Thursday, December 27, 2012

Platters, TDKs, and the Good Old Days

Promoting physical media since 2007.
It's hard for me to remember the last time I legitimately got excited about walking into a music store. Trips to random storefronts have often left me out in the cold and very few are good enough for a second visit, let alone a purchase. Amazon and online distros are unquestionably the best place to buy a record, but nothing beats the age-old experience of sifting through a pile of albums, finding a hidden gem and enjoying a treasure the same day, instead of waiting tirelessly for the latest release to arrive in the mailbox.

The point is the record store, in its best incarnation, is a dying breed. The larger chains are dilapidated wastelands good for nothing more than purchasing radio-oriented, top 40 pop and hip hop--effectively a shadow of what they once were and not what those looking to dig deeper into the artistic world salivate for. As most music lovers will attest, the high achieved by walking through rows and rows of albums is a glorious feeling, and those willing to stock anything and everything make that pleasure possible. How many share a similar mindset? Well, that's hard to gauge when the biz isn't profitable anymore.

Yes, Denver's Twist & Shout Records is majestic.
Nevertheless, my faith in brick and mortar businesses returned when I visited Denver's Twist & Shout Records. My buddy and I walked out with quite a catch; 18 albums between us and a shared enthusiasm no online distro could match. Even though we spent close to an hour in the store--if not more--the draw and experience of having a dedicated establishment to step into, take a load off, and ogle at pretty little album artwork made our visit so much more engaging. Despite making a trip to Twist & Shout near every time my plane lands in Denver, I can safely say this was the most booty and plunder-filled expedition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Diemonds - The Bad Pack (2012)

Think Halford would be jelly of this bike?
Despite a vocalist lacking a stable range and deep roots in a beaten-to-death genre, Diemonds feel genuine in their attempt to be an incarnate of a hard rock band popular years ago. Inspired by classic horror films and novels, the Canadian five piece take the theme to heart, but the idea ends up a little too tongue in cheek for their videos, particularly "Get the Fuck Outta Here." The idea is no doubt a nice throwback to eighties cheesiness, but the apocalyptic imagery quickly grows old and poses the question: how long can a band rely on gimmicks before their fan base jumps ship for the next big thing? 

True to the musical pomp the guitars lay down, any cheese is hastily devoured, and the pursuit of the eighties seems less vain. Diemonds' sortie against a decade littered with throwbacks and imitators is admittedly tough--considering the absence of a prevalent female front woman in any metal era (aside from Doro)--but sassy, almost prissy vocals save The Bad Pack from the dreaded bargain bin at the local music store. Gritty, particularly in the tougher to reach higher range, Priya Panda saves the band from a slow, forgotten death among sound-alike after sound-alike.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newk - Nuclear Weapon (2012)

Remarkably consistent are the only words that come to mind when thinking of South Korea's longest running metal band. A two decade existence and five full-length albums have afforded Newk an extraordinary career--if not one of unknown circumstances--making the group's first two records notoriously hard to find, with the most recent three easily located on various music distribution websites. Promotion for their fifth release, Nuclear Weapon, has been zilch, if any, and the band continue to build their fan base through quality album after quality album with no airplay or exposure--a decidedly Iron Maiden-like approach to music.

Unlike the previous two records, Nuclear Weapon wipes the slate clean and moves forward with very few English lyrics, placing most emphasis on guitar solos and vocals bolstered by guest musicians. A natural progression from Heavy Life, each track is still distinctly Newk, and the band persist with their patented take on traditional metal introduced nearly 20 years ago. For what the group has described as a "heavy metal symphony" the approach is surprisingly minimalist, but still enough change to garner a look from both existing fans and Newk newcomers.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Metal Break: Girl's Day Release New Music Video


It's probably a good thing I can't understand the lyrics of the latest Girl's Day song because, judging by the music video's content, I'd hate the sappy puppy love with a fiery passion. As it stands, however, "Don't Forget Me" is normal catchy fare for the girls and they appear more mature to boot. Previous clips have been kind of, well, lacking in the maturity department and instead focused on cuteness rather than something that would stand a chance of breaking into an audience past the younger generation.

It's also probably wishful thinking that Girl's Day could even crack the older generation, considering dance pop and electronica is only huge with the tech savvy young'uns. I can't say the video lends itself hand either because it flat out sucks past the girls looking good--the actual content is terribly played out and fit for some love sick high school girl that messed up with her boyfriend. Seriously, I know pop is supposed to be fun, easy to listen to, and relevant for people aged up to their late twenties, but can't the lyrics be about something else? Whatever. I'll continue to be blissfully unaware of the woefully silly poetics. One slice electronica and another catchy, please. Forget the rest.

-TMA

Maiden Madness: 2005's Vinyl Reissues of The Trooper

Reissued in two vinyl formats all the way back in 2005, The Trooper found its way into my record collection, not only by 7", but by picture disc as well and added another chapter to my growing Iron Maiden stockpile. I've had both for the better part of seven years and never bothered to throw them on the turntable for fear of distorted and scratchy sound that usually puts me off to these mediums--each record is spotless and mint as can be. Nevertheless, I enjoy looking at the dazzling blue color of the 7" and the classic artwork immortalized on the 12" as a reminder of Maiden's longevity and influence as a metal band.

