Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mad Hatter - S/T (2018)

So here we have a band that has based their name, nay their image, on a character from a beloved children's story. I don't know what to say, it is either extremely stupid, or fucking brilliant. As for the story it is based from, "Alice In Wonderland" is certainly a classic. I have never read the book, but I grew up with the Disney animated movie, and I really dug the enormous amount of creativity that originated from the mind of Lewis Carroll. It definitely stands strong together with the rest of the Disney line-up. How about the recent live action adaptations? Visually they are stunning, but it kind of miss the mark in the story aspect, with a boring Alice and a Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp who both does what they seem to do in every Tim Burton production nowadays (also, calling wonderland "underland" is just incredibly stupid).

This is a music review though, so I better start talking about the album before I lose all of you. Mad Hatter is a power metal band from Sweden that was formed as late as last year. The four members are no amateurs by any means, but they are no big shots either, but we have heard them before in other bands such as Golden Resurrection, Dreamland, and Morning Dwell. So if you are a fan of those bands, then you probably will enjoy Mad Hatter as well, because it is under the same umbrella when it comes to sound.

So no, do not expect a power metal revolution here, most of the music are really familiar, but ultimately welcome since Mad Hatter never steps across the infamous "cheesiness" line, which might not work with the spirit of the character they are depicting, but it works for us listeners. It also helps that there is a lot of variety in the album, showing off different techniques to give a complete experience. Just the fact that the album opens up with a close to nine minute song is a clear sign that we are in for something really interesting.

There are a lot of imprints in this album from other power metal bands. "Fly Away" could have easily been a Gamma Ray song with its aggressive and high flying attitude, and the Finnish masters Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica are represented too in several songs, like the extremely energetic and epic "Go", where vocalist Petter Hjerpe is channeling his inner Timo Kotipelto. Hjerpe and the rest of the guys (Magnus Skoog on bass, Alfred Fridhagen on drums, and Eric Rauti on guitar) are doing a swell job going through all of these styles seamlessly, creating a cohesive record that never stays in one place.

There is also an impressive amount of consistent quality throughout this record, which is just another proof of how experienced these guys are. Sure, not all songs are epic bangers, "Bring Me The Moon" is a little too cute for me, "Phantom Riders" does not really fit in all too well, and the bonus track "Death Angel Sins" must have been stolen from DragonForce, but there is way too much good in here to let the bad stuff affect you. A lot of it is also really catchy, like "Dancing Light" that has a really effective "oh-oh-oh" choir that sticks like glue in your brain. Do not know if you can dance the Futterwacken to it though...

So Mad Hatter may seem like a gimmick band on the surface, a fun but shallow band that tries to be the wonder in wonderland. Turns out, the band is more than that, there is a lot of competent power metal to be found here that should speak to everyone who loves the European style. It is far from original, but I do not think they are trying to be original, this is a group that is just having a ton of fun, creating some passionate music for passionate fans. So follow that white rabbit down the rabbit hole, and join the tea party set up by a crazy dude who makes hats for a living.

Songs worthy of recognition: Go, Mad Hatter Shine, Dancing Light, Mad Hatter Become

Rating: 8/10 Phantom Riders


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Metallica - Kill 'em All (1983)

No matter who you talk to, old or young, everyone knows Metallica, and everyone certainly has an opinion about them too. Arguably the biggest metal band to ever exist, the legendary group from Los Angeles has had quite a career with multiple ups and downs, and the whole world is surely watching every time they make headlines. But every band has a start, and back in the early stages of the 80's, the group was not nearly as prolific, even if that would change as soon as the debut record was released.

The debut was meant to be called "Metal Up Your Ass", but the band was forced to change it to "Kill 'em All", officially going from a "Dropping the soap in prison" title, to something more "Motif for a super villain". It is still kind of a daring title for its time, and it certainly caught the attention of young teenager who searched for the toughest music available. Fortunately for them, the title does encapsulate the sound fairly well, a fast and muddy brawler that was as fast as punk, but had the technical riffing of the NWoBHM movement.

