Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Origin - Entity

Band: Origin
Album: Entity
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Genre: Technical Brutal Death Metal

So technical death metal for the most part isn't really my thing. Very few bands tend to catch my interest, something about the processed, robotic like execution rubs me the wrong way. Yet every once in a while a band or release strikes my fancy. I can happily say Entity is one such album in this sub-genre that does all the right things for me.

Origin produces blazing fast tech death like so many other bands. And still they create memorable riffs and melodies where so many other bands seem to have difficulty doing so. Many of the riffs have a very strong tinge of middle eastern influence to them. Tracks like Saliga and Consequence of Solution especially so. There is also of course noodling like the beginning of Expulsion of Fury, or throughout Committed. Guitarist Paul Ryan masterfully strings together some really creative stuff and his ideas make for a very interesting listen.

The drumming of John Longstreth is pretty out of this world. Listening to this album leads me to believe he may possibly have 4 arms with how all over the place he is. He's blasting, double bassing like a madman, and making great use of hit drum kit. And while the bass doesn't play a giant part in the music of Origin, but it is always there. It comes into the foreground in a few places even, like near the end of Consequence of Solution.

Both Paul Ryan and Mike Flores (bass) share vocal duties. One of them has a higher pitched scream while the other has your normal low death growl. I actually much prefer the highs to the lows and luckily they are what is used more often than not. The production on Entity is sleek and clean. But the guitars maintain their heaviness and the mixing is about perfect. Maybe I would have turned the bass up just a little bit higher.

Entity is easily one of my favorites in the technical death metal sub-genre. Origin have done a tremendous job melding melody, technicality, and aggression into one memorable package. Not only that but the album comes in at 36 minutes making this a very concisely executed release. I give Origin props for successfully bypassing the trappings that most tech death bands so often get caught up in.

Standout Tracks: Saliga, Expulsion of Fury, Evolution of Extinction

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Evocation - Illusions of Grandeur

Band: Evocation
Album: Illusions of Grandeur
Year: 2012
Country Sweden
Genre: Death Metal

In the lead up to Illusions being released I was very excited to consume new material from these Swedes. Their last album, Apocalypse, is one of my favorite death metal albums because of its expert blend of old school Swedish death metal and Gothenburg melodic death metal. They played a style that kept both feet on the side of death metal while embracing more melody and guitar harmonies. This is why Illusions of Grandeur is unfortunately a let down for me.

When I hear IoG the bands that come to mind are first and foremost, Amon Amarth, and secondly a touch of At the Gates. Of course their previous work already had that AtG styling to it. But the Amon Amarth influence takes the front seat here. The riffs especially wreak of that band, and it saddens me that while Evocation were not necessarily unique in their past releases, they were still one of a handful of bands doing the melodic death metal sub-genre justice. Even the buzzsaw guitar tone is gone, and its loss is oh so felt!

Thomas Josefsson still gives a pretty good performance on the album. His throaty growls border on the standard black metal rasps. But even vocally the album doesn't seem to escape the Amon Amarth touch with Johan Hegg doing guest vocals on Into Submission.

Josefsson also takes over bass guitar duties on this album as well. The bass plays a much smaller role in the music here than on Apocalyptic. Where before it was a buzzing heavy bottom end now its buried behind the guitars. Even Janne Boden's drumming is slower and less frenzied.

Illusions of Grandeur is a step down in quality by Evocation. They have pretty much abandoned their Swedish death metal roots and instead here are more of a Amon Amarth clone. Still I will admit they do Amon Amarth better than Amon Amarth do but still, it is pretty disappointing. This time around they even opted for the clean modern sounding production. These songs are still decent but I seriously hope on their next release Evocation decides to move back towards their older sound which was far more enjoyable.

Score: 7/10
Standout Tracks: Perception of Reality, Well of Despair

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: World Under Blood - Tactical

Band: World Under Blood
Album: Tactical
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

World Under Blood is the brainchild of CKY front man Deron Miller. While I do enjoy a few songs by that band, I wouldn't say I'm overall a fan of theirs. Still, when I heard Miller had begun a metal project I have to admit I was intrigued. It seems you rarely hear of mainstream musicians jumping into the metal genre. What did he come up with?

WUB play what I guess you could call melodic death metal. The strange thing about it is that their music is both more technical and aggressive than your average run of the mill melodeath band. The guitars are played fast, sometimes at breakneck speeds for this sub-genre. I mean just check out A God Among the Waste or Into the Arms of Cruelty and the shredding that goes on there. The soloing is also intricate and pretty much integral to each song. There is even a nice little acoustic intro to Revere's Tears that slows things down a little.

The Drumming by Tim Yeung is really top notch stuff. The guy has got serious skills. There is a lot of blasting on the album and it stays just this side of being excessive. And the drumming is just as important as the guitar work on Tactical. I can't really speak for the bass as I don't especially remember hearing it. I'm guessing between the focus of the guitars and drum work it was kind of drowned out.

Miller turns out to have a really great voice whether it be for his cleans or or growls. Clean singing is pretty prominent and usually done during the chorus of a song. Though many times it is also layered over or under death growls. His growling ranges from a proper guttural death metal growl which is peppered throughout the album to his higher pitched more throaty scream which takes the forefront.

