Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mutant - Laserdrome (EP) - (2009)

With Photoshop from the pirate bay,
anyone can design an album cover. Try your skills today!
A new slab of modern thrash metal today. Mutant, who formed just back in '04 and with a discography consisting of a mere 2 EP's, these guys are pretty fresh in the game. This does not seem to be a hindrance for the Brits in Mutant.

Kicking at high speed, with the feel of many modern thrash bands this may seem a bit "normal" at a cassual first listen, but all the details make this album so much more than just another thrash revival disc. The riffing has a fair amount of melodic qualities, and structurally this EP has a fair deal of progressive influences.

The guitars are about 60% Thrash revival riffing, 30% melodic/technical thrash riffing and 10% awesome solos. this is all you need to know.

The vocals range from classical shouts, to a more guttural growling (unlike about everything else i've put up to review here). They are well exceuted, and fit the music well. thumbs up.

The drums have their moments, and have a few proggy moments. mostly in bass/snare patterns, but steady as a rock, and varying the patterns a fair deal. no complaints here.

Apart from in the basssolos, you can't hear the bass all that much. it's just below the guitars in unison, not doing all that many licks, but when you hear it, they are good, and a pleasant surprise. decent day at the office.

This piece of music is defiantly something of the better stuff to come out in the last few years. it should be checked out. 8.5/10.

Mutant - Laserdrome (mediafire)

The Rauncher


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vektor - Black Future

I'm telling you: It's not a Voivod Rip-off!
 A relatively new band, formed in 2002 with a mere 2 albums to show for it yet, Vektor is a you and promising band worth keeping an eye for in the future. Even though their primary genre affiliation would be thrash, they hardly mix with the other retro-thrash bands. Their prog-inspired and blackened blend of thrash is unlike any other thing i've heard.
The riffs span from fairly technical thrash riffs  to moody black pieces. most of the time i'd call the riffs a mix, with a blackened tonality and thrashy style. The variation presented keeps one interested through the entire album. The one thing i could wish for was more solos. the ones that are present are melodic and directional. They lead the music into new directions with their short bursts of high-pitched melody, Most Notably on the longer songs ending the album: "Dark Nebula" and "Accelerated Universe". Both of witch are highlights on this album with their respectively blackest and "thrashest" songs

The vocals are the most Blackened Aspect of this Album with a rasping shriek-ish style dominating the output. Worth noting are the incredibly high pitched Shirline on the chorus of the album closer: "accelerated universe". his vocals are not my cup of tea but they are well done and pleasant listening to if you take kindly to his style.

Bassmanship is pretty good on this album, but nothing that stand out as a big achievement. A few licks of counterpoint is used, (Black Future is the most prominent example), and to good effect, but nothing special.

 The same mostly goes for The drums. intense, with lots of blastbeats and doublebass. Thigh and well performed, but not something that strikes me as noteworthy.

Songwriting is  of a high calliber and the most striking aspect on the record. All transitions feel natural and works well. The moodscape is strong and done at a reasonable rate.

A Total score today is pretty easy. 9.5/10.

Vektor - Black Future (mediafire)
Buy From The label
Buy From Amazon

Vektor - Black Future

Vektor - Accelerated Universe

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Death - Symbolic (1995)

The eye, the snake, hands, a couple and lots of dark grey,
It seems like the symbolicism her is that if humans don't
watch out, we might create gentically modified snakes with
 hands, that will kill us all.
There was a request in the comments some time ago, to give my view on Death, or "Chuck will turn in his grave man"
caring for my readers i try to oblige all requests. do give me more of them, i might find something new i like.
I will also want to apologize for not updating for a whole week, but i have been extremely preoccupied with preparations for a show, and i may be busy next week, too, can't promise an update before next Tuesday.
The annihilator Concert review is a project I've started to write, but lain off, since i don't have the pics that my buddy snapped. The review goes up as soon as i get my hands on the pics.

Now, Death. Easily one of the most important names in the death metal genre. Innovating and almost inventing the death metal genre, including naming it, these guys are essential in the collection of any fan of extreme metal. Debatably releasing the very first true death metal reccord in 1987 with "Scream Bloody Gore" and with constant renewal of themselves, "evil chuck" and crew come of as musicians with high ambitions and considerable skill.

1995's symbolic has taken the band to a far more progressive, melodic and emotional style.
The albums focus is not on the brutality and/or technicality that most other  DM bands of the time did, but rather on taking the listener on a journey of feelings and moods. the use of tempo changes and a few changes of time signatures around the album keep things interesting throughout, and at times, wondering what will come next. In structure and songwriting this album is absolutely top-notch. Very few albums have this level of thought put into composition.

Vocally, chuck has put a greater emphasis on making the lyrics distinguishable, and the articulation of the semi-growling vocals is great. If  you put emphasis on distinguishable lyrics, this album is a pleaser as there is little effort needed to decipher the lyrics. Despite the clarity in chucks voice, he still manages to sound angry. there is a definite aggression to his hoarse voice.

