Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Asteroid - Asteroid

...And another space-rock, stoner rock, and psychedelic band goes unnoticed among the music population. Asteroid is the name, and they reside in the country of Sweden, the land of many stoner rockers to be exact. This album right here is their debut full-length, which was released in 2007 on Fuzzorama Records. If there is one thing Asteroid takes seriously, it is a precise sense of jamming and crafting a melodic song behind it.

Asteroid starts off in "The Great Unknown," and in this very unfamiliar territory, a slow jam oozes full of heavy guitar riffs and accompanying organ to take over space. To add to the foundation, there's a nice balance between a lower register vocal and high register vocal harmony between the guitarist and bassist. Throughout the album each vocalist will trade off the main vocal duties, but usually the choruses are full of great harmonies; for example, the choruses to "Panoramic Telescope" and another favorite, "Doctor Smoke," are great sing-a-longs for such rockin' tunes. Asteroid is said to be a three piece, but there's a fine addition of organ and dual guitar leads to make the album sound more full, spacey, and rocking. The distortion from the guitars is covered in fuzz, a trademark within this genre, but honestly, it always makes the riffs sound massive. Just check out "Strange Trip" or "The 13th Witching Hour," when the fuzz kicks on, the power of the riff will compel you!

If you are new to stoner rock, or if you are veteran to the genre, definitely give this album your full attention. They deserve credit for their sense of melody, use of vocal harmonies, and songwriting quality. And if you like "influences" to enjoy music, you have definitely come to the right place in space.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Hidden Hand - Mother*Teacher*Destroyer

Scott "Wino" Weinrich, a name so familiar to the underground hard rock/metal world. If you don't know him, he has been in Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls followed by a solo career and Premonition 13. In 2002, The Hidden Hand formed in Maryland comprising of Scott Weinrich (vocals/guitars), Bruce Falkinburg (bass/vocals), and Dave Henessey (Drums). After their debut, Divine Propaganda, The Hidden Hand wanted to continue their politically driven, psychedelic-induced rock and take their songwriting a step further; in return, they gave us Mother*Teacher*Destroyer.

"Declination ascertained. Ascension is
on the rise. Echoes from within the
system. A structure ill-defined."

Above, is an excerpt from the opening track, "The Crossing," which presents the theme of Mother*Teacher*Destroyer continuing in the political/social direction of Divine Propaganda. Musically, The Hidden Hand is hard to describe because one can't pinpoint who else they sound like, but the fact is, you can definitely tell this is a Wino project. There are traces of psychedelic elements especially on tracks like "Black Ribbon," "Currents," and "Magdalene," and then you heavy/slow hard rock riffage present in songs like "Desensitized," "Travesty As Usual" and "Sons of Kings" that are a definite Wino trademark. Additionally, not only do they do a good job of infusing heavy riffs with psychedelic atmosphere and tones, but Wino and Bruce trade off vocals appropriately. Depending on the song, the melody, the riff, the chorus, etc., one of the vocalist takes the forefront, and it works. In "Half Mist," the unmistakable Wino vocal melodies compliment over the guitar melodies of the song in the verse and chorus. "Black Ribbon" is a good example of Bruce's vocal ability; it is melodic yet gruff, but distinguishably different, and that is important to the impact of Mother*Teacher*Destroyer musically.

"Pour the wine onto the sand, mix
the blood of fallen men. War for
beauty must now end, leave the
broken sword for the son. Sons of
kings we return today forsaken by the
gods we've slain we're lost. Our fast
ships on the grey ocean, we kneel
and wash our weapons in the sea."

If you are a fan of Scott "Wino" Weinrich, and haven't checked out The Hidden Hand, this album is recommended. It isn't a repeat to what Wino has done in the past, but a continuation of where he started and would go in future projects. A fair and balanced approach of heavy, hard rock riffs, but not afraid to step out of the box and make it melodic.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction

Pallbearer hails from Little Rock, Arkansas and includes members of the bands SPORTS and Deadbird. Arkansas has created quite a scene over the past 10 years with the bands mentioned above as well as Rwake. These Arkansas doomsters started creating a lot of buzz when they were signed to  Profound Lore last year, and the 2010 demo came to light for the rest of the world. The 2010 demo made doom fans excited for what was to come, and fans anxiously awaited their Profound Lore debut. Now, that we have Sorrow and Extinction within our grasp, the melancholy and sorrowful atmosphere presented will bring clarity and happiness into new life created.

Sorrow and Extinction starts off with, "Foreigner,"a 12:23 journey into sadness and death. The recording almost sounds like it was done in a church, or a hall. For example, the vocals have an adequate level of reverb mixed with a touch of delay to make them sound distant and disconnected with the music, but in a positive way. When you combine the distant and disconnected vocal recording with Brett Campbell's melodic and sorrowful cries, it sounds beautiful when mixed with the guitars, bass, and drums. Which brings us to the music, the guitars sound heavy and provide excellent textures between the harmonies and melodies. "The Legend" and "An Offering of Grief" are perfect songs to demonstrate the well-crafted melodies and harmonies that Pallbearer execute flawlessly. As far as the drums and bass, they are the backbone that supports the heaviness and power, the slow and dynamic of force of the melodies, the riffs, the song structures, and Brett Campbell's voice. Without them, the songs would not sound as organic or natural. With the journey coming to an end, "Given to the Grave" closes the casket to the Sorrow and Extinction. Literally, this song sounds like you are being put to rest indefinitely.

Crafting such a melancholy, depressing doom record, and making it sound hopeful, beautiful, and uplifting is not an easy task to achieve. However, Pallbearer prove that it is possible, and do it extremely well. Sorrow and Extinction would make a perfect funeral album for someone that you love, and when it is over, peace overcomes you knowing that that person is still with you in memories, your heart, and your mind.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 10 Melodic Death Albums of All Time

1. At the Gates - With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness: I may get a lot of shit for this because everyone is going to say it should be Slaughter of the Soul, but in all honesty, I think With Fear... is a better record. One may say that the production value is poor; yes, the production isn't top notch, but the songwriting and uniqueness is.  And I think the production makes it that much better.

2.  In Flames - The Jester Race: I am sure a lot of fans of the genre from past to present will agree that this is a melodic death metal classic.  As In Flames went on, they progressed into more of nu swedish death influence.  However, I would say that I enjoyed them up until after Reroute to Remain where I feel it was the beginning of the end...for me at least.

3.  Soilwork - Natural Born Chaos: When clean vocals came into melodic death metal, many didn't take a liking to it.  However, Speed's clean vocals aren't annoying and the songwriting is top notch.  Plus, when Devin Townsend records a band, he usually makes the band shine in a major way.  There is a great balance on this record and it really is one of a kind.

4.  Ebony Tears - A Handful of Nothing: Here is a melodic death metal band that not many people know about, but man, these guys are so heavy.  This album is relentless, fast, and just in your face.  I recommend everyone to check it out.

5.  Dark Tranquility - The Gallery: There is a lot of classical mixed with the melodic death metal genre, but DT insinuates their influences ten fold on this record.  Michael Stanne has a ferocious attack, and the guitars in sync like you would not believe!

6. Edge of Sanity - Purgatory Afterglow: Here is a band that I don't think gets enough credit in the melodic death metal scene.  You have lovers, you have haters.  But like Soilwork, Dan Swano (with a impressive catalog in his own right) does some clean vocals, but in a different fashion.  The brand that EoS brings is unique and unlike the other bands of the genre.

7. Hypocrisy - Abducted:  To me, I have dealt with people who love Peter Tantgren, but not Dan Swano and vice versa.  However, I think both men bring quality production and songwriting to the table.  This is around the time Peter started getting obsessed with aliens, as he feels he was abducted.  But with songs like "Killing Art" and "Roswell 47" ....come on.

8.  Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane:  Ok, so this record has some black metal influence, but deep down, it is a melodic death metal album, and a stellar one at that!  it is unfortunate that Jon had to kill a gay guy and then go to jail because their comeback after his sentence was not good, and then he ended up  offing himself.  But this album is quality and I could imagine what they would have done after this record.

9.  Carcass - Heartwork: Another arguable debate, yes, Carcass started as a grind band, but you can't tell me this isn't a melodic death metal album.  Now, if you want to get technical, I would also pick Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges...if it really upsets.  I mean, it is Michael Amott on guitar, the guitarwork is melodic, the vocals angry, and the songwriting badass.  Either way, I like both.

10. Darkest Hour - In the Hands of a Saddist Nation:  Folks be hating on these guys saying they are metalcore, but they are melodic death metal and they proved it on this record.  Went to Sweden, recorded at Studio Fredman, and had guest appearances with the likes of Tompa from ATG and Peter Wichers of Soilwork.  And I think these guys really proved their worth in the scene.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Top Albums of 2011! (Yes, they are pretty much all metal or at least close to metal)

Now, this year was a big year for retro metal and doom; so, you will see a lot of my favorite albums as being such.  Here you go (In no particular order):

The Wounded Kings - In the Chapel of the Black Hand: Well-produced quality doom, and I love the girl's voice so much on top of them heavy riffs!

Blood Ceremony - Living With the Ancients: This girl has an exceptional voice and a great band that accompanies her.  This very old school yet fresh, and it is great!

In Solitude - The Devil, The World, The Flesh: Those that know me, probably know how much I love this album.  I have listened to it so much and come back to it all the time.  Retro 80s metal done right, and these kids just know how to bring it.  I am excited to hear the next offering, I only see them getting better.

YOB - Atma: YOB is a band that always releases a quality product, and with the guest appearance from Scott Kelly on two tracks just enhanced the record even more.  All you have to really do is listen to the last track, it is epic.  Their is a great balance between brutality, heavy, and melody in the composition.

Graveyard - Hisengen Blues: Besides Witchcraft, this band sounds so 70s, that I just have to love this record.  As I haven't had a Witchcraft album in over 4 years, this has quenched my thirst.  Now, they sound different from Witchcraft, but that 70s vibe exist.  All I have to hear is "Uncomfortably Numb," and I am in a trance.

Orchid - Capricorn: Like In Solitude, I have played the shit out of this record.  My love for Black Sabbath is massive, and these guys aren't copycats, but they capture the spirit of Sabbath in all its elements.  The riffs kick ass, the tunes kick ass, and the production makes it solid.  Fantastic record.

Trap Them - Darker Handcraft:  Ever since I heard the first note from Trap Them, I have loved this band. And to me, they just keep getting better.  I love Kurt Ballou's production, he just makes them sound so badass.  The music is just ferocious.   I will never forget how tired I was one night, and then I put this record, and I was ready to fucking party after 1 song!  Great shit!

Devil - Time to Repent:  Another classic retro metal band of the 70s/80s.  I don't know what it is about this music, but it strikes such a big chord with me.  Maybe I should have been around at this time, maybe I was "Born Too Late."  However, this record rules.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Blood Lust:  Damn, this record rules.  Once again, retro like no other, but fantastic music let me tell you.  It sounds like doing acid in a dark lit music club in the 70s, watching go-go girls getting down and dirty.  What else could you ask for?

Opeth - Heritage:  Fuck the haters.  To me, this what Opeth should be doing with their music.  Would I like them to add death metal again?  Yes, but when the time is right.  Don't force that shit, go with what you want to do, and that is exactly what Opeth did, and I like it.  I thought Watershed was watered down, and this what they wanted to do anyway.  I am sure we will here another heavy record, but for now, this will do.

Serpent Venom - Carnal Altar: God, I love this record.  Riffs, I love riffs, and these guys got riffs.  Very old school Black Sabbath style metal.  Once again, I just love this stuff, I am a sucker for it.

Rwake - Rest:  Rwake is one of my favorite sludge bands, they do sludge in their own style and no one sounds like them.  I loved Voices of Omens so much, I didn't know if they could top it, but this one is pretty damn close.  They just keep evolving as a band, and it is awesome.  This is not a casual listening album.  You have to turn it up loud, lay back, and listen.  At this point, you will fall in love.

Vallenfyre - A Fragile King: Another style I am a sucker for is old school death metal, and that fuzzy entombed guitar tone.  I just can't get enough of it.  This record combines the sounds of old school death and the likes of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride (which feature members of each band).  great record.

I am sure that I am missing some great records, but these are the albums that spoke to me this year, and I listened to the shit out of them.  let's see what next year brings, but damn, I love it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Wounded Kings - In the Chapel of the Black Hand

For a little back story, The Wounded Kings formed in 2005 and originated from Dartmoor, England.  In the Chapel of the Black Hand is their third full length album, and first album featuring female vocalist, Sharie Neyland.  I am sure many people were unsure of the sound of the band without the powerful vocals of George Birch, but with the end result, they change was far from disappointing.  Within the past few years, we have seen a rise of female vocalist in the genre of doom, occult rock, and metal in general, and these women add an element of uniqueness, mystique, and power to the genre of doom.  And this album is a perfect example of that because Sharie's vocals on top of the heavy guitar riffs just creates a dreary, depressing, and horrific blend of doom (in a excellent way!).

In the Chapel of the Black Hand is a total of 4 tracks and clocks in at 41:08; so, you know you are in for a long ride of some heavy fucking doom!  A slowly building organ sound from the church of hell slowly builds to become The Cult of Souls, and once the guitars come in, the sacrifice may now commence.  The guitar tone on this record is just so damn crunchy, thick, and ballsy, and to have it accompanied with such menacing slow, down tuned riffs adds to the heaviness displayed.  And to add, Sharie's clean vocals doused with tons of vibrato flowing over the riffs makes her sound possessed, demented, and tortured.  Which leads me to the overall production, the vocals don't overpower the music and vice versa; everything is evenly mixed.  None of the musicians are overly flashy, each instrument works around the riff and the organic nature of the song.  

One may can a 14 minute song keep you enthralled throughout the entire arrangement?  Well, The Wounded Kings add a good element of layers and textures full of organs, feedback, guitar effects, and chants to give the song dynamics.  With all of these elements involved it gives the songs the personality that they are trying to perceived through the lyrics.  As the album is about Sharie (or fictitious character) being sacrificed at the altar and the darkness that lurks around her.  The album closer, In the Chapel of the Black Hand, is a perfect example of the atmosphere of the whole entire album.  If the music doesn't drag you any closer to the dark realm, the closing lyrics of  "The body is gone, but the head needs the soul.  The heart no longer beats, but still the blood it flows" repeating over and over again shall draw you in.  And now we now see the doors to the chapel closing and the sacrifice is complete.

In conclusion, this is an excellent slab of doom and one of the top 10 contenders for heaviest records to come out this year.  The Wounded Kings are back stronger than ever, and without Sharie being on this record, I don't think  the record would sound as evil as it does.  Be doomed!

4 and half dropped A# chugs out of 5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bands to check out if you haven't already...

Hello everyone, it has been a while since I have published anything on here, but I feel like I am going to keep this alive and do it every once in a while.  As there are plenty of blogs, this is more for keeping friends in the loop or sharing thoughts.  I recently have been digging on some new music, and if you haven't heard these....check em out!

Serpent Venom - Their debut full length Carnal Altar came out in the Fall of this year.  In the vein of Electric Wizard/Black Sabbath.  Long songs, riff-tastic, and just downright heavy.  One of my favorite records of the year.

The Wounded Kings - The English have done it again...One of the heaviest records to come out this year, and the first album with the female vocalist.  She adds an eccentric element of eerie vocal melodies on top of the crushing riffs.  4 long, songs that will take you on a trip!

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - I wish I had a clear vision to describe this band, but the best way I can describe it is that they are heavily influenced by 60s psychedelia rock, but a lot heavier than most bands of that era.  The recording is vintage, the melodies are catchy, the guitar tone is dirty, and the vocals remind me of Big Elf (another awesome band).

The Heavy Eyes - I discovered this guys from other blog sites and the record has been getting a lot of talk.  If you are all about some vintage rock n roll, this is it.  Old school, riffy, and straight to the point.  Many bands do it, but I never get tired of it personally, and this song just rocks the house.

Alright, I will have more music to come, but this should leave you happy for the time being.  I am hope you enjoy it, and if you have any recommendations and what you would like to see on here, let me know.

And with that, I will leave you with the girl pick of the day.  Allison Brie of Mad Men and Community.  Cheers!