Sunday, February 27, 2011

Darkthrone is interesting

You know what's interesting? Taking a look at a band who has had a long career and how their new material can sound absolutely nothing like their older stuff. Darkthrone for instance! I just read a thread on the Metal Archives forums where most people posting seemed to believe the band still plays Black Metal.

I just listened to Circle the Wagons and it sounds so far from Transilvanian Hunger that a lot of people could probably unknowingly think it were a different band. Like someone in the thread mentioned, Fenriz sounds like he is doing the vocals drunk. Yeah early bands like Celtic Frost and Bathory had a lot of punk influence but I don't really see any of the faster riffing on this album that those bands used.

What a mess!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Death Metal got its groove back...or not...

The whole old school revivalist DM scene has become more and more popular over the last decade they are missing one key factor: groove. Especially those bands that are trying to play in the style of old school Swedish death metal. The thing that made Entombed, Dismember, and Grave so memorable was the catchy groove they used in their riffs. Sure these new bands have the gritty production and the sunlight studios sounding buzzsaw guitars but it doesn't mean anything without that Swedish groove!

Hell even Bolt Thrower got it and they aren't even Swedish! It's funny how the new wave of old school thrash bands play exactly the same way stuff was being played in the 80s, but I think it gets a bit boring. And here these newer DM bands aren't playing the exact style of the older bands and they bore me. You just can't win!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whats up with...

So have you ever asked someone what kind of music they like? 50% of the time I'm sure you hear the old "I listen to everything" reply. Oh that's great so our we might have some musical taste in common!

Wrong. So you ask them "you like Death? Carcass? In Flames? Entombed? Bolt Thrower?". If they don't outright look at you like you're some kind of freak you end up getting asked who the hell these bands are.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect someone to know some abstract unheard of kvlt one man black metal band who released a demo from his garage cause that's what fits the BM ethos. These are some of the more well known bands in the genre that most people who aren't living under a rock have heard of.

So what does one usually mean when they say they listen to "everything"? Anything top 40. "Oh yeah I listen to rock and hip hop and pop, you know everything!". Not really. I bet its very rare you find someone who actually has eclectic taste enough that metal is part of their usual listening.

Psh people and their mainstream music ;)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

God Dethroned disbanding?

I recently heard about this and it unfortunately seems to be true. Its really a shame I was just getting into the band after getting their 2010 album Under the Sign of the Iron Cross which is a killer album! They are supposed to disband at the end of this year which of course leaves no room for new material. I guess I have their older stuff to look forward to right?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Darkness Ablaze - Shadowreign

Band: Darkness Ablaze
Album: Shadowreign
Year: 2010
Genre: Melodic Death/Black

Metal Archives classifies Darkness Ablaze as melodic black metal but I think it’s safe to say they stray further into the realm of melodic death than black. Maybe it’s because of the keyboards that are sometimes used to give a symphonic sort of feeling in the background. There are also some viking/folk influences as well.

First of all no, there is no pig in the band. Yes those pig squeals are made by vocalist Theodoros Georgitsaros and yes they are annoying. What? You thought pig squeals are confined mostly to deathcore bands? Me too, guess we were both in for a surprise. Ok so maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t been used so heavily. There is admittedly another more black metal like higher pitched growl present here and it comes off far better. Next time stick to the highs ok Theo?

The riffs aren’t really all that memorable except in a few places. Listen to Zero, and The Might of Repression: the solos aren’t that involved and really don’t add much to the songs overall. The one in The Might of Repression isn’t terrible. Like I was saying there are a few instances of good riffs on the album. The lead harmonies on Enclosure No. 7 are pretty good. But there is also the fact that the way in which the twin leads are written makes them sound like they are coming from a metalcore band which may or may not affect your feelings about them.

Then you have the main riff from the track Reduced to a Beast which sounds like it was ripped out of an Amon Amarth song. The folky elements seep into tracks like Enlightened by Shadows, where there is a nice 10 second acoustic intro before you are sonically raped by squealed vocals, and the interlude called…Interlude! Quite clever weren’t they? The acoustic guitars are used more in Interlude and oddly enough it just might be the best song on the album clocking in at 2 minutes long. Not a good sign. There are some other good electric guitar riffs here as well.

