Tag Archives: death metal

Entombed A.D.-Back To The Front

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To paraphrase that creepy Selena Gomez fan, Entombed came along at a very important time in my life.

When they released their classic Wolverine Blues in 1993 the metal world was awash in Seattle grunge. Bands of the heavy ilk were few and far between. But along comes Entombed and their new take on Death Metal and I was hooked. Up until that time I was not that big of a fan of that genre as the vocals turned me off. However, with the way Entombed played it I was a believer. The music was so catchy, yet brutal, that I was able to digest the vocals easier. Nowadays I don’t know if one can appreciate how great that album and revolutionary the style was.
It’s been over 20 years since Wolverine Blues came out, man I feel old, and Entombed has just released their newest offering Back To The Front.
Sort of.
The band is now referring to themselves as Entombed A.D. after some very L.A Guns-ish band name rights dealings. This band is composed of longtime vocalist Lars-Göran Petrov, guitarist Nico Elgstrand, drummer Olle Dahlstedt both of whom have been in the band since 2006. They are rounded out by bassist Victor Brandt who’s been with them since 2010. So you can somewhat understand why the original members don’t want Lars running around in a band called Entombed like he was Tony Iommi in those dark days of Black Sabbath.
Legal mumbo jumbo aside, what does Back To The Front sound like? I was a but apprehensive since the key to Entombed’s “Death N Roll” sound was former member Nicke Andersson who hasn’t been in the band for 17 years. Now it doesn’t have the same swing as classic Entombed but it’s still pretty good. Songs “Bedlam Attack”, “Second To None”, and “The Underminer” have that super crunchy guitars that everyone will recognize and a certain catchiness that their cohorts don’t have. Most of the album has more of a traditional Death Metal sound. “Bait and Bleed” and “Waiting For Death” while both adequate could have come from almost anyone. It is possible that this split personality is due to Entombed A.D. being a band in transition. While they are obviously drawing from their past but since they have a rather new roster they are trying to figure out their own path.
(Insert Left Hand Path joke here)

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Iced Earth-Plagues of Babylon

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I have never been that big a fan of Iced Earth. Every time I heard them, I enjoyed it but it never really grabbed me. Their brand of traditional metal has always been well executed and main man/guitarist Jon Schaffer seems like a cool guy. I remember reading interviews over his frustrations of being a metal band with Korn and Limp Bizkit being called “metal”. He wasn’t bitter or angry just adamant about his love for metal. Plus he’s a history geek and as a history major myself, GO COOGS!, I have to appreciate that.

Regardless of my previous indifference, Iced Earth has returned with a new offering in Plagues of Babylon. It is chock full of what has brought them this far, good ole metal and some above average lyrics. The title track starts us off with galloping guitars and some tasty duel playing between Schaffer and lead guitarist Troy Seele. With a lyrical theme that continues from the “Something Wicked” album, it tales a lovely tale of the ruling class suppressing the masses by unleashing deadly viruses. Several of the songs convey a deep hatred for the way society has gone but is done in such an open ended way that it allows the listener to draw on their own feelings.

The conveyor of said lyrics is vocalist Stu Block . His voice is pretty nondescript and average. He has a touch of gruffness but it is almost always mid-tone. He doesn’t get really high and subsequently his sound gets swallowed up by the music. And it’s not a mixing problem as the album sounds terrific. To be fair, on “Cthulu” and “Spirit of the Times” he sounds awesome. Those two tracks do have a ballad feel, “Cthulu” end up pretty heavy though, and his softer delivery works perfectly. Hansi Kursch takes the mic on “Among The Living” but you can’t really tell. I didn’t know it till I read the notes. Most surprisingly, Jon Schaffer takes his turn on the just as surprising cover of “Highwayman”. Cool idea but to “metal” that song up comes across as silly.

Plagues of Babylon is not a bad album. Good writing, great playing, terrific production, passable singing, but it just seems eh. I know that Iced Earth is a popular band but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I want to like them but just don’t.

