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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Therion - Beloved Antichrist (2018)

If you had three hours to spare in your precious short lived life, what would you do to fill up that time? Maybe you would watch an American Football game, or perhaps write a kick ass song, or maybe take that special someone to an experience you two would never forget. Or you could just waste those three hours by picking up Therion's latest full length effort, and press play. It sounds insane, almost out right impossible, but Therion has taken the epic concept record to a whole new level, going longer than any other band has ever gone. You thought Dream Theater's "The Astonishing" was long? Well, wait until you get a load of THIS!

This madness of a record is Therion's 14th effort (not counting the compilation album "Crowning of Atlantis" and the cover album "Les Fleurs Du Mal"), and I know it has been 7 years since they released their latest original opus, but did they really have to release ALL of the songs they wrote during that time? "Beloved Antichrist" is a religious concept opera record that spans just over three hours, is divided into three acts, and contains a total of 46 songs. 46 SONGS! WHAT ARE THEY THINKING!?!? I can barely count to 46, and they decide to cram in every single one of these songs into a single record! Why not split it up into two or three records like a lot of other bands have done, like Blaze Bayley, Vanden Plas, Between The Buried And Me, or Scar Symmetry (btw, where is part 2 and 3 of "The Singularity" guys?).

With this amount of songs, it becomes incredibly hard to decipher what song is what, how it sounded, connecting the dots from hook to title. Let me make this clear from the get go, "Beloved Antichrist" has a lot of great ideas within it, solos that are fantastic, vocal harmonies that are exquisite, instrumentation that is very close to perfection, but when you have so much of it in one place, it is very easy to get lost among it all. Nothing in here truly stands out, so it all becomes an enormous blob of operatic prog metal that does sound pretty good, but you get tired of it pretty quickly.

As for the concept, it is kind of cheesy, but just as with "The Astonishing", there is a lot of work put into it, and it certainly is noticeable, so you kind of automatically respect it just for the amount of hours that has been spent on it. But while Dream Theater did an amazing job in creating a story that was original and well thought out, with dialogues within the album and a massive internet library they shared with the fans so that they could understand it more, Therion's concept is harder to take in, not only because you do not always understand what they are singing, but also because it is kind of more muddled in the shadows. It is based on "A Short Tale of The Antichrist" (short?) by Vladimir Soloviev, speaking about satanism and religion in itself, so you can get more information that way, but still, judging by the disc alone, it does not come through well enough.

The biggest problem with this record though is that it is just not as dynamic as it needs to be. Close to every song has sort of the same tone to it, being moderately fast and has a lot of symphonic elements to it, which just makes this album more confusing. Sure, some songs do turn up the speed and insert some heavier guitar work, and others slow things down a lot, but there is not enough variety or enough special moments in "Beloved Antichrist" to elevate it higher. The only tracks that I sort of remember from the top of my head is the epic power metal speed of "Anthem" and the main riff of "Night Reborn", that has some similarities to the classic Dio song "We Rock". Remembering 2 out of 46 songs is not very good, that is only 4,3% of the album.

This saddens me, because there is so much great stuff in here that would have gotten the credit it deserved if the band just would have had the common sense to split this album into three 1-hour pieces released around 2 months apart. Therion is an incredibly skilled band, they know how to handle their instruments and how to write engaging music, but their own vanity just takes over here ten fold. This is the most pompous, over bloated, overly long, excruciatingly boring album I have ever come across. It is incredibly frustrating to put a simple number to this album, because none of them makes it justice. Do I give it a high rating because the quality of the craft is fantastic? Or do I give it a low rating because the length completely kills it? In the end, I land somewhere in between, but maybe more towards the negative side, because an album is first and foremost supposed to be enjoyed in its entirety, and I simply do not have the patience or the strength to get through this brick wall of sound. If you decide to test out this album, make sure you have a snack and lots of beverage by your side, because you are gonna be staying for a while.

Songs worthy of recognition: Anthem, Night Reborn, Temple of Jerusalem, Shoot Them Down!

Rating: 4,5/10 Daggers of God

Friday, February 9, 2018

Saxon - Thunderbolt (2018)

Okay, I may not be suffering from OCD, but I have to start off this review with my uncomfortable feelings of that album cover. It is a cool piece of art, but the way the focal point of the cover is slightly skewed to the left just does not feel right. Sure, the bird might not have looked as intimidating if it was centered (unless it was magnified), and maybe this is a more dynamic take to the image, but it is still kind of annoying.

So with that stupid nitpick out of the way, how does the 22nd Saxon album sound? Well, if you have listened to any of the other 21 albums, you probably know how this one will turn out, it is just classic heavy metal that somehow never seems to get old. The guys keeps on reinventing the wheel, and still make the crowd roar cheerfully. There is just something with these types of bands that have created their own niche that is so admirable, and makes you appreciate them a little bit more, because you never know how long they will be around for.