Keyboards, love’em or hate’em they’re there. While in general I usually feel they foul up heavy music the band actually uses it pretty well throughout Shadowreign. Whether they are playing as strings, horns/trumpets, or just providing ambient noise, it works!

One of the most memorable moments of Shadowreign though has to come on the song The Might of Repression. The majority of the song itself is actually what you hear on the rest of the album but there is around 2 minutes in the middle of the song that are actually quite epic. It quiets down and an acoustic guitar plays underneath an almost 80s like ballady riff. Sure the piggy growls are used but they actually lack the squeal which makes it tolerable. After a line is growled it is repeated over a few times with cleans and I have to say this is the part that really kills. Theo’s cleans are really good and are emotional without being wimpy, probably because he seems to sing with a deeper voice.

So Darkness Ablaze really brings nothing new to the table besides having a sweet name that makes no sense. Sure there are cool moments on the album but that’s the problem, they are confined to moments and not entire songs. It comes off as pretty standard melodic death metal for the most part. The vocals really destroy most of the redeeming factors here. Like I said earlier had the pig squeals been used not at all or even kept to a minimum it might have been different. But they weren’t and it makes the album a difficult listen. If you are looking for good melodic death metal (or black metal for that matter) there are far better places to look.

Score: 4/10
Standout Track: Interlude

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daniel Ekeroth on Gothenburg (Melodic) Death Metal

The author of the book Swedish Death Metal (clever title isn't it?) talks about the Gothenburg style which ended up dwarfing the Stockholm scene.

It's hard to call bands like Dark Tranquillity and In Flames actual Melodic Death Metal because they are lacking in the Death Metal portion of the name. In fact they are more akin to melodic metal with harsh vocals for the most part. Anyways what ever you call them, the earlier material of both bands is pretty great!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

I actually enjoyed this film quite a bit! The most controversial topic amongst metal heads seems to be the genre tree that Sam Dunn created. Who could get one of those trees correct anyways? It would be like trying to get a tree of the Gothenburg scene which would be almost impossible! Still I wish he had been able to get in more interviews with some of the bigger names in modern metal.

The interview with Ghaal has to be one of the most hilarious things ever but also the creepiest.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Metal Archives

The Metal Archives is one of the best resources on finding information on metal bands (as defined by the site here). To put it easily lets say you want to find some info on Entombed.

You can go to MA, type Entombed into the band search. The band's profile will come up with stuff like the date they were formed, whether they are active or not, all the band's physical releases, who played on those releases and so on. What is also nice is that the site allows you to write reviews for albums so you can get opinions.

The only down side I can find is that the crowd over on the forums is generally a bit elitist but o well, such is life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy VDay?

Whats metal about valentines day? Here are some anti-love songs!

Nightrage - Circle of Pain

Carcass - No Love Lost

Alice In Chains - Love, Hate, Love

Favorite Music Videos

Here are 5 more of my favorite metal music videos:

Edge of Sanity - Black Tears

Entombed - Stranger Aeons

As I Lay Dying - Nothing Left

Arsis - We Are the Nightmare

Metallica - One

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sylosis new album preview

Over on Metal Sucks
they made a post on Sylosis who put out a new promo video about their new record. The band's last album, Conclusion of An Age, had some pretty good material. They seemed to have lost their previous vocalist. Hopefully their new vocalist (guitarist Josh Middleton is taking over) doesnt sound too bad.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Been listening to From Mars to Sirius and the lyrics are about enviromentalism and global warming. I'm far from an enviromentalist but its true that music can transcend politics and lyrical content. Good stuff but the second half of the album seems to drag a little!

One of the only French things I enjoy! ;)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Edge of Sanity - Purgatory Afterglow

Band: Edge of Sanity
Album: Purgatory Afterglow
Year: 1994
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Purgatory Afterglow is where Edge of Sanity decided to start moving more in the direction of progressive death metal. The album does contain a few elements that are not usually found in your run of the mill death metal. This will probably scare away the people who are more interested in the aggression and “brutality” of death metal but it makes the band/album far more unique than most in the genre, at least at the time of its release

The album does have its progressive moments. Twilight contains two softer interludes where just keys are playing as Dan Swano sings or speaks over them. My favorite part of the song is actually in the second interlude where he asks “Will we ever meet again?” and immediately followed by a blood curdling “NO”. It’s moments like this that make the album so great. You have the soft music that is shattered by the death growl and return of the heavier riffs and drumming. What a contrast!

