Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jungle Rot - Terror Regime (2013)

Just two short years after their last record, Kill on Command, Jungle Rot continues a well-deserved partnership with Victory Records for the release of their seventh full-length, Terror Regime. This time around the band sounds excessively clean--perhaps unfitting for their trademarked style of beefy metal--but the shift is not without its benefits: with the maneuver toward boosted accessibility, the four-piece finally gets a sip of the Kool-Aid other death metal pioneers have relished for years, effectively ending a forgotten career between the musical world's cracks. Promotion on Victory Record's part has been good, if not better than past label Napalm Records, and the band deserving savors the fruits of their labor, putting their name on the map among groups they emerged beside nearly 20 years ago.

Despite the glossy coating, however, Jungle Rot is very much the same, aside from a few exceptions. With an expanded focus on breakdowns, the album tends to plod with sleep-inducing, one-note, chugged sections placed in the middle of otherwise stellar song writing. Deceptively simple instrumentation has always been a staple of the band's sound, but Terror Regime heavily relies on the idea of a filler midsection that, by and large, splits tracks in half, making compositions feel unfinished. Of course, not every song on the record appears this way, but for the ones that do, the side effects are unfortunate.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Metal Round-Up: Wandersword, Dystopia, Malichor, Hammerdrone

Wandersword - Waiting for War (2013)

Not to be mistaken for a Scandinavian band, Wandersword, a Russian four-piece, feel like a familiar friend and unsurprisingly borrow heavily from highly-influential peers like Ensiferum. Across a compact 40 minutes, the band's sophomore effort--this time complete with English song titles--traverses ancient viking seas and utilizes various orchestral elements to create a narrative that tells as much a story with music as it does with lyrics. As an addition to the already over-saturated folk metal market, Waiting for War is enjoyable but remains a totally optional listen; unless, of course, folk metal is the preferred subgenre.

The Verdict: Effectively paradise for folk metal fans, Wandersword's album is an easy purchase. Tracks to make note of include "Strange Ships' Trail" with its innovative riffing, "The Valiant King," and "40 Warriors." Waiting for War hits shelves on April 16th.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Gilian Adam of Vigilance

Gilian Adam, an iron-fisted, ultrasonic guitarist, stands at the helm of one of Slovenia's most exciting metal bands today. The classic revival sound at its peak, Vigilance is poised to release their first full-length, Queen of the Midnight Fire, which is an excellent adaptation of the NWoBHM movement 30 years ago. Of course, the band included a number of Easter eggs in their music and dark modernity slips in, too. The Metal Advisor talks to Gilian about the upcoming album, and how he and the rest of Vigilance teamed up to unleash one hell of a record. 


I've been waiting for new music from my favorite Slovenian metallers for quite some time now! Great to finally interview you!
Gilian: Thank you for the kind words! We appreciate the support!

So, it's been two years since the release of Vigilance's first EP,  Steeds of Time. How has the band progressed since then? 
Gilian Adam
Gilian: I guess we have all sort of evolved and progressed as musicians and songwriters. I think that's the most important thing. I can honestly say we have taken a step towards a more personal sound, and we are really happy with the results. We also work more like a full band now, and we all contribute to the band in different ways, and it feels great. All the experiences we have gained in the meantime are also very valuable, as we have played quite a lot of shows and that really helps you get more professional--you get to see how things work, you know. 

Have the band's goals changed? Is Vigilance still primarily focused on a heavy/speed/NWoBHM sound?

Gilian: No, not really. Our goal has always been to play the music we want to hear ourselves and that is still pretty much the case. We do listen to a lot of different types of music, and I think that shows well on the new album. The difference is that the EP was mostly put together from ideas that were in my head for several years, while the new album was written from scratch apart from one track.
In the beginning, everything spontaneously took the NWoBHM/speed metal direction and, in a way,
we are still very much inspired by both genres. But as we jammed the tracks that were to become 

the new album, we noticed how we sort of brought in a darker vibe. it was really unintentional, but
we liked it and decided to "ride" that wave of inspiration. And it worked.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Lizzy Borden

Lizzy Borden has been one of my metal idols for as long as I can remember. Because it's been quite some time since his last release, I wanted to catch up with Lizzy to see his plans for the future, as well as question him on the ever-so-slight line-up shift. From Give 'em the Axe to Appointment with Death, The Metal Advisor talks Lizzy Borden's discography and musical development to uncover a few hidden secrets--who knew Lizzy hadn't fully realized his singing abilities until the end of the '80s? Have fun digging in.


