Sunday, January 29, 2012

Inside Out - No Spiritual Surrender

Unless you're really into Hardcore, you might not know that Zach de la Rocha used to sing for one of the best and most important "Youth Crew" bands out of California.  What also might surprise you is that Seminal band only released one amazing EP before disbanding a year later.  So far ahead of their time, this EP (with some cleaner production) could be considered Modern Hardcore even by today's standards.  The breakdowns, the pinch-harmic leads are all very Metallic, but the lyrics and vocals are pure Hardcore Punk; harkening back to the early 80's golden age.  This effort combines the two genres in the best possible way; the musicianship and bottom-heaviness of Metal with the energy and honesty of Hardcore.   I've always liked Zach's harsh screams, and here, he's even better than he would become with 'Rage.  I can't believe  I haven't posted about this earlier.   This record is sort of the Hardcore equivalent of Antichrist or Privilege of Evil; an almost untouchable scene classic.  It's that good

like a sturgeon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Natrium - Elegy for the Flesh

This is probably the "slammiest" album I'll ever post here.  Actually, it's really more in-line with Suffocation-worship Brutal Death.  Which is good, because actual Slam Death sucks.  To me Slam is just a novelty, basically, the lowest-brow Death Metal there is.  And probably owes much of it's popularity to Metalinquisition.  People don't listen to Slam because it's good, they listen to it because it follows a particular formula.  There are exceptions like Wormed, that are actually trying to push boundaries.  But pretty much any Slam band can be considered the Waka Flocka Flame of Death Metal; cheap and stupid, delivering on  a very "guilty-pleasure" level.  

Anyway, back to this record...  Natrium (which sounds a lot like a granola bar) is part of the recent explosion of Italic Tech Death these past few years.  What probably sets them apart is that they don't sound all that modern.  Not that they sound old-school at all, but there's a surprising lack of gravity-blasts and annoying cricket-vocals here.  There are slow, chugging parts ("slamz"), but they're actually rather tasteful, not incessant.  This is actually just good Brutal Death Metal... Something I'm always up for.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Angel Dust - Into the Dark Past

Just by looking at this cover you'd probably think this is 3rd-rate Christian Metal, and you'd be wrong.  This happens to be one of those really obscure Thrash records that collectors shell out 300 bucks for.  Is it worth that much?  No.  It is damn good though.  Stylistically, Angel Dust were kind of "behind the times"; still carrying much NWOBHM influence with them on the release of this album.  In 1988, that just wasn't cutting-edge enough.  Metalheads were too infatuated with the evolving Death Metal sound that was raising so many figurative bars and literal eyebrows.  Few were interested in a band that sounded as much like Exciter as they did Slayer.  Today, people drool over "dated" relics of the 80's, so much so that Ed Repka probably gets commisioned more now than he did then.  But this  post isn't about shitty art, it's about an exhumed Thrash gem that I think you'll like.  


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nekromantheon - Rise, Vulcan Spectre

There's tons of new Black/Thrash bands around thesed days, but this is the first one to ever strike my fancy.  That's probably because Nekromantheon actually make good music instead of relying on their huge number of bullet-belts and goat heads to get attention.  They play ripping thrash in the early Sodom/Destruction/Bathory tradition, maybe some early Sepultura can be found in there as well.  The vocals are a particular standout; they have a huge, throaty sound with just the right amount of delay for a perfect cavernous effect.  The guitar playing comes in a close second.  It's expectedly fierce with tons of single-string riffing and hammer-ons reminding me so much of Destruction's Proto-Black peak.  The guitar is a little low in the mix and there's some cymbal harshness, but the overall production is still very listenable.  When it comes to Black Metal or Black/Thrash, atmosphere somewhat trumps clarity, so it's not such a big deal.   Anyway, I see good things in this band's future.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Horrendous - The Chills

Boom, just two weeks in and we already have what will probably be the best Death Metal release of the year.  This one is from the mass grave of Dark Descent Records, who are largely responsible for the "New Wave of Old School Death Metal" that seems to be sweeping the globe.  The roots of Horrendous is pretty much split between the California and Swedo/Finnish sound of the early 90's.  In other words, like a mix between Autopsy and Dismember (what's better than that?).  This is truly the essence of Death Metal.  You won't find any Thrash "gang vocals" or Black Metal costume parties here; just no-bullshit brutality.  Like being clobbered to death by the last clan of neanderthals.  But don't be fooled by it's beastly nature, this band can play too.  All instruments are ultra-tight and have a great feel; there's even some tricky time signatures for good measure.  Did I mention the amazing production?  Deep, clear, warm and yet still "biting".  It's hard to believe it wasn't recorded at Sunlight.  To all other Death Metal bands: your move...


