Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hypermass "Clouded Visions EP"

    With relentless fury and technicality, Norwegian melodic death metal madmen, Hypermass, unleash a brutal burst of mind crushing music. Their EP “Clouded Visions” is a feverish sounding extreme music attack that definitely explores the realm of technical and progressive boundaries.

    I have been noticing a strong surge of young bands keeping a diverse musical mentality and taking their music in a variety of directions. Melodic death metal seems to be pumping out these bands who know jazz and progressive rock structures which can be applied to a more brutal style of music. Honestly, Hypermass is a great example of technical music knowledge mixed with passionate extreme aggression.

    The band’s riff are slamming, yet can dive into these prog jazz parts that demonstrate excellent instrumental technique. Some of the guitar solos are unbelievable, especially during the final song where the music takes a break from the heavy death metal style and goes off into a mellow jazz world. Of course the band presents solid dynamics and definitely keeps the songs interesting. After hearing so many bands attempt to mold melodic death metal into something more unique, I notice certain moments where Hypermass tries to standout from the rest.

    Once the album’s introduction instrumental song begins the band belts out some ripping riffs. The drumming on this album is really impressive and the drummers technical ability can vividly be heard on the song, “Ionized.” Overall, the band offers up a no holds barred style of metal which the singer expresses in a simply unapologetic manner. “Embracing Erasion,” is another solid track and showcases the masterful dynamic guitar playing that Hypermass puts great emphasis on. In the end the final song, “Clouded Visions,” steals the show and is the most creative and progressive track Hypermass has to give listeners. If you want to hear Hypermass lay down all their extreme and diverse musical skills...this is the track that does it...enough said.

    Wrapping this review up, I think Hypermass really presented some skillful songs and musicianship with their EP, “Clouded Visions.” To hear where the band takes their music in the future is going to be something of interest for fans of progressive extreme music. I think any fan of creative melodic death metal should check out this release and understand there are still dedicated creative minds making extreme music.

Band's Facebook Page:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Concert Review: Barren Altar, Ion, Battle Hag, Hemotoxin

    Saturday night at the Phoenix Theater was the place to be in Sonoma County for metal fans. Four bands put on one hell of a show and demonstrated tremendous local metal talent.

    The bands billed for this performance were: Barren Altar, Ion, Battle Hag, Hemotoxin. Also, the ticket sales for this show would be given to the Wounded Warrior Project. This was a really awesome event and I wish more metal fan would have shown up in support of the bands. Although the turnout was not the most favorable, there was a decent crowd who from what I observed appreciated each band that played.

    Taking the stage first with a ritualistic shrine of candles and skulls, was Sonoma County’s Barren Altar. The band had a creative stage set up and the intro audio clip they used of a hysterical woman crying was the perfect touch to begin their blackened death doom assault. Their two guitar players slammed away at some monstrous distorted chords while the bassist and drummer feverishly provided the explosive backbone. Their singer was in another world while the band performed and his vocal delivery was vicious. A couple times when the drummer would crash down on his kit, the singer would take the mic and hit his head to copy the destructive beat. Barren Altar definitely did a powerful job kicking the show off since my ears are still ringing from those heavy riffs.

    Following Barren Altar was the San Francisco Bay Area trio, Ion. These guys were extremely talented musicians and had a dynamic sound. Each member offered something different to the band’s overall presentation. Their bass player was playing some killer technical fills and tapping with precision to create this progressive mellow atmosphere in between songs. The singer/guitarist paid great attention to his tone and the riffs he played took on a variety of styles. He would pick through different chords using a clear guitar tone and then press the distortion pedal to deliver a black metal speed picking attack. Their drummer who also provided some vocals, was unbelievable and reminded me a bit of Mike Browning from Nocturnus. He feverishly maneuvered his way around the kit and was locked into the rhythms the whole time. Overall, Ion seemed to have won the crowd over, because people after their set kept saying that the band’s sound and performance was an unbelievable musical experience.

