Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Best of 2013 (part 1) Darkthrone - Underground Resistance

     There were a lot of highly anticipated albums this year.  When was the last time Carcass or Goreguts released anything?  When was the last time Queensrych released anything people wanted to hear?  Despite all of this, the album I was the most excited about was the new Darkthrone.  Circle the Wagons was a brilliant classic metal throw back but felt a little bit too light hearted.  Looking at the song lengths and titles of this release raised my expectations extremely high and I was not disappointed. 

     The first thing that spiked my interest was the fourteen minute track at the end of the album.  I was both excited and worried.  The question on every DT fan's mind was: "is this song a worthy successor as Darkthrone's longest song?"  Spoiler alert!  The answer is no.  

     I'm sure everyone has noticed Darkthrone gradually progressing from a blackened punk approach on The Cult is Alive to the blatant 80's trad metal throwback we see here.  As expected this is full out oldschool metal worship and the final stage in this transformation.  What I love the most about this effort is how well it represents the transitional nature of this type of music.  When you listen to a band like Celtic Frost you can see obvious leanings to the genre that would eventually be called black metal.  When you listen to Omen you can hear what will one day be called power metal, despite maintaining a full traditional metal dynamic.  On Underground Resistance you can here proto thrash, doom, power and first wave black metal side by side, flawlessly representing the primordial ooze metal's most well known sub genres emerged from in the early 80's.

     The best song on the album in my opinion would have to be track 5.  Most of the riffs on this tune wouldn't sound out of place on Panzerfaust or To Mega Therion.  As the title would suggest this song oozes with doom.  Alongside the plodding doom riffs are some excellent tremolo riffs that only Darkthrone can pull off.  Awesome tune!  

     The biggest let down on the album was the aforementioned fourteen minute song, Leave No Cross Unturned.   Awesome song title, cool lyrics, oldschool atmosphere, brilliant vocal performance and every single riff is good.  I will admit it, it isn't THAT big of a let down.  The only downfall is the length and not enough ideas to carry this type of song.  There is a tone of repetition, which Darkthrone is good at making interesting, but they failed this time.  This would be the best song on this album easily if it was 7 or 8 minutes long, but it suffers because the good ideas are pushed way past their logical extreme.  If you're writing music, take note.  Just because you have a good idea doesn't mean you should stretch it out as long as possible.   Although it was a let down I still look forward to hearing this song every time I listen to this album.

     Stop being an ass clown, listen to Darkthrone and LEAVE NO CROSS UNTURNED! !!!!!!!!!!! 1

sincere appologies

Sorry for being a jackass and not posting anything.
Sorry to all of the bands I promised to review.

My new years resolution is to waste more of my life ranting about shitty music no one except tex and I give a shit about.  I will also respond promptly to review requests.  I will review all of the material I am behind on and give my arbitrary opinion on what I consider the best and worst albums of 2013.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Thomas Taylor - Yet to be Named (Demo) [Review]

Thomas Taylor plays instrumental progressive metal with a heavy dose of djenty feel in a lot of the riffs. Now, I’m not usually a fan of fully instrumental music, and I have never been fond of djent (still not sure it’s even a real thing) but the music on this demo is original and well-written enough to at least keep me interested throughout the 11 minute duration.

The first song here “Schizoid” is based around an assortment of chuggy patterns and shredding guitar leads that change rapidly and keep the listener’s attention moving with the song. The leads and solo in this song are particularly impressive. Taylor certainly knows how to shred, and tastefully too. The tone is a little muddy in the lowest of the low chug-along riffage, but it’s forgivable as the rest of the production is great for what I assume is a home (or at least budget) job. The drums (or drum programming) are also very well done, sounding techy but within the realm of what a human being can play.

The next song “Pickless” is the complete opposite of the first track (except that it also shows off Taylor’s very accomplished guitar skills). This song is comprised fully of clean guitar and bass, tapping and sliding around some really pretty melodies. Sometimes things feel a bit cluttered with all of the notes, but the song as a whole is very enjoyable.

The last track “Timbre” seems like a combination of styles from the first two tracks. It is most definitely heavy, as dem fatty chugs djent along in the background while more melodic guitar and keyboard work takes the forefront. There is a very cool layering of big guitar chords with tremolo picked melodies and a near-flawlessly played sweepfest of a solo near the end. However, the end of the song feels rather abrupt and I feel that this song in particular, and consequently the demo as a whole, feels just a bit unfinished.

This isn’t a style of music that usually blows my mind, but Taylor is such a talented guitarist that I can’t help but give him a lot of points for that alone. The songs here are also showcase a lot of cool, sometimes memorable, ideas. If you don’t mind your metal with a definite proggy, modern slant, this guy is worth checking out:
Tex's rating: 80%

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Planetary - Adventure (EP) [Review]

Planetary is a self-proclaimed Instrumental “blackened power” metal band. I have been wanting to review some underground Power metal for a while, since I love hearing good stuff from that genre, and the other genre tags piqued my interest, but also threw up some warning flags at the same time. In the end, it all just doesn’t really come together.

There is just a lack of sense when the pretty sounding ambient synth into is called “Annihilation of all You Hold Dear”. There is just no evocation of ‘Annihilation’ here at all. It is an interesting piece, but it doesn't really lead into the next track, nor does it give the listener any insight into what is to follow on the remainder of this EP.

“Earth’s End” starts off with a similar eerie, yet pleasant piano/synth intro before the ‘black metal’ kicks in. The blackened aspect of all these songs is basically simple four note riffs tremolo’d with some programmed blasts underneath, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with the rest of the music. There is an awesome Dream Theater-like riff that kicks in at around 1:30 but the song takes a dive into another ambient part before picking up with another cool melody before the end of the song, which sports a tasteful solo as well.

That seems to be the way most of the songs here work: ambient, power and ‘black’ parts strung together, without any real repetition. I understand that being instrumental, the idea here is to probably pack a bunch of cool ideas in and not let the songs get repetitive or boring. This is a good idea in theory, but transitions between parts are often shaky and some repetition of riffs and themes would help make the songs feel more like songs and less like collections of riffs.

The instruments are all well performed/programmed. The guitar especially shines through with lots of good melodies and leads that are simple, yet effective and compliment the riffs. “Arrival” has some wicked leads on it and probably the most song-like structure of all the pieces here.

The ambient tracks, the aforementioned intro to the album along with “Desolate Space” are cool ideas, but they don’t stick around long enough to really develop into anything special. If the ideas on this album were split into two projects: One metal and one Ambient, it could be beneficial to the compositions and overall flow and feel.

So, there’s some cool stuff here, but it just isn’t all gel. A lack of vocals means the music has to stand up on its own, and it just isn’t strong enough. There’s an identity crisis going on here that holds back the potential.


Tex's rating: 60%

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Lago - Tyranny (Demo) [Review]

Last week I posted my long overdue review for Lago's debut EP Marianas which greatly impressed me. I decided to also take a close listen to this 2012 demo, which contains songs that will appear on an upcoming full length, which I am really anticipating!
This demo starts off right with the track “The Tyranny of Men” which showcases some solid tremolo riffage with pinchy accents. After this, the track breaks into a dissonant blackened section with ringing chords and a really prominent bass line. In fact, the bass is both more audible and does more of its own thing on this demo compared to the band’s debut EP Marianas. The song also contains a melodic solo from new lead guitarist Andrew Breshears. As with the band’s previous work, the blasty sections flow perfectly into the slower and mid-paced sections, such as the weighty and heavy chorus.

“Coming Cataclysm” starts off with another slower, churning intro which shifts quickly into faster paced death metal mode and returns to a doomier feel with the breakdown at the end. Another solid song, but doesn’t capture and hold my attention as “The Tyranny of Men” does.

Lago has undergone some line-up changes since Marianas. Andrew Breshears proves to be a competent and fitting player for this band, though neither of the solos here ‘wowed’ me. New drummer Brian Miller is also great at what he does, though the drumming here seems very kick and blast happy compared to the more subtle but solid approach on the debut EP.

Garret Thomas’s vocals are less prominent on this demo than on the debut, which I find to be a good thing as I much prefer the more guttural lead vocals of Cole Jacobson, who delivers both great vocals and riffs here as was expected.

Another impressive release from a band that has proven themselves as solid song-writers with a definite idea of the sound they are going for. Morbid Angel (sometimes blackened) with a touch of the modern is what we have here, but with good enough song writing that the band stands on its own. The two songs on this demo kick plenty of ass, but did not hit me quite as hard or have quite the staying power as the material on Marianas. Perhaps these songs will shine more in the context of the upcoming full-length, which I am sure will be a pretty killer release!

Tex's rating: 80%

Check it out here!:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Postscrypt - Foreplay to Auralgasm (Demo) [Review]

I really don’t know what kind of genre would fit Postscrypt, and I don't mean this in a good way. It’s some type of metal, I guess, though it somewhat pains me to say it. Their 2011 demo (they should have a full-length out by now... good lord...) contains attempts at “extreme” metal (as in half assed understanding of what death/black metal is supposed to sound like), symphonic stuff and weird gothic/rock sections. That’s a lot of stuff, so what is it? I had to give them the benefit of the doubt and ask myself, is this something I'm just not getting? Is it progressive? No, not at all. None of the haphazardly composed and compiled ideas stick around long enough to really develop into full-sounding compositions, let alone be progressive. So I don’t know what this is, but I don’t like it.

The riffs and melodies here are pretty uninteresting and performed sloppily. I have no idea what the bass is doing, or if it’s in there. The drums are performed well enough to fit the songs and keep things moving, but there are some timing issues. The keys/symphonic elements are probably the most well-written and performed (probably programmed). Where things get really odd is the vocals. There are harsh vocals that sound like an old man wheezing to death, which is bad, but when the clean singing came in on the song “Ballerina” I laughed out loud. Yeah, for real. They sound like they’re supposed to be ‘gothic’ or brooding, but they are simply embarrassing. And the vocal melodies are either awkward or unmemorable. The titles of the songs and the EP as well as the lyrics range from absurd to generic.

