Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lvcifyre - Svn Eater (2014)

Boy, Dark Descent has been on an absolute tear this year with quality releases from Corpsessed, Emptiness, Thantifixath and Lvcifyre spearheading the onslaught with their sophomore album being the label's first full length of the year.

As if Lvcifyre took a page out of the playbook of labelmates Emptiness, Svn Eater could easily be mistaken for the work of a different band when compare to their debut The Calling Depths. That album had a distinctive Immolation/Morbid Angel flare to it (mainly in the nuances) though I think it's fair to say that one could be forgiven for thinking they were listening to Centurian as well, had they not known otherwise. This time 'round, however, Lvcifyre seemingly decided to abandon their quest for technical progression in favor of a much, much darker approach. Oh yes... Svn Eater, indeed! This fucker is pitch black, and no, I don't mean in the faggoty black metal sort of way (though they do employ the services of Cult des Ghoules 'Mark of the Devil' himself, and to extraordinary effect, I might add). No, this is some monstrously evil shit not far removed from the works of Immolation or Coffin Texts, though things tend to get a bit muddy throughout, a symptom that could quickly manifest as detrimental to the proceedings but thankfully does not.

Though the muddiness of the production does naught to deter one from walking the path of darkness blazed by the intent of the band there is one thing that does make proceeding onward a fairly difficult endeavor and that is the fact that many of the songs on Svn Eater bleed into one another and many of them tend to sound alike, which when coupled with production woes can prove to be a bit of a buzzkill, not to mention the fact that it makes it harder to stay on board for the duration. Nevertheless, nobody said that the experience of this album would be an easy ride and for those of you who do manage to see it all the way through I'm sure the experience will have been quite worth your patience.

Bolzer - Soma (2014)

And so the mighty duo known as Bolzer return to tease the masses with yet another -ep-. This shit can get highly annoying, especially when committed by a band as great as Bolzer yet on the other hand, I'll take what I can get!

The beginning riff on opener 'Steppes' sounds a bit "regressed", meaning I wouldn't be surprised if it was an unused piece of material that the band decided to stick into the equation in order to add length to the existing body of work. It's not terrible but it's also not terribly interesting. Unfortunately, Bolzer has set the bar so incredibly high that everything they do is subject to an almost unfair amount of scrutiny. Sorry fellas but it's all in the reflexes, not to mention it's the nature of the beast.

Once you get past the introductory riff exchange things start poppin' in the usual Bolzer fashion and don't be surprised if you find yourself dazed, drooling and daydreaming in the midst of the band's epic knack for painting visual mindscapes. Sure, Aura may still be the reigning champ of Bolzer's string of shortrunners but by no means is this some sort of drop in quality. If anything the band are heading "further out there" and I'm almost afraid that next time 'round my mind might not make it back to the ship before its return trip.

Cenotaph - The Gloomy Reflections of Our Hidden Sorrows (1992)

Truly a classick of old school death metal and frankly, I'm a bit surprised that not more folks out there in internet-land are singing its praises what with every cyber-dweeb claiming every supposed "lost treasure" as their own.

As the title suggests, this is some pretty gloomy shit, indeed. I'm actually shocked at how apt that description really is! "Gloomy" is one of my more beloved keywords when it comes to describing music of this caliber yet seldom are the albums that are truly deserving of that label. Cenotaph are clearly one of the few.

The Gloomy Reflections of our Hidden Sorrows is quite reminiscent of albums such as Dawn of Possession and Onward to Golgotha but there's also a smattering of early Carcass as well due to the assorted trills and vocalist Daniel Corchado's rather burpy vocal performance. For my money, Corchado was Incantation's second worst vocalist with the title being held by none other than John McEntee himself. Sure, I know that that album is dear to a lot of folks hearts as well as Corchado's performance but personally I've never been a huge fan of raspier vocals beyond, of course, the death/thrash bands of the '80's (Destruction, Sodom, Kreator, etc.) so, for me, that album faltered before realizing its full potential as a result. On this album, however, Corchado's vocal belch is much deeper and sort of caught between Craig Pillard and Bill Steer's frog-like burp on Carcass' earlier albums. Thank crikey for that as it fits the swampy riffing on this record like a glove.

Upon listening to this album you can tell that there was something special about this band. Unfortunately, Corchado would end up beating feet and forming The Chasm and the rest of Cenotaph would, in my opinion, change their approach drastically, adding in more melodic (-aka- GAY) riffery and such.

