Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last Chance To Reason - Level 2


Band: Last Chance To Reason
Album: Level 2
Genre: Progressive Metal

When one thinks of Progressive Metal, chances are, bands like Dream Theater, Cynic, and maybe even Opeth come to mind.  With their newest album Level 2, Last Chance To Reason aims to change the playing-field of the genre.  Having known these guys, and watching the band grow over the years, one may say this review is a bit biased.  But, all bullshit aside, this album kicks fucking ass.

Level 2 is a concept album focusing on the main character being trapped in a mysterious digital world.  He must battle his way through said world by any means necessary to survive.  The real kicker is that this album acts as the soundtrack for a video-game with the same title, also created by the band.  Though the game is yet to be released, there is a demo, which you can download here.  But while we wait for the game to be finished, here are the goods on the album:

Let me just start off by saying that there is a good chance that this may be one of the most cohesive albums to hit the shelves in a decade or two.  When listened to all the way through, the album seems like one 45 minute song.  It's incredible.  The flow/pacing of the album is one of its strongest aspects.  Each song packs it's own unique build to a climax.  But, when put together, each track creates the build to the epic climax of the whole album.  It's a true testament to the musicians skills at writing.

Lyrically, the album is a huge tease.  This statement isn't to be taken negatively.  Quite the contrary.  Given that the album is to act as the soundtrack to the game, a lot of the lyrics hint to the action and/or plot-points in the story of the game.  And, well, from what I'm getting out of the album and lyrics, the game will be nothing less than epic.

As far as how the music sounds when combined into songs - Prepare to shit your pants.  The technicality and precision to which each song is executed is breath-taking.  Constant changes in time-signatures, as well as the different layering to all the instruments and the fusion of both heavy metal riffing and progressive rock elements  give Level 2 a heightened sense of musical sophistication, while also bringing the album to life in a way few musical groups have ever achieved.   Any group of assholes with instruments, and an attitude to "fuck shit up," as the scene kids like to say, can make a CD, but it takes talented musicians to do what LCTR has done here.  After listening to this album in it's entirety for what is, I believe the ninth or tenth time, I feel as though this album stands as a physical, and musical catharsis for these guys.  The emotion behind the music screams far louder than any amp can go.

Produced by the master Jamie King alongside the band, the overall sound of the album, along with the music itself, is flawless.  All of the instruments have an audible and prominent sound, yet blend together so well to create something more than just a nicely mastered song/album.  Upon numerous replays of the album, you will be able to pick up on even more additional musical contributions.  Like I said, this album is insanely layered, and demands multiple replays.

As far as Progressive Metal goes, consider Last Chance To Reason one of the new titans of the genre.  This album is for anyone who has an interest in the genre or true musical talent.  To see if LCTR is coming near you, check their MySpace or Facebook.  Level 2 was put out by Prosthetic Records and can be found on iTunes as well as Amazon and a record store near you.  I highly suggest you go and pick this up.  

As far as the score for this album goes - The readers can give me shit for it, but all biases aside, this is one of the most phenomenal albums I've ever heard.  This is why I'm awarding Level 2 my first, and possibly only 10 out of 10.  Congrats guys!

Score: 10/10

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thomas Giles - Pulse


Band: Thomas Giles
Album: Pulse
Genre: Progressive/Experimental Rock/Electronica

Alright all you die-hard BTBAM fanatics.  The time has come.  Tommy Rogers has just released his debut album for his solo-project entitled Pulse.  The album is different to say the least, with familiar traces of the ambiance that is brought to Between the Buried and Me, through Tommy Rogers' presence.  That's all well and good, but how does the album stand, on it's own?

This album, is very different, in the sense that it's very "out there."  It has elements of rock, infused, at points, with odd electronica beats and keyboard-play.  Overall, Rogers, delivers a solid work as a whole, that really shows the creative ability to push the limits of his musicianship.

If you've been a fan of BTBAM since the early years, I think you can all agree that through the years, you can see a vast progression in the vocal abilities of Rogers.  The chronology of Tommy's vocal advancements was not put to a halt with the release of  Pulse.  Honestly, Rogers give his most solid vocal performance to date on this album.  Perhaps it's because he doesn't utilize his screams very much, or perhaps it's because he's just learned over time.  Regardless, it sounds very precise and wonderful.  A prefect example lies in the chorus to the opening track on the album, "Sleep Shake."

As far as the music goes on this album, I think it's safe to say that it is very layered.  Not in a bad way of course.  You just pick something new out of the background of sound every time you give the album a listen.  I really enjoyed the fact that the keys and synth are, in a sense, the "main character" of the instruments on the album.  I always enjoyed the ambient synth passages, or the elegant ringing of the piano filling the void of silence in said songs.  Rogers also incorporates elements of guitar, implementing very soulful, relaxed, and tranquil solos, as heard in the third track on the album, "Mr. Bird."