Judging from "Thunderbolt" though, it seems like Saxon will be here for quite a while longer. They still have a drive that is as strong as it has ever been, and still find some neat tricks to make every song interesting (although I do think it was kind of weird that Biff tried some growling in "Predator", stick to what you do best man). The knack of creating a catchy and engaging song is certainly still there, and they add some sort of epic element to it all with this record. Songs like "Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz)", the title track, "The Secret of Flight", and "Sons of Odin" just adds a grand persona that raises the album a whole new level.

The lyrical content is also fun to discover, dealing with both Norse and Greek mythology, vampires, wizards, but there are two tribute songs that does catch my attention a little extra. First we have "They Played Rock And Roll", which is a clear homage to their fellow countrymen Motörhead, and one of the better ones to this date. Saxon carbon copies their style pretty well, while still keeping their own core sound, and the small nods here and there are fantastic for fans of both bands. Then we have the ending song "Roadies' Song", a tribute to the hard working man behind the stage that makes every show happen. This is not something new either (Motörhead and Tenacious D did it, just to name a couple), and the song is not my favourite in the record, but still a very nice tribute to the guys that never gets enough praise.

So yeah, "Thunderbolt" is nothing that will surprise you, and the second half might not be as exciting as the first, but the quality of the craft is still really good, and you will surely find a couple of new favourites in here. Biff Byford and crew has put together another really solid record with great heavy metal in their typical style, and keeps on trucking without slowing down even a little bit. It is surely a banger, and hopefully not the last one we will hear from the group.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Secret of Flight, Thunderbolt, They Played Rock And Roll

Rating: 7,5/10 Predators

More reviews of Saxon
Battering Ram

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Opeth - Watershed (2008)

If traveling back ten years to the past, one can only wonder how many Opeth fans would have believed you if you said that the then brand new record "Watershed" would be the last Opeth record with death metal elements to it. Just imagining their reactions, everything from laughter to pure despair, is just fun as hell. To be perfectly honest though, I am not sure even Mr. Åkerfeldt himself knew this would be the last "old school" Opeth record, even if he had mixed in a lot of more calmer rock elements to his band. Is this truly a final hurrah to the heavier side of the band, or just another high quality piece of art?

It certainly starts very calmly with "Coil", where Mikael not only get some help from the new members, guitarist Fredrik Åkesson and drummer Martin Axenrot, but also from the latter's current girlfriend Nathalie Lorichs, who gives a helping voice. It is an atmospheric start to the album that is certainly welcoming, but that all changes when "Heir Apperent" attacks. This is the exact opposite, a heavy and dark track that oozes of early Opeth, crushing you with some of the heaviest parts you have ever heard from the band. It is an instant classic that definitely sets the bar for the rest of the tracks.

Those two opening tracks do represent what I think is the strength of "Watershed", the contrasts. Most of the album is fairly calm and collected, but when you least expect it, Opeth smacks you in the face with a blast beat or a monster riff. This album is playing with you, leading you somewhere, just to suddenly swing you around and go in another direction. It never stays still, evolving into different shapes that are stranger and stranger. You might be sitting there, enjoying some quality metal, when suddenly it transforms into something more rock oriented. This makes "Watershed" one of the most versatile Opeth albums to this date, but it is not always a good thing, because it does feel a little disjointed at times, not following that red line.

Fortunately, there is a lot of quality music that you can enjoy to distract you from the fact that "Watershed" might have a pretty schizophrenic personality. All of the seven songs in here has something to offer, whether it be the the pure brutality of "Heir Apparent", the harmonies of "Porcelain Heart", the oriental vibes of "Hex Omega", or the beauty of "Coil". All songs (except for "Coil") are quite lengthy too, so there is a lot to discover in this album even if it only contains seven tracks, which is just great for your replay experience.

Also, may I recommend that you all pick up the special version of this album, because it does have some good stuff to offer too. The bonus track "Derelict Herds" has a strange guitar tone to it that makes it so intriguing, and also some really nice rhythms too. The two covers (Robin Trower's "Bridge of Sighs" and Marie Fredriksson's "Den Ständiga Resan") are also really neat, showing even more sides of the band.

While this album might be a little to uncohesive for some people, I just find that the quality of the craft outweighs its differences. "Watershed" impresses on so many level that it can make your head spin if you try to get it all in, but it certainly makes every listen exciting, because you might find a new favourite time and time again. It has killer track, great production, and impeccable performances, what more could you really ask for? Okay, maybe one or two of the songs in here could be more refined to stand out more, but that is basically it, "Watershed" is a brilliant record, which makes it even sadder that this was the final stand of Opeth's origin, before being left in the shadows for (probably) all eternity.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heir Apparent, The Lotus Eater, Porcelain Heart, Hex Omega

Rating: 8,5/10 Coils

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