Intended to promote the Death on the Road album, both records feature the same artwork, yet hold a different track listing. Flipping the azure 7" over yields two songs--one on each side--a concert-captured version of "The Trooper" from 2003 and a live variant of "Another Life" from 2005. Likewise, the picture disc does very much the same thing, featuring the same "Trooper" cut, but tacks on the studio take and a live version of the ever classic "Murders in the Rue Morgue." To be honest, both records are not different enough to justify double-dipping into the Iron Maiden merch kingdom unless you are a mega fan like myself.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vinyl Feature: Fister's The Infernal Paramount and Motörhead's Another Perfect Day

Because I haven't been very good at updating the blog as regularly as I would like, Vinyl Viernes is serving up a double dose of wax this week. Two records have more or less fallen into my hands; the first months ago by way of everyone's favorite record-head, gogmagogical (who was generous enough to gift it to me), and the second a few days ago courtesy of Encore Records in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I like to think of both as a heavy contrast to one another, not just musically, but because one is modern and the other vintage. In other words, The Infernal Paramount is delightfully shimmering and clean sounding, while Motörhead's forgotten attic find is time weathered and reeks of dust.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seven Kingdoms - The Fire is Mine (2012)

Commonly known for the bludgeoning death metal movement of the nineties, Florida and its power metal newcomers are not exactly synonymous with one another. Seven Kingdoms, a band established late last decade, defy the Floridian stereotype and instead focus on lush, memorable melodies and explosive choruses not too far removed from generic mainstream pop. Ruthless guitar work reminiscent of Iced Earth lies in wait under layer-upon-layer of harmonic ecstasy--making the band somewhat unique--but, by nature, metal and pop are polar opposites. And when a fusion is executed poorly, the final product is nothing more than a stain on that particular band's name. While Seven Kingdoms retain many of those formulaic elements, the end result is an absolutely phenomenal series of addictive choruses and celestial mid-range vocals that by far surpass the majority of the act's existing catalog.

Despite all the good talk, complications tend to set in for female-fronted bands. Similar acts have been accused of being a gimmick--many of them rightly so--but in the case of Seven Kingdoms, the label is undeserved considering the line-up changes the members have endured. Generally, these kinds of groups use their female members only for their sex appeal, drawing in a "listening" crowd but at the cost of future development. Because of the ploy, most fans don't stay interested long enough to see these artists outgrow their infancy stage and loses the drive to complete another album. In other words, the project dissolves.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vinyl Feature: Lady Gaga's The Fame

As much as I hate to say it, I enjoy a handful of Lady Gaga songs. My senior year in college has been an eye-opening experience when I think about how much pop music I've been exposed to, with my friends constantly swooning over cookie-cutter song structures and stomach-churning lyrics. Fraternity life yields very few ways around the sugary, memorable, and often sexually-charged mainstream world, and Lady Gaga's music is no exception, especially if parties are a regular occurrence.

Of course, if you're like me and struggle to admit that you enjoy pop, you might consider buying one of the most popular releases of last decade on vinyl to make yourself feel better. There's really no reason to purchase this type of music on wax otherwise, because similar records are, more often than not, quickly and sloppily thrown together for the growing vinyl resurgence. Truth be told, the price isn't all that bad: just under $16 for two records--perhaps a bargain when compared with metal releases that will remain nameless--but nothing to jump up and down about when half or more of the album is shit.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Goliathon - Pretend it's Not Happening (2012)

Since the release of their second record, Pretend it's Not Happening, Goliathon have strode across Indianapolis' local scene like a stallion loose from his confines, where most bands are missing the power to position themselves for any sort of success. The album feels almost like a relic of the seventies--progressive rock and occasional proto-metallic riffing dominate the track roster--but the addition of a saxophone keeps listeners on their toes and Goliathon unique relative to the competition. Much like the debut, fluid melodies weave in and out between one another, and the band's application of the Hammond organ acts as a throwback to times when music was pure and undiluted. Really, only one conclusion can be made from this mess of eclecticism: Goliathon mean serious business as they intend to remedy Indianapolis' lack of a standout rock group.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guest Blog: Windhand's Self-Titled Debut (2012)

Reader contributed reviews are the fruit of the earth, and the very reason we keep on spreading the music we love. I never pass up an opportunity to let a budding music enthusiast share his thoughts on one of his recent discoveries. Doom and stoner metal is somewhat of a rare occurrence on The Metal Advisor -- all the more reason to spread the love -- but I hope to throw the plodding form of metal into regular rotation soon. Let's see what our fellow metalhead has to say.

My introduction to Windhand came at a convenient time. I was in the Armageddon Shop in Providence, Rhode Island hungry for some new tunes. Working an internship in the area, I was relatively new to the place, so I walked in with the nerves of a freshman schoolgirl on her first day of class. I began hunting the shelves when the music playing over the loud speakers caught my attention. I quickly found my self alongside the regulars, nodding and tapping my feet to the heavy psychedelic beats of Windhand. If you were to look at this scene from the outside, you would have seen four guys standing in a record shop jamming, mindlessly flipping though albums, lost in the trance Windhand produces. Coming back to my senses, I realized I must have their self-titled album. Sadly, the store was out of stock, and I had to order the album online from Force Field records. The wait was well worth it.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chton - The Devil Builds (2012)

After an incredibly explosive split with sister Norwegian band Cleaver, death metallers Chton are back at it with the release of their second full-length, The Devil Builds. Indeed, this is the act's first major album in a drought-ridden eight years--certainly a welcome leap back into the metal scene--but they seem to be aiming for something higher with the record: recognition and success. No longer will a band of such caliber sit back in the shadows. After all, they have a newly reinstated line-up, the chops, and the fiery spirit of something just short of the bludgeoning death metal movement of the late eighties.

Since the split, the band's sound has barely changed. Much of the drive remains the same--chugging riffs and mid-paced tempos familiar--but since the sneak peak earlier this year, "Death Awaits," the band has upped their game. For instance, opening the record, "Faustian Resolve" chimes in with an advisory that disobeying the law leads to an unfortunate consequences; the framework this particular track esablishes holds true for the rest of the The Devil Builds, with remarkable consistency obviously Chton's strong point. "Scavenger of a Dead World," "Gods of the Flesh," and "Rise Black God" form a triple entente, pummeling listeners with sheer force through an abundance of heavily palm-muted guitar riffs and the occasional blast beat, courtesy of stout drumming, as well. As expected and unchanged from the Screaming for Death split, "Death Awaits" makes a second appearance, reminding listeners of the reason it was stuck to the collaboration in the first place: brutality.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

S:t Erik's From Under the Tarn Coming to a Turntable Near You

Coming your way later this month, Sweden's S:t Erik have finally secured a deal to press their crawling debut to an illustrious clear vinyl. From the looks of things, both the label, Spora Records, and S:t Erik appear excited to get the wax into the hands of hungry fans. But why should you, the newcomer, purchase the record? Because I told you to. That's why.

