Monday, June 29, 2015

Excimer "Thrash From Fire"

    Prepare to be thrashed by a young act from Alexandria, Egypt. Excimer offer up ten tracks of old school sounding thrash on their full-length release, “Thrash From Fire.”
    Originally recorded as a digital album, the band worked out a deal with the German label Witches Brew and had the album officially released on CD in March of this year. Taking a page from the unholy thrash book that was set forth by bands such as Testament, Metallica, Overkill, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and a list that can take up an entire paragraph. These dudes looks to tear up the streets and win over those leather jacket wearing thrash maniacs. 
    “Thrash From Fire,” definitely comes across with a little more aggression thrown into the tracks. I think the band takes influence from a variety of different metal styles and creates their own unique musical sound of expression. The opening song, “Hell on Earth,” is fierce and relentless sounding. Of course there are many revival thrash bands who have written songs in this style, but I feel Excimer’s presentation has a raw and exciting quality to it. As a young band you hear where they are trying to push their talents into a more intense and technical direct, yet they stay true to their capabilities. Unlike some groups who feel like they need to play lightening fast and overwhelm listeners with random shredding, Excimer sticks to just writing a solid piece of thrash music.
    Track number two, “Victims of Plague,” reaches into that classic Metallica realm with a variety of heavy sounding instrumental parts. The vocals are definitely more harsh sounding than your usual thrash vocals. I hear some early black metal influence which just increases the band’s raw nature. “Provoke the Slaughter” and “War Terror,” continue that doomsday thrash attitude and features some wicked riffs.
    One of my favorite tracks on this album is, “The Curse of Seth.” There are some really sinister sounding guitar parts and the song’s overall tone is pure evil sounding. The whole band is locked in on this destructive sounding riff that makes the track stand out from the rest.
    There are also a couple covers on this album. For song number eight, Excimer covers Kreator’s, “Cry War.” I thought this was a strong cover because I hear a lot of early Kreator in Excimer’s sound. Now, song number ten is a cover of Judas Priest’s, “Rapid Fire.” I personally wasn’t as impressed with this cover as I was with the Kreator cover. Covering Judas Priest is not an easy challenge, especially given the band’s iconic status in the metal world. Still, Excimer tried and they approached the song with their own style instead of trying to mimic Priest note for note.
    Excimer’s, “Thrash From Fire,” is another one of those thrash albums that displays the undying love that young musicians have for this style of music. Their music can appeal to extreme thrash fans from across the globe. With more work and dedication to their craft, I believe Excimer will be a strong and recognizable force in the thrash world. If this is what they have to offer us now...I can’t wait to hear what they will come up with next! \m/

Click Here to Visit the Excimer Facebook Page

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #7

    Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Dave Mustaine’s mind flying away into the clouds.
    Yep, I need to start this rant off by bringing up Old Man Mustaine. Recently I have been hearing some news about the new Megadeth album. Unfortunately the type of news I am hearing is not increasing my interest in the new release. I am more afraid than when I first heard the title track to, Super Collider! First off, they have some country artist named Steve Wariner playing on a track. Is Megadeth jumping off the thrash ship and venturing into the world of country? I know the band played at some George Jones tribute concert, but they honestly don’t think their core fan base is really going to embrace MegaCountry. Also, I am just worried that the album will be a disappointment because Dave Mustaine is a squirrel. No offense, but his interviews can be a bit bizarre and musically I don’t know what else this band really has to offer. I shall hope that the new album is a strong release and makes up for the last album, Super Disappointment Collider. However, I will not hold my breath...
    Next topic is about a band that I recently heard on the radio. The band is... Butcher Babies. For those who don’t know of them, just imagine two female singers trying to growl and dress in outrageous sexy looking outfits. In all fairness they are not completely horrible, but after hearing their song, “Monster Ball,” on Sirius Liquid Metal, I really do not get how people consider them to be an act worth paying money for. Their sound is a mix of poorly arranged nu metal/ industrial metal and really bad growling. Vocally, I could not tell what was going on. The contrast of very pop like clean vocals and weak sounding death growls made my head hurt. Also, the lyrics being presented in the song were about as memorable as the words on the back of a cereal box. After the song finished, I learned to always turn the station when Butcher Babies shows up on air.
    Last topic I want to bring up... Did you know that Gene Simmons thinks rock is dead? Again! I am tired of hearing him saying this bit in every interview. Gene, why don’t you donate some of your money to the young rock/metal bands to help rock not die! Or just retire to some island and never bother us again! If rock was completely one hundred percent dead, then why do people still pay for Kiss shows? Why do people still give this arrogant man money? Best answer I can come up with for those last two questions, I think some Kiss fans have been brainwashed or fed subliminal messages. That would be a great science fiction movie. Kiss taking over the world with subliminal messages in their music and products. Wouldn’t be surprised if Gene takes my idea and actually makes the movie...
    Well, there is this week’s rant. Feel free to comment on one of the topics brought up. Don’t be afraid to voice your honest opinion like I do!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On Top "Topless"

