Hey! So, I’ve been without a real computer for some months but just got a new one and am all set now. Expect updates in the very near future!
I browsed a few “Top Albums of 2011” lists because I wanted to get some stuff I’m not familiar with to listen to, and Septic Flesh was on several; I figured I’d give them a try. I was expecting gore or grind based on their name/cover art, and I was surprised by some awesome symphonic death metal! It took me back to high school days when I listened to a lot of Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. Except these guys are better.
Guitar wise, this album isn’t particularly impressive or technical- straightforward, driving (at times almost groovy) traditional death sound. But, the drumming and masterfully blended orchestra/choir make The Great Mass a huge pleasure to listen to. There is a fullness to all of the tracks that is absolutely beautiful. Granted, ‘beautiful’ is an out of place word for such a dark album, but it’s true. The icing on the cake is Spiros Antoniou’s (these dudes are Greek) growling vocals. Normally I’m put off by the singing in this genre, but he maintains a deep and grating sound that is at the same time understandable. Think Viking metal, but more appropriate in a graveyard.
"Apocalpse" - Possibly the most epic song on the album sonically (toss up with "Therionthropy"), the lyrics make it the top song for me. It is a critique on humans behaving like parasites and disregarding the "Eden" that is Earth.
You can turn paradise into wasteland/ it is your greatest design/ As tyrant you demand nature’s powers to obey/ From suicidal wrath no one will escape.
"Pyramid God" - I’m a sucker for the cut outs this song utilizes at the end of each phrase. Akin to the drop, if you’re into dubstep. Except in when there are badass guitar riffs and a symphony when it comes back in, it makes you feel like you feel like you can summon demons.
"Oceans of Grey" - It’s simplicity makes this track SO GOOD! Grooving and driving the whole way, with choir chants and a huge string section ending.
A lot of the clean(ish) vocals feel wrong to me. Sotiris Vayenas has a nasally sort of voice, and the rhythms he uses can be awkward. Not to say he is all bad because I think he fits in well on “Rising” and “Therianthrophy.”
I was disappointed at how abruptly this album ends. It sort of just cuts after the last chorus. I would have put “Oceans of Grey” as the closer.
This album is fucking triumphant.
I lack the musical jargon to accurately describe all the things Animals as Leaders do. Tosin Abasi (lead guitar) is know for his super technical compositions, and he, Javier Reyes (rythm guitar), and Navene Koperweis (drums/percussion) all have the musicianship to back it up; the result is impressive to listen to. You can jam and headbang to every song on this album, despite much of it being in 7/8 or 9/8 time. Wholly amazing.
It’s been awhile since I listened to the self-titled debut from this band, but Weightless has a distinctly fuller and less-processed sound. The use of keyboards and other electronic soundscapes in the background make this record more accessible as well. There is no real space here, just 45 minutes of sweeping, eargasm-inducing riffs with ballsy drumming to fill it out.
Overall it feels like this album has four movements- “An Infinite Regression” through “Somnarium” are the bombastic overture; “Earth Departure” through “Do Not Go Gently” a darker trio that feel like horror movie chase scenes; “New Eden” through “Espera” are the eye of the storm with more playing in major keys; finally “To Lead You to an Overwhelming Question,” “Weightless,” and “David” play back and forth with variations on the driving riffs from earlier songs to more airy/spacey melodies.
There are no High/Lows because I really have nothing bad to say about this album. Get it. Now!
You probably won’t every see me write very many bad reviews. Two reasons: first, if I’m going to sit down for 2 or 3 hours to listen to an album a couple times through, it has to be something I at least vaguely like; more importantly, music is all in the ear of the beholder. Everyone has their own preferences and tastes, and I don’t want to lecture you on how awful something is just because it’s not in my realm. Grindcore, exclusively cookie-moster or, even worse (to me), pterodactyl vocals,and most black metal probably won’t make an appearance here. If you like that sort of thing, more power to you. It just hurts my ear drums.
Look at that album cover. That is what this album sounds like. Finnish folk-metal, or “battle metal” if you like.
This album garners mixed feelings from me. On one hand, it has a HUGE sound that makes you want to… well, “stand up and fight!” It features a full orchestra and full choir that were composed and mixed very well on top of the already symphonic sound that comes with this genre. But, the composition feels repetitive and the lyrics seem unrefined a good bit of the time. There are references to modern things like TV and cars in several songs, which were glaringly out of place amidst the tales of Nordic plundering and conquering. Despite the flaws, though, Stand Up and Fight is a fun album to listen to. “The March of the Varangian Guard” and title track “Stand Up and Fight!” are great contenders for drinking ballads.
"Fear the Fear" is the best track in regards to sound/composition. Taken alone the orchestra and choir parts could be from an opera. It is one of the guilty tracks for referencing the present day; but, it’s "get off your ass and do something" message gets it a pass. 'In the games that you play/ you are hero of the day/ but outside that land/ your head's in the sand.'
"Stand Up and Fight!" is awesome, uplifting and super catchy. If you have a medieval weapon around your house, this is the point where you will grab it and start pillaging.
The last two tracks - “End of an Empire” and “The Bosphorus Freezes Over” - felt uninspired to me, and left the album feeling unresolved because of how they dragged along.
Some pretty laughable wordplay. ‘You have covered your eyes/ you have covered your ears/ So easy to hide from confronting your fears/ Sooner or later it all ends in tears.’ ‘We have no choice/ it is you who are the bad guys.’ etc.
