Musical thoughts update

Posted: April 12, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

So its a quarter way through the year already. I haven’t really gotten a sense of where the musical time has gone. I haven’t really been getting new releases or getting into new upcoming bands. I don’t really have a sense of how 2016 sounds, so to say.

What I’ve been spending my money on, is for a large part getting a few holes in my collection filled. I’ve never actually gotten around to getting Nirvana’s Nevermind, despite being into the band since about 2000 or 2001. I got a few Van Der Graaf Generator and Camel albums that I’ve been planning to get since about 2007 or 2008.

I’ve also been listening to plenty of Pop Punk, expanding my Offspring and NoFX knowledge. There was a time in my very early teens I liked the look of Pop Punk, but got a bit snobby and give it a miss to explore Metal instead, and now I’m closing the gap.

In the spirit of closing the gap, I’ve decided to take a bit of a plunge into two bands that are huge in my world but that I’ve been absolutely ignoring. If you go to any Metal concert these days, you’ll find lots of hoodies, t shirts and tattoos for the bands Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold. Heck, if you go to a Metal festival they’re probably playing. If I see their videos I usually skip em. If I see an article in a magazine, I don’t read it. I don’t really know why… when I was in university I knew plenty of people who’d have their posters on their wall or wear their t shirts. I’ve known people who’d learn their songs on guitar. For some reason though, they’re a giant blindspot to me. I have heard two of Avenged Sevenfold albums previously, but I’ve decided to actually make an effort now. Furthermore after literally years of being told how big and important Bullet For My Valentine are for British music and Heavy Metal as a whole, I never really bought that line. To me, it was something for other people and maybe a bit of a scam? I don’t know. I am not a Metal snob who only listens to Slayer and Bathory and refuses to listen to Slipknot because I think they’re kiddie music… but that was kind of what happened with those two bands. Maybe it was the guyliner? I don’t know. Subconscious though. Despite being raised on Limp Bizkit, I live in suspicion of fads and trends with no substance. Somewhere along the way, I got afraid to try something commercial and popular especially if the looked trendy. That must’ve been between 2004-2009 for a while, when Metal credibility seemed so important to me, especially when I was really into 1980s Thrash. It wasn’t a conscious choice but just a side effect of reading the interviews and attitudes of those bands and their fans. When I started growing up and expanding my mind and losing my prejudices, I was able to relearn a bit of the original innocence and just be able to like something because its good and not worry that I might be dissaproved of by some phantom someone wearing a bullet belt.

After spending the last three years listening to all the Posion, Warrant, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue I could get my hands on, I’ve since lost my fear of guyliner and Pop Metal. I feel obliged to give these guys a fair chance. I am forever feeling slightly miffed when someone tells me Korn or Pantera or Killswitch Engage are kiddie music and that the only good music was all released before 1990. It rankles me a little to find myself having a bit of that attitude towards these two bands. Especially because, upon closer listen, Avenged Sevenfold are really rather heavy. Their later day output is a bit more commercial and hard-rock influenced, but the early stuff is like the heaviest stuff off the early Shadows Fall, Trivium and Killswitch Engage independent albums.

Interestingly, having started this, I’ve started obsessively listening to Avenged’ over and over again and what I’m enjoying the most is actually their self-titled album, which a lot of the more ‘Metal’ Metal fans disliked or found disappointing. Their most popular album, City Of Evil, I’m enjoying but the first half is a lot stronger than the second half. I’m not that familiar with it yet. I love the title track from Nightmare, and ‘God Hates Us.’

Of the first two albums, y’know, the heavier ones that I should probably love based on my usual tastes, I’m not that into yet. I think they’ll be growers, but initially, they’re not grabbing me.

So, yeah. Avenged Sevenfold… a much more enjoyable and serious prospect than I’d considered. I’m still afraid of some phantom Celtic Frost fan making fun of me for admitting to liking them, but, hey one bit of personal growth at a time.

Speaking of things phantom judgmental people whould have a go about; I’m listening to Bullet For My Valentine for the very first time ever right now as I type this, and am two songs into their debut album presently, and to my surprise it all seems very reasonable. I was expecting something really poppy, saccharine and bland. This is actually nice, thrashy Metalcore, not as watered-down as I’d imagine either. Similar to Rise To Remain for these first two songs at least. I don’t know why they get so much hate (maybe these first two songs aren’t representative?). Anyway, since I started listening to the Metal Hammer podcast in 2009 I’ve constantly been hearing about how these guys are the biggest and most successful British Metal band since Iron Maiden and its been gnawing at me that I didn’t know anything about ’em, so I thought I’d best check em out, and with three albums in a boxset for the price of one, it won’t be too big a waste of money if its not amazing.

I’m actually struggling to get through music at the minute. I’ve been overextending myself recently; I haven’t slowed down my intake of new albums (and I make it worse for always opting for boxsets and multi-album deals) but don’t have the same free time to take it all in. With my Birthday and Christmas gifts, on top on the big bunch of 2015’s new-releases I got with my first paycheck back in September, I’ve had too much to get through already. On top of that I’ve just constantly been picking up stuff. A random MDC download here, a pair of Rancid albums there, a King Diamond Boxset here, and so on and so on. I’ve now got a musical to-do list that has completely exceeded my available time. With the delivery of all these new Metalcore albums I’ve decided to try and take a month or two off getting anything new and try and actually absorb what I’ve got.

There’s a good twenty albums on my ‘not listened to anywhere near enough’ list and about sixty on my ‘not listened to enough’ list. I’ve downloaded a 7 Seconds album that to my memory I’ve never actually listened to once, at all. Its getting a bit irresponsible now.

I think I’ll use my need-to-buy something impulses on something different, like Batman, and try chill out with the music already.

On a side note, can you believe Cliff Burton died aged 24? I’d have assumed it was 27 like Hendrix and Cobain. Imagine having already written and released Master Of Puppets by the time you’re 24!? What the hell did I ever achieve by then?

Anyway, here’s what I’ve listened to for a quarter of the year:

1.Anvil – 288
2. Rancid -165
3. Trivium – 136
4. Motörhead – 115
5. The Offspring – 114
6. Helloween – 111
7. Tygers of Pan Tang -111
8 Avenged Sevenfold – 107
9. Manowarr – 102
10. Megadeth – 102
11. Saxon – 99
12. Anthrax – 96
13. Queensrÿche – 94
14. Green Day – 88
15. Coal Chamber – 84
16. The Crookes – 84
17. Alkaline Trio- 83
18. Pennywise – 81
19. Jethro Tull – 80
20. Pantera – 79
21. Baroness – 77
22. NOFX – 75
23. Grim Reaper – 73
24. The Fratellis – 73
25 Powerman 5000 – 72

Blind Guardian – Tales Of The Twilight World Review

Posted: April 5, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-blind_guardian_talesIf you enjoy Power Metal then this is an album that will either be already in your collection or pretty high up on your to-do list; since 1990’s Tales Of The Twilight World by the German band Blind Guardian is a pretty big deal, this album helped the band reach new heights, helped the band to separate their style from precursor Thrash and Speed stylings and into more purely Power territory, as well as introducing the world to their concert favourite ballad ‘Lord Of The Rings.’

‘Twilight World occupies a sweet spot in the band’s discography where it still has all the raw charm of the early material, but introduces a lot of the tropes from their better known material, such as Queen-inspired harmonies, choral involvement and progressive structuring and arrangements. Hansi ‘s vocals are really developing into the style fans know and love and Kalle Trapp’s production job sounds even better than on the previous two records.

Like several other Blind Guardian albums; the album boasts guest appearances from other musical greats including Iron Saviour’s Piet Sielck and frequent collaborator, Gamma Ray’s Kai Hansen. The lyrics reference a lot of popular fiction, like Dune, E.T. And The Tommyknockers, as well as all the Tolkien you can expect from the band who famously made a whole concept album about the Salmarillion.

If you are into the catchy choruses, there’s plenty to love here, and you’ll be humming melodies from this record all week long after hearing it. If you are into the guitar heroism, the leads and solos are delightful as always, and if you want riffs there’s plenty of Thrash in here to get you excited.

Highlights include the strong opener ‘Traveller In Time,’ as well as the excellent ‘Lost In The Twilight Hall’ and of course the aforementioned ‘Lord Of The Rings.’

If you are into the band, this album is a real no-brainer and if you are into the genre, its something you really ought to try out soon. There’s some seriously high quality memorable material on here, plenty of impressive solos and fills, and some fairly interesting lyrics. This really was the first of a streak of Blind Guardian gems from the 1990s, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of music.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Volume 81: Morbid Angel – Covenant

Posted: March 28, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-morbid_angel_-_covenantI’m a music nerd. You’re a nerd too (whether its about Make-up brands or Craft Beer, everyone nerds-out about something). Today in the spirit of being a giant nerd I’m listening to Morbid Angel’s Covenant album for the first time and describing the discovery in real time.

I’ve never been the biggest Death Metal fan. I’ve never been the kind of guy to say if it aint got blast beats or death-growls then its kiddie music. I’ve also never been one of those guys who want to like Children Of Bodom or Arch Enemy due to the guitar magazines but then throw the cd in the bin when they start to scream. Its not like Black Metal where I almost actively avoid it, but its also not one of my favourites.

My experience of owning Death Metal is fairly limited. I got into Cannibal Corpse like every 12-year old did at the time due to the funny artwork, lyrics and song titles, through friends who were also talking about it at the time. I eventually did become an actual fan (The Wretched Spawn is still genuinely one of my favourite albums) but not a die-hard, in fact their output as a whole is a little forgettable and its only the two or three stand-out tracks per album I actually care about if I’m being brutally honest.

In my early teens I got into Napalm Death in a big way; getting every single, compilation and album I could get my hands on back in the day. Napalm Death’s Harmony Corruption and Utopia Banished albums are basically old-school Tampa Death Metal even if magazines still want to call it Grindcore. I got a Deicide best-of and their two supposedly worst albums (Incinerathymn and In Torment In Hell), and the three Zyklon albums. I got one Decapitation compilation and my brother got two of their albums, but the only song I ever liked was ‘Spheres Of Madness’ for its catchy riff.

I also became a fairly sizable Entombed fan, although more of their later-day stuff than the actual Swedish Death Metal of their first two records. I mean, don’t get me wrong I enjoy ‘Severe Burns’ and ‘Sinners Bleed’ but my real love is for stuff like ‘Say It In Slugs’ and ‘That’s When I Became A Satanist’ …music that is bouncy, catchy and fun. So yeah, Entombed, kind of. Then from there on it got pretty slim; I remember also at different stages getting a lend of three Death albums, two of the later-day proggy ones, and their debut, Scream Bloody Gore which I didn’t really fall in love with.

I heard an Obituary song on MTV2 a few times (the one with the pollution themed video) and got the one song ‘Enshrined By Grace’ by Morbid Angel which I still love though rarely listen to, mainly because I don’t own a full album by them (until now). I’ve heard plenty of one-off Death Metal songs over the years but never really got interested. A Nile song here, a Dying Fetus song there, but no actual purchases, no fandom.

Reading all the books and watching all the documentaries I now have, I really have a sort of interest in the Tampa end of Death Metal. I’ve always had half a mind to pick up Like An Ever Flowing Stream from the Swedish end, but books like Choosing Death, or Cannibal Corpse’s excellent documentary really make you interested in bands like Massacre and Incantation. Also, there’s a big four thing going on.

In all of the other genres I listen to, I usually end up with the big four/big five band’s discographies… be that Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer/Anthrax/Exodus, or Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden/Alice In Chains, or Motely Crue/Ratt/Quiet Riot/Posion/Twisted Sister, or… you catch my drift.

In my mind, due to the magazines at the turn of the century, its very much been sold to me that Death Metal’s big four was Cannibal Corpse/Deicide/Obituary/Morbid Angel. (Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant, my brain just wants to hear the first four albums by each of those bands now and there’s no escaping it)

Big fours are nonsense anyway. “Anthrax over Testament?” …you’ve heard it all a billion times.

That doesn’t stop me wanting to hear Obituary and Morbid Angel every time Deicide or Cannibal Corpse come on my stereo (or computer or phone).

A few days ago, I found a Morbid Angel cd pre-owned for £3 in a small local music shop (that was also a coffee shop and apparently also a venue for unsigned bands to play gigs somehow) and decided what the hell? Why not?

I’m not Johnny-Death Metal, but I do still like a bit, and it’ll tickle my historic/learning centers if not my actual enjoyment ones… and £3 is really rather reasonable.

So. Let’s have at it. Whether or not they’ve been supplanted by Black Dahlia Murder or aren’t as cool as Gorerotted or didn’t contribute to the genre like Death or whatever, they’re a big missing link in my mental-map of the music I spend so much of my life on, so let’s see what they’ve got to offer me:

[Play]

‘Rapture’ opens up with what sounds for a brief moment like Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ before the drums come in with patterned Double Kicks that reminds me of Darkness Descends by Dark Angel. A few bars later and the blast beats kick in; we’re very much in the territory of the first three Deicide albums then. Its a bit less frantic and messy than say, Butchered At Birth by Cannibal Corpse, and without the sort of Thrash charm of the aforementioned Harmony Corruption album by Napalm Death, but it is very solid, clean, well-produced for the time and genre, and easy to follow and understand. The guitar solos are in the Andreas Kisser/Kerry King mould rather than the Priest/Maiden mould (I guess Melodeath wouldn’t be a separate subgenre if it wasn’t different to regular Death Metal. ((Or as I understand it, the correct name is now ‘Brutal Death’)). Its very pleasant, not an assault on the ears at all. Sometimes, when listening to more modern Death Metal or even Deathcore, you just feel pounded, its just viscous and caustic sounding and very hard to take for prolonged periods, but this is fine. I also prefer their style of Blast Beats over Napalm Death’s. Napalm Death, especially due to the production just have this wall of almost static and it just makes me fell like I’m not listening to music anymore but rather waiting for the blasts to end (and when they do its awesome, because the riffs and beats and vocal patterns on those early-’90s records are amazing) but here it feels like a logical and necessary part of the music.

Next comes ‘Pain Divine’ which opens with blasts then a bunch of D-beats, and alternates between very Kerry King influenced riffs and what I’d call truly Death Metal riffs. The ones that sound like a spiraling drone that is somehow telling a story. Cannibal Corpse use them a lot on the early albums, they have a sort of ability to conjure images of old horror films or scenes of hell from old movies (maybe they’re inspired by the music from those movies, it wouldn’t surprise me)… a very famous example is the opening riff to ‘I Cum Blood’ or a less famous example is the riff ten seconds into Deicide’s ‘In Hell I Burn.’ If I knew enough about music I’d state that they’re downtuned and maybe atonal but I don’t know enough to confirm either.

I like the drum-fills and I really like the production on the toms. This song seems like an example of Death Metal in its purest form where it really found itself and separated itself from the precursor subgenres. Myself, I always like it when you can hear a bit more of the Thrash. I like a bit of chug in there. This song is fine for a deep cut but I wouldn’t go putting it on any compilations.

The slow riff that opens track 3, ‘World Of Shit (The Promised Land)’ really reminds me of Cannibal Corpse’s slow tracks. There’s something very similar, I don’t know what it is (Drop B tuning?) but I can hear a huge similarity. Also, towards the end of the song when its sped up and there’s guitar solos I can hear how they influenced Zyklon (which makes sense since Zyklon cover ‘Dominate’ on their debut album’s bonus tracks).

The next track ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ is fast as hell, its got that off the hook Sodom/Kreator thing in the verses, but when the d-beats stop and the double kicks come in its really impressive. How can his feet move that fast? The whole song is entertaining in a ‘wow, these guys are talented’ kind of way, and the guitar solos break it up nicely.

One thing I notice is that Dave Vincent is quite good at ennunciating his vocals. Its not just a nonsensical gurgle like Chris Barnes, you can hear every word much more clearly than you’d expect.

‘The Lions Den’ really reminds me of Deicide, the way the song structure twists and turns. I like the bendy riffs. I like when the guitars cut out but leave the kicks flying. I like all the fills. I like the low ratio of blasts (none at all). When the solos kick in you forget you’re listening to Death Metal and its more like you’ve got Beneath The Remains or Arise on instead. Towards the end, with the fun drum pattern, its just downright catchy.

‘Blood On My Hands’ goes a bit proggy with its opening, flipping between lots of different ideas in a very short space of time. When it finally settles into a verse, its quite Entombed actually, its got one of those slow buzzing spiralling drone patterns I was talking about over a Dave Lombardo-beat. As it goes on its not afraid to continue flipping between ideas and changing directions. Its a bit hard to follow structurally but entertaining nonetheless. There’s a really great riff towards the end but its not capitalized on. I’dve made a whole song out’ve something that good.

A surprise next, as ‘Angel Of Disease’ is very punk influenced. Its quick and bouncy and feels like it might be a novelty cover for a while until you notice its six minutes long, composed by Trey Azagoth and after a while sticks lots of more-Death and less-Punk parts in there. Its got a great slow jagged bit in the middle that could be Machine Head. Even the blast beats are slower than usual and feel like a cool build up rather than obligatory punishment. Then there’s a nice slow Sabbathy bit with very musical bass that reminds me of the slow parts on Biohazard’s Urban Discipline of all things! This song is a real winner for me. I wonder how the true Death Metal elitists feel about it? Do they think its a bit of a sell-out for being, y’know, good?

‘Sworn To The Black’ comes in next, its got that reverse-feedback suck-in sound effect that Deicide use a lot. Its quite rhythmic. The drums are nice and busy and complex and very non-standard Death Metal in style. A touch of the Portnoys about them even. At the two minute mark it takes a cool turn, going off on some guitar heroics you wouldn’t expect. I really like this tune too. I like this band in a groove. Blasts and speed are good in short doses and this album does a very good job of not over-saturating you with them.

‘Nar Mattaru’ comes next with a creepy sound effect filled intro. I don’t know what the title means, I’m presuming its latin and biblical but that’s pure speculation. Oh hey, its not the song’s intro. The whole song is an intro. A build up to the final track.

‘God Of Emptiness’ closes the album out. I remember that it had a music video back in the day, that I’ve never seen all the way through. I remember it being slow, and I thought it was one of the ones from later in their career with the different singer. Apparently not. This song, with its menace, is infinitely heavier than just growling and blasting. The processed vocals are a bit silly, they sound like a cartoon frog, like a primitive ‘Beware The Birchmen’ thing from ‘Circle Of Cysquatch’ by Mastodon, but only a little silly. Not song—breakingly so.

There’s a lot of cool ideas in this song. Its a bit complex. Very inventive and awkward, with some unique guitar moments and a very hard to air-drum to rhythm section. Its a good way to round out the album. A fitting closer. I like how they weighted the record with speed toward the front and groove and prog towards the back.

Hey, I liked this a lot more than I thought I might. I’m still a bit of a Death skeptic… I don’t listen to Tomb Of The Mutilated every day or anything, but I can still dig on this. Its not too dull, too repetitive or too brash.

Well played, Morbid Angel, well played.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Volume 80: Snot – Get Some

Posted: March 14, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-get_someHello. Welcome. I’ll skip the preamble, you know it by now: I am a Nerd. (Just imagine a few paragraphs worth of ‘Don’t make fun of me you’re probably a nerd too if you think about it’ to save time, ok?).

As usual; this is not a real review. This series sees me choose a classic album which I’ve not heard before and describe listening to it in real time. Sound familiar? Good. Lets roll… This entry finds me listening to Nu Metal band Snot’s debut album and only album featuring the late Lynn Strait (and a photo of the dog on the cover, who also died in the same accident according to Wikipedia).

I have a soft spot for Nu Metal since its how I got into music obsession. I became a Metal fan because of the likes of System Of A Down and Slipknot and Limp Bizkit being popular as much as the ’90s output of Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura being exposed to me from relatives. Despite that soft spot I also find a lot of faults with it. Its kind of a ‘My sister is a bitch’ ‘Yes, she is’ ‘Hey don’t you talk about my sister that way dude’ sort of mentality, if you know what I mean. Somebody says its worthless music and I’m the first person out talking about the Blast Beats on Iowa or the complex time-sigs on LD50.

Despite it having its good moments, as a whole, Nu Metal always suffered from bring a bit singles-based and a bit filler-filled, and from bands not lasting. Flaw broke up. Alien Ant Farm broke up. Limp Bizkit fell into disarray. Hed (PE) and Ill Nino went on (but were ignored). Linkin Park and Papa Roach changed styles. Disturbed disowned Nu Metal and pretended to be a Rock band (WITHOUT ACTUALLY CHANGING THEIR MUSICAL STYLE).

Even if you enjoyed it at the time, its easy to write it off, and sneer at the funny hair-dos and piercings and make fun of Coal Chamber’s music videos. Its easy to compare the musicianship on Static X deep tracks to the musicianship on the most adventurous Deep Purple accomplishments and find it wanting. Its easy to remember being bombarded by constant Nu Metal all day every day for a few years and how much you got sick of it. Its easy but it still doesn’t stop me having a soft spot for all this, just the same as the 50 year olds have a soft spot for NWOBHM and the 40 year olds do for glam, and the 30 year olds do for grunge. I’m sure you all heard ‘Evenflow’ one too many times back in the day, but its not cause to say all grunge sucks anymore.

All that being said, no matter how much Nu Metal I listened to at the time… I don’t really know that much about it. Nowadays; I’ll find out about Thrash or Power or Stoner or NWOBHM or whatever, and go exploring and learn and look and find out as much as I can. With Nu Metal however, it was just kinda there, it was everywhere, it was advertising breakfast cereal, it was in Adam Sandlar movies, it was in Biker Grove. You couldn’t escpae it and more kept on coming…. I didn’t have to learn about it because it just was, and it always seemed like it would be.

…Until that is, it stopped …and suddenly it wasn’t cool anymore and everyone turned on it, disavowed it and I felt a little betrayed by all the hypocrites. I finally understood what the fans of older genre’s must’ve felt like when Smells Like Teen Spirit made Thrash and Glam loose its audience.

With everyone dropping Nu Metal like a wet turd you didn’t hear many recommendations to try out new Nu Metal bands. I never got urged by peers to go back to the source and discover where it started or anything, like they would about Fistful Of Metal or Show No Mercy. I never heard much about Snot for example.

I remember once hearing a ‘new Slipknot song’ at school that, deception-unraveled, turned out to be Corey’s contribution to a Snot album… but that’s it. Never heard any more of their music ever. Didn’t see music videos. Didn’t read magazine interviews. Didn’t hear them in Guitar Hero or something. Because, because as far as the world was concerned, Nu Metal was the past, man. That stuff was lamesville. Lets all get Shadows Fall tattoos and go to the God Forbid show now instead guys!

There’s been a paradigm shift recently as people my age start being the generation with the pens and nowadays I often see this album held up as an example of the good bit of Nu Metal alongside the likes of White Pony and Toxicity … sometimes even by people who think good music stopped existing after 1996 for all time, so I’ve finally let curiosity get the better of me and turn my nerd-eye back on Nu Metal to find out if I’m missing something.

Here goes nuthin’ [Play]

The album opens with the self titled song ‘Snot.’ There’s an audio sample of some talking, then an unmistakably Nu Metal wah riff comes in. The production reminds me more of Vision Of Disorder than Linkin Park to be honest. Quite the earthy drum sound. Also noteworthy, the speed. The song is a lot quicker than most Coal Chamber or Korn tracks ever manage to be. It sort of sounds like someone took the Rage Against The Machine funk influenced rhythmn section and then sped it up threefold. The vocals are a lot less of the polished pretty-boy thing that the likes of Adema and Hoobastank managed, its more raw, and unmusical. It reminds me of the more Rap Influenced moments of Slipknot’s debut, like ‘Spit It Out’ or ‘No Life’ verses.

‘Stoopid’ comes in next, with more of that slow vibe I expected from Nu Metal. Its sort of like Mega Kung Fu Radio stuff. Its definitely a bit funk influenced. When it goes heavy though, its quite satisfying. I’m not sure yet how I feel about it all though.

‘Joy Ride’ is quite atypical of the genre, its more like the fast end of Stoner Rock, like a speedier Fu Manchu track. Its just nice ballsy Hard Rock, with lead guitar, woah-ah-ohs and plenty of attitude. I can’t imagine Incubus writing this. Its more Monster Truck if anything.

‘The Box’ comes in next, its one of those loud/quite songs. It reminds me of Audioslave musically (but with busier drums) but the vocals actually come across like the two newest Mushroomhead albums at times, but there’s one background vocal that reminds me of NOLA era Down too snuck in there. These guys have a great drummer.

As an opening salvo, these first four songs are all quite distinct, and the album feels pretty diverse, I don’t really have a sense of who Snot are yet, based on four very different directions.

‘Snooze Button’ follows. It goes down the slow, funk and rap-metal rotue. Pleasantly, however, its faster than most slow Nu Metal. I can see why people dig this album, its just that bit less polished (ie. its not overproduced like later-day Nu Metal) but doesn’t have that Sloppy we-can’t-play thing of Kitte and Coal Chamber’s debut. Even the clunky Alice In Chains influence bass lead parts don’t last too long. Its not one of those songs that bores you for ever and you rarely hear the chorus.

‘313’ changes the pace, it feels more laid back, with a sort of ballad feel even though its not a ballad by any stretch of the imagination, more like creepy dvd-menu music from a crime documentary. There’s some theremin, some sound effects, some sex noises, its all a bit Porcupine Tree…

Then the album’s Title Track, ‘Get Some,’ arrives, with a slow creepy vibe not too dissimilar to Korn’s ‘Trash’ even though it predates that track by a good few years. Its one of those twinkly creepy songs that you’d imagine has a music video about peadophiles. Until the noisey chorus comes in and again, I think more Vision Of Disorder than Papa Roach. Drums once again noteworthy. I like towards the end of the song when its the same but just angrier, it reminds me of Biohazard’s New World Disrder album

Two slow songs in a row is a bit much though, even if one was more like an instrumental interlude. I hope they do more of that fast ballsy Hard Rock ala ‘Joy Ride.’ It’d be cool if that was not just a one-off.

Aww yeah. Couldn’t have planned it better myself. The next song is a fast-assed rager. Slapping out of the tracks with a Motorhead style urgency that has neeeever been Nu Metal’s forte. The mid section and the viva la france moment are a bit odd but overall this song is just the injection of energy needed. Spineshank’s turgid Strictly Diesel album could’ve learned something from this.

Then once you’ve recharged, there’s a nice mid-paced pissed-off stop/start tune with some nice riffs and very entertaining drums. Its one of the best on the album so far, even with the very character voice vocals. I don’t think the melodic chorus works the best, its a bit too grunge for me, nor does the anal sex joke, but musically its got the punch that is missing from a band like Kittie.

Nu Metal albums would tend to blur together now around this point, sort of loose interest and put in a filler-laden second half. Lets see if Snot can escape that fate…

The horribly titled ‘Get Some O Deez’ is next. It opens with more of that Korn’s ‘Trash’ sort of vibe. Then sort of just ends. It was more of an interlude.

‘Unplugged’ is very much the typical Deftones’ debut sort of song, mixed with the sort of Post Alice In Chains Nu Metal sub set of Drowning Pool and Soil et al. There’s a surprising amount of Anselmo in the clean vocals. This song, while good, is a bit generic compared to the rest of the album. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one was maybe the single.

‘Tecato’ has a very promising start. Really great busy flippy drums, a nice high tempo, its a bit like Know by SOAD in that fast Nu Metal vibe. There weren’t that many songs this fast in this genre. Its one of my favourite songs on the record so far. The vocals probably held this band off getting wider commercial success but they so truly suit the band’s music.

What, James likes it when they do fast songs? I guess we’ll have to have ‘Mr Brett.’ which sounds for the most part like a mixture between Fucking Hostile and Waiting For The Turning Point with a tiny touch of Pennywise. Nice guitar solo too. Who says Nu Metal killed guitar solos?

 

 

For me that’s where the album should’ve ended. Feels like a nice length and it would’ve been out on a high point. However, there’s two more songs to go. Next is a slow proggy moody tune with I forget what you call it. Not Hammond, but the other one. The one at the start of ‘Sheep’ by Pink Floyd. That type of Key instrument. Oh wait, I get it. ‘Keez’/’Keys’ … I see what you did there. If I ignore the keys, then musically it reminds me of ‘Goddam, Even Superman Shot Himself.’

Next song and way-to-be-tasteless! It opens with a scream of ‘My balls, your chest.’ Its a funk-fueled, bounce-filled, loud loud loud Rap Metal tune. Its very obnoxious and sweary, but undeniably catchy. Oh hey, a dog barks on it, I wonder if its the one from the album cover.

Wow, that was all over the place. I don’t know what that really was. It was one of the better Nu Metal albums for sure musically, but I can also see its commercial limitations. Its a bit overlong at 15 tracks and could maybe have lost the three instrumental tracks, but I guess counter-arguments would claim that they help give it character.

It would also feel more cohesive without the three fast, non-Nu Metal songs, but again… counter-argument is that they’re the three best songs on the album.

One thing I can’t defend is all the sillyness and studio banter and non-professional bits in the background, or the awful lyrics like ‘MY BALLS, I WANT TO PUT EM ON YOUR CHEST’… Motely Crue and Poison were blunt at times but I don’t think it ever reached outright saying that, no double entendre, no wordplay, just balls/chest.

Its interesting to think of this album in the wider context of Nu Metal. Its not one of the more Metallic ones like Slipknot’s debut or The War Of Art. Its not one of the ploddy slap-bass ones like Coal Chamber and Korn’s debuts. Its not one of the grungier ones like Godsmack and Drowning Pool. Its not overproduced and poppy like Linkin Park. There’s no influence from Tool or Faith No More apparent. Its kind of some sort of Punk end of Nu Metal that I’ve never come across before.

Interesting. I’ll have to try this a few more times and see if I can get into it. I’ll see if I ‘get it’ before I Get Some, har de har har.

Powerman 5000 – Builders Of The Future Review

Posted: March 14, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-pm5k_botf Powerman 5000 are a severely underrated band, the band are sometimes seen by the kind of people who do like this sort of music as a bit of a one-hit-wonder, and by those who don’t as a by-word for ‘disposable.’

Compared to a lot of their contemporaries, Powerman 5000 are one of the most consistent, the most entertaining and the more interesting bands to emerge from the ’90s Alt/Nu Metal scenes.

When at their best, writing simple catchy rock club anthems, Powerman 5000 are really a force to be reckoned with, and in all fairness when you look at the scene as a whole there’s almost no band with such a strong back catalogue in this field. Do you like the kind of music that would be played in a WWE or Videogame commercial in the early noughties? Then you’d like this band.

From their diverse and almost progressive debut; to their two greatest albums, the platinum selling Tonight The Stars Revolt and the deleted but still accessible Anyone For Doomsday?, to their more mature Transform and Destroy What You Enjoy albums, the band just constantly churn out bangers, never a worthless record, no matter how much line up turmoil, media derision and perceived irrelevancy threatens to overturn them. They’ve stayed the course a lot longer and more respectably than many of their peers, most of whom broke up rather than brave the storm, and they’ve done themselves prouder than many bands from other popular-turned-belittled genres like Glam Metal or Emo.

After a promising but not perfect return-to-genre record in the form of 2009’s Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere, the sci-fi themed, industrial-tinged, dumb-fun popcorn thing was back and 2014’s follow up Builders Of The Future takes it even further.

If you can dig on Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie then you can dig on this. If you can’t dig on those you may not have a pulse anyway so don’t worry about it.

Tracks like ‘Live It Up Before You’re Dead,’ ‘We Want It All’ and the single ‘How To Be A Human’ just really lean hard on what the band does best. You may like to think you’re too smart or sophisticated or cool to like it, but just like you’ll find yourself happily singing along to Sum 41 or Poison in a Rock Club when you’re drunk and think no-one’s judging you… you really aren’t too cool for this, because its some seriously  catchy, fun, admittedly silly but ultimately enjoyable stuff.

A touch of variety with the more hypnotic ‘I Can’t Fucking Hear You’ and the acoustic ‘I Want To Kill You’ finishes it off and balances out the barrage of dumb stomper after dumb stomper.

For a band this late in their career, with this little respect from critics, this is a really remarkable release, another in a long line enjoyable albums that might never make the history books but which will always have a place in my collection. For any Nu Metal apologists out there, give this one a try… its not their ‘best album yet’ or something, but in all fairness its not far off.

I went to go see (an evening with) Machine Head live at Manchester Academy on Tuesday the 8th March 2016. This was my second time seeing the band (read about the first here) and luckily I had tonight off work as buying concert tickets is a bit of a gamble as a working adult and not just a student or teenager. Last time I saw the band I was really crushed and felt a little in fear for my and other’s safety at times so I was initially reluctant to head towards the front, added to which, just two days ago I’d been violently vomiting (all over my own legs at one stage in a very sudden onset situation) and the day after that (yesterday) I’d been glued to the toilet with diarrhea. I know heavy metal has certain clichés but no I did not want to rock so hard that I shat my pants in public… after a while umming and ahhing and assessing my intestinal well-being I took a risk, and headed towards the front and miraculously got within two people of the very front, with an utterly unspoiled view all night, and for most of the concert was not crushed, harassed or injured (apart from once when as usual I got kicked in the face by a fat crowd surfer too old and heavy to still be doing it… …SO MANY TIMES in the last few years…why always my face?).

There was no support band just two and a half hours of Machine Head… most welcome! There was a brief guitar solo, and a surprisingly tasteful and rhythmic and non-wanky drum solo (you know, a good one where they play musically and not just lots of fast rolls with no groove or rhythm to it).

The band where enthusiastic, good with the crowd, very intereactive and the crowd were totally into it. (There was even a very loud sing along to Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ over the PA beforehand, let alone to the most famous Machine Head songs).

The setlist was great. They played 5/8ths of the modern-classic The Blackening, 3 tracks from my favourite album The Locust, the 3 best songs from the new album, as well as old favourites such as: ‘Block,’ ‘Davidian,’ ‘Take My Scars,’ ‘Ten Ton Hammer,’ ‘The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears’ and the rap filled ‘From This Day’ as well as crushing live favourites like ‘Bulldozer’ and ‘Imperium’ which caused quite a stir.

The lighting did that cool thing where songs from The Locust has green lighting, songs from The Burning Red had Red Lighting, then when they played ‘Days Turn Blue To Grey’ there was blue lighting. The stage was covered in big banners and logos and it all looked like a lot of effort had gone into it.

Sound…perfect. Performance… perfect. Atmosphere… perfect. One of the best live show I’ve seen. And the best Machine Head show I’ve been to since I didn’t fear imminent hospitalization at any point.

It was also cool that the setlist was varied up a bit. Last time had ‘Old’ ‘Beneath The Silt,’ ‘In Comes The Flood,’ ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ ‘Descend The Shades Of Night,’ and ‘Bite The Bullet.’
This time had ‘Clenching The Fists Of Dissent,’ ‘A Farewell To Arms,’ ‘This Is The End,’ ‘Days Turn Blue To Grey,’ ‘Elegy,’ ‘Take My Scars’ and ‘Block’ instead. Pretty cool. I’m slightly jealous that Ireland got ‘Exhale The Vile’ but I’m a minority opinion in that so I don’t mind…I’m very glad it’s a possibility for the band though, such an underrated tune!

Its amazing they played the three longest songs off The Blackening at one gig… those three songs together is an entire 31 minutes. Try fitting that in a festival slot and still play the hits!

Overall, a very brilliant concert from a very brilliant band on a constant ascent. If you haven’t seen ‘em live, do so. The likes of ‘Darkness Within’ and ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ live cannot be beaten!

Baroness – Purple Review

Posted: March 6, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-baroness_purpleAfter two great sludgy and slightly proggy bruisers in the form of Red Album and Blue Record, Baroness pulled a dramatic change of direction with their third full-length record, the double album Yellow & Green. That album was pretty much a masterpiece which really expanded the band’s possibilities, even if it was in a way more commercial and less heavy.

With their fourth album, Purple, the swampy southern band tries to bridge the two worlds, taking the more obvious singles from each of their eras, mixing them together, and using the mixture as the template for an album worth of banging, interesting, well-crafted rock music. It’s a bit less Radiohead than Green but its also a bit less Mastodon than Blue Record.

The direction is one thing; the quality is what’s important. There’s no questions on the quality front whatsoever. You might not like the lack of heaviness or the lack of prog, but you cannot disagree that this is one well-made collection of tunes. The musicianship is great, the production is great, the vocals are getting better, and the songs are memorable. Month’s after my first listen I still find myself humming the likes of ‘Kerosene’ and ‘The Iron Bell,’ I still find my thumbs rushing to chose ‘Shock Me’ when I’m deciding what to listen to for my walk to work.

There’s just a nice balance between variety and consistency, there are fast and slow moments, periods of quick fury and periods of slow somber reflection, but it all feels like one cohesive whole. An album where you could swap the track order around and still get the same journey.

This has far more musical DNA in common with Once More Round The Sun than for example, Through Silver In Blood, so the heavy heavy sludge crowd may still find it off putting, but for the rest of us who just like a good time, this is one very enjoyable selection of gnarly Rock singles that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Red Fang fans will find a lot to enjoy here.

Overall; great songs, get it if you aren’t a heaviness-snob.