Friday, December 2, 2016

Black Anvil : "As Was"

It starts off with a pretty polished and dynamic hammering that is equal part classic metal and black metal so in some ways not unlike post- "Lawless Darkness" Watain. The clean vocals are well placed here. Though the intensity eventually picks up "May Her Wrath Be Just" starts off in a way that might as well be Trivium. The clean vocals here give it more of a mainstream metal feel. There is a darker pulse to the song that I appreciate. There is a more Metallica feel to the title track before the scowled vocals come in. This is a much slower paced song that comes close to being a power ballad. "Nothing" finds the band at the peak of their powers when they are locking into a more classic thrash style. Overall the song doesn't blow me away but does have some timeless moments.

It's the droning atmosphere buried into the meat of "As An Elder Learned Anew" that gives it it's personality and finds the clean vocals working a better balance.The double bass is dialed up to 11 on "Two Keys Here's the Lock". Well executed by still a little more middle of the road. The blasting toward the end of the song feels a little obligatory. The flow back and forth into the melodic sections is not formulaic. I prefer the more understated slacker croon to the vocals on "Ultra". The double bass doesn't let up. They sweeten the cauldron with a pretty rock god guitar solo.  

I think this will gain the band new fans , but doesn't strike me as being a sell out. It might not be the heaviest album you are going to hear all year, but it is a very intentional and well thought out one. I will give it a 9, since it is another step of growth for them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ash Borer : "the Irrepassable Gate"

this album starts off with the line between black metal and atmospheric death metal are almost like counting straws on the title track that opens this album. For these guys this is much more committed to being metal than their previous releases. The breathing room they are know for giving their songs doesn't come until seven minutes in to this 11 minute monster. This is short lived as they return to a more familiar blasting. This blasting is give an even more feral focus after the space infused middle section of "Lacerated Spirit". Then comes the first lighter interlude titled "Lustration".

"the Gray Marrow" is the first song that really grabbed me. The riffs are very catchy and all play in step with the double bass in a very mature manner. The vocals might be more of an after thought on this one as it sound like they are being howled with no lyrics in mind. The longest song on the album follows as "Rotten Firmament" is over twelve minutes. At this point it is clear the production value of this album is greatly improved from their previous work as the drum sounds are crisper and really help at to the mood that they have always had, but it is given more clarity. If you are the cvltest fucker south of Norway I suppose you might consider the more polished metal guitar sound to be a little bit of a sellout but it is delivered with such venom it's hard to argue against. The howling vocals seem to get even angrier on this one. Like I often say these guys prove they are more powerful when slowing the blast down to a more deliberate pounding.

Unlike the first part of the "Lustration" titled songs, the second part is slow and heavy though never fully forms into being an actual song and just drones you out like a dark cloud.  I'll give this album an 8.5. Some of the songs are a little longer than I prefer, but this album is clearly more carefully constructed and created by matured musicians who just being fast and heavy is no longer good enough.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

the Weeknd : "Star Boy"

I have been waiting for this one ever since I heard the title track which I have been wearing out, though I have avoided other spoilers so "Party Monster " was a happy surprise. I had seen the video for "False Alarm" and was still as unsure about that song as I was the first time I heard it. In some ways it reminds me of Bloc Party. This is not the only hint of new wave as "Secrets" would not be out of place on a Pet Shop Boys album.   The tone of this album is much different and embracing more of a dance vibe with strong ties to house music. With the amount of drugs is supposedly does this is no surprise. The Micheal Jackson influence can be still felt on songs like "Rockin" though musically it is much more like Euro dance.

This is dramatically less of an r&b album, so when the ballads do come with songs like "True Colors' it has more of a pop feel.Lyrically there is also a little more hope and much less self deprecation as he beings to see how functional of a drug addict he may or may not be. I'm really sure about the interlude Lana Del Ray gets on this album, but it's pretty unoffensive and finds her in more of Siouxsie like place. I am not much of a Kendrick Lamar fan so I was braced when it came to " Sidewalks". It is not the album's strongest song , but the competition is pretty fierce. "Six Feet Under" which reminds me more of his "House of Balloons" period falls out of the previous song and is more than solid. It sound like like Future is on this song as well as "All I Know " which he is credited with. This songs feels more like something that Future would be on more so than the more foreign depths of " All I Know"

