10/18/2017

Visigoth - The Revenant King


VISIGOTH
The Revenant King (2015)
Genre: Heavy Metal
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

As far as classic heavy metal goes, there aren't a whole lot of new bands of that pure old school 70's/80's sound, and even fewer that get much attention. The few that will, usually have bigger production values that ruin the impact of the music. Look a bit, and you'll find bands that both play and sound just like what could be a classic metal band of old. Visigoth is one of those bands.

Visigoth takes influence from bands like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road, as seen in their cover of the latter's "Necropolis", but they don't come off as copycats. They sound like they would fit right into a hidden 80's metal gem list you might find, and deliver masterful traditional heavy metal in every way. The ultimate highlight of the album and one of the greatest metal songs of the 2010's is the single "Dungeon Master". The heat-seeking hook of the riff and attacking drums instantly just gets the listener hooked, couple that with beautifully melodic vocals, and you've got yourself a masterpiece. The bass gets some shine on the album too, with the crushingly heavy yet melodic "Iron Brotherhood", where you can feel the reverb.

Now sometimes with extreme high points such as that, the rest of an album can pale in comparison. Thankfully, The Revenant King does not. Most of it is consistently fantastic, "Creature of Desire" in particular comes very close to "Dungeon Master"'s greatness. It opens right up with a punchy riff and a scream that could have come right from a classic Helstar album. "Necropolis" is a faithful and excellent cover of the original Manilla Road tune, but the band gives it their own touch. The band couldn't have picked a better song to close out the album than "From the Arcane Mists of Prophesy", this is what I call an epic. Each riff and melody hooks the listener, especially sort of a mix of singing solos creating a rhythm in the middle. The epic perfectly ends with a melodic doom metal finale that would make 80's Candlemass proud.

What about the production? No polished bullshit is to be found here, this has a nice warm and organic sound that is what traditional heavy metal should sound like. It's not that raw like a thrash or death metal album needs to be, but you can hear and feel all of the heaviness on this record.

If you miss the traditional metal sound without any modern bullshit, Visigoth is an essential listen. Along with Crystal Viper, these guys renew my faith in bands carrying on the torch of classic metal. Turn it up, headbang, and sing to the epic melodies. It's old school all the way!

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/the-revenant-king/375908

10/04/2017

Night Sun - Mournin' Review


NIGHT SUN
Mournin' (1972)
Genres: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Doom Metal, Proto-Thrash
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

What happens when you combine Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, and mix it together in a crazy early heavy metal album that was ahead of it's time and also fit nicely with other early 70's metal bands? You get the German Night Sun's sole studio album, Mournin'.

The German music scene during the early 70's was home to Krautrock, an experimental rock movement that birthed bands such as Can and Neu! as well as electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. With Mournin' being produced by Konrad Plank, known for producing albums for many Krautrock staples, you would think it would fit into this scene. However, it's an amazing and blistering slice of early metal.

Night Sun immediately wants the listener to know that they aren't fucking around, as "Plastic Shotgun" is faster, heavier, and spits more than anything else from 1972. It sounds like what is probably the earliest example of thrash metal, having nearly the same force and aggression as an early thrash opening track like Metallica's "Hit the Lights". There's of course the Deep Purple-esque organ and Robert Plant meets Ian Gillian vocals that lets you know what year this is, but the main riff is jagged and crushing and would open a mosh pit right up had this been released more than a decade later.

That's the song that makes this album groundbreaking, but the majority of the rest of the album is up there with the best of early 70's heavy metal. "Got a Bone of My Own" begins with a three minute long dark and haunting ambient section that rivals the brooding atmosphere of Black Sabbath's self-titled song, before raining down gargantuan doom metal riffing that crushes the listener's skull. "Slush Pan Man" and "Come Down" follow similar suit, with the latter beginning more softly before bringing in the heavy artillery. "Blind" and "Nightmare" pick the speed back up, less proto-thrash but still blisteringly fast heavy metal/hard rock.

The last song, "Don't Start Flying", is a bit of an oddball. It still maintains the heavy riffing, but blends in a lot of horns that take a little while getting used to, but sometimes has the same swing of a song like Gentle Giant's "Peel the Paint".

If you're looking for some heavy, dark, and crushing heavy metal from the 70's, Night Sun's lone wonder of Mournin' is an essential listen. Will these guys ever reform? Who knows, and who knows if it will even be heavy metal if they do. As of now, they're a one album legend. And with an album as groundbreaking and amazing as this one, there is no problem with that.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/mournin/355672

9/28/2017

Ratt - Invasion of Your Privacy Review


RATT
Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)
Genres: Heavy Metal, Glam Metal
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

Ah, glam metal/hair metal/pop metal/whatever you want to call it. It's a part of metal that's been long shamed, and it's easy to see why with bands like Poison, Warrant, White Lion, and the more recent Black Veil Brides being part of it. Though, that was mostly the second wave of the scene. At the start, you had the likes of Motley Crue, Lita Ford, Y & T, Great White, Quiet Riot, and my personal favorite Ratt.

This is when hair bands were metal, taking a lot more from the NWoBHM than what would come later. With a penchant for razor-sharp guitar riffing, catchy as hell melodies, and tight rhythm section, Ratt was at the top of their game during the 80's. Many prefer Out of the Cellar, which yielded the hit single "Round and Round", but as great as that album is, I find Invasion of Your Privacy to be superior and one of the best albums of the 80's.

The album immediately opens up with what should be a metal classic, "You're in Love", which is simply one of the best opening songs on any album. The guitar and drums perfectly play off of one another, making it almost impossible not to headbang with the syncopation. Speaking of, Bobby Blotzer brings in not only a gigantic loud drum sound, but also some really cool cannon/thunder effects. The twin lead guitars of Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby lays down (pun not intended) killer riff after riff and singing solos after another. Juan Croucier's bass brings a nice bounce in the bottom end, and Stephen Pearcy is easily my favorite glam metal vocalist. Pearcy's vocals remind me of a more melodic Dave Mustaine, as he has that same sort of nasal-y tone.

The whole album is flawless from beginning to end, but if I had to pick highlights besides "You're in Love", the other single "Lay It Down" is certainly one. The chorus is simply beautiful. "What You Give is What You Get", "Dangerous but Worth the Risk", and "Closer to My Heart" are also masterpieces. The latter especially has sweet contrast between the main riffs.

If you've been apprehensive to check out glam metal, give Ratt's first four albums a try, especially this one. This one is up there with Powerslave, Screaming for Vengeance, Balls to the Wall, Metal on Metal, and Shout at the Devil as 80's heavy metal classics. This is pure metal all the way.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

9/04/2017

Elder - Elder Review


ELDER
Elder (2008)
Genres: Stoner Metal, Doom Metal
★★★★
(Excellent - highly recommended)


Sadly, there are many bands that suffer from the unfortunate fate of that "sophomore slump", and never get out of it. Some bands stagnate, and some get worse. One such band that belongs to the latter, in my opinion, is Elder. While many disagree and prefer the neo-psych/prog rock styling of their recent material (their 2017 album in particular), Elder had an amazing winning sound on their self-titled debut from 2008.

This is pure distorted, fuzzed out, and groovy stoner metal at its finest. Nick DiSalvo brings somewhat of a sludgy Crowbar-esque delivery with his gruff vocal performance, but it's blended with riffs that are right out of the holy gospel of Tony Iommi. The solos are often pretty bluesy, but sound as heavy as the rest with the crushing distortion. There's an amazingly heavy bottom end, with the bass rumbling at your feet, while the drums keep a constant punch. Right at the beginning of the album, "White Walls" rises from the pit with a rumbling bassline that fire right into a stoner-doom plod. "Ghost Head" is a masterpiece of stoner metal, and probably my favorite on the album. The crash cymbal perfectly opens up the song, and the fuzzy guitar riffs groove like there's no tomorrow. DiSalvo's vocals switch from gruff to a more Floor-esque style, and really fit the somewhat bouncy groove.

The production is just what you would expect from a stoner metal album, full of powerful and punchy distortion. It's as groovy as Black Sabbath, fuzzy as Blue Cheer, and as heavy as Soundgarden. If you're looking for some great stoner metal that you may have missed over the years, this album is right up there with the best. It's a damn shame that they didn't continue with this sound, as this is absolutely killer. If this review doesn't explain enough, just try not to instantly get addicted to the blistering riffing of "Hexe" (Or the whole album for that matter). There's no need for drugs, when the music can do the work for you.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/elder/354739

8/31/2017

Myrkur - Myrkur EP Review


MYRKUR
Myrkur EP (2014)
Genres: Black Metal, Scandinavian Folk
★★★★★
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

Sometimes, music is more of an experience or a journey than anything else. There's nothing quite like entering the mosh pit for an Anthrax or Exodus classic, or gaping in awe of a neo-classical shredder on stage. There's also an introspective and contemplative side, which can transport the listener to a whole different world and setting. Myrkur, a Danish one-woman black metal band, rests on this side.

Myrkur takes the listener to dark hollow Gothic chambers and secluded forests, with no sign of other life. It's a spine-chilling trip among harsh black metal dirges and mystical Scandinavian folk tunes, which is one of the best and most fitting combinations I've heard. Myrkur's vocals have the perfect contrast, switching between caustic black metal shrieks and soulful choir vocalizations, both sending chills down the spine. As opposed to some black metal that is just constant chug and fast same-y guitar riffing, Myrkur creates both beautiful and stark moods with each riff, with some particularly crushing yet atmospheric hooks. The bridge and end of "Latvian Fegurd" in particular blends the heaviness of a doom metal riff, with ominous aura. "Nattens Barn" has a guitar hook that's close to thrash, which surprisingly fits on an album like this, maybe because of the layering of atmosphere.

The production suits the EP perfectly, having a crackling rawness yet, just enough cleanness to be completely audible unlike many black metal albums. The black metal tracks utilize this perfectly, while the short folk pieces speak with much clarity despite the raw edge.

