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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Absence of The Sun

(Absence of The Sun in all it's metal entirety)

From Portland, ME, Absence of The Sun has come a long way since their conception in the winter of 2005.  Blending aspects of Melodic Death Metal and Thrash from all regions of the world, these guys have created their own sound that is blisteringly fast and heavy.  These guys know what they are doing, as evidence by their sophisticated guitar solos, and keyboard passages.  It's a sound you've definitely heard; But never like this.  These guys are certainly a band to check out.

I was lucky enough to catch a show with them and Last Chance To Reason in Brewer, ME a few nights back.  Their set was more than one would expect from a local metal set.  I haven't felt such stage presence since I saw Nachtmystium.  AOTS' set was a complete wall of sound, which I appreciated a lot.  The thing I appreciated more than that was the fact that it was a coherent wall of sound.

They are handing out free demos at their shows, but if you aren't able to get to one, the two tracks ("Exalted" and "Blood of the Innocents") are included on their MySpace page.  Don't let this band pass you by.  They are a freight train moving at max speed, and getting hit by it is the best thing you can do for yourself.  So, throw yourself on the tracks and experience Absence of The Sun in all their metal glory!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anthropophagus - Joe D'Amato


Film: Anthropophagus
Release Date: 1980
Director: Joe D'Amato

"Anthropophagus" is one of Italian-Sleaze Master, Joe D'Amato's, most hyped horror films in his roughly 200 film career as a film director.  The story focuses on "Zombie" actress Tisa Farrow and a gang of vacationers as they get stranded on a deserted island that is later revealed to have once been inhabited.  They later find themselves being stalked by a cannibalistic killer that murdered the town's former residence.  This film is notorious for a scene in which a woman's fetus is ripped from the womb, as well as a scene in which the cannibalistic foe ingests his own intestines before dying.  But can two famous scenes hold up to all the talk this film has been given in the underground horror community?  Here's your answer:

Lets be honest; Unless it's an Argento film, chances are there won't be that much semblance of a coherent plot in Italian gore-cinema.  So with this review, I won't be focusing on the plot, since pretty much all the viewers of films like this only care about three things:  Blood, guts, and tits.  

The blood and guts in this film seemed very few and far between.  There is a semi-decent hatchet kill on a beach in the beginning of the film.  The two scenes mentioned above were very well-done though.  The fetus scene was rather intense, and was rather well done.  The self-ingesting intestine scene also made this movie worth a watch.  But other than that, the film seems to focus on a plot that isn't really there.  

Since D'Amato is such a known sleaze director, it's necessary that the topic of naked women is covered while reviewing a film of his.  Needless to say, there were tits in this movie.  But, the sex wasn't as overwhelming as one would expect going into this film.  I was hoping to at least see a scene I wouldn't want to watch with my mother.  Unfortunately, that scene never came.  Granted, nudity isn't the only thing that makes a movie, but when it comes to 80's Italian horror, it's almost a given.  With that absence, the film sucked a little more.

Since this film hails from another country, you may be wondering about the dubbing in the film.  Granted most older foreign horror movies have poor dubbing, the English dubbing on the transfer was terrible.  I burst out laughing multiple times during my viewing of the film simply because of how ridiculous the voice acting was.  I'm not exactly sure if that is a pro or con of this film.  On the pro-side, it does add a little more entertainment value to the film.  On the con-side, it disappoints more than entertains.

Overall, this film isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  True, the fetus rip is sweet, and the film should be watched for that scene, but not much else.  It's simply too slow to keep the attention of the high expectation gore-hound that will most likely be watching this movie, let alone a new-comer to the world of Italian exploitation films.  The slow plot, lack of consistent bloody messes, and poor voice acting could send a lot of new views running away from the genre all-together.

Score: 5/10

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Change of Pace

So, I'd been thinking of doing this from the very beginning, but had some hesitation at first.  But, after pondering the idea for a few months, I think it's time to not only start reviewing new album releases with film releases as well.  I'll probably be focusing on more obscure gore and sleaze films from the 80's.  You know.  Ones with intense amounts of gore, nudity and just a general intention of disgusting the audience with little to no merit whatsoever.  So, hopefully I'll be getting movie reviews up here rather soon!  Feel free to leave recommendations of films that you would like to see reviewed, or just give me some input on what you think of the idea.  I feel like gory, disgusting horror films fit right in with the more extreme side of metal, and I'm hoping all of you readers out there will feel the same!

My first film review will most likely be of the 1980 Italian gore film "Anthropophagus" by the well-known sleaze director Joe D'Amato.  Stay tuned for the review soon, and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"HOLY SHIT!" This Band Sucks.

Though an article posted on MetalSucks was posted in a similar vain to this one, I just couldn't help but post something about one of the most obnoxiously stupid bands of our generation.  Monsters is some sort of retarded abomination of deathcore, metalcore, and pure lack of musical talent.  