The lighter tones of this album are once again demonstrated on " Love to Lay", which could be a Phil Collins song. It's a lot happier than I think I am ready for considering where I am in life, but well written and I commend the use of colors that are very different than what we heard from the last album. "A Lonely Night" grooves in a much more light hearted funk infused way than the title might suggest. When it comes to break up, he is not taking them as hard here. "Attention" does sound like more familiar territory, though it is not ground that is being re-tread. Lyrically this song rings true for me in regard to relationships past and present. Production wise things are pristine and one of factors that prevents this album being as dark as some of his other work. "Ordinary Life' winks that " No Ordinary Love" in the way it kicks in. A little of the shadows creep in on "Nothing Without You". It's ballad but with enough electronic elements to keep it from wallowing in the emotions.  This is another song whose lyrics hit me as being  pretty timely." Die For You" is another powerful break up song that creates a weird blend of pop, electronic and soul.

When Daft Punk re-joins him it is for a very late 80's Michel Jackson styled piece "I Feel It Coming" which I do not hear fitting on the radio as well as "Starboy".  Well crafted and true to what Daft Punk would bring to the table I think there are much stronger song on this album. Overall lighter in tone , but still a well crafted and written album I'll round it up to a 10.



Catching up with 2016 - Lascar : " Absence"

This album came out at the first of the year and breezed by me. It is a one man project out of Chile is pretty impressive.  After two minutes of tentative post rock the more metal side casts it rain cloud over the shimmering parade of guitar.When the go into the blast beats every thing falls into a more Deafheaven like blue print. The first five and a half minutes of the second song is the coming storm raging in your ears until it simmers back down for a few passages and is built back up into a sonically heavier crescendo. There is a lighter melody in the raging center of the frantically paced "Regions of Light". When it shifts into a more deliberate double bass section it once again proves blast beats can only go so far. This song is well done , but doesn't find the needed dynamic shifts to make it one that I would seek out and return to again.When you are shifting through the volume of releases that I do in any given week at the end of the day it's the strength of what makes the song memorable and stand out from the herd that matters.

Only four songs it is still around thirty minutes which breaks the "Reign in Blood " 28 minute mark quota I have for albums". One of the things this album has going for it is the bass is audible. The vocals are a one trick pony very much like older Deafheaven and really only hang onto a scathing mid range scream. The band finds it's footing the most solid  when a few bpm's short of a full on blast beat. There is a more upbeat mood to "Last Sea" thanks to the guitar melody that floats over the bulk of the song. It hovers around this for the bulk of the song's eight and a half minutes , which can come across as droning, but for very post-rock friendly black metal at least mood wise it is pretty enjoyable.

This is nothing new, but a fun listen that is well played. It could have been a little darker for my personal tastes, but I sometimes forget bands are not solely trying to cater to my tastes an have their own vision. I appreciate what that vision is enough to give this album an 8.

PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT:"Magick Rites and Spells"

The Italian occult rock band is back with a blend of blues inflected proto-metal that carries enough bong water in it's denim to smell like Pink Floyd at it's most trippy moments. The freedom rock flag flies going into the guitar solos that hearken back to the guitar gods of the 70's. The vocal stick close to the previously established blue print that was set in stone by the first wave of these vest metal bands back almost a decade ago.Virginia Monti has a solid alto croon and the fact she is hot doesn't hurt matters either,though this is a fact that is negated when it come to albums taking up space on my iPod. They pull out a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" which is a pretty straight forward tribute to the song.

 They take a more aggressive and metallic approach to "Set Me Free", though their bass player steals the show on this one. My first impression is that these guys would be a lot of fun live. "Wicked Dream" plays more to their strengths as it expands the range of melodic elements that they collectively pull from as a unit. The "Dark Lord" follows to the proto-metal formula more closely though I like the fact that they strum the chords out and don't sound like they are just totally drooling over the Sabbath tone. "Angela" steps away from metal into a more rock n roll direction.Lyrically the song is more sinister than what a casual listen to the music might suggest.  This is one of the albums more compelling vocal melodies.

They continue to expand their melodic range on the more ballad like "Lying on Iron" .  "Black Magic Man" is more straight forward rock that doesn't have the nuance other songs here have. It carries more of  a grungy recklessness. "Slave of Grief" is marginally darker an heavier. They guitar continues to have more of a jangle to it that you might expect from this sort of thing. While the album loses a little steam in the last two songs these guys are representing the genre well in a unapologetic fashion. I'll give this one an 8.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks For Nothing : the Top 10 Break Up Songs

Before you are surrounded by depressing X-mas music every time you go out into public for the month to come we are going to wallow in this list of the top 10 break up songs. Many of these touch upon feelings that are as varied as those in the five stages of grief... denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.This roller coaster touches on varied genres ranging from pop to metal.

10-Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Clean Up Mean" 

The newest song on the list off of the band's latest album "Prey". It's taking the number 10 spot since it has stood the test of time like some of the other songs.


 9-Marvin Gaye- "Is That Enough"

From the cocaine fueled concept album "Here My Dear", Gaye used powder and pain to propel this opus. He stepped away from the Motown hit formula to pour his soul in these somewhat progressive songs in this concept album that tells the story of his divorce.


8-the Twilight Sad - " I Could Give You All That You Don't Want"

These guys opened for the Cure, who are not on this list, because most of their music is happy or sensuous to me. These guys however have the melancholy and longing down. This one moves towards acceptance.


7- Alice In Chains - "Sea of Sorrow"
There is more acceptance with a tinge of anger, much like real life the stages of grief bleed into one another.


6-Morrissey "I Am Hated For Loving"

 For this I think  for the sake of  this list his solo career beats out the Smiths when it comes this brand of heart ache.


5- Taylor Swift - "I Almost Do"

I have alluded to my love for Tay Tay, bu think it is the first time her music has graced this blog. The lyrics and melodies are pretty moving and relate-able. For pop music these days it's the best it gets.

4- Chevelle- " I Get It "

While the lyrical metaphor is thick here, the sentiment fits, with sarcastic anger to serve as a proper middle finger to vent the anger stage of grief.


3- Type O Negative- "In Praise of Bacchus" 

These guys have a few, but Peter Steele's lonely drinking song takes the despair out on the streets of Brooklyn in ponderous reflection. It examines the complexities of  heart break in the lonely city.

 2-Chelsea Wolfe- "Mistake in Parting"

 The title track from her first album that has a more grunge tinged conventional rock sound. No ghostly vocals here, lyrically the honesty in this one might be here best work despite not being hidden in the shadows of metaphor she is now known for.


1-Megadeth- "In My Darkest Hour"

 This is a classic that has stuck with me even when I began hating Dave Mustaine for becoming a christian and sucking at pretty much life, with making shitty music his worst offense. Here it's dramatic, even putting suicide on the table, but isn't that where metal should go?  His darkest moments here seem believable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Alter : "Embers"

This band from Baltimore shows why you never want to rush out and be in a hurry to get your end of the year lists out, there is still plenty of gold yet to be discovered . Where does the shoe gaze begin and the punk rock end is one question that could stand to be asked of this album. But I am not sure you really want to ask too many questions here as they seem to have a good thing going. The vocals to "Deja Vu" are rather pained and fragile to what other wise moves like a brisk cloud passing you over head as you stared in a stoned haze out of the passenger side window. The thunder comes down harder on the more powerhouse "Static Sea". The vocals emote more on this song and go up into a higher register.

It could be argued that while these guys are no metal, they certainly have a more aggressive take on Deafheaven when it comes to shoe gaze. If this has you scratching your head, think of it this way these guys are harder than Nothing. Deafheaven's take on shoe gaze is pretty run of the mill My Bloody Valentine mixed with a little Smiths inflected post-rock, they just happen to book end it with black metal. The aptly named "Hypnotized" has a more post-punk like bass line to it . The bass continues to propel things going forward into the next song "Walls" but here it reminds me more of the Twilight Sad, due to the fact it carries a very deliberate and dark groove to it's moody musing.

The title track has a more more metallic intention to the tension it sets up, which could also be said to be aggressive as it gets in your face rather than moping about. The vocals stay in the background and continue to be their moodier side.This is song is pretty massive in it's dynamic scope finding the band really covering a lot of ground and leaving you impressed . I'm so impressed I'll round it up to a 10. It does recall some almost emo moments if you think back to bands like Elliot. Fans of moody music be it emo or shoe gaze will find something to like here.