Friday, January 30, 2009

Beyond the Sixth Seal – The Resurrection of Everything Tough

(Metal Blade Records, 2007, 13 tracks, 55 minutes, 55 seconds, by Adam McAuley)

Impressively crushing sounding metal that has a distinctly heavy feel to it is what Beyond the Sixth Seal deliver effectively. They deliver a heavy metal platter that has an emphasis on bringing the modern heaviness aspect to the forefront, with even a hardcore vibe present. A somewhat melodic slant is added to the proceedings as well to give it a catchiness, but the album attempts to crush with its heaviness at most points.

The band are somewhat difficult to classify as they just crush along, but they bring enough hooks to catch your attention. A rather booming sound is emphasized greatly throughout which manages to hold you in thrall. Beyond the Sixth Seal comes across as a band that wants to throw massive riffs at you to enrapture you with their hugeness.

As such we’re left with an album that is difficult to characterize because it has a hardcore element, but it also has strong shades of straightforward heavy metal as well as melodic death metal. This un-classifiability makes you want to appreciate the band on many levels as they never fail to excite greatly.

The ability to entertain is a key to maintaining the fun pacing Beyond the Sixth Seal are able to convey throughout. They chug along quickly and vehemently to create a wave of emotion that captures you. This characteristic is quite a way of capturing your interest in the band despite the initial unfamiliarity.

The performances on the disc are tight and crushing sounding enough, with a penchant for adding a melodic standpoint to the proceedings. The guitars sound sort of hardcore in nature, though there’s nods to traditional metal and even melodic death like metal to be found throughout. The performances perk your interest in the band further.

Otherwise, the band have enough to distinguish them from bands within the genres they try operate under and the groovy nature would be suitable for many types of music, though they are able to craft their own distinctive style around it so that Beyond the Sixth Seal have a singularity to their performances.

Lyrically, we can see the band pushing themselves in a direction convenient to them. The fifth track, “Stricken”, tells of how people might fear them and this goes towards a similar tone of them wanting to find their own space within the metal realm quite effectively.

Overall, The Resurrection of Everything Tough is a strong album that brings massive waves of riff energy to the table. They clearly have some hardcore tendencies as well as those of the melodic death metal and traditional genres, but the exact frequency of the band seems to be to want to be as fun as possible. Recommended to any metal fan with an open mind.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carcass – Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious

(Earache Records, 1991, 8 tracks, 48 minutes, 3 seconds, by Adam McAuley)

Prime death metal that was always a cut above the rest is what Carcass offered and their style easily peaked with this masterful work that put them right at a creative high overall. It was a masterpiece that combined veracity with complexity making for one of death metal’s finest moments and an easy premium within their discopgraphy. Necroticism will always be remembered for the ways it smoothly spliced together killer hooks with textbook type lyrics that had a nice knowledge of medical terminology.

The first thing one will notice when comparing this work to other premiums of the death metal genre is Necroticism’s jagged complexity which has a manner of working itself into your skin well. Songs like “Carneous Cacoffiny” have a manner of implementing obtuse beats into the mix nicely and constantly keeping one interested.

We can sense an aggressive tone to their proceedings here, but there is also a melodious edge to be the most balanced overall portion of their discography. The nature of the album takes variety as a key trait as well to deliver an experience that never gets tiring, but remains constantly vigorating throughout its length.

Again, when directly comparing this album to other works of the same band, we see this one coming out on top because of a focus upon making an album that works greater as a whole as earlier efforts were concentrated too much upon aggression and later ones upon melody and this comes up as a positive point.

And again the interest one has with the band is concentrated upon their Necroticism album and the combination of their great ideas making an overall masterpiece that affects you. This is shown to culminate in one of the finer ending songs “Forensic Clinicism” that brings all the hooks together towards a satisfying finale.

Lyrically, a medical like dictionary approach is used to deliver lyrics that interestingly convey to you the ideals of body parts, for example, towards the furthering of a scientific knowledge. This is one of the slants of Necroticism that I found added to the complexity they were trying to convey.

On the whole, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious is indeed the finest moment in Carcass’ discography and demonstrates them to be the finest of the death metal genre for a short time with a varied approach that brings out the best of the band. We can see their thoughtfulness blossom into one of the greatest albums of the nineteen nineties as well and a work that could be considered one of the all time greats.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Iron Saviour – Megatropolis

(Dockyard 1 Records, 2007, 45 minutes, 34 seconds, Reviewed by Adam McAuley

We have here a power metal band that tries to stand within the constrictions of the type of music they're performing and thus remains very standard sounding and unable to distance themselves from the pack. One might want to compare them with a more pompous band within the genre such as Rhapsody and then we could see that perhaps Megatropolis deserves a bit of an adrenaline upgrade to reach the types of registers seen by that band, for example.

