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