Joking aside, if you like doom metal, From Under the Tarn will be your cup of tea, the sugar sweet yet never too overbearing that you'll be tempted to spit your drink all over the pompous, pinky-hoisting freak sitting next you. Laying low in an effort to stalk its next victim, there's a plodding sense of tension that never seems to reach its full potential, quietly slipping under the rug like a dust bunny waiting to attack. But with S:t Erik, there are a series of ups and downs, both quivering, distorted guitars and mellow clean sections that flip the mood in about half a second's time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity (2012)

Although their name suggests blood, guts, and a leisurely frolic through the depths of hell, Cattle Decapitation are actually quite the opposite of what a "normal" death-obsessed band might commit to recording. Extremely anti-human in just about every way possible, the act claim people are the scum of the earth and instead fight for animal rights with an iron fist. But against all odds, this isn't a bad recipe for a metal album. In fact, Cattle Decapitation's fifth full-length, Monolith of Inhumanity, is the San Diego quartet's best record to date, punishing, pummeling, and knocking listeners around for a mutated 43 minutes.

Depicting a half human-half monkey abomination, Monolith of Inhumanity's cover art sums up Cattle Decapitation's attitude toward humans rather nicely; the mutant ripping away its face and representing the lead number from the album, "A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat." Like maggots scuffling for the last bit of rotting trash, Travis Ryan experiments with a variety of vocal styles, most notably his rendition of traditional cleans and an assortment of conventional death metal growls. "Your Disposal" and "Kingdom of Tyrants" follow in much the same vein, but with a slight twist: not unlike black metal, one track has the guitars spiraling through the upper registers, while the other swivels back and forth between screaming chaos and a melodic midsection.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Concert Review: Harley Poe + Leopold and his Fiction + Goliathon @ Radio Radio, Indianapolis, Indiana - August 31, 2012

At what felt like the last second, a buddy and I piled into his 2006 Ford F-150 after a long day of classes and hurried our way to Fountain Square in Indianapolis. Following an hour drive and a quick bite at Jimmy Johns, we reached our final destination, Radio Radio, a bar known for its sublime mash-up of music and atmosphere--surely one of the premier places the city has to offer for lesser known bands looking to move up one ring on the musical ladder. We knew the night could go in one of two ways: either a painfully boring threehour set or we would be swept off our feet by a handful of obscure bands we had only heard of in passing. Good thing the show was free.

As my friend removed the keys from his gas-guzzling beast, we nodded to each other in agreement that the night was going to be fantastic. We had only seen the black-tinted, abyss-like windows outside the bar and a colorful sign positioned directly above two thick wooden doors, but the allure of the venue was enough to push collective excitement through the roof. The only requirement was a brief flash of our IDs, confirming we were of legal drinking age, which we did without hesitation.

Cozy and dark, Radio Radio turned out to be the perfect place to host a small concert--busy and bustling with people clamoring for their much beloved alcohol and a band or two on the side to make the night even better. Armed with glowstick bracelets, courtesy of the woman at the door, and an assortment of merch from the sales booth in hand, we found a table near middle of the floor and anxiously took our seats. It would be an hour before the first band, Harley Poe, would unleash their brand of zombified rockabilly horror rock on restless concert goers. Nevertheless, we were pumped and eyed our newly purchased loot with admiration.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vitamin X - About to Crack (2012)

Drenched in a sweaty musical bliss, nearly every song on Vitamin X's latest offering, About to Crack, is backed by a moving, grooving bass line, not unlike what an inebriated Lemmy Kilmister might scribble down for use during a Motörhead set. As it turns out, bluesy solo guitaring proves to be one of the more enjoyable qualities of the record and points at "Fast" Eddie Clark, another, though departed, Motörhead veteran. Much like the Brits before them, Vitamin X gather the best qualities of metal and punk and create and accessible and wonderfully coherent product--a rarity for the former.

Instead of aiming for the average album's 30-minute run-time, Vitamin X take a complete u-turn and clock in at a blindingly fast 18 minutes. To put things into perspective, rockers can listen to this record twice in the span one might spin a "regular" album. Whereas the average record takes double the time to sink in, About to Crack is extremely easy to absorb after only two spins, but at a slight cost: many of the songs fuse together and become indistinguishable from one another until listeners sit down and analyze what has entered one ear and left the other. 



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thank God We'll NEVER Have to Order from NHR Records Ever Again

I would advise you to avoid, but they're gone.
I always take precaution when ordering from a new record label because the practice is just, well, good practice. Even as I say that, Northern Horde Record's "going-out-of-business" sale was too appealing to pass up because each CD was priced at a measly two dollars--effectively pocket change in an industry that marks up a simple disk astronomically.

How any company can make a profit from that price is beyond me. Isn't the goal to reduce prices during a liquidation sale, but still turn a slight profit? Instead of doing my research, I stupidly jumped the gun and drooled over the fact that four CDs could be had for eight bucks. Heck, I could even buy one or two for a friend of mine (or so I thought...)! My hopes were shattered, sadly, when my order didn't arrive for two months. Something was clearly very wrong, especially because no one at the company cared to reply to emails until the orders were out of their hands.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vinyl Feature: Diskord's Dystopics

Well, I messed up big time. I forgot my vinyl feature last Friday. Now seems like as good a time as any to give a quick sneak peak at what recently crawled into my vinyl collection, a beautifully crafted two-tone record, courtesy of our Norwegian friends, Diskord. Shipping from Norway was brisker than expected, thanks to a professionally run label (No Posers Please!), and the album arrived in my hands at a sliver under two weeks. Needless to say, I was impressed, but I was also psyched that the guys were generous enough to give the record's slipcase a marvelous graffiti bath at my request.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vinyl Feature: Havok's Time is Up LP

Taken straight from my personal vinyl collection, Havok's Time is Up is an uncommon piece limited to 500 units worldwide. More often than not, colored records are pressed for novelty's sake, and while they tend to sell out faster than the standard black, it isn't without a cost--the sound quality suffers.