    The third act, Battle Hag, actually made their way from Sacramento, CA. They played a brand of death doom that really put emphasis on the doom. Their riffs took on a Sleep like quality and the band sounded bombastically sinister. They put some thought into their stage show by using a fog/smoke machine to cover the stage while they hammered away at brutal distorted cuts. I thought the band’s two guitar attack injected some more bite into their sound. Battle Hag seemed like solid players and I do believe they provided fans with plenty of headbanging opportunities to follow along to their behemoth sounding riffs.

    The final act of the night was, Hemotoxin. This quartet of Pittsburg, CA musicians are known to play a style of technical death/thrash. I have seen them before about two years back when they opened up for Havok. I was impressed by their skill then and could not believe how much they improved over the course of two years. Their twin guitar attack is insane, especially when the two players trade solos. Hemotoxin’s drummer is still a double bass blasting machine behind the kit. The bassist always seemed to be having a good old time on stage and his playing is right up their along side the other members. Unfortunately, the band did not get to play more songs since the venue seemed to be adhering to a time limit. If not for the venue telling the band they could only do one more song, hell, I think Hemotoxin could have kept going for another twenty minutes. They are definitely a band to look out for among the Bay Area Metal scene.

    All four acts did a tremendous job and have vast amounts of talent. Even though there was not a massive turnout, the people who did show up were really supportive. Again, support your local scenes and always keep headbanging so this music never dies. \m/

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #17

    Are you ready to rumble?!!! In one corner we have the washed up singer from everyone’s favorite eighties tranny looking hard rock band, Dee Snider. In the other corner we have the make-up wearing star child from Kiss who loves to shout, People, on a constant basis throughout a show, Mr. Paul Stanley. These two have been exchanging verbal blows at each other lately, so I thought I would weigh in on the brawl.

    From what I have been able gather, it all started with Dee expressing his opinion on Kiss continuing without the original members. Then Paul Stanley decided to call Twister Sister, “a bunch of buffoons.” This prompted Dee to come back at him and challenge Paul to a sing off to see who is less of a washed up rock and roll hack. Seriously, these dudes need to take a time out and be ashamed of how childish they are acting. Also, I find Paul Stanley to be more arrogant than Gene Simmons sometimes, which is really scary to think because Gene is usually the major ego in Kiss. Overall, both singers are past their prime musically and going to see either of their bands would be a waste of money. I do think the WWE should book this match for Night of Champions, because watching these two old men fight would be extremely entertaining.

    Next topic is highly flammable, so get ready. The limousine carrying Jake E. Lee and his other bandmates from Red Drago Cartel happened to go up in flames while taking the band to the Rock Bar Theater in San Jose, CA. I actually saw this on my local news station as a top story and could not believe Jake E. Lee was being mentioned on my local news. Secondly, I could not believe his band was riding in a limo to the venue! Yes, forget the fire, why the hell is a medium sized rock band containing a former Ozzy guitarist riding in a limo? Couldn't they take a taxi or rent a small van?

    Well, I guess the limo belonged to the Rock Bar Theater, so I will not be as hard on Jake E. Lee and his band. However, I am now left asking why the Rock Bar Theater is picking up musicians in a limo. I respect Jake E. Lee as a guitar player, but using a limo to pick him up is a bit over the top in my opinion. Maybe the fire was caused by some spiritual rock and roll force saying, “Hey, this is hard rock music people, not freaking Madonna!”

    Oh yeah, new Slayer album is out. Came out on 9/11. How appropriate...Slayer are still trying to be the kings of controversy and the new video for the title track, “Repentless,” is definitely making the case. I would describe the video as an rated-R version of Metallica’s, “St. Anger.” Just like Metallica, Slayer decided to use a prison for the video’s setting, however, presented a more brutal and graphic version of the prison population. The guy from Machete was in  the video killing people left and right, so Slayer must think they are on the level to make Robert Rodriguez type videos now since they have more money than they could have ever imagined when first starting out. I might get the new album, but when I get my paycheck next week...I am buying the new Nile album before I buy the new Slayer album...Hey, the Nile singles were better in my opinion.

    Okay, all the Slayer fans come at me with your insulting comments because I am not blindly going to throw my money at the band. Let me know if you have a opinion about any of these topics by leaving a comment below. Later metal maniacs! \m/

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Scale the Summit "V"

    Without lyrics, a band must use their instruments to craft vivid musical landscapes for listeners to lose themselves in a world of constant creative wonder. Scale the Summit seems to have a reputation for creating magnificent instrumental progressive rock pieces, and it definitely shows on their fifth album.