If you're looking for some beautiful yet heavy black metal, Myrkur is a must listen. Take a break from the daily grind, and visit some Gothic chambers and dark forests in the comfort of your home, car, library, or wherever you enjoy listening to music.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/myrkur(ep)/341169

8/30/2017

Elder - Reflections of a Floating World Review


ELDER
Reflections of a Floating World (2017)
Genres: Indie Rock, Progressive Rock
(Terrible - avoid)


Reviewer's Challenge Selection: August 2017

What's worse than bad? I didn't know before, but this album answers that question.

Some people will say that a boring album is worse than a bad one, which I personally disagree with. I'd rather listen to a really boring album than a flat out terrible one, but guess what? This album manages to somehow be both boring AND awful, and how do you ask? Well join me on this masochistic journey, through the seas of mediocrity.

Mastodon's new album mostly rested on the lame side, and Coheed and Cambria has some pretty mediocre stuff too. So take that, and make it worse. Add in some generic ambiance that does nothing but act as filler to justify the long song lengths, making the listener ask where the actual music is, and you've just about got it. Guess what though? The music isn't any better than the droning ambient parts, so you may as well just turn it off and stare at a blank wall. Most of the songs sound pretty much the exact same and follow the same pattern. Synthetic rock riff, emo-esque vocals, droning ambiance, then repeat. It just all sounds so soulless, and doesn't have any riff, melody, hook, or anything that gets me into the music or brings out any emotions. There is one song that stands out though among the boring stuff. That is "The Falling Veil", and it stands out it all the wrong ways.

Why is it so bad? First of all, it takes like two minutes for the actual song to start playing, but when it starts, you'd rather go back to the ambiance. The riff sounds like some sickening happy melody for the newest summer pop hit. It sounds way too flowery for an what an album like this is trying to do. For a little while it goes away, so you just get some more boring riffs and vocals, but it comes back. Oh yeah, this is the main riff, so be prepared to wish that you are falling with that veil and falling right off a cliff. Coupled with a stale polished production, this is not what I look for in a supposedly "hard rock/stoner rock" album. Also, every song is way too long. If you can make it work, go ahead and make an album with all songs being 8+ minutes. However, when you make the listener need to cleanse their ears within two minutes, it's clearly just not working.

There is little music that annoys as much as this album, but when I listen to this album I just feel depressed. Usually I listen to depressing and sad albums when I feel the same to make me feel better. This does the opposite, I was in a pretty good mood before listening to this. Now I just feel annoyed, but maybe it's because this album doesn't sound like what was advertised. This album is considered stoner rock, but it's really not. The only brief moment that is stoner in anyway and sounds decent is a 30 second riff around the 3 minute mark of "Blind". Besides that, it's a pretentious indie/prog rock album  that's trying to disguise itself as a stoner rock album. If you want real stoner rock, check out some Clutch or Fu Manchu. Unless you want the Top 10 indie rock hits but made overly long, I would avoid this album.

Written for the August 2017 reviewer's challenge on MMA (MetalMusicArchives).

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/reflections-of-a-floating-world/354694

8/19/2017

Raven - Rock Until You Drop Review


RAVEN
Rock Until You Drop (1981)
Genre: Heavy Metal
★★★★★
(Excellent - highly recommended listening)


Forming in 1975, Raven blasted onto the NWoBHM scene in 1981 with the release of their debut studio album Rock Until You Drop. These guys are pure old school heavy metal, owing much of their sound to Judas Priest while already having their own identity to make them stand out as one of the leading figures of the quickly growing 80's British metal scene.

Most of the album displays a perfect performance of classic heavy metal at it's finest, with influences of late 70's Priest and sometimes a nod to the catchy hard boogie rock of Bon Scott-era AC/DC, with opener "Hard Ride" in particular. It sounds right out of one of those classic AC/DC albums complete with gang shouts and some pretty Angus Young-esque guitar riffs. Speaking of riffs, Mark Gallagher is a master, just take a listen to the godly riff during the bridge of "Over the Top" or the epic gallop at the end of "For the Future". These two tracks are contrasted with a nice little classical guitar interlude "39/40" placed in the middle of the album.

John Gallagher and Rob "Wacko" Hunter provide a killer rhythm section that sounds very loose and free-flowing, which fits perfectly for an album that just wants you to rock till you drop. The bass has a nice thump throughout the album, while you can hear how "Wacko" probably got his nickname with an absolutely pummeling drum performance. John Gallagher's vocals are a bit like a punky Rob Halford, this punk edge can be heard especially in "Hellraiser/Action". Occasionally the band gets into some proto-thrash areas, mainly in the riff during the bridge of "Lambs to the Slaughter".

Every song on the album is killer, but if I had to pick highlights I'd choose "Hard Ride", "Hell Patrol", "Over the Top", the infectiously catchy title track, "Lambs to the Slaughter", and the epic album finisher that is "Tyrant of the Airways". The title track is a slamming rocker that immediately starts the headbanging, and "Tyrant of the Airways" is like a driving drill with a great mellow bridge as contrast.

Already on their debut Raven were at the top of their game, and Rock Until You Drop is easily one of the best records of the NWoBHM. If you're looking for some raw and pure heavy metal, check this killer album out.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/rock-until-you-drop/341472