Monday, April 28, 2014

Ghost - If You Have Ghost (2013)

As a nutty bargain hunter, I can't resist a cheap album and, with the noticeable trend across Amazon for decreasing CD prices, sometimes I can't pass up cheapie, even if I know next to nothing about it. Ghost's silly, little EP, If You Have Ghost, which is filled with a number of pop songs gone rock, is the perfect example--although I felt rather indifferent toward the full-length that preceded it, at $7 a pop, the the album still seemed worth the risk. Worst come to worst, I was out only a few bucks and could gift the CD to a friend.

If You Have Ghost is really that accessible, too. If you thought the original songs, composed by ABBA, Depeche Mode, and others, were catchy, Ghost will make you tap your foot, as you happily hum along, and bob your head all at the same time; for an act that claimed fame as a throwback metal/rock band stuck in the 1970s, embracing modern hooks was key to their longevity, and injecting those into these old "classics" certainly helped to cement their place in contemporary music. If you wrote Ghost off as a passing fad, I think you'll be mistaken.

Judas Priest Reveals New Track, "Redeemer of Souls"

Need I say more? I'm keeping my thoughts to myself until I hear the entire record.

-TMA

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead (2014)

Often compared with Helloween--and rightly so, considering the "historical" ties--Gamma Ray once again rides on the coattails of a bigger and more storied brother. Like a popular high school student who everyone likes regardless of whom one chooses to associate with, Helloween is welcoming and amicable, which are excellent traits and a good reason why they've enjoyed success at capturing fans over the years. Gamma Ray, on the other hand, is noticeably jealous of this success and attempts to catch a sliver of fame each and every time the opportunity presents itself. The resemblance between the two's music is painfully obvious as a result, especially when Gamma Ray shamelessly borrows melodic hooks, not only from Helloween, but from other bands as well.

Remember: the situation above is entirely theoretical...kind of.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vinyl Feature: Light Bearer's Laspus and Silver Tongue

Team Light vs. Team Dark
Both Light Bearer's Laspus and Silver Tongue ended up being some of the last records I grabbed from Gogmagogical's distro. I've got to hand it to the man; he has a keen eye for good music, and I can accredit him with turning me on to a number of bands I had never heard of before, as well as one of my favorite labels, Halo of Flies.

With blind buys, I usually have an idea of what to expect before I make a purchase because I've done my research beforehand; and while that wasn't the case here, I'm nonetheless glad I took the plunge. Only after my purchases did I finally make an effort to look up Light Bearer, but my findings were still inconclusive, other than the fact that the music supposedly felt "atmospheric" in nature. As we all know, that can literally mean anything in this day and age, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, as any potential fan would.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Music: Vader's "Where Angels Weep"

In anticipation of Vader's Tibe Et Igni, I'm posting a song, "Where Angels Weep," below. Taken from the EP Go to Hell, which humorously dropped on Good Friday, it's one of two new tracks that will appear on the upcoming full-length.

Needless to say, I'm stoked for the record because Vader can do no wrong, and this may very well be the best album we hear all year. That's a bold statement, you say? Perhaps, but with Vader's track record, it's very possible. Welcome to the Morbid Reich bulldozed everything in its path in 2011, and if Tibe doesn't do the same, I'll be one unhappy camper.

-TMA

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Drip - A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics (2014)

"Cryptopsy, is that you?," I thought quietly to myself when opening yet another promo newly arrived in my inbox. You see, if you take a moment to step back to the mid '90s, when Cryptopsy was arguably at their best, you'll hear bits and pieces of Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile upon listening to The Drip and their latest effort, A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics. And, really, that can't be stressed enough; the snare drum sound, which is annoying for some and charming for others, is that same hollow pound that I've come to love and expect of Cryptopsy--at least in the old school sense--every time I dig into one of their classic records.

Example: musically, the material is even reminiscent of the Canadian four-piece, with speedy, messy guitar riffs in your face every second of the EP's run time. And although the entirety of A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics  is primarily based in grindcore, the death metal influence is strong enough that you'll feel the Cryptopsy-isms creeping (pun intended) up on you with each minute you invest in the EP. In other words, it's not music for the lighthearted, and it's not easy listening, either.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Surprise: Snippets From Night Ranger's Upcoming Record, High Road, Sound Tired

Yeah, yeah. I know Night Ranger isn't metal in the slightest, but their last two efforts have been extremely enjoyable--Hole in the Sun was one of my favorite hard rock records of 2007, in fact, and an album I constantly played on my daily treks to high school. Perhaps I'm a little sentimental about the record, but it is what it is.

On the other hand, I'm no fanboy of Night Ranger, because let's be honest--the band doesn't exactly have a golden track record, as far as their release history goes, and their discography has a fair amount of turds. Their upcoming full-length, High Road, looks to be one of those turd-y times, too. From what I can hear of the snippets in the background of their teaser trailer, the music sounds tired and devoid of distorted bottom end; and the guys just look like a bunch of old men trying to relive the glory days.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crawl - Crawl (2012)

With sludge and doom metal growing trendier with every waking moment, it should come as no surprise that bands are emerging faster than we can listen to, and discover, them. Like their peers, Crawl admittedly brings nothing new to the table, but do, amazingly, have one trick up their sleeves--a spicy dash of southern melody permeates their music, to the point that what should be a dark and dreary affair becomes spirited and catchy.