I tried checking their MySpace to hear some of their tracks, but their music player wasn't working.  A friend of mine quickly hooked me up with the shitty video above.  All I ask, is that you go into this video ready to be pissed off and/or elated at how much these guys suck.  I've listened to the track about five times now, hoping to find some semblance of an undertone that could stand as evidence that these guys were doing more than just chugging stupidly in a recording studio for a month.  Those undertones never came.  You know what this means - They actually are as shitty as they sound.  Whoops!  I guess someone forgot to bring a brain and creativity to the drawing board this time around.

So, unless you are into this shitty new-wave of brainless breakdown after brainless breakdown, don't check these guys out.  Hopefully the less support these shitty bands get, the more opportunity there is that they will go away forever.  Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing trend in the metal scene.  We can only pray these dumb-asses eventually smarten up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Non-Metal Recommendation of the Month: Kid Cudi - Man on The Moon, Vol. II: The Legend of Mr. Rager


What the hell?!  A rap album on a predominately metal blog?!  That's right.  This month's non-metal recommendation has little to no similarities to anything I've ever posted on here before.  But isn't that the point of this monthly post?  To be edgy and throw something on the table that most metal elitists will hate?  Regardless, I digress.  

Cudi's second full-length release brings some of his most catchy and intricate work to date with tracks such as "Marijuana" and "Mojo So Dope."  This album is rooted in two different schools of music - The first school being the school of rap/hip-hop, and the second being the school of atmosphere.  There are certain tracks on this album that sound like a hip-hop track combined with certain atmospheric passages that sound incredibly inspired from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon."  What I'm trying to say is, this is not a run-of-the-mill rap album.  All of the songs on the album have their own characteristics, atmosphere and mood to them.  Every track is an example of the effort and expertise of the artists craft.

This album will provide the diversity to your music library that you are searching for.  The other plus side to this album is that it's mainstream enough to be extremely accessible to any new listeners, yet well done enough to appreciate certain subtleties that most new mainstream artists fail to deliver.  I can't stress enough how well done this album is.  It's certainly an album that demands multiple re-plays to fully appreciate.  This is mainly due to how the album is mixed.  On the first listen, you'll probably appreciate the lyrical flow and general beats of the album.  On the second, third, fourth (and so on) listens, you'll start to pick out the background instruments and sounds that take this album to a completely new level.

This being said, this album isn't recommended for all the hard-up metal elitists out there.  But, I'm guessing once they saw which album I was recommending, they closed the tab on my page.  So, to everyone else that's still reading - Check this album out! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hallowed Butchery


Hailing from Kennebec County, ME, Hallowed Butchery is a one man Experimental Black/Doom/Folk metal act that is creating some of the most innovative and original doom to date.  HB has three releases total (one of which can be ordered on the band website on CD or Vinyl).

(Ryan Scott Fairfield - The sole member of Hallowed Butchery.  He is also the front man of the thrash/death band Terrible Old Man)

HB's first release, "Funeral Rites for the Living," is a nine track EP that spans just about thirty minutes.  This EP pretty much buys you a front-row ticket to a thirty minute ritual of the occult deep within the woods of Maine.  To do so, Fairfield combines aspects of long drawn out drone passages with passages that go acoustic.  It's an odd musical composition, but it's damn-near flawless due to its bright originality and great production.  Hell, the closing track on the EP is a cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush."  That's right - Badass.

This year, HB has churned out two different releases, the first of which being a four track demo tape (that's right - cassette tape) entitled "Canticle of the Beast: A Collection of Unreleased Demos."  The tape was limited to 100 copies.  Following up "Canticle of the Beast" is a split album between HB and Batillus.  The split spans 28:50, and includes two new HB tracks.  A sample of the split as well as tracks from "Canticles of the Beast" are included on the bands MySpace page.

Never forgetting the importance in the originality of music, Hallowed Butchery brings a new spin to the doom metal genre.  Each track is a unique incantation that will leave you unnerved and haunted - In the best possible way, of course.

(Funeral Rites of the Living - EP)

(Canticle of the Beast: A Collection of Unreleased Demos - Demo)

(Batillus/Hallowed Butchery Split)

The Ocean - Anthropocentric


Band: The Ocean (US)
Album: Anthropocentric
Genre: Progressive/Atmospheric Sludge/Post-Hardcore

German heavy-hitters, The Ocean, return from the drawing-board with possibly the most intricate music in their sixth full-length album "Anthropocentric."  This release is a cumulation of  all the music these guys have made in the past, and I have to say - It sounds amazing.  You may be wondering, "what sets this album apart from their last full-length "Heliocentric?"  Here are all the juicy details:

The Ocean has always been a band that you could see progression in musical style and skill throughout their releases.  Some aspects took longer to improve on than others.  I'll be honest.  By the time "Heliocentric" came out, I was still not completely impressed by the clean singing that was being recorded on the albums.  While I felt that the vocals always fit the music, I always found myself frustrated in the fact that the clean vocals were always inches away from the line that distinguishes the good clean vocals from the great clean vocals.  I'm not sure if the vocalist got better with his voice, or the band got better at making the vocals blend with the music more, but, regardless, the cleans have crossed the metaphorical line, and truly sound great.  This new found vocal beauty gives "Anthropocentric" the most mature and distinguished release in The Ocean's repertoire thus far.  For the most part, the screams have transitioned over from the last album, which is a good thing.  Once you've got a solid growl mastered, there is little to no reason to change it.  The growls on "Anthropocentric" as deep, full growls that match the other instruments well.