It’s like a George Costanza break-up, its not you it’s me.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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GWAR-Battle Maximus

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For a band like GWAR, releasing their new album Battle Maximus is an interesting quirk. They are well known as a visual live band, is new material truly necessary? If you saw them perform on AXS TV early this year, their over the top outrageous-ness is still evident. You also heard singer Oderus muttering gibberish instead of singing the actual lyrics but no one seemed to mind. The stage antics had already seeped over to the music side previously. GWAR had gone from being a metal band that played funny songs to a comedy band that played metal eventually becoming more of a punk act.

 

A couple years back they acknowledged the wrong path taken and went back to making some great sounding metal. Question is, does Battle Maximus continues that path or do they veer off track once more. There is some very heavy, catchy stuff here. “Triumph of The Pig Children” and “They Swallowed The Sun” are two nice heavy tracks that will get the heads bobbing. I think the highlight of the album is “ I, Bonesnapper” which features, not ironically, Bonesnapper on vocals. He has a much different style and sound than Oderus and it is pretty welcoming. Refreshingly, the title track is an unexpected and very well done instrumental. One of the more curious tracks is “Falling” which would be a hit on Octane from one of those Hot Topic metal bands.

 

On the whole Battle Maximus is kind of flat. Not coincidentally this is the first album since guitarist Cory Smoot aka Flattus Maximus passed away. Beside that, there is also a new Beefcake the Mighty aka the bassist. Besides the uninspiring music, the lyrics are not nearly as clever nor as funny as previous releases.

 

Battle Maximus is not an album one will play over and over again. It seems like it will be background noise while the band and its’ minions lambasts Kim Kardashian, decapitates the President, feeds audience members to the grinder.

 

In the end that’s why we all came in the first place.

 

 

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

 

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

 

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

 

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

 

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

 

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

 

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A look at Sirius/XM for the Metalheads

 

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Satellite radio has been around for awhile and I finally jumped on board a year ago. My job requires me to drive a lot so I am in my car a lot. I used Pandora and my iTunes a lot but there is just something about a radio station. I heard Sirius/XM when I was with an ex. Driving around in her car I got a good opportunity to hear what was offered. Sadly, that was the only positive experience I got from that horrible horrible woman. I loved how this product satisfied my musical tastes, all of them. However I just want to focus on the ones that service the heavier stuff. With the Clear Channel effect all over our terrestrial radio dial, satellite is something that metalheads should really look into. The channels I want to concentrate on are Channels 38 to 40, Ozzy’s Boneyard, Hair Nation, and Liquid Metal.

ozzyBoneyard, I refuse to use the Ozzy label because of the horrible woman that is Sharon Osbourne, is a really good classic hard rock/metal station. They do a real nice job of mixing stuff up so you are not hearing “Iron Man” every 30 minutes. Band selection is nice, besides the obvious, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, you get Tank, and Diamond Head and a plethora of others. You will find yourself saying “I haven’t heard that in a while” a lot. No shows except for an hour hosted by Jim Norton and Ultimate Sinner where a listener gets to pick 5 songs. A nice little feature. They occasionally play some new music from veteran bands already on the play list. Music wise, it is a great listen that you will have no problem leaving on for hours straight.

The big drawback to me is the Ozzy affiliation. Granted I probably hate Sharon way more than anyone else. And that hatred has tarnished Ozzy’s music to me. I cannot even listen to his era of Black Sabbath anymore because of her but I can overlook that most of the time. What bugs me is that every promo for the station is Ozzy related. From him mumbling about some story from 1984 or hearing Sharon or one of their idiotic kids tell a story about him, it’s stomach churning. The ball washing gets worse when they have famous metal musicians talk about how great Ozzy is. It is really sickening and it is the main reason I change the channel.