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Anomalous - Ohmnivalent

Ok, lets get back into the Death Metal swing of things.  Anomalous are part of the recent wave of "California Progressive Space Death" along with Arkaik, Element, and Fallujah.  Although trendy, I do generally enjoy this style, and Anomalous do it very well.  Completely engorged with riffs and beats, they know just when to inject a small section of groove or melody for you to grab onto.  Of course, 10 seconds later your brain will be shredded once again by another hailstorm of notes.  There's also a variety of speeds represented here, so you don't have to worry about an outright blast-a-thon ala Braindrill.  What you might not expect is a strong Meshuggah influence in riffing and obvious use of 8-string guitars.  I actually think their riffs are a little more interesting than Meshuggahs, and well beyond these teenage "Djent" bands.  There maybe a million bands doing this sort of thing right now, but how many of them are good?  This one is.

worst album cover of 2011?  probably...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Imperium - Too Short a Season

I don't think I've come across a band that fits so well into the Prog Metal mold (and all it's implied cliches) than Imperium.  Once you get past the "pitchy" vocals, nonsensical lyrics and geek-tastic cover art you'll find plenty of satisfyingy potent music.  For me, it's always the instrumental section that makes anything "Prog" worth while, and Imperium definitely deliver.  This album contains some of the best rhythms and rapid-fire picking I've heard in ages.  The guitars have an amazingly clear, yet meaty tone.  The overall production is masterful, considering how little-known this band is.  They've achieved the ideal balance of tone and clarity, with only slight cymbal harshness to complain about.  Sure, some parts are a bit "overblown", but that comes with the territory.  If you've even read this far, I'm sure you're more than accustomed to bombast.  If you're into this sort of thing, you know what to do.  And thanks to "Anonymous" for recommending this!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jerry's Kids - Is This My World?

To me, what really makes a great Hardcore record isn't the riffs, or the attitude, or the lyrics... It's when all aspects come together to make a seamless and memorable experience.  When dealing with such simple music, I can't really just point out one or two particular reasons why I like an album.  It always ends up being because everything just "clicks" and all elements compliment each other.  "Is This My World" is a good example of this phenomenon.  Is it techincal?  Of course not.  Is it melodic?  Nope.  Did it break new ground?  Not really.  What makes this album great is every note flowing perfectly to create an engaging and memorable listen.  This is a golden nugget from the golden age.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Invocator - Excursion Demise

So much thrashing, I feel like a caught swordfish.  But this one isn't quite as high-brow as the last few.  It's more of a compromise between my recent trend and this blog's Death Metal "normalcy".  Invocator are another one of those old bands that've found new life thanks to blogs and youtube.  This album was likely overshadowed by the bigger, more seminal releases of '91, but thanks to the internet, you can now rediscover what you had never heard of in the first place!  Jokes aside, these Danes can really play.  While not quite "Prog" yet at this stage,  their synchronicity and songwriting are still suffocatingly tight. True, it sounds like what you would expect a '91 Death/Thrash record to sound like, but is by no means bad or boring.  You're still gonna get riff after palm-muted riff, bipolar tempos, and that "extensive vamping" that we all love.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Toxik - Think This

I guess it's pretty obvious that I've been on a Progressive Thrash kick lately.  It's really luck that I stubled upon this band on youtube, because I never would have given them a shot based on the super-dated and frumpy artwork (I mean, just look at that third-world mullet!).  It would have been my loss as this album is a pristine technical thrashing.  Expect nimble riffs, time changes, vocal melodies, and dynamics galore.  You'll also find the typical socio-political lyrics that were so favorited by Thrash bands of the day.  These up-state boys follow tried-and-true template pretty well, but I do wish the vocals were more gritty and dynamic, instead of the over-the-top Power Metal style.  Some more bottom-heavy "chugging" guitars would be nice too.  When all is said and done, either you love Tech Metal, or you don't.  Luckily, for me, anything technical is like hipster-kryptonite, so shred away!

sorry, Repka. not your best work