The best summary of this album has already been written by JR at heavyblogisheavy.com: This album “makes me want to get stoned and beat up some dragons with my bare fists, but I won’t enjoy it because I’m too pissed off and depressed that I’m going to die soon anyway.” Actually, that sums up most Rwake albums that I have heard, apart from the bit about dragons. Rwake are a sludge/doom metal outfit, and they stick to their guns with this release aside from getting a little prog-y in places, so fantasy creatures are acceptable.
I took two “casual listens” of Rest, because the first time around I was a bit thrown off. It is much more refined - almost symphonic - in composition than other albums, and I wasn’t expecting it. Giving it a second chance was the correct choice; this is a badass record.
The opening is a jangling but ominous acoustic guitar with angelic vocals over top for an intro, then runs you back and forth through typical Rwake loping sludge to sections of black metal to almost thrash breakdowns. Next, some spacey Moog with a voice sample from a 2001: A Space Odyssey for an interlude before an amazingly powerful ending.
Was Only a Dream is the by far the best track on Rest, and it blew me away. It has a powerful, powerful opening with a catchy riff and then some chilling solos. A full fade out with 5 minutes left in the song left is curious, but they bring back some of the acoustic noodling reminiscing earlier bits of the record when BAM! Right back in with a powerful breakdown with a huge solo to finish the track. I literally wrote “FUCK. UNEXPECTED.” in my notes.
It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour is a brutal kick off after the soft (granted creepy) intro track. It throws you right in with a wall of distortion and vocalist C.T. growl-screaming “Oblivion welcomes!” The track quickly picks up and hints of some thrash and blast beats show up. There is a fun interchange between those bits and the expected sludge until a fun build up for the ending.
I thought the first “movement,” if you will of The Culling dragged on too long - six and a half minutes of violin over one guitar - without much development. It worked for an intermission from the barrage Rwake throws and as a buildup to the meat of the track; I just felt it would be put together better.
I’m usually pretty skilled at making “like x had a baby with y” comparisons for what things sound like, but I’ve got nothing for Mastodon. They just sound like Mastodon. Clearly jazz and progressive inspired heavy metal. The majority of their previous releases are concept albums, but they take a break from the on The Hunter and do a bit of playing around with their sound.
This record is for you if you like hard hitting, driving metal. I am very, very impressed by drummer Bran Dailor’s ability to keep things rolling through the whole album. His technical skill is why this is a great soundtrack for gettin’ shit done.
Black Tongue is an excellent choice for a single and opening track. It punches you in the face right off the bat with simple but powerful riffs and all the double-bass a man (or lady) could want.
Octopus Has No Friends is my personal favorite from this record. The vocals lose a bit of their usually gruff fuzz for some inspirational lyrics: “Take the hand, guide the way / Find the truth always, always,” “Take your heart inside your hand / Always, always.” Put some well placed fret tapping behind that and it comes out pleasantly dissonant.
Title track The Hunter is the best individual composition on the album. It has a great build up and haunting melodies with lyrics to match: “We laugh and cry through a brother’s eye for now,” “Haunted I lift the stone / Letting go your spirit flies.”
The Hunter feels a bit repetitive as a whole. Curl of the Burl, All the Heavy Lifting, and Dry Bone Valley have fairly similar “chugga-chugga-chugga” doubled guitar riffs.
Not a low, persay, but where the hell did Creature Lives come from? THX inspired synth intro into ballad? Interesting. Not to say this isn’t a good song; it has an awesome big orchestral feel to it, especially as it closes. I just wonder how it got stuck in the middle of this record.
The Hunter is an excellent album from an impressively technical band. Mostly, it makes me wonder why on earth I haven’t got a hold of Crack the Skye (their 2009 release) yet. *hangs head in shame*
Here’s the general plan:
1. Give the album a casual listen through to get acquainted. i.e. I’m doing this step while I type this entry.
2. Read through lyrics, attempting to understand stories and/or themes. (Disclaimer- I am horrible at this). This is metal we’re talking about- sometimes the words are indecipherable. If you’re about to say “You just aren’t listening carefully!” or a similar statement, go find a song by Torsofuck and tell me you can understand what is going on. You can’t.
3. Advanced listening- no distractions, taking notes, etc. You know, lock myself in a tiny dark room and turn the volume up to 11.
4. Write about it. I’ll give an overview and rating, then go into specifics like sound quality, musicianship, whether it works as a whole composition. Ratings will be general “you *need* to listen to this I don’t give a fuck what you normally listen to,” “this is a good soundtrack for punching things,” or “this is pretty much garbage” kind of ratings.
5. Post and hope you enjoy reading it.
One winter afternoon in the quiet town of Indiana, two housemates with a fondness for distorted guitars decided there was not enough metal music about. “We must set aside a hallowed day for the lords of headbanging,” they agreed. What day would be sacred? As it happened, the day of it’s birth was a Tuesday, and Tuesdays are the night of discount pitchers at the local dive bar. Metal and ale- a perfect marriage. Thenceforth the doctrine of METAL TUESDAYS was spread throughout the land.
~The Tenets of Metal, Chapter One
True story. It’s in the book.
My goal for this blog is simply to share my thoughts/opinions on heavy metal; and to hopefully introduce those of you gracious enough to spend your time reading said opinions to a band or two you missed in your travels. I have a penchant for sludge, post, and metalcore (see my last.fm) so I admit a in advance a bias towards those subgenres. But, that won’t be all I include, I promise! I am aiming to update weekly *fingers crossed*.
If you have complaints, praise, thoughts, musings, etc. you should send me them in the ask box, or email me at revolutionbrainwork(at)gmail(dot)com.
Party on, Wayne!
Edit: Apparently the color choice “makes my eyes bleed” (Scott). I think he’s just not metal enough.