Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

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First let’s get this out of the way right off: You have to give it to Cross Examination for continuing to promote their new album (ok, 7”, but 7 songs still comes close to an album, even if the songs are barely more than a minute) despite being from St. Louis, MO., the band has soldiered on despite the civil unrest in nearby Ferguson, MO where Devil Dan works at the newspaper. Rough times indeed, but as metal bands and fans will do, we soldier on. It’s been seven years since the band’s last release, the Super Party Brothers Split LP with Spring Break. They’ve been gone too long and are glad to be back.

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With few exceptions, a band is a band, despite what switches may have occurred. Van Halen is the most obvious instance that comes to mind when switching front-men due to the fact that the band’s sound changed completely once Sammy Hagar joined. And don’t get me started on Gary Cherone. Arch Enemy, however, I’ve accepted the line-up changes as part of the business of a band and been able to enjoy their releases. The Haunted, however, definitely fall in the first group. There’s the releases with Peter Dolving (which I refer to as the insanity years) and those with original vocalist, Marc Aro. The band definitely made the right decision in bringing Aro back into the fold.

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Witchaven is a band that would be a perfect fit for Hell’s Headbangers.  That would be limiting, however.  The band would be pegged into that HHR sound of dirty production and filthy guitars.  Witchaven, however, differ slightly from many of their HHR peers.  The guitar work is excellent, creating memorable classic thrash riffs with ease, the production is fairly clean – albeit still a bit of grime remaining, and the vocals are a mixture of death metal growls and black metal shrieks.  Their brand of blackened-death-thrash is a fun, catchy romp through each genre within each song.  The playing is tight and live they hold their own with anyone on the bill.  The night I saw them, on the fourth of July no less, they played with Spellcaster, Cemetery Lust, Hirax, Wehrmacht, and Cryptic Slaughter.  Nice company to keep!

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ChildrenOfTechnology

The crazy Italian’s that make up Children of Technology play a charged metal/punk hybrid that aims straight for the gut. The band’s image completely belies their sound. Appearing to be extras straight out of The Road Warrior, one would expect to put on the album and hear a ragged, dirty, wasteland of a record. Instead, CoT deliver an album of metal straight from the Toxic Holocaust train of thought. Not that they sound like TH, but rather they contain frantic drumming, half-sung, half-grunted vocals, all laid over pummeling bass and punk sounding guitars. As the band’s press release states, “Literally, everything on Future Decay is turned up to “11,” and then beyond!”

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Dogs (Emgland)

Grantham, England’s English Dogs have lived the hard life. Starting out in the early 1980s as a straight-ahead punk band, the band slowly progressed to a more thrash metal oriented sound as time went on. In actuality, there are two versions of the band floating around. One has original vocalist Pete ‘Wakey’ Wakefield, and the other version – the band that is releasing The Thing With Two Heads – that features original drummer Pinch, although Adie Bailey and Gizz Butt have been with the band since 1986s Where Legend Began. Having toured with Charged GBH and Discharge, the band has definitely paid its dues. (Interesting note, when the band originally broke up in the mid 80s, Butt ended up playing in The Prodigy….yes, those Firestarters!

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Black Metal has always intrigued me.  It’s history, aesthetics, and evolution continue fascinate me even though my fandom of the actual music was fairly short lived.  That’s not to say that I don’t have my favorite Black Metal albums and bands, but finding newer acts that capture grab my attention are seemingly quite rare.  The Botanist has always been one of the USBM bands that has just never connected with me musically, but conceptually I’ve always believed there is something there just waiting to happen.  I’ll let the band (Roberto Martinelli) explain the concept, “The songs of Botanist are told from the perspective of The Botanist, a crazed man of science who lives in self-imposed exile, as far away from Humanity and its crimes against Nature as possible. In his sanctuary of fantasy and wonder, which he calls the Verdant Realm, he surrounds himself with plants and flowers, finding solace in the company of the Natural world, and envisioning the destruction of man. There, seated upon his throne of Veltheimia, The Botanist awaits the time of humanity’s self-eradication, which will allow plants to make the Earth green once again.”  Now that’s a concept I can really get behind, I’ve just needed to make the right connection.

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Album Review: Accept – Blind Rage

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Album Reviews
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If you go to Accept’s website it lists 3 bands as being responsible for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Accept.  Accept?  Really?  I was under the impression Germany was located thousands of miles from the UK, so revisionist history and all, whatever.  While I never considered them a member of the NWOBHM, I also never considered them a thrash band, which is a prominent style on their new release.  And that’s not a bad thing, it’s nice when bands switch up their style and incorporate new sounds and techniques.  In the case of Accept, it couldn’t have worked better.

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WeHaveAGhostCover

We Have a Ghost is one of those artists that aren’t easily classified.  Once you think you’ve got them figured out, a new rhythm crashes in, the bass lines become more aggressive and a whole new experience has begun.  It is quite an accomplishment to be able to defy genres and keep an album interesting, especially after repeated listens.  We Have a Ghost has done just that.  Mixing martial beats with lazy (that’s a positive statement) keyboard riffs, then switching to an ethereal, atmospherically moody vibe, the anonymous one-man-band hits a grand slam on the self-titled album.  At times sounding like The Fragile era Nine Inch Nails mixed with How to Destroy Angels era COIL, WHaG pulls off the vibe and intensity of a heavy metal album all while never using a guitar and utilizing vocals sparingly.

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Reviewing a band that suddenly changes their sound is never an easy task. How does one compare the band’s catalog to their new sound? How does the listener approach such a drastic shift in the approach to the music? Those are just two of the simple questions when approaching the new Wolves in the Throne Room album Celestite.   The companion album to 2011’s Celestial Lineage, Celestite sounds nothing like the former. The simplest comparison would be Burzum’s change from black metal into a prolific ambient powerhouse that is black metal’s version of Tangerine Dream. There must be something about being locked away in the wilderness with little outside influence that moves these artists to make such drastic changes. That being said, however, the stylistic progression isn’t that much of a stretch for the black metal genre.

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I didn’t grow up on hardcore. I lived in the suburbs of Seattle and metal was my savior. I never even checked out anything remotely hardcore until D.R.I. released their Crossover LP, or more accurately for me cassette. Crossover and Four of a Kind fueled me for a good year. After that hardcore was just another sub-genre of metal for me. Loud guitars, aggressive vocals, and rhythm sections that were fast and tight. It’s with that background that I approached the new Madball release, Hardcore Lives. (Side note: the title confuses me a bit. Does the “lives” refer to the fact that hardcore still exists, or are Madball proclaiming that they are hardcore about living? )

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