Thursday, August 21, 2014

EPs Galore!: Metal Round-Up with Angist, The Old Man's Wisdom, and War Messiah

While it's great to see death metal re-emerging en masse, the generic music that inevitably comes along with it isn't particularly enjoyable and can be irritating to sift through. Sadly for Angist, their material is really no different, save for Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir's gloomy rasp, which is capable of hanging with the best in the sub-genre.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back Door to Asylum - Cerberus Millenia (2014)

Technical death metal can go one of two ways; the music can be technically challenging to the point that it has no structure or hooks, or it can be done right, in that it's like any other type of music and has depth to it. But, sadly, more and more bands are choosing to focus on instrumental chops instead of songwriting, and the number of artists worth giving a look is dwindling as a result. And fast.

This is where Back Door to Asylum comes in. At first glance, their music is chaotic, lacking form, and devoid of melody, but remember: that's only the first impression. Technical death metal has never been accommodating on the first listen, and often the music seems like a combination of spastic notes, like a standard death metal band tossed into a blender for one or two passes. It makes mincemeat of listeners inexperienced with its unpredictable nature, and the falling, rising, and fickle nature of the compositions isn't for the faint of heart, either.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alestorm - Sunset on the Golden Age (2014)

Once set in their ways, people are resistant to change. Alestorm is no exception, either, because, over the past six years, they have famously chugged away releasing albums too similar to one another to justify the expense of splurging on their music. 

Sunset on the Golden Age is an exception, however, because it's the first record to truly rework the band's patented combination of pirate banter and heavy metal. On top of that, too, is improved musicianship, tighter songwriting, and none of the slop that plagued their previous three albums. Yes, Alestorm finally sounds professional, and although none of the frilly humor is gone, the change is more marked than one might think.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Dagger - The Dagger (2014)

Death metal musicians digging '70s hard rock and metal isn't as unheard of as once thought--members of Dismember, Grave, and Necronaut formed The Dagger in 2009 and hit the ball out of the park, capturing the decade's iconic sound with finesse and mastery. Their self-titled debut is the result of a group of musicians enjoying what they do, and it's glorious to hear, and see, right down to the retro cover.

Production-wise, the album is like a step back in time and, despite the slightly over-boosted sound, holds its own against other bands attempting the same kind of stylistic throwback. Remember Orchid, a band featured on The Metal Advisor's 2013 best-of list? Well, The Dagger easily outdoes the San Francisco four-piece in terms of sound quality, and quickly sees them fade in the rearview mirror as they pull away victoriously. A meticulous engineer took the time to perfect the sound, and it's a touch that anyone can appreciate, when a band is set on capturing what is possibly the most important decade in hard rock/metal music.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bölzer - Soma (2014)

When Soma first exploded on social media, one couldn't help but question if praise for the release was yet another fad or genuine appreciation. Because the EP's two tracks were so disproportionate to one another--the first at five-and-a-half minutes; the other at nearly 13--common sense would say that the latter relies heavily on filler to reach its seemingly bloated runtime. First impressions are often everything; as expected, Soma, in particular "Labyrinthian Graves," rambles incessantly and rivals another band known for needlessly lengthy songs, Dream Theater.

At 13 tedious minutes, "Labyrinthian Graves" is the perfect example of what's referred to as the "Dream Theater Syndrome," a prioritization of instrumental chops over clean, fluid songwriting. Musically, the two bands couldn't be farther apart, but a good trimming would benefit both, making their songs leaner and less fluffy. Cutting out the fluff is only half the battle, however, because one must link together the bits worth saving in a way representative of decent songwriting and, for "Labyrinthian Graves," that's a tall order because major restructuring is necessary to bring the music up to snuff.