hairNext on the dial, is Channel 39 Hair Nation. As the name suggests it has all the bands from 80’s and 90’s with big hair that were the lifeblood of Headbangers Ball. This was the station that really hooked me one getting Sirius/XM. I remember driving with the awful ex and on came Sleez Beez. C’mon where else are you going to hear Sleez Beez? When I first got the radio I remember hearing a D:A:D song and thinking this was the greatest purchase that I ever made. What I didn’t realize is that they would play that same song over and over again. I know I am in my car a lot but it is like bad FM radio overkill. Then I noticed that they did this a lot. Heard “Gimme Your Love” from McAuley Schenker Group and got that D:A:D happy feeling. Then I heard it again and again. The station has a pattern of pulling out a band and playing their hit. Then they play that song over and over and then put that band back on the shelf. Why they won’t play another song I have no idea. They will however play the fuck out of Bon Jovi. Someone there loves them some Bon Jovi because you will l hear a BJ song every 30 minutes and that is not a good thing. I seriously think that Bon Jovi has a deal with this channel similar to what Ozzy has with Boneyard. This station never plays new music even though many of the bands the play have released new material. They did however play the new Richie Sambora single, furthering my Bon Jovi conspiracy theory. Plus they do not have a listener show like the other two stations do. This went from being one of my favorites to being one that I hit and run on. Hair Nation is also the home to Eddie Trunk who has a show on Monday night. However he plays more stuff you hear on Boneyard but that vile cunt Sharon had him kicked off that channel because he dared to criticize Ozzy.

sirius_xm_liquid_metalLast but not least is Channel 40, Liquid Metal. They play all of the new metal bands plus lots of the originators. When I say Metal I mean METAL. Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, High On Fire, real heavy stuff. They do a nice job of crossing the many genres of Metal. Thrash, death, stoner, black you name it. Liquid Metal also does a great job on featuring new bands and letting listeners know when an important album is coming out. Occasionally they play some bands that are better off on Octane, a channel for new Hard Rock, but that is being picky. They also have Listener Domination, their show lets a listener a chance to pick three songs and say why. One of my favorite things about the station is Bloody Roots a show hosted by renowned Metal author Ian Christie. He will have a different theme for each show and does a fantastic job of giving tidbits and back story plus lots of the stuff he plays you will not hear any other time.

I think the reason that Boneyard and Liquid Metal are run so well is that Jose Mangin seemingly is in charge of both. His voice is on promos for both channels and they both have a listener show. He is the afternoon host and some may remember him when MTV did a Headbangers Ball special. He is a nice enough guy that obviously loves Metal. However he kind of bugs me. Maybe because he is always UP or maybe it is that he still has a faux hawk and still wears Affliction shirts. Logic would dictate that he would be in charge of Hair Nation as well and if so he is doing a shitty job.

Earlier I mentioned Octane on Channel 37. They play modern hard rock a long the lines of In This Moment, Chevelle, and Sevendust. It’s not a bad station I listen occasionally but a lot of what they play I don’t care for.

Yes I do realize there is a huge “Kids these days” factor present.

While I have become disappointed in Hair Nation and the Ozzy ass kissing makes me want to puke on my passenger seat, but I cannot recommend getting Sirius/XM enough. It really satisfies my musical desires plus there is a bunch of other great stuff available. I love being able to go from Mastodon to Glen Miller to listening to an Astros game. I got the Onyx model and I am able to take that from my car to another car or inside. Terrific if you drive more than one vehicle plus you can listen to it on your smartphone or online from your computer.

Seriously go get it.

Now.

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The Project Hate MCMXCIX-The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda

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I don’t think people remember how barren the metal landscape was in the mid 90s’s. Not only did grunge kill all the cockrock bands but traditional metal music was swept away as well. However, like two life rafts off the edge of the Titanic, along came Carcass and Entombed. Because of that I have always been loyal fans of both. Carcass broke up but Entombed kept releasing stuff and I bought it and all the off shoots too. One of those many side projects was The Project Hate MCMXCIX, aka Project Hate. They featured symphonic metal with the contrasting male /female vocals. While many bands were doing that at that time, what set Project Hate apart was their incredibly anti-Christian lyrics. Let’s just say that with a song entitled “I Smell Like Jesus…Dead” there was little room for doubt.