     Down and dirty bar room style hard rock coming from the streets of Philly. That is one way to describe the young rock trio, On Top. This band is following in the footsteps of all those eighties LA bands who drove around drinking, messing around with groupies and eventually would need to find new jobs once the nineties hit.
    Now, I do enjoy some of the eighties hard rock acts who used too much hair spray. Also, there have been some recent up and coming bands who have incorporated elements of that style and done really well. On Top is really unique because they seem to go for your basic bar room style hard rock. The music is catchy and the songs are presented with a tough sounding edge. However, I was not really fully grabbed by the four songs on this EP titled, "Topless." I felt as if I was listening to watered down version of Skid Row or Mötley Crüe.
    The opening song, “282,” was a sleazy hard rock cliché. For the song’s lyrics, the band sings about the life of a prostitute. Of course this is not the first hard rock band to sing about the life of a street walker and probably won’t be the last. I will say the drummer, bassist and guitarist had a solid main rhythm going, but there was not much added to the song to really make the piece standout. I also thought the solo was bland and needed more dynamic variation.
    Track number two, “Go Crazy,” was a slight improvement from the last song, but not by a lot. The chorus is very catchy and has a stronger delivery. I would even say the guitar solo offered more variation and strengthened the band’s sound. Still, I just could not fully get into the music. There are so many bands like this and I really think the lyrics are extremely cheesy. Then again, cheesy lyrics sell sometimes, so can’t say that On Top might not be able to win over beer drinking rock fans who want to relive the Sunset Strip Days.
    The final two tracks “Got Me Runnin’” and “Lie to Me,” were not bad and I started to see where On Top was coming from musically. This trio wants to make some catchy hard rock songs and just have a good time. Their singer is a fierce sounding frontman and definitely gives the songs a punch of energy. The overall sound is not outright horrible, but I think this is a type of music that is more for straightforward hard rock fans.
    I really hate having to be critical on young hard rock and heavy metal bands, but that is my job unfortunately. In all fairness, I rather see a band like On Top getting their music played on radio over some rap artist who talks like a moron and needs to pull up their damn pants! Also, I must point out how On Top is very bold using the backside of a tattooed topless chick for the EP’s cover. These days ravenous feminists will lose their cool if they saw the cover and accuse the band of exploiting women. Personally, I think those feminists should calm down and go get a beer at an On Top show and have a good time.
    Although I was not completely won over by this EP, I would still recommend all hard rock fans who like that sleazy eighties rock sound to check this band out. Who knows? With more practice and gigs this band could put out the next, “Shout At the Devil”...Or, just keep playing the bars.

On Top Facebook Page:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Screams From the Garage "EP: Le Nostre Radici"

    In a world full of overpaid and egotistical rock stars, we need a young determined punk/metal band to rally the underground. Coming from Castelbuono, Italy, Screams From the Garage looks to be a group that can bring the hardcore and crossover scenes together in the fight against mainstream musical garbage.
    Their style of music stems from this group’s enjoyment of hardcore punk and metal. When listening to Screams From the Garage you feel as if you are going back in time to when Black Flag first released, “Nervous Breakdown,” or when Negative Approach was tearing up the streets of Detroit. This four song EP is exciting and it is a great example of true musical expression.
    The line-up featured on this release consists of Gabriele Growl on vocals, Antonio Sfascia Chitarre on guitar & vocals, Gabriele Wizard on bass and Gabriele Taddeo on Drums. I think the band chemistry is very solid and each song demonstrates the determination of this young group to get their message heard.
    Also, the band sings in their native language, which I think gives the songs an authentic style of expression. After translating some of the lyrics, I felt as if I already knew where the band was coming from just by Growl’s delivery. No matter what language the lyrics are presented in, this is a style of music that transcends borders with its powerful feel and energy.
    The first song that I heard from this EP was, “Il Dio Denaro.” You have this simple yet really heavy sounding thrash riff that kicks off the track and then Growl comes in with his rapid vocal delivery. The music is fierce and unforgiving. Once the song finished, I was immediately ready to check out the next three!
    “Moscardelli Is The Way,” is more of an upbeat and quick tempo type punk song. The track expresses the band’s enjoyment of soccer and has this really catchy chorus. As the band shouts out the chorus you almost want to join along as if you are attending a live show. Another area that really impressed me about this EP was the raw feel that can be heard on each track. “Le Nostre Radici,” is a song that is presented in this unapologetic manner and the instrumental composition is a perfect reflection of the lyrics. Antonio’s guitar parts are screams of rage while Wizard and Taddeo maintain this strong musical backbone.
    The final song on the EP, “Basta Scorie!,” stands out from the rest with a slow dark intro that then explodes into a hardcore tornado. I can see this song getting fans to jump off the stage and run around the venue knocking chairs over. To sum the song up, this piece of music simply embodies the spirit of punk.
    All four tracks on this EP represent the musical mentality that resides in the brains of many across this planet who want to express their inner rebelliousness nature. Screams From the Garage is a band that is needed in a world dominated by the shallow music industry elite. In the years to come, I can’t wait for what else this band has to offer musically. May their screams echo outside the confines of the garage and reach all hardcore punk/metal fans across the world!

Click Here to Visit Screams From the Garage Facebook 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #6

    Another week full of metal news and crap that I can express my thoughts on. Oh what fun...
    To begin, Morbid Angel should win an award for confusing the hell out of their fan base and the entire metal music media. At one point I did not even know who was still in the band! First Trey talked about how him and Steve Tucker were working on stuff and the new Morbid Angel album would be a “ beater.” Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean, it got everyone thinking David Vincent was out. However, David released a statement later that day saying that he was never asked to leave the band! What? The metal world literally went crazy with different scenarios such as their possibly being two vocalists in the band or that the band would split into two factions. People actually thought their might be a possibility of two Morbid Angels! Then Tim Yeung the drummer decided to leave the band for financial reasons. A few days later the band’s second guitarist Destructhor decided he was on his way out. At the end of this week I did not even know if Trey was in the band. Maybe Morbid Angel was a spiritual entity that would go on releasing albums.
    Well, I guess some of the confusion has been put to rest as David Vincent released a statement saying him and Trey are not going to be working together and he is moving onto new musical projects. Still, Morbid Angel confused the heck out of me this past week and I will not be enthusiastic if I hear there is a new album coming out. From now on I shall refer to Morbid Angel as Morbid Confusion. Don’t get me wrong, their music is some of the death metal’s finest (minus most of the songs if not all on that last album). Though I really will have a hard time believing anything moving forward that the band has to say, especially if posted on a metal media site.
    Next topic, would you believe it? Eddie Van Halen said something disrespectful about former bass player Michael Anthony. Wow, how old are these rockers?! They are worse than a group of high school drama queens! Eddie said in some stupid interview with Billboard that “...Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play. Before we'd go on tour, he'd come over with a video camera and I'd have to show him how to play all the parts.” To summarize that quote for everyone, Eddie Van Halen is trying to tell people that he has an inflated ego and is unbelievably arrogant. In every interview that I have heard with Michael Anthony, I have never heard him make any strong critical comments or disrespectful comments for that matter about Eddie. Also, Eddie is getting old and bitter and probably realizes that most fans would like to see the original line-up. Wouldn’t be surprised if the band needs to cancel their tour due to Eddie’s health issues. He treated his body worse than Fred Sanford treated Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son.
    I think that is enough for this week. I swear these musicians are more childish than my three year old nephew. One day I would like to see metal news reporting sites just focus on young metal bands and their awesome new albums. Unfortunately, if not for these ridiculous rockers and their drama...What would I have to rant about?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nightslug "Loathe"