Want to see just how far the band will take their progressive influences? In comparison to something like the acoustic part in Silent, which is nice, it doesn’t hold a candle to the awesomeness that is Black Tears. The song has a very strong punk vibe to it but the buzzsaw guitars and funny tone presented by Andreas Axelsson, and Sami Nerberg allow it to remain heavy. Swano also puts his great singing voice to use here as well, not one death growl is heard on this song.

This all isn’t to say the album doesn’t contain any aggression! This is still a death metal album after all. At times the guitars are very thrashy and as I mentioned that guitar tone only amplifies this heaviness with its crushing sound. Elements of the drumming help as well, both Elegy and Of Darksome Origin contain blasts right off the bat and the entire album is peppered with them. Benny Larsson is very competent and his drumming fits whichever style the music has taken on.

As vocalist Dan Swano really shines. His clean vocals are on the lower side giving his singing a very manly sound. And even when he does sing over heavier music on songs like Blood Colored, it doesn’t at all sound out of place. In fact on that song he switches between harsh and clean vocals quite a bit and it sounds wonderful. The only song where he slips up is on Song of Sirens. Here he uses more of a hardcore shout but the entire song is strange even for an album containing Black Tears and it sounds like it could have been a b-side to Wolverine Blues.

What Edge of Sanity has done with Purgatory Afterglow is made a unique and sonically pleasing slab of death metal. It contains just enough of aggression, prog, and catchiness (oh that Swedish groove!) to make all the songs on the album memorable. While Crimson is often considered their magnum opus it’s safe to say that Purgatory Afterglow isn’t too far behind in terms of quality.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Black Tears/Twilight

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Deja vu!

What do we have this time? Atreyu and In Flames? Huh? Sounds funny I know! But it seems the metalcore band may have been listening to a little In Flames while writing Right Side of the Bed.

Listen to the first 20 seconds of the In Flames song The Hive:

And the first 20 seconds of Right Side of the Bed:

This one may be a little of a stretch. Maybe i'm just crazy, see if you can notice the simliarities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Requiem Metal Podcast

Here is a great podcast about extreme metal I found some time ago while looking for metal podcasts on iTunes. Jason and Mark are very knowledgable of the underground metal scene during the 80s and into present times both having worked on fanzines and even having friends that work for Decibel Magazine.

And they actually talk about real extreme metal. Sometimes they dip into metalcore but its usually the more dissonent types like Converge or The Dillinger Escape Plan. They usually pick an album, or band and the shows format depends on that.

If its a band they play a few songs from the band's eras or important albums/eps and discuss what was going on at the time and give a perspective from their point of view. They also like to throw some fun and interesting facts out there. If its an album they basically do the same thing but with a focus, obviously, on that album. They also do a Top (insert number here) releases of the year show at the end of every year that is fun to listen to.

They have gotten me interested in a lot of bands who to me were new, Anata, Katatonia, Gates of Ishtar, Amorphis, and Edge of Sanity. Definitely check them out if you want to hear some good radio show like stuff about extreme metal bands. Much props to the guys for doing a Bolt Thrower show!

Check out the guys at the Requiem Metal Podcast site where you can download their shows, or find them on iTunes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Hail of Bullets - ...Of Frost and War

Band: Hail of Bullets
Album: ...Of Frost and War
Year: 2008
Genre: Death Metal

Hail of Bullets will never be described as trying to reinvent the wheel. In fact you could say they are de-constructing it down to its bare bones! The band mixes the tried and true formula and style of Bolt Thrower with a tinge of doom (a la Asphyx) and a dash of old school Swedish death metal.

The production is great I have to give them props. While the album is sort of a throw back to old school death metal it does have that gritty feel but its still sounds clean at the same time. The guitar tone especially should be taken note of. Just listen as Before the Storm transitions into Ordered Eastward. The guitars sound like a tank is rolling up on you!

There is also a lot of atmosphere on OFaW. Pay special attention to Berlin when looking at this aspect of the album. The song is laden with doom riffs but they help underscore the feeling of defeat the Germans must have experienced. The last couple of minutes of the song especially give off this feeling with a massively catchy riff that’s played over a doom one as they eventually fade into silence ending the album.

