Mr. Bungle to
dig. I don't mind retro sounds but this is too weak retro. It's got no
edge. On shrooms, yeah this might send me off but 99.99% of forever, I'm
not trippin' on fungi so this does nothing for me.

Christian Mistress - Agony & Opium

You got the agony part right. It's agony listening to this. If I heard this
band at a bar is some shit town, drunk of my ass, I'd still say they suck.
How do bands like this get record deals?

Adversarial - All Idols Fall Before The Hammer

STOP!!!!!! The production on this is so horrible I don't give a FUCK how
good it is. It sounds like the drum mic is swinging from a cord from the
ceiling. What better way to violate eardrums with that fucking awful snare

What a letdown!

I've been rippin' through lots of albums lately. I was expecting to be
treated to a torrent of great music. If I didn't expect it to be good I
wouldn't have downloaded it to begin with. I was seriously mistaken.
I have listened to (or skipped) more crap in the last couple weeks!! The
next few posts will all be shit related.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Melechesh - The Epigenesis

Rarely when I have big expectations for an album am I not disappointed. This is not one of those times. It delivered everything I expected. Maybe even delivered more by doing less. It's been a while but I remember their last album being much busier. The Epigenesis seems more basic. Not dumbed down though. Melechesh are able to weave Middle Eastern texture, rhythm and cadence into black metal. Yeah, it may not be "troo" but it proves that Black Metal doesn't have to be bleak metal. And it doesn't have to be boring. The guitar tones and vocals make it black metal but the riff style and varied drumming break that restraint on what some people would consider Black Metal. I need to MAKE the time to listen to this again and again because even though my first impression was a home run, I have a feeling it will get even better every time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Skeletonwitch, Withered and Landmine Marathon @ Time to Laugh, Kingston, ON Nov. 26, 2010