So here we are over a decade later and Project Hate are still releasing there sweeping and lush odes to hating Jesus on The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda.

Awesome name.

So Cadaverous is 13 tracks of the same but with a couple noticeable changes. Ruby Roque is the new female vocalist and while she is good she does not seem to have the same power as original singer Mia Stahl. Mia also had this ability to add a smirk to her singing that added a special dimension when combined with the lyrics. The other addition is there seems to be a more electronic sound at times. Because of the sparse use it is very off putting. It really takes away from the heaviness and brutality of this band.

Unrelenting too.

There are officially 13 tracks but really it’s 6 songs. There are 7 one-minute lead-ins. However there average length of each song is 12 minutes so you are no one is getting cheated. The length of each song should not worry anyone. There is no dragging things out to look impressive, a la Dream Theater. With a track going on for 15 minutes you would think that you would check the timer to see how much longer. No, you sit back and bask in the wave of nihilistic notes washing over you. I think it is a shame that that the “gimmick”of the band takes away from how good the playing is. Lord K Philipson is a monster guitar player that comes up with brootal riffs accompanied by his equally engaging solos. New drummer Tobben Gustafsson is just as impressive with fills and a rhythms that never get boring.

So many may not like Project Hate for the dueling vocal style or maybe the length of songs or genre mashing. But I guarantee that if you give it a chance you will like this album a whole Hell of a lot. From the excellent playing to the even better songs. Especially if you just listen to the even numbered tracks.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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General Surgery-Live An Ever Flying Limb

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There is an old saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true then General Surgery are flattering the pants off of Carcass. It is the grindcore equivalent of what early Krokus or Dirty Looks did to AC/DC. And like those two, who cares because it is awesome. The reason why General Surgery should get praise instead of scorn, is that Like An Ever Flying Limb comes from a place of reverence and worship. Not born out of laziness or a desire to succeed off of someone else.
Like most of there releases Like An Ever Flying Limb is an EP, in fact the running time for the 5-song platter is shorter than a quarter of NFL gametime. Even less is you took out the spoken medical intro dialogue. But again, you don’t care. You’re just happy to get your Caracss fix. Just the opening notes of the album opener/title track will have you moshing in place. That feeling is retained all throughout.
The unsung beauty of this album is it showcases how truly awesome EP’s are. Music wise they get in and get out and every one wins. If they’re good, they leave the listener wanting more. If they’re bad, it was so short it’s not that noticeable. Plus it allows bands that may only have a handful of songs to get them out and not wait around til they have a full LP worth. Or God forbid they do the lazy thing and add on re-recorded versions, live songs, or covers.
Otherwise known as pulling a Scorpions.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

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Gojira-L’Enfant Sauvage

Who would have thought? Seriously. Who would have thought that Gojira a band of environmentalist Frenchmen would be one of the best metal bands out today.

In reviews, people like to use devastation and apocalyptic images to describe the songs. On their recently released, L’Enfant Sauvage those metaphors fit perfectly.

Every song plays like soundtrack as the Earth is crumbling. The reason it fits so perfectly is not because it is loud and bombastic. It’s because it is filled with pain and despair and evokes emotions of uncertainty and panic. With lots of Metal music, no matter how good it may be, you have an idea of where it is going and the corresponding reaction. With Gojira all bets are off.

It may have to do with their unusual guitar styling. The typical power chords are eschewed for single bursts followed by speedy riffs on the higher strings. Giving songs less of a bottom end but just as heavy, if not more. Add in lots of starts and stops mixed in with string slides and the musical concoction is one of the most beautiful things your ears can process.

To show you how brilliant Gojira are, on the track “Explosia” they use surf guitar turns a typical breakdown of a heavy riff and gives it that much more of an impact.

Praise has been, will be, and should be lavished upon this album. L’Enfant Sauvage is a great example of a band doing something new in a genre and helping to redefine it.

Plus, it’s heavy as fuck.

