Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kerangkenk – Onslaught of Psychopath

Kerangkenk is a brutal death metal band from Indonesia. To my surprise, they've been around for two decades. It wasn't until this year that they released their full-length debut, Onslaught of Psychopath. Before I review it, I want you to take a look at these guys.

Look at that motherfucking guitar. That thing is wicked. Can you imagine just how much that thing cost? I want one. Where can I get one? Yes, I am jealous of this guy's awesome guitar. Thank you for asking. Anyway, let's hurry up and review this album.

This album truly is an onslaught. First of all, the production is excellent. All the instruments are strong and clear. It's obvious that they took the time to get the production just right. The music itself is absolutely stellar. The music is made by only two men: Apoy mans the drum kit and Willy handles everything else. Apoy mainly likes to play mid-paced rhythms that feature copious amounts of double bass and elaborate cymbal work. However, he still likes to occasionally speed things up by playing some blast beats that sound quite old school. He then tops it all off with some wicked fills.

Willy's vocals consist of a deep and hoarse growl. They are vicious and bellowing. They are brimming with menace and might. As with most other Indonesian brutal death metal bands, the best part is the guitar work. Willy holds nothing back. He lets loose an unholy torrent of shredding riffs that sound like they're ripping through vast acres of flesh. They sound a bit like old Suffocation, but they still have a bit of a modern flair to them. Best of all are the solos. They sound like they were crafted by the Floridian death metal gods. In case you don't believe me, just listen to the solo on “Carcass Carcass Carcass”. I swear, this album has some of the best solos in Indonesian brutal death metal.

This album was awesome. These two men are able to put most American brutal death metal bands to shame. I especially loved the guitar work. It's some of the best I've ever heard. They're masters of their craft.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ugly But Proud – Bein' Ugly Is Alright

One of my all-time favorite Spongebob Squarepants episodes is “Something Smells”. It's where Spongebob makes a sundae using unconventional ingredients and gets bad breath as a result. This episode has two of the most memorable moments in the series. One is the barnacle story. It goes a little something like this: “Once there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died. The end.” The other moment was where Spongebob stood on top of his house and repeatedly shouted “I'm ugly and I'm proud! I'm ugly and I'm proud!” Squidward, reclining on his roof next door, says to himself, “Is that what he calls it?”

What does any of this have to do with the album I'm reviewing today? Absolutely nothing. The band name, Ugly But Proud, simply reminded me of that episode. Anyway, this thrash metal band formed in Detroit, Michigan sometime during the late 80s. Their only full-length album, Bein' Ugly Is Alright, was released in 1994, long after the thrash metal party had died. After seeing that little tidbit, I didn't exactly have high hopes for this album.

Since this album was released during the 90s, it has a lot of groove, but it still manages to sound like it came from the 80s. The drums play lots of stomping mid-paced rhythms, but they also play plenty of simple and straightforward d-beats. Although they like to play it safe, I like the elaborate drumming they perform at the beginning of “Born To Thrash, To Suffer, To Die”. The snare comes in clear, but it has this odd clacking sound to it. I wish it possessed a better sound. However, I do like the intricate cymbal work.

The guitars primarily play a bunch of shredding riffs, which is uncharacteristic for 90s metal. These guys were sort of like a living fossil. I admire the energy they put into the performance, but it gets repetitive after a while. This is made more frustrating by the fact that most of the songs are pretty long. I wish there was more variety in that department. However, I do like the noodling they perform on songs like “Lights Are Always On” and “Win The Sky”. They sound invigorating and melodic. As for the vocals, I don't like 'em. They consist of clean singing similar to bands like Anthrax. The 90s was dominated by Pantera-style tough guy vocals, so these vocals sound incredibly out of place. Not only that, but the performance itself is rather weak. They don't inspire any sort of excitement in me. They're just sort of... there.

Overall, this album was a mixed bag. The instrumental work was impressive, but it gets repetitive. I certainly didn't like the vocals, but I did like the acoustic-only “Brother Song”. It reminded me of Metallica. If you're a big fan of obscure thrash metal, then you might get some enjoyment out of this. As for me, I'll pass on this one.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Earth and Pillars – Earth I

I can't seem to find much information about these guys. What I have been able to gather is that they're an atmospheric black metal band from Italy and that Earth I is their first release. The name Earth I implies that they're going to release a series of these albums. This will only happen if the first album is good. Luckily, this album happens to be good. Hell, it's better than good. It's awesome.