Trust me... forgot about the ultra-overrated Finnish bands from the early '90's, half of which worth a fuck and the other half are quite obviously novelty finds for some cyber-dweeb over on LastFM trying to show off how knowledgeable he is of the "underground" (by pouring over the internet, of course). Go dig this tasty slab of rotten flesh up and have at it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Deicide - Scars of the Crucifix (2004)

Loathe as I am to exploit the term "forgotten album", it would seem that Scars of the Crucifix is just that. I'm not sure why, either. I mean, I'm fairly certain that I remember this album getting a healthy amount of exposure (not to mention an ultra-corny video showcasing a big, fat Crowbar looking biker dude getting yelled at by Mr. Trifixion himself) at the time of its release so I'm at a loss as to why so many people seem to overlook this record. It would seem that while the world was tripping over itself at the supposed "return to form" showcased on Deicide's The Stench of Redemption, 'Scars...' incidentally got shuffled onto the back burner. I can assure you... as long as you're not expecting a full-fledged return to the super-tinny, thrash acrobatics of 1990's Deicide and '92's Legion LP's you should do just fine with 'Scars of the Crucifix as it perfectly revisits 'Once Upon the Cross' and 'Serpents of the Light' while actually throwing in some damn fine lead guitar-work to boot.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is a "great" album but admittedly I've listened to it on more than one occasion and enjoyed it rather immensely. The band obviously had a newfound interest in creating interesting riffs and obviously someone in the Deicide camp was listening to more brutal stuff as that particular aesthetic was ramped up a notch. Vocally, Glen teeters the fence here. At times he sounds as good as he did in his earlier years, thanks to the over-dubbing of his highs and lows. At other times it's apparent that age is none too kind to aging death metal vocalists as you can clearly hear the wear and tear on his vocal chords. Unfortunately that little factoid has done naught to deter him and frankly he's sounded like a lampoon of himself for many years now. Nonetheless, I've always thought that this was a fairly accurate throwback to Deicide's early (ok, well not too early) years and was a rather high note for the Hoffman's to take their leave on.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gorguts - Considered Dead (1991)

A boring start that pretty much bears zero clues to the absolute insanity that would be the hallmark of what this band represents.

I remember being intrigued by the name "Gorguts" sometime way back in 1991. Though it didn't make a terrible amount of sense (ok, none) it still had that vile and abrasive sound that got my teen-aged mind going a mile-a-minute and I immediately knew that this band would be the best thing since someone got someone's chocolate in their peanut-butter... vice versa. Unfortunately, hearing Gorguts for the first time was a revealing moment where it dawned on me that you should never judge a band by its name. Of course, if I were to hear of a band calling itself Gorguts these days, I would proceed on down the way without even a furtive glance as I have long since lost interest in that sort of thing. But being that Gorguts' debut was released when I was just about to turn 16 and very much fascinated by horror films and such, I was more or less drawn in.

The main flaw of this album is that it does very little to differentiate itself from many of the other bands that were active at that time. Much like Death, Morgoth and Obituary, 'Considered Dead' is a largely mid-paced affair complete with shriek-like death metal vocals and hardly anything that juts out and catches in your brain. The (at the time) "obligatory" James Murphy guest solo does little to make this a memorable outing. Even the album cover, which is obviously well done, just doesn't really do much for me. I don't even know what the fuck is going on or how any of it relates to the album or the songs within.

Overall, this isn't a terrible or even bad album, for that matter, but it just really doesn't contain the mojo required for incessant and obsessive spins nor can it be considered a "strong start" for the band. Obviously they (or more accurately, Luc) have come into their own throughout the years but this is just an average album at best that was done oh so much better when it was called 'Human' and released by a band called Death.

Monstrosity - Millennium (1996)

I've never been overly fond of "technical" death metal. Sure, every now and then something will come along that truly blows my mind but I've always preferred the more gloomier side of the metal o' death.

Monstrosity is one of those band's that never really did it for me. I remember hearing ex-vocalist George Corpsegrinder's back ups on a few Suffocation tracks off of 'Effigy...' and being rather pumped for the debut release of his own band as a result. About a year or so later I finally got to hear 'Imperial Doom' and it was one of those experiences where you couldn't quite tell if you had just got slobbered by a mouthful of suck. I remember thinking that while it didn't completely blow gigantic ape-cock, something was nonetheless amiss and that's pretty much how I've felt about the band since.