Instruments wise, this album is a gem as well.  Though The Ocean has had a pretty consistent sound throughout most of their albums, the riffs and beats of this album are fresh, catchy, rolling and sluggish at the same time.  Though this formula is more than familiar, the band did a great job at not letting that restrain them from writing tracks that are reminiscent of older tracks, yet completely new at the same time.  My favorite track off the album, "The Grand Inquisitor II: Roots & Locusts," is the epitome of my last statement.  With style similar to the track "Metaphysics of the Hangman" off their last album, the track blends heavy, whipping riff-action with a fast-paced chorus that sticks out as the high-point of the album.  The only difference is "The Grand Inquisitor II" is a far better track.

If you haven't noticed yet, The Ocean isn't in the bizz for making a few decent tracks to stand out from an otherwise bland album.  Quite the contrary, they are in the bizz for just making whole albums into experiences.  This is done through using the tracks of the album as vessels for carrying the overall mood of the album through it's duration.  This is precisely what The Ocean does on this release.  Through stellar pacing, and an atmosphere that could, well, fill an ocean, the band creates more than just an album on "Anthropocentric" - They craft a fine-tuned atmosphere that works in complete unison.

Though this album has many areas in which it demands high praise there was one place that kind of dropped the ball for me.  It spans from the sixth track on the album, "The Grand Inquisitor III: A Tiny Grain of Faith."  While the track sounds cool in it's own respect, it features a female guest singer (To whom I don't know a name), and doesn't hold much musical content other than a fancy violin section, and a spacey tonal passage.  In short - The track seems like filler to me.  It was a huge let-down, and frankly, the more I listen to the album, the less I like the track.  It wouldn't have been such a let-down if the rest of the album weren't so damn good.  But to have such a rolling album come to a halt for this one outcast song was a major disappointment on my end.

Luckily, this one song wasn't nearly bad enough to ruin the album.  If you're a fan of any of The Ocean's previous works, I highly recommend you check out this one.  Combining all aspects of past releases, it delivers a punch so hard that it comes up just inches behind the bands magnum opus "Precambrian."  This is not an album you want to miss out on.

Score: 8/10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

White Arms of Athena

(Cover of their new album "Astrodrama")

White Arms Of Athena is a technical/progressive metal band hailing from Mesquite, Texas.  The band has released three EP's (all of which can be downloaded for free on their MySpace), and is currently working on their full-length "Astrodrama,"produced by the legendary Jamie King.

The bands music expands on the already vast array of attributes that come with a progressive metal band.  With sounds ranging from cluttered grind riffs paying tasteful respects to Between the Buried and Me, solid heavy riffs to bang head to, along with peacefully structured ambient passages that soothe you just in time for another full-on attack of the senses, this band does it all with precision and originality.

Their lyricism and overall vibe from the instruments give their tunes a certain futuristic, other-worldly  touch that only heavy-hitters in progressive metal, such as Cynic, can pull off.  This is a major sign of a band who knows their music inside and out, and makes the wait on "Astrodrama" seem like a very promising one.

Along with the three free EP's available on their MySpace, the band has released two songs off of "Astrodrama."  The tracks give a great taste of the upcoming album, as well as of the sophistication in musicianship that these guys are bringing to the table.  The tracks are a foreshadowing of the onslaught these guys will be waging on the metal scene.  Quite simply, everyone should think about upping their game now that White Arms of Athena are around.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pathology - Legacy of the Ancients


Band: Pathology
Album: Legacy of the Ancients
Genre: Brutal Death Metal

Releasing now their fourth full-length album, brutal death metal band Pathology brings some heavy and technical riffs to the table with "Legacy of the Ancients."  But are those riffs good enough to stick out in a sea of brutal death metal bands already going strong?  Here's your answer:

Going into this album, I didn't have very high expectations.  These guys being on Victory Records just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  Generally, Victory tends to churn out the "metal" bands that have more hardcore influence than legit metal influence.  Don't get me wrong.  I love me some Between The Buried and Me, but that's neither here nor there.  Regardless, my hunch was correct.  Though brutal death metal tends to sound a lot like deathcore at times, this album has some indisputably stupid breakdowns on it accompanied by some misplaced two-steps off of a Killwhitneydead release, which is a disappointment, because it also has some pretty decent slams and technical riffs to it.  Unfortunately, none of these riffs or slams are overly memorable.  A lot of the time you wonder if you are still listening to the same track you were listening to three minutes ago.  Though slam and brutal death metal have a tendency to sound similar from song to song, bands like Vulvectomy do a good job at setting the bar with memorable, responsible slams that let you know you aren't just listening to filler tracks.

