Friday, February 8, 2013

Annotations of an Autopsy - Dark Days Review

Frequent readers of will know of frequent contributor Sergeant D, who in addition to writing for the website also maintains his own site known as Stuff You Will Hate. A couple years back on Stuff You Will Hate, Sergeant D brought to the attention of the internet metal crowd an Australian outfit by the name of Endworld. Their song "Never Trust", and the corresponding (terrible) music video, became showcase pieces for how not to write a song, how not to make a music video, and basically how not to be a brodowncore scenester douchebag. The title of the post containing Endworld's ode to creative bankruptcy was "When your deathcore band is the shitty version of Defiler", referencing yet another brodowncore scenester douchebag brigade comprised of levels of suck previously thought unheard of in "heavy" music. I'm fairly certain Annotations of an Autopsy, Great Britain's worst export since Heil Honey, I'm Home, saw the video and, in a haze brought on by a combination of too much weed and too few brain cells, said to themselves, "Hey, ya know that moderately enjoyable death metal album we made with Erik Rutan a couple years back? Fuck that shit, brah, that didn't have enough slams in it! Let's completely throw that sound out and make something so stereotypically 'bro' that not even other scenesters will like it!" And that's exactly what they fucking did.

Testament - Dark Roots of Earth Review

Ah, the modern thrash metal revival. The resurrection of this most frenetic style of heavy metal has seen many new bands attempt their hand at mixing the great bands of yesteryear with a modern sensibility, while many stalwarts of the genre's golden age in the 1980s and early 90s came back to life or shed their mid-to-late 90s groovy skin to return to what made them famous in the first place. Many good things have come from the thrash revival (the returns of Exodus, Kreator, Destruction, Overkill, and the Big 4 to thrash as well as the emergence of Municipal Waste, Havok, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, and Evile among others), as have many bad things (everything Destruction has made after Antichrist, that stupid yet thankfully brief Gene Hoglan-less Dark Angel reunion, the lack of a reunion of the classic Sepultura lineup thus saving us from any future Derrick Green fronted albums), however one cannot deny that more good has come from modern thrash than bad.

All That Remains - A War You Cannot Win Review

All That Remains have existed since before the turn of the century. They've been around since before either of my little brothers were born. They were there at the start of the metalcore explosion alongside genre luminaries such as Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall. In their fourteen year existence, one would assume that over time they've honed their sound, tweaking and perfecting it until they can be considered nothing less than a force to be reckoned with in the world of metalcore and metal at large. Well a force certainly comes to oneself through listening to All That Remains, said force being the pushing on one's gut as he runs to the toilet to be ill. Almost a decade and a half and they're still pumping out this garbage. At least their earlier material sounded kinda interesting, if still quite run of the mill (save some stuff on The Fall of Ideals, which actually sounded *gasp* genuine!). A War You Cannot Win, the sixth release by this band, is so blatantly-appealing-to-the-lowest-common-musical-denominator that it's not even funny. It's damn near 2013, people; why are the masses still buying into this shit?

Ikkadian - Of Alpha and Omega Review

I can't say that many albums have left me coming out of them in sheer amazement and awe. For example, Agony by Fleshgod Apocalypse and Monolith of Inhumanity by Cattle Decapitation, respectively in my opinion the albums of the year for 2011 and 2012, are among such pristine albums in my library of music that left me wanting to listen to them over and over again for days afterward. Only just today, on the 18th of September, 2012, newcomers Ikkadian from the great state of Virginia (home to both Lamb of God and my maternal grandmother), comprised mostly of former members of underrated death metal greats Dead Syndicate, have unleashed upon the world their own brand of blackened death metal in the form of Of Alpha and Omega, a brand reeking so wonderfully of an old school sense of self that I wouldn't be shocked if they were some lost band from the early 90s returning to make themselves known. Kind of like a death metal version of Hell, only American and a lot more on the blast beating side.

Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy Review

Cryptopsy alienated a very good chunk, if not most, of their old school fanbase when they released The Unspoken King in mid-2008. With a new, crooning clean singer and taking many cues from the deathcore genre, such as breakdowns and more simplistic song structures, many were put off by the admittedly not very good songwriting and frankly awful vocals. Some even cried the familiar metalhead cry of "you sold out!" that so many fans of this style like to shout, although in this instance they actually had some backing. For me personally, I wasn't quite as pissed off as many others were, and there were actually a couple songs on the album I genuinely liked. When compared to the legendary beast that is None So Vile however, the album just melts in your hand like a dyslexic M&M. Now four years, two new bassists, and the return of original guitarist Jon Levasseur later, Cryptopsy have released their seventh full length album, simply titled Cryptopsy. And goddamn if it isn't a return to form.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thoughts on the Randy Blythe Situation