Mind you, when I first heard this album I was fairly bigoted towards "technical" musicianship. Overly flashy guitar work never ceased to annoy me and almost all of these sorts of bands employed an ultra-homo and wimpy guitar sound. Again, I always liked my death metal to have a massive low-end and to sound as if it had just crawled from out of the swampy depths. Millennium is about as far from that as you can get. Also, at this time, I was not a big fan of Corpsegrinder's style of bark. I have always held a fair amount of respect for his ability to belt out a verse but the actual "sound" of his voice was never my thing. Needless to say, it would be many years until I gave this album a listen from a different perspective and a new pair of ears.

First off, I'm not all of a sudden this "huge Monstrosity fan" and I'm still just as leery of bands that march under the "technical death metal" banner, but, I will say that this is about as good of an album as you can get in regards to that particular style. To me this IS a technical "death metal" album whereas any album released by Atheist (for example) I would have a harder time labeling as such. Atheist, for one thing, is far too "jazzy" for me to really consider them being a tried and true "death metal" band. The other thing is that I am more inclined to categorize them as a thrash band. Monstrosity has more of that "hateful intent" that is a mandatory element when penning a "death metal" tune. Atheist is almost more of a "fun" band in comparison. Having blown all that out of my ass, 'Millennium' is one of those rare albums that I'll bust out when I'm craving something a little more than your standard "tremolo frenzy". It's one of those albums that you revert to when in the presence of some guitar-hero nerd and you want to blow them away with the technical proficiency of an elite death metal band. Sure, I consider Monstrosity to be among the elite, even though they've never tasted the same amount of success or notoriety as many of their generational peers. I mean, for one thing, they've remained musically and thematically consistent well into their third decade of existence and, for the most part, no two albums of theirs sounds the same. Obviously this is largely due to the perpetual revolving door of guitarists and vocalists the band has endured throughout the years. Nonetheless, at this stage I find them to be far more compelling than Suffocation, who, in my opinion, blew their creative wad early in their career and have pretty much been re-releasing their first three albums over and over ever since.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Burnt by the Sun - Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution (2002)

Coming out towards the end of Relapse Records ultra-experimental era (mid-'90's-early-'00's) Burnt by the Sun could be viewed as the "final burp" before the label settled into a decade of mostly "blah" releases.

Obviously riding the wave generated by The Dillinger Escape Plan, Burnt by the Sun (featuring ex-members of Human Remains, by the way) executed a slightly more "grindier" version of what that band was dishing out. I have to say, despite the animosity that "underground death metal dorks" show Dillinger and similar "math-minded" acts, I couldn't care less. I was (and still am) rather fond of that band's earlier works. I found them to be fresh, unique and fairly exhilarating. Of course with everything groundbreaking and exciting comes the inevitable storm of copycats intent on beating a dead horse (Korn, anyone?). While I don't want to label BBTS a blatant rip-off I would say that it's fairly obvious where the band culled their inspiration from. having said that, I do find the material on 'Soundtrack...' to be a compelling enough listen to garner repeated spins on the turn-table.

Aside from a few mundane "hardcore" style redundancies, there are some brilliant riffs flying around on this album and it should come as no surprise that they are all answered to a 'T' by legendary skin-beater extraordinaire, Dave Witte. Really, the only thing that kinda holds everything back are the ultra-retarded and neanderthal "tough guy" vocals, a style that I absolutely abhor and pretty much ruins any musical experience for me once they come swaggering through the door in all their "greasy mook" glory. Surprisingly, though, I am actually able to shrug this guy off in order to concentrate on the urban insanity of the riff and drum onslaught. Why couldn't they get Chuck Schuldiner's vocal doppelganger out of the house and bring him along for the ride as well? Instead they had some greasy 'eye'talian wigger from the Jersey Shore come in and let his inner retard come crashing, full bore out of the closet and into the mic. It's almost unforgivable but again, the music is just so fucking good (minus the primate hardcore parts) that I ultimately have to give this a pass.

P.L.F. - Ultimate Whirlwind of Incineration (2014)

Jesus... I haven't been this blown away by a grindcore band in quite a while!

