Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Top 10 Albums of 2016



Top 10 albums of 2016


10.) Begrime Extemious - The Enslavement Conquest

     I always try to go out of my way to listen to Canadian bands because I am Canadian and I like to see what my fellow countrymen are up to in the metal scene.  Hailing from Ontario, these dudes really know their death metal.  The Incantation cover in the middle of the album raised suspicions that this would be another Incantation clone but there is a lot more going on.  On this release we have Morbid Angel shit, Death shit, Entombed shit and of course Incantation shit.  The amount of variety of OSDM influence on this album will have me coming back to this for a long time.  This is a MUST HAVE.




9.) Odinfist - The Old Lighthouse

     Never underestimate a band from your home town.  It is so easy to hear the music your old, school classmates recorded and dismiss it as, "just another local band."  The assumption being that local bands are inferior to "big" bands but we all know this isn't true.  Famous bands are famous because they are talented, innovative and in the right place at the right time.  Many bands never become famous because they were never in the right place at the right time.  It doesn't mean they're not innovative or creative.  Odinfist (if you didn't guess) are a band I've been aware of since I saw them at my high school talent show in 2006, they weren't much then but they are SO much more now.  The Fist are pumping out some wicked power/traditional metal with some thrashy leanings in the vein of Iced Earth and Judas Priest.  Like Judas Priest they opted to include some hard rock tracks which are always welcome.  My favorite track on the album is Symphony of a Burned out City which was originally recorded by one of their guitarist's side project, Son of Scarlet which is also worth checking out.  Remember, just because a band hasn't gone on a world tour or been featured in Guitar World Magazine doesn't mean they are unworthy of your playlist.


8.) Ripper - Experiment of Existence

     Ripper comes thrashing out of Chilli like a bat out of hell.  These dudes are the real deal.  If you dug Beneath the Remains you'll love this one.  That's not to say that this band is a Sepultura rip-off or anything, they actually bring a much more modern twist to an old sound and it's really cool.  The best thing about this release is the bass playing, it is top notch and out of this world. 






     7.) Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law

     If you're anything like me, when you think of blackened grind you imagine something like Blasphemy or Revenge but these guys are there own beast.  If you're reading this you probably know all about these guys, they are a pretty big name in extreme metal.  This is actually my first introduction to the band and now I am thirsty for more.  The drum machine adds a lot more than it takes away and these guys can unleash some pummelling music that will kick the shit out of you and leave you singing along, yeah, that's right, these songs are as catchy as they are destructive.  Sick album.


6.) Auroch - Mute Books

     In the year 2011 my mind was blown by Mitochondrion's second album, Parasisgnosis and I have been searching for another album that can achieve that same sort of esoteric and evil atmosphere ever since.  In my search I came across Auroch who actually share to members with Mitochondrion but they had a bit of a different style to them and I never really got into them.  In 2016 I figured I would give these dudes another chance and I am glad I did, this album is incredible, you've got to hear it to believe it, it may even surpass Parasignosis! 


 5.) Khemmis - Hunted

     Look at that album cover!  LOOK AT IT!  How cool is that?  Super cool!  Know what's even cooler?  The music that is attached to it.  These dudes put out their first album last year and have shown no signs of slowing down.  This album manages to be crushingly heavy and beautifully melodic.  Their singer has a great voice and delivers some amazing cleans and some devastating growls which are used sparingly.  The lead guitarist also does an excellent job with some Iron Maiden influenced melodies that add a delicious layer of icing to this doom metal cake. 



4.) Desaster - The Oath of an Iron Ritual

     It is sad to say that CD stores are slowly becoming a thing of the past and metal heads have to order things online if they want anything even slightly underground, which is why I was surprised to stumble across this album in HMV.  I had actually never heard of the band but the misspelled band name (yeah, I know it's the German spelling), pentagram infused logo and grim looking cover immediately got me excited.  The music was also really cool unlike most black/thrash bands these guys actually have black metal riffs and thrash metal riffs side by side on all of their tracks; while most bands will just throw some black metal aesthetic on a thrash tune and call 'er a day.  The vocals took me a couple of listens to get used to but they are actually really good, even if they don't sit well in the mix.


3.) Darkthrone - Arctic Thunder

     Darkthrone have released yet another album and this time things are different.  They are actually playing black metal again!  Don't expect to hear a rehash of A Blaze in the Northern Sky or anything.  This album has more in common with Ravishing Grimness and Hate Them than anything from the early nineties but it is still cool to hear more tunes in the style of their mid-era.  I should also note that although this is in the same style as their older albums, there are still new ideas to be found, there is a stronger prevalence of doom metal than the band has ever had before, even on Panzerfaust which is a really nice surprise.  I will admit that I am a bit disappointed they didn't continue in the traditional metal direction but this is still a really good album.


