Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Omnium Gatherum - New World Shadows

Band: Omnium Gatherum
Album: New World Shadows
Year: 2011
Country: Finland
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

First off the vocals on NWS are pretty killer. Jukka Pelkonen has a great growl and contrary to what is the norm for the genre, his are lower and more guttural. It is a joy to listen to him tear apart his throat while delivering the lyrics. There is also a clean section during the track New World Shadows where Dan Swano does guest cleans. I listen to this song if only to hear how epic the great Dan Swano is and how much he adds to the track.

I can say this is actually a decent album but there are a few problems that bring it down for me. The band adds a little too much softer/gentler/whatever to the songs and it sometimes seems a little forced. Most of An Infinite Mind would be a good example of this. The song is really lacking in heaviness through a significant portion of its length and it is boring and I literally am waiting for the heavy part to come back and smash me in the face. The same could be said for Deep Cold and the instrumental track, Watcher of the Skies. Certain parts of the album just feel a bit inconsistent and these more mellow parts take away from the flow of it all. I know they were trying to be melancholy and all that but it just doesn’t do it for me. This is especially true in the back half of the album.

Ok so besides the songs where the band tries to play depressing softer tunes there are actually some really good guitar riffs to be found on New World Shadows. Both Ego and Soul Journeys have really fun riffs and they wreak of Amon Amarth/Viking metal worship. And as a whole these songs are good, especially how the vocals/lyrics go well with the music during the verse and chorus parts of Ego. But like I mentioned before New World Shadows has one of the most memorable parts vocally and the guitars only add to it.

The drumming is solid. There are some blast beats thrown in at times like near the end of Everfields and that helps to change things up a little. Double bass is also pretty present through a lot of the songs whether no matter what pace the guitars are playing at. The bass is also very prominent at times too, especially during the verse parts of An Infinite Mind. Otherwise its your standard melodeath affair of “bass? we don’t need no stinking bass!”. The keyboards add some nice atmosphere and aren’t the annoying in your face use like some bands. The production is very clear and I guess you could say “modern”.

If it weren’t for the fact that the band tries to shove more “progressive” elements and softer parts of songs down the listeners throat I would have enjoyed this album much more. But as its done to the degree it is I cant help but take a big chunk off the score. Of course that doesn’t make this a shitty release. Like I said before, it’s a decent album and there are still plenty of reasons to go back and give it listens in the future. If you are looking for a more progressive minded approach to melodic death metal then New World Shadows is probably for you.

Score: 7/10
Standout Track: New World Shadows

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Darkest Hour - The Human Romance

Band: Darkest Hour
Album: The Human Romance
Year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

When you listen to The Human Romance you kind of get the feeling that Darkest Hour weren’t quite sure what direction to go in. And this is one of the biggest and pretty much only problems with THR. Instead of balancing melody and dissonance in each song the band just used a formula of heavy song and a little bit of melody, melodic song and a little bit of heaviness. This just sounds a little strange and it feels a bit confused like they couldn’t tell whether to make another The Eternal Return or do Undoing Ruin over again instead of meeting somewhere in the middle.

I have to say though that doesn’t mean these (softer) songs are bad. In fact they are all really quite enjoyable. Maybe Love as a Weapon comes off as the weakest track and that’s because it sort of crawls and only picks up energy during the chorus which is quite superb. Wound is a really great melodic track that has some of the better guitar harmonies on the album and a great chorus.

Speaking of harmonies, they seem to be given a little more emphasis on The Human Romance. I enjoy twin leads a lot so this was quite a treat for me. Like I said there are some more aggressive songs and as is usual for bands playing melodic death/metalcore the shortest ones happen to be the meanest. Violent by Nature and Your Everyday Disaster are blistering tracks with a very in your face attitude.

The band even shows a progressive side with Terra Solaris. This second instrumental is almost 9 minutes long but doesn’t get anywhere near boring. It starts with a little piano intro and builds a couple of times. The solos add a lot to the song and there is a really catchy riff in the back half of the song I wait for. And you can’t miss the acoustic interlude that reminds a lot of how In Flames and Dark Tranquillity used to throw them into their older material.

The band plays their instruments pretty well for what it is. I’m glad Ryan Parrish got over his kick of just using double bass for entire songs. Like on The Eternal Return the drumming is more varied here than it was on Deliver Us. The bass isn’t really anywhere to be found but this is melodic death metal. As I mentioned there are some good harmonies in the guitar department and to be honest Mike and Mike sound their best playing the thrash influenced tracks on here and the last album. John Henry’s vocals are their usual gravely self and he hasn’t changed that at all.

So The Human Romance is actually a good album as a whole. The band seems to sort of stumble with what kind of path they want to take but barring that and one questionable song it’s an enjoyable experience. It has something for those who enjoy their more aggressive/melodic moments separately. If you liked any of the last 3 albums you would be wise to pick The Human Romance up as well.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Wound

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Funny Quotes

You never know what readers of blogs will say and metal heads are no exception. From a reader's comment on a post about the 90s boy band Hanson doing a cover of Slipknot's Wait and Bleed as an April Fools Day prank:

"Both Hanson and Slipknot are pre-school music so it’s a fitting joke. the only difference is Hanson grew up and Slipknot still makes “YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD! MY LIFE SUCKS!” music."

Made me chuckle out loud when I read it lol.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Closed Minded Fans

The metal fan base seems to be one of the most closed minded subcultures in music and possibly modern human civilization. Yet at the same time strangely open minded at the same time. Wait...what?

You will see (some) metal heads talking about how its all about the music and they aren't judgmental or anything of that sort. You can then mention how you enjoy a deathcore/metalcore band a minute later and they will be calling you a faggot and telling you how shitty your taste is.

It is called personal taste for a reason ya know? I, and others, don't have to like [Insert Band Name Here] as much as you do, or even at all if we don't want to. And while I don't really listen to much Deathcore, and fewer and fewer Metalcore bands are added to my iPod as time goes on, I still cannot stand to see how the metal community consistently shits on these bands or people who enjoy them. Do you have to like As Blood Runs Black, or All Shall Perish? Not at all, like what you want I don't care. But do you have to be such a dick about not liking those kind of bands? ...No.

There is so much negativity and bad mouthing that goes on within this group that just browsing forums sometimes makes me remember why I never really sought out people who enjoy metal. No one wants to be friends with a bunch of elitist poo flinging assholes who are butthurt over other people's musical preferences.
Oh well I doubt this is going to change anytime soon, if ever. Carry on.