As much as I love this album I have to admit there are a few problems. For one it seems to me to be just a song or two too long. Perhaps it’s because some of the songs actually sound quite alike. The biggest factor in them sounding the same is probably the fact that the riffs mainly lack differentiation.

But there are still a lot of good riffs here. Tracks like Ordered Eastward, Advancing Once More, Insanity Commands, and Berlin all have really catchy guitar parts. In The Red Wolves of Stalin there is probably my favorite part of the album where the music is going without any vocals and out of no where van Drunen comes in with his tortured vocals screaming “slit their fucking throats”.

Speaking of van Drunen he does a really good job on the album. His voice fits the music and lyrical topic(s) perfectly since he comes off sounding like some dying soldier in their death throes screaming their lungs out. I get a kick out of when he just randomly throws a death growl out there into the song for no specific reason (the intro to Ordered Eastward for example) which happens often. In Ordered Eastward Mr. Dan Swano provides guest vocals and they sound really good, in fact I wouldn’t have minded seeing him a little more on the album.

The album is a solid mix of death/doom leaning a bit more on the death side of things which is very pleasing. Though I don’t think the band did enough to differentiate themselves from Asphyx (Martin’s other band) they would fix this with their next album. But …Of Frost and War is still a very good album that switches up the tempo quite often between slower doom and thrashing death metal. While this album does have its flaws the good far outweighs the bad.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Ordered Eastward

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Born of Osiris release new song

I really liked A Higher Place so I'm glad to hear some new material from the new album. The new track, Follow The Signs, definitely keeps their old sound but the riffs feel less fluid. It seems every new band likes to do that start stop technical riffing but it just doesn't work for me, sounds too emotionless and mechanical.

Still the atmosphere they inject into the song is pretty strong and that's what drew me to the band in the first place. The electronic parts they throw in also fit them very well.

The new album cover is pretty wicked looking as well!

Read the article at Metal Sucks

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Free Relapse Records Sampler

Here is something cool! Relapse Records is putting out a free sampler. How do you get it? Go to their Facebook page, click the Free Sampler tab and click the Download button. All they ask is that you like the page, like it and your download will show up.

The sampler has 26 songs, here's the track list:

1. Baroness – Swollen and Halo
2. Red Fang – Number Thirteen
3. Black Tusk – Embrace The Madness
4. Revocation – ReaniManiacs
5. Obscura – Incarnated
6. Abysmal Dawn In Service of Time
7. Cephalic Carnage – When I Arrive
8. Dying Fetus – Descend Into Depravity
9. Misery Index – The Spectator
10. Black Anvil – Scalping
11. Tombs – Merrimack
12. Howl – Heavenless
13. Kingdom Of Sorrow – God’s Law In The Devil’s Land
14. Toxic Holocaust – Nuke The Cross
15. Noisear – Global Warning
16. Murder Construct – End of An Error
17. Kill The Client – Vicious Slaughter
18. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse Now
19. Brutal Truth – Get A Therapist…Spare The World
20. Royal Thunder – Mouth of Fire
21. Titan – Wooded Altar Beyond The Wander
22. Mose Giganticus – The Great Deceiver
23. Circle of Animals – No Faith
24. Cough – Crippled Wizard
25. Horseback – Invokation
26. Death – Scavenger Of Human Sorrow

I downloaded it a few days ago and it has some good tracks, check it out!

Review: As I Lay Dying - The Powerless Rise

Band: As I Lay Dying
Album: The Powerless Rise
Year: 2010
Genre: Melodic Death/Metalcore

After the exceptional An Ocean Between Us As I Lay Dying are back with The Powerless Rise. Starting from where AOBU left off the band continues in that same direction. Automatically you can tell the band has gotten a little heavier musically and vocally. Tim’s growls and screams are more guttural and there are far more Death growls incorporated. Or maybe they havent even gotten heavier musically, perhaps just more consistant in their heaviness.

AILD never were heavy on clean singing but they usually kept a number of songs on the album with singing during the chorus. This trend is continued here and Gilbert’s vocals remain as they did on AOBU, not whiny but not terribly gruff either. He finds a medium and sticks with it which does the album ok but I think it would offend far less of the “true” metal heads if he took a more aggressive stance vocally. Tim’s vocals are more extreme than the last album. His highs are better I would say and his lows used much more while going into death metal territory.