I've always had very particular tastes when it comes to grind. Usually, the more "straight-up" grindcore bands tend to bore me after the first assault. I have always favored bands that had more of a  whimsical approach such as C.S.S.O. and Blood Duster. Either that or the ones that go the extra mile in the riff department. P.L.F. falls into the latter category. Hailing from the same area as Insect Warfare, I'm not terribly surprised by their hateful, rapid-fire approach, but where bands such as early Napalm and Terrorizer wound up sounding monotonous by the 4th or 5th track, P.L.F. go the Pig Destroyer route by throwing a seemingly endless amount of clever riffs at the listener while the drummer answers everything in an astounding manner! Speaking of the drums... holy fuck! This guy gives Scott Hull's drum machine a run for its microchips in terms of imaginative fills, beats and overall creativity. Sure, you might not be able to out-"speed" a drum machine on full blast but the amount of insane ideas this kid projects onto his kit is worth a standing ovation lasting five casual minutes.

The vocals are reminiscent of early Brutal Truth with a few high-end rasps thrown in for good measure but honestly you won't give a shit WHAT the vocals sound like after receiving the ass-beating delivered by the guitar/drum duo. Seriously.

Grindcore is usually good for a jolt of intensity or two but for my money it usually tends to sound a bit redundant after the initial shock wears off. However, with bands like Noisear, Pig Destroyer and P.L.F. thrashing out with creative riff onslaughts I am more than psyched to see where this all leads. Definitely a contender for 'album of the year', here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Electric Wizard - I am Nothing (2014)

Well, my hopes for a triumphant return to the fanatical realm of the mighty 'Dopethrone' have been cast down and dashed upon the rocks below. Perhaps that's a bit too brutal an assumption this early in the game considering I've only heard a single teaser track but nonetheless, I've had my hopes shattered enough times in the past that, by now, I can usually tell what the future holds.

Granted, this is not a bad track by any means but it's also not the much anticipated return to the days of old that many of us were hoping for. This is pretty much aligned with everything the band's released since the arrival of the 'Lizard Queen' herself, Miss Buckingham (or is it Mrs. Oborn? Oh well), that being an emphasis on big riffs and a gigantic sound rather than the smoky psychedelia of the band's earlier albums. The other thing is that the main riff here is basically yet another "re-working" of the last two albums which is what 'Legalize Drugs & Murder' was, in essence. With the somewhat considerable gap between album I'm surprised these guys sound as creatively bankrupt as they do. The drumming is much, much better than it has been lately no doubt due to the presence of Mark Greening (who, incidentally is already out of the band!) and the bass sounds a bit more charred as one would expect from a member of Virgina's 'Satan's Satyrs' but again, the riffs plod along the spectrum of the unimaginative. I have to wonder... is Liz holding the band hostage? Will the 'real' Jus Oborn please stand up?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Entombed A.D. - Back to the Front (2014)

Ok, so if you're one of these whiny fucks who cries at night and wets the bed because Entombed got sucked into a spaceship hovering over the left hand path somewhere during a clandestine gathering, well, I hope you bought your monthly supply of Depends as the Swedes are still being anally probed somewhere near Zeta Reticuli and at this rate it doesn't look like the boys will be Earthbound anytime this decade. Hey, at least there's Dismember... whoops!

Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today (2007)

After what I consider to be a not only a career highlight but a statement of intent with the formidable 'We Live', the Wizard fell asleep at the wheel, popped their left front tire on a broken bottle and crashed into a guardrail for the release of the anemic 'Witchcult Today'. Gone are the filthy bass lines of the past, the relentless beatings behind the drum kit and all else that made this band so volatile. The Wizard was laying up in ICU due to an accident no doubt caused by the mass consumption of the drugs needed to create their last album. A residual backlash, if you will.

Part of the problem with this album is the blatant fact that the band were going for a more "easy listening" commercialized vibe this time 'round. Someone done lied to The Wizard and told him he would supply the band with a year's worth of quaaludes and benzos if they would clean up their sound and "play it safe". Predictably, The Wizard's drug-hungry acolytes fell into the trap, hook, line and sinker.

Aside from the rather dull compositions on display, what bothers me most are the terrible drum patterns from Anton Lavey's inbred doppelganger. Upon listening to this guy's "skills" as a percussionist it's easy to tell who staggered away with the lion's share of klonopin, no doubt palmed away in secret. The drum fills on 'Witchcult Today' are thoroughly hysterical and the beats themselves are the equivalent of an infant attempting to walk for the first time. How this cat ended up on not one but TWO Electric Wizard albums is highly indicative of the narcotic consumption of the band's ringleaders.

To be fair, there are, admittedly, a few tracks here that are rather appealing to my ears. Unfortunately it seems that the band were so out of it that they cannibalized whole segments from one track only to regurgitate it back out in the form of another. Don't believe me? Listen to 'Satanic Rites of Drugula' and 'Torquemada '71' back to back and TELL me they're not one and the same!