First of all, this album has some of the best atmosphere in black metal. These guys (guy? I don't know if this is a one-man band or not) use a special kind of distortion that makes the music sound thick, warm, and enveloping, as if you're in the womb of nature, basking in the overwhelming majesty of the trees and mountains that tower over you.

The music itself channels incredible primal energy. The drums play lots of rampaging blast beats. Thanks to the thick atmosphere, their performance sounds like the rumbling of the earth. They also make sure to play plenty of mid-paced rhythms. Every part of the kit sounds amazing. The snare pierces the production like sun rays through the clouds, the double bass sounds like an avalanche, and the cymbals sound like the crashing of waves.

The vocals consist of an angry croak that is cloaked in reverb. He breaks through the distortion like a nature spirit through dense fog. Best of all are the guitars. This band plays lots of tremolo riffs that, when combined with the cloudy distortion, creates a powerful and overwhelming atmosphere. They sound like howling wind rushing through dark forests and tempestuous seas. These riffs have a warm sound but are also profoundly melancholic. They even sound ominous at times. It's a wondrous representation of the despair and fury of nature.

After spending many months slogging through shitty black metal albums, Earth and Pillars was a breath of fresh air. The music is incredible and it has a wondrous atmosphere. This album is more than just an album, it's an experience.

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Touhou Tuesday #146

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Infected (Che) – Dark Century

There once was a band from Switzerland called Infected. They played thrash metal and released only one album called Dark Century in 1989 before splitting up. I looked on their Metal Archives page and I noticed that one person gave their album a rating of 90%. That must mean the album is good, right? Well, I listened to this album, and let's just say that this is more proof as to why you should never trust the reviews on Metal Archives.

This album's biggest problem is that it's boring and derivative. It's not really doing anything new or special. It doesn't even copy a tried and true formula well. The music they play is just bland and uninteresting. First of all, the drums mainly play it safe by churning out a bunch of mid-paced rhythms. Very rarely do they play blast beats, and when they do, they're simple and stripped-down, almost as if he's afraid to do anything more complex. The snare packs no punch – it just sounds like a loud tapping, especially during fills and rolls – and the cymbals just sound like the jingling of keys. There's no force behind the performance at all.

The guitars play a bunch of shredding riffs that have been done to death by countless bands before them. There's not a speck of originality or even excitement to these riffs. The longer you listen to them, the more they sound like white noise. They also play a bunch of chugging riffs. Again, there's nothing interesting about them. Even the solos sound bereft of life. The thing I hate the most about this album is the vocal performance. They consist of this hoarse growl that sounds weak and forced. They also sound horribly out of place. Not only that, but they remind me of Von, and I hate Von.

The only good aspect of this album is that the bass is really prominent. They play some really nice riffs, but they do nothing to save this album from the depths of mediocrity. The music is boring and unoriginal, the instrumental work is lifeless, and the vocals are dreadful. Lesson of the day: never trust the reviews on Metal Archives.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Necuratul – Sanguine Lupus Graves

As with death metal, I've been having a hard time looking for good black metal to review. I can't even find bad black metal to review. So far I've encountered nothing but boring shit. Luckily, I finally managed to find something that interests me. The band's name is Necuratul. They were formed by Jake Kohn of Prosanctus Inferi and released their first demo, Sanguine Lupus Graves, last year. This demo is a wondrous tribute to black metal's forefathers.

First of all, the production has that cold atmosphere that was a defining staple of the Norwegian black metal scene. Although this demo was made in 2013, it sounds like it was made in the 90s. The music also sounds like it was made in the 90s. The band consists of only two members: Jake Kohn and a guy named Sanguinator. Sanguinator plays the drums. He performs those old school minimalistic blast beats that I love so much. He also performs lots of mid-paced rhythms that utilize some excellent cymbal work. He also makes sure to spice things up with lots of elaborate fills.

Jake Kohn performs both the vocals and guitar. His vocals consist of that classic grim rasp that is cloaked in reverb. He sounds like a spirit that came from the cold north. As for the guitars, he performs a lot of awesome tremolo riffs. Their tone and structure harken back to the early days of the black metal scene in Norway, when Varg and Fenriz debated the best way to eat corn flakes. But seriously though, the band plays some great riffs that are simple, get straight to the point, and sound really catchy.

Sure, this demo may not be original, but the music is still great. The songwriting is sweet and the instrumental performance is excellent. Hope to hear more from these guys soon.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

One Sentence Review: Nashehrhum - Remember the Shining Moons of the Black Autumns

A shitty ambient album pretending to be a shitty black metal album. Share on Tumblr

Friday, November 21, 2014

Carnality – Dystopia

I reviewed Carnality's self-titled debut last year. They played some excellent crushing brutal death metal that featured a lot of technical skill. On October 15 of this year, they released their latest album, Dystopia. It's fucking brutal shit.

The music on this album can best be described as sounding a little like Behemoth, a little like Cannibal Corpse, and a little like Necrophagist. That sounds like a strange combination, but the end result is utter brutality. First of all, the production is pristine. All of the instruments come through clear as day, even the bass. Speaking of which, bassist Shane Graves plays some wicked riffs that help to reinforce the heaviness of the music and make it sound thick and meaty. Drummer Manuel Arlotti plays a relentless blast beat assault that reminds me of Behemoth drummer Inferno. He also makes sure to play a few slower rhythms as well as some elaborate fills.

Vocalist Luca Dave Scarlatti belts out some vicious deep and hoarse growls as well as some raging screams. They're not as brutal as most other brutal death metal bands, but they're performed really well and fit in perfectly with the rest of the music. Best of all is the performance of guitarist Marco Righetti. He plays a lot of shredding riffs that exhibit a great deal of technical flair. Luckily, he doesn't go the Brain Drill route and rub it in our faces. Instead, he only shows off enough flair to dazzle and amaze. He also stays true to his brutal roots by playing lots of crushing chugging riffs. He then tops things off with some awesome solos that exhibit some surprisingly beautiful melody. My favorite would have to be the one on “God Over Human Ruins”.

I must say, this album easily blows their first one out of the water. This album is brutal and technical. These guys take a bunch of different brutal death metal styles and create something that is unique and incredibly violent. You guys really need to go get your hands on this album. I recommend buying it straight from the band.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Articulomortis – Deklarasi Dunia Baru

Articulomortis is a brutal death metal band from Samarinda, a city located on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. They formed back in 2010 and released their first EP, Deklarasi Dunia Baru, last year. It's pretty sweet.

The production is kinda muffled and the snare has a bit of that pinging sound that I find annoying, but the music itself is stellar. The drums play a lot of rampaging blast beats that feature great cymbal work. They also play lots of strong mid-paced rhythms. Sure, the double bass has that annoying clicking sound, but they're still played really well. There are even moments where they play rhythms that are slow and creeping.

The vocals consist of an angry hoarse growl. They're clearly influenced by the likes of Siksakubur. I wish the vocals could have been more brutal, but they fit the music just fine. As with most other Indonesian brutal death metal bands, the best part is the guitar work. They play lots of shredding riffs that are intricately crafted. They're brutal but also technical. They then spice things up by throwing in a few pinch harmonics. But then they throw us a curve ball by playing a few clean guitars that sound like they were pulled from atmospheric black metal. They then top it all off with some chaotic solos that really show off their abilities.

This EP was fantastic. I especially loved the guitar work. I hope to hear more from these guys because they have real talent.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recipients of Death – Final Flight

In 1988, Recipients of Death released their self-titled EP. It was violent and chaotic, and it was pretty fucking sweet as well. Two years later, they released their last EP, the appropriately named Final Flight. It's... not as good as their first.

The production sounds way cleaner, but this unfortunately means the music now sounds more sterile. The guitars no longer sound as gritty and the drums no longer have that strong punch. The music also seems tamer. Drummer Chris Broguiere still plays those simple blast beats, but they don't sound as raging and vicious as they were on the first EP. This time around he prefers to play a bunch of mid-paced rhythms.

Rich Gonzales still plays bass, but it's no longer as prominent. I blame the clean production. As for his vocals, he still performs those angry shouts, but they don't feel as powerful this time around. It almost sounds like he's weak and tired. Zac Taylor and Albert Gomez are gone. The guitars are now played by John Lisi of Bloodlust. Structurally, it's still the same. The guy plays those fast shredding riffs that were a staple of the fist EP. Unfortunately, these riffs just don't feel very exciting or energetic. They just feel like lukewarm rehashes of what they did in the past. Even the solos sound lackluster. It just sounds like he's flailing at random strings. There's a distinct lack of focus to his performance. The only part of his performance I like is the noodling he does on “F.O.A.D.”.

Overall, this EP was a real disappointment. If their first EP was like a big fancy meal, then this EP is like their cold and stale leftovers. It's a shame they so quickly fizzled out like that. They had a lot of potential.
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