Iron Saviour perform a relatively straightforward power metal affair with the usual driving verses and catchy choruses seen by the genre, but they don’t have an interesting enough slant to be a necessary listen to fans of power metal because of their restricted sounds which are inviting, but not overly breathtaking enough.

Rapid fire riffing that tends to wants to imitate the likes of Helloween and Painkiller-era Judas Priest rapidly abounds on the album and they don’t hold quite the excitement and memorability those two bands do in particular making Iron Saviour just another power metal act rather than one that is to be followed and imitated upon.

The musical performances on Megatropolis follow the same outcome as much of the rest here. Everything is hectic enough to gain the listener’s interest to a certain extent, but they don’t carry enough weight to really excite on a higher plain. The guitar playing is decent as is the singing and drumming performances, but nothing is of very high caliber.

Lyrically, we can see Iron Saviour drawing on themes of the power of man overwhelming the scene and this causes for a comic book like view which, though appropriate, is not overly noteworthy and just makes for an enchanting way to enhance the overall thoughts on the album.

Standout tracks on the album include the final one "Farewell and Goodbye", which manages to brings things to a close with relative style and on an exciting enough note, but altogether Iron Saviour isn’t capable of stringing together a number of stellar tracks like some of the other bands mentioned which makes them lose interest at times.

Overall, Iron Saviour bring an album together that doesn’t hold enough of a special appeal to interest fans of the power metal genre as they go through similarly slightly cheesy sounding standard riffing without adding anything new to the genre or standing out in a way that’s spectacular enough to be particularly above mediocre.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Militia - Released

(2008, 12 tracks, 54:28)

Hard as it is to imagine now, Texas was once a hotbed of metal talent; Watchtower and Helstar were the big names, of course, but Juggernaut, S.A. Slayer, and other such underground bands sustained a scene lively enough that it made sense for Mark Reale to rebuild Riot with lone star recruits in the late 80s. Nowadays, well, Ron Jarzombek is still kicking around down there, and Helstar is back together, and that first Power of Omens disc was pretty good, right? But really, no one playing the word association game today is going to answer “Texas,”with “Metal!” That’s too bad, because this finally released Militia retrospective shows that the metal of this cast-off, never-was band kicks the shit out of a lot of bands that, you know, made an album at some point.

To the extent that anyone is familiar with Militia, it’s usually by a trivial awareness that the guy who sang on Watchtower’s track on the Doomsday News II compilation, Mike Soliz, was stolen from Militia. He sang that one track with the band and was shortly replaced by Alan Tecchio, who sang on the Watchtower’s sophomore LP. Militia themselves only released one piece of vinyl, a vanishingly rare EP called The Sybling, pressed in a quantity of 300 or thereabouts, plus a couple low-rent demos. They did the usual live work and stuck it out for four or five years and were gone. Released collects The Sybling, some of those demos (or maybe all of them- it’s not exactly clear) and packages them with nice historical liner notes from bassist Robert Willingham. The booklet is really sharp, with lots of pictures and reproductions of old show flyers (those are always fun: Exciter, Megadeth, and Militia? King Diamond, Watchtower, and Milita? Oh to be a denimed Hessian in 80s Texas!) Sadly, the sound quality of these 12 tracks doesn’t live up to the visual standards of the package. I would be shocked to learn that any of these tracks were taken from master tapes: The Sybling is probably sourced from an old vinyl copy and the demos from ancient, low-bias cassettes copied at high speed. The 1984 Regiments of Death demo sounds about as good as you could hope, given the provenance of the material, but the No Submission demo is in such a poor state that the right channel frequently just isn’t there. The Sybling sounds fine, I guess, but the less said about the live and rehearsal tracks, the better. It’s a real pity, because the music is just smoking. It’s semi-technical thrash that vaguely recalls Savage Grace, or early Watchtower minus the virtuosity, but topped with some truly serious ballsqueezer vocals. Soliz doesn’t have the presence or command of Eric AK or Marc Antoni, but he’s got the range, at least, and he’s not scared to use it. Check out the scream in the middle of “Objective Termination”: it’s probably two or thee whole steps higher than Midnight’s highest note. Badass. His melodies are not the most graceful, it should be said, and his lyrics (as far as I can tell, as they’re not printed in this otherwise excellent booklet) are nothing special, but his singing is dripping in the pure metal insanity that only these high-register thrash guys can muster.