2.) Anthrax - For all Kings

     Anthrax have Joey back on vocals and have released their best album since State of Euphoria... nothing more for me to say.









 1.) Baby Metal - Whatever this album is called

     Well, folks.  This is as good as it gets.  They play METAL and they have CUTE GIRLS THAT DANCE.  How awesome is that?  The hired musician's that preformed on this release are quite talented as can be displayed in the Dragon Force influenced lead work but who cares?  There are plenty of talented guitarists in real bands so lets focus on what's important: CUTE GIRLS DANCING!  #bestbandever


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Top 10 Albums of 2015



Not sure why I even bother doing this but these are my favourite metal albums from 2015.

 

10.) Horrendous - Anareta

      Everyone loved Ecdysis except me.  I listened to it over and over hoping to see something about it that really excited me.  The songs weren't that bad but they felt unfocused, I wasn't sure what they were trying to do but I could respect their artistic effort, even if I didn't understand it.  Anareta is a different story, I really enjoy this release and I am impressed that they managed to release it so quickly after their last one.  This band is passionate about creating music and I can hear it in this release.  The vocals threw me off a bit at first but I eventually got used to them, if you're looking for OSDM with a progressive edge, this is it.

9.) Cradle of Filth - Hammer of the Witches

     Yeah, I know, everyone hates this band.  I haven't given a shit about this band since I was 15 (pretty much the age you would have to be to take this band seriously.)  The songs here are catchy, epic, melodic and thrashy.  If you have even a passing interest in this group, buy this album, you won't be disappointed.


 


8.) Skepticism - Ordeal

     Skepticism are a bunch of assholes, who do they think they are?  Releasing nothing for seven years and coming back with a live album?  Really?  Luckily enough these are all new songs and the live recording is very good.  Some fans have complained about the lack of low end on the recording but shit like that doesn't bother me.  The album is excellent.  Funeral doom requires a certain suspension of disbelief that is promptly shattered when a soul crushing funeral dirge ends with clapping and applause.  Still a cool release.  Make sure your version includes the DVD.
 
7.) Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death

     This album wasn't at all what I expected, I would imagine that many fans are disappointed but I haven't bothered reading any reviews.  Sentenced To Life was a wicked Death/Thrash release without any frills, nuance or excess (I mean that in the best way possible.)  This new release features mid paced songs, the average song length is double and they even included a seven minute instrumental. (Lolwut?)  You might think that this is a bit of a letdown and it would be if the songs sucked.  Fortunately the songs are great, buy this album.


6.) Drowning the Light - From the Abyss

     Normally I don't listen to these type of bands.  You know what I'm talking about.  One man black metal bands that release eleven albums in six years.  The dude behind DTL has been incredibly busy pumping out an impressive amount of releases, some of them might even be good!  The only reason that I even bothered listening to this album is the cover.  The songs are brilliant, I'm pleasantly reminded of bands like Vinterland, Bathory and early Immortal.  This is traditional epic black metal that sounds like it just came out of the early nineties.  There isn't anything particularly new or original on this release but there doesn't need to be.  This is what the metal world needs, bands that are self-aware of the music they want to play and good at playing it.  It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a new black metal release.  Well done!

5.) Revenge - Behold.Total.Rejection.

      Revenge have sold out; never listen to them again.



 

 



4.) Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror

     Blind Guardian's latest offering is very good and shows that BG are still a competent band and a long ways away from being washed up losers.  The songs are all excellent but I feel like they were trying too hard to make the most bombastic, epic, over-the-top, symphonic metal album.  While the songs are all good songs, I have always preferred the first five albums.  The first five albums are also attempts at playing the most epic, over-the-top, metal albums ever but they didn't have the resources to make something this grandiose. In my opinion they more than made up for it with more infectious choruses, stronger riffing and songs that I feel held together better.  Despite these criticisms I really love this album and will listen to it for years to come but when I get the urge to throw on a newer BG album I will almost always pick At the Edge of Time.

3.) Symphony X - Underworld

     Symphony X have outdone themselves.  This might be their best album since Twilight in Olympus.  I don't really have much to say about the release but I love it and think you should buy it.



 



2.) Crypt Sermon - Out of the Garden

     This is Crypt Sermon's first album and it is incredible.  The band plays traditional doom metal in the same vein as Candlemass, Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus.  Although they wear their influences on their sleeves they still manage to sound unique.  Each song on this release is well written, well produced and well performed.  My favourite tracks are Temple Doors and Master's Bouquet but every song is a good song on this album.

 

1.) Archgoat - Apocalyptic Triumphator

     This is my favourite album this year, I probably love it way more than I should but I can't help it; every riff they play is gold.  There is a real symmetry between Side A and Side B which really helps make the album feel complete.  My favourite songs is Grand Luciferian Theophany, the slow riffs on this song absolutely crush!  I love it.  The dynamic between the speedy tremolo riffs and groovy mid-paced sections is absolutely flawless.  The two intros that separate side A and B set the mood brilliantly and are just long enough that they don't overstay their welcome.  To describe the sound I would have to say Darkthrone meets Incantation, the very best of black and death metal fused into one.  This is how blackened death metal should sound. 



Look forward to next year.  Hopefully Hell release a new album... that'd be cool.

Friday, 2 January 2015

New years resolution (Part 1)

Remember last year when I apologized for not reviewing anything and said that I would waste more of my life blogging but didn't actually do anything aside from review three painfully obvious albums from 2014.  Well, I am back with more lies.  My intentions are good but I will probably only post a couple of times this year if I am totally honest. 

I will start by talking about the albums that were released in 2014 that I found noteworthy.  Some of these releases I haven't quite listened to enough to write proper reviews but I have listened to enough to talk about my first impressions.

Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden



In 2012 I was vaguely aware that the album, Sorrow and Extinction had been released but I never listened to it or really paid attention.  I am definitely going to listen to it now because I am thoroughly impressed by Foundations of Burden.  I was always into the band Warning but I had trouble listening to their full length do to the lack of truly crushing riffs but Pallbearer manages to take that same atmosphere and infuse some undeniable heaviness and variation, perfect for a doom metal project.  There are a lot of influences at play and Pallbearer have a truly unique sound but if I were to compare them I would say that they sound like a modern version of "Into the Depths of Sorrow" which is a pretty high complement.   This is an album worth anyone's purchase, sweet cover, cool lyrics and kickass music. 

Origin - Omnipresent

 I've never listened to Origin.  To be perfectly honest I have always viewed technical death metal as a stupid genre filled with talent but devoid of soul.  I appreciate skilled musicianship as much as the next guy but I've always felt that the majority of technical death metal bands spent too much time learning guitar techniques and not enough time actually writing good songs.  Origin seems like an exception to that rule; I was legitimately impressed by this album and it has a lot of really catchy moments and decidedly non technical riffs that serve the songs rather than the musician's egos.  There is also an unprecedented amount of variety, for example:  The song "Redistribution of Filth" sounds like it could have been lifted from one of Napalm Death's newer albums and the SOD cover as a bonus track is also really cool.  Even the sweep picking interludes are enjoyable to listen to.  I don't know why this album has received such lousy reviews because I really liked it.  Maybe it pails in comparison to their earlier releases?  I guess I will have to hit up my nearest CD store and find out for myself! 

Linkin Park - The Hunting Party


Okay, you probably weren't really expecting this one to be on here, fair enough.  Linkin Park were one of the bands that got me interested in heavier music.  When I was a kid and I heard Chester screaming, something within me resonated with the expression of anger within the music and there was no looking back for me.  In hindsight Linkin Park comes across as quite shallow compared to Burzum but I still receive nostalgic feeling whenever I listen to them that I've never been able to shake.  This new album is the first new release that I have listened to since Meteora and a lot has changed musically for the band.  Apparently a lot of these songs were composed in the studio rather than written before hand which may explain why many of the compositions deviate from your standard verse chorus formula that the band was so fond of  decade ago.  The vocals are as processed as usual but the guitars are surprisingly raw and aggressive, just give the song War a listen and you will see what I mean.  This albums sports some wicked cover art, a really unique and cool production job and some legitimately awesome riffs.  Don't write this band off as another manufactured plastic pop act, I really do believe that the band members are trying to create something artistically valid and relevant in everything they do.