Listening to it today though, one cannot get away from the fact that "Kill 'em All" sounds more like a Megadeth record than a Metallica one, and there are good reasons for that. Dave Mustaine is the original guitarist of the band, but was kicked out for his drug and alcohol issues, eventually replaced by Kirk Hammett. While Dave was no longer a member of Metallica when the debut rolled out, his mark was still there, being credited for 4 out of 10 songs ("The Four Horsemen", "Jump In The Fire", "Phantom Lord" and "Metal Militia"), all of them having the now trademarked Megadeth style, with tons of guitar work, not too much vocals, and a juggernaut mind set.

While Mustaine did not contribute with the remaining 6 songs, most of them followed along in a similar fashion. Songs like "Hit The Lights", "Whiplash", and "No Remorse" are all really fast tunes that did not take any prisoners, just pure primitive bangers that instantly hits the right nerves. I especially love "Whiplash" just for how simple it is in its execution, and that it is the overwhelming speed that does the talking. "Hit The Lights" also have a similar strategy, but it pounds you with solo after solo until you get dizzy. Those with an allergy for guitar wanking should stay away.

Despite there being so many bangers on this record, I kind of hate that the only song from "Kill 'em All" that is still a main stay in the band's live setlist is "Seek & Destroy". It is an okay song, but it is dull as hell when compared to the rest, feeling like a slightly heavier version of AC/DC. It does have an exciting solo, but that is it, the rest of the track does not have the fire like the other 9 songs. It is slightly better than the bass instrumental "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" (sorry Cliff), but it is also the only song it beats.

The grittiness of "Kill 'em All" is ultimately its strongest point, because it brings out the band's personality at the time in a way you barely can do anymore. So while it has a lot of dirt under its fingernails, "Kill 'em All" is a very enjoyable debut record with a lot of bite to it, a young band that burst through your speakers in a very impactful way. It laid the foundation on one of the most successful careers in metal history, cementing an impressive legacy from the very start. It certainly killed the opposition, close to all of them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Whiplash, Hit The Lights, The Four Horsemen, Jump In The Fire

Rating: 8,5/10 Phantom Lords


More reviews of Metallica
Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Between The Buried And Me - Automata I (2018)

Imagine if all your dreams would one day be projected on the television screen. That all those images you project inside your brain during the night (or day if you happen to fall asleep during that time of the day) suddenly becomes exposed to the people of the world. What would you do, what would you feel, would you even want this to happen? This is obviously a thought that the Americans in Between The Buried And Me have wondered, so they made the only sensible thing imaginable, make a record about it. But they did not stop there, because there will be a second record around this concept, with release later this year.

It is another interesting concept that this magnificent group presents, and it will be interesting to see how it will develop in its second part, but for now though, let us focus on the first part of the "Automata" series. I honestly do not think this album will be a surprise to anyone who have listened to the band in the last ten years or so. It is technical brilliance from start to finish, and that patented BTBAM sound is there without any question. If you do not like the band, then it is safe to say that "Automata I" will not change your opinion.

Fact of the matter is that there literally is no surprises in here, this album feels like a let down in several ways actually. The sudden WTF moments are close to extinct, and the modest play time of 35 minutes just makes this feel like a slightly longer EP (it is only 5 minutes longer than "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues"), which is not nearly enough to satisfy my needs. It is only 5 songs in here, plus a needless 1 minute interlude, so it makes me wonder why "Automata" is even split into 2 parts at all. Is the second part really THAT long?

With that said though, the music is of typical BTBAM quality, in other words, pretty awesome. The opener "Condemned To The Gallows" has a slow, ominous start before the epic bang kicks off the album. It got a lot of the classic tropes, with a catchy screaming of the title thrown in to get in some awkward singalongs. The following "House Organ" is pretty forgettable, but then enters "Yellow Eyes", a grand song where we get such a great mix of the heavy and the melodic side of the band (and especially singer Tommy Giles Rogers), and the middle part has a magnificent playful style that certainly gets you into the groove. Add another memorable scream along moment, and you got a piece of tasty BTBAM candy.

The second half kicks off with "Millions", a very spacey song that would have fitted right in the "Parallax" series quite well, with some really nice guitar playing by Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring. "Gold Distance"... is just a generic interlude, but it does eventually lead up to the longest track of the record (and the shortest title), "Blot". It does take some time to get going, but when it has built up enough momentum, it presents some of the most epic and complex music of the album. The length is no coincidence, there is a lot of technical goodness to take in here, and I am willing to swallow it all.

After that... oh wait, that was it, the album is over. Yes, it is pretty obvious, "Automata I" is the appetizer before the main course, it satisfies the hunger, but you still want more after you are done. It feels like the band is just warming up here, saving the best tricks for the second part, and it is very easy to feel disappointed by it. Unless the second record is like 1 and a half hour long, I really do not see why we have to be teased like this. It still have some really nice moments, and there is nothing to complain about the quality of the craft, but I expect to be blown away when the band returns this summer, to finish off what they started.

Songs worthy of recognition: Yellow Eyes, Condemned To The Gallows, Blot

Rating: 7/10 Gold Distances


More reviews of Between The Buried And Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Coma Ecliptic

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Judas Priest - Firepower (2018)

Closing in on their 50th year of existence, Judas Priest is reaching the closing stretch of their magnificent career, and with the recent news of Glenn Tipton and his Parkinson disease, it feels really sad to acknowledge that. I know we are in the age of retiring metal giants, but it does not get any easier when another legend hangs up their equipment one last time. So every new release is for me kind of sacred, not because I have huge expectations of it, but because it is another chance for these old guns to deliver something that will go down to history with the rest of their discography. It is certainly something to cherish.

So when "Firepower" was announced, I was obviously excited, but I understood that the band would probably do another "Redeemer of Souls", a good record with some patchy spots. So call me stunned when I first went through the record, just completely baffled, because this is not what I expected. I felt like the band went back in time, stole themselves from 1990, brought them back to 2018, and said "go, start recording". What the bloody hell happened, this is insane!

Some of those emotions actually went through me before the release, when the band released the first two songs of the record, the title track and "Lightning Strike". Both were complete bangers, classic heavy Judas Priest straight out of the "Painkiller" era, smashing its way through my brain. The title track just opens the album in splendid fashion, a bone heavy riff and a speed that I did not think the band could execute anymore, while "Lightning Strike" is more typical of the band, with the trademarked dual blazing guitars and Rob Halford dominating everything. What an amazing opening one-two punch, one of the best ones in the band's discography actually.

So one would think that it does not get much better than this, that the album would just drop in quality. It definitely does not reach the same level of intensity, but the quality is incredibly consistent, not at all the up and down story that its predecessor was. Each song has something to offer, and the performances on each and every one of them are just marvelous. The chemistry between Faulkner and Tipton is just spot on, Scott Travis pummels on behind his drum kit, Hill and his bass is still the back bone of the music. And then we have Halford, who sounds much fresher and energetic this time around. The guy is 67 years for Christ sake, and he still has a range that would make any singer jealous. Hell, I would be glad if I sounded half as good in my 30's.

Most of the songs are more or less the bread and butter of the Priest, classic heavy metal focused around catchy hooks and memorable riffs. Songs like "Spectre", "Evil Never Dies", and "Necromancer" are simple, but highly effective, just like you want from the band. But "Firepower" is more than that, it has several songs that does more than what they really need to do. We got "Never The Heroes", an epic tune of what soldiers really are, packaged with some real emotion to it. "Rising From Ruins" takes the momentum from the small instrumental "Guardians", and turns into a very heartfelt ballad that strikes pretty hard. Also take note of the angelic closer "Sea of Red", another stand out among muscle packages.

With 14 songs, and just under an hour of run time, there is bound for some fillers, but they are surprisingly few. Many might consider "Flame Thrower" as one of them because of its Megadeth vibe, but I personally like it, it is like they had to include something out of "Turbo" in here, and settled with this groover. I am more indifferent towards "Children of The Sun", "No Surrender", and "Lone Wolf", those could have easily been cut out to make "Firepower" a little tighter, but they do not really ruin the album in any way, and thanks to good production and strong performances, it is easy to get through them.

Well, what can I really say? Judas Priest promised firepower, and they certainly delivered a butt load of it. This is not only the heaviest album since "Painkiller", this is the best album since "Painkiller", and it is not even close. The band just shoots song after song at you, oozing with nostalgia, yet feels modern enough to fit in 2018. It is not perfect in any way shape or form, but it has so much power to it that it does not matter all that much. It is not the album that we expected from the band, and I think that everyone will agree that this is a very pleasant surprise. If this turns out to be the band's final album, then what an incredible way to say good bye.

Songs worthy of recognition: Never The Heroes, Firepower, Lightning Strike, Rising From Ruins

Rating: 8,5/10 Necromancers


More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Oceans of Slumber - The Banished Heart (2018)

With their sophomore effort "Winter", Oceans of Slumber became a nice little darling in 2016 for most metal lovers, including myself, falling instantly in love with the band's unique version of extreme progressive music. However, I felt that the band had more to give, that we only got a small taste of their true potential on "Winter". So when the band unveiled their new release "The Banished Heart", I flung myself to my Spotify account, and downloaded that shit immediately. Let us hope I did not jump the shark (or however you use that saying).

Well, it did not take very long until I understood that the band had indeed taken their music to the next level. The opening song "The Decay of Disregard" is just a beautiful 9 minute monster that takes its time to develop, but everything is just so carefully placed to get out maximum effect. Unfortunately, my brain is kind of stupid, so it ruined the song by taking the line "It fuels a nightmare" and twisting it into "Feelings of nutmeg". I still love it, but cannot listen to it without singing along with my own lyrics, it is completely engraved in my head. It does make me wonder though, can nutmeg have feelings? Probably not.

Fortunately, my brain was kind enough to not ruin anymore songs, and thank god for that, because this whole album is filled with tracks that have that perfect mix of beauty and darkness, and that is balanced perfectly by singer Cammie Gilbert. Her vocals are so incredibly precise in every single syllable, hitting the right spot every time to give the already atmospheric music another level of emotion. And also thanks from really solid instrumentation work from the remaining five members of the band, we get a chemistry that is simply astonishing.

Sound wise, the band is definitely in a league of their own, but they do have a fair bunch of visible influences on their sleeves. The bands that first comes to my mind is Novembers Doom and Paradise Lost, mostly because they also have a keen sense of getting some grand emotions out of the music. There is also some The Project Hate MCMXCIX and Ne Oblivscaris to be found here, with the intense brutality, complex song structures, and mix of beautiful and crushing harsh vocals, which is best displayed in the brilliant and epic "At Dawn".

It is certainly apparent that the band has done its homework, because "The Banished Heart" is much more consistent than "Winter", with each one of the eleven songs having a purpose of being there. The title track is an emotional power house that just gets bigger and bigger the more we get into the song, while the double sandwich "Etiolation" and "A Path To Broken Stars" are technical masterclasses by guitarists Sean Gary and Anthony Contreras, with drummer Dobber Beverly (nice name dude) laying down some sweet fills in the background. Even the distant closer "Wayfaring Stranger" is very nice, with its mellow atmosphere and naked instrumentation, it is just so god damn impressive.

There is very little to dislike about this album, maybe it is a tad bit too long, and some more vibrant diversity could have been needed, but "The Banished Heart" is still a fantastic record from start to finish. It got it all, brutality, melodies, calm moments, fast moments, it just delivers a smorgasbord of progressive technicality that a prog lover can sit around for hours and stuff themselves silly. Oceans of Slumber is certainly not slumbering anymore, they are awake, and they are delivering some magnificent metal to the people, with some delicious nutmeg sprinkled in for some extra flavour.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Banished Heart, The Decay of Disregard, At Dawn, Etiolation

Rating: 9/10 Wayfaring Strangers


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Blaze Bayley - The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) (2018)

So after about 2 years and 3 records, we are finally putting an end to Blaze Bayley's epic sci-fi saga about William Black and his fight to redeem himself from all the awful things he has done throughout his life time. It has certainly been a fun ride conceptually, but musically, it has been kind of a mixed bag so far. The first album grew on me as time went on while the follow up was okay, but not more, so I had My hopes on that Mr. Bayley would save his best for last, and bring an epic ending to his trilogy.

Now, I did not really expect anything that was wildly different from the previous two outings, and I did not get it either. It is perfectly clear that this album belongs together with its brethren, having the same type of themes and sounds that we experienced in previous albums. Actually, there is probably a chance that they recycled riffs and beats as well, because it all sounds so similar. It definitely connects the album together in a very effective way, but it would have been nicer if each record had more of an own personality, maybe representing a phase of the story.

This makes "The Redemption of William Black" very familiar, almost too familiar since most of the same structures are used, so it is easy to mistake one song for another. In this album for instance, we have a new "Escape Velocity" in "Prayers of Light", a new "Stars Are Burning" in "18 Days", and a new "Human" in "Redeemer". Not all songs in here are copy cats, but none really stands out extremely from the rest (except for one, but we will get to that later).

One thing that this album does have is some more heavy tones, which does make sense with what the story is going for, and we get a lot more from the guys behind Blaze in here. Guitaris Chris Appleton shreds his ass off in this album, especially "The Dark Side of Black" and the solo in "Immortal One", but also puts in some gentler moments as well to weigh it all up. Drummer Martin McNee and Bassist Karl Schramm (whom just like Chris is from the band Absolva) both do a splendid job as well, making this record the best performed one of the three. We also get some nice guest work in the album as well from Chris's brother Luke Appleton, Liz Owen, a bunch of backing vocalists and narrators, and also Fozzy's own Chris Jericho, who really seem to fancy these sci-fi concept records.

There is still no problem in finding some personal song favourites in here, at least one or two will make its way towards your liking fairly easily. The catchy nature of "Redeemer", "Are You Here", and "Prayers of Light" is a nice fix, while those who like more heavier stuff should check out "Immortal One" and "The Dark Side of Black". Then we have the epic finisher "Eagle Spirit" that takes the saga to a very emotional and satisfying conclusion, one that leads William Black to the stars, for his final journey.

So what do we ultimately make of Blaze's "Infinite Entanglement" trilogy? While it might not contain the musical quality to really bring forth a grand following, I do think the story and the heart and soul that Blaze has put in this project is incredibly impressive. It is a huge job to finalize a multi album concept like this in such a short time, and fans of Blaze should really give all of their love to him. Individually, these three album are fine, not brilliant in any way, but together they create an epic experience that is thrilling from start to finish, a perfect binge listen (around 2 hours and 20 minutes), all three albums in one go, creating an epic sci-fi saga that is more than meets the ear. So thank you Blaze, and god speed to you William.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Dark Side of Black, Are You Here, Eagle Spirit

Rating: 6,5/10 Human Eyes ("Infinite Entanglement" trilogy as a whole gets 7,5/10)


More reviews of Blaze Bayley
Infinite Entanglement
Endure And Survive

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Angra - ØMNI (2018)

With their 9th studio effort, Angra sets its sight to the future, with a record about artificial intelligence, human perception, and time travelling. This album is ambitious for sure, but the title makes me wonder, why is it named "ØMNI"? They say it is latin for "everything", but last I checked, there is no Ø in the latin alphabet. Is there a reason to add that slash into that O? This band is not from Denmark or Norway (not Sweden either, but we have Ö instead), and I highly doubt that the rest of the world will use this letter 30 years into the future, so it just does not make any sense what so ever.

Oh well, I am not gonna completely bash this album for one little letter, after all, it is a pretty good one. I did have some expectations after the brilliant "Secret Garden" from 2014, and "ØMNI" is a very reasonable continuation of that record. The influence of the fairly new singer Fabio Lione has definitely been good for the band, and I bet that new guitarist Marcel Barbosa is eager to show what he can do for the band. Their brand of power metal is as strong as ever, and certainly stands out against the competition from Europe.

"ØMNI" might be one of the band's more versatile records to this date, containing a whole catalog of different tunes that each is a part of this multi layered experience. We of course get our fair share of power metal, starting with the opening track "Light of Transcendence", a typical speed freak that will get your adrenaline pumping and your vocal chords screaming along side Fabio. We also have "Travelers of Time" and "War Horns" (where old pal Kiko Loureiro stops by) that helps bring the average speed of the record up to respectable levels.

As said before though, there is more to "ØMNI" than just pure power. We got "Black Widow's Web" where the band gets some help from Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz, who utilize both her clean and harsh vocals in the heaviest song of the album, a nice duet that could be seen as a worthy successor to the Doro duet from the last album. Then we have the more epic tunes "Insania", "Travelers of Time" and "Magic Mirror", where every ounce of song writing skills are used to hold these sturdy tracks together. A couple of ballads squeeze in as well, and while they might not be the strongest the album has to offer, they do help in changing things up, putting that final touch on that impressive depth.

But while the depth is impressive, it does take away some of the personality of the record, making it feel a little uncohesive. It just does not feel complete, and since not all of the songs are of top notch quality, it makes the album suffer a little bit. The ending especially, the two part title track, is not anything to write home about. The first part ("Silence Inside") is a great progressive tune, but the second part ("Infinite Nothing") is completely useless, an instrumental that more sounds like joyful "good ending" music to a fantasy movie. Actually, now that I think of it, the title is quite fitting, it might not be infinite, but it is a whole lot of nothing.

"ØMNI" is definitely a nice album, and I do admire the thought behind it, but I think it would have been even better with a clear sense of direction. Since the story is jumping back and forward in time and space, the music does so too, not really giving the listener a chance to settle down and appreciate it. They are going from European power metal, to Dream Theater prog, to tribe chanting in a pretty quick pace. The good still outweighs the bad though, and there are a lot of great individual quality in here, it is just such a shame that the complete picture is not as sharp as it could have been. It is an exciting trip to the future with some great pit stops along the way, but it needs time to fully process, especially for those who do not understand the mystery of the Ø.

Songs worthy of recognition: Black Widow's Web, Travelers of Time, Insania, Ømni - Silence Inside

Rating: 7/10 Cavemen


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Legend of The Seagullmen - S/T (2018)

Okay, it is time once again to play the age old game "Super group under microscope", in which we take a newly formed super group, take a look at who is in it, and where they originate from. So who is our next contestant? Well well, here we have a band that is called Legend of The Seagullmen, and its two men that stands out here, Tool drummer Danny Carey, and Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds. Tool and Mastodon, that sounds like a heavenly fusion, and add an additional four scallywags into the mix, and you get a wacky group of land crabs creating some crazy music.

It would probably be wise of me to stop using sea lingo, but how could I resist when an album like this comes along. This is obviously a group that was created as a fun little side project, with no real serious intentions. Just a bunch of friends who comes together to make something completely different from what they normally do. So yes, unfortunately this does not resemble either Tool or Mastodon, but what "Legend of The Seagullmen" do resemble is a sort of alternative rock that do sound a little like Turbonegro, but without the speed. Or maybe I should just copy/paste what they wrote, "Legend of the Seagullmen is a genre destroying super-group crafting conceptual rock 'n' roll hymns of epic proportions.". Sounds about right.

So all these talented dudes ends up with a 8 track, 37 minutes long rock album that certainly has some interesting things to it. The whole atmosphere is really nice, very dirty and grim, but still with a lot of joy behind it, and that joy comes straight from the band members who obviously had a blast recording this album. Then we have the stories that this album is telling, and they are all nice little tales from the sea, together creating an image for the album that my not be the most original, but still fits really well with what the band is trying to accomplish.

While the album itself is not that big, it still holds some nice, juicy meat that we all can chew on for some time. Some nice punk grooves, some more mysterious bits, and a very salty aroma that pierces through your nostrils. It all leads to some really nice moments, like Hinds' sweet guitar play in "Shipswreck", the classic Black Sabbath melodies in "Rise of The Giant", the epic ending in "Ballad of The Deep Sea Diver", and the fast punk vibe in the song "Legend of The Seagullmen", that is on the album "Legend of The Seagullmen", played by Legend of The Seagullmen... Legend of The Seagullmen.

So all in all, this is a pretty harmless album that does not have that much to offer, but it does a good job in killing off some time. The music is nice, and the band seem to have a lot of fun together, but at the end of the day, this is just a side record that is probably not gonna be remembered down the stretch. I am not gonna criticize this album all to much, because I know it was just a bunch of friends coming together, making music, nothing more, but it does not do anything extra to make me go all wild and crazy. It is a fun little album, no more, no less, perfect for a trip to the seven seas.

Songs worthy of recognition: Legend of The Seagullmen, Rise of The Giant, Ballad of The Deep Sea Diver

Rating: 7/10 Foggers


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Best of Opeth

So we are finally done with the marvelous discography of Opeth, and it has certainly been a fantastic journey through the twists and turns of an amazing career. Despite several member changes and style changes throughout the years, there have always been two constants for the band, one being Mikael Åkerfeldt, and the second being the impressive quality that comes with every new release. No matter what direction the band has taken, it has always felt so natural to them to follow that way, to seamlessly go from black and death metal, to straight up rock. The best part about it all is that we are not nearing the end, that we have several more years of Opeth ahead of us were anything could happen, an unknown future that is very exciting to follow.

They have definitely earned the title as one of the greatest influences in the progressive metal scene, but let us now summarize this fantastic career, and take a look at the best the band has to offer.

Best albums

3. Still Life

I kind of wished Opeth would do more concept records, because they are pretty damn good at it, with "Still Life" as the true evidence of that. The darkness of the concept is perfectly expressed in the album, with every melody matching the lyrics really well, creating an atmosphere that is complete magic all around. It is a great experience, and a perfect warm up to...

2. Blackwater Park

To many, "Blackwater Park" is considered to be THE Opeth record, and I can definitely see why. This album is incredibly well made from start to finish, taking what the band had done up to this point and refining it even further, very close to complete perfection. This album has everything you would expect from a band like this, crispy clear production, crushing bits that hits you harder than a punch from Tyson, and sweeping melodies that break it up perfectly. It is truly an accomplishment, but somehow, it is not the band's magnum Opeth.

1. Ghost Reveries

I fucking love this album, I really do not need to write anything else. Okay, if I must write something to explain why it is my number one, it is because of the haunting atmosphere that goes through the entire record, that bone chilling mood that is unlike anything else I have heard. Add to its some killer tracks and a band that is at the top of its game, then you get a horrific master piece that is one of the finest progressive metal records you will ever come across.

Worst album


It feels so wrong to call any Opeth record as the worst, because none of them are truly bad. There were a couple of candidates, but ultimately, I ended up with the debut record. It is a nice debut, but it is very rough around the edges, and the production is dark as hell itself. It still sounds like Opeth, but it is obvious that it was at an early stage, not fully developed yet. So yeah, not a bad album by any means, but it is clearly inferior compared to its brethren.

Best songs

10. Godhead's Lament
Some mighty fine acoustic work in here.

9. The Leper Affinity
A brilliant opener to a brilliant album.

8. Chrysalis
My absolute favourite from the current era.

7. The Drapery Falls
The grip from the darkness is not letting me go at all.

6. The Funeral Portrait
So much groove in such a dark song, that should not be possible.

5. Demon of The Fall
That eerie ending gives me tons of chills.

4. Deliverance
God, I love that unorthodox rhythm, catchy as hell, just wont leave my brain!

3. The Grand Conjuration
Does not get much mightier than this, beefiest of Opeth beef that ever beefed.

2. Heir Apparent
Man, you never know what will hit you in this one. A close to 9 minutes of mind abuse that ends in complete bliss.

1. Ghost of Perdition
The song that got me into Opeth in the first place, and it still has not lost its charm. As close to perfection as you can get.

Best album cover


If we only went by looks, I probably would have given the win to "Sorceress", but I absolutely love that the cover of "Heritage" tells a story, and is also a statement by the band. The roots represent the band's death metal past, and the fruit of the tree is the face of each band member, with past members represented as skulls that have fallen off (so Mikael killed them?). It is a painting that has several nice details, definitely worthy of putting under a microscope to scan every inch of this beautiful master piece.

Total discography verdict

Quality: 10/10
What can I really say here? None of the albums have gone under the 7 mark, never even been close to being considered as a bad record. Whenever Opeth unveils a new album, you can be sure that it contains some fantastic music.

Versatility: 9/10
The smooth evolution of this band has truly shown how versatile they can be, while still maintaining their own trademark sound. It makes every new album exciting, because you never truly know what you are gonna get.

Band Chemistry: 6/10
Yeah, most of us would agree that Mikael Åkerfeldt is the Lemmy Kilmister of Opeth, there would not be a band without him, yet Mikael does make sure that the other guys are an important part of the band. Too many changes over the years for my taste, otherwise it is not that bad.

Influence: 10/10
Opeth may not have been first, but they are certainly one of the biggest game changers in progressive metal. The addition of death metal has definitely inspired tons of other bands, such as BTBAM, Ne Obliviscaris, Leprous, and Persefone, creating a music scene that is extremely broad and exciting.

Lyrics: 8/10
It can be a little too confusing at times, but Opeth's lyrics are unlike any other band's, it is more like poetry really. It is all written with such beauty that it is kind of hard to imagine it fitting in a death metal setting, but it fits beautifully.

Album rating summary

Orchid: 7/10
Morningrise: 8/10
My Arms, Your Hearse: 9/10
Still Life: 9,5/10
Blackwater Park: 9,5/10
Deliverance: 7/10
Damnation: 7,5/10
Ghost Reveries: 10/10
Watershed: 8,5/10
Heritage: 7/10
Pale Communion: 9/10
Sorceress: 7,5/10

Average rating: 8,291666666666667/10

So which band is next? Well, how about we continue to tick off the Big 4 of thrash metal. We have done Megadeth and Slayer, so that leaves two bands, and I will not reveal which of them I will do next, so you have to wait and see which of these puppets the master will choose... fuck, I spoiled it didn't I?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Opeth - Heritage (2011)

So we have finally reached the most controversial Opeth album in our discography review series, an album that saw the band shift from their highly original blend of prog and death metal, to a more mellow rock sound. This is actually something Mikael and the rest of the band had wanted to attempt for some time (and kind of did already in "Damnation"), and critically, it actually got favorable reviews at the time of release, but the fans did not show any mercy, panning it for the complete lack of metal, claiming that the band sold out. But is this album really that awful, or was the change of style simply too much too handle for the Opeth lovers that forced them to go towards the other extreme of the spectrum?

Honestly, I was a part of the crowd that said "What kind of wimpy shit is this?" at the time of release, but looking back at it now, I realize two things. 1. I was a stupid young brat who did not know squat, and 2. I was easily persuaded by crowd majority. The fact of the matter is, I had not heard of any other Opeth record prior to "Heritage", so I did not have any valid argument to say that it was trash. Well, now I do, and after listening to the rest of the discography, I can honestly say that "Heritage"... is not that bad actually.

Let us start with the change of style, which is definitely different from what the band has done before, but it is not THAT different. As stated before, they kind of tinkered with the idea already in "Damnation", only that they put in some other moods and speeds in this album. Yes, it lacks all of the classic metal traits Opeth has (blast beats, harsh vocals, heavy guitars), but it still has that distinct Opeth sound, and that should really be enough for fans to enjoy "Heritage" really, but noooooooooo, they have to have that precious metal element too. Man, we fans are greedy bastards.

Besides, I think this change of style opens up new gateways for the band to express themselves, to expand into more unknown territory, sort of like the roots on the album artwork. However, I do not think Opeth takes full advantage of this opportunity, almost playing it safe actually. We certainly get enough prog for the price of admission, but I do not feel that sense of mystery that the band is so good at presenting, the thing that keeps you guessing throughout the album. Not saying that the album is predictable, but there is no part of the record I can point at and say "damn, I did not expect that". It still sounds alright, and the band does a good job in performance and production, but it just does not push its boundaries far enough.

Then we have the ultimate question, should we even consider "Heritage" as a metal record? Probably not, it is more like a Rush record, it is definitely rock, but with some heavier elements to it. There is definitely some heavier bits and pieces to be found here, and I definitely think that songs like "Famine", "The Lines In My Hand", and "The Devil's Orchard" could find a place in any other Opeth record and fit right in. It is the rock influence that rules this record though, with its melodic organs and Mikael's engaging voice as the main force behind it all, and it does a really nice job. It might still be a little bit underwhelming in most places, but you could definitely see "Heritage" as a prototype, as a first step to the new era of the band.

So yeah, looking back at it, I do not understand what all the fuzz was about. Yes, it is a shame that we lose the death metal aspect of the band's sound, but this is what 95% of highly successful bands do to stay relevant, evolve. "Heritage" definitely takes a brave step into the unknown, but it is not that humongous leap that everyone says it is. The reactions this album created are over exaggerated, and it hurt the album's reputation quite a bit. This is most certainly not a brilliant album, and it might be the Opeth album that could be considered the "worst", but it still has some charming qualities that should not be over looked, even if Mikael does not scream his lungs out.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Lines In My Hand, Slither, Famine

Rating: 7/10 Folklores


More reviews of Opeth
My Arms, Your Hearse
Still Life
Blackwater Park
Ghost Reveries
Pale Communion