Though the tracks themselves are definitely lacking in some fundamental musical structure and writing, I have to say, all the instruments on this album are pretty tight sounding.  The drums have a nice distinguished sound that blend well with the guitars.  All the tones on this album sound heavy, and crisp. But, in honesty, they do lack personality in some respects.  The bass was surprisingly audible, and I really appreciated that factor of the album.  It added an element of heaviness to the album, which in turn added some overall fun to the album.  The number one praise I have for this album is the skills of the front man for the band.  he has some great guttural growls on this album, and it was definitely the most brutal aspect of the album, hands down.

My final gripe about this album is that...the production is too well done.  Brutal death metal should be a gritty, disgusting sounding genre.  There is a reason it gets so much flack, and the true fans of it revel in the fact that it sounds revolting.  The album is simply too polished for a weathered brutal death listener to get into.  So, as this may be looked at as a perk to some who are newer to the genre, the remainder of the listeners will feel somewhat displeased if you enjoy your brutal death in the vain of Devourment.

The only way I would really recommend this album would be to someone who is either new to metal in general (Which I may even hesitate to do), or someone who is new to brutal death metal as a genre.  The contributions that this album makes are very minimal and are so close to being deathcore that is a disappointment.  But, in all fairness, what this album lacks in a lot of spots, makes up for to some degree in energy and a general sense of stupid fun.  So I can't completely dislike it, but I can come damn close.

Score: 6/10

Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons


Band: Darkthrone
Album: Circle The Wagons
Genre: Punk/Black Metal

With a career spanning back to the late 1980's, black metal heavyweights Darkthrone are still making music.  In their later years they have developed their own precise sound, blending the lyrics and vocal aspects of black metal with the speedy fast intensity of early punk and hardcore (along with a few aspects of speed and thrash metal).  With their new release "Circle the Wagons," I found myself rather confused at the end of the album.

On the instrumental aspects of this album, it's pretty solid.  I'd even go as far to say as it's pretty damn good in terms of staying true to the intensity and musical structure of the early thrash and punk bands of the '70s and '80s.  This album provides straightforward speed riffs that don't aim to impress, or expand on the genre.  All they aim to do is rock face and provide the listener something to bang their head and thrash out to.  I viewed this album as an homage, of sorts, simply because it's so reminiscent of the early days of heavy thrash metal.  In tracks such as "Stylized Corpse," both the fast groovy riffs, and intense melodic guitar solo that closes the track almost gives you the feeling that an old Judas Priest album.

The aspect that really bummed me out, and singlehandedly ruined the album for me were the vocals.  I've never really been a fan of Darkthrone's vocals, but I've always been able to see past them and appreciate the "bigger picture," so to speak, of the album.  With "Circle the Wagons," the vocals are so overpowering and have this tendency to hang in the foreground of every song, that it is damn-near impossible to ignore them.  The random touches of reverb that were applied, along with the bloody-ear educing clean singing featured on this album come completely out of left field. I'm not exactly sure what the band was going for when they recorded the vocals, but they landed far off the mark.

The production on this album enhances both the pros and cons of the album in which I just listed.  Darkthrone has never been known for top-notch production on their albums.  But, again, it establishes them as who they are.  The grimy tinge that the mix on this album gives the guitars tones makes the listening experience feel more D.I.Y.  But, the production is definitely a double-sided sword.  The low-end production, in turn, ends up making the vocals sound more atrocious on the final product.  It really creates a giant conflict in giving this album a grade.

Though this album features so intense riffs, and a fun atmosphere for fans of early metal, the vocals overshadow all, leaving the wheels to fall of this dingy old wagon.  The vocals tie it down, and leave it destined to sink, dead in the water.

Score: 5/10

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Non-Metal Recommendation of the Month: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago


Band: Bon Iver
Album: For Emma, Forever Ago
Genre: Folk

Since being released in February of 2008, Bon Iver's magnum opus "For Emma, Forever Ago" has yet to get old.  This album is just jam-packed full of flawless songwriting, emotion, and atmosphere, and it's easy to see why.  After the break-up of his previous band, Justin Vernon retreated to a cabin in Wisconsin in hopes of "hibernating."  That is how this album came to be.  One man, living on his own, in a cabin filled with his own sorrows, regrets and insecurities.  The final product delivers a first hand account of the inner workings of this, dare I say, geniuses head.

Let's face it.  We all get sad at some point in our life.  When that time comes, I highly recommend you throw this album in the player.  It may not be the pick-me-up you need, but what it will do is provide you with the proper mindset to think, and to cope, as well as peace of mind that you're not the only one out there who is hurtin'.  This album will touch you in places of your emotions you never knew existed.  