Corpsessed - Abysmal Thresholds


Cool album art, crushing evil riffs, malevolent atmosphere, unholy vocals, wicked riffs and a suffocating atmosphere.  What more could you want?  I don't know maybe some originality?  I don't want to make it sound like I am running down this release or this band but I am a little bit disappointed by how generic it sounds.  I would be lying to you if I said this album wont get a lot of play from me in the years to come but probably not as much as if it had more of its own identity.  The band is talented at song writing and this album stands head and shoulders above the majority of Incantation worship out there but it still sounds too much like Incantation for me.  If your budget is limited and you need some evil ass death metal I would recommend the newest Incantation album but if you've already heard all ten million Incantation releases and still want more you should listen to this.  I am going to keep an eye on Corpsessed.  I am confident that they will develop their own identity over time; this is their first album after all and it is pretty awesome for what it is.  Solid album.

Incantation - Dirges of Elysium

Speaking of Incantation, some people forget that they are still a band that regularly releases consistent albums.  I haven't heard every Incantation album but it is a goal that I am striving towards.  They have approximately ten million albums that are probably all pretty consistent from the handful I have heard.  This album delivers as usual.  We are lucky enough to be treated to a 16 minute epic which is always a pleasant surprise (if it is good, which it is.)  The epic stays at a slow pace gradually building up toward a mid paced stomp, speeding up toward a climax and crashing back down into almost funeral doom territory, great song.  It's not easy to write long and interesteing death metal songs but Incantation are veterans that know what they are doing and haven't lost their touch.  Every song on this release is great but my favorite would have to be Carrion Prophecy, if that main riff doesn't get stuck in your head after first listen you probably have no business listening to death metal.  Great album from a great band.

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

Judas Priest (along with Blind Guiardian) have been my favorite band for many years, I own every album and listen to them frequently.  Judas Priest always seem to know how to write quality music while constantly reinventing their style weather they're playing almost progressive metal on Stained Class, speed metal on Painkiller or pop rock on Turbo they've always been able to deliver the goods (sorry.)  When I listen to this album I can't help but get the feeling that they were trying to please fans which I appreciate, (being a fan.)  The problem is that you can tell the band is finished, as much as I hate to admit it, it's probably a good thing that they are ending their discography on this album because it IS a good album.  The songs we are treated with sound almost like a compilation, like they were trying to represent an era within their discography with each song on this release.  Needless to say, they did an excellent job.  On the previous album I saw a band that despite being as old as the dinosaurs still wanted to release something original and unique.  Who writes a concept album about Nostradamus?  Seriously?  It seems like something a new band would do, clouded with youthful enthusiasm but instead it came from a veteran band with 40 years experience that was still excited about creating something different.  Unfortunately we don't hear that same enthusiasm on this release, which is to be expected.  I enjoy this album because it gets me excited about the band and makes me want to listen to their older material again and again.  This album is the perfect chapter to end the book of Priest and every Priest fan will find something to love here.

Mysticum - Planet Satan

Your ship has been away from earth for quite sometime, you've drifted through space for eighteen long years.  You awaken from stasis to realise that you are being drawn towards a planet's surface at an unholy speed.  Flames fly from the wings of your craft as you fall through the atmosphere, the metal within you ship is hot to the touch.  You pray to God to give you a soft landing but God can't hear you in this place; you're entering Satan's planet now, bitch.  As you look out the window you see Lucifer in sky with demons, you keep descending until you reach the planets surface and somehow survive annihilation. While rebuilding your space craft you witness all sorts of horrible, unspeakable events.  All around you is disgusting, evil and ugly yet there is some strange dissonant beauty that keeps you enthralled for the 47 minutes that you remain within the gravitational field of Satan's world.  As the final track Dissolve into Impiety fades into silence you can see the planet growing smaller in the distance as you are gratefully free, yet longing to return to Planet Satan.
 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Best of 2013 (part 3) - Caladan Brood - Echoes of Battle

     If you read my last review you might have noticed me name drop Caladan Brood and recommend this album to anyone who was bored of Summoning releasing the same album ad nauseam.  Personally speaking, I love Summoning and don`t want them to progress and Summoning never have to progress because there are so many other bands that have taken their sound and built on it, Caladan Brood is one of those bands.  I feel kind of bad for comparing Caladan Brood to Summoning because Caladan Brood are a brand new band that has only released one album while Summoning are veterans who have been in the genre since the early 90`s.  I suppose if you don`t want to get compared to Summoning, you should probably not sound like Summoning.