Other tracks on the album, such as "Scared" (track six), take on the tone of an indie folk artist.  It's simply Tommy and an acoustic guitar.  It sounds terrific, for he knows how to play, as well as keep a tune.  He doesn't try too hard to show off with his play, nor his vocal abilities.  He keeps it simple, and it pays off.  While Rogers doesn't noticeably try too hard to impress his audience, he still transcends all his prior work with this album.  That's a sign of a true musician.

I found Pulse to be a rather well balanced album.  All of the tracks seemed to meld together to form a solid cohesive whole, while still possessing the individuality of each individual track.  This can be said for every track on the album, minus track four, entitled "Catch & Release."  I found this track to be the metaphorical crack in the foundation, that left this album a little short from perfection.  Essentially, "Catch & Release" is a three minute and twenty-five second song with club beats that sounded too close to dubstep for my taste, harsh vocals that didn't match the vibe of the song, and the deep, talking vocals that just sounded awful.  I hate to say it, but the song sucks.  And, it really disappoints me, because had the song been different, Pulse would have, without a doubt, gotten the first 10 out of 10 on this blog.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  Luckily, the rest of the album is so good, this one track didn't ruin the rest of the album.   Track four is the only complaint I have with this album.

So, if you're a fan of Between the Buried and Me, or dig any sort of progressive or experimental tunes, I highly recommend this album.  It's most likely already in my running for the top albums of 2011, and I'm sure will remain there until the decision is made.  This album is filled to the brim with musical talent, layered ambiance, and overall terrific tunes that are likely to please the ears of many.  Give this album a listen.

Score: 9/10

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Anal Cunt - Fuckin' A


Band: Anal Cunt
Album: Fuckin' A
Genre: Noise-Grind/"Cock Rock"

Love 'em, or hate 'em, Anal Cunt has made their mark on the extreme metal scene over the years.  Whether you remember them from I Like It When You Die, or Picnic of Love, you remember the band for their ridiculous atmosphere and "fuck you attitude."  Their latest effort, a take/parody on the 80's clam rock metal scene simply entitled Fuckin' A, held a lot of mystery and skepticism towards me when I first heard about the album.  My hesitant feelings were relieved from the first track, when I heard that the album actually kicked a lot of ass.  Here are all the juicy, sweaty, heroine induced details:

After hearing their first parody album, "Picnic of Love," I was almost certain that this album would be purely for entertainment value, stemming from how genuinely bad the album was as a whole.  I pressed play and the first track, entitled "Fuck Yeah."  To my dismay, the band actually put together a good collection of riffs and beats to give you the feel of the 80's, yet sloppy enough playing and production to still have the feel of an Anal Cunt album.

The album as a whole, is very cohesive and entertaining.  All of the songs feel right at home with the others, and while you may be disappointed that your favorite song on the track has just passed, the feelings will subside within 15 seconds of the following track.  One of the main contributers to the entertainment value of the album is it's intensity.  While the whole album sounds more like an 80's metal album, you'll be able to pick up hints of Motley Crew attitude mixed with Judas Priest style riffs, as displayed in the track "Hot Chicks on the Road," and "Whiskey, Coke, and Sluts."  

I have to say though; More than half of the intensity that resonated from this album is spawned from the vocals of the legendary Seth Putnam.  He provides two rather lengthy screams with pin-point precision in "Whiskey, Coke, and Sluts," and one jaw-dropping scream on the last track of the album.  All of his screams are precise, raw, and almost have a tinge of black metal mixed into them. It's an interesting combination of effort and sound on his behalf, considering I saw Putnam limping around with a cane this summer at an EYEHATEGOD show in Cambridge, MA.  It's good to hear him getting back into the groove of things, and coming harder than he ever has, on an album, before.

The other instruments on the album are surprisingly tight, coming from Anal Cunt.  Clearly, if you have heard any of their other albums, you'll recognize just how truly sloppy they play.  Whatever - It works for them.  But I digress.  The album has a nice flow generated by the instruments.  The guitars provide delicious little bits of feedback, and the drums hold solid, fast beats that really manifest the spirit of true 80's metal into the album. 

I only have a few complaints as far as the album is concerned.  There are a few sections of the track "Yay! It's Pink!" where Putnam's low growls kind of muck up the rest of the bands flow, simply because it's the raw vocals of old Anal Cunt, but it's far too loud and overpowering for the song.  Also.  While Anal Cunt does a great job melding their style with the 80's metal scene, it still just doesn't feel like a real Anal Cunt album.  I appreciate it for what it's worth, but I can't help missing their original noise-grind style.  Clearly, they can't do that given the genre that they are paying homage to/mocking, but I just feel like the album was restrained in the sense that the band couldn't fully be themselves.  But regardless, this album rocks.