Although colored vinyl is an interesting alternative to black, unwanted surface noise will always be the number one reason I try to avoid infatuation with eye candy all together. For some, buying vinyl is a nostalgic experience and one step further away from the mainstream who consume swaths of digital files daily. For others, vinyl's selling point is the warm, bubbling sound (best found with black vinyl) and a reason to keep the archaic, yet wonderfully unique format around. For me, it's a combination of both.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Asia - XXX (2012)

The early eighties saw Asia impressing the world with their hooky and blatantly poppy brand of rock, standing as a testament to the quality of the members' other projects. The act was always known as something of a super group--where King Crimson, Yes, and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer members called the band home--but their music was made to appeal to the masses. The group's debut was essentially nothing more than a slightly progressive take on the trendy synth sounds at the time and lacked the power of truly sprawling epic like "21st Century Schizoid Man." Nevertheless, the debut did exceptionally well, claiming title as the best selling album of 1982, and Asia eventually watched their opus climb to a staggering platinum title (4x!) virtually 13 years later.

Since then, the band's core mission has not changed. Indeed, they are poppier than ever, bridging the gap between synthetically-concocted AOR and a mash-up of progressive tendencies that have largely faded with age. Based around Geoff Downes' lush keys, Asia's latest work, XXX, puts form over function, and the end result is a safe, but enjoyable, assortment of 10 tracks.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vigilance Inks Record Deal with Metal Tank

...and this is the news I've been waiting for. My favorite Slovenian metal band is moving up in the world!


From the press release:

The Slovenian occult heavy metal act, Vigilance, inked a deal with Metal Tank Records that will release their upcoming album. The successor of Steeds of Time from 2011 will crush everything in front of it with its excellent mixture of genuine traditional speed heavy metal filled with profound devotion for primordial and ritualistic occultism. For more information consult the official Metal Tank Records website at www.metaltankrecords.com.

The band comments: "We are thrilled to announce that we are returning to Zalokar Studios. The time is at hand to record the successor of our debut album Steeds of Time. We have been working harder than ever before so you can expect nothing but fast, dark, and untamed heavy metal!"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Metallica - The First 30 Years (2012)

Released only with a special issue of Metal Hammer, The First 30 Years is a dainty piece and surely one of the thinnest 7" I've had the pleasure of holding in my hands. Thanks a blogger friend, gogmagogical, who always seems to find the jewels lurking in the wild, I tore into my local Barnes & Noble earlier today, expecting the one of a kind magazine + vinyl match-up to be scarce or, at the very least, sold out. To my amazement, the bookstore had five or six copies ripe for the taking and presumably a good deal at $14.99.

The First 30 Years features two live tracks; the first a cover of Anti-Nowhere League's "So What." The band's long-time vocalist, Animal, treats the track as an opportunity to bark into the microphone and claim what was originally his, while Metallica back him with the same approach they have taken to music since 1991: simple, yet effective, chord progressions that make up the majority of their post-nineties material. Sadly, Kirk is still very much the same, though, and continues down the path of messy, wah-infested hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Concert Review: Iron Maiden/Alice Cooper @ Klipsch Music Center, Indianapolis, Indiana - July 19, 2012


For the first time in seven years Iron Maiden returned to Indianapolis. On this occasion, they weren't part of a half-baked festival named Ozzfest but instead on a headlining tour with an amazing support: Alice Cooper. The already deliciously sweet bill got even more impressive. I didn't get one legend. I got two.

The last time Maiden visited Indy was all the way back in 2005, which, coincidentally, was my first live music experience. As far as the whole first concert deal goes, that one couldn't have been better. I somehow squirmed my 14-year-old body to the front of the venue and found myself among adults--other kids oddly out of sight. But now that I think about it, Maiden weren't as monstrously popular back then. In fact, their following burst to immense proportions in subsequent years all the way up to 2012's Maiden England tour.

The sweatband Steve threw to me in '05.
Don't get me wrong; Maiden were always popular for a metal band, especially in the eighties when they created controversy for being Satan's spawn with their "The Number of the Beast" single. As the ninties rolled around, however, the majority of rocker heroes hit a dead end in both appeal and creativity and simply lacked the musical "resources" to dig themselves out, resulting in a style change. Eddie and the boys regained their momentum circa 2000 with the release of Brave New World and began to climb the ladder to glory in and outside of the metal community. That said, the Iron Maiden of today don't fit the nineties description. They have, in reality, ripened as a live band and exceed my expectations every time I get a chance to see them. And this concert increased that magical number to five times!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Placentophagia - Feast on Thyself (2012)

I'm not fan of artists that create graphic shock value with lyrics and album art. In fact, I hate them. Attempts to be disgusting just for the sake of being disgusting is a poor excuse for music, and I want to trash every record that drifts close a similar mindset one-by-one (with a few exceptions, of course.). Take, for example, the average goregrind band. More often than not, they can't adequately play their instruments, nor can they be taken seriously.

Why am I going on this rant? Because Placentophagia, a band I want to enjoy, narrowly avoid falling into the trap, if for only one reason--their music isn't as ludicrous as what their peers are recording. Placentophagia have the vile lyrics. They have the rotten cover art. They even have the dreadful song titles. The Ontarians seemingly fit the formula to a T, nail on the head and all. The band's first EP provides the much needed--or detested--thrill for this sort of style, but they back their music with fairly decent musicianship and a clear understanding of the building blocks that make up death metal.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mecosario - Demo 2012

Like any other form of extreme music, overlapping and interchanging various elements is part of the composing process. Historically, death metal and grindcore have had a relationship with one another, while bands of both styles played shows together without much fuss from fans.