Unless you've either been living under a soundproof, 6 ton rock at the bottom of Atlantis for the last week. or just don't ever read the news, you've probably heard that Randy Blythe, singer of Lamb of God, Halo of Locusts and prospective candidate for President of the United States (might I add he'd be a whole hell of a lot better than Mitt Romney) was arrested in Prague for an incident that happened at a Lamb of God show back in May of 2010. The incident in question was a 19 year old fan climbing on stage during the show and being allegedly thrown off and/or beaten by Blythe, thus suffering a brain hemorrhage, going into a coma, and dying two weeks later. A lot of bullshit surrounds both the incident itself and the way the case is proceeding currently, namely that despite posting bail last Monday Blythe remains in a Czech prison and will so until next week. This article will mainly just be my thoughts on the entire sordid affair. If you want the full spectrum of news and other things relating to this, read GunShyAssassin's coverage of it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nile - At the Gates of Sethu Review

Nile have been around for Anubis knows how long, and every time they put out a new album we as death metal fans always give listen and be wondered by the insane speed, the furious intensity, and the Egyptian influences, both lyrically and musically. Their previous album, Those Whom the Gods Detest, was in my top 10 albums of 2009. Songs like Kafir, 4th Arra of Dagon, and the absolutely epic title track rank among the best songs Nile has ever put out. Now three years later we're holding audience to yet another new album by the South Carolinians, and to be honest there's not a lot here that we haven't heard from this band in the past. There's a multitude of problems, from the rather shitty production to the general feeling of "been there, heard that" throughout this album. Musically the album is sufficient, but in terms of memorability I don't think I'll be switching Cast Down the Heretic off for almost any song on here anytime soon.

One of the major problems I have with At the Gate of Sethu is that there's not a whole lot of new stuff here. As mentioned, there's a big old feeling of having heard pretty much every song here before, only on much consistently better records like Annihilation of the Wicked. Here and there there'll be something that pops out and makes you go "whoa, didn't see that coming", but for the most part I've heard most of these songs before, just on different records from Nile's past. The major reason for this is that Nile are a speed based band. I'm a big fan of fast extreme metal, but Nile's way of doing it can get very old very quickly. They thankfully do have a standard Nile doom metal epic though in the form of the album closer The Chaining of the Iniquitous. Tracks like When My Wrath is Done and The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu (yeah, almost every song title on the album is a run on sentence) start off slow and crushing, but quickly devolve back into the same monotonous hyperblasting and the same monotonous guitar tweedling. Even worse is that a few songs don't even have proper endings; they just sort of stop dead in their tracks. Case in point, I had to go back and listen to the album again before writing this review because I genuinely did not remember one thing about it aside from The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased. Hell, the tracks that stick with me the most even after another full listen are the two Egyptian music interludes, which are absolutely breathtaking. Shame there aren't more of them on here.

The other major problem I have with the album is the production. Holy fuck, this album sounds bad. The guitars do thankfully sound like guitars unlike some past records of Nile's, but they're still WAY too thin for my tastes. The drums are incredibly clicky and annoying, which is a shame because George Kollias's playing is probably the best part of the album. The bass is nonexistent, as is stupidly common in extreme metal productions today. While I applaud the production sound for not only having the guitars be audible among the musical cacophony as well as it not being compressed to hell, that's not saying much when the sound is as thin as it is. The individual musicians's performances on the record are superb, as one would expect from a band like Nile. Dallas Toller-Wade and Karl Sanders shred away on the guitars with skill and precision, and George Kollias once again shows why he's one of the best drummers in extreme metal today. It's a damn shame they couldn't write better material to compliment their skills though. The vocals on this album are, as many have pointed out on message boards and comment sections the internet over, very weird at times, and I like that. It's one of the few aspects of the album that didn't bore me to death. Both Dallas and Karl are very powerful vocalists, so you can always expect that aspect of a Nile record to be good no matter what the music is like.

Overall, this album is a giant bore. Aside from the vocals it doesn't really do much in the way of progressing Nile along the musical path. Sticking to one sound an entire career is not inherently a bad thing. Just look at Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. But whereas Cannibal Corpse has made slight variations to their sound over the years to keep listeners on their toes and attentive (and headbanging), Nile have made the same album again that they've made the last two or three times, only much less interesting than the last two or three albums before this one. And quite frankly, that to me is the sign of a band that is running out of steam. If you want some quality death metal that's been released this year, I recommend Torture by Cannibal Corpse, Global Flatline by Aborted, and the masterpiece of 2012 so far known as Monolith of Inhumanity by Cattle Decapitation. All are much more interesting than At the Gate of Sethu.

Final rating: 2/5