    Beware the sludge monster from Düsseldorf, Germany known as Nightslug. This band will send shivers down your spin and overload your speakers with heavy amounts of distortion.
    Their second release, “Loathe,” is a harsh bleak sounding album of sludge and doom that reaches into the dark corners of society. Just to get to the point without using too many descriptive words, this album is extreme. The fact that this is a three piece band making such extreme sounding music is really impressive. Now, I think this is an album and type of music that you need to be in the mood for. If you are in an optimistic mood and are having a positive outlook on life, I would recommend not listening to this album. For people like me who enjoy the sludge and haunting sounds of doom like musical compositions, you will be very pleased.
    When an album begins with a harsh monologue followed by some loud bass and guitar parts covered by mountains of reverb, I instantly get hooked. Of course, if certain people don’t listen to this type of music often they might be taken by surprise. “Vile Pigs,” is definitely a strong first song and the title grabs listeners with its unapologetic attitude. The band hammers out a wicked sounding piece of behemoth sludge. Track number two, “Loathe,” is a massive cloak of distortion and the drums come crashing into the hectic riff filled land. There is this catchy heavy grooving rhythm going on, but it seems to get covered up by the immense amounts of distortion and tortured sounding vocals.
    For their third track Nightslug presents a song titled, “The Thrill is Gone: Repulsion” There is this loud scream of feedback and the pounding bass riff hits with tremendous force. Song number four, “Under a Bane,” wastes no time and instantly jumps into a distorted jam. Unfortunately, I was not as impresses by this track and felt the band sounded really off tempo. Then again, Nightslug’s style of music is all about being chaotic and intense, so not surprised by the hectic arrangement.
    “Disease,” is a song that I felt brought the band back to a more slow sludge like presentation and it reminded my of how Eyehategod sounds. I really enjoyed the crushing riffs that sound like they could level a city. “Pure” and “Tainted Throne,” are two strong sludge tracks and maintain the overall dark unapologetic vibe that this album has to offer. The band started out extreme and finished the same way.
    Overall Nightslug is an extreme noise making terror of sludge and doom. I believe there will be those who shall enjoy the album, and then there will be those who believe their speakers are broken. Definitely an acquired taste amongst the metal community. For the most part, I enjoyed the album and will be blasting Nightslug as I drive through the dark woods towards my ominous looking castle...okay, I don’t own a castle, but I will be blasting this album when I am in the mood for dark sounding sludge metal.

Click Here to Check Out Nightslug Facebook Page

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shrapnel Storm "Mother War"

    Like a blast from an explosive old school death metal shell, Shrapnel Storm leaves listeners with a brutal musical experience. This Finnish death metal outfit delivers a blazing release of solid extreme music.
    Instantly listeners will pick up on the vicious old school death metal sound that has this aggressive mid-tempo groove. Their debut full-length album, “Mother War,” is full of war themed lyrics and terrorizing riffs. When listening to this album you feel as if you are standing in a combat zone. Instead of bullets flying by your head you have intense drum parts and bone crushing guitar riffs. Also, the vocals standout amongst the chaotic musical landscape with an unforgiving low death growl delivery.
    The opening song on the album begins with the sound of air raid sirens blasting, and then comes the thunderous composition. Right away the band pounds out a loud bombastic piece of death metal music. The following track, “Carpet Bombing,” definitely has that Bolt Thrower like sound and presentation. Once Shrapnel Storm is locked into a killer sounding verse composition, it is almost like you don’t want them to stop because the riff is so damn brutal and catchy.
    Track number three and four are a couple of war ripping death metal songs that maintain a consistent sound. “Combat High,” track number four, is an intense jam that gets the adrenaline pumping and is just a beast of a song. I really like the rhythm section for this band because the drummer and bass player create these solid heavy grooving backbones.
    “Calling of the Void” and “Warfiend,” continue to crush listeners’ ears with wicked mid-tempo death metal arrangements. “Warfiend,” is one of my favorite songs on this album. The drummer and guitar parts add to the song’s overall explosive chaotic tone and the vocalist lays down the lyrics with a sense of unforgiving brutality.
    The final song on this album is, “Rising Storm.” On this track the band uses different tempos and in certain sections gives the music this slow haunting doom vibe. As the death metal instrumental jam fades away, a solemn piano piece begins to sooth over the previous war themed death metal tracks. However, the piano is cut short due to the sound of a bullet being fired and thus ends the album. Clever way to end an album I must say.
    For the most part, Shrapnel Storm offers a solid sounding death metal release with, “Mother War.” I will say that this type of music has been done numerous times before and the war themed lyrical motifs are nothing new in the world of death metal. Just ask Bolt Thrower who has made a career about writing songs about war and that table top war themed game. Though I must say that Shrapnel Storm sounded better than most of your old school sounding acts. Also, the recording sounds really good and gives the band a brutal sound that does not come across sounding sloppy.
    So, if you are looking for intense grooving old school sounding death should enter the Shrapnel Storm. Just to make clear, do not enter an actual Shrapnel Storm because you will be fatally injured. Check out the band Shrapnel Storm!