So, if you enjoy any of Anal Cunt's past efforts, or you just dig 80's metal a lot, I highly recommend checking this album out.  It won't be the same Anal Cunt you used to listen to, but it's Anal Cunt none-the-less.  It's a light, fun, and catchy album that has a great replay value.  So go out and pick this shit up!

Score: 8/10

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Non-Metal Recommendation of the New Year: Die Antwoord - $O$


Artist: Die Antwoord
Album: $O$
Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop

I'm sure, by now, a somewhat good portion of you readers have at least heard of Die Antwoord, wether you recognize it or not.  Everyone seems to have heard "that ninja song" ("Enter The Ninja"), and wether they enjoy it or not, they recognize it.  

For those of you who are unaware to Die Antwoord's existence, they are a hip-hop group hailing from South Africa.  The tracks on the album are rather unique.  Some can appreciate, while others don't seem to find the merit behind the groups releases.   The best way I can describe these guys is a South African version of The Beastie Boys.  

Their lyrics are rather random, and childish at times.  But, at the same time, I can appreciate the rhymes for Ninja's superior flow, and the overall fun, simplistic, yet unique feel to the songs.  A typical Antwoord song generally consists of many penis, boner, breast, and vagina references as well as any other sexual content that can be worked in.  This has been done a thousand times in the states, but our artists don't have the audacity to spit what Ninja does on $O$.  The group lays it out there, and lets the haters hate, and the followers follow.  

Though this album is most likely one of the most unbalanced albums I've yet to hear, I definitely appreciate the diversity of songs it brings to the table.  Given that Die Antwoord is essentially a bunch of kids cracking dick jokes at heart, I can't let their unbalanced song-writing get in the way of enjoying $O$ for what it is.  In the same way Rodriguez and Tarantino assaulted the screens with their double feature grindhouse experience, I see Die Antwoord do the same for the rap and hip-hop scene.

Wether you hate them, love them, or have yet to hear them, I have to give Die Antwoord the credit they deserve.  They are getting their name out there, and they don't give a fuck what people think of them.  I'm going to take a leap here, and highly recommend you check this group out.  I'm not making any promises to wether or not you readers will enjoy the group.  But they are at least worth a listen or two.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nails - Unsilent Death


Band: Nails
Album: Unsilent Death
Genre: Grindcore with Crust and Hardcore Influence

Southern California grind trio Nails if following up their 2009 release, "Obscene Humanity."  Attacking the senses with hate, aggression and an attitude that screams "Fuck you all," "Unsilent Death" is a noteworthy release in the genre of grindcore and crust hardcore.  Lets see what makes this album worth your time:

Grindcore is a pretty difficult genre to expand on, granted that the majority of the music is pure chaos.  One of the things I appreciated most about this album is that it didn't try to go above and beyond with the expansion of the genre.  Nails is simply a group of dude who just want to play loud, pissed off music.  That being said, there weren't any failed efforts in transcending the genre they were making music for. The simply did what they new best, and it shows in all fourteen minutes (that's right - fourteen minutes) of the album.  

So, you're probably asking yourself, "what does the album actually sound like?"  Put simply, it sounds like unharnessed mayhem.  The crunchy guitars and low tuned bass give the album a pleasantly dirty grungy sound that any grind fan will instantly appreciate.  Passages of feedback and slow breakdowns give the album a subtle taste of sludge and crust punk.  The drums sprint at times with tasteful grind-blasts, and then slow down for the slower, crusty passages.  The vocals on the album are a clean 50/50 split of unrestrained hardcore yelling, mixed with a harsh taste of metal screams.  Put together, you get a take on grindcore that is original, yet still plays back to the ways of the greats like Terrorizer.  So, while it's been done before with other crusty grind bands, Nails has created their own, take on the genre, and it sounds prime.  

Now let's take on the other end of what the album sounds like - The production.  Granted, these guys are still a somewhat smaller, unheard of band in the genre, but the production on this album is damn near spotless.  It has a raw, almost D.I.Y. feel to it, as well as a polished, coherent sound.  When these two aspects collide, it becomes every grindcore fans wet dream.  The production adds a certain level of heaviness to the overall product, and it does nothing but compliment the work the band has done.  

My one complaint on the album, beside the fact that the album is only fourteen minutes long (which is a pro and a con for the album), is that due to the low tuning of the bass, and the raw aspect of the production, sometimes the instrument gets a little drowned out.  Obviously, it is more audible during the slow riffs on the album, but, during the speedy grind riffs, the bass is left M.I.A. at times.  But, this is only a minor gripe, and it certainly didn't ruin me enjoying the album and the replay value that it possesses.