Rifficaly speaking, the album is not the strongest DM album in existence, without being bad by any standards. The variation is good, and a lot of the guitar parts convey emotion well. But few riffs truly stand out as truly excellent DM pieces. (The opener/titletrack has a few dam good parts though.)
The solos have tons of direction and work very well, and are of the highest quality. A true highlight of the album.

Percussion on this album is perfect. While there are more speedy & technical drumming out there, and more progressive amazingness in other genres, the drummer here knows how to only attract attention when he does something extraordinary. His work is  also amazingly tight at all points in the album. the drum sound is slightly dry, with little reverb or "fall-off" noise. Here credit is due to the producer, as this dryness gives the tight work an even tighter sound.

Bassmanship has a lot of the same qualities as the drumming on this album. tight, truly excellent at times and well produced, it also has a lot lines that keep unique to the guitar, without being all that noticeable, making the bass a little hidden gem that you can search for and give you a little smile anytime.

Well produced, extremely well composed and with generally very good individual performances. this makes for a great album. If you are not acquainted with death's style of DM, you will need a couple of listens before you truly appreciate it, but when you get there. there is a masterpiece there for you. 9/10.

Death - Symbolic
Death - Symbolic (spotify)

Death - Crystal mountain

Death - Symbolic

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Troll, w / Mercury @ spokes Scene.

I wrote this text in Norwegian, and thought of posting it here, but i can't be assed to write it all out again, instead i present you this puzzle, of poorly translated concert review ramblings.
those of you who solve it, all glory to you.

Mercury, as the opening band gave everything to the atmosphere. A touch of humor by reading the poem that was found on the floor, and spontaneous ideas as to set up a lectern to lead singer testified won a stage set and entertainment group. By running at a high tempo from the beginning, and with an incredible live stage performance. Is it nothing more than to reap praise for the Mercury effort.
Sonically, it was no sludge ', which drowned some of the riffs any and all text disappeared in a sump hole of sound.
Musically, the mix of their heavy & power metal, with elements of prog, thrash and core elements interesting and varied. Especially the singer should have praised for its excellent and varied vocal lines.
Purely personal, I could wish that they Tont the "fairy metal" tendencies their breakdowns and did listen to the X-core band to come.
A sleepy audience may be due to the somewhat remote concert venue, the band's relatively unknown, and that the audience sat on chairs. An Experience that met expectations, and a fantastic live show makes Mercury deserves a
roll of the dice: 4

Troll entered the scene in total darkness with the grim, grandiose tones accompaniment. The theatrical effect was strong, and put the audience in the mood for what was: raw Norwegian black metal, with elements of symphonic, industrial, death and thrash. There was a high degree of riffing on both guitar and keyboards, and great vocal delivery.
The performance stage to the Troll was just as energetic as Mercury, but less vivid, unless flirting with the audience, but with constant headbanging and windmilling.
Sonically, however Troll had 100% control, with a clear distortion tone, and all the instruments clearly audible. Some of the audience thought the vocals were unclear, but as I sat there with me I got everything.
Troll did a very good concert that could only be improved with even more life on stage.
With good sound, good music, much of the last album, and a strong live performance, merit Troll
karrakteren: 5

Review of the annihilator concert yesterday is comming, but i can say, i loved it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Annihilator - Alice in Hell

That midget is freaky alright.
 Sweet, sweet acoustic tones. Arpeggios supplemented by a beautiful complex melodic line. Modulations and returns. “Crystal Ann” is one of the best pieces of music written in the history of popular music. It's strong mood, and emotion gets the listener quite ready for the rest of one dam strong album. 1989's "Alice in hell" is one of the best efforts by Jeff Waters, and his crew with Annihilator.
The first song on here, what some would call the title track: “Allison Hell” starts of with a dramatic acoustic, following the intro, but then bursts into a strong melodic riff, with a interesting bassline, to then go completely nuts, and calming down. This is indicative of the entire album. There are lots of changes, and riffs and passages of highly varied nature. All the parts are also of a highly catchy nature, and most parts have a strong identity, and feeling of uniqueness.

W.T.Y.D is a mostly fast paced thrasher with a fairly technical riff. Around the halfway mark, it has a very nice calm interlude, and then a shredding bridge. One of my favorite breaks of the album.

“Wicked mystic” is a heavy song, that never really lets up, and continues to thrash about until the melodic solo starting at a bit past halfway. This is one of the more shredding solos of the album (as opposed to directional solos). Strong track, that will leave your neck tired, should you witness it live.

“Burns like a buzzard blade” tones down the speed and heavyness for a bit, but makes uf for it in a more catchy riff and chorus. The staccato riffing on the verse feels so tight that you'd wish you could stick your dick in it. The solo is not the best on this album, and this song does not count as one of my favorites on this album.

“Word salad” is an intense song, with frequent changes of of speed, and a melodic thrash riff sticking out as one hell of a technical achievement. The acoustic piece in there is also the most creepy of them all. This makes a great contrast to the inspirational and quite directional solo. A nice piece of songwriting right there.

Schizos are never alone. A Fun and highly varied song, the title hinting to schizophrenia is somewhat indicative of the songs structure. Forgetting where it is, and where it is going, but with awesome parts driving it, this song is like a highway to nowhere. You don't get anywhere, but it is a nice ride.

Staccato drumming starts off “Ligeia”. The most important part on this song is it's structure, with its mix of mid-paced heavy thrashing, and breakneck speed choruses. Also worth noting, is the phenomenal bass riff carrying the later part of the song, with nice fills and intense riffing.

Ending the album is the bass heavy “human insecticide”. The bass jumps all over the place, with harmonies and octaves everywhere, fills and unique lines flow out of the lower register at amazing speeds. In general this reminds more of the second albums basswork, and that is a good thing.
The guitars keep up the intense speed too, but allow the bass enough space to shine.
A decent way to end a fairly good album, without any weak points.

This consistent album of good individual parts, and simply headbainging tunes is deserving of a decent 8/10.

Annihilator - Alice in Hell (spotify)

I am seeing annihilator, sworn amongst and svölk live in a weeks time, does anybody want a writeup of the consert, or are you more interested in having a more obscure recommendation instead? Leave your comment.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Watchtower - Control and Resistance

Sorry. No lame joke today.
I know that some of you told me to update more frequenlty. sadly, writing these reviews is a very time-consuming process, and for a hobby, there is a limited amount of time i can use between my other duties of the real world. Actively listening to an album for no less than three times, with several rewindings, and then writing my analysis to you, all my readers, will rarely take less than three hours. with two updates a week, this is easily 7 hours a week, that i spend on my blog. I have school, band practice and social stuff to do, so even though you love my updates, you will have to wait for each one of them. sorry.

Now for the real reason you are here: your semiweekly recommendation of obscure metal. This time around, i will point you to one of the earliest acts of progressive metal, (if you exclude the prog-rock-metal bands). Watchtower is a Prog/tech-thrash band in some of the same vein as mekong delta, coroner and realm. Their second album, Control and Resistance is the more progressive of their two albums, and a very good progressive effort at that.

The first element that deserves attention is the bass playing. Lines that differ from the guitar is the norm on this album. It is the most impressive bass playing i've heard on any thrash record, both musically, and to some extent technically. The modal qualities of the bass playing make the lines interesting at all times. The few times that the bass follow the guitar it is still highly audible, because of the equalization, with boosted mids and a excellent production with no mud in the sound at all. There are small bass solos scattered around, but most notable is the solo on the final track: "dangerous toy". This solo has such a jazzy quality and with the band following it, it is amazing. (jazz-thrash has definatly triggered my interest, and i plan to find more bands in this vein of music, to review)

The vocals have their own, extremely distinct style, they sometimes just completely ignore what is happening with the rest of the song. The most prominent example is "Mayday in Moscow" where time and melody is in intentional conflict with the rest of the band. The result is ear-catching, as the use of progressive singing is so little widespread. The uniqueness of the vocals is simply astounding.

Percussion-vise, this album is extremely varied. The drummer is a master of accentuating at the strangest of times, (in a good way), there are a few less interesting beats around if you look for them, but they are never kept around for long, and the simpleness is only used when it is extremely effective. the only complaint one could have, is that some of the toms sound a bit flat, and could use a bit more punch. This is hardly a thing to note in a recomendation, but for the sake of not praising everything into the sky...

The guitar riffing is of a highly progressive nature, but retaining a technical and thrashy edge at most times. The leads are very memorable, and the soloing is strong. Around the record there is some of the best sweeping i've heard in a long time. However the guitars mostly hold the backseat on this record. They do their job, but they are more there to bind the sound together, than to make their own voice heard.

Strong songwriting, great individual performances and a knack for making things that are both extremely complicated, yet catchy. If you can stand the vocals, this is a great record. Easily a 9/10.

Watchtower - Control and Resistance (mediafire)
Buy it from amazon

The Eldritch:

Mayday in Kiev:

P.S. These guys have a new single out. and if they manage to find a vocalist, they will record a new album as soon as possible (most probably named: "mathermatics")

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

i have a request.

today, i was going through all my followers, and i got to say that there are quite a few of you. passing 150 today.
i also know that most of you have blogs of your own, and i tend to have a look at all my followers blogs, but some of you do not keep a link to your blog on your profile page.
 you can set this at two different places on your blogger profile settings page. (i hope this link works)
please, for the furture. add your blogs to your profile, as i am sure you want to have me check out your blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Deliverance -Weapons of our Warfare

Weapons of our Warfare: Monks-with-the-ability-to-
Spoken intro with prayer. A badass angel slaying some evil dragon. Releasing a classic Thrash record in 1990, when classic thrash is mostly dead or dying. All signs point to Christians showing that they can rock too, and be angry like the kids.
To some extent they succeed. The music is angry, with a fair amount of riffs, energetic vocals, and fast paced and decently varied drumming.

To be a bit more descriptive, The style of riffing is roughly 50% Metallica (including acoustic parts), 32% early-exodus and 13% later-and-slower-slayer and a final 5% of technicality that can remind of Aspid, Coroner and other tech bands of the late 80's.
The riffs have quite decent inspirations, and have decent headbangability, but have a lack of individuality. none of the pure thrash riffs have any memorability, or iconic qualities. they thrash about in a moderately fast-paced manner, based on  "chugg&resolve" the solos are decently good, with a fair share of direction and dynamics. they are absolutely the high point of the guitar work on this album.

The bass is mostly inaudible, apart from the bonus track on the 2008 reissue, "rescue" This track has a quite different feel than the rest of the album, the riffing is based on harmonic guitars, and a more speed metal approach to riffing. the progression of modulations of the riffs however have a power metal feel, and this is enhanced by the harmonic guitar & polyphonic vocals on the chorus.

The vocals in general have more power metal to them than the average classic thrash, even though they do not feel wimpy or weak. The vocalist has a sound ranging from a rather mustaine like snarl, to a melodic rasping that i can't compare to any singer i know of. he also has a generic powermetal falsetto, that he uses sparringly. the variation of vocals and decent uniqueness of melodic rasp makes the vocals the strong point of this album.

The way to drum on a thrash album can be solved simply. Bass/snare or high-hat/snare patterns always work, and the drummer here uses them for what they are worth, but his fills, are so intense, fast and generally of high quality that they up the quality of his performance to a quite acceptable level. I am also convinced that it was the drummer that made the rhythm for the progressive/technical intro to solitude. A performance not too bad, all in all.

Structurally the songs flow well, and the album has a decent mix of calm acoustics and thrashing that keeps the interest decently high throughout the album.

Summing it up, this is a release that a fan of classic thrash will enjoy, unless they got a hate for Christian lyrics, or the vocals unusual style. Personally however, the two technical riffs on this album (intros of "solitude" and "Bought by blood") don't cut it to impress me. have a look if you are into classic American thrash and don't mind the vocals, but if you are here for the tech thrash, you can save your time.
This is a subjective score, mind you, and it amounts to 6/10.

Their spotify (not this album)
Deliverance - Weapons of our Warfare(mediafire)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The polls keep on roling.

as you might have noticed by now, there is a new poll to your right. (or right of this post) i would appreciate if you took the time to leave your mark upon this poll, as it is part of my tailoring to a larger mass. personally i voted for heavy, speed, thrash, power, death and progressive.

give me your view on modern metal in the comments.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations

Instruments: 3000$
Recording at studio: 1000$
Album artwork: 5$
Album of the year, all years: Priceless

The most well known underground metal act of all history. This is the history of British diamond head. A story of obvious passion for music, and writing all the riffs that exist in todays metal world. The sad part about writing every good riff, and being underground is that everybody steal your stuff, and take the praise for your work. Those who did, include large names of thrash such as Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus and Kreator.

Opening the album is the title track, The first of many riff-monsters to come. Said riffs tend to have a bluesy feel to them, such as the chorus, and the solo part. This does not say that it is boring and structured, this is full energy ahead old-school heavy metal, apart from the vocals, that get a bit melancholic in the verses.

Upping the speed, the second track, The Prince, is one where the bass makes it's presence more than known. Underneath the rhythm focused guitar riffing, (of a motörhead-ish quality) the bass spew out melodic licks, rolls and markings.
The use of keyboard in the intro is interesting, as very few bands used electric keys in 1980, and even fewer metal bands did the same.

"Sucking my love" comes of as one of the weaker tracks on the album. The first half lacks a bit in the riffing department COMPARED to the rest of the album. The second part is a calmer part with pretty good solos, and a couple having sexual intercourse in the background. This one is not the song you listen to first.

But now. Here comes the song that everybody knows, but nobody knows who wrote. The Metallica cover that people know is nothing compared to the original. The mood of the opening march, the fierceness of the solo, the raw energy of the riff. Nothing of that is carried on in the Metallica cover of "Am I Evil".  The vailing vocals that convey the feeling of an abandoned kid, who seek vengeance on the world, this can't be redone.
Not only did the guys in Diamond head manage to write one of the greatest songs of all time, but they also perform it so "right". A perfect example of how to give a song energy, even in studio. That is what makes this song so extraordinary.

Changing the focus away from the raw, energetic proto-thrash madness that is "Am I Evil", "Sweet and innocent" has more thee feel of 70's rhythm-rock, along with a catchy chorus, that has most people singing along. The choir adds to the feeling of "grandness", that the riff inspires.

"It's electric" has a riff that could easily be a commercial hair-metal band, that there would spring up so all too many of, later in the decade. The simple, catchy chorus makes this one of the songs that would act as inspiration for bands to come. the riffing in the rest of the song is decent, and it is a good track overall.

Ending the album on a high note is the intense "helpless". Energetic riffing, a prominent bass, and the best, and most interesting  vocal performance of the album. This is all that is needed to know. The song is bad-ass. listen to it!

The songs are generally very varied, and changes happen all the time. interest is never lost, and energy is high through almost all parts.
The final point i have to make, is that this album is such a pioneer of thrash, the riffs may have bluesy qualities, but the style is close to the old-school of thrash.
If you are a fan of Megadeth or Metallica, listen actively for riffs that sound familliar, you're bound to find quite a few.

Godlike riffs all the way, good bassmanship, and strong vocals, put together in great songwriting, this is a well earned 9.5/10.

Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations (mediafire)
Buy it!

The Prince

Lightning to the Nations

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mekong Delta - The music of Erich Zann

Steal the title from a book? Unimaginative!
"The Music of Erich Zann" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. Synopsis: A university student is forced, by his lack of funds, to take the only lodging he can afford. In a strange part of the city he had never seen before, on a street named "Rue d'Auseil", he finds an apartment in an almost empty building. One of the few other tenants is an old German man named Erich Zann. The old man is mute and plays the viol with a local orchestra. He lives on the top floor and when alone at night, plays strange melodies never heard before. Over time, the student gains Zann's trust, and eventually learns of his secret, that the old man has discovered melodies and rhythms of sound of an almost otherworldly nature. Zann plays these sounds to keep back unknown and unseen creatures from Zann's window, which is said to look out into a black abyss, most likely another dimension." (wikipedia)

Melodies and rhythms of sound of an almost otherworldly nature. This is the bar that the long self-obscuring Mekong delta set for themselves when writing their second album: The music of Erich Zann. To a great extent they have succeeded. There are quite a few progressive and strange rhythms scattered around the album. Some time signatures reach into the completely strange and inaccessible, such as the 11/8 part on "prophecy" (i think it is 11/8, feel free to correct me), and melodies of "extraordinary" qualities are present.

Most of the album is fast paced thrash, with exceptions, such as the heavy, chugging, and experimental "I, king will come", the orchestral "Interludium (begging for mercy)", the epilogue track, and various intros around the album.

The guitar-work is phenomenal, with intense thrashing riffs everywhere. I would guess that the 10 songs of this album have at least 75 unique riffs, of which barely any fails to inspire headbanging. That is not to say that they are simple, in fact the contrary is true. most of the riffs are technical and varied.
The leads are even better. while there are not lead melodies everywhere, the ones that are there are highly catchy, and memorable. Two of them strike me as highly modal, or even atonal, but this somehow suit the music. The sourness of certain leads are such a strong element of the moodscape of the songs, that you wonder how the hell you pull something like that off.
Solos here are generally of high quality, but they lack some of the direction and sense of purpose that i tend to to favor when analyzing solos. This is of course a matter of taste, and should not put anyone of from checking them out.

The vocal work is probably a deal breaker for quite a few out there. either you like it or you hate it. Objectively good things about it is the degree of variation. From a strangled rasp on parts of "I, King will come" to a falsetto like vail, to a more classical thrashy shout. Things that might offset a listener is how the vocal melodies counterpoint the guitars by being completely out of key, on purpose. The effect is a inaccessible sound, that takes some getting used to, but soon, in my ears make for a strong mood-shaper.

The bass work is quite good, and shines on a couple of tracks, like "Confession of Madness" where unique lines roll out with a punchy sound (boosted mids) with a very decent solo to top it off.

The drums are of excellent quality, and with intense markings and fills all over the place, and a varied approach to the lines, only good things can be said of the drummer on this album.

Standout tracks include the thrashers: True Lies, and Confession of madness, the catchy "memories of tomorrow" and the slow and heavy "I, King will come"

The highly technical riffing, great drumming, experimental vocals, decent bass lines, and the extremely intricate songwriting earn this album another 9/10.

The music of erich zann (4shared)
Buy it from Amazon

I decided to add 2 videos to every review from now on, as it gives a better understanding of what kind of music it is.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New poll is up.

There is a new poll on the site.
Do you want me to post energetic live videos of the band/song, or would you like me to post crystal clear studio versions? Maybe i shoud use judgement on when to use what, so that you won't see a bad live?
vote away, or tell me what you think in the comments.

Artillery - By Inheritance

Leonidas? is that you on the third from left?
Melody of Egyptian qualities. A polka rhythm to go with it. then kick in the guitars, and you got yourself a mood opening was what the danish thrashers of artillery must have thought when putting together their finest effort: By Inheritance.
Formed in 82' and releasing demos and albums of increasing quality, culminating in said album, in the year of 1990.

The first real track on the album: Khomaniac continues the trend of Egyptian melodies, but this time with a thrash riff instead of "humpa".
The changes of riff, bass solo, underlying chords, and egypto-thrash melodies, combined with an intense delivery of high-pitched thrash vocals, and a fun shout-along chorus, works to create one of the best thrashers in memory.

Beneath the Clay is a fairly good thrasher, with licks and solos still in some middle-eastern scale. the riffing however does not quite match that of the opener. The bass however is subtly present, making unique lines, not heard before you listen to the album a couple of times, or look for it. However subtle, this is a major boost to the song, and allows the song a score of "very good"

Now the real gem of the album is the title track. "By Inheritance" is a riff-monster of grand proportions, with some of the tightest double-guitar galloping i've heard since Annihilator (i might review/recommend one of their albums if you wish. tell me if you need them reviewed, or tell me to recommend you something more obscure.)

Continuing about annihilator, the next track's (bombfood) early acoustic piece bears resemblance to the style employed by Jeff Waters on several tracks on "Alice in hell".
The rest of the song is a melodic speed/thrash song. the vocals do a particularly intense job, with high pitched "clean" screams  and more mellow lines, on the acoustic parts.

"Don't believe" is much in the vein of the former song, but with a greater use of contrasting harsh thrash and acoustic/melodic. The bass is highly audible and active on the first post-solo bridge, with melodic licks.

Tams and toms open the intense and speedy "Life in bondage". The blistering speed and technicality of the guitar riffing is remarkable, and the drums do a couple of nice patterns. The song eases down the tempo some for a harmonizing, melodic riff for a little while, and then it kicks you in the teeth with a lightning-speed solo.

Leaving the high-speed "life in bondage", the following song, "equal at first" pales a bit in the shine. while it is a good melodic thrasher in it's own right, the comparison leaves it looking bleak and uninspired.

Cover time! the Nazareth classic: Razamanaz gets the artillery treatment.
Short story short: not much has really changed. the vocals and solos are the only real differences, and even then, they are not great. Pointless cover.

Melancholicly opening, Back in the thrash is an interesting track. Full of riffs, and good melodies, this is a track that is likely to get in your head. The layered vocals and tonally ascending guitars makes this track feel "big". The amount of riffs, and quality of such makes this track one of extremely appropriate title.

A high quality album, with excellent musicianship, and well done songwriting. this is another: 9/10.

Artillery - By Inheritance (mediafire)
Buy From Amazon

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Raven - Rock until you Drop

A normal day at band practice, is it?
"It sounds like we're actually in hell!"
Thus starts the most energetic album in recorded history.

Ravens debut from 81' then kicks of with a powerful riff, a falsetto shout of "ALRIIIIGHT!" and a high-speed riff with both blues and thrash qualities to it. This is indicative of what the album is about. Blues riffs, with a, then,  innovative thrashing edge, that no one else had. "Hell Patroll" was probably some of the most brutal music out there at the time. It's sudden changes, barrage of riffs, and intense rasping falsetto screams leaves the listener with no way of not headbanging at maximum speed. The falsettos of Mr.Gallagher is also shown to be of highest quality when i comes to lung capacity, as near the end of the song, all the instruments pause, as the vocalist holds a high falsetto for something that seems like an eternity.

The next song is one of the best songs on the album. "don't need your money" has a catchy melodic speed/thrash riff, and some of the most sing-along friendly chorus on the album. The guitar is also hyperactive in providing little melodic licks everywhere. these little shreds are the little boost that gives the song "that little extra" to make it truly great.

The two next songs are the bluesy "over the top" and the acoustic, one minute, piece "39-40". around the 30 second mark of the song, there is a passage of chords,(Here) later directly copied by Metallica on their mega-hit "Nothing else matters". This could of course be totally random, as certain combinations of chords sound good, but the fact that Metallica was opening band for Raven around 83 (PROOF!) would suggest that it stuck, and resurfaced during the writing of the black album, almost 10 years later.
The next song also suffered a simmilar fate. The intro and chorus riff  was copied by the Humorous World of Warcraft band: L70ETC (now probably named L80ETC) on their popular song: I am Murloc (Comparisition)

Nobodies hero is another high speed song, with a catchy chorus and a bluesy bass line.

Next up is a cover of the band "Sweet", or actually, two covers in one song, namely Hellraiser/action. The songs are very fitting for raven to cover, as the style of music of these songs, clearly was a great influence on the band, and the vocals really suit the style of Gallagher, who does his best performance of the album on this track. The interweaving of the tracks are also very seamless, and if one does not know the originals, it is hard to tell where one song ends, and the next one begin.

"Lambs to the slaughter" is another high speed track, with some of the best drum markings on the album. but this one drowns slightly among the other high speed songs.

Finally, "Tyrant of the airwaves" is a relatively mid-paced song with a nice build-up, and the most impressive use of guitar licks on the album. The vocals is relatively low, and in the mid-range, except for a couple of dramatic screams. This song has a strong feel of focus and streamlining, and is rather indicative of how raven would evolve on the sub-sequent albums. This one would slip nicely into their third album: All for One.

This sums it up as one of the strongest releases of NWOBHM and a deserved 9.5/10

Raven - Rock until you drop
Buy "rock until you drop" from Amazon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Realm - Endless war

Iron Horse? Endless war?
Are these guys anti-Native Americans?
Debuts have a tendency of being inconsistent, or lacking direction. Realm's first offering, Endless war is no exception. Thrashing away at high speed and full technicality at one moment, and the next beeing an acoustic piece, before you throw in a power metal-ish power chord riff to be modulated up and down, before you end it with a depressing, melancholic piece.

Lack of direction aside, the individual parts are all good. The riffs are of a high caliber, and quite a few stick out in your head after you finish the album. The solos are intense, and the solos are fairly technical. The aforementioned acoustic parts have highly memorable melodies, and in their own respect, they are very good parts. The guitar work in general has an extremely tight feeling to it, that is somewhat muffled by the production.

The Bass throughout this album is worth noting, as even though there are mixes where the bass is more audible, (and this album would benefit from a more prominent bass), you can tell that there is lots of awesome stuff going on down there. The times when the bass is prominent in the sound, however, you can tell that the instrument is getting a beating. The bass sound is almost as though it was slapped, and this creates a nice dynamic, and intense sound.

The vocals are somewhat special. The falsetto screams through the album might put of the average metalhead, but the performance is top notch, and the mid-range is plesant to listen to, with all the power you could wish for in his voice. Objectively the vocals are good, but one might not like the styling of them. Hit or miss.

Drums on this album is nothing special. they do their job, and do it well. Tight drumming and some nice fills around the album, but nothing that should not be expected.

Notable songs on this album include the beatles cover of Elannor Rigby, that has a good novelty appeal, that covers up the fact that it gets a bit boring after some time of mostly galloping around the chord progression.
Other good songs are "Slay the oppressor". having the beginning as a crescendo, with gradually increasing tempo. Then continuing with a highly technical and melodic thrash riff, then a slower chugging, yet thrashy riff, and the best solo on the album: dynamic, fast, technical and finished just as it needed to.
Finally, the ending song: "Theseus and the Minotaur", with it's power chord progression (mostly alike the verse on accept's "balls to the wall") ,technical riff and sudden changes of pace is a sweet ending to an album of generally good ideas.

The sad truth is that the songwriting here lacks the flow that true masterpieces have, even that of a "good" record. This all sadly pulls the entire score down to a preliminary 7/10 Though this might change, as i listen to the album more than the three times before this review.
(edit: now as i've had the time to let this grow on me i think of it as a 8/10) 

Realm - Endless War (mediafire)
Buy from Amazon

Monday, September 13, 2010

Omen - Battle Cry

With the rapidly changing scene of metal in the eighties US, quite a few bands were quickly forgotten, despite being reasonably talented. One of these acts was Omen.

Omen formed in 83', and released their first and arguably best album, Battle Cry, in 84'. This album, along with the single "The Axeman" was a minor hit, albeit a quickly forgotten one.

The album however, starts of with what is an even better song than it's single, namely the high tempo "Death Rider", a song with a slight feel of melodic thrash to it, despite being classic heavy metal. It's melodic main riff and intro sounds like it could be picked out of iron maidens self titled album, with it's melody and 3/4 feel (it's in 4/4, it just has the feel of 3/4).

"The Axeman" also has a start that can be linked heavily to maiden, with a spoken intro, reminiscent quite a bit to the intro of Maidens "Number of the Beast", released the previous year. The rest of the song and album tones down this maiden-like feel, and it does the album good. The continuation of the song, has a heavier feel, with a proto-thrashing riff and more challenging vocals.

Other stand out tracks include the title track, and "in the arena". the first of which starts of with the sourest guitar scream you will ever hear, before kicking in with a technical staccato riff and then a tight galloping, with a catchy chorus. This is a great sing-along track, and for some time has been one of the fixed songs in my drinking playlist. The solo is also worth mentioning as one of the better on the album.
"In the Arena" on the other hand starts of slowly, with acoustic finger plucking, and emotional singing, before driving the song onwards, with high speed. somehow it still retain a feeling of tragedy through the vocals, lyrics about a falling gladiator, and the underlying chords on the chorus. The mix of high speed and emotion is an uncommon one and an excellent way to end the album. With songs mostly going very up-tempo, the change of feel is a pleasant one.

Variation is, despite all the songs going in the same vein of music, not much of an issue. The riffs are distinct enough to separate the songs, and the vocalist can play a few different tunes. The one major drawback of this album, is the lack of originality. While it's a good album in it's own respect, it is always reminiscent of someone else, be it Maiden, Manowar or Judas Priest. with this the only thing draving them back, the score is pretty easy.
For now, omen recives a decent 9/10
Omen - Battle Cry (mediafire)
Omen - Battle Cry (spotify)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Anacrusis - Screams and Whispers

Lots of smoke on an album cover?
How original!

"Anacrusis: the note or sequence of notes which precedes the first downbeat in a bar." (Wikipedia)

Anacrusis choose  a fitting name, as their music have been ahead of the wave, preceding bands playing in the same vein of music. Their first album, which i hope to have the time to write it's own review, Suffering hour was thrash of unheard technicality. Gradually becoming more and more progressive in their sound, their fourth album, Screams and Whispers is an album that manages to be both progressive and thrashy, but also having emotional, melodic parts (in a very non-emo/gothic way)

The opening song, 'sound the alarm' is a good indicator for what the rest of the album has in store for us. It starts of with a calm synth, with heavy delay, before kicking in with a melodic, fast thrash riff. The bass does it's own unique line underneath. the next part is a part accentuating the "off" beats.
Here the guitar has a nice delay effect, creating a strong alien moodscape to the music.
The alien mood is enhanced by the vocalist, Ken Nardi, switching between a thrashy rasping, staccato shout, and a mellow, emotional, honest style. Later on, through the album, he also does more clinical "matter-of-fact" styled vocals, screams, and deeper, guttural noises.
In fact his vocal performance on this entire album is the best vocal performance i have ever heard on any album, any genre. His variety, intensity, softness, harshness and perfect conveying of emotion makes him deserving of recognition as not only one of the best vocalist in metal, but as one of the best vocalists of all time.

Apart from the Vocals, the most notable performance is that of the bass player. ever-present, demanding your attention almost as much as the guitars, doing harmonic fills, markings, melodic bass lines and syncopations. The tone is punchy, clear and in your ear, with lots of mid-tone at some times, like on "too many prophets", and deep, hard and with lots of "kick" at other times, like the deep, technical line under the chugging  on "grateful" .

The guitars  are varied, switching between thrashy riffs, melodic leads and beautiful harmonies. They also employ a ton of  highly mood-inducing effects, such as delay, phasers and more. While this could potentially get wanky, it is pulled off so perfectly on this album. Every effect used, is part of creating a moodscape. Great care was used in the process of when to employ these. However, the guitars on this album is the least extraordinary on this album.

One of the most unique aspects of this album is the use of synth. from simple filling out the sound, adding a staccato riff backing, playing melodies and chords, or marking the beat like you would use a cymbal. the synth is the secret ingredient of this album. It might not strike you right away, but with consecutive listens, you will know that the synth is the glue, that ties the songs together, and brings every song up from the great tier, and up to masterpiece status. It is also the main drive of some songs, like "brotherhood?" and "driven".

The individual performances being great, however, is only a minor part of the whole image. The composition of each individual song is top-notch, but just as important is the composition of the album. The album progresses nicely from a thrash oriented start to a more prog/experimental feeling towards the end. These songs later on the album keep surprising. Even after listening to this album literally 50 times, i still discover new details in some songs.

This level of perfect composition, and great songwriting in absolutly world class makes this album one of those few that truly deserve top marks.
Anacrusis - Screams and whispers (spotify) 
Download all their albums from Anacrusis.us
Screams and whispers (mediafire)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ARIA - Hero of Asphalt (Ария - Герой асфальта)

This is a fucking Robot Viking Biker.
You do not mess with him.
Aria, or Ария as it is in Russian, is one of those bands who merely was in the wrong place at the right time. Founded in 1985 in Russia, they missed the wave that hit England roughly five years earlier. Hence they lost all chance of commercial recognition.

Their two first albums have a feeling of making it as they learn, but Their third album, Hero of Asphalt sounds quite a bit like Iron Maiden in the mid-eighties, while retaining some personal edge to their music.
The most obvious difference is the vocals. Valeriy Kipelov sings a lot like Bruce Dickinson, and his high soaring vocals can often feel "larger" than Dickinsons. Kipelov does dramatic vocals just as well, if not better than Bruce, but is not quite as varied, with calm or mellow vocals. There is no need for him to go lower, however, as the vocals suit the music at all times. He also has a knack for making catchy vocal lines, that makes you want to sing along, even if you don't know a word Russian. One good example is the song, 1100, where he carries the entire song from being mediocre.

The guitarwork is praiseworthy through all the songs with lots of riffs, galloping and otherwise, through the entire album. The solos are of high quality. While they are not the fastest shredding around, they are highly melodic and varied, always with a sense of direction, Much in the vein of their obvious Maiden idols.

The bass is prominent in the mix, and highly distinguishable at most times. It provides occasional melodic licks under the guitars, and really shines on tracks like Rose Street, where it hardly does simple following of guitars, but always catches your attention with interesting licks and markings.

The drumwork is tight, and does it job at all times, but it is nothing extrordinary. the drummer works in a way that allows the rest of the band to shine.

All in all this is a high quality album in both songwriting, composition and individual performance. It's one major drawback is how it could diversify itself more from its inspiration, the mid-eighties Maiden.

This sums it all up to a total of 8/10
  Aria – Hero of Asphalt
Hero of Asphalt (mediafire)

The start of a Journey

This blogg is your new source for recommendations and reviews of obscure and unknown metal bands. To start off, i will mostly do old school heavy metal, and technical and progressive thrash metal albums. If you have suggestions for underground metal albums that you want reviewed, leave a comment, or send a mail at MYMAILHERE