Mecosario, a grindcore band from Japan, would have no problem performing alongside our metal brethren. In fact, they play rather standard punk-tinged music, but what differentiates them from other acts is their focus on Mexican themes and Spanish lyrics. Yes, you read that correctly; a band from Japan centers on something completely opposite of their own culture, which is certainly absurd, but the concept works.

2012 has been a frantic year for the band. One half of Mecosario's dual vocal attack, Tonoko, hastily departed from the group, leaving Mecosario in a bind to find a replacement before upcoming shows. Luckily, after what seemed like a week, Aiko stepped to fill big shoes, but she does not make an appearance on the band's first demo. The band's only existing work, Demo 2012, features the original line-up, pictured below.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Diskord - Dystopics (2012)

You would have to live under a rock to be unaware that the last couple of years have been positively fruitful for death metal, with both newer and older bands churning out "to-be" classics and records reminiscent of the glory days. Diskord's Dystopics is significantly different than what has manifested itself in the scene as of late, mainly because the group cast an avant-garde approach over what listeners expect when envisioning death metal. Tempo changes, unpredictable song structuring, and dissonant, moody riffs mixed with the usual spastic guitar textures encapsulate Dystopics, sounding like nothing else in the subgenre; Diskord really have carved a unique place for themselves in the death metal world, which is an accomplishment for a stagnant (but excellent) form of music.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Metal Advisor Interviews Espen and Torstein of Chton


As most of you probably remember, I took a shot at interviewing Cleaver earlier this year, and they turned out to be some of the funniest guys I've had a chance to talk with. Funnily enough, the death metal band, Chton, share close ties with Cleaver and are, again, great musicians and composers that bring something refreshing to the Norwegian metal scene. Let's get acquainted with them. 

---

So let’s get down to business early in this interview—did Chton ever find a label willing to release the Screaming for Death split with Cleaver on vinyl? As we all know, I’d love to get my hands on that.

The intention behind the split was to get our name out there before the album's release, which was the intention for Cleaver as well, and to give people a taste of the coming venom. So that isn't something we actively sought to get done, at least not yet. I think all we did was post a Twat on Twitter asking if anyone knew of some underground label that could just print it and push it. It is, however, officially released on Morningstar Music and distributed via loads of download and/or streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, 7digital, Amazon, WiMP, etc.

Still, I would really like to see that split on vinyl myself, so it isn't out of the question. It's more that we've decided to use our time on the preparing the actual music and doing some promo for now since we've been swamped with work to get The Devil Builds ready to be unleashed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caves of Steel - Troposphere/Magnetosphere (2012)

For ages, indie rock was a tiny, tiny speck on my ship's radar; the approaching "enemy" certainly a threat, but not one to be taken seriously. I'm typically not a huge fan of the style, mostly because I don't know where to start exploring, but these Norwegians have pushed my interest in the music to the forefront. Previous rummaging through the genre left me with an all time favorite, The Koxx, but Caves of Steel seem to have one-upped those guys in terms of instrumental skill and by mishmashing different influences from the collective rock palette. Their second EP, Troposphere/Magnetosphere, fuses both post- and indie rock to form a style I'm not too well-versed with, but find fascinating and addictive enough to keep spinning over and over.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legionary - Arcane Divisions (2012)

Strongly linked to old school death/thrash metal, Legionary throw catchiness into the mix with their debut album, Arcane Divisions. Unlike the usual names like Morbid Angel, the band injects a dosage of melody into their music that I positively adore--"Absolute Supremacy" was crowned a favorite from my first listen of the debut full-length and remains so after nearly a dozen spins.
 
Although Legionary leans toward the death metal side of the spectrum--growled vocals, tremolo picked riffs, and blast beats--the thrash influences are all too evident and occasionally reminiscent of late eighties/early nineties dinosaurs Demolition Hammer and Morbid Saint.

But when the melodious beast comes into play, the sound changes entirely.

Not only limited to tremolo picking, guitarists Tony Barhoum and Alonso Maguiño bring a creamy, smooth lead tone to the table and decimate any lingering doubts of death metal's inability to be catchy and aggressive. The combination of intricacies and strong songwriting are indeed what makes Legionary's music so appealing but, without either of those, they might as well be another generic death metal act.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Skagos - Ást (2009)

For quite some time, I have been wanting to dig deeper into black metal, but the right act never popped up at the right time. My favorite bands proved I didn't have a favorite subgenre that held me back--Iron Maiden, Vader, Skeletonwitch, etc.--but I still never hit it off with grim and frosty style of music. Back in high school, Ceremonial Castings almost had me there with their excellent record Barbaric is the Beast, but somehow my interest dropped off as other types of metal took priority, specifically heavy, thrash, and death metal; all of which remain my favorites today.

Enter Skagos' Ást. The production makes the music feel increasingly distant. The drumming is sloppy. The songs are overly drawn-out. But fact of the matter is, it's still enjoyable--even addicting--though not in the sense where a song is impossible to turn off. Skagos' brand of black metal is very Agalloch-esque at times--not to mention atmospheric--so you, more often than not, feel as if you are floating on a thin cloud as a lonely surveyor of an avant-garde beast hard at work. In the end, Skagos are a fine example of the black metal's gradual evolution because, while you might hear generic riffing patterns, there's always something new to discover.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Metal Round-Up: Stuff that Doesn't Fit into a Full Post

Aside from a "different" band name, Decreation does nothing to separate their music from the worldwide assortment of melodic death metal bands. Subpar clean vocals, tired and chugged guitar riffs, and uninspired melodies keep the group's first demo (The Pandemonium Light) from being enjoyable and, most importantly, memorable. Ideally, a few spins should give a listener an overall impression of a band's music; however, I still feel empty when thinking back on what came through my headphones. It doesn't help that the production is an exemplary nod to fakeness and lifelessness. Normally, I would do a full review on a demo like this, but I can't bring myself to listen to it anymore. Avoid at all costs, unless you like being bored to tears.