So, if you're feeling like diverging from your solid intake of ear-blasting metal, check this album out.  It's truly one of a kind, and you'll find yourself yearning to hear it many times over.  It's a little gem that you can bust out whenever you're feeling down, or just need something different.  It's tiny bit of zest that everyone needs in their music library.  Plus, the chicks dig it!  Go out and pick this one up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annotations of An Autopsy - II: The Reign of Darkness


Band: Annotations of An Autopsy
Album: II: The Reign of Darkness
Genre: Death Metal/Deathcore

Newly transformed death metal band Annotations of An Autopsy delivers their first full-length album since switching genres from the stale realm of deathcore.  This album is definitely a move in the right direction for the band in terms of musical growth, but there are still areas in which the band relies heavily on the chug-a-lug breakdowns that somehow made them famous.

Lets be honest.  The genre of deatchore catches a lot of flack for being a lazy genre.  But, after hearing a lot of the music that is popular in the genre, it is easy to see why.  Most bands rely too heavily on mindless breakdowns and poor lyrical essence.  Clearly, Annotations of An Autopsy wanted to prove themselves as musicians on this album.  I don't know if I can say their efforts fully payed off.  True, this album has some good ol' death metal influence to it.  But, just because there is influence, doesn't mean it's good.  Most of the tracks on this album feel rushed, and as if they are only there for filler.  The riffs have a tendency to build to a stupidly slow breakdown that sounds far too familiar for my liking.  There are guitar solos in the most random spots in songs, and the drums seem to be doing the same exact thing every track, while the bass is completely inaudible.  With this release, it seems like the band had a bunch of riffs that they had written, and decided to throw together in random order without any time or thought.

The poor structure leads to a lack of emotion in the music.  For most death metal bands these days, it seems pretty clear about what they are pissed off about.  I get the feeling through the music that the band produced, that they don't really know why they are pissed, other then because they are supposed to to fit in.  While this album was aimed to establish them as a death metal act to be taken seriously, it has really only reduced them to that awkward kid that stands in the corner at a party talking to himself.

The final thing that truly bugged me about this album were the lyrics.  I'm going to be frank.  They sound like they were written by a five year old, and they are on the same level as the lyrics displayed on Howl's "Full of Hell" album.  The only difference between the two is that "Full of Hell" has some good music to drown out the awful lyrics.  The same can't be said for "II: The Reign of Darkness."  The piss-pour lyrical content is clearly displayed in tracks such as "In Snakes I Bathe," where the lyrics "You make me fucking sick" are present at least six different times in the song.  Again, the songs feel like filler.  If all you're coming up with is "You make me fucking sick" over and over again, it sounds like you need a new writing implement.

Though there are a lot of negative aspects to this album, it isn't all awful.  Songs like "Catastrophic Hybridization" and "Impale the Sun" show that there is some driving force of death metal on the album.  The band actually formed some decent riffs that were head-bang worthy.  Unfortunately, said riffs didn't last long enough, and transpired into nothing more then another heartless breakdown.  All the same, it's a serious step in a good direction.  Hopefully on their next release, there will be more music like it.

All in all, this album was a failed attempt at being a legitimate death metal release.  The band reverted back to their lazy roots far too much, and didn't spend nearly enough time making fresh, quality music.  The riffs, solos, and drum beats are all too bland and stale to give the album any more presence then a stale bag of marshmallows.  Do yourself a favor and skip this album if you are into real death metal.  If you're more of a deathcore listener, then chances are you'll be enjoying this album a lot more than I will.

Score: 4/10

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Last Chance To Reason

(Photo Credit: Jessica Harvey)

When it comes to progressive metal, one can expect just about anything.  Bands like Dream TheaterHunab Ku or even Augury prove this point.  What I'm saying is, in the realm of progressive metal, just about anything goes, and anything could be the next big thing.  Last Chance To Reason hopes to be that thing, exactly.

Hailing from Augusta, ME, Last Chance To Reason is further blurring the lines of, as well as expanding on, the already vast landscape that is progressive metal.  With the wait on their new concept-album, "Level 2," soon to be announced, fans are growing anxious for the drop of the album, as well as what comes with the record.

The band's new concept-album is based on a video-game that the band wrote and are making themselves, with the help of a Mr. Tom Vine.  The band wrote about the album/game on their MySpace saying:

"Level 2 is a new take on both the concept album and the videogame. It is a melding of both arts into a unified experience. In Level 2 you will battle through fully interactive interpretations of Last Chance to Reason’s futuristic progressive metal. The game/album’s story unfolds through thematic riffs, stirring vocal hooks and progressive virtuosity while the player blasts his way through viscous gameplay inspired by classics such as R-Type, Contra, and Super Metroid. Level 2, a collaboration between LCTR and indie game developer Tom Vine is slated for release in 2010."