Jordan Mancino is excellent on drums. I especially like how he throws blast beats into tracks pretty liberally. They are scattered throughout the album on songs like Without Conclusion, The Plague, and Condemned. He has become one of my favorite drummers in modern metal.

The riffs are all around great. My favorites would have to be the riff that starts Condemned, Upside Down Kingdom (especially during the chorus) and The Only Constant Is Change which has the most epic chorus on the album. But The Only Constant Is Change is also full of good riffs in its entirety. In fact if I had to describe the riffs on this album in one word it would be emotion, they all contain lots of it.

Lets talk about the solos! Back in the days before An Ocean Between Us they were painfully absent until AILD got their new guitarists who seemed to bring more metal into the band. There are some nice smaller solos like in Beyond Our Suffering and Without Conclusion. Even though its not my favorite song, Parallels has the best solo on the album and in that way its sort of like The Sound of Truth from AOBU.

And hey the bass can actually be heard! He (Gilbert) even has some nice bass fills and lines. Just check out the start of Upside Down Kingdom or the start of Condemned where its very audible. It also sounds like they turned his bass up a little more in the mix which is nice considering bands in this genre usually never do anything with the bass.

When all is said and done this album sets a new bar by which the band and others in melodic metalcore will be compared and criticized. The production is just downright perfect, the instruments are played with serious talent, the vocals are heavy and it all is combined to create one great album.

Score: 9/10
Standout Track: The Only Constant Is Change (definitely give this a listen!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Favorite Metal Music Videos

Whether its because of the song or video itself here are a few of my favorites:

In Flames - Ordinary Story

Bolt Thrower - Cenotaph

Hail of Bullets - Operation Z

Carcass - Incarnated Solvent Abuse

Death - Lack of Comprehension

Lots and lots more but this is it for now!

Metal Reviews: Astrum - Shadows of the Past

Band: Astrum
Album: Shadows of the Past
Year: 2010
Genre: Punk/Thrash

Astrum is extremely low-fi. In fact the band probably puts most others to shame, y'know those black metal bands who purposely use bad production to make the music sound more raw? If there was a contest to see who could make the rawest most primitive production Astrum would win.

Ok so the production is very black metal, the vocals are punk(ish) and the music itself is also pretty punky. Lets be honest, the riffs don't sound all that different throughout the album but every song still has me bobbing my head to the riffs. Especially with Mighty Swords of Thunder, the main riff is just catchy. Astrum write riffs that usually sound the same and are quite simple but they have a charm to them that makes it a little enjoyable. Its funny the production sounds better on some songs than others, Out of the Fog has a better guitar sound than some of the other songs but it is overall pretty fuzzy sounding.

And the drumming is usually pretty simply played as well which kind of fits with what the rest of the band is doing. The mixing is a little off as well, the drums are quite a ways back in the mix and there is little to no bass that is noticeable. For the drums a song where they actually pop out at times higher into the mix is the last song Victory of Doom. The drummer also has a little trouble keeping time with the guitars. Some songs it just seems like he is playing too quickly like in Nocturnal Damnation while in Mighty Swords of Thunder they feel too slow.

There are some keys or electronic effects thrown in on On Starless Night and it gives off almost an old school horror film vibe. Once again the riffs within this song are nothing special but they are nice addition to the song that adds atmosphere.

This album sounds muddy, dirty, and the mixing isn't really the best. The musicianship is also lacking as well. There are solos but considering what I usually listen to I'm not really impressed. Even still, like I said earlier, Shadows of the Past has some charm to it that doesn't make it a total let down. The riffs while simple are catchy enough and the vocals probably wont offend anyone. If you are into primitive punk/thrash with black metal tendencies in the production this is for you, if that doesn't sound appealing I would probably move on to something else. Wanting a raw sound is perfectly fine, but when it actually takes away from the music it stops being a pro and becomes a con which will be the case here for most people.

Score: 5/10
Standout Track: On Starless Night

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Anata is the shit!

So i'm listening to their first album, Infernal Depths of Hatred, and its blowing me away! Lots of twin leads and melody but still straight up death metal. This is something I can appreciate.