     So far I have mentioned Summoning in literally every sentence of this review, the influence is painfully obvious to anyone who would listen to Echoes of Battle but lets get one thing strait; Caladan Brood are not a rip off band.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, they are heavily influenced by Summoning but rather than copying another band`s sound they use it as a foundation to build there own, in much the same way Norwegian Black Metal bands built off of Bathory`s first few albums.  There are a few key differences between Caladan Brood`s approach to music as opposed to Summoning`s.  Caladan Brood has a much more rock based drum programming, which gives them a more typically ``metal`` sound.  The clean vocals are also different, they remind me a lot of the Canadian band; Woods of Ypres.  To be totally fair, the similarity could be a complete coincidence but that should give anyone a good idea of what they sound like.  The biggest difference between Summoning and Caladan Brood is the guitar solos.  Caladan Brood really know how to shred and it`s awesome!

    Oh!  I almost forgot, there are songs on this album!  They are really good, well composed although sometimes they can feel too long (not much of an issue.)  The lyrics are all about Steven Erikson`s Malazan series, which I am currently reading.  To be totally honest, the only reason I bothered listening to this band is the Malazan based lyrics.  It is undeniably cool to imagine the soldiers of the Malazan Empire marching across wastelands, fighting endless battles and dying for a cause that they don`t even understand while listening to the song: Book of the Fallen.  A Voice Born of Stone and Dust is another highlight, I cannot help but imagine undead warriors sworn to commit genocide for thousands of years.  This is a really cool album and you should probably listen to it.  The Summoning influence is pretty obvious but I personally believe that it will dwindle as the band progresses and finds there own sound.

Curt's review: 80%

Monday, 6 January 2014

Best of 2013 (part 2) Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn



     I don't know if you noticed, but metalheads are probably the most fickle people on the planet.  They claim to love metal, but hate how it's not 'oldskewl' anymore.  They love black metal, but only the early nineties stuff.  They are pissed off that their favorite 'oldskewl' band isn't releasing their best album over and over and when they do release the same album over and over the band gets criticized for not retaining their original sound, or worse yet, selling out!

     I also don't know if you've noticed or not but Summoning hasn't released a new album since Dol Guldur and I wouldn't want them to.  Yeah, there are a few aesthetic differences between albums, but the same repetition based songwriting remains consistent, with layers of counter melodic synth leads to keep it interesting.  It's basically a perfect formula; despite that every Summoning song is basically exactly the same there is still varying degrees of quality per track.  It seems like every summoning album has two or three brilliant, breath taking tracks (usually the first and the last) and the rest of the album seems like leftover variations of those two or three songs.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every album from start to finish, but sometimes I feel as if they are using filler to satisfy a previously decided album length.  This album breaks that mold, by only having consistent quality tracks that can all be differentiated on first listen.  I would honestly consider this to be the best Summoning album to date, probably because of the seven years they spent working on it.

    Summoning are also one of the few bands that have pioneered a sound that was totally unique from anything else in the metal world at the time.  Like every other pioneer they have a long list of copycat bands that have expanded Summoning's sound, leaving the band in a unique position where they don't have to evolve.  If you want to hear a new take on the Summoning formula, you should probably just listen to; Caladan Brood, Rivendell, Avathar, Nazg├╗l, or one of the other countless bands that have built on this style and stop whining about listening to the same album over and over.  

     I mentioned early that every each Summoning album has minor aesthetic differences.  On this album we see much shorter songs than on Oath Bound, which renders a very positive result.  None of the tracks on this album feel like they are drawn out or rushed.  The production is much better than anything to date, but that is to be expected as the production quality has been steadily increasing since their debut.  They still have songs that stand out more than the rest of the album; the title track, and Earthshine.  Earthshine has got some really cool vocals, almost like a raspy singing rather than totally screaming or trying to sound like a orc, pretty cool.  Neither of these songs are quite as magical as Land of the Dead, or Long Lost to Where no Pathway Goes but they are still excellent tracks and better than anything you can write.  (Yeah, I went there.)  The only real drawback to this album I can think of would be the guitar tone; it's barely audible and when it does come through it kinda just sounds like fuzz.  To be perfectly fair, I can't blame them too much on this one because it is hard to find a perfect guitar tone that meshes flawlessly with synthesizers while still sounding distinct and full.

     If you don't like Summoning, you won’t like this album.  If you liked their previous work you will also like this.  If you used to like their previous work but have gotten bored of it and want to hear something fresh, you won't find it here. This is a good album that doesn't strive to be anything other than what it is and I am happy Summoning stayed within the confines of what they are good at.  If you are still sad that this is just 'Dol Guldur Version 5.0' you should probably just get a copy of Echos of Battle and be done with it.

Curt's review: 90%

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