Reviews, interviews, articles, and other blather about music from the mind of Yugoboy

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Deathrite - Revelation of Chaos

Revelation of Chaos

    German death metal band Death Rite brings a doom-influence to their grind and dirge that makes the guitar and bass work very enjoyable.  The vocals are delivered in the typical death metal incoherent growl, although occasionally vocalist Tony screws up and a phrase or two is delivered intelligibly (this is the second band I've reviewed today that insists on only using first names).
    The guitarist Andy and bassist Martin have their work cut out for themselves keeping up with the tempo changes delivered by drummer Beff.  Beff switches from funereal dirge to rabbit-heartbeat in a flash.  The faster passages accompany the vocals, while the slower ones allow the musicians to strut their considerable talents.  Deathrite seems to be one of the few death metal bands that don't hide underdeveloped skills or a lack of talent behind growls, distortion and speed.  These guys have talent and just happen to also play a pretty decent brand of death metal.  All the songs come across differently, while maintaining an undeniable doom and death sound.
    Far from breaking the mold, however, Deathrite keeps up the death metal elements throughout the entire album experience, from the black and white cover with the dripping, almost fuzzy logo to the thoroughly cheerful song titles like "Determinate to Rot," "Salute to Death," "Mayhem Remains," and the optimistic and sunshiny "Infernal Domination."  Seriously, one of these days, I'd like a death metal album to be just as loud and obnoxious, but be all kittens and bunnies and sunshine and rainbows.  Minds would be blown everywhere.
    Anyway, Revelation of Chaos is one of the better death metal albums I've heard in a while.  It still hasn't made me a superfan of the genre, but this album at least shows off talent, an ability to really write good music and a willingness to let the listeners enjoy the guys and their skills.  It's not a full-on assault pummeling us about the ears, it's good music for death metal fans.

Gardens - Death in the Family

Death in the Family

    Gardens' commitment to music excellence reveals itself early with the Death in the Family's first track, almost a minute and a half of the kind of classical guitar work that Metallica uses to open the song "One" with.  Fortunately, the "Inside a Bad Dream," the second track, and first with vocals does not disappoint the expectation built up by intro, pounding out a loud bit of alternative/power punk that matches the intensity of the song I expected after that intro.
    Gardens can't commit to a particular sound, which is nice.  The third track, "Keeping My Distance" slows the tempo down more than a little bit, and delivers a heartfelt four minutes about something I couldn't tell because the vocals are so mixed into the sound and drowned out a bit by the stereotypical distortion applies to every string played in this track.
    Of the remaining nine songs on Death in the Family, the majority are significantly slow and ethereal as to be almost beautiful.  They're fine songs and do the job of seeming to be deep and important and having something to say.  The few more up-tempo tracks, such as "I'm Not Here" are much more listenable, and come closer to fulfilling the expectations set by the first two tunes.  The album ends with "Architect," a song that starts slow and mellow like the majority of the album before hitting the gas about half-way through and becoming much more engaging and power-punk song, closing out twelve tracks of fine musicianship.
    Gardens Death in the Family has at least one song everyone in the family who isn't a hip-hop/top-40 fan will enjoy.  The album does trend closer to the slower, more measured and quiet style than the few power-punk tunes, but those few liven up the album and proved to be much more enjoyable to me.

Grieved - Samaritans


    Sweden-based heavy metal quartet Grieved's new album Samaritans opens with a nicely classic doom metal instrumental before becoming a black-doom metal album of some skill and lots of screaming vocals.  Various descriptions have them as a hardcore punk band and a dark metal outfit.  Their guitar skills and the interludes come across too well-performed and produced to really keep them in the punk genre.  I love punk, but this ain't it.  It's metal, straight up.  The one place where the band keeps a fairly punk mindset is in the credits.  On-line I had a beast of a time finding out who did what in the band, as all I can find is a list of four first names, who I'm assuming at the quartet in question: Tobias, Marcus, Felix and William.  Most metal bands don't keep this level of democratic moderation beyond the demo-tape stage.
    When the screaming stops and the band isn't hitting turbo to keep up with that intensity, the band fairly mellows into full-on dirge doom sounds.  During the portions of the tunes where singing is taking place, the band turns the speed up, not to speed metal tempo, but certainly into death metal territory.
    Their style allows each track to stand on its own and have a distinct sound.  This places them above a number of more traditional death metal acts whose every song sounds similar, however, the incoherence of the vocals keeps Samaritans from really elevating into that second tier of real excellence, where Exodus, Tempest and other loud acts live, with lyrics that can be sung along to.  This is straight-up head-banging mosh fuel, and does a good job of that.
    Despite a track list eight songs long, Samaritans probably gets categorized as an EP, if only because the total run time is closer to fifteen minutes than an hour.  It's understandable, given the intensity of the music and the toll the effort must take on the body.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Stolas - Allomaternal