Everything on this album sounds tired and hungover. I know that many folks consider The Wizard's prime works to be those recorded with the band's initial core though I would fiercely argue that 'We Live' is among the band's more important releases. 'Witchcult', however, is the drop-off and the band's next album, 'Black Masses' is even worse. I can only hope that the band's upcoming and all so brief affair with former drummer Mark Greening is a sign of things long past.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Goatwhore - Constricting Rage of the Merciless (2014)

The problem with having a vocalist who sings in more than one band is that they all end up sounding alike. Goatwhore essentially sounds like Soilent Green sans the imaginative riffing. Unfortunately for both bands it's been quite some time since vocalist Ben Falgoust possessed any sort of range so the similarities have become that much easier to define.

Goatwhore seem caught between two worlds and a bit undecided as to what side of the fence they choose to gaze through. On one hand they are one of the more recognized acts in the metal community overall, a position owed in no small part to their allegiance to Metal Blade. On the other hand, they seem to want to, at least "partially" remain within the underground faction of their peers and their fanbase and in this sense Goatwhore are sort of the "Pantera" of black metal (sure, I know many refer to them as "blackened death" or "black thrash" but to avoid confusion and just for plain old arguments sake they will be referred to in this blog as 100%, straight up black metal, or if you're Norwegian "blick" metal).

Quite honestly, this band is as lame as it gets. They pretty much began circling the drain after album number three (A Haunting Curse) which, by default is the template for everything they've done since. That's not to say that I'm some sort of fan of their earlier work but at least there was a minute amount of murk and menace back then as opposed to the clinical sterility of their past three albums. Overall this is yet another predictable affair by a rather unnecessary band whose sole existence seems to fuel the fires for the unimaginative. Black metal of this caliber is why Europeans tend to think that Americans are a bunch of retards.

By the way... can someone explain to me the tradition of these long-winded album titles raped to death by the denizens down in New Orleans?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Die Farbe (2010)

Direct adaptations of HP Lovecraft stories are few and for the most part, terrible. Both Dunwich Horror movies are pretty shitty retellings, The Haunted Palace with Vincent Price is a very loose and not very faithful retelling of "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". The Resurrected is a little more faithful (and not halfway bad) retelling of the Charles Ward story. The one true straight and faithful adaptation is "The Call of Cthulhu" which is a black and white, silent, 20s style film.

Now we come to Die Farbe, a German adaptation of "The Colour Out of Space". This movie is also in black and white (except for when we see "the color" which shows up as an iridescent purple). The story of the farmer having his crops and well go to shit after some strange thing lands outside of his farm and begins to infect everything is told within the context of an added element of a young American fellow trying to find his father in Germany.

Die Farbe, for being not a big budget film, is incredibly well-shot, well framed, and there are some beautiful landscape shots. The actors aren't amazing, but they do a pretty decent job and the story moves along nicely. There are some effects towards the end which don't look cheap or stupid at all. My one significant gripe with this movie is "the color" itself. It just doesn't feel menacing or terrifying in any way. The globule effect of the color looks a little hoakey but other than that, everything works pretty well.

This movie is definitely worth a watch for any Lovecraft fans. I'm very much looking forward to the director's next effort, which is a rather ambitious adaptation of "The Dreamlands". Check out this trailer if you're interested.

Disincarnate - Dreams of the Carrion Kind (1993)

I never understood why James Murphy chose to abandon his baby in favor of playing second fiddle to Eric Peterson in Testament. Actually, I do understand but I don't know why he couldn't keep the project alive and/or on the side at the very least. Whispers from the rumor-mill suggest that a second onslaught from Disincarnate is imminent but with Murphy's health always in question it wouldn't be a bad idea not to hold your breath until the occasion manifests.

In many ways Disincarnate have always reminded me of Immolation. The guitar sound is damn near identical and both band's have a knack for writing evil, tremolo based riff onslaughts not to mention the fact that both bands also do not skimp out on adding in whole sections drenched in doom. Lastly, Brian Cegon is virtually Ross Dolan's vocal doppleganger. There's even a fade out growl at the end of 'Soul Erosion' that is suspiciously reminiscent of the one at the beginning of 'After my Prayers' on 'Dawn of Possession'. Now don't get me wrong. I am not accusing Murphy & Co. of "ripping off" Immolation, but the similarities are there and trust me, I am 100% A-O-fucking-K with that. Overall, I think it's safe to say that Disincarnate are in possession of the greater arsenal out of the two bands as Murphy throws an infinite amount of trickery and technique at the listener, no doubt a result of being one of the metal scene's most formidable guitarists.