Shrapnel Storm Facebook Page

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #5

    Before I begin this rant I want to take a moment to reflect on the life of Christopher Lee. He was a brilliant actor who appeared in many great films, with my favorites being his horror films. Also, the guy did work with power/symphonic metal bands such as Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar. Mr. Lee even released his own symphonic metal albums. All around he was a great performer and one of the most metal people to walk on this earth. Rest in peace Christopher Lee and may your spirit live on through your amazing works.
    Alright moving onto topics in the metal world, I guess I will start with Electric Wizard. Their most recent album, “Time to Die,” is being pulled from store shelves and reportedly fans can’t download it off iTunes. Now, there is a reason behind the recent recall. Allegations from drummer Mark Greening have surfaced saying that Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham did not pay him yet for the work he did on the album. Mark is currently not with the band and has a lawsuit against his former members. The label that put the album out is Spinefarm Records and they have pulled the album due to the pending lawsuit. Now, what do I make of this? I am not shocked that Electric Wizard is being accused of not paying members. They are big time stoners! I would not be surprised if Jus and Liz smoked Mark’s pay check by accident. I personally thought the album was decent and actually added the album to my radio station’s rotation. Hell, there is a review of the album on this blog of the album. I am sure most fans by now have bought the album, but then again, they might be extremely stoned like the band. Well, for the time being anyone looking to scalp and charge double for what you paid for, “Time to Die,” better cash in now!
    Actually, don’t do that because I hate people that charge ridiculous prices for albums that are hard to find. Also, I blame the labels for not repressing a consistent amount of albums when there is a decent demand for the album. I guess in their defense the case can be made that not too many people buy albums anymore. Recently I read a quote from Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillian that said, “Buy real records in real shops, or I’ll come round your house and scream at your mother.” If that does not get people to go out and buy more albums I don’t know what else will. Maybe have Lars from Metallica come to your house and complain about how Jason left the band, or just have him start talking about how great his life is since he hangs around movie stars.
    That it is for this week. I could make fun of the most recent hair metal hack tour package consisting of Quiet Riot, Jack Russell’s Great White, LA Guns and Enuff Z’nuff. However, I think looking at the list of old washed up rockers is enough to make most people laugh. Hope no one blows out a hip!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tempel "The Moon Lit Our Path"

    Sometimes an artist does not need words to tell a story. In the history of rock and metal, instrumental songs can be epic tales of wonder and amazement. Arizona duo, Tempel, is one of those bands that does not need words to tell a creative musical tale. These guys just have some awesome sounding song titles and creative musical compositions.
    Overall, this second release titled, “The Moon Lit Our Path,” is a more determined attempt of what can be heard on their debut release, “On the Steps of the Temple.” The band pushes their compositions and atmospheres into more technical and diverse sounding realms. Also, there is a chronological development that can be heard while listening to all five tracks on this new album. Each one is recorded with great consideration for detail. The drums and guitar arrangements are complex at times, but still maintain this dark heavy thunderous sound.
    “The Moon Lit Our Path,” can be best described as progressive metal mixed with elements of black metal and atmospheric rock. When I really listen to this album I can honestly say the progressive approach displays this band’s musical talents and determination. There are multiple parts that feature different tempos, time signatures and even parts that trade the heavy distorted guitar for a vibrant sounding acoustic guitar. I think the acoustic guitar incorporation added a unique flair to the music’s overall atmosphere.
    These songs seem to be placed in a certain order that if you read the titles, they tell a story of what is going on this album. Track one, “Carvings in the Door,” is the introduction and the band develops the instrumental track to reflect that feeling of discovering something that grows into a monumental sound. Loud bombastic riffs seem to continuously build up to this chaotic climax. The following track, “The Moon Lit Our Path,” begins with a sludgy riff that expands over the course of the track. Eventually the music takes on this calming vibe that reflects the bands more progressive doom like style.
    I really enjoyed tracks three and four on this album, “Descending into the Labyrinth” and “Tomb of the Ancients.” These songs featured some dark riffs and then could also display a mellower side with the acoustic guitar parts. “Tomb of the Ancients,” is probably my favorite on the album and begins with this haunting acoustic intro that compliments the album’s dark captivating cinematic theme.
    Probably towards the beginning of the final song, “Dawn Breaks Over the Ruins,” I was struggling a little bit to keep interest. An album of complex progressive instrumental metal songs is definitely a difficult task, because some listeners might not be used to this type of music. However, I was not completely disinterested and thought the finishing track offered enough diverse arrangements to keep me engaged.
    Once the last note fades off into the shadowy distorted musical sky, one must take a moment to reflect the effort and musical imagination that Tempel put into this album. “The Moon Lit Our Path,” is a really solid instrumental metal album that features a variety of styles. If you can handle vast extreme sounding instrumental landscapes, I would recommend you check this album out immediately! 