The word "progressive" gets thrown around a lot to describe musicians who focus more on skill and talent over speed, volume or stagecraft.  When both Queensryche and Periphery are progressive then the label, as descriptor of sound and style, doesn't help much.  Las Vegas-based Stolas creates progressive metal more in the Periphery vein than in the Queensryche oeuvre.  The opening minute of the album's first (and title) track strongly suggest the listener is in for an airy new age ambiance experience, floating on classical guitar and a soprano's vocals.
. . . and then they lay the hammer down, switching gears faster than a middle-school girl changes moods, pounding out the heaviest of modern metal, shrieking vocals - courtesy of vocalist s Jason Weiche and Carlos Marquez - and all.  Then, about two thirds of the way through  the song, they switch up to a Faith No More funk metal interlude.
For the remainder of Allomaternal Stolas leaves no doubt that they crank out metal, metal and more metal.  What is in doubt is what kind of metal is coming at you next.  The second song, "Proving Grounds," backs off the balls to the wall metal to provide a more melodic song with some genuinely slow passages.  Jason Weiche and Sergio Medina's guitar work on this album is off the chain crazy good, and super creative.  There's never a dull moment, because predicting the next thing you're going to hear is nearly impossible.
For example, "Claw Point" starts with the extreme modern metal Stolas already demonstrated on "Allomaternal" before reverting to a dual classical guitar and lofty vocals bridge to the next passage.  Over three minutes into the song, even bassist RJ Reynolds gets to get into the act with a terrific little solo, a treat he offered again with a drum and bass duet shortly after the four minute mark.
"Solunar," the fourth song, starts out Numetal before going all the way classical/ethereal and then coming back to the progressive loud standard that, by this point in the album has become the normal resting point for Stolas' style.  From this very metal midpoint, they burst into almost death metal frenzy or classical/new age quiet, and sometimes both, before returning to the progressive metal middle again.
When I say the rest of the album progresses in this manner, this in no way indicates some sort of repetitiveness.  Stolas maintains an ADHD level of non-commitment to a style throughout Allomaternal, never allowing the listener a dull moment.
Allomaternal is a spectacular album, and certainly something any genuine fan of heavy metal should be buying, downloading and adding to their regular rotation.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ramming Speed - No Epitaphs

Ramming Speed
No Epitaphs

Ramming Speed, an appropriate appellation for this outfit, cranks out some truly tasty thrash tracks instrumentally reminiscent of the best of the late 80s and early 90s.  The guitars crunch and munch their way through the eleven tracks of No Epitaphs sounding for all the world like the love children of Slayer, Metallica, Annihilator and Laaz Rockit.  Only when the singer contributes his incoherency does the album break down.
Seriously, the instrumental riffage of the guitars, bass and double-bass attack drums feels as fresh and awesome as the first time I cracked the plastic wrap of M.O.D. or Anthrax.  These guys can easily stand on their own in any battle of the bands with any of the major or minor metal outfits.  The guitars get solos to go along with their rhythm, and anyone who's read my reviews knows that's a big ol's plus in my world.  The drumming is fast and furious without being a straight-up meth trip; the tempo and variety show Jonah Livingston's talent as much as his ability to keep time with a hummingbird.  Ben Powell's bass keeps up and doesn't interfere; it contributes without distraction, but the contribution is as important as anything else anyone else in the group does.  Just because Kallen Bliss and Snake Chuffskin (that has got to be a stage name) shine brilliantly out front as guitarists, and Livingston kills it on drums, doesn't mean that Powell could be easily replaced.  This is a tightly-wrapped whole that needs his excellence.
The vocals seem to fit the music, but the incoherency of the singing detracts from the awesomeness of the rest of the album.  I can't get past it, unfortunately.  Exodus, Megadeth, Metal Church and the other founding gods of thrash didn't just shove metal beyond the doom of the 70s and the glam of the 80s.  They all had something to say and made sure you could hear it.  The back of the throat scratchy caterwauling of Peter Gallagher contributes very little to the record except to keep it from being an instrumentally virtuoso performance.  I can see my self listening to this record a few more times, but it won't ever enter my regular rotation because of this, and it's a damn shame, because this record - aside from the vocals - is among the best of the year.  I cannot say enough good stuff about the musical side of this band and album, because this is a superior collection.
That said, I gotta say, my best friend in high school will love this record.  He early on embraced vocalists like this, and the subsequent black metal movement that followed.  He, and those of you like him, will be all over this album and will be telling me how full of crap I am.  You'll all be wrong, but you'll still love this disc.