Find them here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Band Profile: Fierce Band!

Fierce Band!'s material has escaped review for too long, not because I was avoiding their work, but because I didn't know how to approach it. They combine the best elements of progressive, death, and heavy metal, making their sound quite varied, albeit with a few outright surprises. Their instrumental skill is awe-inspiring, making me I wonder if I should give up playing my own guitar. But the thing is, I still don't know what's coming through my speakers because Fierce Band! are familiar, yet unlike anything I've ever heard before. Maybe it's the production, maybe it's the way their music is arranged, or maybe it's a sort of weird aura. Whatever it is, I'm digging it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Have I Been Up to Lately? Recap Comin' at Cha

Although my postings (as of late) are sporadic, I've been listening to a boatload of tunes; on-the-go or at home. My music listening habits rarely change, but the time on hand to talk about them often does. I've been trying as hard as I can to break the funk I've had of being away from discussing music with everyone, but rest assured that even though posting has become less common, I'm trying to fix the situation.

So, what has been coming through the musical cross roads lately? Well, a lot of different things. About a million albums are planned for review--both requests and personal favorites (or even oven fodder)--and I'll get around to them eventually. But for now, I'm hoping I can introduce some new bands or at the very least get you interested in groups you've been meaning to give a look.

The first, Varathron, are an obscure Greek black metal outfit from the subgenre's earliest days. Formed in 1989, Varathron are certainly veterans at this point, although I'm not sure why they're not talked about more. As a friend put it, the band emits a very heavy metal-oriented black metal sound, so Iron Maiden fans and the like are destined to at least enjoy their first album, His Majesty at the Swamp. I'm hoping the rest of the group's releases fall in line with the same sound, but, for now, I'm loving their debut full-length because of its experimentation with heavy metal.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chton/Cleaver - Screaming for Death (2012)

Ever since I interviewed Norwegian black-thrashers Cleaver, their upcoming split with Chton became all the more appealing to me, not only because they're a great group of guys, but because the dedication and feeling they put into their music. Take for example their debut record. The damn thing has been recorded for at least two years, but the band have been struggling to find a suitable record company to unleash its contents. Sadly, that's an all too common occurrence today, as labels are succumbing to lack of business or favoring mainstream accessibility. In an effort to combat the madness, Cleaver teamed up with fellow band, Chton, which houses members of Cleaver (and vice-versa), for a collaboration that only can be described as a primitive, down to the bone rocking. The result is one new track from each group that will crack your skull. Let's take a gander at what's ahead.

Aptly titled Screaming for Death, Chton and Cleaver's partnership feels familiar as a romp through the better parts of black and death metal. The split, only released digitally, is available through just about every outlet imaginable, but I find myself wanting a tangible copy simply because these two bands are so engaging in their respective styles of music. Luckily, both groups promise something collectors and listeners alike will be able to get their hands on in the coming months. And trust me, material from each band is absolutely essential to a growing underground metal collection.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Metal Advisor Interviews Matt of Satyros

  
Please give a little bit of background information about Satyros.

Matt - Satyros is a postmodern black metal band from Germany, which has released two full-length albums and a promotional EP since creation in 2005. The line-up consists of Andreas (guitars, bass, and programming), André (guitars, backing vocals) and Matthias (lead and backing vocals).

How did the band form?

Matt - Satyros was formed in 2005 by the same three guys who still constitute today’s line-up. We were attending a metal festival in summer, as the idea of having a band spontaneously took shape. We wanted to create a homage and tribute to a genre of music which is still important and influential to us: black metal. This approach was mainly seen in the release of our debut album in 2007. Later on, the band longed for exploring the wider fields of extreme metal and thus started to incorporate further elements into their sound.

  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mötley Crüe - Shout at the Devil (1983)

You know what? For now, I'm saying to hell with all recent music and stepping back into the eighties, which is hands down my favorite era for metal and hard rock. Metal was just shedding the newbie status it worked so hard to escape throughout the seventies, and the genre began to split off into numerous subcultures now outlined as thrash, speed, and power (among others). Even the underpinnings of death metal surfaced, though they would not fully emerge until the mid and later parts of the decade. Mötley Crüe found themselves right smack dab in the middle of the mess, releasing their first record entitled Too Fast for Love in 1981, followed by the ever classic Shout at the Devil in 1983. The band arguably jump started the entire glam metal fad, although I'm a firm believer that the subgenre is a random mishmash tag based on appearance, rather than a legitimate style of music. But I digress.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wolf Spider - Wilczy Pająk (1987)

Poland isn't a country normally associated with metal, but, in reality, a number of bands call the nation home, one of them being Wolf Spider (Wilczy Pająk in the Polish). The group's debut record, Wilczy Pająk, sounds extremely dated by today's standards and absolutely should, considering it was recorded under Soviet occupation, but the music is as aggressive anything else, ripping along at breakneck speeds. Most of the tracks fall in line with a faster, more intricate version of Iron Maiden and perhaps a few USPM bands. "Dziewczyna Na Sprzedaż," for example, contrasts "Nocny Strach," the former a heavy rocker and the latter a speed metal piece.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Metal Advisor Interviews Jack Russell


As I walked with Jack to a quieter place to talk with him, I asked for his thoughts on the modern day music industry, to which he happily obliged. After that, we caught up with the latest in his band's camp and his life. Needless to say, I'm excited for some new music and for everyone to experience his revitalized and energetic performance in concert.