So, if you're in the mood for some fresh, more underground grind or crust, I would highly suggest checking "Unsilent Death" out.  It's definitely one of the more noteworthy albums I have heard this year, and it will definitely be in my iPod rotation for months to come.  So, what the hell are you waiting for?  Go out and get yourself a copy.  Now.

Score: 8/10

Thursday, December 9, 2010


(Free Download of EP)

It's hard to find genuinely good doom style metal around the Bangor/Brewer area of Maine.  Thanks to Druid, we are provided some heavy tunes that mend the genres of doom, and thrashy hardcore to produce one of the freshest sludge sounds to come out of Maine in God knows how long.

Their first EP can be downloaded in the link underneath the image posted above.  The album spans a little less than ten minutes, but packs a hard punch for the time you are alloted.  The production is very fresh, and the mix allows all the instruments to be heard without any falling into the background.  

With the "Fuck You" mentality of the 80's punk scene, and the heavy style of some of the front-runners of the doom/sludge genre today, Druid is not a band to let pass you by.  Their EP is merely a foreshadowing of things to come, so you better hop aboard before this train leaves your entrails scattered all over the tracks.

If you enjoy their music, become a fan of Druid on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vulvectomy - Post-Abortion Slut Fuck


Band: Vulvectomy
Album: Post-Abortion Slut Fuck
Genre: Brutal Death Metal (Slam)

What can be expected from a band that takes it's name from a medical procedure in which a surgeon removes a woman's vagina?  Pretty much what you expect from every other slam band out there today: Guttural vocals, crunchy guitars, blast beats, audio samples and lots of slams.  For those who are unaware, a "slam" is essentially brutal death metal's version of a breakdown, except that a slam offers a lot more groove, and a lot less shame to the listener.  Bands like Vulvectomy are defined by how good their slams are.  So, what is the band bringing to their 2010 release "Post-Abortion Slut Fuck"?  
Lets be honest.  Brutal death/slam is by no means the thinking-man's metal.  It has a reputation for being rather retarded.  So, lets not delve too deeply into the smarts of this album, and get to what the true fans are wondering about (if you still haven't heard the album by the time this review came out): The slams!  As far as originality goes, Vulvectomy did the best they could to generate some good grooves that kept the audience listening.  Tracks like "Eugenic Sterilization" and "Gangrenous Testicular Deformity" display fresh slams that not only allow the listener to enjoy the music, but distinguish it from other tracks as well.  Though it's not the best slam release that I've heard, it definitely separates itself from the heard of mindless bands that are churning this stuff out.  For a frame of reference as to what shitty slam sounds like, I suggest The Slamburglars.  But I digress.  What else, if anything, makes this album worth your time?

Not that this is one of the things slam fans generally care too much about while listening, but the grind-ish death metal riffs in between slams are only up to par on this album.  While some credit can be given, especially to the drummer, for musical talent during these passages, all of the riffs just kind of meld together, and can really throw you off as to what track your on.  All I'm saying is that this aspect of the album doesn't compliment it as well as it could have.  It's not exactly a bad thing, since they don't suck, but it isn't exactly a good thing since they aren't extraordinary by any means.

One thing that I was glad to hear was the firm tone of the guttural vocals on the album.  True there isn't much variety when it comes to guttural growls (unless you're talking about Heinous Killings), but front-man Diego Fanelli does a great job of delivering a good tone and consistency to his vocal contributions on the album.  It takes the album up a few notches, personally speaking.

As far as the production goes on this album, I was a tad disappointed.  The album sounded a little too polished for my taste.  While the audio clarity gives the listener an opportunity to better distinguish the musical aspect of the album, it also somewhat robs the type of raw, gritty experience you could get while listening to Devourment's "Molesting The Decapitated."  I'm not sure if I consider this a downside to the album, so the issue shall remain neutral.  In the end, it all comes down to preference.

My final gripe about this album is the choice of audio samples.  They just aren't as deprived as they seemed to be on Vulvectomy's first full-length "Putrescent Clitoral Fermentation."  The samples provided on this album just feel too dry, and lacking in either a punch-line or disturbing essence.  It was definitely a let-down.  But, luckily, samples don't make an album, so it isn't that detrimental to the album as a whole.

The final verdict on this album: Go get it.  It's definitely a noteworthy contribution to the genre of brutal death/slam, and can definitely be listened to multiple times.  I'm not sure that it surpasses "Putrescent Clitoral Fermentation," but it is a solid album for any fans of Vulvectomy or slam in general.  So, get in touch with your primal urges to kill, defile and degrade the purity of human life.  Go out and get this album!

Score: 7.5/10