Sunday, April 30, 2017

Corroded - Defcon Zero (2017)

It has been roughly five years since we last heard anything new from the guys of Corroded, and I would like to excuse myself for almost forgetting completely about them during this period. It has almost been dead silent around the band camp, a member change has happened and they released a compilation album for their tenth year anniversary, but that is pretty much it. They did however do a pretty good April Fools joke earlier this year, about front man Jens Westin leaving the band to play for the Swedish ice hockey team Färjestad BK and wearing the number 666. He is a good ice hockey player, but the number thing was just too good to be true.

So the years have gone by, but the Corroded sound is still pretty much the same in "Defcon Zero", it is good, strong hard rock that may not be the most original sound you have ever heard, but is distinct and clear, knowing exactly what it is and what its goals are. The band does not try to complicate things, they are only here to deliver some good hard rock that is pleasing too your ears, and they are doing so in a pretty good way.

"Defcon Zero" has a good amount of nice songs overall, mostly suited for the more mainstream rock audience, but still with enough original quality in it. I think the question we should instead ask us is how it stacks up against the band's previous material, and it does so pretty decently. I definitely think there are stronger songs that the band have made in the past, but we got some competent material here that should not feel ashamed at all.

My personal favourite is "Vessels of Hate", because this is Corroded simply at their best. It got a catchy chorus, and there are a lot of heavy elements to it that fits the band so well. They also include a calmer part towards the latter half, which only adds to the song, unlike a classic breakdown would. "Retract And Disconnect" is also a really nice song, with this chugging riff that drives it forward towards success. In between those two songs, we complete the trifecta with "Fall of A Nation", a pretty unorthodox Corroded song that impresses with darker nature.

Overall though, I think the song quality is nothing truly special, it is more of a disappointment to be honest, especially since they have had 5 years to create a rock solid album. Some songs are just too weak in its execution, while a song like "A Note To Me" might have the purpose of expanding the band's horizon, but ends up being a snoozer instead. It just is not enough exciting material in here to go around, making it really hard to love the album. It is a decent album for sure, just not any way near of being spectacular.

I think the thing that bugs me the most about the new Corroded record is that they are stomping in the same spot, not really moving anywhere. While I do think Corroded is one of those bands that can get by reinventing the wheel, they have to implement some quality behind the craft, making songs that kick ass. "Defcon Zero" just has too many weak spots to be a truly exciting album. There is nothing horribly wrong with the album per se, and it is good to see that the band is back, but I really hope that it does not take another 5 years for a new album to emerge, and if it does take that long, then it better be a damn good album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Vessels of Hate, Retract And Disconnect, Fall of A Nation

Rating: 6/10 Days of Judgement

More reviews of Corroded:
State of Disgrace

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Motörhead - Rock 'n' Roll (1987)

It is pretty easy to see that "Rock 'n' Roll" is far from the most impressive work that Motörhead has ever done. The title is kinda meh, and while the artwork is cool as always, it just does not say very much, it is just a dark blue Snaggletooth doing his best Gene Simmons impression. Oh well, it is still Motörhead at least, so you know what you will get, and that is only the purest of heavy metal.

The first single from this album was actually written for a movie called "Eat The Rich" (which is also the name for the song), a British black comedy starring cast members of the then popular tv show "The Comic Strip Presents...". I have personally never heard of this movie before, but after taking a look at the plot, it seems pretty dark to say the least. The whole band did an appearance in the movie too, and so did also Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, and a bunch of different fairly famous people at that time. The song itself is okay, but really safe, so I do not have much to say about it.

I got more to say about track number 4 instead, and that is "Stone Deaf In The USA", an extremely fun song with a great groove, a hooky chorus, and some fun lyrics. I also love the solo that borrows some from fellow NWoBHM guys Judas Priest. The song ends on a really weird note though, with a sermon wishing that the man above takes care of this band, it feels like it is taken straight out from Monty Python. Actually, it is taken straight out from Monty Python, because the guy doing the sermon is none other than Michael Palin. A fun, but really weird ending to the song.