    These musicians are well recognized among the progressive rock and metal community for their highly talented musicianship. All of them are knowledgeable music makers who know how to compose a piece while fully utilizing their special talents. I personally did not find out about the band until their last release, “The Migration.” Unfortunately, I only listened to a few songs from that album and seemed to not follow the band very often. However, after listening to their new album, “V,” I am definitely going to listen to their past releases and try to keep more up to date with the band.

    Scale the Summit has awakened my inner appreciation for progressive rock and reminded me what endless splendor the genre still can offer. I am fan of older acts like Rush, Yes, early Genesis and Dream Theater, so hearing a modern metallic approach to progressive rock is very refreshing. I also want to make note that Scale the Summit is one of the few bands I have heard in a while who really pays attention to the recording of their music. They make sure that the vibrant qualities of each note ring out to perfection when presenting a piece of music on this album.

    All the songs on “V” are exceptional musical achievements and I find myself having a hard to determining which one is my favorite. The album just flows from beginning to end without any boring moments. Of course, this album is for a fan who appreciates progressive instrumental rock, so any fans of simple type rock and metal might want to be careful, or else their heads might explode. The opening track, “The Winged Bull,” begins as if one was floating across an ocean while the guitar and bass riffs slowly build up in the background. The drums come into the picture with excellent timing and the different directions that the guitar parts go off in is a great example of guitar dynamics.

    Tracks two and three, “Soria Moria” and “Pontus Euxinus,” continue the progressive instrumental drive of creative joy. I really enjoyed the bass lines on “Soria Moria,” that added a noticeable kick to the piece. “Trapped in Ice,” really grabbed my attention with the quicker paced intro riffs and the song features some fluid leads.

    Another track I want to mention is, “The Isle of Mull.” The music starts out with this bizarre science fiction themed noise and then the guitar player makes his presence known by playing through different scales. The last song I shall make note of is, “Oort Cloud.” I might be able to argue that this is my favorite song on the album, because I always start listening to album by going to this track first. I am simply amazed by the song’s soothing progressive rock atmosphere. Scale the Summit masterfully constructs the music with great attention to detail and the instrumental imagination is extremely vast.

    Any fan of progressive instrumental rock will be taken away by Scale the Summit’s, “V.” These musicians are unbelievable at times when playing on this album. The dedication to making such challenging and dynamic compositions is what helps allow Scale the Summit to standout in the world of rock music. The future of progressive music looks to be going strong as bands like Scale the Summit keep reaching new musical heights with each new release.

Scale the Summit's Facebook Page:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Concert Review: Sepulchre, Gangrene, Accidentally Murdered, Abscission, Newtdick

    Sebastopol, CA would be invaded by brutal death metal for a night, causing the local hippies to lock themselves in their homes and drink organic wine.

    Yes, the Aubergine After Dark hosted five extreme metal acts last night. The line-up consisted of: Gangrene, Sepulchre, Accidentally Murdered, Abscission and Newtdick. Now, aside from Sepulchre who I have seen twice before, this would be my first time seeing these other acts. I was especially interested in hearing how Newtdick would sound since they have a down right hilarious band name.

    Taking the stage first was Gangrene from Petaluma, CA. This four piece band seemed to have a sludge sound, however, they definitely took on elements of death metal. I could hear a slower Obituary vibe going on at times. Their drummer was very talented and I was impressed by his movement around the kit. The rhythm section for this band was very solid. I do believe in time Gangrene will develop a really strong live presence if they keep working on developing their music.

    Following Gangrene was another Sonoma County based band, Sepulchre. I think Sepulchre’s progressive take on old school death metal helps separate them from the usual bands I have heard. For young musicians, they are better than a good portion of older bands I have either reviewed or seen live. During their set unfortunately, Sepulchre was plagued by poor sound engineering and the venue’s equipment not properly working. The PA system started hissing in between songs while the onstage monitors went out leading to the band not being able to hear themselves. Whoever was in charge of the sound for the venue really dropped the ball. I have had technical difficulties during my radio show that were out of my control, so I can understand what Sepulchre was going through. Even though they had to cut their set short due to the sound problems, the band handle the situation very professionally and never lost their cool.