Tempel Facebook Page:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Helloween "My God Given Right"

    After 30 years of being one of power metal's top acts, Helloween unleashes their fifteenth studio album titled, “My God Given Right." All pumpkin heads rejoice!
    The German speed/power metal pioneering lords have gone through various line-up changes over the years with Michael Weikath and Markus Grosskopf being the only two original members. However, the line-up of Michael Weikath on guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass, Sascha Gerstner on second guitar, Daniel Löble on drums and Andi Deris on vocals, has been going strong for sometime now. Their last album, “Straight Out of Hell,” came out in 2013 and received overall favorable opinions from listeners. I myself believed the album was one of the band’s strongest releases, especially given their nineties work that I am not exactly a huge fan of. Ever since the mid 2000s I noticed the band's albums getting stronger and returning to the more heavy power metal style. I honestly believe Helloween has found a way to move forward and at the same time take the classic sound and incorporate it into the new music.
    “My God Given Right,” is defiantly a continuation from where the last album left off. Though I would not call this new album the disregarded, or b-side tracks from, “Straight Out of Hell.” There are a couple of songs that sounded a bit similar to ones on the previous album, but for the most part, this new album is an adrenaline shot of pure triumphant power metal.
    Most of the lyrics featured on this album reflect the topic of war and the effects of living in a world that is constantly on the brink of snapping. I believe the musicians in Helloween write this music with deep sincerity because they grew up in Germany during the Cold War. There are also songs that deal with non-war related topics like, “If God Loves Rock and Roll” and “Lost in America.” I really enjoyed, “Lost in America,” because the song is based off of an experience the band had once while on tour in the states. You might say they had a Spinal Tap moment with their flight. Overall, the lyrics are well written and can present strong messages, especially during the catchy chorus sections.
    Musically, this album is an example of what it takes to be an accomplished metal band. The compositions are always full of heavy quick moving guitar riffs, catchy melodic leads, thunderous rhythm sections, and perfectly placed vocal parts to compliment the overall sound. Also, there are some really dark Sabbath like riffs such as on the track titled, “Living on the Edge.” Another great part about that song is the lead guitar playing. Each note is perfectly captured as the guitarist moves around the fret board. I thought the production for this album was solid and prefer it over the band’s last album. Again, I thought the last album was a good release, but this new one seems to really capture the band's powerful and distinctive sound. 
    Other songs that I was impressed by are, “Stay Crazy,” “The Swing of the Fallen World,” “Creatures in Heaven,” and “Claws.” The dual guitar attack that has always made Helloween one of my favorite bands is extremely noticeable on this album. Their are those moments like on, “Lost in America” and “Creatures in Heaven,” where you can hear some Keeper of the Seven Keys era influence.
    My only minor complaints are with the two bonus tracks, "Wish I Were There" and "Wicked Game," which I thought seemed to be b-sides and recycled ideas. They are not horrible tracks, but definitely seem out of place compared to the rest of the songs on this album. For thirteen tracks minus the two bonus tracks, I think the band did a great job offering exciting cuts of power metal music. Yeah, the music can be a bit cheesy like the lyrics in the song, “Stay Crazy,” but that is what I like about Helloween. They just destroy with their fast paced uplifting melodic and sometimes aggressive sound.
    I think, “My God Given Right,” was a strong release from a veteran band of 30 years. So many bands in the power metal genre owe Helloween a huge thanks for always waving the flag and consistently putting out releases. Even if you are not a fan of certain past albums, you cannot deny this band's work ethic over the years. Fifteen albums down and this latest one shows the band still has some kick ass ideas left.
    If you are a fan of Helloween or high quality power metal music, you need to get this new album! Of course if you are a stubborn Helloween fan who thinks, “Walls of Jericho,” is the only Helloween album to need to stop being such a power metal punk elitist. This band is one of very few groups that has been able to put out solid sounding albums as they get older (The other being Accept, another iconic German metal band). After hearing this new Helloween album, I hope they have more music in store for all us crazy pumpkin heads!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #4

    First off I bought the new Helloween album this past week and believe a video review is on the horizon. For now, I will focus my commentary on topics I noticed going on in the metal world.
    To begin, I thought I would bring up a humorous argument that went down on a band’s Facebook page. So, this death metal band that I consider to be one of the top up and coming bands in the genre, posted a video of a recent practice session to show the fans they are preparing to make a new album. Soon after posting the video on their page, a person decided to comment accusing the band of stealing a riff from the band that the person is involved in. Supposedly this person believes the band has heard their music before, so there must be an act of copying going on. I think death metal musicians arguing over stealing riffs is utterly hilarious. Why watch TV when I can read two parties banter back and forth about a stolen intro riff? If the band copied the entire song note for note maybe their is a case to bring up.  Also, going to court over the fact that an intro to a death metal song might have been ripped off, would really be a pathetic statement about our society. Stop your crying person making the claims that your riff was stolen. There are only so many damn notes in the western music scale that eventually something will sound similar!
    Next topic comes from an area that I feel like the metal world can’t stop talking about. The topic of how the record industry has declined seems to be very popular and can be applied to the current state of heavy metal. After listening to an interview that WSOU conducted with Alex Skolnick from Testament at some New England metal festival, I get the sense that the subject of industry decline is still relevant. Skolnick points out how major arena acts are doing fine, but the mid level bands really do struggle to make music a full time job. Major companies are investing massive amounts of money into big time acts that there is no hope for young metal bands.
     The music industry is just falling apart and the economic dilemmas that face young metal bands is truly a difficult situation to solve. However, young bands do have the opportunity to get their music heard on a larger scale via the internet, but they just won’t be able to pay the bills playing music. In a perfect world metal musicians would have a stable income stream, but of course, this is not a perfect world. Hopefully one day someone puts forth a fair economic system to help up and coming metal acts. I believe the passion and true enjoyment of the music keeps young metal bands chasing the dream. I wish I could take all the money that goes to those low pants wearing gibberish talking rappers and give it to the talented metal acts who know how to play instruments and write creative lyrics that just don’t talk about going to the clubs.
    That is it for this week. Hope no gibberish talking rap fans read this blog or I might need to walk down the streets with a bulletproof jacket on...  

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Artaius "Torn Banners"

    Take a little groove metal, throw in some power metal and then add a dash of folk. Once all those styles get mixed up your finished product is Italy’s Artaius.
    The album, "Torn Banners," is eleven tracks of epic sounding folk metal with a slight aggressive power metal edge. Each song features dynamic musical atmospheres that can be triumphant and at the same time solemn. There is a contrasting vocal mix of clean vocals and death growls. The female singer who does the clean vocals injects great emotion into each song. I personally have never been a huge fan of the contrasting vocal style, but I think Artaius has something unique and interesting going on. For their style of epic folk metal the vocals and lyrical presentation was well captured. The singer has a beautiful melodic voice with a graceful tone. Again, not a huge fan of this type of music, but I can understand and appreciate the talents that these musicians have to offer.
    The beginning of the album was a tad overwhelming. Instantly the band introduces their contrasting vocal style and there is this enormous wash of chaotic folk sounding keyboard riffs. The arrangement seemed to be sloppily recorded at first, but towards the end of the song I felt the band become slightly more coherent. Track number two, “Daphne,” as a whole was better written in my opinion. I still felt the recording of the keyboards was extremely disproportional compared to the other instruments and sounded cheesy. Though I really liked the heavy riff sections that gave the song a fierce tone. There are few other tracks like, “Leviathan” and “The Hidden Path,” where the music demonstrates a more aggressive quality that gives the songs some variation from the folk elements.
    As I said before, this singer has a beautiful voice that fits the folk metal theme well. Probably the most captivating track on this album is, “Pictures of Life.” I really enjoyed the soothing acoustic guitar arrangement. Her voice matched with the calm strumming pattern is truly a harmonious sound. 
    The rest of the album seems to be more straightforward folk metal, but you do get the occasional Celtic style folk flute jam that reminds me of a Renaissance Fair. “Torn Banners,” the final song on this album, is another track I believed stood out amongst the rest. I thought the drummer, bassist and guitarist came up with some solid hard hitting break down sections. Also, the violin player added a unique touch when the music seemed to lean towards the heavier songwriting approach.
    For a style of music that I do not particularly listen to that often, I think Artaius put out an entertaining and creative sounding release. There is no denying the overall musicianship is above average, but since I enjoy guitar leads, I was disappointed that this guitarist did not lay down any blazing solos of virtuosic proportions. Overall, if you enjoy folk music mixed with heavy metal I think this album could be to your liking. For a guy who listens to Morbid Angel and Deicide, I will admit that a song like, “Pictures of Life,” struck an emotional chord in my brain. Hey! I can’t deny beautiful sounding music when I hear it!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Negation "Memento Mori"

    Dark and extreme sounding music to express nihilistic views...If you are looking for a positive sounding motivational album, I would say that you might want to pass on this one.
    The Negation are not your typical black metal band and their second full-length album, “Memento Mori,” is ever more depressive sounding than an album about cold winter lands where guys run around playing Dungeons and Dragons. Kaotoxin Records will be releasing the album on July 6(July 7 North America), and I am not surprised they are releasing this album given Kaotoxin’s extreme history. I would say The Negation has an unapologetic tone that comes across very vividly on each song. Musically this band knows how to create efficient and strong sounding recordings. The harsh production captures this band’s sound perfectly. I still detect the standard black metal formula on some of the songs, but The Negation throws in some massive riffs to give the music a slight death metal quality.
    Pretty much all the songs on this album will wake you up and introduce your ears to a vicious sound that will excite all fans of extreme music. After the bone chilling introduction the band strikes with the song, “The True Enemy.” Aggressive sounding guitar riffs fill the soundscape and the vocals grab your attention with blood curdling screams of agony. The music is bold and has a great overall production value that helps me find a way to separate them from the thousands of other black metal bands I have reviewed. The following track, “Sacrifice the Weak,” is extremely pessimistic and expresses a unique societal concept of how the strong survive and weak are left to suffer. I think the track is a brilliant example of unforgiving musical expression that some in the world try to ignore by filling their heads with cheesy zero substance pop/rap music. The musicianship is stellar and those blast beats give the song a rapid and relentless pulse.
    Another track that I really liked on this album was, “Faith in God’s Corpse.” The riff dynamics are amazing! There can be intense traditional black metal compositions and then you can have these brief sections of slow mountainous distortion filled bursts. If you listen closely you feel your heart beating along to the guitar chords being struck.
    “Visions of Doom” and “Resistance,” are two track that continue to reinforce the album’s massive dark sound and the bleak lyrics about mankind. This singer does not fall victim to the black metal gimmick and if anything gives the music a boost of pure rebellious attitude. The outro to this album was beyond haunting with its soundbites and dark cinematic sound effects. I felt as if I am watching a documentary about the collapse of society and standing alone amongst a pile of burning buildings.
    For all those looking to hear some unbelievably extreme black metal, I have an album for you. The Negation’s, “Memento Mori,” is an album that I think works if you are in a certain mood. This is definitely an album I would like to listen to when I am feeling truly pissed off. For the recording as a whole, I think The Negation did a great job and demonstrated outstanding recording abilities. Now, I do not think the Negation is going to be playing any shows on a sunny beach in front of partying college students...Actually I would like to see that happen so I could see the horrified looks on the students’ faces...Oh, I want that to happen!

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