Now, If you're wondering what the video-game will look like, here is a quick 10 second clip of the boss at the end of the first level:

Last Chance To Reason is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with.  The six piece band bring the sounds of two schools of progressive axe-work, a six string bass, futuristic murmurs via key-board, drums so complex you'd swear the guy had three arms, and a mix of clean and harsh vocals that will hush you with allure, and beat you to the ground with no remorse.  

These guys have already finished one tour with the band Iron Thrones, and will start touring the album more as the release date grows closer.  The band also has just been announced to be on Prosthetic Records.  You can check the band's MySpace and Facebook for future live shows coming near you.  The brutality of their music can be heard in their recordings, and felt as they dominate the stage live.  It's a show you will certainly not want to miss.  

If you're a fan of heavy music whatsoever (or video-games, for that matter), I highly recommend you check these guys out, and urge you to keep an eye out for them.  Their futuristic brutality can not, and will not be stopped.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Saddest Landscape - You Will Not Survive


Band: The Saddest Landscape
Album: You Will Not Survive
Genre: Screamo

The Saddest Landscape has come a long way since their formation years ago.  Early on, they established themselves as one of the forerunners in the screamo/emo scene, combining hauntingly atmospheric passages with riffs and beats of complete chaos to follow.  Their latest release, "You Will Not Survive" is more than just another screamo album.  This album is a milestone in the career of a band that continually grows upon itself.

This album is a true gem, in that there is nothing like it.  This is still The Saddest Landscape, yet its them in a completely different light.  Their growing musical talents, along with the bond that these band members share is reflected clearly in the music that they produce on this record.  Being a fan of the band for a year or two now, I've grown accustom to how these guys sound, and to hear something that is completely different, yet almost exactly the same really says a lot about the where the heart of this music lies. It shows a great sophistication in the musical abilities of the band.

Most of the songs off "You Will Not Survive," are in the same vein of pretty much all the other songs TSL have made.  The exception that makes these songs even better than usual, is the fact that these are all sad or angry songs, and they are clinging to the past in the same way we cling to our painful memories.  This quality of the album gives the listener a very personal experience while listening.

Tracks such as "Declaring A War On Nostalgia," and "Imperfect, But Ours" are prime examples of the rage and pain that is engrained deep down into every note of this album.  Every scream is a haunting reminder of the skeletons in your closet that surround you every day.   It's this aspect of the album that listeners will be able to relate to most.  Each one of the songs touches a fear, insecurity, dread, or pain and lets you know that you're not alone in your feelings.  

On the technical end of the album.  All is the same in the musics form.  I don't want to say that the music is rehashed, because, honestly, some of the band's best work to date is on this album.  The music is simply familiar.  It's the emotions driving the music that are different this time around.  It's almost as if The Saddest Landscape are allowing the listener to live vicariously through their music on this album.

The sound of the release is phenomenal, as well.  This is another characteristic of the album that contributes to a more mature sound.  This album doesn't sound like it was recorded in a basement (not that that's a bad thing).  It has a very polished sound, which I feel gives this album not only more accessibility, as well as makes a bolder statement when conveying the emotions of the music to the listener.

I'd like to think that this whole album is a musical representation of the journey that this band has gone on.  "You Will Not Survive" pulls traces of all their previous releases, mends them all into one sound, and then presents the emotions of the artists at this point in their life.  It's almost like a musical documentary on the lives of these guys.

So, if you are already a fan of The Saddest Landscape, I highly encourage you to track this album down.  It's their best to date, and the band shows no sign of letting up on the intensity as the years go on.  Also, if you are new to screamo, pick this album up.  It is very accessible for first time screamo listeners.  I'm giving this a green-light for pretty much anyone who has an interest in the emotional side of screamo.  

Score: 9/10

DeathCult - The Living, The Dying, and The Damned


Band: DeathCult (U.S.)
Album:  The Living, The Dying, and The Damned
Genre: Death Metal

Isn't it funny how some of the more talented bands never seem to strike it big, forever doomed to be lost in time?  It's a real shame because tons of bands that should be recognized simply aren't.  Hailing from Los Angeles, California, DeathCult is one of these bands I am talking about.  On their first (and only) full-length album, they establish themselves as musicians who both know what they are doing, as well as possess a yearning to break the confines of the generic meat and potatoes style of old-school death metal.

There are various elements of "The Living, The Dying, and The Damned" that make it a noteworthy release.  This album seems very reminiscent of Autopsy's album "Mental Funeral," in that it incorporates both the traditional death metal sound with a demented sort of doom metal aspect as well.  These guys clearly know what they are doing, because the riffs sound heavy as hell, and are very easy to slam your head to.  The band also makes great use of the dual guitar on this album.  The two instruments are very well mixed in the sense that you can hear both doing their own thing at the same time.  Both players are audible throughout the whole album, instead of just getting muddled into one cluster of sound.