I remember being fairly surprised that Murphy had chosen a veritable band of nobodies to fill the ranks of Disincarnate. I figured with all of his clout he'd have gone for at least a brand-name or two. Turns out ol' James knew what he was doing as the rest of the band were more than capable of handling their business. I won't say that any of the other guys were doing anything particularly "mindblowing" but the performances rendered from each musician is as competent as one could imagine. Flawless, even.

Aside from James' almost peculiar knack for penning an exceptional tune, the lyrics have always stood out to me as being a highlight, not only for the band but for the whole of death metal as a genre dating back to the early/mid-'80's. In the last decade or so I've pretty much given up on death metal lyrics as I couldn't care any less about "putrid piles of disgorged devourment" or any other such nonsense but in those early formative years I was delighted by the wordplay of bands such as Carcass and Morbid Angel. The lyrics on 'Dreams of the Carrion Kind' are among the most intelligent and fascinating to behold.

Throughout the years many chumps that regard themselves as some sort of "authority" on things death metal loudly regard '91 as being the last year of great death metal. Bullshit. Not only was death metal alive and well in '93 but many bands were creating their "magnum opuses" during that year (Carcass 'Heartwork', Macabre 'Sinister Slaughter', Morbid Angel 'Covenant', etc...) and Disincarnate were no exception. They not only managed to create an album of technical marvel but one that was evenly tempered with a horrific atmosphere to boot. If this was merely the band's debut... imagine what they would do next! Yeah, keep dreaming.

John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987)

I always love seeing Donald Pleasance so I was glad to see him playing a priest in John Carpenter’s “The Prince of Darkness”. This movie takes the idea of the devil coming back to earth and throws a bunch of wrenches into that narrative.

Father Donald Pleasance discovers a key on a priest who died in his sleep and that key opens a door in a condemned religious school, which leads to a catacomb which houses a strange manuscript and an even stranger very sealed tank with some glowing green liquidy matter swirling around it. He enlists the help of a renowned university professor of quantum physics and some of his select students and some other students from other fields to prove that evil is real, that the son of the devil is actually this weird glowing matter and not some abstract theological concept.

It’s easy to see how this movie was the unsung influence on future movies. While “The DaVinci Code “obviously plagiarized the 1980 book “Holy Blood Holy Grail”, “Angels and Demons” with it’s plot of the Vatican hiding a vial of antimatter, which if unleashed on the world would destroy it, is clearly borrowing from this movie. Even the whole ancient alien theory gets lip service in this movie, once the contents of the manuscript are translated and we learn that both Jesus and the devil were actually aliens from beyond. As the green goo starts throbbing and exhibiting “consciousness” the participants start having a shared dream, with distorted alien voices and weird black figures telling them “this transmission is being broadcast as a dream”

An interesting cameo is Alice Cooper being a really pale hobo who, along with the other hobos, seem to be drawn/influenced by the devil thing. Towards the end there is some decent gore, nothing too over the top. All in all, it’s an interesting film. Not Carpenter’s best, but definitely not his worst.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

From Best to Worst: Napalm Death

Harmony Corruption

While I was sufficiently blown away by their earlier work it wasn't until the release of Harmony Corruption that I became a full-fledged, unabashed "fan boy", if you will. Sure, the alienated punk/grindsters will continue to walk around with their nalgas in an uproar due to the lack of micro-songs as a result of some major changes in the line-up but let's face it... ND has over twenty years of playing in this style over their shoulders, so I think it's safe to say that those days are done and over with.

Fear, Emptiness, Despair

As if ND's fascination with Florida and Morrisound Studios wasn't appaling enough to the homo cry-baby's populating the punk/grind scene way back when, Napalm's 5th album 'Fear, Emptiness...' would essentially be the final nail in the coffin for many of these dweebs. Fine by me.

F.E.D. sees the band flirting ever so diligently with industrial and also toning down considerably on the blasts. Sure, there're a few here and there but they serve more to accentuate certain rhythmic passages rather than seek out some juvenile rush via aural shock tactics. Suffice to say that F.E.D. would usher in the somewhat maligned "middle era" of Napalm's career. Some of the hate understandable, some of it not.

Inside the Torn Apart

Here we go with yet another "middle era" ND album that receives a lot of undeserved scorn from the homo punk masses. Sure, album opener 'Breed to Breathe' is a walloping doozy of total gay but each and every track from that point on is pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear from ND after 'Fear, Emptiness...'. Dare-I-say that 'Inside...' is ND's most mature album to date from a songwriter's perspective. Everything on here is quite evenly keeled, including the brutality one would expect from the band. Sure, if you want mindless blasting then perhaps you may want to put it in reverse and go back to 1987-88. Otherwise, 'Inside the Torn Apart' is a pleasant experience that brings to mind guitarist Mitch Harris' short-lived industrial metal project Meathook Seed.

Utopia Banished

Oddly enough, the homo punk/grind masses are known to give this album a pass as it features more blast-beating than 'Harmony Corruption' had. Wow. That's just lame. Oh well...

Blithering redundancies aside, 'Utopia...' certainly feels like an album that's either A) a big 'fuck you' to the naysayers and ship jumpers, or B) some sort of desperate stab at retaining their '80's cred by cutting down on song length and adding in more blasts to appease the ADD masses. Either or, 'Utopia...' is still a punishing experience and perhaps the band's most ambitious album in regards to the amount of riffs flying at you at any given moment. Sort of their 'Time Does Not Heal'.

From Enslavement to Obliteration

Feto sort of takes Scum and reinforces it. The production is ramped. The playing is much tighter and things are a bit more straightforward in regards to going in for the kill. Album opener 'Evolved as One' is a mesmerizing and sludgey "fake-out" before the battering begins. Once that happens, the band pretty much does not let up until album's end.

Mentally Murdered

Sure, I know many (including the band themselves) consider this to be more death than grind but I beg to differ. Obviously the riffs are a bit more varied than what is traditionally considered grindcore but honestly, this sounds like a grip of Feto tracks that didn't make the final cut. Not a bad thing but MM more likely than not sits relatively higher on this list due to nostalgia than it does for my unflinching adoration of its contents.


A milestone in grindcore and in all likelihood the most important album of that genre. Great for a rush and at this point the occasional walk down memory lane but I was glad that they let up on the shock tactics with the release of 'Harmony Corruption'.

Enemy of the Music Business

Heralded as the band's "return to form" after the trio of albums that comprised the reviled "mid-era", 'Enemy of the Music Business' in many ways is the last stage of the original Napalm sound. Correction... original Mk III Napalm sound. After this album there's something about their sound that changed drastically and has been that way ever since. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, at least in terms of describing it, but I know I'm not a big fan of it. However, I will say that pretty much the rest of the planet aside from myself has quite incessantly sung praises of the band since the release of this album.

'Enemy...' is a pretty good album that sort of serves as a mash-up of the many styles the band had experimented with up until that point. Somewhere along the line things tend to blur into one another and my attention span begins to fade, but again, this is still a fairly rad album to listen to from time to time.


Easily ND's catchiest album to date. Diatribes is so obviously a stab at commercial success, painfully so, even. Nonetheless, Diatribes has two things going for it... one, despite the band's attempt to garner a larger audience, the trademark ND "sound" is still there and had this indeed become a breakthrough album for the band it would have undoubtedly been the heaviest thing ever to have smothered the masses. Secondly, this album showed that ND were quite capable of writing snappier numbers as opposed to endlessly dishing out the more "thought-worthy" compositions of old. In a less plastic world ND just might have attained the sort of success enjoyed by the likes of Pantera and Metallica. Unfortunately, this album was not the grenade aimed at blowing up the Billboard charts and it served only to alienate their fanbase even further. Not a bad album though I would've preferred further exploration into the post-apocalyptic landscape of their previous album, 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair'.

Order of the Leech

Starts off strong and then just sort of loses focus and intent and meanders for the remainder of the duration. As far as I'm concerned this is the very last ND album that carried with it any of the flavor of the past. It is also the last album to showcase Barney's signature "crunch" vocal style before he caught the case of laryngitis that continues to plague his performance to this day.


Pretty much the same shit as the last four or five albums before it but with a few surprises that make it interesting such as the horns on the second track. Not terribly keen on the guitar sound here and ol' Barney boy just sounds shot. Angry but shot. Props to the band for the groovy throwback album cover.

Smear Campaign

One of the better albums to have come out from post millennium ND. Not sure if that's saying much or not though.

Time Waits for No Slave

Again, this is basically the same album they've been releasing since 2000's 'Enemy of the Music Business'. Not a fan of the weak and generic guitar sound and Barney just sounds drained.