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Jack on the modern day music industry:

Jack - I’m certainly glad I’m not coming up right now. I’d almost be like, "fuck it, get a job!" You know? I don’t even see how new bands even do it. You’re never going to see bands selling millions of records anymore. You’re never going to see new bands playing arenas. Those days are long over, unfortunately. I’m just glad we caught it before it died.

What bands or individuals influenced you most?

Jack - Oh god, let’s see. I mean, my first experience with music, the thing that really made really want to become rockstar was The Beatles Help! album. It was the first thing I heard, and I was like, "Oh my god! This is what I gotta do." Before that I wanted to be an archeologist. Now I’m a freakin’ dinosaur.

That was the first thing. Then it was the Beach Boys, and after that I got into Alice Cooper. He was a huge influence. I just loved his whole deal. Aerosmith, Zeppelin, Deep Purple—all that bands from the ‘70s that were kinda blues-based bands. Everything I’ve ever listened to has in some way influenced my music.

What about life experiences?

Jack - As far as my writing goes?

Sure!

Jack  - Well, yeah, that’s what I generally write about, things that I’ve been through, see, and done. I don’t really write about fantasy. My life is too fuckin’ interesting. I don’t need to write about something I don’t know about! There is so much going on with me. Every record I’ve every written, every lyric I’ve ever done, every album is basically a snapshot of what I’ve been going through at that particular point in my life. You could pick any album and really look at the lyrical content and figure out where I was at emotionally and spiritually at that time. I just write about me!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Haemic - Fields of Sanguine (2012)

What sets Haemic apart from the rest of the black metal pack is not their sound, but their founding story. Crazy as it might seem, the members have never met, yet alone stepped into the same room to practice or plan their material. The quartet recorded Fields of Sanguine across the globe, collaborating only through cyberspace--normally, bands like this are like a needle in a haystack and beyond any type of success because their hopes and dreams fall apart. But as a group of young, aspiring musicians, Haemic attempt to battle that stereotype and succeeds.

Black metal, shclmack metal--low-fi production values and recording quality is pushed to the curb, favoring a meatier, thicker sound usually found in polished productions. Atypical for traditional black metal and characteristic of the symphonic variety, Haemic utilize a respectable mixing and mastering on their debut with little to no budget in hand, but the job isn't perfect because the drum machine sounds inorganic. In spite of that, the overall production puts the band on the world map as a serious force to be reckoned with, and certainly one of the few from Taiwan (Haemic is based in the country) that have the guts to step out of the nation's borders.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jagged Surge - Demo Surge Bruiser (2012)

Jagged Surge hail from India with a theoretically enticing blend of hard rock and metal that harkens back to the eighties. The band borrow heavily from their idols, mixing bluesy passages with harder hitting sections, which remind of something not so far removed from Tesla meets Megadeth. Interestingly enough, the only track that sounds like it has a real drummer is "Hell Hound" that, in comparison to the others, seems crisper and more alive. The remaining songs sound rather sterile and amateurish, in comparison, lacking the power needed to propel the band past their local status.

The majority of the Demo Surge Bruiser attempts a testosterone-filled run through World War II. Taking a closer look at the cover reveals the band's obsession with war-themed pieces, which is rather cliché for a metal band itself, but refreshing for group from India to pick as subject matter. A proper mixing and mastering would benefit the band greatly because their music lacks oomph, sounding terribly messy and unclean; that, along with improved musicianship, are the band's biggest problems, but it isn't enough to justify avoiding this demo because "Hell Hound" is a gem.

Luckily, the band appears to have a very solid fanbase at home, and as long as they can tighten up their playing a little bit, we may have a winner on our hands. The recent line-up changes may prove to be beneficial for Jagged Surge, so listeners can surely remain on the edges of their seats as to how the band might progress. But, for now, all fans can do is sit and wait.

The Verdict: Recommended only if you want to dig into the depths of the Indian metal scene.

-TMA

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spawn of Possession - Incurso (2012)

Hitting the proverbial nail on the head, Spawn of Possession return with their third full-length feeling renewed and refreshed. Since their first two records, the band’s lineup has shifted significantly, but for the better--Incurso is the most addictive culling of spiraling riffing and chaotic song writing since Gorod stepped up to the metal plate with Process of a New Decline in 2009. 

The band takes seemingly unapproachable technicality and transforms it into something appealing for even the fussiest of metalheads. Technical death metal has only recently been in great commodity, and with the spur in popularity comes a flood of groups lacking writing finesse. Nonetheless, Spawn of Possession has good qualities; particularly ease of access, and Incurso remains one of the better releases for the subgenre, thanks to memorable and proficient compositions.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Goatwhore - Blood for the Master (2012)

Goatwhore's latest, Blood for the Master, continues down the rock solid path they have been trodding since Carving Out the Eyes of God. The act's first three albums carried a heavy black metal aesthetic--creating a sort of identity crisis with death and thrash metal--but but what shocks fans most about the record is the polished production many groups dislike, if only for one reason: black metal must be raw. But despite that, Goatwhore manage to hold their own, reaching an unmatched level of popularity as interest rises in their music.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Check Out: Deluhi


Essentially unknown to the masses, Deluhi broke up last year, the four members leaving little behind as they moved on to pursue solo ventures or team up with other projects. Their music leaves me scratching my head because it merges various metal subgenres (and hard rock) with a light dusting of hardcore; the mixture hardly works for every band that forces the two together, but, for the most part, it pans out in the Deluhi's favor. The group released a number of singles and one album, which is sadly their entire discography but quite a feat for a quick three years of existence.

So far, the track that gets my stamp of approval is "Departure" because it has a very old school hard rock feel, but with a zest that makes it accessible for contemporary music fans. Unfortunately, the vocals are terribly fragile and not the throaty, hairy variety that fit well with eighties-influenced shred rock. Despite its shortcomings, though, the song reminds of a time when metal was about something other than technical ability or heavy just for the sake of being heavy. In my book, that makes Deluhi and the rest of their discography worth a look, in spite of the differences their material may have across the board.

