Cattle Decapitation" The Anthropocene Extinction"(Metal Blade) 6/10
Things start off quite fast and brutal from the start here. Sounds kinda like a really really fast Carcass, but without all the memorable riffs. Although there are some good ones here and there. It just seems like the band is too worried about maintaining breakneck tempo to be overly focussed on riffs. Some of the riffs for sure have a little black metal influence, but it's done in a way that you still hear mostly Death Metal. I suppose it adds a depth, which is kinda cool.
Vocals vary from toad-like lows, to screaching highs, and some acceptably dark melodic vocals. The melodic vocals kinda remind me of Wendy O Williams of all people. They do tread a fine line between "acceptable" and the Disturbed sorta territory. But overall it's fairly interesting without ruining the darkness.
Some songs are more straight forward than others, but clearly the band has been working on diversifying their sound while remaining as brutal and fast as possible most of the time.
Overall it ends up getting lost in a sea of gurgles and blasts. SOngs are not that memorable, it for sure lands in that "cut and paste riffs" territory. I'm also getting kinda tired of this style, but if you can't get enough brutality you might wanna check it out.
Hellbastard "Feral" (Patac Records) 6/10
I'm not sure what to make of this...it's got some great metallic guitar thrashing riffs. Some nice powerful drums with lots of double bass. Musically, it's powerful sounding thrash metal. Even down to the slow down mosh riffs. Production is clean as an 80s Metallica album. In fact, "good" Metallica comes to mind with these riffs. That's not to say it's that good, but the fact it conjures up them riffs is a compliment.
Vocal wise there is an obvious effort to be more on the punk/hardcore side. He sounds like a cross between Cronos and the Amebix guy. What lyrics that come through are just as retarded as the average thrash band. So these guys might as well drop the whole "we're crusty" thing and just admit that they are a thrash band trying to market to crusties (whatever those are anymore - kids with rich parents who purposefully try to look homeless and "street?")
There's some nice guitar solos on this. Again - what are the rules with crusty music? I thought guitar solos were frowned upon. Anyway, again this is killer thrash metal the way it should sound. Very metallic in an 80s/90s kind of way.
"Wychcraft" has a guest appearance by one of the Amebix guys (just in case you were not convinced of their "crusty status.") This song sounds kinda like a dirty Pantera song or perhaps Biohazard. It grooves an awful lot, which is cool - I just didn't expect it from a band with an image such as this.
Overall, this is a killer recording with enough surprises thrown in to keep you guessing a bit. But most of the surprises are just thrown in to give it some sort of unique/progressive character. But it comes off as random sometimes but it does break up the thrashing a bit. So as I said already - this is just a really killer thrash/crossover album with very clean production. Nothing more, nothing less. Call it crusty if ya want, I don't care.
In Defense "Don't fuck with the dungeon master" (self released) 5/10
Speaking of thrash, here's some THRASH for you. Uhhhhhhh jesus, what the hell am I supposed to say about this? It's got some great aggression to it, sounds like the same thrash riffs that have been floating around for 25 years or more....it's good and fun, just kinda like..."why?" It seems I am getting too old to review shit like this. It all sounds the same now! Kinda reminds me of many European bands I've heard that THRASH about beer and tacos and posers, and whatever other random funny thing they can think of to THRASH about or whatever Paul Baloff might have talked about into the mic while drunk.
Singer does a good job leading the thrash attack, and there are plenty of "thrash metal backups" going on. Great thrash tunes, rediculous lyrics - but it's nice to hear a band with a good sense of humor. I dunno, buy it I guess?
Iris Divine "Karma Sown"(Sensory Records) 4.5/10
This has got really high end production, to the point you can almost smell the new shoes they are wearing. I don't have a problem with over-produced bands as a rule or anything, but this is just kinda silly in an overproduced 80s sort of way. Perhaps a good comparison would be some super buff guy with a bunch of dumb tattoos, super fake tan, who ironically ends up looking worse than he would if he didn't try so hard. I hope that helps. Oh, yeah anyway let's talk about the music...
Singer is quite adept. He's got a 90s sort of talking/crooning/singing style. This compliments the 90s sounding riffs - which remind me of some VERY 90s bands like Grotus, Quicksand, Helmet, or middle era Corrossion of Comformity. Many singers try really hard to nail that middle ground between being melodic but having an "edge." This guy pulls it off pretty well. But the production is just so polished it's hard for me to take it seriously. It goes from sounding kinda like 80s Whitesnake, to Alice in Chains, to some shitty forgettable emo/nu metal 90s band I can't place (ok yeah I do remember: TRAPT!) The drums and bass in particular sound about as pro as one can get. But again, I constantly feel like I'm at guitar center hearing the music on the PA. Perfect tones? Yes. Do I care? No.
Overall, I'm gonna say this kinda sucks and just tries way too hard. I'm not buying it. FALSE METAL!
LEGION OF ANDROMEDA "Iron Scorn" (Crucial Blast) 5/5
First, take a drum machine and program about 3 different beats. Change the tempo slightly for a few songs, and you have the drum performance on this album. For the most part it's just a retartedly simple pulsing bass drum with a super fake sounding ride symbol.."PANG!.....PANG!...." and so on. The record label name is highly ironic, considering the overall tempo is painfully slow and dragging on this.
