6/23/2017

Power Trip - Nightmare Logic Review


POWER TRIP
Nightmare Logic (2017)
Genre: Thrash Metal
★★★★★★
(Legendary - a masterpiece of music)

Is it 1988?

Power Trip takes the listener back to the days when extreme metal still had all of its crushing fury, there was no such thing as an overproduced extreme metal album, mosh pits were still chaotic, and knew that complexity meant nothing if you couldn't still rip out the listener's guts and shove them down their throat. There's no sterile modern tech death/grind/core drumming here, no overproduced modern Kreator-choruses, and no bullshit. This is pure fucking thrash metal.

Taking the heaviness of riffage from Ride the Lightning, slow destructive dirges from South of Heaven, the pure rapid aggression and screeching solos from Razor's Violent Restitution, and the grooves of Vulgar Display of Power, Power Trip is completely old school. The album opens ominously with the thunder and static of "Soul Sacrifice" before crushing every one of the listeners bones with a crunching riff that has the force of a slab of concrete. Soon the guitar turns from slow and crunching to razor-sharp and traps the listener into a tornado of rapid-fire aggression.

That song is just the beginning, as Nightmare Logic is the modern Reign in Blood. It's only about 33 minutes long, but it's 33 minutes of skin-tearing riff after riff. "Firing Squad" sounds just like the title, the guitars and drums rain down upon the listener like a multitude of bullets. There's also some groovy hooks and blistering solos throughout the whole album. The title track brings to mind the masterful riffing of Slayer and the groove in the middle of "Crucifixion" would not sound out of place on a Pantera record. Pretty much every song features guitar solos that will destroy everything in their path, and are like speeding cars on a raceway ready to spill some blood.

Riley Gale roars and screams on every song, where usually only the title of the song is audible in the lyrics. His voice is filled with so much rage and anger, that you can't help but get pumped and want to thrash and mosh. His vocal fury combined with the shredding instrumentation just makes for one wild ride into the pit.

If you're sick of all the overproduced and derivative extreme metal albums that plague today's metal scene, give Power Trip a listen to be reminded of what extreme really means. This is all old school and ready for moshing, get ready to thrash!

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

6/14/2017

Stevie T - Album of Epicness Review


STEVIE T.
Album of Epicness (2015)
Genres: Musical Parody, Metalcore, Pop Punk, Death Metal, Alternative Rock
 ★★★★
(Excellent - recommended listening)


While heavy metal has its fair share of comedic acts, with the likes of bands such as Psychostick and Tenacious D, metal hasn't really had a band or musician parodying in the vein of Weird "Al" Yankovic. Sure, most comedic metal bands have a sense of parody to their humor, but Steve Terreberry (Stevie T.) may just be the Weird "Al" of rock and metal.

With an album titled Album of Epicness, which features a cover with Steve looking like some deathcore dude-bro, this clearly isn't something that's going to be intellectually stimulating. What we have here are hilarious parodies of various rock and metal bands/genres all played with great musicianship. There's a mix of various styles here, the most prevalent being metalcore/deathcore. "Emotionless and White" is a parody of Motionless and White, "A Night to Forget" jabs at A Day to Remember, "White Veil Grooms" takes on Black Veil Brides, etc. "Heaviest Song Evar!" mocks the standard technical and brutal death metal bands that sound just like the other, and contrasts the brutal music with the opposite on the lyrical end.

Each parody really nails the source material, and Steve takes no prisoners when it comes to mocking these bands. The best one, and one that I didn't actually know who it was mocking until I looked them up, is "Gangsta Djent". It's a pretty hilarious rap-metalcore song, and it became even funnier when I heard the source material, Attila. It's spot on, and it's not even an exaggeration. Be sure to watch the music video for this one, it makes it that much better. Another one of the best is "All Alone, and No One to Bone". This song brings a long-needed jab on the breed of whiny alternative rock bands that have dominated rock radio since the 90's. 

While Stevie T's Album of Epicness most likely isn't going to be an album that will be in constant rotation on a listeners stereo, it certainly makes for one hell of a good laugh. Combined with the videos, these songs are a great slice of musical mockery. If you want a laugh (and can take a joke if you like some of the bands parodied), then check this album out.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/album-of-epicness/342370

6/11/2017

The White Swan - The White EP Review


THE WHITE SWAN
The White (2017)
Genres: Doom Metal, Sludge Metal
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

After a promising debut EP in 2016, Kittie drummer Mercedes Lander's sludge/doom band The White Swan has returned with their second EP. As opposed to the more atmospheric sludge vibe of the debut, The White cranks up the heaviness and focuses more on beating the listener over the head with crushing blows of sludgy guitar. Lander is no stranger to doom metal, as Kittie experimented with a bit of doom metal on "Pink Lemonade" from their 2001 masterpiece Oracle.

Each of the songs just blast through the speakers so much, that they create a heavy reverb that shakes the floor. Speaking of floors, The White Swan perfectly makes use of the contrast between crushing doom metal and screeching feedback distortion that is reminiscent of the sludge/doom band Floor. The two tracks that use this contrast are the opener and closer, the instrumental "North Carolina" and the seven-minute long dirge of the title track. The latter is up there with the best doom metal tracks, as that's how you make epic doom metal. It's an instant headbanging anthem, which is so crushingly heavy. It pounds the skull with riff after riff, chromatic walks, booming gong effects, and Lander's massive drum sound which is just as muscular as ever.

Mercedes Lander also plays guitar, keyboards, and sings along with drumming, and is quite the multi-instrumentalist. The keyboard effects often heighten the heaviness of the music, and her singing can sound both soulful and misanthropic. The other two band members, Shane Jeffers and Kira Longeuay, are no slouches either. Jeffers' guitar solos sing beautifully, especially the one in "Lions", while Longeuay's bass blends with the crushing guitar to maximize the heaviness.

In only a short year between EP's, The White Swan has created a masterpiece. If you're looking for some crushing and sludgy doom metal with a bit of atmosphere and melody, do yourself a favor and check out The White EP. 

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/the-white(ep)/342607

6/08/2017

Album Cover Analysis #3: Soundgarden - Superunknown


SOUNDGARDEN
Superunknown
Artist: Kelk (Design), Kevin Westenberg (Photography)
Album release date: 1994

Soundgarden's Superunknown is an album that's always been part of my life, and a great one at that. Not only is the music an amazing combination of grunge, alternative rock, sludgy doom metal, and psychedelic/stoner rock, but the album cover is one that has always fascinated me. It's all very ominous and even quite freaky. The only thing that's perhaps easily recognizable are the trees reflected in the water at the bottom of the cover. However, the main focus in the picture is certainly what is contained in the complete darkness. What is it? I've always thought what is in the middle looked like some freakish screaming goblin-type thing. I still see that, but now I know that it's a distorted photo of the band members.

The beautiful part of the photograph and what makes it a masterpiece of modern surrealism, is that even once you know what it actually is, it still retains it's mysterious quality. The distorted band photo isn't representational enough to make it clear even after you learn what is, and the contrast between the black and white photo of the darkness-engulfed forest with the bright infrared-looking things in the sky never loses its effect. It certainly fits in with an album with a title like Superunknown, and you can only guess what kind of music will be contained until you listen. 

For the most part, the cover art reflects the music nearly perfectly. While "My Wave" kind of sticks out and doesn't really fit the mood, many of the songs reflect the ominous and brooding quality of the album cover. The songs I think of in particular when I see the cover art are: the apocalyptic "4th of July", the somber gloom of "Head Down" and "Like Suicide", the haunting mellotron of "Mailman", and the roaring yet ominous title track.

Superunknown went on to be Soundgarden's best selling album, and a defining album of the grunge scene. With a cover as attention-catching as this, it's quite easy to see why people would pick it up as a blind buy. You're alive in the Superunknown, and "First it steals your mind, and then it steals your soul."

Stay tuned for the next album cover analysis.

6/04/2017

Nasty Savage - Abstract Reality


NASTY SAVAGE
Abstract Reality (1988)
Genre: Thrash Metal
★★★★★
(Excellent - highly recommended listening)

Graced with an ominous Salvador Dali-esque landscape as it's cover, Nasty Savage's Abstract Reality is quite a unique hidden EP gem in the 80's thrash scene. Creating a perfect balance between technical soloing and pure thrashing rage and moshing, you're entering the Abstract Reality.

The guitar and rhythm section switches between piercing razor-sharp trashing and technical syncopation and soloing, which doesn't sound too dissimilar to what Death would do just a few years later. Nasty Ronnie's vocals for the most part are spitting and snarling, but sometimes he reaches King Diamond-esque falsettos. This is mostly heard on the third track, "Eromantic Vertigo". The preceding tracks, the title track and the punchy "Unchained Angel", are more pure shredding and spit-fire.

The best song on the EP, and maybe the band's best song is the rampaging closer "You Snooze, You Lose". This is a song that's out for blood, slamming the listener to the ground with a downpour of crashing Slayer-esque riffing. This is contrasted with singing guitar solos during the bridge, which are a lot more melodic. When this is all mixed together with some catchy guitar hooks and muscular drumming, it all works as one six-minute thrashterpiece. 

The production is a bit muffled, but with music this good, it's not hard to get past that. If you're a fan of raw and caustic thrash, tech thrash, or the later material of bands like Death, this should be an essential listen. While not a full album, sometimes EP's hold a band's finest work.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/abstract-reality(ep)/342512

6/01/2017

Havok - Conformicide Review


HAVOK
Conformicide (2017)
Genre: Thrash Metal
★★★★★★
(Legendary - a masterpiece of music)

Taking their longest break between albums so far, four years since 2013's Unnatural Selection, Havok is back for the ultimate thrash attack. The years waiting were well spent, as this may very well be the band's greatest work yet and a new classic thrash metal masterpiece. It has everything that's needed in thrash metal, as well as some not as common elements in thrash.