I knew this was going to be a great night. How often do you get to see three bands of this caliber on the stage for $12? I would easily have paid $12 each! So in order to make things "fair" in terms of cost-to-enjoyment, I bought a shirt and vinyl from both Withered and Landmine. I got a 3/4 sleeve baseball style tour shirt from Skeletonwitch last time they were in town. So I ended up spending a bunch of money I didn't really have but it was worth it. However, my wallet wasn't the only thing that paid for it. A full 7 days after the show and I am still nursing a fairly painful bangover. (Special thanks to Chris Woodford of Toronto band Titan, for, to the best of my knowledge, creating that word.) Meh, some people pay for worse kinds of pain than pulled neck muscles. Like in Hostel 2, when the guy pays to kill the one chick and she ends up cutting his dick off with a pair of scissors. It can always be worse. Right, the show.
As usual I missed most of the first band. Fashionably late. I don't think I missed much with locals Ponderous Chain. They weren't horrible but they were brought down by the complete lack of stage presence displayed by their singer. This is metal, man! Put your fucking back into it! I do believe one  guitarist used to play for Rozea Haven and he's got some chops, so there is an upside here.
The other "beer band" on the bill was Darkness Rites. Pretty young band but they seemed to know what they were doing. Death metal with breakdowns but I wouldn't class them as metal/deathcore. Their singer was the polar opposite of the previous band's. He may have looked like a poser, but he had a pretty good set of lungs on him and he was VERY passionate. If I think my necks hurts, that guy is gonna need a team of Swedish masseuses to set him straight.
Landmine Marathon. This is where the self-induced bodily injury came in. I knew what to expect. I was quite well acquainted with their 2010 offering, Sovereign Descent. So when the band took the stage and singer Grace Perry started tearing us a new arsehole, (that lady can scream!) I (at least tried to) lead the neck-snappin' charge. Perry herself jumped off the stage a few times and engaged the crowd. At one point, she whipped me into the pit and tore another guy's shirt right off his back! That's fuckin' hardcore, dude. Despite having a shorter set, Landmine was able to rip out a mix of songs from Sovereign as well as some older tunes. I was a little rusty (ha!) with the tunes from Rusted Eyes Awake but that didn't matter. Their whole set was loaded with brutality. Their brand of doomy deathgrind is just as awesome live as it is on CD/vinyl/cassette (all formats were available). I'm not sure how many people knew who Landmine Marathon were at the beginning of the night (Let's be honest, most of the people were there to see Skeletonwitch), but by the time they left the stage, they'd gained plenty of new fans. And that's what touring is all about. Getting out there and getting the music heard. The merch table ended up being pretty busy but I did manage to get a shirt and a copy of Sovereign Descent on vinyl. In getting said vinyl signed by the band (Perry, guitarist Ryan Butler and Dylan Thomas, bassist Matt Martinez and drummer Andy York) I was able hang out with them for a little bit. I love when bands are approachable and easygoing. I tried not to be too much of a fanboy and since we shared some of the same views and interests, it was easy to talk about things other than music.(For example, how my daughter, Grace, insisted I tell Grace Perry that they have the same name. Spooky fact: my daughter was born the same year Landmine Marathon formed.) I sincerely hope Landmine is able to come back and play Kingston someday. They're the kind of band Kingston needs to see more of to help the fans embrace underground metal. Maybe next time I can stop moving my head long enough to actually SEE them perform. And maybe next time they can play "Steadfast Hate" because they just plain ran out of time. Right? (wink wink)
Speaking of not being able to see, Withered had all the stage lights turned off to set the mood. "Tortured blackened doom" doesn't call for flashy lights. It made perfect sense to create a dark and ominous atmosphere for dark and ominous music. Like Intronaut, the bass plays a central role in the band. And also like Intronaut, the bassist takes center stage flanked by both guitarist/vocalists. Being a bassist myself, I kinda like that setup. Again, I didn't SEE much of the performance as I did feel it. When I wasn't violently thrashing about to the driving black metal thunder, I was soaking in the soundscapes with my eyes closed. Like the time I saw Yakuza, the music goes so far beyond the visual that you feel the need to close off that input and let the sound penetrate. The blasts unleashed upon the masses came mostly from 2010's outstanding Dualitas. It was the first show by a more or less black metal band I've had the pleasure of attending. While I don't consider Withered your "typical" black metal band, by witnessing the raw force, emotion and passion of their set, I have gained a new level of appreciation for the genre in general. They are one of the first (that I know of) blackened doom bands to play Kingston and I felt like the crowd wasn't prepared for it. (Pre-Apostasy Behemoth came through once. I missed it.) I mean, there were people "into it" but I felt like saying "Come on people! It's fucking WITHERED!" Then again, I was one of the only people losing my shit when Jucifer, Psyopus, Cattle Decapitation, Yakuza, Terror and Intronaut played. (Not all at the same time!) I guess I'm just lucky to have a deep knowledge of great metal. It's hard to believe that after the aural pummeling doled out by these doom dealers, this now tortured soul was actually able to walk. The powerful and stirring set could just as easily brought me to my knees. (Bowing to the greatness, of course) Alas, there was some sah-weet merch to acquire. Besides, I wouldn't want to get trampled by the hordes crowding the stage for the headliners.
Ohio's Skeletonwitch are touring machines. Near constant touring as honed this band's abilities. By which I mean their ability to drink you under the table and still put on a killer show. These blackened thrashers know how to have a good fucking time! Master frontman Chance Garnette and Co have sharpened their live show to a razor sharp edge. They're tight, enthusiastic, and well, fun! Crowd pleasers to say the least. Back in July they played 3rd fiddle to High on Fire (NObody plays after HoF. Nobody) and Priestess but you'd never have known they were the openers. As headliners this time around, they were given more time to pound their catchy riffs and scream-along choruses into our eager eardrums. You can't help but at least nod your head or tap your feet. I've probably said this before but Skeletonwitch is fist-pumpin' metal. Cuz that's what you want to do the whole time. Throw your fists in the air in salute to a brand of metal that appeals to a wide range of fans. I saw fans there that looked 10 years old, and fans that looked like they were 10 years old when Black Sabbath first played North America. Long hairs, hardcore dudes, nerds (represent!), jocks, you name it. One of the most amazing things was that the bands they were touring with were just as excited as the people who paid to see them.That's when you know your doing something right. Rarely have I seen a crowd that unified. The band tore through a diverse set featuring tunes from their whole catalog. Whether it was a track from '09s Breathing The Fire or an older one such as my personal fave, "At One With The Shadows", the crowd gobbled up what the 'Witch was brewin'. It doesn't make much sense to have that much fun listening to songs about killing and dying but that's just what happens at a Skeletonwitch show. On CD, they feel much more sinister. But live, it's all about "having a good fuckin' time!" I guarantee you will. Skeletonwitch vowed to return but not without stipulations. Until they come back, we were instructed to "Drink beeeer! Smoke weeeeed! And eat some fucking pussy!" Sounds like a plan to me!
I was surprised that given the fact that some of the bands on the bill have a blackened element that there was no mention that show was on Black Friday. I thought that would have been a given. No worries, I got some shopping in and everything I bought was black!