Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: GAME OVER "Burst Into the Quiet"

Album: Burst Into the Quiet


    Revival Thrash anyone? With members of the Big Four of Thrash Metal getting old and whinny(tends to happen to most elderly people), the young bands are beginning to break through more.
    Of course, these young thrash bands would not be around if not for all those groups who paved the way back in the eighties. Over the last ten years revival thrash continues to strongly push forward, and Italy’s GAME OVER is yet another group running down that intense highway of thrash. Their second full-length album, “Burst Into the Quiet,” really bursts into extreme thrashing madness once the album begins. This band captures the intense raw style of early Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Overkill, Exodus, Testament and all those other influential thrash groups. Compared to most of the other revival thrash bands, GAME OVER offers a pure shot of adrenaline when playing their music. They have this relentless aggressive sound that reminds of D.R.I. and Nuclear Assault. 
    The musicianship demonstrated on this album is fierce and precise. GAME OVER creates some catchy wicked sounding thrash songs. The opening song, “Masters of Control,” begins with a blazing guitar riff. Once the other instruments start tearing away, the head spinning chaos takes form. The band’s vocalist shouts each lyric out with tremendous energetic force, and his vocal style allows the words to be heard clearly. 
    Although drummers do not receive that much credit for their contributions, they are one of the most important parts in any thrash band. GAME OVER’S drummer is a crushing rhythmic machine. Song’s like “Seven Doors to Hell” and “The Eyes (Of the Mad Gardner),” feature some insane double bass talent and precision timing. When the band writes a song, they really do a great job planning out their different musical parts along with playing their instruments extremely fast. “No More,” is one song that gives listeners a taste of everything this band is capable of doing. GAME OVER throws in some medium tempo thrash riffs and quickly turns up the speed meter for a lightening thrash attack. The guitarist shreds with a melodic edge and his leads during the song are flawless.  
    I keep bringing up the fact that this band plays with some intensity, and the 28 second song, “Metropolis pt.3,” is a perfect example. Just think of a short hard hitting hardcore punk track, but with an overall thrash sound. I consider this song to be my favorite on the album because the band was able to demonstrate some amazing musical abilities, even though they only had 28 seconds. Another track that I want to reference for its vibrantly bombastic old school thrash sound is, “Nuke ‘em High.” The opening bass riff sets way for an ominous guitar assault. Also, the main chorus is written in this triumphant manner that makes the lyrics really standout.
    GAME OVER managed to take a style of music that I have heard numerous times before, and keep me head banging with excitement. I think that is a problem I have with most revival thrash bands. Instead of coming up with solid energetic thrash songs, they try too hard to create some new dynamic sound that ends up sounding overwhelmed by different extreme noises. GAME OVER’S “Burst Into the Quiet” is proof that the old school formula still works and can keep the pit moving forward. So, if you are a thrash metal maniac, get this album and add this band’s logo to your denim jacket! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Algebra: "Feed the Ego"

Band: Algebra
Album: Feed the Ego


    Swiss thrashers, Algebra, return with yet another mathematically extreme ripping release. When I reviewed their debut album, “Polymorph,”and I was impressed by their mix of technicality and pure raw aggression. Right away one can make the comparison to Slayer, Testament, Overkill, Megadeth and the other iconic thrash groups. However, Algebra does stray away from the path from time to time when pertaining to their songwriting and instrumental compositions. Overall though they are straight up thrash.
    With their sophomore release, “Feed the Ego,” Algebra puts more emphasis on songwriting by penning together lyrical that relate to relevant world wide topics. I still hear some of the blazing technicality that I heard on the first album, but definitely not on the same level with the first release. Algebra takes a more progressive approach musically with “Feed the Ego,” and I think that can appeal to a wider audience. There are tons of tempo changes, unique timings and the intense thrash riff dominating style is not set on repeat. Also, I think Algebra shows a slightly more mature side compared to most of your other young thrash groups by not singing about Satan all the time.
    The album begins with the song, “Survival Nowadays,” and maintains that raw aggressive nature that I heard on “Polymorph.” However, the lyrics really capture my attention and standout just as much as the fluid technical leads. Their drummer can still decimate his kit with thunderous blast beats and he gives the song a massive sounding rhythmic backbone. The lyrics strung together convey plenty of raw emotion and the singer’s voice is more commanding than before. They want people to hear these lyrics and maybe start to think on a deeper level mentally. I especially felt that way during the song, “Prisoner Outdoors.” The compositions are precise and the song’s attitude is very unapologetic.
    I really like how Algebra incorporated more intricate guitar parts, and it showed the band’s diverse songwriting mentality. The commonly heard intense thrash riffs tend to be used more for the verses, but can change on a dime to make way for some harmonic leads or slow crushing breaks. “Necessary Evil” and “Profound Guilt” are two songs I would say morph constantly and push the music in multiple directions. One song that really takes a sharp turn musically, is “My Shelf.” The opening guitar chords sound very hollow as each note is picked and create this cosmic gloomy atmosphere. Algebra still shows their technical side by throwing in melodic leads that bleed out emotion. Their singer also sounds less abrasive compared to the following tracks, and presents a powerfully haunting vocal tone.
    For the most part, Algebra continues to push themselves away from the typical revival thrash bands by diversifying their sound. I do not have too many complaints with this release, but I noticed Algebra played it safe on a couple songs and used a very simple Slayer like style of songwriting. Overtime I think Algebra will morph into their own distinct sounding entity, but that takes time. Right now they are heading in the right direction, and their consistency will allow them to grow even faster as musicians.
     The overall songwriting on, “Feed the Ego,” is different from the stand point that Algebra can write thought provoking lyrics, and still sound aggressive when playing their instruments. Algebra continues to grow both musically and lyrically, while maintaining that no nonsense thrash sound. If you like thrash, I recommend putting down the calculus book and getting this album...(Couldn't help myself)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview with Despot's Marcelo Murrer