The Code is Red... Long Live the Code

See the above review. (By the way, this is the first album to fully feature Barney boy in "non-crunch" mode)

Words From the Exit Wound

After what I thought was a killer album (Inside the Torn Apart) ND decided to go for a more "experimental" (?) approach which frankly, totally fucked up any of the momentum the band had gained on the last album. The songs here do not challenge the way they ought to for an album of this type and the aggression is neutered and watered down in an odd way that defies description.

Anathema - Eternity (1996)

This is pretty much the final album to showcase any semblance of doom and that's pretty much all you'll get... a mere semblance. Now, I actually happen to like this album very much but it's also a bit of a bummer that they didn't continue in the vein of what I consider to be their masterpiece, 'The Silent Enigma'. That album, I thought, managed to perfectly balance the more emotional aspects of the band's sound along with the weightier doom aesthetics of their earlier works. Obviously the band (in their minds) were "maturing" musically and felt perhaps that the metallic trappings of their sound were just that. A hindrance, if you will.

Whatever the case, 'Eternity' is a decidedly mellower trip into the band's emotional landscape and whereas I might have felt that this album sucked in an earlier state of mind, it's the band's stellar songwriting and wise selection of riffs and arrangements that eventually stays my wicked hand, and again, there are a few colossal slabs of doom left here and there as if the band were unsure of themselves and needed a security blanket from the past to cling onto as they traversed this brave new world of theirs. While I'm sure many would disagree, I will go so far as to say that 'Eternity' is Anathema's final "doom" album. Everything after this is an attempt at being the next "important" thing such as Coldplay, Radiohead and U2. Barf.

Liers in Wait - Spiritually Uncontrolled Art (1991)

Unfortunately this little gem went, for the most part, undiscovered at the time of its release and it wasn't until Black Mark re-released it in the late '90's that it began to garner a larger audience though I would hardly refer to its existence as being "well known". That's really a shame as this is one of the greatest musical releases to have been wrought from the icy depths of Sweden's prolific death metal scene.

To anyone who may not know, Liers in Wait boasts the talents of Kristian (Necrolord) Whalin and Christofer Johnsson of Therion. Whelan was of course axe-master of legendary Swedish act 'Grotesque' as well as having painted some of metal's finest album covers such as Emperor's 'In the Nightside Eclipse', At the Gates 'Slaughter of the Soul' and Dismember's 'Massive Killing Capacity' among many, many others. In fact, Whalin's skills as an artist perhaps outshine the fact that he is one hell of a guitarist as evidenced on this 5 track -ep-.

At some point Tomas Lindberg was the band's vocalist. Thank Odin that that didn't last long as the band turned to longtime comrade Christofer Johnsson to provide his (then) monstrous set of pipes to the proceedings. Personally, Johnsson has been one of my favorite vocalists since hearing him on Therion's 'Of Darkness' way back in 1991. Upon listening to this I immediately recognized his voice and knew right then that this was going to be a special piece of music, dear to my blackened heart.

Back to Whalin... I cannot give this Man enough praise as I would even go so far as to say that he gives Trey from Morbid Angel a run for his pesos here in regards to his anfractuous layout and overall command. His serpentine and endless exploration of the fretboard is a thing of marvel. Though there are only 5 songs here (one of them being a rather short instrumental at that), Whalin does more here than most do in their entire careers. Oddly enough, the amount of riffs flying at you never get to the point of overkill. Almost, but they manage to somehow stay stuck in your mind once the beating has stopped unlike many "tech-death" bands out there. Also, these riffs come dripping with venom. Its basically a barrage of supremely evil death/thrash riffs in the vein of Slayer and early Deicide and of course Altars-era Morbid Angel. Take those riffs and soak them in blood and then set the whole thing on fire and voila... I give you Liers in Wait!

Again, it's such a shame that this still remains to this day a rather obscure offering as the riffing here easily blows away many of the more "well-known" acts. Some of the drumming can get a little sloppy at times as if the sheer velocity of Whalin's rhythmic assault was too much for him to handle. I can totally understand this, especially considering that these songs were written, for the most part, in 1990 when most drummers were still at the feeling out process of the blast-beat ridden style that we know so well today.

Lastly, I have to give an immense amount of credit to the band for choosing a different route as opposed to the then popular Skogsberg/Sunlight direction that most young Swedes were travelling. Amidst a veritable sea of Graves, Entombed's, Carnage's and Dimember's, Liers in Wait certainly stood out and hopefully one day this band will receive their due.