Simply titled Crawl, the Georgia-based act's four-track demo is a fun take on a style of music that, more often than not, drones on and on and on with less than stellar songwriting, but that isn't the case here; instead, the material feels lively, despite a murky production, and the songs are relatively short, with the longest clocking in at four-and-a-half minutes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beyond Mortal Dreams - Lamia (2014)

Two years ago, Beyond Mortal Dreams gave us an EP called Dreaming Death, and in 2014, they return with yet another, albeit in a much more concise fashion. Entitled Lamia, the two-track release is a blast for the first few listens, but because it appears polished and rounded around the edges in comparison with its predecessor, it feels a bit synthetic.

...and as any dedicated death metal fan knows, that's never a good thing.

At times, Lamia's resemblance to Hour of Penance is uncanny, and the plastic production constantly reinforces that. As a result, there's little new to hear here, and if you've already crossed Hour of Penance of your listening list, you're likely to tire of Beyond Mortal Dreams quickly. But not all is lost; the musicianship is top notch, just as one would expect of death metal with a technical edge, and the energy is clearly there--it's just that comparisons to Hour of Penance are inevitable and the vocals, which are relatively weak as far as death metal goes, don't do the music any favors.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Amiensus/Oak Pantheon - Gathering (2013)

The split: a format that's either a half-assed afterthought or a savory sampling of a particular band's sound. For Amiensus and Oak Pantheon and their split, Gathering, the latter is clearly the case, because the music flows freely, atmospherically, and passionately; it's almost as if both tracks are an artistic reflection on a past event in each band's lifetime, as they explore depths unknown to any musician looking to make a quick buck.

And if one concentrates on the fluidity of the split, it's easy to get lost in the music, floating atop a cloud in a dark, forlorn sky. Not unlike Agalloch, Oak Pantheon progresses slowly, but surely, adding layer upon layer as the two-piece's contribution to the split advances in length--"A Gathering" is a melancholy affair, fit for only the dreariest of days, as one is enveloped in personal thought and meditation. From the string-plucked opening to the burst into a "She Painted Fire Across the Sky"-type riff, the song oozes quality and reminds that not only Agalloch can run with an atmospheric black metal formula and succeed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Noble Beast - Noble Beast (2014)

It's 1985, you're rolling up to the venue in your Pontiac Firebird, and you're pumped for tonight's show. Entering the building, you find yourself surrounded by a sea of denim jackets--many of which have Iron Maiden's Eddie and Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance mecha-falcon plastered proudly on the back--and you realize you're home. This is the reason you live; the music is your passion, and the brilliant minds that create and craft it are your heroes. You can't wait until the opener hits the stage, because you just want to pump your fist and shout along with the classic heavy metal anthems pioneered by the likes of Manowar, Dio, Lizzy Borden, and Accept. You're smack dab in the middle of traditional heavy metal's creative peak, and you love every moment of it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Quick Look at Sisters of... and their EP, Follow Me as a Ghost (2013)

In a way, Sisters of... is heavily reminiscent of Tool, so consider this: one can't simply delve into Tool's discography and understand every nook and cranny right away, like a basic heavy metal or hard rock track; instead, drawn-out song lengths and ambient, atmospheric-like instrumental sections demand that one invests a significant amount of time with the music to fully understand what's going on. And, predictably, Sisters of... is no different.

Best described as a project, rather than a band, the two-piece's first EP, Follow Me as a Ghost, is a mixture of various rock and metal styles, most notably post-rock, heavy metal, and doom metal. But what will surely raise a few eyebrows is how well each is intertwined with one another, and how nicely the resulting compositions flow. Every song is akin to a winding journey through a canyon, with ups and downs lining the path along the way, but the transition from higher to lower ground (or vice versa) is silky smooth. The title track, for instance, shifts from post-rock, heavily distorted guitar playing, Agalloch-type chords, and ambience, an amalgam of styles that, in theory, sounds like it shouldn't work at all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

KXM - KXM (2014)

One of the oddest, and most unexpected, super groups to hit the scene this year is KXM--comprised of King's X vocalist Doug Pinnick, former Dokken guitarist George Lynch, and Korn drummer Ray Luzier--even though, at first glance, the mixture of musicians doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Look at it this way; despite his guitar skills, Lynch has more or less been long in tooth since his first departure from Dokken in the late '80s, while the same could be said of Korn who arguably enjoyed their heyday as the '90s drew to a close. In comparison, King's X and Pinnick are the saving grace, with countless quality releases to their names. Even their latest effort, XV, compares favorably with the best they've done.

The primary reason KXM's self-titled debut avoids being an exercise in futility is because Pinnick's soothing vocals and penchant for melody--taken straight from the King's X rulebook--save the day. The man is an absolute prodigy when it comes to writing angelic, soulful music, but his approach occasionally feels strange next to the rest of the band, which leans toward bass-heavy guitar playing and slow-paced, rhythmic drumming. Unlike King's X, a band ready to explore every facet of songwriting, Korn and Dokken are rather one-sided, and it shows. In their glory days, neither were known for thinking outside the box, and not much has changed for their two respective members in KXM.