Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Black Metal History Month -Slagmaur :"Thil Smitts Terror"

Is this black metal ? Is Behemoth black metal ? These guys from Norway have that kind of massive grandiose stomp to them. They are darker than your average death metal band and have more texture so we could possibly call them blackened death metal. If this wasn't Black Metal History month I might not be as ocd about finely categorizing these guys as they care about the songs and are good at what they do. There is a darker coating to the chords that ring out on the second song, but the vocals have more of a death metal bellow to their roar. The drummer prefers double bass to blast beats. The guitar is the most black metal element to their sound. "Werewolf" has a slower and darker throb to it that feels a little more black metal to me than the first song. There are build choral chants that aid in thickening the atmosphere. The vocals and the drumming are really the only thing here giving it a death metal feel.

The guitar is much more melodic for the third song. If you listen closely you can hear some odd bits of percussion thrown in. When they get locked into the chug the distortion is a little overpowering in the mix, but is offset by the keyboards. "Heskritt" has dense groove to it and is powerfully heavy. At twelve minutes this does drone on a little, but you are never bored  "Hansel Unt" is another song driven by smart and sonically interesting guitar parts. There vocals feel more tortured here and are layered with weird middle eastern like chanting. "Vi Els' almost has an industrial feel to it until the big chorus of vocals booms in. It eventually hits it's groove and steadies out into a more deliberate pulse.

This album is a lot of dark twisted fun. It might not appeal to black metal purists , but much like Behemoth whose fan base might not be Darkthrone fans as well, this is good metal no matter then genre, blackened death metal might be the most fitting title to file it under, what ever the case I will give this album a 9.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Obituary : " S/T "

T

Tampa legends are still a finely tuned machine at what they do the first song is just much more uptempo than what I remember them doing and has less of the Celtic Frost stomp to it. John Tardy's voice still has isn't signature torment belch to it. The second song is cut from the same mold as the first so I am hoping they switch things up by the time we get to "Lesson In Vengeance" .  The guitar solos play it much safer than what I remember hearing from these guys in the late 80's . There is more of the Celtic Frost gallop when "Lesson in Vengeance" kicks in. Bass player Terry Butler from Six Feet Under  and former Andrew WK guitarist Kenny Andrews man their battle stations with vigor.

There is a more guttural hint to Tardy's voice on "End it Now" which has a much more solid groove. I don't hear the same amount of personality invested in "Kneel Before Me" , which sounds a little like they jacked some Morbid Angel. There is another repeating moment that we felt earlier in the album where it seems "It Lives " just picks up where "Kneel Before Me" left off. "Betrayed" finds the pace picking up and it is still clear that these guys are great at what they do, it just sounds like that is being coupled with a need to fit into death metal as a whole. The more deliberate groove reminds me of the band's more classic work. Tardy's phrasing is unique to what he does and is something aspiring death metal bands should take note of. The high impact guitar solo seems like it is a little out of place , but as a whole the song works more than it doesn't.


There is a slight hardcore hint to "Straight to Hell" . I really like when the song slows midway in. I am totally ok with the idea of laying down my peaceful vision on "Ten Thousand ways to Die" as it's groove is hard to not head bang at your desk to. While this album is a solid slab of death metal that holds up against younger bands I would like to have heard this done in a manner that as more in commong with the sound of  "Slowly We Rot". I'll give it an 8. .



Lock Howl : " Pareidolia'




The more gothy crooned vocals have more of a Beastmilk feel to them. The metal side of the coin, is more progressive in some of the passages, while this keeps a neo-classical tone in play that works with the over all sound it is weird hearing this in the context of the more lo-fi production. The is a more dark vibe to "Echoes From the Chemical Void". I am not sure all of the guitar melodies are where they need to be. The way they kick into the chorus also need a bigger sound production wise to live up to its potential, "Nephilim " is a little happier than I would have hoped it would be, but I guess that is where the song wanted to go.