Here is an interview with Brazilian Black Metal musician, Marcelo Murrer, the man who plays all the instruments in the band Despot. Recently I reviewed the band's first full-length album, "Satan in the Front Row" which is available for download via the band's bandcamp. I highly recommend this album for all fans of Black Metal, and metal music in general! 

1) Hello Marcelo Murrer! Thanks for taking the time to do this short email interview. Now, how does it feel to have your first full-length album, “Satan in the Front Row,” out and available for people in the metal community to hear?

Marcelo Murrer: Hello! No, thank you for the support! It feels awesome, that's for sure!

2) The songs on this album were extremely well recorded, and the production really stood out. How long did it take to record this album? Also, where did you record this album and who was involved in the recording process?

Marcelo Murrer: Thank you! It took me about 2 months if you discount all the pauses I had to make due to work and other "real life" issues. I did everything on this album.

3) Now, Despot definitely falls into the Black Metal category, but I heard some other extreme metal musical influences throughout this album. What bands influenced you growing up and helped shape your own musical identity? How long have you been making your own extreme music?

Marcelo Murrer: Oh yes, definitely. I'm into all sorts of Metal and it definitely shows in my songwriting. I listen to so many different bands that I'd end up with a huge list if I were to include them all. But in broad strokes, some of Despot's biggest influences are Celtic Frost, Bathory, Morbid Angel, Metallica, Candlemass, Emperor and Sarcofago. I've been playing in Metal bands since 1998.

4) On multiple songs I noticed that you incorporated some technical acoustic parts. Growing up did you take any classical acoustic guitar lessons, or did you teach yourself?

Marcelo Murrer: I took classical guitar lessons for about 2 years.

5) Not only do you play guitar on this album, but you play all the other instruments too. What are some of the benefits of being able to play all the instruments? Do feel you have more creative control?

Marcelo Murrer: I would say that playing all the instruments gives you as much control as it takes it away from you. Granted, you can play the parts the way you envision them, but that can be really hard. My primary instrument is the guitar and I'm much better at rhythm guitar than I am at lead guitar. So, anything other than rhythm guitar and about half of the lead guitars in "Satan in the Death Row" was challenging in varying degrees. Some of the bass parts were really difficult for me to play since it's an instrument I don't practice regularly. I had to play it safe with the synth parts too or it would sound way to sloppy. So, at the same time playing everything gives you control, it also exposes your shortcomings.

6) “Satan in the Front Row,” presents some sinister lyrical themes, and I was wondering, where do you draw inspiration to write such haunting lyrics? Growing up in Brazil did you ever watch José Mojica Marins films? Those films are awesome and are pretty metal.

Marcelo Murrer: The lyrics in "Satan in the Death Row" are all about religious and ideological persecution. Some of them were inspired by real life and historical events like Auto-da-Fé, Satan in the Death Row, Egregious and Purified by Fire. I used to be a fan of Jose Mojica when I was a kid, but nowadays I'm really not into most horror movies.

7) Although you are a one man band in studio, do you ever plan to get some other musicians together and take Despot out on the road?  Any tours planned?

Marcelo Murrer: No concrete plans as of now. Truth is I don't have enough time.