It is definitely the rock 'n' roll groove that is the strength of this album, being the driving force to a lot of the songs in here, like "Traitor", "Boogeyman", and "Stone Deaf In The USA". However, there is not much of the classic Motörhead styled metal that we all have gotten used to. Ironically, the track of this album is the only one that even resembles that sound, and that is the first song right off the bat. I am not saying that this does not sound like Motörhead (it definitely does), it just is not enough to fulfill my hunger at least.

Looking at the whole picture, it just feels like the band had to rush things. This album did only take one year to make, so that might be a good reason to why the overall song and production quality is not at its peak. I just do not get the purpose of some songs, like the really bland "All For You", or the over simplified "Dogs". It all comes back to the bland album title and the non spectacular cover art, this album in its entirety is what we in Sweden call "lagom", which means that it is perfectly fine, not bad at all, but not great either. I do not dislike "Rock 'n' Roll" at all, I kind of enjoy it, but if I had to chose a Motörhead album to listen to right now, this album would be pretty far back on my list.

Songs worthy of recognition: Stone Deaf In The USA, Rock 'n' Roll, The Wolf

Rating: 6,5/10 Blackhearts

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Novembers Doom - Hamartia (2017)

I am not the biggest doom fan out there, but it is a genre I have taken to me more and more in recent years, and when a doom record is done right, it can be really freaking good. But for me to enjoy a doom record, I need some melody put into it, or a lot of emotions that comes through in wave after wave, making me feel the despair deep within me,and that is something that I think is really hard to accomplish. Somehow though, Novembers Doom seem to know their shit, because they keep releasing great stuff time and time again.

In 2014, they ended up on my top 20 list with the album "Bled White", an album that had a lot of speed for a doom record, but was still gloomy as hell, while also incorporating some great melodies. It just hit all the notes just right for me, so the expectations for "Hamartia" was obviously high, and wouldn't you know, they lived up to the hype, delivering another stellar record.

"Hamartia" is a slightly different record for the band, yet very familiar. We do not get as much of the death part of their music, and the clean vocals takes a greater role, but the sound is still undoubtedly Novembers Doom, as always filled to the brim with raw emotions that will leave no one untouched. Most of these emotions are created by the vocalist and only remaining original member Paul Kuhr, mixing his harsh and clean vocals perfectly to set the mood he wants, giving the songs extra depth and weight.

It is a pretty lengthy album, but the 57 minutes goes by fairly fast actually, not only because the quality here is so high, but because the songs are in just the right sized chunks, except for the last song "Borderline", the only track that goes over the 6 minute mark. Even with fairly little time per song (for a doom band at least), Novembers Doom manages to pack in a lot in each track, details that truly elevates the music, whether it be flawless execution from the rhythm section, or just a great build up. It also helps making "Hamartia" very diverse, never becoming stale and boring.

As stated before though, the fewer amount of death metal elements here might put off some fans, but the moments that are in here are pure awesome sauce. The opening track "Devils Light" has a great engaging intro, and a haunting chorus that will surely give you the chills, and "Apostasy" has some great speedy instrumentation by guitarists Marchese and Roberts. These songs are fantastic when put together with the calmer song as a contrast, like the title track and "Ghost". We can also add the epic "Miasma" and the curve ball known as "Zephyr", where bassist Michael Feldman steals a few tricks from early Muse, as great tracks that helps making "Hamartia" really special.

In the end, this is just an astounding effort that Novembers Doom is presenting us with, a heavy album in both spirit and soul, mixing death with beauty in an amazing manor. The ending of the album could have been a little more polished, but there is enough high quality music in "Hamartia" to make it a contender at the end of the year. The band continues to evolve while staying true to their unique melodic death doom sound., and the way that they bring out the emotions is just so god damn good. Just go listen to it straight away, and let the emotions take over.

