Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lindemann - Skills In Pills (2015)

Time for a math lesson, metal style. What do you get if you add a German singer with a Swedish super producer? The answer is the new super duo Lindemann, a industrial force consisting of Till Lindemann, singer of Rammstein, and Peter Tägtgren, front man to Pain and Hypocrisy and producer to countless metal albums. Two very well experienced and respected guys in the industry forming a brand new musical project, what could possibly go wrong? Well, judging from all of the other countless super groups out there, nothing is safe before some actual material shows itself.

The guys have made the work load as simple as possible for Lindemann, Till takes care of the singing and the lyrics, while Peter handles the music and production, a fair and logical choice to get the best out of the experiment. But knowing what Rammstein has sung about in the past, I did not expect any fancy poetry from the German, and sure enough, "Skills In Pills" is more or less one sex joke after another. Everything from fatty desires, transgenders, to golden showers and love of abortions, yes, Till sings his heart out of what he writes best, filthy potty humour. It does not work quite as well in English as in the German language, mostly because German is a heavier, more aggressive language, which really helps out to forget that the lyrics are juvenile and immature.

The music however, is just the thing that saves the album from being a giant turd. Peter has more or less created another Pain album here, a powerful industrial record with lots of electronic elements to it. And I do not think it comes to anyone's surprise that Till was more or less made for singing to this music. Would be interesting to see him as the new lead singer of Pain, or maybe him and Peter sharing the load, but that will probably never happen. So if you are a fan of Pain, you will instantly love the music in "Skills In Pills".

Several pieces in this puzzle catches my attention, either for the lyrics, the impeccable musicality, or both. The first song that was presented, "Praise Abort", came with a incredibly weird music video, but I liked it, just like I liked the super catchy and simple chorus. Also, that song really nails the humour, something few songs in this album does. We also have the title track, that is the ultimate Pain song that just speeds through with an impressive determination, and the same can be said about "Fish On" and the heavy "Fat" (no pun intended).

The surprise comes in that the slow songs are really vibrant, and gives the album another dimension to it. "Home Sweet Home", "Yukon" and "Children of The Sun" all contains some impeccable songwriting, both when it comes to the music and the lyrics. They float around like they are their own style, not necessarily taken from a Pain album, but still having a small influence from it. I always encourage musicians that is in side projects to really broaden their horizon, do something we have not already have heard from them, and these three songs does exactly that with both Till and Peter. Not saying that I would a full album with only these types of songs, but I really enjoyed them and would like to have more of them in the future.

Compared to both Rammstein, Pain and Hypocrisy, Lindemann does not really reach the same heights, but Till and Peter's little side project is still a fairly interesting bromance that does contain a spark in its eyes. "Skills In Pills" does its job well and entertains the fans of both gentlemen, while also showing off some new stuff that should keep the interest levels high. It really shows that this is the works of two full blood professionals, joining forces to create a new little musical child. If this bromance would continue in the future, I would definitely look forward to the next album, and if it would not, then I will not shed a tear, since it makes me pumped up to see what the guys can do with their main projects in the near future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Yukon, Skills In Pills, Home Sweet Home

Rating: 7/10 Ladyboys

Monday, June 22, 2015

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus - Symphonia Ignis Divinus (2015)

Since 2011, the world has had to deal with two different versions of the Italian symphonic metal band Rhapsody of Fire, one with, and one without the founding member Luca Turilli, but so far, none of them have really lived up to the reputation of the original. Both bands have released one album each since the split, and both of them were okay, but nothing impressive. I did enjoy "Dark Wings of Steel" more since it had some more power in it, while "Ascending to Infinity" was more fitting as music for a apocalyptic movie.

But Luca has returned for his sophomore effort with his new Rhapsody project. The name is "Prometheus - Symphonia Ignis Divinus", and just like the name suggest, it is another grand, epic album that wants to take the listener to an incredible journey. But whenever I listen to it, it just reminds me that I have a shit ton of movies that I want to watch. Seriously, almost everything in this album would fit better in either a motion picture or at some opera show in the Coliseum. Just listen to the opener "Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)", and you will instantly think that it is the start of something made by an Italian Tim Burton. For the record, I am not saying that this is anything bad, I just mean that it feels weird.

I can instantly say that the music here in "Prometheus..." is a step forward from "Ascending To Infinity", having more focus and determination to attack the listener with. I can sense that Luca has taken his time to really perfect all parts of this album towards his liking, and it really shows in the final product. The overall song material might not be ultra strong, but it holds a good, consistent standard throughout the album, making it a really solid piece of music.

The big red line that goes through the album is the mix between the Latin and English language, which works perfectly fine most of the time. Whether the band only uses English (like in the LOTR song "One Ring To Rule Them All"), only Latin ("Il Cigno Nero" and "Il Tempo Degli Dei"), or a mix of the two, the band can still create some beautiful stuff to go along with it. You could complain that the lyrics would be harder to understand, which I totally get, but it still sounds good in my ears, and that is enough to please me. However, I do feel like some of Alessandro Conti's English pronunciations is kind of off, something that he needs to keep working on in between albums.

The album also contains the second part of the giant epic known as "Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer's Fall" (first part was in "Ascending To Infinity"), and just like its first part, it is the meatiest song in the album, clocking in at a whooping 18 minutes and 5 seconds. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time in trying to follow with the entire track, a trait that the first part also had. It is a pretty decent epic, but I wish that it would have been more consistent, not feeling like Luca just cut and pasted some different elements into a song that is too big for its own good. If you enjoyed the first part, you will most likely enjoy this one as well.

Luca has created a pretty good symphonic metal album that certainly beats out the other Rhapsody (for now). However, I am still a little annoyed that the music has such a big movie feel to it. I really would not be surprised if Luca would give up his career as a metal artist in the near future to travel to Hollywood and write film scores for some epic fantasy adventure. But for now, I am happy that Luca still creates metal music, and "Prometheus..." is a testament that he still can create some great stuff. Your move Rhapsody of Fire.

Songs worthy of recognition: Prometheus, Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross), One Ring To Rule Them All

Rating: 7,5/10 Yggdrasils

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Iwrestledabearonce - Hail Mary (2015)

I honestly have no freaking idea of why I keep coming back to the American math core band Iwrestledabearonce. The band's core consists mostly of crazy spastic attacks and rhythmic nonsense, but when the pieces fit, they have the ability to create a couple of good songs per album that makes the listening experience a little less painful. The band is one of very few death metal core bands that has survived and somehow gains some kind of recognition, even if they are on the verge of losing it as well. Sometimes, I think that the name is the only reason to why the band got a deal with Century Media, because it rolls pretty good on your tongue when you pronounce it.

Oh well, "Hail Mary" is the band's 4th full length effort, and it goes in the same line as all of their previous records. It is insanity from start to finish, a wild barrage of riffs, breakdowns, screams, and very few melodic lines. If you are not paying attention, you will get lost in this deep metal jungle. The members of the band sure knows how to handle their instruments, but instead of emerging into something epic and amazing, the notes that is coming from the band often comes out as a big wanking fest, each track trying to top the other one off by going even crazier.

Ultimately, the member that stands out the most is, not surprisingly, the singer. Courtney LaPlante is leading the army of insanity with her high growling voice, and also some beautiful normal singing here and there. But it is when she uses her clean voice that the band reaches their top level. Okay, she is far from the best female singer in the metal universe, but the band knows exactly how to get the maximum capacity out of it. Instead of going bat shit crazy, they use cleaner, longer, epic melodies , which also works well for the variation of the album itself. Such a shame that those moments are rare in a typical Iwabo album.

I do understand though why these "normal" moments are so few, it is because the band has found its niche, a style that they are passionate about and love to play. The only problem is that the audience for this music is fairly slim. There are not many people who would have the strength or patience to go through a album like "Hail Mary", and even less would love it. Personally, I feel like I have earned myself a medal for going through this album about 5+ times.

There are a couple of songs that do sound decent enough for me to actually endure and even enjoy. "Green Eyes" have a fantastic chorus where Courtney shines, the double bass is blasting through, and the swirling guitars hang around in the background comfortably, while the second part of the 2 part song "Doomed To Fall" is a nice, normal piece with ambient moments and no craziness what so ever, and the album ender "Your God Is Too Small" is not only good because it is the end of the album, but also because I like the structure in it. These three songs definitely saves the album from being a steaming pile of shit, but it doesn't make it anything fancy.

I am a deeply disturbed human being, because I have made the decision that I will come back to Iwrestledabearonce when they release the next album. How is that possible when I could not stand this album? Well, because the band is interesting, and they have the most weirdly addictive band name ever. "Hail Mary" is just a bunch of gibberish, but it is unique gibberish, so it is more like art than music. And just like art, it is just for the heavily passionate folks within its own community, because they are the only ones who truly understands it (or at least pretends to).

Songs worthy of recognition: Green Eyes, Doomed To Fall Pt. 2, Your God Is Too Small

Rating: 4/10 Trips

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Amon Amarth - The Crusher (2001)

Let us start off this review with the obvious observation. The cover of Amon Amarth's third full length effort "The Crusher" would look better as a Manowar cover. No really, a overly muscular man smashing shit, masculinity all over the place, and the title "The Crusher". All of this screams Manowar more than it does Amon Amarth. Well, nonetheless, the cover in itself does not look too goofy at least, even if it my least favourite cover from the Swedes.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let us get deeper into this album. "The Crushers" continues on with what "The Avenger" did, building the foundation on what eventually would become Amon Amarth's signature sound. It is melodic, it is fast, and it is heavy, but it is still rough around the edges, especially thanks to the production. Peter Tägtgren is a awesome man with a lot under his belt, but I really do not understand what he did with all of these album he helped the band mixing. The mud is still there, never leaving your speakers, giving those clean riffs and beats a mud bath they did not need. You can still hear all the hard work the band has put into this record and all of the nice musicality, but it could have been clearer for our listening experience (even if it is a small, small step forward from previous efforts).