8) Lastly, I want to say thanks again for doing this interview and hope more people check out this album. Do have any last words on the album/a final pitch to get people interested in checking out, “Satan in the Front Row?”

Marcelo Murrer: Once again, thank you for taking  your time to listen to my music and for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. "Satan in the Death Row" is available as a name-your-price download from the bandcamp page and you can download it for free if you'd like. The songs are available for streaming there, too.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: Dirigiri "Self-titled EP"

Band: Dirigiri
Album: Self-titled EP


    San Antonio, TX extreme three-piece metal fanatics, Dirigiri, do not seem to take their foot off the speed pedal. The six tracks featured on this self-titled release exemplify how intense thrash metal, mixed with some brutal slamming death metal, is to be played. One of the band’s most noticeable achievements with this album is that they know how to create catchy and heavy sounding rhythms. There are some really good intense grooves that allow the songs to really flow. I find most of your typical death thrash bands tend to sound too chaotic and focus immensely on the fact they can play extremely fast. Dirigiri can turn up the speed too, but the sound is very tight and the music has a sense of direction.
    Now, this style of music is nothing new and it didn’t sprout of the ground yesterday. However, Dirigiri makes an effort with each of the six songs to standout, and of course, challenge their own musical abilities. Once the first song “Boiled in Blood” began, the band wasted no time showing off their intense musical abilities. Their style of thrash mixed with death metal does not really emphasize one particular style. “Boiled in Blood,” showed a band that is working to form their own unique sound, and the musicianship definitely caught my attention right away. This group’s sound is fluid in a slight sense, yet still very aggressive. The bombastic death growl vocals used demand your attention and give each word a brutal emphasis.
    Song number two, “Bone Collector,” is another brutal grooving piece of music. Here the band releases all of their inner rage for a speed demon like track of fiery destruction. The guitarist’s picking is extremely fast and he throws in a variety of different guitar parts, especially for only one guy. Track three, “Death by the Hands of an Angel,” continues Dirigiri’s quick extreme style of metal. For some reason this track seemed shorter than the others, but that is because the band did not mess around and broke right away into a metal tornado sounding jam. Following up the intensity is another mosh forming track, “Riot.” The drummer rapidly pounds his kit as the guitar and bass tear into a sinister riff. Compared to the other songs, this one for some strange reason reminded me of how the splatterthrash band Ghoul sounds. Maybe because the intense mix of death metal and thrash metal sound more gruesome on this track, or maybe I just come up with bizarre comparisons.
    The final two songs of this album finish in the same extreme brutal way in the which this album began. “Straight From the Grave 2,” is a morbid sounding extreme music offering full of corpse tearing riffs and grinding rhythms. Out of all the songs on this album, I really enjoyed the last song, “Toilet Extermination.” The drumming during the song is blazing with technicality, the main verse’s ripping guitar riff is extremely catchy and the song’s title, is utterly hilarious. Nothing more brutal than banging your head to a song about destroying a toilet.
    Overall Dirigiri presented a solid release that leaves me wanting more extreme death thrash material. I think these guys know how to combine their influences while working to craft their own musical identity. Definitely a band to be on the look out for in future. I recommend this band for anyone who enjoys Slayer, Overkill and Testament, mixed with Death, Morbid Angel and Possessed. Dirigiri is so brutal, they might make your toilet explode!
Dirigiri's Facebook page:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Despot-Satan in the Death Row

Band: Despot
Album: Satan in the Death Row

    Blast beats, morbid sounding vocals and harsh guitar riffs played through heavily distorted amps, I think it is safe to say that this a Black Metal band.
    Hailing from a region know for passionate extreme metal music, Despot is another Brazilian metal band that delivers ultimate evil sounding music upon this earth. The one-man band led by extreme metal musician, Marcelo Murrer, follows down a similar musical path to that of legendary Brazilian metal bands Sepultura and Sarcofago. “Satan in the Death Row,” is an album that demonstrates raw sinister creativity. Listeners will be dragged into an ominous world of haunting atmospheres and intense vicious compositions.
    Murrer’s songwriting and instrumental capabilities are highly impressive. Since he plays all the instruments on this album, I notice that the compositions all flow together. He is allowed complete creative control and can dictate which direction he wants the album’s sound to go. The opening track begins with dark ambient sounds to build up some bone chilling suspense. As the introduction begins to fade, a scream of guitar feedback starts to come creep through. Within seconds the next track, “Matriarch,” starts to takes form. The beginning ominous sounding riff slowly gains momentum and is matched up with crushing drum fills. Halfway through the song, the music drastically slows down and creates a very gloomy atmosphere. The dark ambiance seems to steal all the happiness around me, and I get this mesmerizing chaotic vibe that reminds me of how the Norwegian band Emperor sounds.
    I find that the a majority of compositions on this album match up with material released by bands like Emperor, Dissection and Enslaved. Murrer really takes pride in his work, and songs like “Auto-de-Fé” and “Purified by Fire,” go through many changes musically while maintaining a solid satanic sound. His riffs can be very percussive and match the blast beats perfectly. Also, he demonstrates some technically by shredding up the lower strings on his guitar. No matter what style he plays, everything works together.
    The title track on this album definitely took me by surprise, because the opening echoing guitar chords caught me off guard. At first I thought this would be a slow doomy track, and guess what? I was completely wrong! Like a flash of lightening, corpse grinding blast beats come thundering down while a vicious chainsaw ripping guitar riff builds momentum. Murrer incorporates some acoustic music towards the end to give the song a progressive sound. Song number six, “Forbidden,” is another unholy extreme cut of Black Metal with hints of Death Metal. His vocal style shifts from the traditional Black Metal style to a lower Death Metal growl, and the contrast definitely offers more extreme variation. I felt that towards the end of this album the music became darker, and the slower sections really caught my ear’s attention. I think slowing the music down made the songs heavier and allowed me to really hear Murrer’s skillful instrumental abilities.
    Despot’s “Satan In the Front Row” is a reminder of how one man can play all the instruments and find a way to produce solid extreme music. Although the one man Black Metal mixed with other styles of metal band has been done numerous times, I think Murrer’s musicianship helps separate him from the others. I believe the creatively and skill that went into this album deserves high praise. As I have always said, Brazilian metalheads are unbelievably passionate about their enjoyment of metal music, and their own music sounds pretty darn similar to the great bands who influenced them. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Album Recommendation: The Avengers self-titled 2CD (Not the superhero movie, the punk band!)

Album Recommendation

Band: The Avengers
Album: Self Titled 2CD

    Some bands unfortunately get lost in time and are not recognized for their important contributions. San Francisco punk rockers, the Avengers, fall into that category of pioneering groups who just don’t seem to get the credit they deserve.
    The band formed around 1977 and was active for about two years. During their short run, they played around the local SF scene and even opened up for the Sex Pistols. Surprisingly it was not until after the band broke up, did their first full-length LP produced by Sex Pistols guitarist Steven Jones, get released to the public. The late LP release definitely explains why the Avengers did not receive more recognition for their contributions to the punk rock genre. Now that there is the internet, and this great two disc album, more people can discover the Avengers' raw, and very distinct style of punk rock.
    The Avengers were really onto something when they started writing music back in the late seventies. Lead singer Penelope Houston was, and is still, a passionate singer with a great vocal delivery. Avenger’s guitarist Greg Ingraham is a talented musician who can create furious, yet very catchy, sounding riffs. Bassist Jimmy Wilsey and drummer Danny Furious, together make up a great rhythm section that gives the band’s sound an extra kick of pure punk force.
    The first disc features material from the band's self-titled album. All the songs display that vicious defiant punk rock attitude. The opening song, “We Are the One,” is an unapologetic fist raising anthem that is appropriate for the time it was written. I really like the heavy crunchy sounding distorted opening guitar chords that set up Penelope’s vocals. The chorus resonates with certain feelings that I have about life, and its simplistic words convey a powerful message. Another great song that really stands out is, “Open Your Eyes.” I swear my generation should to listen to this song, because their current state of supposedly good music is utter garbage. They need to open their eyes and listen to more groups like the Avengers! “No Martyr” and “Desperation” continue that rebellious style with catch riffs and rock’n rhythms. I hear some surf rock influence in both songs that can be heard in later punk bands.
    The second half of the first CD finishes strong with tons of angry uplifting sing along punk songs. The band does a smashing cover of the Rolling Stones' “Paint It Black.” Compared to Mick Jagger, I prefer Penelope’s voice. She uses her dynamic rang to jump from sounding soft and pleasant, to vicious and pissed off. Still, out of the all the songs on both discs, “The American In Me,” is by far my favorite Avengers song. This track exemplifies the spirit of punk and questions the mass entity of control. Penelope describes the perfect loyal naive American, and then reverses the famous JFK line about asking what the people can do for their country. She presents the idea that we need to ask what the hell has our country been doing to us! Greg’s guitar playing during the song is intense and his lead guitar fills during one of the choruses are full of explosive rage.
    Now, CD 2 offers listeners a chance to hear seventeen tracks that range from demos to rarities. I understand the claim that demos are only added to an album so the record company can increase the price. However, this second CD does not disappoint. The band’s demos capture a group of four musicians who working hard to craft a rebellious form of rock music that could appeal to youths who were disillusioned with mainstream rock and disco. Songs like “Teenage Rebel,” “The Good, the Bad, and the Kowalskis,” “Summer of Hate” and “Your Parent's Sins” are basic defiant punk rock tracks aimed at challenging the times in which they were created. There are also some demo versions of songs that are on the first CD. I find this gives listeners a chance to hear how the songs evolved over the band’s career. I would say that the second CD acts as an audio piece of history, and is proof of the Avengers' pioneering punk rock sound.
    The Avengers may not get mentioned in the same vein as the Ramones or the Sex Pistols when pertaining to the history of punk, but in my opinion, they were one of the best sounding seventies punk groups. Their style was genuine and expressed rebellious feelings shared by others who did not follow the mindless mainstream herd. This captivating style of punk rock music will hopefully inspire more generations of fans, especially now that there are more mediums available for exposure. I highly recommend the Avengers for anyone who wants to releases their in frustrations and awaken their mind by listening to great punk rock music.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Iron Man "The Passage"