Every Hour Kills - EHK EP

Every Hour Kills EP

                Nu Metal never sounded better than this.  Existing somewhere near the intersection of Linkin Park, Godsmack, Puddle of Mudd and Disturbed, Every Hour Kills manages a sound at once moshable and beautiful.  All the guitars, percussion and bass a fierce metal-heat could beg for coexists quite awesomely next to some really effective electronic/digital elements on this five-song eponymously titled EP.
                During the opening strains of "Chosen," a synthesizer rains a few bars down as effectively as anything Styx ever put out.  The song changes texture at a few seconds in as the crunchy guitars announce that no, this isn't going to be anything like Styx; it’s gonna be way louder.  The tempo picks up tremendously and all doubt as to the nature of Every Hour Kills flies out the window, and the metal cred is established.
                "Deliver Us," the second track recalls Godsmack and Disturbed pretty effectively without losing the sense of identity a good touring band needs to break through.  "SaviourS" and "Almost Human," the EP's third and fifth songs reflect this sound and feel pretty well - high-quality digital-infused metal that doesn't fall prey to the excesses of death metal vocals.
                The fourth track, "One Reason" fits very nicely among the other tunes, but does feel a bit different; slightly slower and more reflective, but not ballad-slow.  It's a nice change of pace without being a change in quality or sound.

                If you enjoy or enjoyed Godsmack, Hybrid/Meteora-era Linkin Park, Puddle of Mudd or Disturbed, Every Hour Kills will meet every demand and make you very happy.  This is a really good EP, don't miss it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Myrkur - M


The opening strains of MYRKUR's latest M, feature some awesomely beautiful and soaring vocals.  When the band swings into gear, the power metal riffs just feel "right" alongside the haunting soprano.  This full-length album grows from the unique creative vision of Amalie Braun, the only credited member of Myrkur.  Amalie decided to use those two really spectacular and beautiful elements and toss in some black metal tracks and vocals here and there.  I avoided using the term "junking it all up" because I'm sure the Braun and their fans don't see it that way, but to my ears, that's what those vocals do.  M is about 85% awesome and 15% black/speed metal getting in the way of perfection.
Braun sings in Danish or some other Nordic/Scandanavian language, so singing along is generally an exercise in following the syllables, but as a "soundtrack to your life" ambiance album, this is pretty good.  You get the calm piano & soprano, you get the interstitial metal riffs and you occasionally get the ear-bleeding black metal waking you right up if the pretty parts put you to sleep.
My favorite parts of this collection are when the power metal and the soprano singer(s) combine as on "Dybt i Skoven" (see what I mean about the language?)  The lead and rhythm guitars work really well with bass and percussion and the singer to make some really nice melodic metal.
This album feels almost like Braun cannot decide on what kind of music to create, so she just decided to do them all at one point or another, either as songs or song portions.  She's skilled, but I'm not sure what the whole point of this record is aside from some sort of Viking musical experiment.  Give it an on-line listen before buying, because I really don't know who is going to like it, but people will definitely love it.  If you love metal, you might be one of them.