    The third band, Accidentally Murdered, from Stockton, CA was a decent act. They only had one guitarist, a drummer and two singers. I thought their instrumental set up would not give them a full sound, but they were fairly loud for only having one guitarist. The drummer's blast beat skills were top notch too. Personally, I do not understand the two vocal contrast where one guy sings in a low growl and the other guy does more of a screaming growl. What next, death grind choirs?

    Santa Rosa’s, Abscission, was the fourth band to go on and hammer away at brutal riffs. I am not going to outright say that they were horrible, but they did not do much to captivate and push musical boundaries. They played a very generic style of death metal which at times made their songs sound the exact same. Each musician in the band seemed talented, but they never reached further in themselves to take their music to another level.

    The final act, Newtdick, from Redwood City, CA was the perfect band to close out this extreme music show. Dressed in reptile alien like costumes, the band played a style of metal called slime grind. When told that these guys dressed up I thought they would have some cheesy Halloween store costumes. However, I was completely wrong because the costumes looked as if they were used in a grindhouse science fiction film. Also, the band had some hilarious song titles and did a great job interacting with the crowd. They seemed to be having an enjoyable time playing on stage dressed in costumes. The fans were really digging them, because everyone was snapping pictures throughout the set!

    Overall the entire show was definitely worth attending and it helps support local acts that are doing this for the love of the music...or love of dressing up in costume. Again, support your local scenes if you can. Who knows? You might see a bunch of guys dressed up as newts playing slime grind...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ramming Speed "No Epitaphs"

    The high adrenaline punk thrash sound of Ramming Speed hits with full force on their new album, “No Epitaphs.” These musicians are fully committed to melting listener’s speakers with vicious punk/metal music and the band’s third full-length release is no exception to that rule.

    Ramming Speed have been recording and touring relentlessly for some years now. This new album lets listeners know that the band is on the attack again, so people better be awake for the hellish assault! I would argue to say that Ramming Speed has increased their aggression with this new release. Each of the eleven new songs contains a bountiful amount of musical diversity. I think listeners will be impressed to hear slamming punk rhythms with sinister thrash riffs and epic classic metal like leads thrown in here and there.

    Right from the get go, Ramming Speed unleashes a bombastic opening track called, “No Forgiveness in Death.” As the song builds up into a heavy punk thrash sounding titan, the band uses some catchy lead guitar playing to add a triumphant edge. The song hooked me right away and could possibly one of the best opening tracks off of an album that I have heard in the last few years. The following song, “Choke Holds and Bullet Holds,” continues to pound away at heavy punk and metal compositions of brutal proportions. 

    Ramming Speed’s lyrics are really strong political statements which can definitely be heard on songs like, “Beasts of Labor” and “Don’t Let This Stay Here.” They capture the rebellious and thought provoking spirit of punk, but know how to break the speakers with a heavy metal punch. “Don’t Let This Stay Here,” being one of my favorites and a good example of the band’s dynamic punk thrash riff arrangements.

    Other tracks that displayed each of these musicians’ solid talents were: “Walls,” “Break in The Chain” and “Horns of War.” I especially enjoyed the thunderous chord striking during the song, “Walls.” The band’s energy surged at top speed as they ripped through the entire piece. Also, I think the way that guitars were recorded added to the aggressive overall tone. The final song on the album, “Momentary Masters,” keeps the heavy punk thrash celebration going and features some more epic lead guitar parts.

    Besides for a few track that played a very safe punk and thrash sound, the band was mostly knocking out home runs on this album. “No Epitaphs,” might be my favorite Ramming Speed release to date. These guys took their music into a new realm of fierce instrumental aggression and lyrical expression. I think any fan of punk and thrash needs to check this album out, or face missing some killer songs. Ramming Speed sure does not need any epitaphs anytime soon as they show no signs of slowing down, or losing their extreme musical nature.

Ramming Speed Facebook Page: