Thursday, January 18, 2018

Black Label Society: "Grimmest Hits"

You might be surprised that I have never listened to a Black Label Society album. I am a huge fan of solo Ozzy, so I like Zakk's guitar playing. I liked the Pride N Glory album. I caught Zakk Sabbath with Clutch. I am not sure why these guys never clicked. Perhaps it is the white trashy fan base that turned me off , who knows. The first song has more ambiance than expected, it's more grunge than the kind of metal I have heard these guys crank out in the past. Obviously the guitar solos are a big part of the song. He is good at what he does. The vocals kinda coast over everything. Very middle of the road. There is a little more of a Black Sabbath feel to the verses of "Seasons of Falter". The rest of the song is very melodic and about as driven as newer Alice In Chains. Zakk's voice sounds better on some of the more relaxed passages. The hardest hitting sections are where the guitar solo falls. Its not bad , but not blowing me away either.

By the 3rd song I have resigned myself to the fact this album is just not going to be as heavy as I was waiting for. In fact it's more rock n roll. "the Betrayal" is more up tempo, and his guitar has attack to it, tonally it's too warm and not enough low end on the mix as a whole to make it heavy. If you play guitar or are into shreddy guitar then this will be more your thing. Coming out of the solo there is a heavier riff, but it doesn't turn the tide a hell of a lot. They go for more of a doom tinged feel with "All That Once Shined", but in truth it's not much harder than Govt Mule. The vocals are all multi tracked. The guitar tone is surprisingly not as beefy either. Being in a Sabbath cover band has certainly influenced his riff writing. The drummer shows a little more of his chops toward the end of this song, but is careful to not eclipse Zakk's show.

His guitar playing is very tasteful on the southern rock ballad "the Only Words" that brings to mind the Allman Brothers or Stevie Ray Vaughn in terms of tone. "Room of Nightmares" is about as heavy as Stone Temple Pilots. It feels like he had these country/ blues tunes written and want to get them out so to kill two birds with one stone he was obligated to write some more aggressive rock songs in order to fill out the album and go on tour. There is more conviction in the chug powering "A Love Unreal". This where all the other heavier tunes need to be.So this album is hit or miss , but when it hits it really connects.  He maintains the momentum going into "Disbelief". Then it ebbs back down to a more soulful blues ballad with "The Day That Had Gone Away". It reminds me of a less vocally powered "Say Hello to Heaven". It is some of his most nuanced guitar playing. I think this kind of thing is the direction he really wants to head in. It continues to ebb and flow into more rock moments being crammed into the albums 3rd act. There is more of a Led Zepplin like groove to "Bury Your Sorrow". It ends with another southern rock ballad. At the end of the day is playing really sells these and the albums strongest moments balances it all out so I'll give this one a 9.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Troll : "s/t"

The good thing about this band out of Portland is they have some atmosphere and layers to what could otherwise be a more straight forward vest metal. Taking notes from Pallbearer seems to have become the trend in doom. The have lightly crooned floating over the 70s jams.There is more Sabbath worship going on here than what you hear coming from Pallbearer, so that sets them apart. The are also more straight forward metal. Their press release tries to compare their singer to early Sabbath Ozzy and I don't hear it. He doesn't belt it out with the crazed desperation that Ozzy did and lacks the power. His voices is more of texture, there is a word growled hear and there , but his voice has a drugged creepiness to it. The band gets credit for now dragging their songs out into sprawling epics and keeps them concise with the longest hitting the eight and a half minute mark. "the Witch" lumbers somewhere between stoner and doom. The drummer plays around the guitar riff rather than hitting it head on. The mood is more scattered and the vocals don't connect as well with me as they did on the first song.

They play to their strengths more on "An Eternal Haunting". This means less vocals and letting the guitar claim the spot light. The guitars do some pretty interesting things here. I do like the fact the vocals have effects on them and I think they need to go more in that direction.The drummer also steps up his game on this one and makes it my favorite song on here so far.It's jammy and sometimes blues tinged.The vocals come across as being more ethereal, which is smart as this guys is not a metal singer. Sometimes he reminds me more of Andrew Wood from Motherlovebone. This comparison is given even more merit on "Infinite Death". I think this guy could be a decent singer, I think he has an original approach to what he is doing. Sometimes he is not sure about his lower notes and they are out of key. Musically it plays it pretty safe in a Sabbath boogie.

"Savage Thunder" rumbles along the road of more typical doom. The singer goes into his upper register and show a little more balls which is an improvement. I'll give this album an 8, I think these guys have a ton of potential. The vocals could stand to be smoothed out in places and they could play it a little less safe and veer more from the tried and true Sabbath worship and get into the more textured guitar parts where the band shines.

USURPRESS : "Interregnum"

This proggy death metal band out of Sweden, is what you are looking for if you want the emphasis on the metal when it comes to your prog metal. I don't listen to as much of this kind of thing as I once did , but if this was 2003, I would have been all over this. Despite the fact that is asks me to go back to the place when I was really into Opeth, there is no denying these guys excel at what they do. The first sign of them defaulting in the the need for speed most death metal bands succumb to, doesn't occur until the fourth song "Late in the 11th Hour". It's not until the last two minutes of the song that it ebbs back down into more progressive ambiance, leaving the bulk of the song straight forward death metal .

The clean vocals in "Ships of Black Glass" are well preformed and produced. The effects give the somewhat creepy baritone a darker slant and break up the more death tinged tone the song opens with. It wanders off into a more jazz inflected place before getting heavier. "Gates of Iron" starts off as a more non-descript form of death metal. The sung vocals take on a more goth tone for "the Vagrant Harlot". Not the most powerful vocal performance, but I appreciate the sentiment.There are hints of a more Enslaved like accent to this song.

I like where these guys are going with this. Some of the sung vocals get an e for effort and then some really work. The jazz influence is one of the best elements as it feels very natural and not forced. Even when they are in more of a straight forward death metal mode , they are still better than the bulk of death metal albums sitting in my in-box. I'll give this one a 9, it's great for when I venture out in the "snow-covered landscape" that is now Atlanta. Just joking I am done bigger lines than what has shut this city down.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cane Hill : "Too Far Gone"

 I decided to this band from Louisiana out because their press package claimed they had done a bunch of LSD, the year they recorded this album. The vocals flux between a spoken lower vocal that typically takes care of the verses. Then it trades off between a shouted hard core like vocals and a sung vocal that gives them a more Slipknot feel. I guess Slipknot is one of their influences along with Pantera. I like the second song better than the opener despite the more Slipknot feel. It's really well produced , though this is a blessing and curse as it gives it that slick radio feel that I am normally not a fan of when it comes to metal. There is more of  Sevendust 90s alt metal feel to "Singing in the Swamp". These smoother vocals ad another color, which is something I wish bands would do more of. I don't hear where the LSD is really coming in at this point in the album.

"Erased" is not a bad song, it just sounds like it is from a time period that has come and gone , I have grown out of so no longer holds my interest. The bass tone of " Why" doesn't help to distance them from nu-metal. The Sevendust comparisons over power any Pantera comparisons which is not a good sign in my book. "It Follows" has more of a straight forward metal riffing to it's syncopated pound. This flirts with more of a Pantera like groove. The chorus relaxes back into the smoother vocal. Then the next two song devolve into rowdier Slipknot shouting and juvenile bouncing around. This is done in a more musical manner on "Fucking Hateful" which given the title and the lyrics that reflect it , I am disappointed that the LSD didn't make them deeper thinkers than this.

At this point the nu-metal tendencies are getting a little tedious. I can only take Slipknot in small doses , so someone impersonating them without the masks gets to be a little much. "The End" is a little darker and I guess that is my one complaint is that I prefer metal that is darker , both Pantera and Slipknot have an ability to tap into that Sevendust does not so that might tell you where this album leans an why it doesn't always work for me. This is not my thing , but well done for what it is, so I'll give it a 7.5.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Druid Lord : "Grotesque Offerings"

With a name like Druid Lord I was expecting something more touched with folk metal and not such a dominant horror theme. When I first heard this band from Orlando on their Bandcamp page I was not sure what to think of the first song but knew I wanted to hear more from these guys in order to make a conclusive opinion, so I would say the opener was a success as it drew me in with it's brand of death doom. Growled vocals and dirty guitars crawling out of the speakers are really what keeps these guys from just being a doom band. The second song is more of the same but more grinding death metal with the occasional riff owing more to Sabbath than Morbid Angel. These guys rely more of the power of the chug than speed alone. The lyrics are very horror based and growled in a way that you can still decipher them.There is a much more obvious death metal feel to "Evil That Haunts this Ground" that reminds me more of early Sepultura. This also marks the first appearance of synths which are well place for needed atmosphere.It helps further darken things.

The first song that feels more like filler to me and is not as strong is "Black Candle Seance". On it's own two it is not a bad song it just doesn't seem as dynamic and doesn't connect with me. Lyrically there is some similarity to Acid Witch, but I feel that while Acid Witch might not be as heavy writes catchier songs. These guys prefer more glum tempos. On "Creature Feature"The vocals are spit out in a way that does the lyrics favor, as they are a very articulate growl. This song finds them tapping into the same kind of song crafting Acid Witch displays on a more frequent basis. However the lyrics don't feel as focus once they feel at one with the dead, then I am thinking where did this narrative go, but the thick murk of riffing keeps me distracted. They drop down into more of doom gloom on "Murderous Mr. Hyde". This song doesn't hold up as well as "Creature Feature" as it gets a little plodding and the lyrics are very vague.

The leading verse riff to "Last Drop of Blood" is rather cumbersome. The guitar harmonies work, well and if you are really into melodic death metal guitar then I would recommend this album. That only goes so far with me. I can't hear the bass at all. The drummer throws in double bass skillfully but is not really doing anything above and beyond the call of duty for what you expect from any death metal band. I don't want just any death metal band, I want my death metal to vary from what I already have or whats the point?  The song does improve thanks to a killer riff that is just mean as fuck in the last couple of minutes.Overall if you  are into death driven doom or doomy death metal then these guys are going to be up your dark alley. I'll give it an 8 as it works for me the majority of the time, not sure how much mileage I will get out of it , but enjoyed what I heard.

Hamferð : "Tamsims Likam"

I typically find myself at odds with the musical tastes of Metal Sucks, but they told me this was the darkest album that came out this week so I was willing to give this band from the Faroe Islands a shot.They are a doom band , who trade of well sung mournful clean vocals growled vocals . They are very successful at creating a mood. By the 2nd song "Stygd' I am sure these guys are skilled at what they do. The blend chants with low gurgled growl. Metal Sucks was right as this is dark and sonic in the way it creeps up on you. When they are in their heavier moments is reminds me a little of Esoteric without the shredding. The production on this album is really stunning and the mix is great. You can hear every instrument, which with doom can be tricky as things can become to over driven and turn into a low end frequency. Think the vocals are well balanced not too much clean singing not too much growling.

The guitars create a beautiful forest of creepy melodic shadows that enfold in their ominous crunch on "Tvistevndur Meldur". This is not as romantic or goth in it's intent as My Dying Bride, but at times touches on similar places. Their native tongue works beautifully, I don't think I would want to hear these songs in English. If this was funeral doom the songs would be double the length, so what these do is fairly concise in comparison. The vocals take on more of a soft tone going into "Frosthvarv". This comes across as almost a more delicate Katatonia. The jump off from the previous song with more of a soaring melodic nature that turns mean into more of a chug with "Hon Syndrast". This feels more death metal than doom, though the lines blur some. Not the best song on the album, but that still puts at better than most. Not sure the sped up black metal moment works, but most of the song does.

The last song is the longest at almost 11 minutes. They hesitate too much to go into the actual song. Four minutes of build up that could have been trimmed off and almost five minutes until it gets into the kind of heaviness they are good at. So its ends on not as strong  of a note. Regardless  I like what they do ,  I am unsure if doom of this pacing is something I would really wear out on my iPod, but this is an album I left on and let play as I was writing this evening, so far that it earns a 9.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Top 10 Worst Albums of 2017

You saw the best now here's the worst. Some of these albums are from bands I once loved making it more heartbreaking. Some are rookies you are more easily excused and some of this shit is not even music , but crap that wasted my time. Some have links to reviews and grew on me in the worst way if I ever tried to listen to it again, others I could not force myself through the whole album. Either way here they are if you like any of these, feel free to walk into traffic.

10-Warrior Soul- "Back on the Lash"

This really gave the teenage me a kick in the balls. I used to love these guys and they clearly should have hung it up as Kory Clarke can not sing to save his fucking life and would have been better off hiding behind more effects. I can not believe the producer let this slide. The music didn't do him any favors as it sounds more like Motley Crue's post-"Generation Swine" crap.

9-Peasants- "Dirt Worship"

 In all fairness this is a demo, but it's like letting some one see a picture you are not finished drawing. The rough mix was a little too rough, maybe one day when they get into a real studio they might be worthwhile


8-Flynn Effect - "Obsidian "

The only redeeming aspect of nu-metal is that sometimes it was dark enough to make it almost work. This album did not have that going for it. Instead it sounded like warmed up Lacuna Coil b-sides that should have remained unreleased. The singer is not attractive enough when not airbrushed in promo photos to make this entertaining.

7- Dog fashion Disco<- br="" massage="" rotic=""> -"Erotic Massage" 
<- br="" massage="" rotic="">
<- br="" massage="" rotic="">This band clearly needs to break up again. This is a remake of their first album, which I didn't listen to the first time it came out , but if these guys passed on the chance to make these songs more than just Incubus worship then this is a fucking disgrace to calling yourself a musician.
<- br="" massage="" rotic="">
<- br="" massage="" rotic="">

6-the National- "Sleep Well Beast"

 I used to love this band, so this was hard to swallow. I write for a blog where they tried to say this album was good and I was ashamed to be part of it. We know how great these guys can be. This is uptempo bullshit that doesn't play to their strengths. I get trying to do something different , but it clearly either doesn't work or they just don't give a shit and didn't want to be in the studio , but were obligated to fart one out.

5- Royal Blood- "How did We get so Dark?" 

 Naked chicks on an album cover and it still sucks? The album title explains the problem. It isn't dark. In fact it's the most boring sterile piece of shit begging for radio play, that I could get past more than the first five songs, that sounded like Muse trying to dumb it down for the Mumford and Sons crowd. This is arena rock for basic bitches. I condone the suicide of anyone who likes listening to this kind of bullshit. 

4-Necro Dethmort- "Overland"

 I reviewed this one for Treblezine and I couldn't bring myself to listen to the album more than once to review it hear or waste my time thinking about it to re-write another review, even now I feel bad about thinking about it. It's just worthless noise, no matter what words I used to try to be neutral for Treble.

3 Blank Spell- "Miasma"

 It's annoying enough for a punk band to parade around trying to make you think they are death rock, but when they don't really deliver in terms of punk well that makes matters worse. The singer's voice is one of the worst vocal performances of the year, she needed to be hot to make it make sense and wasn't so it all fell rather limp.


2-Mentors- "Illuminaughty" 

 The album title is the only thing good about this album. Just when we needed rape rock the most these guys really let us down. I was being generous when I tried to say this album had it's moments. I think I really wanted there to be and I was left with something that sounds amateur rather than from seasoned veterans who should know what they are doing. This really proved they should never try this without El Duce. Way to not push the envelope.

1`-deaf Kids -"configuracao do lamento"

This album took away minutes of my life I will never get back. To call this music is really putting a strain on how you define music. I suppose if performance art is worth that to you I suppose that is your business. But does performance art need to market itself as being able to create an album?  I think their name refers to the audience that would really get what they do.Pretty much proof that industrial music needs to come from colder urban environments, one thing is for certain it can't come from Brazil. Maybe it's a shit hole and industrial should only come from post-apocalyptic shit holes rather than 3rd world ones