The riffs are so low and monotonous, they are more or less indestinguishable from each other. It's really quite robotic and simple. Almost trance inducing with it's simplicity. Laughably so at many points. More than once I thought to myself "who the hell thought this was good enough to release?" It almost sounds like a demo someone would do with ideas. Or a soundcloud stream from some beginning death metal musician who's not sure what to do with himself.
The vocals are really the only reason I bothered to review this, as you'd really have to be at least a little fucked in the head to sing this way for this long. The only thing that really comes to mind is a horribly drugged out, ostricised Phil Anselmo making ugly noises into a microphone for his own appeasment. That or it's someone trying to growl like a dog behind the garage door to scare the mailman away - can't quite decide... Not really the kind of thing you listen to the next morning and think is any good. More like, "damn I musta been WASTED last night to think this was good!" Still, this does capture a glimpse of something interesting, not exactly sure what.
Basically, this does suck pretty bad. But it manages to GRAZE interesting territory. But without being on drugs, it's hard to detect. Not that I'm on drugs right now, but if I were, I might let this racket wrestle my fucked ears for a few minutes. But then I'd probably start laughing. Once I was done laughing, I'd be like "alright fuck this shit" and turn it off.
SIGH "Graveward" (Candlelight Records) 8/10
Well goddamn these guys come out with all guns blazing don't they? fucking, guitar sweeps, fucking trumpets and all kinds of brass, crazy prog synth/piano, and all kinds of wacky vocals are bombarding my unsuspecting ears within the first 60 seconds! I guess it's been a few years since I heard a Sigh album - but now that I think about it, the last thing I heard was pretty nutty. And by that I mean extremely ambitious musically. I just didn't realize they had gone so far from the "black metal" tree!
Anyhow, this band clearly is trying to push the boundaries of what they do and don't want to fit into any sort of category. Riffs are nice and crunchy, little leads are all over the place skittering about, vocals are nice and raw. Almost sounds like Witchtrap at times, but with way more going on musically. It is very cinematic music, almost like a Japanimation preview soundtrack. Or like some modern dark opera. Hammers of Misfortune anyone???
Although this stuff is impressive, it's just a bit out of the realm of what I like to listen to. But if you've been following this band through the years and you like what they've done already, odds are you'll consider this aninstant classic. Just too much shit going on for me. If they just stuck to those heavy as fuck riffs I've probably listen to it more. () /
Valdur "Pathetic Scum" (Bloody Mountain)
Many years ago around the time this band started, I tried to get them to play a show. But I was told the singer was in Norway hunting the Moose, so therefore they couldn't do it. I always thought that was one of the best excuses to not be available for a show that I ever heard. But then I wanted to ask, "why does he go all the way to Norway? They have Moose in Canada!"
Anyhow, even though I was never overly impressed with this band's music - I always felt they were serious about what they were doing, so I like to check in on what they are doing once in a while. This album manages to conjure a dark, primitive atmosphere. This band is the raw sort of Black Metal, and honestly I found their live shows almost too raw and noisy for my tastes. But this recording is far clearer than the last thing I heard from them. Of course, I might be talking about their first or 2nd demo so I'm not sure how helpful that is.
Overall I think this is some pretty good Black Metal. Not astounding, but I would go see them again as it does successfully conjure a very dark feeling, and quite consistently. Fans of cold, dark, unfeeling BM should check this out.
VALBORGRomantik (Temple Of Torturous) 9/10
I get lots of promos from bands which have words like "experimental," "collective," "noise," and "doom" Usually this means I don't even wanna hear it because ironically these bands all end up sounding this same in their quest to be "more artistic than thou." with their pretentious, overly long songs which are generally full of hot air and empty space which is somehow supposed to take me some place. But all they are really doing is prolonging the sad fact that the band cannot write a good riff to save their ass....But this is a case where the description makes sense and the band actually delivers it. Well, I dunno about the "collective" part - but anyway this is clearly a BAND making interesting music.
There is an immediate seriousness to the tone of it, as the keys and distorted guitars slowly build up an apocalyptic wall of sound which swallows the listener whole. The music is quite compelling, when finally a gnarley voice comes out gurgling and screaching just below the surface.
On the more accessable end of things, it's somewhat similar to Type O Negative's doom ballad approach. But it also has that obscure German Bethlehem sort of tone. But perhaps more controlled and not quite as industrial sounding - although it does have that element.
What really makes this stand out as a non-copycat band is the ease with which it goes from sound to sound without sounding out of place, yet I can't really associate it with another recording. For instance, the low whispers which erupt into a vocal choir of the damned at will.
Not overly technical or flashy, but at the same time - great production and there is obviously plenty of musical ability contained here - it is just subdued for the sake of crafting dark tunes. Only reason I didn't give this a 10 is because the vocals are almost TOO sparse. There also could have been probably a few more lead guitars on it. But overall, I was quite happily surprised to hear this. Not for everyone - but for the style, it crushes most.