But it is not only the production that makes "The Crusher" sound muddy, it is the overall song arrangement. Most of the songs have around the same chorus, speed, and structure, making it hard to separate the tracks from each other. But once you take the surgical knife and start dissecting and inspecting the songs, you can be sure that you will find some quality craftsmanship. Wheter it is the frenetic riffing in the opener "Bastards of A Lying Breed" or the fragile melodies in "As Long As The Raven Flies", the band shows once again that when the pieces are on place, they can create some amazing stuff.

And just like its two predecessors, "The Crusher" is a sign of what to come for the band. The solo of "A Fury Divine" is the perfect example of just that, a beautiful and simple solo that completes a heavy and strong track. This solo reminds of another Amon Amarth song and its solo, but I will not reveal what song it is until I review the album in which it is in.

Anyway, there is no song in this album that is essentially weak. Yes, some songs get lost in the forest, but all of them are enjoyable and helps creating a strong, solid album. "The Crusher" will probably not go to the history as one of the more memorable Amon Amarth albums in history, but it has its solid place in the history of the band, and fans should be proud of it. It is a album that may not shine, but it shows that Amon Amarth is the real deal, that they can deliver strong and powerful melodic death metal. In the end though, there is only two things that will ultimately stick with me from this album, the track "A Fury Divine", and that corny album cover.

Songs worthy of recognition: A Fury Divine, Bastards of A Lying Breed, As Long As The Raven Flies

Rating: 7,5/10 Masters of War

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Helloween - My God-Given Right (2015)

Another year, another Helloween album blasting through my speakers. With in mind that the Germans have been at it for almost four decades and is with "My God-Given Right" up at 16 full length albums, you would think that they would in some way slow down. But no, the band keeps releasing records in a steady pace and keeps playing that infecting, and kind of cheesy, power metal that they helped creating all those years ago. They are just one of many bands that seem to never stop until death does its part.

The last two albums released by the band ("7 Sinners" and "Straight Out of Hell") was fantastic, so I was not really surprised when it turned out that "My God-Given Right" was a step down for the band. The band still does their thing, and they do it very well, but it seems like some of the steam is lost in this record. I think it is so because the band is sort of stuck in a loop, which makes it a lot easier to release mediocre material. And since most of the great ideas has already been used in the 2 previous albums, it was probably time to let the rest of the ideas to come out and play.

The thing that bothers me the most with "My God-Given Right" is how monotonous it sounds. "Straight Out of Hell" had a great variation of epic, heavy, slow and fast songs to make it a complete experience, while this album holds about the same tempo throughout the ride. There are some songs that does give the album some diversity, but there are too few difference makers in this album. Of course, this would not be a huge problem if the song material was good, but it is not. Most of the songs here are average at best, and it easy to pick other songs from the Helloween discography that sounds similar, but have more quality to it.

Then we have the goofy factor, which shows in more than one way, both good and bad. "Lost In America" is one of the better songs out of this record, but the lyrics boggles my mind. They sing about being in a airplane that do not know where it is heading, which is certainly a kind of fun story, but it is performed with such corny lyrics, such as the following. "There's a cloud, There's a star/We should plunder the Sky Mall". When you have to make such stupid rhymes, then you know that this song is as far from serious as it goes. Then we have songs like "Battle's Won" and "I Wish I Were There" that just sounds offensively weak and makes the band itself look bad. A experienced band like Helloween should not release songs like those, they should know better.

Okay, enough negativity, let us look at the positive sides of the record. The band performs like true professionals and once again, since they play their usual style, no true fan will be disappointed over this record. The album also contains a decent amount of songs that probably will not go down as Helloween classics, but are still good enough to become fan favourites. I recon some of the candidates will be the already mentioned "Lost In America", the dark and unique "You, Still of War", and the sing along friendly trio "My God-Given Right", "Living On The Edge" and "Stay Crazy".

So yeah, just like any other Helloween record, "My God-Given Right" does have a small share of nice music that matches well with the rest of the discography, unfortunately, there is not enough good material to turn this bland, tasteless (and colorless) record into something interesting. I am glad that I toned down my expectations for this album, because this one will not go down in history as one of Helloween's finest works, might though be in the running for the "oh yeah, forgot they released that album" award. So until next release, I will keep playing "Straight Out of Hell" in a time to time basis, and hope that the Germans hit it better on their 17th record.

Songs worthy of recognition: Lost In America, My God-Given Right, Living On The Edge

Rating: 6/10 Heroes