Songs worthy of recognition: Apostasy, Devils Light, Hamartia, Zephyr

Rating: 9/10 Ghosts

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thoughts from a metal mind: The regression of Linkin Park

As a guy who was born in the mid 90's , I grew up during the boom of the nu-metal scene, with bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn, P.O.D, and several other bands more or less dominated the festivals and MTV (which at that time was still a music channel, and not the complete train wreck that it is today). But none of these acts could even match up to the fame and impact that Linkin Park reached. Their two first albums, "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora", are still rooted firmly into my heart, displaying some of the fantastic music this otherwise odd sub genre could produce.

As time has gone by, the California group has progressively gone more towards being a pop act, leaving their heavy roots more and more for each subsequent release. Today, a lot of people do not even see this band as a metal act, and I can fully agree on that statement, because the band do not really see themselves as metal either, even if it was a big part of their sound in the past.

We are now less than a month away from the release of their seventh full length album "One More Light", and everything points towards that the band has thrown the little metal they had in them out of the window, and completed their metamorphosis to a pure pop band, and it sickens me to my stomach, but not in the way you might think.

You see, I think the band has done their sound evolution very delicately, taking small steps so that we do not get into a state of complete shock. Even if the later albums have been more pop oriented, I still find a lot to like about them, things that makes the band unique and interesting. Yes, albums like "Living Things" and "The Hunting Party" are not really that spectacular, but they still had some neat stuff in them. It still felt like the band was trying to achieve something, evolving their sound more and more.

So that Linkin Park is becoming more pop is not my main concern, it is instead how much soul they are losing that really bugs me out. The band has released three songs so far from the new album, and none of them are of redeeming quality. First we have "Battle Symphony", a pretty cool title which more or less gives you the expectation that we will hear something heavy and exciting. Instead, we get a very generic and boring pop ballad without any guitars, no Mike Shinoda rapping, and a band that is just playing way under their capacity. Just take singer Chester Bennington for example, a guy who have one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard is singing pop ballads. This is the same guy who sang his lungs out in "Given Up", and it hurts me to hear such a talent go to waste.

"Heavy" is not much better, because here we have a duet between Chester and Kiiara, and once again, it is generic as hell and very sleep inducing. The band has also said that "Heavy" is the core sound of "One More Light", which is frightening as hell to me, because I do not want to hear an entire album with this generic bullshit.

"Good Goodbye" is the latest song released, and it is slightly better, because here we finally get to hear Shinoda again, together with Pusha T and Stormzy. Unfortunately, the structure is extremely predictable and there is close to no momentum in the song at all. It just is not appealing at all.

After three awful songs, will it keep me from listening to "One More Light"? Probably not, because Linkin Park has been one of the most important bands in my life, they have been a good part about who I am today. I am sure that I will hate this album, the band is most likely putting out one of the most boring and generic albums ever created, and it is not because of the lack of guitars, it is just boring pop. I am also sure that a lot of fans will not like this album at all, my father (who is a big fan of the band himself) hates these songs too, and he is one of the most positive music lovers I have ever come across, so even he cannot see this in a positive perspective. Something has gone wrong here, and I truly hope that this is just a one time thing, because I do not want to lose this band to the wretched grasp of mainstream mediocrity, they are far better than that.

My thoughts on previous Linkin Park records

Hybrid Theory
What a debut record, and it was a revolutionizing album to metal in general. There are so many fantastic songs here that display a lot of variety, from the frightening "Papercut", the heavy "One Step Closer", and the epic "In The End", this album is simply brilliant

A great sophomore effort that also contains a great batch of hits like "Somewhere I Belong", "Faint", "Breaking The Habit", and not least "Numb". It is not as consistent as its predecessor, but it is still a fantastic record that I still love today.

Minutes To Midnight
The first true step towards a more pop like sound, "Minutes To Midnight" contains a couple of boring songs, like the first single "What I've Done". It still has several great songs, like the crushing "Given Up" and the grand "No More Sorrow", but to me, it just does not have the consistency as the two first albums. Still good though.

A Thousand Suns
A really weird album that saw the band use a lot more electronic elements, and it is still today a very polarizing album in the band's discography. There is no Linkin Park album like this one, and it is one of my least favourites, with only "Wretches And Kings" being played time and time again.

Living Things
A slight return to form, even if it is a pretty inconsistent album in its entirety. It is definitely their heaviest album since the first two, and the band twists and turns with different structures, styles, and lengths. I like it, even if the only true stand out song here is the under 2 minute blaster "Victimized".

The Hunting Party
To be honest, I do not really remember all that much about this album, which should say a lot about it. "The Hunting Party" had some interesting bits, but is overall a mediocre album that is easily overshadowed by its brethren. I still respect it because the band keeps trying to do new things, but it is just not that memorable.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Motörhead - Orgasmatron (1986)

I do not think that there is any metal album out there that has a manlier title than "Orgasmatron", not even a Manowar title can pack in so much testosterone in. It also helps that the cover is amazing (Snaggletooth is a fucking train!), and that the songs are just oozing of blood and sweat. Maybe it was needed for Lemmy to let it all out after a couple of turbulent years, where Lemmy had to switch out the entire band, plus adding another guitarist to make Motörhead a quartet. Let us just say that the band came out of the chaos refreshed and reborn.

Even with an extra guitarist, it still sounds like we are listening to a three man band, and you can blame the production for that. While not all that bad, it is clearly evident that it was not right for the album, which Lemmy himself has stated several times over the year. However, it does work really well on the title track, where the different effects help beefing it up a lot. Then again, it is pretty buff from the get go, with the slow and heavy riffs, the stead fast tempo, and an amazing Lemmy whom sets the tone with the opening line "I am the one, Orgasmatron", bringing forth a really powerful performance. It really ends the album brilliantly, leaving you with extreme goosebumps and heavy breathing.

The title track is the obvious high light of this album, but "Orgasmatron" has a really strong song roster, offering a broad spectrum of different speeds and styles. It is just a bunch of really tough songs that work together to create one meaty album, every vegetarian's worst nightmare. I really love that the band utilizes speed (not that speed!) in a very efficient way. Songs like "Claw", "Ridin' With The Driver", and "Mean Machine" are some of the fastest Motörhead songs out there, infusing tons of coal to this runaway train. One ingredient to this is the new drummer Pete Gill, who is just going crazy at times, which I of course love. Such a shame that this would be his only album with the band (not counting the 1984 compilation album "No Remorse").

The other two newcomers Michael Burston and Phil Campbell does not stand out too much in this record, they are just doing their job, delivering some cool riffs and some sweet solos, but it is obvious that Motörhead's style is not really suited for two guitarists, this is truly a one man job. If I have to take some stand out moments though, I can definitely mention the opening track "Deaf Forever", the solo on "Mean Machine", and the riffing on the title track as their best moments on this record.

I did find a new favourite here though, and that is "Doctor Rock", a really groovy song with some of the most wonderful Lemmy lyrics that you will find. It has several great one liners here like "I hope you son of bitches see the light" and "We sure ain't talking Doctor Spock" (Star Trek reference for the win), which of course gives you even more reasons to smile. While the album in general is fantastic, it is the second half that makes it such a classic, especially that ending trio of "Ridin' With The Driver", "Doctor Rock", and "Orgasmatron" are just candy for your ears.

Sales wise, "Orgasmatron" is marked as a low point for the band, but when it comes to the quality of the craft, there is no doubt that this is among the highest of peaks. This is just such a manly album, it got hair all over the place, tackling its way past all other competitors. Yes, the production could have been a lot better, but it is not bad enough to take away the experience that is this album, because the straight forward heavy metal plows through with such blunt force that really nothing can stop. Simply put, it is the one, "Orgasmatron".

Songs worthy of recognition: Orgasmatron, Deaf Forever, Claw, Built For Speed, Doctor Rock

Rating: 9,5/10 Mean Machines

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day

Monday, April 17, 2017

Warbringer - Woe To The Vanquished (2017)

We are right now experiencing a new golden era of thrash metal, with seemingly every new thrash release being of high quality, and it is mostly thanks to the older bands. Veterans like Testament, Overkill, Megadeth, Anthrax, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Kreator are releasing some of their strongest albums now, but what about the newer bands? We do have some cool albums from the young guns, like Vektor's release last year, but I do feel like the genre has too few newer bands at the highest level, and all those bands that came out in the last decade during the new wave of American thrash either disappeared or split up. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but it is obvious that those bands did not break through like we all hoped they would.

One of these bands are Warbringer, a group I have had an eye on since their sophomore effort "Waking Into Nightmares". I really like their aggressive thrash style that blends both Slayer and German teutonic thrash pretty good, while still making it their own. It has been four years since they released the disappointing "IV: Empires Collapse", and a lot has changed since then. They changed line ups both once and twice, they have also changed record label, and also got banned from House of Blues in Anaheim (They are not the only metal band who have succeeded with that feat though).

With the history in the rear view mirror, I enter "Woe To The Vanquished" with lesser expectations, but with great hope. The cover shows a return to their classic logo and war imagery, giving the impression that the music will be more of what we wanna hear from the band. I am a little underwhelmed that the album only contains 8 new tracks, with one of them being 11 minutes in length, but it is obvious that Warbringer has tried to go with the fool proof strategy "all killer, no filler", maximizing all 40 minutes of your listening experience. I would not say that they fulfilled that plan 100%, but they were not too far off.

The opening one two punch of "Silhouettes" and "Woe To The Vanquished" is simply classic Warbringer stuff, fast thrash metal that pulverizes everything in its path. A clear statement that the band means business this time around, and while the following tune "Remain Violent" is a slower song, it keeps the aggressive tone that is necessary to this record. Next is "Shellfire", opening up with a hellish scream and keeps firing round after round until you have become a Swiss cheese. I feel like the band has found a spark again with this record, and it is quickly becoming a raging fire.

The second half of "Woe To The Vanquished" is not as furious, but it is still nice, with "Descending Blade", "Spectral Asylum", and "Divinity of Flesh" holding up the momentum that the first half had built up. This album is truly jam packed with intense thrash metal, from wall to wall, close to no real breaks. But then you reach the final track of the album, in which Warbringer does something a ton of bands have done lately, putting a massive song in the back of the album to give it an epic finish. It is a new and annoying habit that a lot of non progressive bands have started doing, and it rarely enhances the album, it is mostly just an annoyingly dragged out ending. "When The Guns Fell Silent" is no different. In a fast and exciting album as this one, this track is so extremely off putting, and does not utilize any of the band's strength. It is a big ugly mark in an otherwise fantastic album.

Even with the final song and its problems, I did really enjoy "Woe To The Vanquished", and it is a good step forward for the band, almost a fresh start even after all that have happened. It continues the trend of great thrash albums coming out lately, making sure that this golden age lasts a little bit longer. It is not the best album the band has done so far, but it promise us a bright future, and that the next one might be career defining. The battle is certainly won, but the war rages on.

Songs worthy of recognition: Woe To The Vanquished, Silhouettes, Shellfire, Descending Blade

Rating: 8/10 Spectral Asylums

Friday, April 14, 2017

Motörhead - Another Perfect Day (1983)

After Eddie Clarke left Motörhead in the middle of the "Iron Fist" tour, the band entered a pretty chaotic phase that would start with the new guitarist, the former Thin Lizzy member Brian "Robbo" Robertson. Brian got the gig thanks to the fact that drummer Phil Taylor was a huge Thin Lizzy fan, and at first it seemed like a great fit, but as soon as the band hit the studio to record "Another Perfect Day", the cracks started to emerge.

