Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Ghost - Opus Eponymous

Band: Ghost
Album: Opus Eponymous
Year: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal

The Swedish band Ghost have been getting rave reviews from most in the metal press. At first I couldnt understand exactly why. I mean I heard a couple tracks off of Opus Eponymous while listening to the Reqiuem Metal Podcast's Best of 2010 podcast episode, but I wasnt quite sure what all the hype was about. The songs were good but I think it took listening to the album as a whole to recognize how impressive this release is.

The guys play in the old school stylings of Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult. The BOC influences really are the most noticeable to my ears. I mean if you have heard Don't Fear the Reaper (and who hasnt?) you have a good idea what this album sounds like. But I think all the tracks here are on the same level of awesomeness as DFtR.

The album starts with the ominous Deus Culpa which is an instrumental done completely with an organ. It reminds me a lot of the stuff often played in churches. All of the material on Opus Eponymous is extremely catchy and chalk full of melodies. The songs Ritual and Satan Prayer are the two at the forefront of this masterful show of melodicism. Death Knell is at times a more plodding and borderline doomy. The use of keyboards and effects near the end of the song are pretty cool too.

Speaking of keys, I usually HATE keyboards but they add dont hinder the album at all and the album wouldnt be the same without them. The bassist plays some sweet riffs and I can happily say he is plenty audible for the duration of the album! In fact he is given the spot light in a few songs (Prime Mover especially and at the start of Con Clavi Con Dio).

As I mentioned earlier the album is ultra catchy and credit must be given to who ever wrote the riffs here. The guitarists have created some really impressive throw back music that isnt just a clone of old school heavy metal but would fit perfectly in that time period. It is by no means technical in any way shape or form but it isnt meant to be.

The vocalist of Ghost sings with a natural way about him. He doesnt sound like he is forcing it and seems completely comfortable where he is. That would be bad news if his voice sucked but the guy has got an awesome voice. It reminds me even of the vocalist from the BOC.

If I were to describe this album in one word it would be: fun. Whether its the hokey satanic lyrics, the halloweenish atmosphere, the sing song vocal melodies, or the captivating music, this album is plain ole fun. I mean this would be great music to throw on around halloween and get into the spirit. Ghost have created a masterpiece of retro metal here but to beat this with their sophomore album will be a massive undertaking. One thing is for sure, the metal masses will be impatiently awaiting whatever new material they have waiting for us in the future.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: Ritual, Satan Prayer, Elizibeth

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sleep Aid

Sometimes I listen to music when I go to bed. Now I usually listen hoping that I'll fall asleep, but it really depends on what is playing. If I listen to metal I will most likely lay there listening intently and it will actually keep me awake.

Post Rock is actually something I fall asleep to very easily! Not because its boring though. Its more likely that its because the music is often soft, and transe like. Here are a few tracks that help me get some shut eye:

This is the Sad Mafioso... movement of Godspeed You Black Emperor's song East Hastings from their album F# A# (Infinity). This specific movement is one of my favorites on the album and the majority of the first half of the song is very quiet with a dark atmosphere. The guitar(s) are calm and this specific movement is a slow build up to an explosion of heavier rock. The double bass drumming is a really nice touch and the riffs are unforgettable especially near the end. The rest of the album also follows the same pattern of quiet hypnotic build ups to a crescendo.

Ef is a Post Rock band from Gothenburg, Sweden. The entire album Mourning Golden Morning is relatively calm and while there are build ups like in GYBE's music this group doesnt really have the strange electronic bits that pepper the other album. Instead this band goes for more tradition rock using just instruments. Its an album that has a very sorrowful tone to it at times, especially in Longing For Colours.

Mogwai's album is like a mix of the two others I've mentioned. Specifically this track makes me think of times past with my ex, for whatever reason. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is much like Ef a very mesmerizing listen and calm enough to not keep me awake all night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Obscura - Omnivium

Band: Obscura
Album: Omnivium
Year: 2011
Genre: Technical/Progressive Death Metal

I had heard only a handful of songs by Obscura before deciding to buy Omnivium. I was pulled in by how much the band sounded like some of my favorite American death metal bands of the early 90s, specifically Cynic and Death. In Omnivium they kept only elements of their previous sound and its safe to say I did not get what I was expecting.

The bass while still pretty audible plays much less of a role than on say Cosmogenesis. This kind of bummed me out because it was in my eyes a pivotal part of Obscura’s sound that I really liked. It’s still there though and you still can here it much more than usual by comparison to other bands. Listen to Septuagint and you can pick it out pretty easily.

Septuagint is actually a really cool song to start the album with too. There is a little acoustic intro then the song rockets away for the next 7 minutes. There are tons of harmonized leads here which draw comparison to other bands like Nueraxis and Quo Vadis who play a technical form of melodic death metal.

The drumming is really great but it’s the tone of the snare that seems to really mar the album for me. It sounds like Hannes Grossmann is hitting a piece of plastic. To me it sounds so weak and in no way at all organic and hardly like a drum at all. This is really a shame because Hannes’ drumming on Omnivium is great. He has hit that mark between being technical but not so overly technical that his drumming seems to be going everywhere and nowhere at once. Like say the drumming on the Arsis album We Are The Nightmare, jeeze.

There are still a lot of riffs on this album and my favorites have to be on Ocean Gateways, Septuagint, and Celestial Spheres. Most of Ocean Gateways is a slower meandering affair with little flares of speed at certain times while Septuagint is all about speed and Celestial Spheres finds a medium between the two. And the instrumental A Transcendental Serenade is a really fun listen where the band sort of lets loose.

Vocally there are a few different variations here. There is a deep death growl, a higher pitch scream. And a vocoder! This obviously draws similarity to Cynic’s Focus but I have to say the way it is done here is more subtle than Paul did on Focus. Both the more extreme vocals are ok and nothing out of the ordinary for the genre but the use of the vocoder adds a little something for those of us who enjoyed Focus but felt it was used a bit too much.

So Obscura in my eyes are successful in my eyes with Omnivium. They wear their influences a bit less on their sleeves but you can still tell where they are coming from and they have sort of given it more spin of their own so they are less of a clone. The vocals are ok and the vocoder is a nice touch as well. The songs are easy to enjoy to the ears of someone not really attuned to technical death metal which makes this a winner.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Ocean Gateways, Celestial Spheres, Septuagint

Sunday, July 10, 2011

new music

So I got some more music a few weeks ago.

Deicide - Deicide
Times of Grace - Hymn of A Broken Man
Dimmu Borgir -
Cradle of Filth - Nymphetamine
Animals As Leaders - Animals As Leaders

The Deicide s/t was a cool find. Its a used copy but pretty sure its an original from back in 1990. The AAL is some sweet proggy shredtastic metal and Tobin Abasi is a pretty inventive guitarist.

Times of Grace is good but I would have preferred Jesse Leach use his harsh vocals even more. But the music is good and its a more experimental version of KsE but with more solos which is very welcome.

I haven't given either CoF or DB albums very thorough listens so far.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I know this one has been going around but i had to post it anyways: