Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rigor Mortis – Rigor Mortis vs. The Earth

In 1988, Dallas thrash metal band Rigor Mortis released their self-titled debut. Thrash fans everywhere were amazed by the ferocity demonstrated on that album. They were craving for more, so in 1991, the bands answered their prayers by releasing Rigor Mortis vs. The Earth.

In all honesty, this album doesn't have as much impact as the previous one, but it's still pretty vicious. Harden Harrison still mans the kit. He doesn't play as fast as he did on the debut, but there are moments when he still plays some rapid d-beats. He also plays plenty of excellent mid-paced rhythms that are quite complex in structure, but the thing is, the production on the drums is actually weaker here than it was on the debut. Casey Orr still plays the bass, and he's still awesome at it. He continually plods away, assaulting us with thick riffs that seem to have a rather punkish vibe on this album.

The vocals are performed by two different people on this album. Casey Orr does vocals on tracks 3, 5, 9, 10, and 11. His performance consists of a rather punkish shout. He should have stuck to playing bass, because he isn't as strong as Bruce Corbitt. Doyle Bright does the vocals on tracks 2, 4, 7, and 8. He sounds more similar to Bruce Corbitt, but again, he doesn't sound as strong as him. Even Mike Scaccia's performance sounds weaker on this album. He still plays plenty of shredding riffs, but they lack impact. He also plays a few punkish riffs such as those on “Throwback”, but they don't really connect with me. At least his solos still sound awesome. They're just as frantic and dazzling as they were on the first album.

Rigor Mortis's self-titled debut set some pretty high expectations, and this album didn't quite meet them. It just doesn't have that same level of aggression. At least Mike Scaccia's solos are still amazing. It's really unfortunate that he died in 2012.
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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rigor Mortis – Rigor Mortis

I believe I listened to Rigor Mortis once back when I was a teenager. I didn't really pay much attention to them. I was more focused on brutal death metal and goregrind. Today I'm going to fix that. Rigor Mortis was a thrash metal band from the Dallas area. In fact, they were one of the first thrash metal bands to ever come out of the Dallas area. They formed all the way back in 1983 and released their self-titled debut five years later.
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Think Of Misery – Poverty Is No Disgrace

Think Of Misery was a German thrash metal band that was signed to the infamous Metal Enterprises. This label was known for using studio musicians to record really shitty follow-up albums using the names of the shitty bands they had already signed. Think Of Misery managed to escape that fate. They recorded only one full-length album called Poverty Is No Disgrace before splitting up.

Let me start off by saying that this album has one of the most laughably bad covers I've ever seen in my life. It's obvious that the artist had no idea what depth perception was. I can't tell if the building in the background is coming towards me or pulling away from me. As for the music itself, it's not terrible. I've definitely heard worse. They sound similar to Venom. The production is kind of grainy and sounds more suited to early death metal. However, I can still hear the music just fine. Drummer Marcus plays a lot of simple blast beats as well as some galloping mid-paced rhythms and some pretty nice fills. Bassist Heiko Rabenstein's performance can be heard really well on this album, and his riffs enhance the heaviness and grittiness of the music.

The vocals are handled by a guy named Arno, and his performance consists of a gruff shout that sounds similar to Cronos of Venom. They have this cheap bootleg quality, if you know what I mean, but they're still enjoyable nonetheless. The guitars are handled by Frank Schröder, and I have to admit that he does a pretty good job. He plays a lot of frantic tremolo riffs which, thanks to the lo-fi production, end up sounding rather dark. He also plays some mid-paced riffs that manage to sound a bit melodic and technical. He even plays a few solos that sound wildly energetic and draw some influence from the British heavy metal scene.

I was honestly surprised by this album. I was expecting it to suck hard, but it's actually pretty decent. This is proof that even the worst labels are able to put out some good stuff.
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Djin – The Era Of Destruction

I've been wanting to review this band for a long time, but I didn't get around to it until now. Whereas most other Indonesian brutal death metal bands come from the island of Java, Djin hail from Medan in Sumatra. They formed in 2006 and released their debut album, The Era Of Destruction, six years later.

If you're a fan of insanely technical death metal, then you'll get a kick out of this. The production is a bit on the loud side, but it doesn't hamper the music all that much. At least it doesn't sound sterile. The drums are played by Nurdin Marja. He hits us with plenty of rampaging blast beats, and although his snare has a slight thudding sound to it, his performance still sounds great. He also plays some hard-hitting slam rhythms that feature stampeding double bass. It may sound a bit mechanical, but they're still strong. Then again, most technical death metal bands tend to feature mechanical double bass. The bass is played by TM Chiko. His riffs are really elaborate and further reinforce the chaotic nature of the music.

The vocalist is Eric Mubarak. His growls are rather hoarse, but they are brimming with fierce energy. As with most other Indonesian metal bands, the best part is the guitar work. On this album they're played by David Salim. He still plays the chugging riffs and the pinch harmonics that are common in the region, but he also plays a lot of frantic shredding riffs that sound similar to American technical death metal bands like Origin. He also fills up the album with massive amounts of chaotic noodling. Luckily, they don't dominate the album. They mainly show up to keep things interesting.

This album is absurdly technical, but it still has plenty of brutal hooks that keep it engaging. They don't rub their technical skill in your face too much. I'm eager to see what they'll release in the future.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Violent Playground – Thrashin' Blues

Violent Playground is easily one of the most cliché thrash metal bands to ever exist. They formed in New York in 1987. That was the year when another New York thrash metal band named Overkill released Taking Over, one of my all-time favorite thrash metal albums. One year later, Violent Playground released Thrashin' Blues, their one and only album. Bands that release only one album either rule or suck. Unfortunately for Violent Playground, this album was the latter.

The album begins with an obnoxious blues section and somehow gets worse from there. These guys sound indistinguishable from every other thrash metal band that came before them. I can barely hear Gerrit's bass work, so I can't really comment on him. The drums are played by Bobby Sheehan, and he spends most of the album churning out upbeat rhythms that feature clicking double bass and get repetitive in only a short time. He tries to make things exciting by throwing in a few fills, but they have no impact.

The guitars are played by “Rocko” and “The Son”. Their performance sucks just as bad as their names. They try their damnedest to make the album sound exciting, but their efforts end in failure. Their idea of good thrash consists of playing the same bland shredding riffs over and over again. They also assault us with a bunch of insultingly simple chugging riffs. They try to perform a few solos on occasion, but they just sound sloppy. The worst part of this album would have to be the vocal performance of Manny. They're high-pitched and aggravating. He was obviously more focused on fucking around than putting on a good performance. He also performs some high-pitched screams that sound like whacking himself in the balls with a crowbar.

Don't get me wrong, there are comical bands that can still be good, but judging by this album, it was clear that Violent Playground cared more about fucking around than making good music. The instrumental performance is cliché and the vocals make me want to pour bleach into my ears. The only good thing about Thrashin' Blues is the Ed Repka album cover, and even that is lackluster and uninteresting. Stay away from this album at all costs.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rise Of An Empire – Dismemberment of Sanity

I remember reviewing Rise Of An Empire way back in 2013. They played some pretty good slam. I then learned that they finally released a full-length album called Dismemberment of Sanity back in October of this year. I listened to it and it's heavy as fuck.

The drums are played by John Hurst. He hits us with a massive amount of stomping slamming rhythms that feature a really powerful snare. They sound like the marching of an alien horde that is emerging from an intergalactic portal. They sound especially powerful on songs like “An Ancient Coven”. Sometimes he picks up the pace and bombards us with rapid fire double bass. There are even a few moments when he plays some rampaging blast beats. The bass is played by Joe Hurst. I believe he and John are brothers. Anyway, his performance can be heard really well on this album. Not only that, but he bombards us with a massive amount of evil rumbling riffs.

Vocalist Will Willcox utilizes two different vocal styles. The first is a really deep and guttural growl that sounds like it's being made by the otherworldly entity on the cover. The other is a crazed and frantic scream that reminds me of Luke Griffin from Acrania. If you ask me, the best part of this album is the dual guitar work of Ellwood Newbon and Simon White. This album is filled to the brim with chunky slam riffs that, when paired with the drums, create a curb stomping experience. There are also moments when they play some more upbeat riffs that occasionally transform into vicious tremolo riffs. Some of these tremolo riffs sound a bit old school, like those on “Dead on the Cross”, and some of them even feature a touch of black metal, such as those on “Carved in Flesh”.

Dismemberment of Sanity was absurdly brutal and pulverizing. Sometimes overly complex metal gets boring. There are times when I just want to unwind and listen to something simple and satisfying, and Rise Of An Empire definitely meets that criteria.

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Et Cetera – Nowhere

Let's be honest here: it's so hard to find a good depressive black metal band that you'd have an easier time finding the Zod rune in Diablo II. However, I finally managed to find a depressive black metal band that's actually good. Their name is Et Cetera. It's a one-man band that formed last year and released their full-length debut, Nowhere, at the beginning of November.

The first thing you'll notice is that the production is way better than most other depressive black metal bands. It's not a muffled mess, but at the same time, it's not hopelessly sterile. It's clean yet it still has a bit of cloudiness. I don't know if the drums are programmed or not, but they sure sound real. They play your typical slow beats, but they do feature lots of great cymbal work. There are also moments when they pick up the pace and include double bass. On most depressive black metal albums, the bass is completely absent, but you can actually hear it on this one. Not only that, but they play lots of great slow riffs.

The vocals are the weakest link in ninety percent of depressive black metal bands. Luckily, they do a great job here. The performance consists of a howling rasp that is filled with agony. Few depressive black metal bands could hope to pull off vocals like this. However, the real selling point of this album is the guitar work. They still play the Burzum-inspired slow riffs that depressive black metal is known for, but he also plays some chords and tremolo riffs that feature a great deal of somber melody. These riffs really help to enhance the mood. The guy also includes some graceful clean guitars that add an element of beauty to the music.

Overall, this album was really good. Most depressive black metal albums are either dreadfully boring or insufferably bad, but this album featured nice songwriting and great melody. I wish more depressive black metal bands would follow their example.

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Touhou Tuesday #197

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Hotopsy – Follow The Light

Hotopsy? What's a Hotopsy? Is that where you perform an autopsy on hookers? Anyway, Hotopsy was a thrash metal band from France. Most thrash metal bands from the '80s came from either America or Germany, but France had some thrash metal as well. They formed in 1986 and released their only full-length album, Follow The Light, in 1992. Awful bad timing, if you ask me.

The best part of this album would have to be the drum work of Dominique. He frequently switches between simple d-beats and mid-paced rhythms that feature copious amounts of double bass. They're great, but I wish the double bass didn't sound like an obnoxious thumping. He also plays some simpler mid-paced rhythms that feature a strong snare sound. Most amazing of all are his fills. They're incredibly intricate and are brimming with energy. He even plays a few solos on occasion.

Unfortunately, the rest of the music isn't all that great. I can't hear the bass all that much except for a few certain occasions, so I can't really say much about them other than they're okay. Vocalist Branislav performs a standard thrash metal shout. They're not bad, they're just not exciting. He tries his hardest, but it just doesn't connect with me. The guitar work of Jean-Luc sounds really average too. He spends most of the album playing mid-paced riffs that had been used so much that they had become cliché by that point. Some of the riffs have melody to them, but they don't really catch my ear. He also plays some chugging riffs that get annoying really fast.

Overall, Hotopsy has a funny name and the drums are good, but the rest of the music is uninteresting. They just recycle a bunch of thrash metal cliches shortly after thrash metal fell out of style. It's best to just skip over this one.
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Holy Terror – Mind Wars

Holy Terror caught a lot of people's attention when they released their full-length debut, Terror and Submission, in 1987. One year later, they released their only other full-length album, Mind Wars.

The album begins with ultra crunchy mid-paced riffs, so you already know this is gonna be good. The production is a bit thicker than it was on Terror and Submission. The end result is music that has greater impact. Not only that, but the music itself is a lot more vicious, and in between all of this, they still keep the melody intact. Drummer Joe Mitchell plays blast beats that are quicker and more rampaging. His mid-paced rhythms feature a really strong snare that feels like a punch to the gut. Floyd Flanary's bass work is even more prominent here than it was on the previous album. The entire album is filled with rumbling riffs that sound like an approaching storm. I especially like the crazy solo he does on “Terminal Humor”.

Keith Deen sounds a lot more vicious this time around. He still performs plenty of angry shouts, but there are moments when those shouts get really low in pitch and end up sound almost like growls. And of course, he still does a lot of great clean singing. As I mentioned earlier, Mike Alvord and Kurt Kilfelt's guitar work has this really crunchy tone, which makes the music sound a lot more violent in nature. They still play plenty of fast-paced shredding riffs, but there are also moments when they play some really catchy mid-paced riffs as well as some riffs that exhibit a bit of technical flair, such as those on “Debt of Pain”. They still play plenty of riffs that are infused with melody, and their solos still sound ferocious yet wondrous.

Holy Terror broke up one year after releasing this album. They reformed in 2005 but broke up three years later. Four years after that, original vocalist Keith Deen died. It's highly unlikely that the band will ever get back together again, but at least they left behind two amazing albums that sounded unlike anything else that came from the California thrash scene.
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