I do not know what Postscrypt was trying to achieve with this release. Nothing here really fits together and none of the disparate elements really come into their own either. There’s nothing really passable here, move along.

Tex's rating: 25%
Check it out for yourself, if you must:

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Lago - Marianas (EP) [Review]

I have been meaning to get around to reviewing this EP since sometime in 2011 (it was released in 2010). I know, it's sad, but life sometimes gets in the way. It did not, however, get in the way of me listening to and enjoying Lago in the meantime. And it's better late than never, so here it is...
Lago is a death metal outfit from Phoenix Arizona. Dumping a subgenre tag on these guys or simply comparing them to other bands would prove difficult and a disservice to the band. Just “Death Metal” will do. I can say that they draw on the old-school, but they definitely sound in the here-and-now. There are shifts in the music between frantic tempos and doomier sections, but the majority of the material sits at a nice mid-paced, head-banging, riff-churning level, and never gets bogged down or boring.
Speaking of riff-churning, Lago are pretty close to masterful at playing concise, catchy riffs that carry that familiar death metal sound while containing a subtle complexity and uniqueness in their composition. There is some good tight palm-muting and fast chug-heavy riffing amongst some nastier tremolo picked chaos. They also make excellent use of some dissonant ringing chords (think Gorguts or Ulcerate minus anything avant garde or too weird). I see the connections that can be made to Morbid Angel, but never does it sound like the band is sticking too tight to its influences. In fact, the songs sound a lot more ‘inspired’ by OSDM than ‘influenced’ by any band in particular.
The bass and drums pound along nicely to the massive guitar riffing and add their own little twists and embellishments. Drummer Shawn Reiterman shows his talent especially in the slower dissonant sections of “Arbitrary Conflict,” giving the wonky, jangly chords a solid foundation groove with some really original fills. Manuel Dominguez’s lead work is just excellent, melodic while complimenting the disharmony of everything going on around him. I can hesitantly compare him to Trey Azagthoth and James Murphy, but he is definitely a force all his own.
Cole Jacobsen’s vocals fit the music well, they are low and guttural, full of power. Nothing particularly new or interesting going on here, but well-executed. However, I find Garrett Thomas’s higher pitched and more manic backing vocals to be ill-fitting and somewhat off-putting. Thankfully they do not intrude too often and they don’t do much damage to the songs.
This is a solid EP that sports some really fantastic elements. The songs are all memorable, but more variety or experimentation would be appreciated if the band tackles a longer release format.
Tex's rating: 86%
You can check out the tunes from this EP and their 2012 demo (review for that coming soon!) here:
If you are into death metal, you really should check these guys out!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Montsegur - Under the Banner of Witchcraft (demo) [Review]

I snagged this neat little demo on a recent cold and blustery evening as I was scouring for something new on I have been on a black metal kick recently and wanted to check out some newer underground stuff to supplement my usual go-to bands.
Montsegur is a Russian band, which is about all I know about them. I haven’t delved into much BM outside of the Scandinavian countries, but this demo has me intrigued. This demo showcases tight, varied song writing and already well-developed sound for a band with only one release so far. 
The sound here is raw and aggressive, while still maintaining a good sense of melody and song writing. Violent churning riffs and blasting drums segue nicely into some epic and melodic mid-paced riffing. Clean sections are also used tastefully and accordingly to build some nice atmosphere.

The band has the repetitive/hypnotic 2nd wave sound down while still keeping it fresh with some interesting folky (real folky, no Ensiferum nonsense going on) elements in the melodies, and there are a lot of riffs packed into each song! There are some cool sound effects too, such as the horn and sounds of battle in the title track. I’m usually not too fond of such things, but here they don’t detract from the song.
The guitar sound is a bit washy, but the riffs shine through nicely. The bass is very prominent, but not overpowering in the mix. The drummer is tasteful and competent, accenting the riffs nicely. The vocals are somewhat standard, but they definitely sound good and fit with the music and the mix. The sound is most certainly demo quality, but shockingly well done, as is the performance, considering this was recorded as a rehearsal! The stick clicks to count in the songs could have been edited out, but that is a very minor complaint.

The demo is bookended by an intro and outro track, which are well done, but I rarely find such things to be necessary. However, they are concise and fit with the overall mood of the demo.

Overall, this is a great piece of work and I would love to hear what this band could do with a full-length release. I’m glad I stumbled upon this and I recommend giving it a listen:

Tex's rating: 84%

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

More ignorant, ill-informed bullshit coming soon!

Tex is sitting at home waiting for employment to find him, which means there will finally be some new reviews and possibly some rants up here starting this week!