Let’s talk about what you have going on in the future, since your last release was about six years ago. Do you have a new album planned?

Lizzy: Well, since the crash of the music industry, we’ve been waiting to try and find out how to put out records, and why to put out records, you know? It’s very difficult when you’re doing something that you’re putting out for essentially for free, when it takes so long and is a lot of work. I’ve been watching and waiting to see how other people are doing it. Some people are doing EPs, some people are trying to do the single, and some people keep putting out records that don’t sell. It’s one of those things where I’ve just been sitting back and watching. I feel no rush to put out any product because we’re still touring, and the last seven years have been our biggest touring thing we’ve ever done.

We’ve played to more people in the last seven years than we have in the last 30 all together. I know that we’re playing to an especially younger audience who maybe have never seen us play before, so they want to hear songs they’ve heard before. We have to play a lot of catalog stuff. But having said all that, we’ve always been about putting out new music and about playing new music. When we put out an album, we play six or seven songs or sometimes eight songs off that record on the tour.

We’re not like other bands where you put out an album and play one or two songs. It’s a huge commitment when releasing an album and playing on the album. Like I said, we’ve been playing a lot of places where we’re playing to a younger audience, and they only know the music that’s out there. We’re happy to play the catalog for now—until we can see how we can make a new record and make it viable where people would be interested in buying it, even though they can get it for free.

I'm definitely sad I missed the Appointment with Death tour because you played about half the album.

Lizzy: Oh, more than half. That’s the way do it with every one. For Master of Disguise we played 90% of the album. And when we did Deal with the Devil, we played quite a few songs off the record. Well, all of them! Every album is not about playing two songs off the record and playing everything else. We don’t do it that way. If we release a record, we’re playing the record. But, you know, because of the crash of the industry, it’s hard to sell a record when you can get it for free. So, there’s a lot of work that goes into making a record: we put a lot of work into the artwork of Appointment with Death, hoping that would be an incentive to buy the actual physical record—as well as the songs and everything else, hoping that people would buy it online.

And it did well, but the marketing was very weak. It’s a weird industry right now. No one knows what’s going on, and how it’s gonna go. I’ve been looking back, watching, and waiting, but I’m writing constantly. In the event that things turn around where I can put out a record and know that it’s gonna get marketed the right way, we’re going to do our best to get people to actually buy it, instead of just listening to it on YouTube or whatever. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Budgie Still Rock 40 Years Later

A quick glimpse into the past reminds that Budgie, a seminal rock band, should be fondly remembered alongside acts like Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, and Wishbone Ash. They were certainly far more interesting than Led Zep and just about on the same level as Rush, but I often find myself wondering what went wrong; for a band as musically accomplished as they were, their failure to break into the mainstream was surely a case of underexposure and a shoddy record label unaware of what had fallen into its hands.

Just listen to "Breadfan's" thick, meaty basslines and swathing guitar licks. If I had the fortune of living in the seventies, I wouldn't have wanted my music any other way. It's a real shame that, even with a catalog filled with similar tracks, the band didn't spread like wildfire like their contemporaries did.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Volture's Rulebreaker

Priced at $6.66, I found it hard to say no to Volture's single, despite the fact that the music was available from Tankcrimes' Bandcamp page at no charge. Initially digital-only, I'm not surprised the Oakland, California-based label picked Rulebreaker as the next potential vinyl release because 1) two songs is nothing compared to a full-length, and 2) 7" records are relatively inexpensive to produce, depending on the quality of the packaging. That's really my only complaint, too: a thin paper sleeve in place of a proper jacket that even my copy of Cut Throat's Thrash Metal Crazy Night has at a cheaper bargain basement cost.

Issued in black and yellow, each copy of Rulebreaker includes a positively glorious retro poster of the cover art that doesn't look out of place next to the round of classic albums from Maiden, Priest, and others. As a 7", I usually tread wearily considering my less than stellar experience with 3 Inches of Blood and Angelus Apatrida's horrible sounding split, but I took a chance with this one and ended up being taken back by rich, warm, and clear sound. Naturally, I opted for the black version--you've seen my complaints in the past with colored vinyl--even if pressing quality, above all, ultimately decides how much I sonically enjoy vinyl.

Immolation Releases Sneak Peak Trailer for Kingdom of Conspiracy

New York death metallers Immolation are gearing up for their ninth full-length, Kingdom of Conspiracy, which I trust will be home to more dissonant guitar riffs and pounding drumming. Majesty and Decay was one of the better releases of 2010, so I have high expectations for a return to form and, hopefully, a less polished and clean production. What I'm hearing so far sounds relentless and promising. Can't say I dig the artwork, but that's a minor setback. I'm stupidly excited. Are you?


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Jin Lee of Remnants of the Fallen

I initially planned to prod Jin for a few quotes for the article I'm working on about the Korean metal scene. Upon reading his answers, however, I quickly realized the very idea of an interview dissecting and understanding the Korean music industry was far too interesting to limit to a few snippets here and there. So, here it is: a righteous Q&A with the leader of one of Korea's fastest growing and popular metal bands, Remnants of the Fallen.

Jin and the rest of the crew hope all the rave musings about their second release, Perpetual Immaturity, will continue to propel them to higher ground. I certainly hope so, too, because for an EP early in their career it's quite impressive, with big names like Dan Swano backing the production and overall package. The Metal Advisor talks to Jin to discover Korea's severely lopsided music industry, as well as finding out Remnants of the Fallen's story and how they intend to keep metal's torch burning. 

In any case, stay tuned for a write-up and look into South Korea's metal scene. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Jin and the rest of Remnants of the Fallen along the way, too.


Who is Remnants of the Fallen? What is your music's message, and how did the band form?

Jin: Remnants of the Fallen is from South Korea, formed in 2009 as Lost in Sea. After numerous line-up changes, Lost in Sea altered its name to Remnants of the Fallen and is now composed of five dedicated musicians. Since its formation, Remnants of the Fallen has strived to write and play their own unique brand of melodic, yet heavy tunes that can capture the ears of listeners who demand faster and more melodic music from the genre.

Such effort did not go unnoticed, as Remnants of the Fallen soon caused quite a stir in both the underground and mainstream metal scene in Korea, enabling them to play in front of thousands of audiences at various venues and festivals, proving that their technical prowess and addictive guitar lines can mesmerize the hearts and ears of many.

Our current line-up is as follows:
Jin Lee (Bass)
Bin Park (Vocals)
Jae-Won Lee (Guitar)
Chan Hong (Guitar)
Jong-Yeon Lee (Drums)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Ben Higgins of The Reckoning

As a one-man band, Ben Higgins has faced countless challenges and fought to keep his dream alive. An instructor, the guitar player has transferred his vast knowledge of technique and metal music to his first full-length, Defining Armageddon, which features Rob Lundgren on vocals. The Metal Advisor talks to Ben via e-mail to see what's up on his end of the music world.


Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Ben!
Ben: My pleasure! Thanks for asking them!
Eight years of unstable and drastic line-up changes have helped you realize one thing: The Reckoning is a creative force run by one man. Did your role as a guitar instructor have anything to do with that?

Ben: Not really, no. Being a guitar instructor was something that happened on the side, much later after the band was already going and had endured several line-up changes by that point. I would say it was more down to circumstances where everything came to a head with disagreements between me and band members. It's not an easy situation for anyone if you have a solid vision and a load of material written which already has an established identity. People come into a band, wanting and expecting to jam and write music, have their say about musical direction & general band decisions.

That's understandable, of course, but in a situation like mine where I had a load of songs written, that had already been gigged with older line-ups, it can breed resentment to new people coming in who were expecting more of an input. The trouble is, I could choose to please everybody, but then you end up diluting the music and your overall vision just for the sake of keeping people happy. And, to me, damaging your art and your vision just to please people is a complete waste of your life.