The flow of the album is another one of its noteworthy qualities.  DeathCult knew exactly what they were aiming for when writing and recording this album.  I find that with a lot of bands (especially the more unheard of ones) some of the tracks on an album feel forced, almost as though they were just made to fill up space on the album.  Each track off "The Living, The Dying, and The Damned" has it's own atmosphere and place on the album.  When you listen to the album, it doesn't feel like a collection of songs.  It simply sounds like an album, and its a quality that is appreciate that greatly.

All this being said, there were some aspects of the album that were off-putting to me.  Before I get too far into this, I must say, that for an unsigned death metal band, the production on this album is far above par.  The guitars, drums and vocals blend very well, but my one complaint is that very seldom is the bass audible.  This is generally on the slower doomy passages, when there isn't as much chaos going on.  But, when I listen to heavy music, I want to hear that bass slamming along.  It's something that takes away from the finished product.

The other aspect of the album that I couldn't quite get into was the hint of avant-garde that is sprinkled throughout this album.  It was interesting in a way, because it reminded me somewhat of the early releases by Gorguts.  I'm not saying that these passages of the album weren't well done, because they were.  It's just simply not my kind of thing.

So, if you are sick of all this chugging new-aged death metal, and you want a blast from the past in a very refreshing way, I highly recommend you check out DeathCult.  They are a rather unheard of band that brings a lot of intensity to their music.  If you aren't into avant-garde death, I'd still give it a shot.  There is far more death and doom to this album then anything.  You can check these guys out by visiting them on their MySpace page.  Show them your support, because these guys have churned out a pretty solid first full-length here.

Score: 7/10

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flannel Collective

(Cover of Flannel Volume Two, Number One)

Okay, so let's be honest.  Who of you readers outside New England can actually locate the great state of Maine on a map.  Who of you have even heard of Maine?!  My point exactly.  Any tourist that you ask will tell you about the lovely, quaint coast of Maine, all the lovely lighthouses to admire, and all the cute little rink-dink inns that you can stay at when you go there.  But, fuck all that jazz.  The publishers of Flannel Magazine are here to give you an actual glimpse into the true culture of Maine.  

The contents of the magazine are filled with work from local artists all around Maine, that spans from writings, drawings, photographs, and adds for local Maine businesses and bands, and they are currently working on putting together their fifth issue.  The magazine aims to give the reader a distinct feeling for what Maine art is really about.  If you want to get your hands on a copy of the latest issue, or are a Maine artist or band looking to get your name out there by submitting work, send an email to  Issues of Flannel have been sent around the world, including Australia.  Their fan basis continues to grow day by day, and the prices are super cheap.  If you're interested in Flannel, check out their official website, or check them out on facebook.

Unfortunately, the latest issue is sold out at this time.  But, dropping them an email now, will certainly help ensure that you get your hands on the next issue, which they are currently working on.  The more support this local magazine gets, the bigger it will become.  So if you are a supporter of the local arts at all, you should check this out, and keep local DIY art thriving.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bongripper - Satan Worshipping Doom


Band: Bongripper
Album: Satan Worshipping Doom
Genre:Sludge/Doom Metal

In the realm of instrumental sludge and doom metal, there is one band that rules all with an iron fist.  That band, of course, is Bongripper.  Formed in 2005, the band has worked hard, creating five previous albums.  Their sixth, Satan Worshipping Doom has arguably become their best pieces of work to date, surpassing their 2008 fan-favorite, Hate Ashbury.  So you may be asking yourself, what separates their newest album from all the rest?  Here's the answer:

Having been a fan of Bongripper for about a year now, I've come to recognized and become accustom to their unique sound (Which is saying quite a bit, since originality is one of the hardest things for a sludge or doom band to possess).  Each of their albums contains a certain quality that sets the atmosphere for all the songs, as well as playing into the title of the release.  Bongripper keeps this formatting for Satan Worshipping Doom, but the concept of this album (That being satanic worship) gives the band a fresh fulfilling sound, while still staying true to the music they have produced in the past.  This aspect of the album shows signs of not only great musicianship, but of growth within the band.

While Bongripper's earlier albums such as The Great Barrier Reefer and Heroin seemed to be focused around a central theme of drugs, this four-track album stands apart from their previous work by giving you a front row seat to a roughly 54 minute satanic ritual that possesses you to do nothing more than give your soul to Satan and bang your head in sheer delight.  

Since originality doesn't come easy in any form of music, sludge and doom metal being a perfect example, bands need to know the music they are writing inside and out to ensure that the album will not only fit the genre they are aiming for, but offer the listeners something new as well.  Instead of selling out and giving listeners something more generic while calling it a fresh change of sound, Bongripper sticks to a format that has done them well for six albums now.  Playing at slow and plodding paces (With the exception to the second track, “Satan,” which opens with a very interesting black metal riff), the band focuses on their builds into climactic, heavy riffs that sound inspired and original.  The timing and pacing of this album is one of, if not, the best quality Satan Worshipping Doom has to offer. The riffs themselves sound unique and fresh, as well reminiscent of earlier doom metal acts such as Pentegram or Candlemass.  Another fresh aspect to the music on this album is the memorable, perfectly placed,  psychedelic guitar solos that are presented in the tracks “Satan” and “Worship.”  These solos play into the dark, evil tone of the album as well as flaunting the skills of axe-men Dennis Pleckham and Nick Dellacroce in their playing and writing abilities.