Band: Iron Man
Album: The Passage

    Turn up the reverb and let the riff do the talking. That last sentence definitely applies to the band, Iron Man.
    This Maryland doom metal group does not get fancy by trying to baffle listeners with progressive technicality, but instead sticks to the classic Black Sabbath blue print. Originally released back in 1994, “The Passage,” will be getting re-issued on vinyl through Shadow Kingdom Records on July 8th. Before this album was sent to me for review, I knew of Iron Man, but never actually listened to one of their albums. Thankfully Shadow Kingdom is getting the word out by re-issuing this album, and giving people like myself a chance to discover solid classic sounding doom metal.
    “The Passage,” is an enormous ball of pure fiery doom metal that sounds similar to releases put out by such doom groups as Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Trouble and The Obsessed. Guitarist Al Morris really knows how to throw down some monstrous hard hitting riffs. The instrumental song, “Tony Stark,” is full of great bone crushing riffs and passionate leads. When Al plays a riff, the other musicians follow him down this dark highway of thunderous earth shaking distortion. Compared to some doom metal musicians who can’t seem to wrap up their guitar parts, Al knows when to appropriately finish so the listener does not walk away feeling bored.
    Also to note, the songwriting not this album fits perfectly with the instrumental compositions. There are some haunting tracks that sound just as powerful as the guitar tone. During the opening song, “The Fury,” the music quickly descends without warning to deliver a cautionary tale of unholy mass destruction. The main riff presents this aggressive snarling sound that is followed up by singer Dan Michalak’s chilling vocals. I really dig the crushing seventies hard rock rhythms and the album’s second song, “Unjust Reform,” is like taking a time machine back to the days of early Black Sabbath. The galloping rhythm towards the end is not exactly technical, yet the overall sound is insanely heavy.
    Track number four, “Harvest of Earth,” puts the mind into a psychedelic trance of galactic exploding proportions. As the guitar tears away into a ripping solo, I can picture the earth breaking apart into a chaotic mess. Iron Man’s sound maintains a certain level consistency and awakens the mind with its crushing doom metal tone. My favorite song on this album, “Freedom Fighters,” is a killer thought provoking jam. The drummer pounds his kit with tremendous force to match Al’s massive guitar tone. Dan’s narration is spot on and his vocals add some strength to the song’s overall theme.
    “Waiting for Tomorrow,” is song that begins with a soothing acoustic guitar part to show how the band is capable of changing up their straight forward doom approach. The song is a subtle deviation and very refreshing to hear. The final track, “End of the World,” finishes the album off with a mighty message of more massive destruction. Iron Man sure enjoys singing about chilling tales of earth’s possible end, but then again, those types of themes make for great lyrics and even better riffs.
    As I have always said, Black Sabbath started this type of music, so in the innovation department I would say Iron Man is nothing new to my ears. However, I deeply enjoy this style of music, and whether it be played by Sabbath or Iron Man, I am going to rocking out to it. Iron Man’s “The Passage” is an album that I recommend for all fans of good heavy riff based metal, particularly doom metal of course. This music doesn’t get old and I am glad to have discovered Iron Man now than never. Hopefully more people can find out about this awesome band now that Shadow Kingdom is going to be re-issuing the album on vinyl.