It was never an intention of mine to build up a catalogue of material and be a band leader. It just happened by accident and so I've had to adapt to that and  approach it a different way to the more "traditional" band scenario. All the experience of disagreements and resentments over the years had led me to a firm belief, which is this: I will do everything I can myself until I meet somebody who can do that particular job better than I can and when that happens, I will happily let them do it. And with that philosophy, I resolved to finally record the debut album as the only thing that I couldn't do was sing!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Metal Round-Up: Primal, Outliar

Primal - Obłęd (2012)

After releasing two albums in 2012, Poland's Primal stays stereotypically anti-religious and continues to push toward a third full-length entitled Obłęd. Classical black metal riffs line much of the album's 41-minute run-time, but apathetic, atmospheric droning makes the one-man project's illustration of the subgenre a real treat to take in. Not unlike Deathspell Omega, dissonant, spine-tingling pinch harmonics float atop the riffing patterns and, at the same time, pitch the band to a very select type of fan: black metal and more black metal. Unfortunately, the music is not particularly original, but it remains a fascinating look at the obscure Polish metal scene and hints at what might be brewing in the confines of eastern Europe.

The Verdict: Most metalheads will live comfortably without Obłęd. For black metal fanatics, however, the record will feel like a long, lost friend.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Adrenaline Mob - Omertá (2012)

A clear departure from his former band's showy antics, Mike Portnoy set his sights on straightforward and hook-oriented music in lieu of the clumsy mess that was Dream Theater. Upon teaming up with Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen, Adrenaline Mob matured into groovy, meandering beast and stood as a reminder that each member's previous work would not be represented in the new project, if only to create distance between relationships gone sour. While the final product is nothing technically impressive like Portnoy's earlier endeavors, the end result is a carefree stab at groove metal from a group of seasoned, well-versed musicians--exactly what the modern adaptation of the subgenre needed and a kick in the face to the tough guy attitude plaguing the style for years.

Omertá's biggest obstacle has been appealing to two audiences simultaneously through an attempt at engaging mainstream and off-the-grid rock fans. Notorious for its hype, anticipation surrounded the full-length prior to its release and earned plenty of sneers and jeers, prodding the act for abandoning mechanical, theory-driven roots--and for moving toward a decidedly "less" respectable style in an effort to quickly build a fan base. The shift worked swimmingly, nevertheless, placing Adrenaline Mob among bands like Disturbed in mainstream appeal and with slick song writing attached to basic refrains and predictable structuring. With odd time signatures no where to be found, those hoping for music laced with drum fills and intricate leads looked elsewhere.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Suffocation Not Giving it Their All?

After trolling Amazon's search box looking to buy Suffocation's latest on vinyl, I noticed a particularly intriguing comment and one someone could have only pulled out of their ass:

"Derek and Terrance seem to be really into the music, while Guy and Dave just seem to be along for the ride and having fun. Frank gets the job done, but he seems to be doing it out of obligation."

I sat puzzled, of course, at what I had just read. Even more stirring was that three "reviewers" had made similar statements, all with the implication that post 2004 Suffocation was a reunion just for the sake of a reunion. In other words, all natural love and gravitation toward music was gone. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Dull, soulless death metal for the masses (how ironic) and an attempt at riding the veteran band revival trend. Don't get me wrong; everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but how do you surmise Frank's consummate growling is done out of "obligation?" Does that even make any sense? It's like Bruce and Adrian rejoining Maiden for Brave New World simply to go through the motions and leave the studio shrugging their shoulders, discarding the fact that they were integral to one of the most influential metal bands of all time.

Metal Round-Up: Deep Desolation, The Reckoning

 Deep Desolation - Rites of Blasphemy (2012)

Murky and hateful, Poland's Deep Desolation puncture the line between doom and sludge--effectively overlapping the two--and feel a bit like Electric Wizard in execution. Because black metal-like rasps set these metallers apart from the rest of the crowd, their sophomore full-length, Rites of Blasphemy, wanders farther away from the stale brand of doom popular as of late, especially in the USA and UK. Sadly, the band's songwriting is overly long, tedious, and often a chore to sit through, and splitting the album into two listening sessions isn't uncommon. The guitar riffs border very good to excellent, with solos bluesy and jamming, but none of that matters when the compositions could use a bit of fine-tuning.

The Verdict: As a second release this is a solid choice and a good idea of what to expect from Deep Desolation in the future. Want to wet your taste-buds more? Consider the nearly 10-minute epic, "Between the Tits of a Witch."

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