Friday, December 27, 2013

Hexis - Abalam (2014)

Like Rorcal's Vilagvege, an album reviewed on The Metal Advisor earlier this year, Hexis' latest effort, Abalam, is a combination of two genres--black metal and hardcore--in which the musicians dabble to create music of catastrophic proportions. Spread across 12 songs, the record clocks in at only 26 minutes, making it a quick, but brutally devastating, ride.

The real eye opener, however, is the amount of disarray present in each song, a trait few bands enjoy.

As noted, the musical aesthetic is made up of two genres, though one is much more prevalent than the other--the hardcore influence tends to be limited to only a few vocal passages here and there, where a thick shout accompanies a shrill, black metal shriek. The majority of Abalam, in turn, leans toward the metallic side of the spectrum, which makes way for a clawing, apocalyptic feeling that's extremely tough to replicate in music. Despair is a better way of putting it, but just about any adjective interchangeable with a "bleak outlook" fits the bill nicely.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Year in Review: The Metal Advisor's Top 10 Albums of 2013

Welcome to The Metal Advisor's top 10 metal albums of 2013, a type of year-end list that hasn't happened in the past because I'm horrible at making up my mind. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy these lists because opinions vary from blogger to blogger, and a number of posts uncover some gems I might not hear otherwise. No matter how hard I try, it's impossible to discover every diamond in the rough.

But let's cut to the chase. Think of this selection as only scratching the surface of the sheer amount of music released over the past 12 months. Each year yields hundreds of records--some truly awful and others superb--and creates a sea of muck you're either willing to wade through or not. Therefore, year-end lists are excellent at weeding the crap out.

1. Paradox - Tales of the Weird

Feeling like a cross between teutonic thrash metal and Germany's earliest speed metal days, Paradox's sixth full-length, Tales of the Weird, takes the cake as best album of the year. I could go on for ages about the wonderful songwriting--innovative as hell for 2013, all while being melodic and aggressive--but what really makes Tales of the Weird deserving of the top spot is material that's as strong as the record Paradox built their legacy on, Heresy. While the band certainly has more than their fair share of great albums, Tales of the Weird finally proves they aren't a one-trick pony. The only downside is the title, which, until now, caused far too many people to overlook the music.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

After Oblivion - Stamina (2012)

Here, we have yet another review contributed by a TMA reader. My guess is that he'll be popping in from time to time, so, as always, stay tuned for more.

If you have already spun yourself a few Death records, chances are, making the decision to purchase After Oblivion’s debut, Stamina, could be somewhat of a struggle. After stumbling upon this band hailing out of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I have to say I’m thoroughly pleased with their first release. Originally, I had my doubts as I listened for the first time. I was, and still am, in awe at After Oblivion’s ability to imitate Death’s (later) sound with such accuracy, and the first track, "Deliverance," sounds as if they pulled it right from Death’s discography. This was disheartening at first for the fear of hearing a cheap imitation of Death, something I would shun without hesitation. Upon closer inspection, I see this band has a lot to offer and plenty of potential to grow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Not So Bad After All: Judas Priest's Ram it Down

It's funny how taste can unpredictably change over the course of a few months. As an example, Ram it Down has grown on me immensely, to the point that I place it favorably in Judas Priest's eighties discography. Prior pieces on this blog indicate that I prefer the band's seventies output to any other period in their 30+ year existence and, while that's true, I'm starting to enjoy their later work as well, simplicity and all. There's a certain charm about it, if you get my drift.

My guess is that it all started when I snagged a well-worn, but very playable, copy of Ram it Down on vinyl from an antique mall. It was one of those things that had me saying, "Why the hell not? It's cheap!" One might call my find an impulse buy, but with used vinyl, I give the record a careful once-over before taking the plunge in order to determine if it will play smoothly or not.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Civil War - The Killer Angels (2013)

When four of Sabaton's six members suddenly deserted the band in 2012, the metal community reeled in shock, given the musicians were enjoying the height of their popularity. Speculation about the split appeared almost instantly across cyberspace's most prolific metal message boards, and yet not one claim supported the turn of events with reasonably placed evidence--a surefire sign that fans were jumping to hasty conclusions. The break remains a mystery even today, but in this particular instance, the good far outweighed the bad, and a new project called Civil War emerged from the fiery clash Sabaton produced only months before.

A troubled story told through music, Civil War's debut album, The Killer Angels, touches upon what is perhaps the United States' most iconic internal conflict: the civil war. Historically, Europeans dabble in their respective pasts, while Americans do very much the same, but these Swedes' effort proves otherwise and is an excellent stab at painting a vivid picture of the Yanks' quest to become a country built on shared ideals. The record serves as a reminder that, although not particularly special musically, innovation is still possible in the metal world, and lyrics are often all it takes to accomplish the task.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Cara Neir's Portals to a Better, Dead World

Since destroying my turntable's needle, I haven't had the opportunity to spin my precious records but, as usual, that hasn't stopped me from acquiring more vinyl. Borrowing a turntable has crossed my mind, but that's inconvenient, and the idea of using a needle without knowing its history worries me a bit. I care for my records far too much.

Despite that, I'm positively smitten with Cara Neir's latest effort, Portals to a Better, Dead World, a mesmerizing collection of experimental music that mishmashes black metal and punk so well that you wouldn't know two entirely different genres jumped into bed together. Vinyl couldn't have been a better choice, either; the record can be had in either smoke green or black, with 100 copies available for the former and 400 for the latter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Yeah, That Thing Called Blogging

What a wild year it's been. A new job, regrettably, has slowed down writing quite a bit, but I'm hoping to get the ball rolling again shortly. I've got one trick up my sleeve, which involves a curious email requesting a review that I'll be posting for all to see. We need some humor around here, after all.

Despite mangling my turntable's needle a few months ago, I've got a few vinyl features planned, too. In particular, Cara Neir's Portals to a Better, Dead World is up first, with an explosive collection of music that sounds as good as the cover might suggest. I'll also be including the last few purchases I've grabbed from Gogmagogical Records, who, sadly, is calling it a day from the record-making business. All the best, Mark.

And if that isn't enough, I'll be shooting for a year-end record list. I always find this incredibly hard to put together, given the amount of music that goes in one ear and out the other, but this time, it's actually going to happen. As long as I prepare and examine my collection a few weeks before hand, we'll be golden.

So, hang tight. I miss blogging as much as this post probably suggests, and I've got to kick my job's butt to tell it who's boss. Blogging comes first, you know.

2013 has been a great year for music, folks.

P.S. After two weeks of little to no internet connection, it's great to have it back.