The last thing that makes this album particularly great, is of course, the production.  While some sludge bands, such as EYEHATEGOD or Sourvein, choose to revel in their sloppy production, Bongripper takes the clean cut approach to how this album sounded.  The mix on the album makes it so all all the instruments are audible at all times, and that the concept of the album can fully blossom.  What I'm trying to say is, the albums sound kicks ass.

My only miniscule complaint with this album is that there are a lack of vocals on this release.  I have a preference for high screams in the type of music that Bongripper plays, but in all honesty, I wouldn't have this album any other way.  It's damn near flawless as is.  So, if you are someone like me, who enjoys screaming with your sludge, don't let the absence of vocals scare you away from this album.  The subtexts buried deep within the riffs and drum beats give this album the missing personality that is usually gained from a vocalist.

If you are at all a fan of groovy, slow paced music, I would highly recommend this album.  It's not only one of Bongripper's best, but it is also very accessible for first time listeners to get into the band.  Regardless of how deep into sludge or doom metal you get, this release will not disappoint.  Bongripper displays the necessary talent to be one of the driving forces in todays sludge scene.  They will not be silenced.

Score: 9.5/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Terrible Old Man - Self Titled Demo


Band: Terrible Old Man
Album: Terrible Old Man (Three song demo)
Genre: Progressive Death/Thrash Metal 

In a stagnant and cold wasteland of recycled music that is known as the Maine Metal scene, one band sticks out from almost all the rest.  Terrible Old Man, hailing from Waterville, ME choose to destroy your senses with screeching vocals, fast, sweeping guitar solos and intense blast beats in exchange for the slow, chugging breakdowns everyone has come to expect from a local metal band.  Their first release (a three song, self titled demo) is a display of true musicianship and understanding of the music they aim to make.

Most new-aged thrash bands fall victim to the, now boring, standard format of thrash metal writing.  Said bands just try to play fast and have an aggressive attitude that comes out in their live shows.  Though Terrible Old Man does both of these things, their music is not stale.  Their heightened understanding of music allows them to take the death/thrash format and expand it in a way that makes their music completely their own.  While Between The Buried and Me are said to sound like Dream Theater, and The County Medical Examiners are a straight Carcass rip-off, Terrible Old Man's sound is completely their own.  

In this demo, you are getting an array of different musical dynamics that make this release great.  Frontman, Ryan Fairfield's, vocals give this little demo an evil tone as he screams the dark incantations of each track on the release.  The lyrics are written in the reminiscent style of the old H.P. Lovecraft short stories (Which is quite fitting since their name comes from the title of one of his stories).

Both James Violette and Brad Bolduc display their shredding abilities to ultimate extremes.  For a band recording their first release, the guitar work is top-notch.  Each song on the demo includes at least two solos that not only sound great while complimenting the music, but also flaunt a certain sophistication of their skills as guitarists.

Eddie Tardiff also makes a name for himself as one of the few metal bassists to still use his fingers instead of a pick.  Tardiff has the necessary chops to keep up with the shredding guitar, as well as compliment the riffs by giving them an audible heaviness that really flows with the music.  That's right folks!  You can actually hear the bass on this release, and it's quite fantastic!

To wrap it all up, Coby Violette's precision drumming on the demo seals the deal.  From straight blast beats to gravity blast, he does it all, and it works in a refreshing way.  All of his beats are completely his own.  His writing ability mixed with his speed and endurance work to create the cohesive flow that this album possesses.  

The last aspect of this release that was incredibly impressive is the production on this demo.  When the words "metal" and "demo" are said in the same sentence, the average listener would expect a lacking sound production, and quite frankly, a shitty mix.  Everything on this album sounds crisp and audible without just melding into some unintelligible wall of sound.  Every instrument does its own thing while still working in unison to create one of the best listening experience I've had in years.

Unfortunately, as of right now, the only way to get ahold of this release is to go to one of their live shows.  If you are capable of doing so, make the trip.  Not only is this demo completely worth it, but their live show is a brute force assault of straight, pissed off metal that will leave your jaws hanging down below your knees.  But, lucky for those unfortunate souls who aren't close enough to check out a Terrible Old Man set, they have all three songs from the demo up on their MySpace and Facebook pages.  Keep an eye out for these guys by adding/becoming a fan of them.  Terrible Old Man is one band that is destined for big things.  They will not be ignored.

Score: 9/10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Brief Introduction


My name is Alex Davenport.  I created this blog to represent bands in my local metal and hardcore scene, as well as for writing reviews and getting the word about about bands that I find rather awesome.  If you are a band that would like me to write a post representing your music send me an email at: