Saturday, November 30, 2013
I will admit that "Unfold" have some similarities with its predecessor. There are several parts where there is a perfect mix of heavy metal and power metal, but it feels like Almah does not go with this sound to 100% like they did in "Motion". Instead, they put in some more smooth and easy notes in the music, which gives some more variation, but also loses some strength.Why would they do that when they had a perfectly good and original sound at their disposal? Instead, they experiment with typical power metal ballads ("Warm Wind"), stupid rock groove ("You Gotta Stand") and some U2 shit ("Wings of Revolution"). Not okay man, not okay.
But there is still some elements in "Unfold" that definitely works. Like the frenetic drum work in "In My Sleep", the chorus in "The Hostage" (but not that god awful Black Label Society verse), the beautiful "Raise The Sun" and the powerful "Believer" (the only power metal song in this album that actually works). But they only make up for some of the faults with this album. They cannot help that the production is not perfect nor the weird experimental tracks that drags the album down. It is a shame since the members are all great and professional musicians that makes a great effort to make "Unfold" as good as it can be.
The final nail in the coffin for "Unfold" spells "Treasure of The Gods". A nine minute long epic that picks out every power metal cliche in the book. A slow start, epic chorus and some technical instrumental work along the way. Even if it is one of the better tracks in "Unfold", I still want to just vomit bile all over the place. What happened to the originality? What happened with the excitement?
This was a big disappointment, maybe one of the bigger ones in 2013. I expected "Unfold" to be a continuation of "Motion" and securing Almah's place as one of the more interesting power/heavy metal bands in the world, but instead, they experimented so much that they lost themselves on the way. "Unfold" shows some glimpses of greatness, but it is overall an unpleasant record. So please Almah, skip the whole "let's be a typical power metal band" act and keep the heavy hard rock sound instead. It fits you much better and it feels more original.
Songs worthy of recognition: In My Sleep, Raise The Sun, Believer
Rating: 4,5/10 Cannibals In Suits
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
So here we have it, the follow up to "Human Remains" that is entitled "Curse & Chapter". A album that works great as a follow up since it is very much alike its predecessor. We still have the devil and the occult as the main theme, and the sound is still heavy with influences from the 80's NWoBHM movement (even if it is more modernized). So no, nothing has really changed during the time between the albums, but I see it as a good thing that the band shows some continuity with their music.
Just like in "Human Remains", some old demo classics arises in "Curse & Chapter", but they are in a minority this time. It is the songs "Deathsquad", "Land of The Living Dead" and "Deliver Us From Evil" that has been remastered for the 21st century. Now I cannot compare the demo track with the album version, but I can definitely sense that the songs have an aura from the 80's, especially the instrumental "Deathsquad" that takes my mind back to the earliest works of Iron Maiden and "Deliver Us From Evil" reminds me of Mercyful Fate. However, I feel that there are stronger creations in this album than these three particular songs.
It is fun to see that it is the new material that takes the most space in this album, but it is even funnier to see that they exceed my expectation and take over completely. Songs like "The Age of Nefarious", "Faith Will Fall", "Darkhangel" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" are just so god damn good that it actually makes me mad that this band did not get an honest chance in the 80's. Well I guess God (or Satan) works his magic in mysterious ways. But it is a relief to see that this band still has the ability to create some great and impressive tunes.
If "Human Remains" was a album to declare Hell's triumphant return, then "Curse & Chapter" is the statement that they still know how to write fantastic metal. The album is just the fantastic NWoBHM assault that you would have hoped for from this band. Another proof of Hell's great excellence.
Songs worthy of recognition: Faith Will Fall, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Age of Nefarious
Rating: 9/10 Deathsquads
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Musically speaking, I would say that the album mixes the playfulness of "Infinity" with the mature nature of "Terria". It is a uplifting album that explores both commercially attractive vibes with heavy metal. I definitely like where it is heading towards, especially since the memorability factor is higher compared to both "Terria" and Strapping Young Lad's latest self-titled release. And even if some of the tracks balances on the thread between rock and pop, it is still a pretty joyful listening session for metal freaks.
The best prof of the previous statement is the opener "Depth Charge". With an impressive determination and drive, Devin and the gang plows through with speed, epicness and a sound that is as hard as it can be without being completely metal. Definitely my favorite track from the album. The rest of the album never reach the same heavy level (although "Random Analysis" is fairly close), but that does not mean there is nothing more to appreciate with "Accelerated Evolution". Take an extra listen to the soft rock song "Traveller" and the Blink-182 inspired "Slow Me Down", two songs that will surely put a smile on that grim face of yours. Also take a look at the space oriented "Suicide" that may be the most sad song in the album, but it has some strong points like the frenetic guitar work and the mood settings. Then we also have the semi-instrumental track "Away" that may be too long for its own good, but still brings a sense of delight to the soul with its cool and ambient sound.
The only real problem with "Accelerated Evolution" is that it may scare some of the more heavier metal fans away. There are no crazy solos nor not many times where Devin screams his lungs out, which is a proof that Devin has succeeded with his plan. He wanted to create a band that was the complete opposite to Strapping Young Lad, and The Devin Townsend Band is just what it was supposed to be.
"Accelerated Evolution" is a very chill album that should not appeal to the more hardcore metal fans, but if you enjoyed "Terria" and even "Infinity", then I would suggest that you would give this album a chance. It is not the overall strongest album in the Devin Townsend catalog, but just like any other album by the Canadian, it is one of a kind.
Songs worthy of recognition: Depth Charge, Suicide, Slow Me Down
Rating: 8/10 Travellers
Sunday, November 17, 2013
So has the years changed SYL any significantly? Actually no, the heaviness and anger is still a big part of SYL's music, but it is more of a controlled anger instead of this bat shit crazy anger where Devin says fuck every three words. Now that I think of it, Devin only says fucking 5 times throughout this album. Anyway, the music may be more down to earth (or mature), but I miss that extra level of craziness that "City" had. Sure, some parts in this albums are pure WTF moments (like in the end of "Dirt Pride" where Devin screams "Wash my fucking balls"), but it is not enough to make this album stand out. Not so good when the album is only 39 minutes long.
There are not many songs that catches my attention in "Strapping Young Lad", but two songs are definitely interesting enough for me to notice. The first one is the bone crushing "Relentless". It is the only song on "Strapping Young Lad" that would fit nicely in "City" with its heaviness, speed, and epic chorus. The other song is "Force Fed", that impresses with an excellent mix of epic musical quality and doom-like groove. But I think it would have been better if it was slightly shorter. We also have songs like "Rape Song", "Aftermath", and "Dirt Pride" that may not impress me completely, but still satisfies my urge of great SYL metal.
Despite the fact that the quality is decently high, I still feel that "Strapping Young Lad" needs a personality. It is overall a slightly bland album for a SYL album. I mean, "Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing" had its silliness and "City" had speed and heaviness. What does "Strapping Young Lad" have? The answer is nothing in particular. The band does what they are good at, but nothing more.
It is without a doubt that I say that "Strapping Young Lad" is a great album, but it could have been even better with something that personified the album. There is a good couple of songs in the album, but nothing overly impressive. However, it is still a good album with the fact that the band was inactive for three years. But it is not enough to make me wash the band's fucking balls.
Songs worthy of recognition: Force Fed, Relentless, Aftermath
Rating: 7/10 Consequences
Saturday, November 16, 2013
I gotta be honest, I did not have much hope for this beer at all before trying it. I thought that it was going to be like the Shiraz, or the last couple of albums that the bands have released. Good, but not overwhelming. But it was a pleasant surprise tasting the beer. According to Systembolaget, it is a malty beer with hints of oranges, honey and crispbread. I have no idea where they tasted crispbread in this beer, but I can back up the orange and honey parts since it is a sweet beer with a little fruity hint. Definitely not your average beer. And even if I feel the strength in it, it does not take over so much that you must take a long break between your sips. It is fairly easy to drink. However, I feel that if a beer is named Bastards, then it should be either a strong, angry beer, or a beer that makes the drinker an asshole. I only drank one bottle, but I do not feel madder. Whatever, a beer is a beer.
I can definitely say that Bastards beats both the Shiraz and the bands latest album "Aftershock", but we will just have to see if it beats the vödka (I am not a girl, therefore I will not try the rose). But does it live up to its name? No, it should have been stronger then it actually is. Is it a must buy for fans? Definitely.
Rating: 8/10 Snaggletooths
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Musically speaking, there is not much that separates the two album apart from each other. We got fast and catchy power songs, some slower and more delicate tunes, but sadly no ultra heavy song that has only one goal, to crush your brain into smithereens. Now, I understand why the band made these albums similar to each other, but I would have appreciated it if they tried to make two different albums that would have shown the band's diversity. The only real difference I see between the albums is that it feels like Ivan Moody is not as angry in this album as he was in volume 1. If that is supposed to represent the albums as a "good" and a "evil" album is for you to figure out.
One thing that makes this volume superior compared to its predecessor is that it is more even in its performance. There is no real shit song to be found here, but there is also no real masterpiece here either. The best picks from this album is the fast crunching "Wrecking Ball", the fast starter "Here To Die", the beautiful "Battle Born" and the nicely paced "Cradle To Grave". This evenness brings however a big flaw to this album, and that is that it does not take much time before you get tired at the album. That is the main reason why I believe that the band should have put in either "I.M.Sin" or "Dot Your Eyes" from the last album to give this album some much needed variation.
Then we also have that cover of the traditional American folk song "House of The Rising Sun", a song that has been covered several times in the past by The Animals, Dolly Parton and others. Compared to the horrible cover of "Mama Said Knock You Out" on the last album, this is at least 50 times better. 5FDP really made this song their own with the blasting double bass and the smooth riffing. The only problem is that most of the younger audience will probably think that this is a 5FDP original, something that has already happened with their cover of "Bad Company".
In the end, I think that the two volumes are good, but that the first volume is the superior one. The first volume had more power and more of a personality while the second volume was more even in its performance, but it also has a shorter life span. Both albums have their strengths and weaknesses, but even if they are two good individual albums, I would have liked it more if the band had made one big album with the great songs and left some good songs on hold so they could be included in a future album. Anyway, both "The Wrong Side of Heaven And The Righteous Side of Hell" albums are worthy a check for fans of both angry/powerful metal and more commercially approached rock. But for the next album, please keep the title at 20 characters maximum.
Songs worthy of recognition: Wrecking Ball, Battle Born, Here To Die
Rating: 7/10 Weights Beneath My Sin
Thursday, November 7, 2013
As always, Arjen gets some help from several guest artists from the metal world. Some of the big names this time are Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot), Janne Christoffersson (Grand Magus) and many more. And with this well experienced crew comes some good musical performance, even if there is a significant variation in styles.
As far as the story goes, it is just like any other Ayreon album where every singer is a character. The only difference with "The Theory of Everything" is that Ayreon is starting from scratch with a new story (the rest of the albums, from "The Final Experiment" to "01011001", portrays one giant saga). It is about a man who tries to figure out the theory of everything (if you are wondering what it is, look it up on Wikipedia. I got an headache just by trying to figure out what it was about) just because he is having trouble of living an "ordinary" life. It is certainly an interesting story, and the lyrics and vocalists really brings it to life.
But it is the music that is the main ingredient to really make a great concept album, and Ayreon's characteristic epic sound works every time. It is both a beautiful and grand sound that also morphs into different sounds from other eras and regions, like in "Phase 1: Singularity" we get sounds from the middle ages, the Arabian region and also some futuristic tunes. The music is truly versatile and brings true depth to the album, but I feel like this is a album that you must listen to in its entirety. I cannot just pick a couple of songs or one specific phase that stands out from the others, because they are all linked so strongly together that it would be a risk just picking out one from the link. But I see it as a strength since it makes a more cohesive album.
But are there any weaknesses with "The Theory of Everything"? Well, the album demands its listener, which means that people with a small amount of patient will not only have a harder time enjoying the album, but also might not even listen to the entire thing in one sitting. Otherwise there is nothing wrong with this album, but I do feel that the musicality does not last very long in my head. There are only few small parts in every phase that I remember well, but I think that could have been fixed if Arjen would have done eight 10+ minute songs instead of four 20+ minute songs.
I can honestly say that Arjen Lucassen has made another great epic. "The Theory of Everything" is Ayreon out to the fingertips and fans of the band will probably put this album instantly on the top of their "end of the year" list. And even though I also loved the album and its story, I still feel that there are things that could have improven, especially the memorability factor. None the less, "The Theory of Everything" is a magnificent album that is the definition of epic.
Phases worthy of recognition: all of them
Rating: 9/10 Symmetries
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
It is instantly obvious that "Terria" is sort of a follow up to "Ocean Machine: Biomech". Both albums have the same humble and soothing sound, but whilst "Ocean Machine: Biomech" was a joyful and happy album, "Terria" has some darker elements in its music (but it is still a positive album though). No matter what, the perfect mix of ambient rock and progressive metal is very exciting and helps lifting the album up to great heigths.
But this is not a album that you will love instantly. It takes a couple of spins before all the songs sets in and presents themselves towards you. Believe me, cause it happened to me. I first thought that the intentional silent parts were slightly annoying and that most of the music was nothing that was impressing. But now I see why Devin put those in, and I got to say that it takes some talent to really get the most of the music and silence, which Devin does. But even if the silence is a big part of "Terria", it is the loudest song that catches most of my attention. "Earth Day" is a great track that mixes the groovy feeling of "War" with the epicness of "Seventh Wave". It still gives me the chills when Devin screams recycle and eat your beets.
It is the epic parts that makes "Terria" such a great album. Some of the great parts are the instrumental rumble plus the quire in "The Fluke", the sensitivity in "Nobody's Here" and "Stagnant", and the doom like part about jury duty in "Canada". Unfortunately, there are also some parts that does not make any sense at all. For instance, the opener "Olives" is just a three minute long haul to the real album. Do not understand why that song is in "Terria" at all. There is also a one minute long complete silence in the end of "Mountain". I can see that silence would be good at the end of the song, but one minute of it is too long.
This is certainly a epic piece that should make every progressive metal fan ecstatic, but compared to the masterpiece "Ocean Machine: Biomech", "Terria" does not have the same quality. Sure, Devin makes the most of the ambient sound that dominates the album, but I do not feel like the impact is as big as it was in "Ocean Machine: Biomech". None the less, "Terria" is an excellent album that feels down to earth and works perfect in the Sunday morning when you are recovering from a hangover. And do not forget, eat your beets and recycle.
Songs worthy of recognition: Earth Day, Nobody's Here, The Fluke
Rating: 8/10 Tiny Tears
Monday, November 4, 2013
But I chose to continue since there is more below the surface. We all know Lemmy's recent health problems, and unfortunately, they are present in this record. His voice is not particularly strong and it helps dragging down the album slightly. It is sad since the rest of the gang is holding up their part nicely. This of course makes me ask the question if this is the last Motörhead album we will ever witness? I sure hope not, but it clearly seems like it if Lemmy's health situation does not change.
Even with this health situation, I still find some go in this album, especially in the speedy "Heartbreaker" and high rolling "End of Time". It is still clear that Motörhead knows what they are doing and the overall song quality is actually not that bad, even though I found more variety in their last album, "The Wörld Is Yours". One other notable thing with "Aftershock" is that the band has gone back to some of its blues roots in this album. Pretty nice, even if it is not my kind of taste.
Otherwise it is the same old story. Stable rock 'n' roll with great riffing, groovy drumming and Lemmy's characteristic whiskey voice. Also, there are few and small things that gives the songs a own personality. Like the heavy drumming in "Death Machine", the insane riffing in "End of Time", the attitude in "Silence When You Speak To Me", the clinky keyboard in "Crying Shame" and the lyrics in the "Ace of Spades" like "Going To Mexico". And that is also why I think Motörhead still gets this attention even though they play the same music as they did 30 years ago. They still find ways to make the songs standing strong on their own.
If you have listened to any Motörhead album in their career, then you probably know what "Aftershock" has to offer. It is not an innovative album, it is Motörhead from top to bottom. Just like Winter comes after Autumn, Motörhead does not surprise at all. So "Aftershock" is just like the band's own wine. Good, but not even close to being extra ordinary.
Songs worthy of recognition: Going To Mexico, Silence When You Speak To Me, End of Time
Rating: 6/10 Heartbreakers
Saturday, November 2, 2013
First off, Let me ease your minds with the fact that there is no sign of dub-step in this album (well, maybe a little on "Never Never"). With the entrance of "Head" has come a more classic Korn sound that may not have the same mystical touch like back in the days, but it still feels fresh and interesting. Several details are very interesting, like the catchy riffs, the passionate drumming and Jonathan Davis's fine vocal work.
Cause it is the small things that makes "The Paradigm Shift" a good album, not the whole experience. There are 11 songs in this album, but none of them are really surprising nor really impressive. I like the more aggressive songs like "Prey For Me", "Punishment Time" and "Love & Meth", and some of the melodic melodies ("Spike In My Veins" and "Mass Hysteria") are nice, but they are not strong enough to make "The Paradigm Shift" a complete winner. It is obvious that the band have found a new strength during the last years and the performance is more or less flawless, but when a album is mixing between good songs that both the band and fans can be proud of with boring and pointless fillers like "Never Never" and "It's All Wrong", it is impossible to fully appreciate all the hard work that the band has spent to make this record happen.
I can however still confidently say that this is the best album by Korn in some time. It is obvious that Brian's return has helped the band in the right direction and if this form is continuing like this, then I would not be surprised if the next album will not only be better, it also could potentially be a future classic. "The Paradigm Shift" will probably not be remembered as the highlight of Korn's career, but it is still a album that has some really neat quality in it.
Songs worthy of recognition: Prey For Me, Love & Meth, Punishment Time
Rating: 7,5/10 Spikes In My Veins
Friday, November 1, 2013
"Physicist" is a harder and faster version of its predecessor, "Infinity", and it is a album that does not give a shit. It has a specific sound and it sticks with that sound throughout the album, creating a red line that follows through every song. But it also feels like the variation gets somewhat left behind when everything has the same generic sound.
One of the flaws with the album is that the speed and aggressive sound makes the album sound shorter then what it actually is. The album is approximately 46 minutes long, but it feels like it is 35 minutes instead, which ends up with the sensation of being half full. In other words, you want more after the last song has been played. Now you are probably saying "Is it not a fun album since it made the time go faster?". You could definitely see it that way, but I rather see it as glass half full then half empty. "Physicist" would have felt good with another song or two, and that is that.
The clear star of "Physicist" is the epic "Kingdom" (a track that also appears in the Devin Townsend Project album "Epicloud", but more on that in its review). It is the only song on the album that has a consistent structure and it has some fine musicality, like in between the two choruses and the verse. A memorable song that is also easy to sing-a-long to. It is otherwise the heaviness or speed that most of the other songs rely on. And it works great on songs like "Namaste" and "The Complex", But I cannot help but feel that the sloppy production drags down the quality quite a bit. "Physicist" is a good album, but it could have been a lot better with a better production to support it.
Compared with "Infinity", I would say that "Physicist" is a marginally weaker album because of the weak production and the small variety. But I still think that there are some sweet moments in this album that defines Devin's ever evolving mind. However, it is obvious that Devin did not care for this album as much as some of his earlier works, and I can without a doubt in my mind say that this record would have been more fitting as a Strapping Young Lad release, since the whole ensemble helped conceive this record.
Songs worthy of recognition: Kingdom, Namaste, The Complex
Rating: 7,5/10 Victims