Final Verdict: You would be happy paying ….

$14.99-a regularly priced CD

However as of this review being published, Amazon has it for only $5 as a download.

What a deal.

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Cannibal Corpse-Torture

It’s weird the way you can become a fan of a band. From a friend recommending them to seeing them open for another band. While I had heard and seen Cannibal Corpse before, the thing that really made me a fan was seeing their DVD Centuries of Torment. The documentary gave you a real insight on the band from its’ earliest days until a couple years ago. After seeing that I became a huge fan and like others was anxiously awaiting the release of Torture.

It was well worth the wait as Torture has to be one of their best albums. From beginning to end it is a Death Metal assault on one’s ears. It showcases the band in perfect sync with one another. From the rhythm section of Alex Wesbster and Paul Mazurkiewicz. To the dueling guitars of Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett. They create a slab of riff heavy goodness that is both musically assaulting yet headbangingly catchy.

One of the great things about Cannibal Corpse is singer, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. He has unique ability to belt out the trademark guttural vocal lines while making every word very understandable. It serves as a perfect compliment to Cannibal Corpse’s trademark lyrical content of gore, murder, and other nightmarish stuff. Just listen to “Scourge Of Iron” or “As Deep As The Knife Will Go” and hear how all they all combine.

Torture is the probably the best metal album of the year. A collection of some of the best Death Metal you will ever hear. It is the perfect representation of the genre and sets the bar high for all others Metal bands.

Buy it.

Buy it now.

No, seriously, go out and buy it right now.

 

Final Rating:

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

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Arch Enemy-Khaos Legions

 

Arch Enemy has had an interesting career. The death metal band was formed out of the ashes of the legendary Carcass. Arch Enemy quickly found success. Then after 3 well received albums they changed singers. Not only did they switch singers, they hired an unknown female singer to do the unthinkable. Angela Gassow was to sing in the guttural style that had not been done by a woman. She did and the band achieved a new level of success. However, many original fans thought the band sold out original singer Johan Liva and that Gassow was nothing more than a gimmick to appeal to the, then burgeoning, Hot Topic crowd. Arch Enemy did not help themselves any when the next couple of albums were very blah. They lost the aggression and power that were their hallmarks and replaced them with songs that seem more focused on “anthems”. Songs became streamlined and lost their appeal once the were heard the first time.

Khaos Legions is a good step towards reclaiming the laurels of the past. Legions is much more aggressive than more recent releases. It is helped by the improvement of Angela’s vocals. While she did have a nice growl on previous albums, on Legions she has a lot more power and a sinister vibe to them. There is more of a “shredded throat” sound. They should help shed some of the “sellout” feelings that many of her detractors may have had.

The first single from the album “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” serves as the perfect entree on Khaos Legions. While not that original it is very inviting and seeps into the listener and allows the rest of the album to follow. Plus its features one of the crazier guitar sounds out there. Michael Amott gets his guitar to sound like a computerized baby bird gargling. Arch Enemy has one of the better guitar duos in metal. The Amott brothers do not disappoint this time out. Lots of nice riffs and some real tasty dual harmonies especially on “Vengeance Is Mine”. The band also has 4 instrumentals on here. While they may be short they do give a different feel to the album. The last one “Snow Bound” is an acoustic track that closes Khaos Legions out. However one of the albums highlights comes right before it. Arch Enemy is not afraid to do a cover, and this time they chose a doozy, the classic Scorpions song “The Zoo”. This legendary song is given an animalistic treatment and is faster, rawer, and more brutal than the original but still retaining the identity of the original track.

The whipping boy of any good metal album has always been religion and Khaos Legions is no exception. There seems to be more of a concertinaed effort with 5 songs having that theme. While some might think it is pandering it seems to fit with Angela’s new style.

You have to give Arch Enemy some credit. It must be tough for a band to change that far in the game. While this is not along the levels of what Celtic Frost did, Arch Enemy seems to have tweaked their sound and released in Khaos Legions an album that puts them back on the map.

 

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