As far as influences go it seems this is more influenced by the revivalist bands than actually pulling from Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus like some reviews might suggest. There is a more 80s metal guitar tone to "Into the Darkness, Into the Unknown" the more metal elements have faded away except for a more Emperor direction the chorus flirts with. 'Graveless" is the first song that really turns to older goth . It also collides with metal. "Lost in Static" takes more of a middle of the road approach I do like the fact it uses more of the tried and true gothic trapping but needs the hooks to hook you in. I really like the verses to "She Was Found By the Lake" the metal vocals that come in on the chorus strike me as more of a nu-metal good cop bad cop thing. He even gives a wink to Type O Negative on this one. When it comes to being a one man band the guitars on this album are it's strongest point. To say this project is in any way black metal even on the last song where the rasped vocals are dominant, would be like calling Sentenced black metal. It would not make sense.The exchange of the almost surf rock reverb heavy guitars on the last song which has a more driving tempo, but barely what we would call metal in these parts of the black woods. Overall even though it is not the marriage of black metal to post-punk that I had been promised, what this album is still works well on many levels and I like it as I am still mourning the demise of Beastmilk and awaiting another Grave Pleasures album. so I will round it up to a 9.



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black Metal History Month- Verheerer : "Archar"



I found this one prowling Bandcamp for new black metal. Here is a black metal project from Germany that proves on the opener of it's new album it can nail both the atmosphere and the raw animalistic attack. They do hit you with blast beasts in the last minute to remind you this is a black metal band, but they have already trampled you with a wide array of other mean spirited riffs. They have girt to the production with out sacrificing quality. You can hear the bass an it gives their over all sound that much more punch. On the title track that follows their powerful intro, they follow a slightly more standard path. They are tagged with sludge and though I would not call them a blackened sludge band they do pack a similar punch, just at higher speeds and with a more venomous intention.

The vocals are a throaty scowl more long the lines of Goatwhore, just not dropping down into he lower more death metal tone, so more like what Sami does. They throw in samples that are well placed and provide a narrative to some of the more droning riffs as they are being layered. On the thirds song their momentum doesn't relent, but it also runs into a blur and sounds like every other black metal band so I am less impressed. The closing song which is named after them finds the locking into riffs that mean more and the song it self has more space to breathe. The drummer and bass player are locked in to make it a juggernaut. The vocals snarl at you in a make that doesn't hide the lyrics are their thoughts on the bastard world, which is something a little more convincing than just dialing in the Satan. The guitars are really well layered here and make the most of the 8 minutes this song consumes. This album is pretty solid, I think it starts at the strongest point and then finds them trying to reclaim those sounds summoned at the height of their powers with out slipping back into the mire of sounding like every other black metal band. I'll give it an 8 , which is high praise for these guys considering I just gave "Plaguewielder" and 8.5. Not that they are in the same league as Darkthrone, but they are finding a well earned spot for themselves in the charred halls of black metal lore.




Black Metal History Month - Looking Back in Anger at Darkthrone's "Plaguewielder"


One of my favorite things to do this month is go back and pull certain album's down from their pedestals and see how they hold up over the years. I remembered interviewing Mike Williams of Eyehategod and when the question of black metal came up he listed this as his favorite black metal album. Sure it came out in 2001, so well after what purists might consider past the prime in regards to the rise of Norweigan black metal, but lets get real and admit in 2001 the coolest of your were listening to either Opeth or Converge at best.  Black metal that wasn't Cradle of Filth or Dimmu was more than likely not in your rotation. This album finds the band has stepped up production quality and moved into riffy song writing, The snarls vocals were still more metal than punk or the kind of New Wave of British Heavy Metal the band would delve into on the past few albums. I can hear touches of Bathory in their attack, but find the opener "Weakling Avenger" holding up over the past 16 years.

It's funny to hear how bands like say Craft were influenced by this and how this album helped draw up the blue print for many of the more legit black metal bands of today. "Raining Murder" finds them picking up into the kind of blast beating that we regard as black metal. They do this with a very feral energy. The cymbal work is more relaxed than some of the more bombastic acts that followed. It slows into very solid head banging groove. There is more of the punk inspired energy that opens "Sin Origin". I can accept that it's a part of what they do , but not what I consider their strongest side, but I can see how punk kids find this to be a good entry point.