For us listeners, the guitar change is clearly evident in the opening track, the now classic "Back At The Funny Farm". The band once again hits a home run with their opening, a fast paced tune that knocks everyone off their feet, but the guitars sounded very different here. There is nothing wrong with the shredding here, it is actually fantastic, but the sound just  feels off, not like it truly belongs in Motörhead. It is more melodic, higher in pitch, just plain odd. It is definitely noticeable that they did take in a former Thin Lizzy member (and it was apparently even more evident in the live shows, but I am not gonna go more into those details).

Fortunately, the guitar is not that off putting in the rest of the tracks, it actually gives the album a personality that is kind of strange, but works to some extent. I do think the album do describe what was going on with the band during this time, not only on the acid inducing cover art, but with the far from perfect chemistry too. It is still controlled enough to keep this album away from the toilet bowl, and the playing itself is of good quality. Technically, Robbo might even be a better guitar player than Eddie, but he just does not fit the Motörhead life style, that is all.

Okay, let us talk more about the music in "Another Perfect Day", because there is a lot of good songs to be found here. The variety here is top notch, bringing us a little of everything that Motörhead stands for. Some groove, some country, some speed, yeah no stone is left unturned when this 44 minute behemoth powers through your eardrums. I definitely think the song quality here is in the leagues of both "Overkill" and "Iron Fist", tingling your music nerves just right. A song like "Dancing On Your Grave" is a good example, for a title like that, it actually is a pretty calm song, but it hits the right spots, making it a good soundtrack for a good jig on a tombstone.

While not a lot of songs has gone to history as some of the band's best works, they are still really enjoyable songs that work well together. Songs like "Tales of Glory", "Shine", "One Track Mind" and the title track might not end up as one of your favourite Motörhead tunes, but they are competent enough to bring a smile to your face. Also, how can you resist a song that is called "Die You Bastard"? It is fast, and it is maybe a direct reference to the band's original name, gotta love it.

So yeah, even if the guitarist is like that awkward kid in school that is in the group, but just does not seem to fit in, "Another Perfect Day" is just another good quality Motörhead record. It may not steer off too much from its predecessors, but it delivers some good metal that certainly rocks. The band powers on the chaos that was surrounding them, acting like nothing is bothering them, and does so with an album that has gone to history as one of the more interesting albums in the band's career, for several different reasons of course. So while it may not be a perfect album, it is another Motörhead album, and that is good enough for me.

Songs worthy of recognition: Back At The Funny Farm, Dancing On Your Grave, Rock It, Die You Bastard

Rating: 7,5/10 Tales of Glory

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist

Monday, April 10, 2017

Deep Purple - inFinite

Another year, another record by the Canadian madman Devin Townsend and his DTP. Man, you just gonna love that man's endless work ethic to give the listener high quality metal in a very... what's that... you tell me this isn't a new DTP album? But... the logo is on the cover... who could it else be? Deep Purple! WTF!

Okay, let just look past the obvious copyright infringement, and instead look at what is most likely the last full length effort we will ever get from the rock legends. In almost 50 years, Deep Purple has spoiled us with some fantastic rock and released some truly unforgettable albums like "In Rock" and "Machine Head". And while I am more into the heavier stuff, I still have a lot of respect for the band, and do listen to them from time to time. I can always turn on a "Space Truckin'", "Burn", or "Highway Star", it never fails to give me a smile.

So expecting their 20th full length effort to be among that level of quality is more or less out of the question, I am just glad that we are being treated to a nice record that is worth the four year wait since the last one (2013's "Now What?!"). I would not say that "inFinite" sounds fresh or anything like that, but there is something that the band does to make this old school rock album feel at home here in 2017. Could be the production, or it could be that this music is simply timeless, it is all in the eyes of the beholder.

While my knowledge of the Deep Purple discography is far from brilliant, I can definitely sense that "inFinite" ties it all together neatly in a goody bag, mixing a lot of the styles that we have heard from the band in previous years. As usual though, there are two key components to the music, singer Ian Gillan and keyboardist Don Airey. There are few bands that incorporate the keyboards as well as this band, and it really shows here, they are loud and proud, driving the songs more than the guitars. Then we have Gillan, whom utilize his vocals with great precision, giving the songs a lot of soul and warmth. Of course, Paice, Glover and Morse got their little moments too, but they are sparse and not all too significant to this record.

It is a little shame though that the song quality is rather uneven, keeping the album from being in any type of stable condition. I would not say that any song is bad in any sense, but a lot of them are unnecessary. "Get Me Outta Here" are some weird big band version of Queensrÿche that just does not sit well (especially since Gillan sounds a little bit like Geoff Tate), and "Johnny's Band" is definitely some cheesy country disguised as a rock song. The most worthless song here must still be the last one, a cover of The Doors song "Roadhouse Blues", which is not only really boring, but it makes no sense to why Deep Purple would put it in the album. It just takes space, that's it.

But there is still some quality to be had on "inFinite", from the funky "Hip Boots", the groovy "All I Got Is You", and the proggy "Birds of Prey", this album has some neat variety to offer. So even if this ends up being the Brits last album or not, it is still a nice record at the end stage of the band's career. It is not trying to be an alpha dog in the discography, it just wants to do a good job and get a treat from time to time. It got its moments, displaying that Deep Purple still got some strength left. Anyway, thanks to nearly 5 decades of rock service, and good luck on your final big tour.

Songs worthy of recognition: All I Got Is You, The Surprising, Birds of Prey

Rating: 7/10 Nights in Vegas

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Demon Hunter - Outlive (2017)

Whenever I do a review of a band that I have reviewed before, I tend to check back on my older reviews, to remind me of what the previous records sounded like, and while most of my older reviews are of lesser quality, they still have some good points that I still stand behind. One perfect example is the review of Demon Hunter's "Extremist", where I stated that the band always have one or two songs per album, with the rest being filler. Well, another album is here, and it is truly the same old song and dance.

Another cover with their trademark devil skull, another 12-pack of decent to mediocre metalcore songs, and another clean but stale production work. yeah, it is more of the same that we have been used to from the band, and it is just tiring at this point. This band has its own sound and obviously know how to make great songs, they just do not make enough of them to fill a full album. At this point, they are becoming a Motörhead of metalcore, just not as witty or interesting.

As stated before though, there are always a couple of songs that do catch my interest in every album, and the same goes for "Outlive". "Jesus Wept" is one of those few really heavy outbursts the band manages from time to time, and it works well sitting behind the slow opener "Trying Times", jumpstarting the album with its aggressive tone. It does feel out of place with the rest of "Outlive", but trust me, it is a much needed track when you know about the rest. "Patience" is also a nice song, a classic Demon Hunter song that is very easy to like, with good rhythms and a pleasant chorus. The last song "Slight The Odds" is fairly decent too, experimenting with violins to give a more classical sound (it is a little dragged out though).

The rest of the album is just one big meh, nothing to really discuss about. I think the main problem here is that most of the songs on "Outlive" just does not have any energy at all, playing in a lifeless manner that does not require much effort at all. It does not feel like the band is trying at all here, and if they are, then they are clearly stuck, because it is just more of the same. Close to everything in here is so incredibly bland, nothing is memorable (well, except for the god awful Hatebreed/Cradle of Filth/Lamb of God ripoff "One Less", you will remember that). It just makes me feel more and more tired, and that is definitely not a feeling I want from a metal album, that is for sure.

I try to find as many positive things here as possible, but there are few straws to be found. The performances are just really forgettable, the production does not help to raise the quality at all, and the lyrics are nothing special either. However, I should mention that we are not dealing with a bad album here, just a really bland and uninspiring one. The band still does their own thing, and while it may not be very original, I gotta commend them for sticking to their guns. Still, it is guns with little to no real ammo.

In conclusion, "Outlive" is just like any Demon Hunter album out there, only that it is way more tiring. It got some neat songs, but that is about it. The band is still in their little limbo, trying to mix in the soft and the heavy in a mix that just does not mix very well. When the one thing that has changed the most between records are the album artwork, then that is evidence enough to that you might want to search for a new direction, something to shake the life out of this band. I really want the band to succeed some time in the future, just once make an album that is kickass all the way through, but I am afraid that train has already left the station

Songs worthy of recognition: Patience, Jesus Wept, Slight The Odds

Rating: 4/10 Trying Times

More reviews of Demon Hunter

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mastodon - Emperor of Sand (2017)

With a discography that is flat out remarkable, Mastodon has in short time created more amazing albums than most bands could create in a life time, even less in consecutive tries. So it is kind of hard to believe that Mastodon started out as a fairly obscure sludge metal band, and are now arguably the biggest of them all in this day and age. However, some time the luck has to run out right? It seems like the band is on the verge of going the same ways as Metallica, and go more commercialized than one would hope. Both "The Hunter" and "Once More 'round The Sun" has almost hinted that, missing most of the sludge and prog elements that have made Mastodon so large in the first place, being more direct in its approach, and fans are on the verge to screaming for the older stuff again.

With the emergence of "Emperor of Sand", I was of course curious if they would take it another step forward, and if it would still work, because truth be told, "The Hunter" and "Once More..." are still fantastic albums (with the latter being the best from 2014 in my opinion). The two lead singles have hinted that, especially the video single "Show Yourself", which does have an awesome and funny video, is probably as mainstream as it goes. It is really straight forward, catchy, clean, and all in all safe in its approach. A good choice for a single, absolutely, but does it represent the album? No, it does not.

Because while "Emperor of Sand" does continue on what the band has done for the last 6 years, there are a lot of old stuff thrown in too, like the fact that we once again have a concept record on our hands, about a man sentenced to walk in the desert for the rest of his life, representing tragedies that the band have been through within their families. The sound also has a more retro feel, even if it technically is more of the cleaner direction that the band has gone towards lately, so do not expect any "Blood And Thunder" here.

But what can you expect from "Emperor of Sand" then? Well, it is a grower for sure, every subsequent listen makes the album evolve and makes you wanna come back for more. For while the songs themselves are not quite the buffest group ever, they work very well together, creating a complete album that works out of each other's strengths. We get some groove, some mystical, some (or more correctly very little) sludge, yeah mostly everything that we have gotten to know from the band. The variety is really strong, while the band still manages to contain it to a grounded level so that everything feels united.

But what really elevates this album to the all high Mastodon standard is the performance from the band, which is just stellar as usual (even if Hinds and Kelliher did not break the riff bank this time). The thing I am most impressed by are the vocals, running the show like never before. Hinds, Dailor, and Sanders harmonize better than ever, feeling more confident with their inner instruments and also tries to expand their abilities further, and together with long time friend and regular album guest Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mastodon has truly created a diverse and cool vocal experience.

However, I do not really see any of the songs in here becoming future fan classics. Sure, you will always find your own personal favourites from this album, maybe the tempo shifting "Word To The Wise", the melodic "Clandestiny", the epic finisher "Jaguar God", or the classic Mastodon songs "Precious Stones" and "Scorpion Breath", but it will almost certainly end in that you only get reminded of similar, and simply better, Mastodon songs from the past. Once again, unlike "Once More 'round The Sun" this album is not about the strength of the songs, it is about the complete picture and the concept.

I really was unsure at first, was this album actually gonna let me down? Mastodon, who are the masters of awesome, actually making a mediocre album? Fortunately, "Emperor of Sand" did turn things around, unveiling as a really nice work of art. Sure, it does not match amazing albums like "Blood Mountain" and "Crack The Skye", and it could even be considered as one of the lesser good albums the band has ever made, but I still love it and the charm it brings. Just like the main focus of the concept, this album is all about time. Give enough of it, and you will understand too how marvelous it can be, and that it do have its own place in the magnificent Mastodon discography.

Songs worthy of recognition: Word To The Wise, Steambreather, Roots Remain, Scorpion Breath

Rating: 8/10 Andromedas

More reviews of Mastodon
Once More 'round The Sun