In my eyes Tactical is a success and something Derin Miller can be proud of. The band blends extreme metal and melody expertly and its a winning strategy. In fact I ended up listening to the album far more than I had to for the mere fact that I enjoyed it so much. It also helped that the band kept it to a respectable 33 minutes and 8 songs. I very much approve of their fewer songs but more quality.

Score: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: A God Among  the Waste, Into the Arms of Cruelty, Pyro-Compulsive, Under the Autumn Low

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: As I Lay Dying - Awakened

Band: As I Lay Dying
Album: Awakened
Year: 2012
Country: USA
Genre: Metalcore

I have listened to Awakened 4 or 5 times through and this is a difficult review to write. Not because the album is complex and difficult to explain, no its much worse than that. As I Lay Dying's album Awakened just...isn't that good. As a big fan of this band it is just hard to admit, but there it is. Awakened isn't by any means a bad album but the band made what I would say are a few mistakes in the process of its creation and they stick out like a sore thumb.

On a review I read of the album on another site someone mentioned how AILD has created the first "retro metalcore" album. I think that description is apt, and I also believe that is what takes this from what could be a great album, to just ok. The riffing is a lot more choppy reminiscent of your generic metalcore band. It contains a lot of the stop start guitar parts which sap the riffs of their strength and just makes thing a tad boring. Still the fellas can still shred and Wasted Words is a thrashy tune for the most part. Another track that stands out and being good is A Greater Foundation which has probably the most memorable chorus of the album.

Vocally Tim Lambesis even sounds like he kind of phoned it in this time around. His performance on Awakened almost reminds me of the vocalist for another christian metalcore band, Mychildren Mybride. In fact the album holds more than that in common with said band. And you know, Josh Gilbert's clean vocals never really bothered me too much. But on Awakened they annoy the living hell out of me. I'm not sure if he sings more on this album than the previous two or what. But it seems to rub me the wrong way, like how when he sings it just pops out above everything else.

One of the highlights of the album has to be listening to Jordan Mancino's drumming. It's always a treat to hear him behind the kit. The album seems to even be pretty much driven by the drumming, perhaps a little higher in the mix than the other instruments. Mr. Gilbert's Bass is of course back in the mix, its there but barely discernible. The production is well done at least. Its clear and clean without any noticeable sonic blemishes.

On Awakened AILD have seemed to of mixed their style on An Ocean Between Us and the Powerless Rise with their older more generic metalcore style. This hurts the album. As soon as I heard the breakdown on Cauterize I knew something strange was up. Like I said before, Awakened is not bad by any means but it is not up to par with the last two albums. There is too much whiny singing, and the riffing at times can be a pain. Musically this album may have more melodies, but it is somehow less memorable overall. If you are a diehard AILD fan you may be on the fence about this album like me, otherwise if you are new to the band just pick up The Powerless Rise or the seminal An Ocean Between Us. Hopefully Awakened is a grower.

Score: 7/10
Standout Tracks: A Greater Foundation

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme

Band: Dying Fetus
Album: Reign Supereme
Year: 2012
Genre Death Metal
Country: USA

Never really listened to a Dying Fetus album before. I'll be honest for a while I found the name to be quite disgusting and that alone quashed any interest in the band I had. But of course we should never judge a book by its cover now, should we? Reign Supreme is actually a pretty decent album, although for me it does have a few noticeable flaws.

I really like the guitar play on this album. It is mostly mid paced groovy death metal, that infectious kind that is just fun as hell to listen to. There are also some noodly moments here and there but it doesn't go into the tech death wankery thank god. At times the speed does pick up, even if briefly, which can be a welcomed change of pace. But overall its the groove that really owns this album and makes it something that kept me from being bored of listening to it.

One of the flaws with Reign Supreme is the drumming. To be more specific the sound of the snare drum. The drumming itself is actually really good and I enjoyed it. But the snare sounds so processed and fake like. And with the amount of blast beating that goes on it just kind of sucks the life from what could be a really great part of the album. And the Bass seems to be quite lost in the mix.

I do like the vocals. Its a deep death growl that almost borders on pig squeals at times. Though it is usually quite difficult to understand a word Sean Beasley is saying! Oh well I enjoyed his performance anyways, its a very primal and brutal growl that definitely gets the job done. The production is pretty solid for the album. Besides the bass being almost non-existent. Its clean and crisp and the guitars have just the right bite to them.

So Dying Fetus have produced a pretty brutal album with heaps of groove. Its the riffs that are the key to the success here I believe. I mean sure the vocals are extreme and the production is strong but the riffing elevates RS to being more than just another run of the mill death metal album. Still, while Reign Supreme is a good listen it also doesn't do a whole lot more than any other band does. Its not progressive in any way, but they seem to have embraced their niche and are making the best of it. As long as the quality holds up the way it has on RS, I'm fine with that.

Score: 7.5/10
Standout Tracks: Invert the Idols, In the Trenches

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Free Revocation EP from Scion A/V

It seems Scion A/V is still releasing metal EPs for free. This time its Revocation's Teratogenesis. You can get to the page to download here. You will have to enter your email address and a link to download will be sent by email. I hope they will continue to give their EPs away in a physical format like they did with the Immolation/Enslaved/Wormrot cds they were mailing to those who wanted them.