"Command" rumbles out like a Faustian panzer brigade before giving up the groove for blast beats. When we get to "I, Voidhanger" it hits the place many Darkthrone albums do where the pulse just kind numbs me into a place where they albums begins to breeze by me. It's not until two minutes into "Wreak" this is a solid album, but not their best by a long shot as I would only give this one a 8.5, so now I'll move onto "Hate Them" and see how it does against it , I'll tell you right now it has a better guitar tone.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Black People : " Dust and Shadows"




I want more death rock. I really do. I wish bands could deliver it to me , but this is where the problem lies. This is largely a very sonic lo-fi punk rock band. The vocals are certainly influenced by death rock, but I am not 100 percent convinced that they are a death rock band. The production is pretty inconsistent as the second song suffers where the opener worked. I like what the vocals do on "Shame" but the guitar is not always working with him. If we think back to what really works with death rock, we know the bass needs to have more of a presence to leave the guitar more room to snake round and get creepy. "Anxiety" is more intangible in it's arrangement.The more lo-fi elements work here to help create the atmosphere and for ma more hypnotic feeling, but this is hit or miss.

They sound more like blown out garage rock that is really dark on "Follow" if some left the Cure playing on a boom box in the next room while they recorded it. The first song that has a shoe gaze feel is the swirling "Hush". I like the guitar on this song more than anything i have heard from these guys yet and this is the least punk moment so far. "Filth" is more in the almost psych garage rock side of things and not as original as the previous since it reminds me more of Blue Cheer. Things do get darker on "Sterilize". This one also has female vocals layered in the background to help add a touch of elegance. The difference between goth which is first off more of the broader blanket and death-rock, is death rock has the elegance it's just the morning after waking up in the gutter with a needle in your arm. I like lyrics referring living in a world of entitlement, which this almost anti-millennial sentiment seems to juxtapose what ever cause they are backing Bandcamp on.

There is something being said about sterilizing humanity on the next song "Solidarity". It is dreamier and the female vocals play a larger role when the take over for the more drug induced male narrative. This is also the second moment on the album where shoe gaze might apply to what is going on here. I like this album, some of the production could have been fine tuned to give a clearer picture of what they were trying to to . I'll round it up to an 8.5 .



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Wiegedood : "De Doden Hebben Het Goed II"


When it comes to black metal  things are fairly divided even when it comes to varied sub-genres. This is the case with many of the sects of metal, but black metal finds this even more pronounced. Go to a Deafheaven show and then go see Abbath and it clearly looks like you are in two different cultures. One could almost double for a Mumford and Sons crowd the other has on enough spikes to sink a long boat. This band from Belgium is one of the few able to bring some legit metal that is not punk or post-rock in disguise and still make picky critics like me happy. So this is the sequel to the Belgian band's 2015 album. This start off with a blaze of fury in their skies as it blast with a bunch of mean spirited rage. The vocals are screamed in a very throat curdling manner. The drummers sounds like it might be the weak link on the opener , but some of that could just be due to the guitar really pushed up and slicing into your ears in this violent mix. The first half of the 11 minute second song is more melodic , but the instrumental section sprawls on until the 5 minute mark. They kick things up to the kind of manic pace established in the first song. I don't mind when these guys get into the more blast beaten moments because they do so tastefully and there is never a sense that it's all they can do.

 I really like the groove they end up in on the title track. They really hit the sweet spot where the sonics are as heavy as the metal. While they hit a very high point here the more thrash rooted song that follows really doesn't do a helluva a lot for me. It sounds good and I was listening to this loud enough to make my ears ring...if you don't typically listen to good metal at this volume then lets just go ahead and get the fact you are pussy out of the way.I will give this short and sweet four song little thing a 9 though I doubt it will make it over to my iPod as most of it takes it time or sprawls out beyond what I want to listen to walking to get coffee in the morning no matter how hard it is snowing.