-TMA

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Testimony - Transcending Reality (2012)

Home-grown Indiana thrashers Testimony combine elements of thrash and progressive metal, yielding a sort of spacey travel that rips like any other band from eighties. The band's first release, Transcending Reality, borrows heavily from what came over 20 years ago, but places a lengthy twist on the music, often with drawn-out sections and technical frills. I can't help but be reminded of Pestilence's material when I give Testimony a spin because of the jazzy, fusion-like sections that dip into other musical genres.

Surprisingly, Testimony are a rookie band, and while that may not cross your mind upon first listen, the real hint is in the production which is like a step back to thrash metal's heyday. Although Testimony don't quite fall into the trap, they feel like a second-tier band in terms of songwriting and their ability to create a memorably hook. Melody is decent enough that you might be able to find something to enjoy, but a sense of direction is missing that is absolutely essential to reel in an audience. As far as I'm concerned, progressive does not always mean extended song lengths, and a portion of the EP would benefit from a good trimming.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unisonic - Unisonic (2012)

Legendary ex-Helloween team, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen, along with Pink Cream 69 accomplice, Dennis Ward, are back at the game called rock with a new project named Unisonic. Their debut, cleverly sharing the same name, pokes fun at Kiske and Hansen’s time in Helloween, but never awakens the power metal beast that emerged when the two unknowingly influenced thousands of bands. Conventional for the subgenre were soaring choruses, floating melodies, and harmonized leads--and, for Unisonic, most of that sticks, but the change is with the inclusion of poppy chorus hooks and hard rock-type songwriting. Nevertheless, Helloween’s softer Euro-based power metal sound, an alternative to the thrashier U.S. aesthetic, has always been about catchiness, so perhaps the existing direction is less surprising.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Metal Advisor Interviews Cleaver

 
One of The Metal Advisor's most exciting moments on the glorious metal journey [so far!] has been interviewing Cleaver, who are, simply put, a looney group of guys. The Metal Advisor had the chance to hear from Andreas (guitars), Espen (drums), and Øyvind (guitars), three of the five band members, who not only provided insight as to what's going on in their world but highly opinionated and amusing thoughts on all things metal. As with any good interview, the questions and the answers do the talking--just make sure you check out Cleaver's newest album as soon as it hits cyberspace. We're in for a monster. 

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Hello, Cleaver! What is the band's status right now?
  
Still tired after four days of metal and beer at the Inferno Metal Festival where we shared the stage with Magister Templi and Solstorm. We have also been celebrating, and celebrating means more beer, how the Easter bunny died on the cross for our sins. In Cleaver, we try to sin a lot so his death won’t be for nothing.

How and when did Cleaver form? Why did you decide you wanted to play thrash and death metal?

It all started up one or two years ago when Øyvind and Espen were performing satanic rituals before a rehearsal with the death metal band Chton. A great demonic voice told us to create Cleaver. We did what we were told, and since we had made a lot of killer riffs that didn’t fit into Chton, it all felt like the right thing to do. In Cleaver, we do our blasphemy more inspired by heavy, thrash and old school death metal, while Chton is more dark and brutal death metal. To us, at least, they sound like two completely different bands, and we haven’t heard complaints from the dark demonic voices of the underworld so far.

Cleaver has two songs recorded right now. Are they digital-only or do you have a physical release?

We actually have a complete album of satanic tunes ready for our debut album called When There’s No More Room in Hell..., but so far, we’ve only spread two of the songs on the internet. We would encourage metal labels out there to perform satanic rituals in near future. We know there’s at least one demon, if not Satan himself, that will recommend Cleaver, but if we don’t get a deal with a label soon, we will release the album by ourselves as a physical release. We’re old school metalheads, and a physical release is the only thing that counts. Fuck downloading and mp3s. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Metal Advisor Interviews S.L.U.R


Unfortunately for the majority of metalheads, Japanese metal stays relatively unknown to the outside world, save a few select groups, and as you would expect, S.L.U.R is no exception to the rule. The band is composed of a mere two members: Tappi, who takes on axe-wielding duties, and Avenger, who fills in the bottom of the mix with her clanky bass lines. The duo hit the ground running earlier this year with the release of their first EP, Invisible Sun, and are poised to make a splash throughout Japan as they begin to spread their name by playing live shows. Let's find out more.

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All right, I always begin interviews in a similar fashion--and for good reason! Can you give us some background on S.L.U.R? Did you two meet through a shared passion for metal?

Yes, we met through a shared passion for metal. We noticed that our favorite musicians are very alike, so we were able to head in the same direction of heavy metal music. We basically formed together to realize an ideal metal music.

What drew you to heavy metal?

Tappi - Beautiful melodies, gorgeous performances, and the feeling of emotion from musicians' hearts. That's what grabs me about the music.

Avenger - An elevated, high feeling, tremendous level of skill, and being a leader in every part. And because metal puts together fieriness and heaviness.

S.L.U.R ready to take on the metal world.
Sadly, I'm not fortunate enough to be able to understand much Japanese, but I love the language all the same. Is there any hidden meaning behind your song titles? "On the Motor Bike" seems like it falls in line with what classic artists use as subject matter for their music.

Yes, you are right. "On the Motor Bike" is conscious of Deep Purple's "Highway Star." "Highway Star" is a song about a car, but "On the Motor Bike" is a song about a motor bike, which makes our track like a bike version of Deep Purple's song. We don't really have any other hidden meaning behind song titles. This is the first and only one so far.

What's the story behind S.L.U.R.'s name? I've been very curious about that since I discovered your music through Metal-Archives.

The official name of S.L.U.R is Seventh Link & Ultimate Ray. Seventh is used in various countries' myths, and it is our lucky number. Link expresses the bond of our companions who help us, and ray is taken from Gamma Ray because we love them. We were born into the metal scene with the ultimate ray.