Monday, November 30, 2009

Obfuscation short film

Between The Buried And Me have released the video for “Obfuscation” from their flawless new album The Great Misdirect. The video is billed as a short film, containing the full 9 minute track. This interesting and bizarre piece was directed by Kevin McVey.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Say what? Anthrax & Fall Out Boy

Feel free to scratch your eyes or wipe your screen but it won’t change anything. That headline is no mistake. Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Rob Cagianno have now teamed up with Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman (guitarist) and Andy Hurley (drummer) for a new “super group”. But to add to this, Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley is in on the act too, on vocals. This comes just after news surfaced that Fall Out Boy are taking an indefinite hiatus. The band is to be called The Damned Things and could begin recording as soon as next month.

So what’s to be made of this news??? Well, allegedly the Fall Out Boy lads have always had a few leanings towards the metal side. This was supposed to have been made evident quite some time ago when the pop punk unit shifters covered Pantera’s “Walk” along with non other than Keith Buckley guest appearing during a gig. The rendition was, as expected, vilified by metal fans worldwide. Click
HERE to view.

But the most interesting thing to find out would be how exactly did this collaboration come about? We know FOB and Every Time I Die are like brothers but how did Ian and Cagianno get mixed up in this concoction?

Anyway, like many “super groups” one must approach with caution and slight trepidation. In recent times many a super group have led to utter disappointment, this made abundantly clear by this year’s sheer banality that was found with Them Crooked Vultures.

Regardless, interest remains high as let’s be honest – the FOB members involved are the least egocentric and least twat-like. It’s known that they played in hardcore bands before going poppy in the name of the almighty dollar; they may very well have a strange longing to play something decent. So, with that said let’s not make any judgement until The Damned Things drops a tune.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Protest The Hero, Limb From Limb video

On this dull and dreary Friday afternoon we’re all in need of something cheerful to brighten up the day and take our minds off floods, strikes and abuse cover ups. Enter Protest The Hero. The techy Canadian quintet have just released the video for the new single, “Limb From Limb” from last year’s storming Fortress album.

As far as creativity and just plain lunacy goes this ticks nearly all the boxes, especially if you’re yearning for widdly riffs colliding with the Village People. Watch below.

Protest The Hero are currently on tour, supporting Propagandhi. The tour hits Dublin’s The Village this Thursday, with tickets available from Sentinel Records, Sound Cellar, City Discs and WAV, priced at €18.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dio diagnosed with cancer

The all around legend that is Ronnie James Dio has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. This follows news of his recent shows being cancelled due to illness. This report is greeted with much sadness. But, fortunately the cancer has been detected in its early stages and is very much treatable.

Dio’s wife and manager, Wendy issued the following statement:
"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans.

"Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio.

"Thanks to all the friends and fans, from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."

Thoughts are with Dio, his wife and family now and we hope for the best for Dio and to see him back in action.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jesu - Opiate Sun EP

2009 has definitely been a year where Justin Broadrick has had the urge to keep busy, very busy with his current lifeblood Jesu. This year has seen the release of the monolithic and strangely cathartic 50 minute long one track effort Infinity.

Infinity harnessed many older styles of Broadrick’s being very much akin to his Godflesh days and treading on much drone mannerisms which harked to Sunn O))) and Earth. The one immediate aspect of Opiate Sun is that it differs drastically from its predecessor. But while the heaving soundscapes are somewhat eschewed here, this EP still retains that factor that makes Jesu stand out so vividly from a crowd.

Unsurprisingly, OS sees Mr. Broadrick taking on all instrumentation, recording and production. It’s a lofty testament to his flair as a musician, which is sometimes overlooked.

Opener, "Losing Streak" is largely indicative of the stylistic switch as its heaving with hooks and poppy melodies, a far cry from JB’s much more extreme beginnings in Napalm Death. The track is an upbeat and life affirming oeuvre to commence with.

The candid melancholy that has always been present in Jesu’s music remains, but here; it has been twisted and then delivered through a medium of positive zeal.

But the title track then bursts through more melodic passages yet weaved around downcast solemnity before moving onto OP’s dazzling standout number.

"Deflated" is resonantly stunning with Broadrick pushing himself vocally beyond his usually morose croon. The soothing chorus is a beacon of the far more clean melodious path chosen on Opiate Sun and with a track seeping such tunefulness like this the switch is altogether welcomed.

A slightly old school Jesu intro beckons closer "Morning Light" and maintains that somewhat harrowing ambience that has always been a key component in Justin Broadrick’s music. If anything it’s a suitable closer.

Opiate Sun is a staggering composition of dramatic aural aesthetics with lingering and poignant atmospherics. But all interlaced around a new found love of the “hook” as this EP is forthrightly radiating with compelling pop melodies but still enough esotericism to maintain Jesu’s identity.

Some fans are understandably getting a bit sick of Jesu seemingly sticking to releasing EPs. A new full length album is way too overdue. But, Opiate Sun leaves a fresh and intriguingly sweet taste behind. Is it suggestive of the route that will be taken when said full length does land? Who knows. But one thing is certain, Opiate Sun is another accomplished feather in Justin Broadrick’s already garnished cap.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hindsight Pt.9 2000-2009, a look at a decade

This is the ninth edition of Hindsight and the last. Hindsight has looked back at the last decade and highlighted the finest and most interesting records that the last 10 years have given us. So, this is the final instalment. Hopefully you've enjoyed the recap.

To read the past posts click HERE
Click the "standout track" to listen.

Chimaira – The Impossibility Of Reason (2003)
Chimaira were scooped up by Roadrunner Records and from there they recorded their debut, Pass Out Of Existence. Put simply, the record was a woeful and bereft effort and the band found themselves struggling against being kicked off the label. They needed to deliver an intrepid second album, or else. They did that. The Impossibility Of Reason is a thrilling young metal record with zero nonsense, it’s more focussed and has a new discovered lifeblood. Earlier this year they released their fifth record The Infection, they have yet to top The Impossibility Of Reason.
Standout Track: Pure Hatred

Mourning Beloveth – Dust (2001)
Mourning Beloveth are not only one of the strongest doom bands on the go, they’re one of the finest metal exports Ireland has produced in the last 10-15 years, alongside Primordial. Dust, their debut is a sublime mesh of near painfully slow but earth shaking riffs accompanied with guttural and mournful growls and yet tremulously clean vocals from guitarist, Frank Brennan. The whole affair oozes oddly ear shattering melancholy.
Standout Track: The Mountains Are Mine

Megadeth – United Abominations (2007)
Megadeth may have topped this record with this year’s Endgame but, United Abominations' importance can’t be overlooked. It’s the storming return to form of Dave Mustaine that had been long overdue. Previous effort, The System Has Failed, though reasonable was more of a false start. United Abominations was where the ‘deth were back to the ways which we all longed for. Opener “Sleepwalker” has now become a live favourite but the heaving highlight was easily in the pleasing “Never Walk Alone (A Call To Arms)”. Top to bottom United Abominations did anything but let fans down, despite the questionable re-recording of “A Tout le Monde” with Christina Scabbia.
Standout Tack: Never Walk Alone... A Call To Arms

HIM – Razorblade Romance (2000)
Razorblade Romance is a record positively crowded with unabashed melodies and simple song structures. From start to finish each track is encumbered with hook a plenty, leaving each chorus stuck in your head. While HIM are certainly opinion dividing; for their faithful, Razorblade Romance is a spotless feather in their hat.
Standout Track: Right Here In My Arms

Riverside – Out Of Myself (2004)
Out Of Myself has been described as one of the finest prog debuts for quite some time and when you listen back a couple times it’s very hard to disagree. OOM is sheer emotive sentiments harnessed onto a flawless zenith of convoluted melodies and harmonies. Across a mere nine tracks a heady mix of exhilarating and thrillingly hypnotic tunes are propelled out. Followed by the equally impressive Second Life Syndrome, Riverside have inescapably proved themselves as an unjustly overlooked band.
Standout Track: I Believe

Gojira – From Mars To Sirius (2005) & The Way Of All Flesh (2008)
Another exciting rise of the past decade has been that of France’s finest Gojira. From humble beginnings of an extreme kind with Terra Incognita and The Link the Frenchmen now find themselves reaching a larger audience. Oh yeah, and supporting Metallica in gargantuan arenas across the states. This trek began with 2005’s release From Mars To Sirius, a ridiculously heavy effort where track titles like “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe” couldn’t be more apt. They followed that up with last year’s The Way Of All Flesh, which alienated some fans but ultimately thrust Gojira into the spotlight.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hindsight Pt.8 2000-2009, a look at a decade

Trivium – Shogun (2008)
Trivium followed up their thunderous breakthrough Ascendancy with The Crusade, a divisive record to say the least. Gone were the growling vocals and occasional breakdown and the band embraced a more classic thrash influenced sound. But when Shogun came around they eschewed that slightly limited approached and adopted a more grandiose, and far more modern metal style. The result was simply one of marvel and their strongest and wholly engrossing effort from the fevered stomp opener “Kirisute Gomen” through to the sprawling eleven minute title track.
Standout Track: Shogun

Fear Factory – Archetype (2004)
Assess the circumstances, Fear Factory sans Dino Cazares; the man who penned the riffs that made the Fear Factory name. Bassist-cum-guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers has his work cut for him. Archetype was a far cry from a groundbreaking or essential album. But it was solid, focussed and heaving with remarkable tunes – “Cyberwaste”, “Archetype”, “Human Shields”. The band proved their worth with fine riffs regardless, as well as the strong vocal delivery from Burton C. Bell. Many fans will argue that Archetype was a fluke as Transgression, its follow up and only album since, was dire. But take nothing away from this under appreciated gem.
Standout Track: Archetype

Warrel Dane – Praises To The War Machine (2008)
Jesus Christ, was this an unexpected triumph! Straying from the more metal and much heavier leanings of his day job in Nevermore, Warrel Dane’s debut solo effort Praises To The War Machine is an astonishing alt. metal record. Any fears that Dane would be make carbon copy of Nevermore were quickly extinguished on opener “When We Pray”. He was here to deliver something different, and he did just that. Recruited for the project were Peter Wichers, Matt Wicklund and Dirk Verbeuren, who satisfied us with a ridiculously tight execution. Guest appearances also saw Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis, death metal vet. James Murphy and Chris Broderick. Production wise Praises was possibly the cleanest (but not over-polished) album of the year. In summation – listen to this album.
Standout Track: Equilibrium

Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (2000)
The Nu Millennium. Yes, nu metal had reached its commercial peak at the turn of the century and Linkin Park led this nu/rap metal charge alongside Limp Bizkit. But regardless of the constant hatred thrown in LP’s way, think back to when that album came out. If you were in your early teens then you probably played the shit out of it, on repeat. Hybrid Theory has tunes a plenty. Listen to the choruses because chances are, even if you hate them, that they’ve become lodged in your head at some point. I was 10 when this album hit me, I loved it and of course everything they’ve done after is utter tripe but Hybrid Theory will always have a cheesy place in my heart.
Standout Track: Pushing Me Away

Korn – Take A Look In The Mirror (2003)
Take A Look In The Mirror came at an odd time. Its predecessor Untouchables divided fans greatly. Here, they back pedalled slightly and attempted to re-create the frenzied aggression of their early years. “Right Now” is this album’s opener, is it aggressive? By fuck it is. The whole album is unremitting and just plain pissed off, undoubtedly caused by the tirade of bullshit hurled in their direction prior to its conception. TALITM is an unjustly underrated gem. While it doesn’t have the same fury of Korn or Life Is Peachy it’s swelling with unruly ferocity and violent design. It’s the last album to feature Brian “Head” Welch before he went gaga for Jesus and also, the last Korn record include Jonathan Davis’ emotionally driven roar. Dig it out.
Standout Track: Counting On Me

Hindsight will soon be drawing to close, a few more instalments to come.
Previous editions - click HERE

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions

Biffy Clyro have a lot to be proud of. In 2007, with the colossal Puzzle they fulfilled a promise they made with their 2002 debut. That promise was that one day these unhinged Scots would shatter the glass ceiling and inexorably invade the mainstream, entirely on their own terms.
But it’s not been an easy ride, far from it. Label switches and personal anguish had Biffy treading near ruin on too many occasions for comfort. But with drive and perseverance they endured against the odds, near unassailable and triumphed.

Puzzle was a glorious seizing of the torch. From there they embarked on some vigorous touring, which came with an unyielding honing of their live show.
Only Revolutions maintains Biffy’s ever infectious blend of scorching rock tunes and delicate numbers.

The two singles "The Captain" and "That Golden Rule" get the ball rolling here. Chances are you’ve heard these two so you won’t need telling of how outstanding they are. The noteworthy vibe continues through to "Bubbles" which sounds like the perfect soundtrack to your best day. Themes then shift within that aforementioned blend for the emotive and quite provocative "God & Satan".

"Mountains" returns too, and sounds just as stunning as on its initial release. The bouncy and hooky rock numbers here like "Born On A Horse" and "Booooom, Blast & Ruin" are some of the best that Biffy have written. They’ll snuggle up nicely with established anthems like 57 on the live stage.

"Many of Horror" further shows Biffy’s ability to be vastly grand and here Simon Neil proves is mettle as a vocalist. Meanwhile, "Cloud Of Stink" is drenched in somewhat of a modern punky vigour.

"Know Your Quarry" glides handsomely through swaying melodies, gorgeously accompanied by enthralling pianism, which all scales to dizzying heights.

The happily titled "Whorses" is the curtain call for Only Revolutions, and it ends it all on a superbly up beat note.

To repeat, Biffy Clyro have a lot to be proud of and Only Revolutions changes nothing regarding their lofty accomplishments. But one thing that has changed is the level of the “bar”. Puzzle now finds itself considerably topped and OR is officially Biffy’s career best. Drinks on them?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hindsight Pt.7 2000-2009, a look at a decade

Welcome to the seventh part of Hindsight. You know the deal....
PREVIOUS EDITIONS Click the "standout track" to listen

Incubus – Morning View (2001)
If you’re looking for unabashed melodic rock bursting with mainstream appeal but air tight principles than Incubus are probably the band just for you and Morning View is the album. This record is a cathartic assertion of many positive emotions - admiration and love. “Wish You Were Here” defied the vacuous tripe that had preceded it by bands of a similar nature. Meanwhile, “Circles” kept things rocking and “Warning” builds and builds to a soothing pinnacle. Then of course there’s the mega relax-er in “Are You In?” This album’s pretty much a must have if this is the stuff you dig.
Standout Track: Warning

Testament – The Formation Of Damnation (2008)
The old guard return. The Formation Of Damnation was Testament’s first new studio album in nearly ten years and as far as making impressionable returns it doesn’t get much better than this. The sound of Chuck Billy’s mighty bellow and Alex Skolnick putting pick to string couldn’t have been more welcomed by fans when they delivered stormers like “Henchmen Ride” and “The Persecuted Won’t Forget”. TFOD was and is a straight to the point metal album, but would expect anything else from Testament?
Standout Track: The Persecuted Won’t Forget

Funeral For A Friend – Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation (2003)
For a debut album it’s arguable that Funeral For A Friend set a new standard, at least in post hardcore circles. Two EPs previous had built a solid fan base for the Welsh quintet and if anything, that mounted the expectation for when Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation hit us. But thankfully they delivered a blinder. CD&DIC encompassed all the life affirming elements we yearned for but still retained its grit and balls by storming through assiduous riffs and huge choruses. Unfortunately, Funeral For A Friend have failed to even vaguely match this record’s credentials since, though have produced some quality tunes in parts. But overall, their epitaph will read: Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation.
Standout Track: Novella
Comeback Kid – Broadcasting… (2007)
Probably the best hardcore record of the decade. The punchy opener riff of “Defeated” beckoned chaos with its demandingly big sing along chorus. The unity element stays constant throughout, particularly on the spine tingling “One Left Satisfied” (‘there was a whisper of gold’). The title track, and lead single, furiously and hastily smashed your face in, while “The Blackstone” has one of those riffs. There was one thing that was certain about Broadcasting…, these songs were written for one purpose – the live setting and they succeeded in that.
Standout Track: The Blackstone

In Flames – Clayman (2000)
In Flames well and truly began to hit their stride on The Jester Race and from there the ball got rolling. This album’s predecessor Colony had hinted at the soaring melody they were capable of. But Clayman saw many of In Flames’ attributes fully materialise into shotgun blasts of metal built for the new millennium with the hook-laden opening riff of “Bullet Ride”. This album is certainly the strongest in their catalogue even though many records since then like Come Clarity and A Sense Of Purpose have given it a run for its money. Regardless, Clayman was one of the catalysts in forming the onslaught on modern metal that succeeded it.
Standout Track: Pinball Map

Decapitated – Organic Hallucinosis (2006)
A rifle is let off next to your head. The cacophony rings in your ears. A pack of Alsatians chasing you down a dark alley some night. Some guy shatters your face with a hammer. Take those three unique scenarios, put them together, what do you get? Organic Hallucinosis. With a new vocalist in tow Decapitated dropped an unforgiving and just fucking brutal technical death metal record in OH and an essential release for the genre. It also saw their late drummer Vitek hone his skills to near perfection.
Standout Track: A Poem About An Old Prison Man

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Löbo – Alma EP

There are four tracks here, and this EP clocks in at an excitable 35 minutes. Alma is possibly one of the most challenging listening experiences of the year, but a challenge wholly greeted with open arms, or more specifically open ears.

Löbo are an ambient experimental rock four piece hailing from Portugal. The fully instrumental Alma is a largely esoteric trek to listen to with many post metal mannerisms and Sunn O))) influences floating about.

The song titles, much like their length, are mostly long and testing to recite, especially if Portuguese isn’t your forte.

A thunderous and avalanching crash initiates "Aqui em baixo a alma mede-se com mãos cheias de pedras" and summons the vast cadence to be de-reined with Alma, on only the first track.

Haunting electronics then come to the fore on "Carne e sombre". They, almost, harshly sway for its six minute duration.

The electronics continue with the arcane "Matei os meus mestres - Silenciei os meus ídolos" but the guitar makes a return too. An eerie, near inexplicable, sound penetrates the aural milieu here until another loud smash pervades the din.

Gentle strum introduce "Por fim só. Livre". which void of cautiousness delves further into the abstract and ruinous but pacifying world of Löbo. Its air then sharply rises and we’re once again in reminiscent territory of Alma’s inception. The pulsating aura pushes and pushes only to mellifluously drift away and thus bringing this debut EP to a dazzling close.

The only unfortunate aspect of Alma is it is painfully ephemeral and its transience leaves you imploring for more; more hellish yet gorgeous soundscapes. Prudence is cast aside here and gutsy music is created. Listen, enjoy, be enthralled.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Fear Factory track

After all the uncertainties and supposed legal quibbles the new Fear Factory are set to release their new album Mechanize early next year. So, here’s our first taste, “Powershifter”.

On first listen “Powershifter” moseys around very familiar territory. Dino Cazares is sticking quite rigidly to his crushing riff format. Granted, he pioneered his own technique but he’s now really under threat of just sounding boring. Something similar can be said for Bell, but his vocals are familiar in a slightly more positive fashion.

As for drum god Gene Hoglan, his punishment of the kit here is the highlight. Finally, the production is pristine.

From this angle, “Powershifter” can’t be a means to judge this new incarnation of Fear Factory. It’s a very average affair but hopes remain high for Mechanize.

View the artwork for Mechanize HERE.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hindsight Pt.6 2000-2009, a look at a decade

Hindsight is really starting to push on a bit now. Welcome to the sixth edition, not quite near the end yet though!
View the previous parts HERE
Click the "standout track" to listen

Daylight Dies – Lost To The Living (2008)
Looking back now 2008 was a sensational year and Daylight Dies’ third album, Lost To The Living was one of the highlights, positioned neatly in third place in my albums of that year. Previous efforts No Reply and Dismantling Devotion were opulent pieces of modern and focussed doom metal with a unique edge. Lost… is a continuation of that but with everything blasted up. Melancholic in every sense of the word Daylight Dies have the ability and the drive to threaten the thrones of Paradise Lost and Anathema et al. The album weaved elegant guitar work and fearlessly included acoustics around thudding bass lines, guttural vocals but also gentle croons from Egan O’Rourke. Lost To The Living stood up as their finest album yet, with the epics to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Standout track: The Morning Light

Korn – Untouchables (2002)
Korn’s fifth studio album Untouchables was so undeservedly vilified upon its release. Granted, the record took a ridiculous length of time to write and record and was even more ridiculously expensive to record. But the primary reason for the division initially was the abandonment of the alternative/nu metal vibe of their late 90s albums. Here was a much heavier, dare I say darker album; but done so in an almost entirely different fashion. Like fine wine Untouchables became more appreciated given time. Now, “Here To Stay” is a live favourite and tracks like “Blame” just punish while “Thoughtless” is abnormally eerie. But this record’s dizzying crescendos reach their loftiest height with the dual closers of “I’m Hiding” and “No One’s There”.
Standout Track: Thoughtless

Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam (2006)
Almost with nonchalance Pearl Jam rather straightforwardly left fans breathless with their 2006 self titled effort. No signs of rust were showing on the veterans when the first note of “Life Wasted” commenced. From there the album is void of filler through the punky vigour of “Comatose”, the melancholic “Parachutes” and the bluesy crescendos in “Come Back”. While many took comfort in believing the band’s best years were in the 90s, Pearl Jam silenced many. Earlier this year they did the same thing with Backspacer.
Standout track: Come Back

Isis – Oceanic

On their debut full length album Celestial, Isis seemingly made a couple of promises; one was that they were a band to take notice of. That promise came to fruition on second record, Oceanic. This post metal tagging of bands has been running rampant for a few years now and many would blame Isis, among some others, for its birth. But what Isis showed was that such a phrase was wholly extraneous. They’re experimental metal and certainly progressive, just perhaps not in the most conspicuous sense. Oceanic struck a delicate balance between heated vehemence and assiduously weaved ambience. This shown heart haltingly so on the audacious transferral from the aurorally soothing “Weight” to the earth shaking “From Sinking”.
Standout track: From Sinking

Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
Unashamedly brilliant, Dream Theater proved why they’re the best at what they do on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. And to top it off they did with apparent ease. The towering riff of “A Nightmare To Remember” hits and BC&SL powers through mammoth riffs and choruses like that on “A Rite Of Passage” and “The Best Of Times” or tugged those heartstrings on “Wither”. But it all culminated in glorious fashion on the neat 20 minute closer “The Count Of Tuscany”, which reaches such a crescendo it could almost obtain independence. Awesome, simple as.
Standout Track: The Count Of Tuscany

Sanctity – Road To Bloodshed (2007)
It would be cruel to use the phrase one hit wonder here. But unfortunately it’s somewhat true. 2007 gave us Sanctity, signed to Roadrunner they unleashed this storming debut album, bursting with anthemic modern metal numbers. But alas, after much touring frontman/guitarist Jared MacEachern and bassist Derek Anderson left. Since then the name Sanctity has slipped away into a dark corner somewhere.
Standout Track: The Road To Bloodshed

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Slayer - World Painted Blood

These are always fun times. Speaking of course about when a band as big and mostly revered by all metalheads across different generations like Slayer releases a new album. But while it can be exciting to hear the old guard continue their craft, let’s make one thing clear, that should be already blatantly crystal clear. Slayer do what Slayer do. Unlike their big four counterparts there won’t be any St. Anger-like fucking about. There won’t be a horrendous attempt at taking some “Risks”. When or if, you pick up World Painted Blood you know what you’re getting. Speed, heaviness, fuck loads of riffs, Kerry King reaching for the whammy bar and Tom Araya’s patented yell. It’s not like you’re going to hear acoustic hip hop, you’re getting the tried and tested modus operandi.

Several comparisons have been drawn to 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss, Slayer’s most varied (as far as Slayer are concerned) period in terms of song writing. On first listen WPB doesn’t attain that evaluation, but after a few more jaunts through the thought becomes audible, hazily mind you.

“What I write sounds thrashy but with a hint of punk, and when Jeff (Hanneman) writes the stuff is more punk with a hint of thrash. It works together well” commented Kerry King on this record. King further extolled World as having much more punky aspects to it overall. Similar to the Seasons remarks, it’s present but still vague.

Essentially World Painted Blood stays vigilantly on the old beaten path. It’s a thrash metal record, simple as. This is heard lucidly on the opening title track as some of the finest riffs of the record are churned out from the get-go. The two tracks previously released “Hate Worldwide” and “Psychopathy Red” slot in easily with the rest of the material. Thankfully, giving the former a slightly fresher vigour, especially when that “punky” aspect is heard there the most.

Unfortunately WPB plods along dispassionately in many parts like that of “Unit 731” with its recycled subject matter (akin to “Angel Of Death”) and the generic widdly soloing of “Snuff”.

But luckily on other parts the momentum can shift a full 180 like to the moody impressions created on “Human Strain”’s instigation through to the bludgeoning “Americon” and the disconcerting nature of “Playing With Dolls”.

World Painted Blood may be much of the same, over and over again but Slayer never deviated from the “if it ain’t broke” mentality. So, with that said WPB is another abounding heavy instalment in Slayer’s legacy, one that tops predecessor Christ Illusion but not quite as lofty as their strongest 00s release, God Hates Us All.


New Ihsahn track

Former Emperor front man Ihsahn will be returning early next year with his third solo album After, the follow up to 2008’s shimmering angL. “Frozen Lakes On Mars” is the first taster we hear from this remarkable song writer’s latest creative flurry.

A grandiose lead opens the proceedings giving way to a clean, spirited riff. Ihsahn’s deep rooted, throat wrenching shriek thunders in, in promptly recognisable fashion, while a hooky lead runs under

Ihsahn’s near operatic clean vocals on the chorus are unequivocally consuming as it, with ease, strides along.

The guitar solos and the swaying rhythms here are something truly excitable. So, beautifully clean and flourishing, they dominate a great deal of this track’s valiant brilliance.

Assumedly, “Frozen Lakes On Mars” is merely a sneak peek of the potentially tremendous zeniths that may be explored on After.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hindsight Pt.5 2000-2009, a look at a decade


Click the "standout track" to listen
Machine Head – The Blackening (2007)
This generation’s Master Of Puppets? It’s a bold statement and the answer is, perhaps. But one thing is certain Machine Head have made a remarkable comeback, this seen with predecessor Through The Ashes Of Empires mentioned in the last instalment. However, with The Blackening an almost immeasurable feat was achieved and then some. Its reception was nearly universal with pretty much every fan embracing the album for what it was – a masterpiece, and with time will become this generation’s Master Of Puppets. Relentless, enchanting and soaring, that’s The Blackening.
Standout Track: A Farewell To Arms

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008)
Does this one come as a surprise? Well, it shouldn’t. There are still those miserable gits who, no matter what, criticise and complain about Metallica because they’ve spent so long doing it, that they can’t possibly adjust to the event that happened last year when Metallica finally dropped a balls to the wall metal record. Death Magnetic is the album that I and the countless faithful knew they could make. With Rick Rubin at the helm and Rob Trujillo making his recording debut with the band, any number of outcomes could have occurred. Thankfully, it was one of wonder. From the vigorous stomp of “The End Of The Line” or “All Nightmare Long” through to the unrelenting “My Apocalypse”, Death Magnetic spelled out one thing - Metallica: 1 Miserable gits: 0
Standout track: All Nightmare Long

Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions (2005)
For any metal fan Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions would have them salivating. 57 artists from 45 bands collaborated on 18 diverse tracks to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Roadrunner Records. Overseeing the writing and recording were four “team captains”, Robb Flynn, Matt Heafy, Joey Jordison and Dino Cazares. The album saw collaborations that only existed in dreams with songs featuring Max Cavalera, Sean Malone, Mike Smith, Jeff Waters, Howard Jones, King Diamond, James Murphy, Steve DiGiorgio and Mikael Akerfeldt. The list goes on for quite a bit.
Standout track: The Dagger

Biffy Clyro – The Vertigo Of Bliss (2003)
On 2007’s Puzzle Biffy Clyro broke through that glass ceiling and infiltrated the mainstream like they had threatened for so long. That threat had become a formidable one on sophomore release The Vertigo Of Bliss, the follow up to the splendid debut Blackened Sky. The effort heaved with massive choruses, quirky arrangements and subject matters and the odd string section. Listen to “Liberate The Illiterate” or “With Aplomb” if you’re not convinced. But to really sum this record up; it gets the job done. It’s rocking (“A Day Of” & “A Man Of His Appalling Posture”) but also gorgeously beautiful. Example; the climax of “All The Way Down” is dramatically cathartic and avowing.
Standout Track: All The Way Down

Lamb Of God – Sacrament (2006) & Wrath (2009)
During the course of three albums and their subsequent tours Lamb Of God became a force to be reckoned with. But on 2006’s fierce Sacrament they ushered in a new era for themselves. They were even more determined, they were out for blood, you’ll believe that statement if you’ve seen the band live. That fury then came full circle last February with the release of Wrath, a lethal dose of venom aimed at your gullet. All bursting with groove and vehemence the eleven tracks led Lamb Of God to stand proudly and deservedly upon the top of the metal zenith.
Standout Tracks: Descending & Reclamation


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vitek: 1984-2007 - Two years on

The death of Witold Kieltyka, better known by his stage name, Vitek was truly tragic. It is now only two years on from his passing on the 2nd November 2007. Vitek, only 23 years old, was the much esteemed drummer for Poland’s technical death metal outfit Decapitated.

On October 29th 2007, Decapitated, along with the band Crionics, were on tour in Eastern Europe and on en route to Gomel, Belarus, near the Russian border. Their tour bus collided with a truck transporting logs. The impact was devastating, wrecking the bus. Vitek, along with vocalist Adrian “Covan” Kowanek suffered severe head injuries and they were brought to a hospital in Nowozybkow, Russia. But after days of struggling for his life Vitek succumbed to his injuries and passed away. Covan meanwhile remained in a “very serious, but stable condition” but was stuck in intensive care for nearly a year afterwards. Still to this day Covan remains in a coma, whether or not he will ever make a full recovery is unknown.

Vitek’s brother and guitarist Wacław “Vogg” Kieltyka and bassist Marcin Rygiel survived the fatal crash.

Vitek began playing drums at a very young age and it immediately became his passion. When he joined Decapitated he was only 12 years old. The only thing that really mattered was that he was playing drums!

In 1997 and 1998 they released the primitive but sill crushingly intense demos Cemeteral Gardens and The Eyes Of Horus, which were quickly commended in the Polish underground scene and a fan base began to grow from there.

For a band of this nature to make any head way in Poland in the mid 90s was remarkable. Of course, they had their peers in Behemoth and death veterans Vader, who formed before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But Decapitated were in a league of their own. Metal bands in Poland are constantly under the scrutinising eye of the large Catholic population, and the church’s strongly conservative influence. To release albums and tour around the world was a feat for them that some bands from different origins may take for granted.

In 1999 they recorded their killer debut Winds Of Creations, however it took a year for it to be finally released. Regardless, its punishing tracks astounded death metal fans worldwide, especially considering Vitek was only 15 at its conception. Then 2002’s follow up, Nihility¸ was their vicious statement of intent, encompassing all that there is to love about technical death metal and shoving it down your throat.

Their third release The Negation was when Decapitated ensured us all that they were a force to be reckoned with and a very special band indeed. But after intense touring on the back of The Negation, Decapitated suffered a minor set back, original vocalist Wojciech “Sauron” Wasowicz parted ways with the band as a result of health issues. Maintaining a strong relationship with his band mates though, Sauron recruited Adrian “Covan” Kowanek as his replacement. The band then set about recording their fourth album.

A new but unremitting approach beckoned on Organic Hallucinosis, it was a battering, ferocious and near inhumane culmination of their strengths with tracks like the ever hammering "A Poem About An Old Prison Man", "Flash-B(l)ack" and "Day 69". Simply put, Organic Hallucinosis is a must have for any death metal fan.

But unfortunately the curtain was pulled far too early on this magnificent tale. The metal world lost a young and talented man to a horrific tragedy, leaving behind a wife and young daughter. But still, a legacy was carved out. Over the course of only four albums Decapitated became widely lauded for their punishing, relentless and technical dosage of bludgeoning death metal.

Many fans and other bands paid tribute to the man in their droves. In an interview with Metal Hammer following his death, fellow metal extremist and Akercocke front man, Jason Mendonca spoke about the band - “If there was any band in the world who didn’t deserve this to happen to them” it’s Decapitated.

Many respected drummers in metal had nothing but positive things to say about their drumming counterpart. Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake commented: “The metal community has lost one of the most talented and skillful drummers of our time! ... Vitek was a true talent and drummer genius; the future will be a sadder place without his drumming!”

Raymond Herrera of Fear Factory fame further extolled Vitek’s abilities; “His drumming skills spoke volumes; he was an incredible talent and one can only guess as to what greatness was in store for him and his future endeavours.”

Fellow Poles, Vader: “This is another huge loss for the metal scene” and Behemoth: “It was so awesome to watch Decapitated growing bigger and bigger with every step they made; see you in the afterlife, Vitek.”

The eulogies go on and on. Vitek was not only a talented musician but a very easy to like person.

At the Underworld in London, Akercocke headlined a show along with Ted Maul, Corpsing, Matron and Hades Lab to raise funds for Vitek and Covan’s families. The show was hugely successful and paid a fitting tribute to a fallen friend. Similarly, black metal veterans Dimmu Borgir played tribute gig to him in Finland.

After respects were more than paid and Covan continued to recover, news of Decapitated began to dwindle.

Then, in March this year Vogg announced he was to recommence Decapitated and was searching for a new vocalist and drummer. This decision was greeted by much dismay from many fans and from yours truly. Granted, Vogg obviously has an urge to make music again (which is great). But, the Decapitated name should be allowed to rest in peace particularly as Vitek was such a staple in the band and frankly the most acclaimed member, musically. Vogg should set about starting a completely new band and with that satisfy his bug for playing and Decapitated should be laid to rest with Vitek. But that’s only one man’s opinion.

Regardless, during the summer Austrian drummer Kerim Lechner (formerly of Thorns Of Ivy) joined the new incarnation of the band and adopted the stage name Krimh.

Fans received some more news on the band at the end of October. In December, the line up will be made final and in April 2010 they will embark on their first shows in three years in Australia followed by summer festival appearances throughout Europe. After that work on a new album will commence.

Despite lacking the most vital component of Decapitated this new band will be greeted with much anticipation. It will be quite interesting to see what direction they take. That said, it will be rather difficult to imagine them being even remotely as great as they once were.

Only 2 years ago, metal tragically lost a sublime talent. Never again will a drum kit be pummelled into oblivion quite like Vitek did.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Between The Buried And Me - The Great Misdirect

Pay attention. This is very important. In 2007 Between The Buried And Me more or less cast aside their early hardcore leanings and fully embraced their progressive sensibilities that was always present in their music. They did so in the form of the record entitled Colors.

Colors is a monolithic piece of music fusing too many styles to name. But it shifted from punishing metal, to jazz, then to some country. While Dream Theater and Tool often take the mantle of the most revered prog metal acts of this age, Between The Buried And Me rightfully earned the right to call those great bands their peers. Musically, the album is utterly engrossing and is the sound of 5 ridiculously talented musicians perfecting their craft to unheard of heights.

So, it comes as little surprise that a follow up is an unruly assignment. Let’s just get straight to the point. The Great Misdirect is astonishing. It is without flaw as it pushes their boundaries beyond comprehension. The only way to do this record remote justice is to break things track by track.

The Great Misdirect begins in mellowed territory with "Mirrors". Vocalist/Keyboardist Tommy Rogers enters with his butterfly soft voice and soft summer breeze like guitar lead commences. "Mirrors" then dissipates into…

Now an instantly attention grabbing lead pierces the air for "Obfuscation". Between The Buried And Me then shift to their relentless and punishing beginnings on this track, void entirely of clean vocals, surprisingly. This is like a battering ram, completely unyielding. The mid section then returns to some uneasily peacefulness but then builds to an astonishing lead which sounds like it could soundtrack the apocalypse. Rogers then screams his way to its close as guitarists Dustie Waring and Paul Waggoner gloriously widdle away.

Disease, Injury, Madness
No time is wasted here when a deafening crash is emitted. Seizing your concentration then is the first lead riff which comes in at lightning fast speed. An ambient break passes onto some harrowing solemnity in vocal harmonies. Another harmony enters between bass and keys and re-entering are those oh so satisfying riffs. But a further change is just around the corner. Hugely jazzy influences pervade the din along with huge grooves which gorgeously sway, then give way to psychotic chants running over strenuous blast beats and then you’re returned to that first lead riff. Merciless is an understatement.

Fossil Genera – A Feed From Cloud Mountain
An upbeat keys line introduces "Fossil Genera…" which gives way to a seismic, crushing riff. The mood is akin to a demented carnival through the returning keys and Rogers’ vocal tone. Drummer Blake Richardson shines in many parts here too with unrelenting and pummelling beats. This track has a “seeing red” like attitude with the riffs and visceral screams never letting up once. Until it all abruptly lightens to an acoustic passage soon led by a lithe solo, but Rogers once again takes centre stage. Over hypnotic keyboard effects he scales and scales to a dizzying and trance inducing crescendo. Utterly amazing.

Desert Of Song
The air reverts to a more chilled out one here. Guitarist Paul Waggoner first takes on vocals in a surprising development. We start with a country-esque passage before Rogers returns with his gentle croon. "Desert Of Song" effortlessly swoons and then scales to an elegant peak.

Swim To The Moon
The distant sound of waves splashing appropriately begins the oddly titled "Swim To The Moon". A frenzied exchange between all instruments commences. The chorus sees Rogers ascend to his highest clean vocals, the delivery is ambitiously beautiful. Waring and Waggoner’s fret skills are tested to the max here too while the rhythm section of Richardson and Dan Briggs (bass) is just ridiculously tight. The middle sees a flurry of musically jaw dropping instrumentation. On The Great Misdirect, Between The Buried And Me have further asserted their unparalleled talent. Things break down slightly and a disquieting and almost unnerving vocal hits. The mood gorgeously shifts to an acoustic lead until the chorus returns for a foreboding and wholly heart stopping climax.

There is not one superfluous moment on The Great Misdirect nor is there any imitation. Between The Buried And Me are one of the most strikingly original bands right now and a somewhat bizarre one. The Great Misdirect is yet another calling from them for everyone to take notice of their uncanny abilities. It’s impossible to pick out one of the five men on this record that are a highlight as each musician is offering something completely different. But one thing that can be gauged is that you need this album.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pelican - What We All Come To Need

Chicagoan post metal instrumentalists Pelican had a tall task ahead of them when it came to topping their 2007 magnum opus City Of Echoes. Merging all their varying strengths the album was a momentous accomplishment for the band. Upon the first few spins What We All Come To Need pushes some more boundaries and from this vantage point, given time like wine the record will only become better and better.

Pelican have made quite a habit out of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with truly awe-inspiring passages and deafening crescendos. What We All Come To Need vicariously continues on that path

Striking harmonies beckon the commencement on "Glimmer". You can still hear some ambience, with hypnotic leads swirling vividly around. After only being 7 minutes into the record, you’re already entranced. But despite the voyages into airy vibes that they’ve so effectively utilised in the past, Pelican still bow down at the altar of the riff. An assuaging balance is struck between the two.

From the get go What We All Come To Need never loses sight of its goal which is to, simply put, wow you.

There’s a droning Sunn O))) like intro on "The Creeper", so it wouldn’t come as a surprise that guest guitarist on the track is one half of the Sunn O))) anomaly, Greg Anderson. It seems that the guest spots on this record have poured their creative juices on this stuff. Isis’ Aaron Turner also features, on the title track. That said, both songs still retain that wholly unique Pelican sound.

"Ephemeral" makes a return here, being the title track from the EP released earlier in the year. It nestles up nicely with the new material and is doused with a new vigour. "Specks Of Light" then emits meandering and hook laden riffs only to break down to a sweetened mellow section and slowly and dramatically climb back up to its towering stance.

This whole album gorgeously interweaves itself around varying moods and tones. These eight tracks are an eclectic blend of crushing riffs with dizzying and lusciously soaring climaxes. Crescendos loftier than mountain tops are the order of the day for What We All Come To Need.

"Strung Up From The Sky" is a reminder of how easily Pelican can shift between varying timbres and vistas. Meanwhile, "An Inch Above Sand" thrillingly wanders and completely sucks you in

What We All Come To Need’s title track then treads on that life affirming quality that Pelican have so superbly harnessed throughout their career.

For closing track "Final Breath" there’s a shocking but utterly engrossing development. Vocals. Yes, you read that right; another collaborator on this record is Allen Epley of Shiner and The Life And Times. It elegantly passes through its wraithlike verses and Epley’s delivery is nothing short of heart stopping as it oozes with melancholic sensations.

This record is stunningly beautiful yet appealingly heavy when it needs to be. It’s all rather excellent, no… really it is.