Where to start? First off, Nick Schendzielos is a bass virtuoso and basically the Flea of thrash metal. Being introduced by bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Mordred, funk has been used in thrash before, but not to this extent. Schendzielos's funky bass licks groove and pierce the skin at the same time. Just take a listen to "F.P.C." and that funktastic opening to "Hang 'em High", and you'll see what I mean. The bass is always incredibly audible, and that makes the album essentially a bass player's heaven. "Peace is in Pieces" features a really cool fading bass run that sounds right out of an old school sci-fi movie. Perhaps the best bass moment on the album comes during the bridge of the finale "Circling the Drain". Damn, the sheer speed of the catchy and funky as hell bassline just immediately makes it impossible to not air-shred along to it.

David Sanchez and Reece Scruggs both deliver killer riffs that punch you in the gut. Every song is a book of riff after riff, that will be shredding through your head long after listening. Most of the time, the guitar grooves like a beast, with punishing hooks that slam you to the ground. Check out the chorus of "Ingsoc", and the grooves will crush your skull. Combine that with some odd-time signature riffing, and you've got a masterpiece. The soloing and harmonies often bring Dimebag to mind, especially the main riff of "Wake Up". One of the most fun songs is probably "Claiming Certainty", which sounds straight out of an old school thrash album in every way. The bass rattles in the back, while the guitar just shreds like there's no tomorrow. This song is not without a monstrous groove though, and like the rest it is absolutely teeth-crunching.

Pete Webber joins the ranks of Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan as a master of thrash drummers. There's the thumping double-bass, but it's sometimes mixed with the syncopation of funk to make it fit with the funky basslines. "F.P.C." probably shows this best, but there is no shortage of punishing drum fills. Returning to "Ingsoc", the drum syncopation is insane, and the rest of the drumming pounds into your head like a jackhammer. "Claiming Certainty" blasts the listener of their seat, and into the abundance of double-kick wizardry which is spell-binding. Just take a listen to the bridge, and try not to bang your head the the groove created by the excellent cymbal use.

Vocalist/rhythm guitarist David Sanchez sounds like a cross between Death Angel's Mark Osegueda and Dave Mustaine, nailing both primal screams and pissed-as-hell snarls. He gives one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard, and just spits pure anger and fury. He screams with so much conviction, that you can't do anything but either scream along or shut up and listen. Meanwhile, his snarls are the perfect sardonic Peace Sells-esque sneers. 
There's a lot to be angry and cynical about, and the lyrics are needed now more than ever. In a world where politics are like a big unfunny joke, Havok calls it all out. "F.P.C." attacks the growing issue of censorship and the effects of P.C. culture on society, and nails it beautifully. "Intention to Deceive" is a long-overdue rant on the blatant agenda-pushing of the mainstream news, where facts don't seem to matter as stated with "Never mind what the facts are. I made a story that needs to sell, journalism is an afterthought." "Dogmaniacal" takes on religious extremism, while "Hang 'em High" and "Ingsoc" tackles all of the inner political corruption.

Conformicide is really, in every way, a modern classic of thrash metal. The musicianship is all-around mind-blowing, and the production is piercing and razor-sharp. It's probably the closest I've heard for a modern thrash album sounding like the production on the classic late 80's and early 90's thrash albums. While Havok's always delivered killer albums, Conformicide sees the band come into their own sound. This is an album that really only sounds like Havok, and no one else. Along with Overkill's The Grinding Wheel, this is the best album you'll find in 2017.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

5/31/2017

PleaseEatTheFuckingSandwichBitch - PETFSB 4


PETFSB
PETFSB 4 (2016)
Genre: Cybergrind
★★★★
(Excellent - recommended listening)

PleaseEatTheFuckingSandwichBitch gave me a great impression of how varied the cybergrind genre can be with the debut album, and was more on the instrumental side. PETFSB 4 includes more vocals, in a mix of distorted and glitched screams/growls as well as digitized voices. This does not sacrifice much of the interesting bits of the music though.

"Redneck 420" plays mostly in digitized grind, but the best part of the song actually comes in a short and strangely fitting bridge. It's a pretty simple little sci-fi melody of bleeps and bloops with a cool bassline, but damn is it catchy. Not to mention it's pretty feel good, which creates a pretty hilarious contrast when it's immediately followed up with a return to grind with the growled line of "Okay motherfuckers!". My personal favorite track on the album is the cleverly titled instrumental "PayEmilyTenFlyingShrimpBooks 4", which is an incredibly catchy track in the vein of the debut album.

Overall, PETFSB 4 is a pretty good follow-up to the debut, my only complaint is that I would have liked a bit more room for the instrumentals to shine. Not that you can't hear it, but the digitized voices (Not the growls) can get a bit overbearing sometimes. This is a minor complaint though, so If you're a fan of cybergrind, I highly recommend this album and PETFSB 1.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/petfsb-4/342348