Released is not some kind of Holy Grail reissue, and Militia aren’t anyone’s idea of the best band ever, but thrash enthusiasts looking for a shot of that old tyme goodness could do worse than this collection. The sound issues are not insignificant, so if you have a low tolerance for bootleg-quality reproduction, this is not the CD for you. But, if you’re so hardcore, really, that you’d even consider buying the demo collection of a thrash band that existed for about 10 minutes in the whirlwind 80s, you probably have boxes full of 7th generation cassette dubs a hundred times worse than this, in every regard, and you probably love that shit, so why not throw a few bucks in Militia’s direction. They’re back together, unbelievably, so who knows, maybe your support will encourage them to put these tracks down properly (assuming Soliz can still sing like this, 20 years on.) Stranger things have happened. After all, that new Helstar album is not too bad, either! Thrash out with yer gash out!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Burst – Origo

(Relapse Records, 9 tracks, 46 minutes, 51 seconds, Reviewed by Adam McAuley)

Very energetic molten hardcore is what is crafted by the band Burst. They are able to breath fresh air into a genre that at times could seem one dimensional, but is here given the passion needed to work within multiple dimensions. They bring an emotionally charged type of musical tempo to the metal landscape and are thus able to raise themselves into a niche of their own.

One of the primary things you’ll notice when listening to Origo is how it’s a more varied and dynamic work than Prey on Life was and the improvements in terms of deep song-writing tendencies illuminate the work well. There is a greater tendency to verge towards softer, acoustic like moments here and there is also an abundance of memorable stand out sections.

Origo shows a great progression in terms of incorporating nuances that stick out within the listener’s mind. See the introductory portions of track 6, “Homebound”, for example, regarding when a change of pace nicely complements the style of the work. The earliest moments of the album show a similar ability to build up from sparse moments , winto more momentous sections quite splendidly.

Further stellar moments on the album include the song “The Immateria” which features cascading riffing atop perfectly complementing abrasive singing. It has a passionate approach that is largely one of the better moments of the album as it builds up into exciting moments from the start quite effectively.

Lyrically, we can see Origo taking a sort of hopeless vibe with their views often shifting towards pastures of nothingness in a bleak, but entertaining fashion. This can be related to the manners their music shifts to different types of pastures quite effectively and approaches a state of bleakness similarly as well.

So, is our relationship to the band elevated by this work. I would say it is to some extent because Origo is a step up from Prey on Life and bodes well for the their upcoming work Lazarus Bird. It shows the manners that hardcore can improve in interesting new directions to add layers of depth to their repertoire.

And thus Burst put out a great new album in the form of Origo. It has all of the variety necessary to hold one’s interest quite effectively throughout. If there are any problems with the album, it’s that the band hasn’t completely opened up their new sounds for an entirely masterful effect yet, which might come to full fruition when listening to their upcoming release Lazarus Bird.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Harms Way - Oxytocine

(Black Lodge, 9 tracks, 43 minutes, 85 seconds, reviewed by Adam McAuley)

Very high octane stoner metal that brings strong grooves and reminds highly of Kyuss is what is on offer from Harms Way and they deliver on their promises to become a highly undervalued part of the genre. They show enough of a potential to be considered a band that could be on a similar level to Kyuss and this makes them a significant entry into the metal world on that note alone.

From the outset, we can sense an emphasis on creating huge riffs, which is an aspect that makes them immediately appealing because it offers a way of absorbing sounds unlike many other bands and wants one to become interested on a higher level. The riffs gel together nicely to create a massive sound overall that has a manner of enrapturing you within its boundaries.

Strong stoner grooves round out this entire experience to create a package that has the potential to enamour you with its enormousness. The sound is something that sounds drug induced and this is interesting when looking into the performance enhancing potential of these drugs specifically when applied to an album that uses so many references to them.

The musical performances are top notch with musicians that play the style as though it was their last breath of fresh air in as honest a manner as possible. The guitarists have a suitably hugely distorted style that matches the groove-laden nature of the music and could be considered a pinnacle for the entire stoner genre as a whole while the drumming is solid and the vocals remind of Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss.

The lyrical content of the album matches the esoteric nature of the background music to create an overall experience that attempts to reach an esoteric plane, but with a focus upon the way we feel about the various songs making us further immersed in them. This has a manner of making us become more greatly attached to the stoner type image they try to portray so clearly through Oxytocine.

Some of the ways our relationship with the band would be at an interesting high include the way we scope out their emotional highs which form a background to how stoner songwriting should be performed and are backed up by interestingly massive riffs in terms of density. All of these euphoric elements form a nice relation to bands like Kyuss that we already have a great knowledge of as well.

In conclusion, a near perfect offering within the stoner genre is created that enscapulates all of the elements that would clearly make a highly drug influenced type of work interesting to the listener. We can see them having a need to create big riffs that are backed up by an incredibly fun slant that has a manner of affecting the listener greatly. Oxytocine comes as recommended for any fans of the Kyuss style of music.