Monsterworks – Album of Man

monsterworks-album_of_manThe job of a reviewer is to describe music, not judge it. Assessment ultimately becomes obvious from the context of expectation created by the reviewer which shows where all things must fit in the bigger pattern.

Monsterworks resembles a mixture of things and prefers to stay that way. The majority of the structural parts of songs are like Led Zeppelin mixed with Southern Rock and early doom metal, using metalcore style rasp vocals, so that most of what you hear is very guitar-rock styled heavy metal. This is a welcome change from the less organic metalcore of late.

If you like guitar playing that is bluesy, varied and emotional, this album will pique your interest. While the vocals rant, guitars hit all the right rhythms and then work in leads with the fills, slowly building up intensity until the song explodes in sound. If you can imagine Led Zeppelin and Ion Dissonance collaborating on a stoner doom album, this might be about it.

Monsterworks create very much in the 1970s style, and yet with its vocals and aesthetics, very much in the 2010s style as well. The result is both deeply engaged and like newer metal hybrids, incessant in its peak intensity, which can make it meld together indistinctly. It often detours into “different” arenas, like progressive rock, tech-deth, and straight up hardcore, as if a variety show.

Album of Man reforms the anti-technical side of post-metal and metalcore however by using the guitar as a voice of its own, and breaking up the strident extremity with old fashioned instrumentalism. This both brings rock and metal back to their core and renews the intensity of the vocals. By doing so, it takes newer metal to a better place and makes for a more satisfying listen.

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Burial – Unholy Sedition (2016)


Review contributed to Death Metal Underground by Rainer Weikusat.

Burial is a hipster/ bald beardo band from Manchester, England who claim to play black metal. Unholy Sedition‘s tracks are all pretty short, staying within the radio rock “about 3 minutes” window. Thus all of the songs are arranged like radio rock songs rather than in death metal riff mazes or black metal melodic narratives. Burial do not even try to actually play those genres of music; only to imitate the aesthetics of prior imitations in a poorly done Khyber Pass Copy constructed in a cargo-cult fashion by primitive tribesmen in a pathetic attempt at idolization.

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Dismember – Under Blood Red Skies (2009)

Dismember - Under Blood Red Skies (2009)

Review by Daniel Maarat

This DVD set of two filmed concerts and a documentary was the final release from “death metal legends and fucking idiots” Dismember. The sound quality and performances of the concerts are adequate, but fans will be disappointed that they aren’t from the prime period of the band in the early nineties; both were filmed after the departure of drummer, primary songwriter, and producer Fred Estby before the final, lukewarm album. Not entirely filling in his shoes was Thomas Daun of Repugnant and Ghost. Shitting in his shoes. I only made it all the way through both concerts and resisted the temptation to play Dark Recollections with the help of a six pack of Coors Banquet. More interesting is the included documentary, Death Metal and More Mental Illness. This also lacks contribution from Estby except for some footage from the 2006 Masters of Death tour with Grave, Entombed, and Unleashed. The performance of “Pieces” is better than the two included shows. The interviews with the Best Voice in Death Metal* Matti Karki and lead guitarist Dave Blomqvist provide good information for die hard fans.

Blomqvist says that Dismember never cheated with quantization, cut and paste digital trickery, or drum triggers while playing live. Live, they constantly had to stomp on the dimed Boss Heavy Metal 2 pedals at the end of guitar parts to prevent their ridiculous tone from frequency masking everything else. The only time they turned down the distortion was on their Nuclear Blast mandated sellout as death metal “was not in anymore” album, Massive Killing Capacity, which they admitted “sounds like shit.” Otherwise, Dismember never followed trends and kept true to their Autopsy, Sepultura, Repulsion, Morbid Angel, and Iron Maiden influences; Mental Funeral was their “riff bible.”

Karki reveals that most of his lyrics were written at the last minute; his vocals are from higher in the vocal registry than traditional Cookie Monster death growl, almost a harsher hardcore punk bark. Performing them in the studio “killed and devastated” him. We feel his pain through the presented footage of an overweight Swedish man in his underwear.

The drunken goofiness that satiated Dismember’s touring bleeds: A dozen minutes of the band headbanging, set lists written on bare backs, Swedish imitations American, and British accents. The film climaxes with a hen on the side of the road. Recommended for boredom.

*http://www.deathmetal.org/news/new-york-times-on-the-best-voices-in-heavy-metal/

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Officially jumped the shark

Black metal, again:

Upside-down-cross pendants and spiked bracelets were common accessories. The tabloid-worthy events centered on a musician named Varg Vikernes, of the one-man band Burzum, who encouraged and participated in the burning of churches. In 1993, while playing bass in a band called Mayhem, he murdered the guitarist, a man known as Euronymous.

Until recently, it was a legacy that the genre couldn’t shake. But now American bands such as Liturgy, Krallice, Absu, Leviathan, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Inquisition have left a fair amount of the pageantry behind—not to mention the violence—and helped to create a community, as well as a musical moment that is rife with activity. Because of what the music does formally, there is little chance that we will see a Top Ten black-metal act. The elements of the genre that are common to its bands—even those which don’t subscribe to the term, since black metal’s borders are fiercely policed—are extremely fast strumming of guitars, equally fast drumming, and singing that is either extremely low and almost gastric or very high and vaguely spectral. The vocals in the lower register have been called both “the Cookie Monster thing” and “reptilian.” The most accelerated version of the black-metal beat—in which cymbals and multiple drums are hit with the rapid and even force of a sewing machine, which almost erases the idea of drumming as time-keeping—is called the “blast beat,” which Liturgy has modified into a variable-speed approach called the “burst beat.”

This is all extreme stuff, and, when it’s played by grown men who look like couture pandas, there is plenty of reason to be skeptical. Get past the novelty, though, and you find a level of passion and an attention to detail that make a number of mere rock bands look lazy. People are starting to pay attention. Liturgy, whose members live in Brooklyn, records for the respected indie-rock label Thrill Jockey, which made its name in the mid-nineties releasing avant-garde but civilized rock. Because so many varieties of electronic and non-Western music have been tapped by traditionally organized rock bands, there is great allure in the lesser-known strategies of black metal, which was for years a self-sufficient, distinct subgenre that wasn’t looking to expand. – The New Yorker

They took out the leadership, the unique viewpoint, and the outsiderness.

They replaced it with safe, tame, comforting and unchallenging indie rock.

Now black metal — the true movement of the 1990s — is the disco of the 2010s.

Run for the hills. Or just listen to the new Demoncy, Beherit, Cianide, Divine Eve and others who haven’t quaked.

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Metalheads conquering the world

Because metal is an insular community, sometimes we forget that metal people have lives and are out there influencing the world around them — because when you think about it, if you tolerate stupidity, you’ll serve under it. So good people do things to make the world better not because it’s bad, but because without continual improvement, it will become a paradise for the stupid.

When Mike Strausbaugh gets in his car, he turns on Swedish death metal. Although the MU graduate student is studying classical guitar and music composition, he doesn’t always draw inspiration from classical music.

Strausbaugh, 38, is the latest winner of the Sinquefield Composition Prize for “Thermopylae,” a five-minute duet for guitar and cello.

Perhaps the biggest perk of winning the competition is the opportunity to write a separate work for one of MU’s musical ensembles. Strausbaugh is working on a one-movement guitar concerto for the University Philharmonic Orchestra. The piece, currently untitled, will debut at the annual Chancellor’s Concert on March 15, 2010.

Columbia Missourian

This guy’s ruling the world. We have no word as of yet on whether a recording exists of his composition, but it sounds like we’ll have to wait until 2010 to get his latest opus.

It was cheering to read this defense of the metalhead fanaticism for etymology and genrology:

But for those of us silly enough to split hairs and mire ourselves in metal’s notoriously splintered set of sub-genres, the subtlest variations can send the biggest ripples. Most listeners probably couldn’t care less about the differences between death metal and black metal, let alone the nuances that distinguish blackened death metal, but for an insular community of heavy music enthusiasts, these labels are immediately recognizable.

If all this sounds nerdy, that’s because it is. While often dismissed as meat-headed jocks, metal fans over their heads in the trivialities of the style’s finer points rarely actually are. Instead we’re comic book dorks and ardent video gamers. (Yes, many of us even grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons; Some still do.) While our mosh-pitting contingent is certainly the most visible, our hermetic Internet-abusers are largely the gatekeepers.

Anchorage Press

He did just call us a bunch of nerds, but since most of the great musicians, writers, inventors, generals and leaders have been nerdy and introverted and studious, I find it hard to criticize that. In general, my experience in life is one nerdy person off doing something from which everyone benefits, while another 99 people stand around talking about how nerdy he or she looks for spending all their time trying to OMFG change things. WTF, dude, LOL.

For a slight downer, the world is also warning us that the much-maligned (and beloved) style of singing known as “cookie monster vocals” after the Sesame Street character may indeed wreck your voice:

Though death metal generally started in Florida, the genre has spread wide enough that a medical center in the Netherlands reported a couple years ago that it was treating several death metal singers for vocal problems caused by Cookie Monster technique. Polyps and edema on the vocal chords are most common ailments.

“As the popularity continues to grow, I expect an influx of new patients,” a speech therapist at Nijmegen Radboud Hospital told the Netherlands newspaper Nederland Dagblad in 2007

Hartford Courant

While we’re hoping they find that pizza, beer, marijuana and listening to the quality Gothenburg bands eliminates that effect, it’s probable that modern science is just going to be a bore again and immediately classify everything fun as unhealthy.

There’s your metal news for today. Hope it inspires, enrages, emboldens… heck, anything but stagnation!

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Sadistic Metal Reviews 1-22-2017

Everything you love is eventually butchered, emulsified, digested, and squeezed out by lesser life forms ranging from head hunters to bacterium to mediocre metal bands. Here are some Sadistic Metal Reviews for our readers’ pleasure:

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Interview: Chupacabra

chupacabra
Article by Corey M.

Chupacabra’s music comes from the heart – that is, the part of the individual that is between the mind and the gut. Working without an established template, the songwriter finds and applies sounds in a unique organization specifically to reflect a profoundly idiosyncratic perspective on existence. This is a risky move: Most musicians are content to operate within an established paradigm, adapting to the constraints and handicaps offered by the genre that produces music with which they most closely identify. To abandon paradigm altogether and strike out on one’s own, neither with nor against the current but out of the river itself, is quite bold. But for Chupacabra, it is completely natural. Take a listen to this musical example of what Jung called “individuation”; the process that unifies the unconscious and the conscious, completing a powerful circuit through which ancient genetic memory is filtered and refined by real-time intelligent planning and analysis.

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The Difficulties of Folk Metal: Part II

Skyforger_16127_Cernunnos_Fest_11

Article by Johan P.

This text is a continuation of the previously published article, The Difficulties of Folk Metal. As stated in Part I, the threefold aim of this multi-part article is, in rough terms, to: 1. Give a short introduction to the subject, 2. Point out some of the difficulties connected with integrating folk music into metal and finally, 3. Provide alternative methods of integration. Part II will be dedicated to the second part of this quest.

Naturally, there are limits regarding the scope of my endeavor – the most obvious demarcation being that the article primarily focuses on Swedish folk music. In my view, the critique of folk metal is an ongoing project, and this article should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the subject at hand.

So, if someone else out there finds the subject interesting, you are more than welcome to make contributions. It could be in the form of additional material (metal or folk related) and complementary ideas to enhance the project. For example, the depth and applicability of the arguments presented below would surely benefit if the scope could be expanded to include other forms of traditional music.

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Dismember – Indecent and Obscene (1993)

Dismember Indecent And Obscene

Almost all metal bands eventually run out of ideas and revert to imitating their influences or repeating themselves. The former usually results in songs that are Frankenstein’s monster mashups of old ideas hoping to hop across the finish line without their sutures bursting leading to loss of limbs. The latter have no raison d’être beyond releasing the expected new record every eighteen months or so to put a product on the shelves that the label can push and the band can tour to support on a James Bond series type release schedule. Even a teenager saying “I want to kill everyone, drink beer, masturbate, and be as fucking metal as possible” shows more purpose than such aimlessness.

Indecent and Obscene was Dismember proving that in 1993 they had became at least as proficient musicians as their seventies and eighties idols. Dave Blomqvist took over the leader guitar duties from Nicke Andersson and added Mercyful Fate-like sweep-picked leads to the bluesy, Ritchie Blackmore-influenced solos. The songs continued in the vein of filthy Pieces EP with verse chorus verse bashers. The problem was they were slowed down, less distorted, and more lazily constructed: Beneath the Remains Sepultura minus a standard deviation or two in IQ. Every time Dismember play an interesting riff on this album, they allow it to wear out its welcome through repetition in brain-dead pop song structures. That is only when they have a good, counterpointed Carnage/Dismember riff. Most of the rhythm riffs are generic Autopsy riffs; riffs Autopsy stole from Celtic Frost, who stole it from Metallica, who stole it from some NWOBHM band who took it from AC/DC or The Stooges. These riffs were used just so Dismember could construct a basic d-beat song and sweep pick Guitar World readers’ faces off.

Matti Karki sounded just as rabid as ever but in every song sprouted off the title of the song in the chorus of the song as a vocal hook. This is the same as an awful Hollywood action film script containing dialogue saying the name of the movie in the movie, eg: “This is Con Air!” or “You Only Live Twice Mr. Bond!” Idiotic bridges kill off any tension too. “Why don’t you just kill yourself?” followed by breakdown of the main rhythm riff so all the hardcore kids for whom Suffocation was too heavy could slamdance before the air guitarable solo.

Dismember on Indecent and Obscene was Nuclear-Blasted into Cannibal Corpse before Nuclear Blast mandated all their bands sellout into death/black ‘n’ roll for the Bic-flicking festival crowd. While superior to most of the later work out of Sweden, Indecent and Obscene never approaches the transcendent Dark Recollections and Like an Ever Flowing Stream. The only praiseworthy aspects beyond the superficial icing are Fred Estby’s creative tom fills on songs such as “Sorrowfilled”. His underrated percussion is the only part building and resolving tension in these mediocre songs. That’s simply not enough to hold hessian attention. Decent material must still be composed and Dismember didn’t bother writing any worthy of repeated listening here.

 

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Burial Vault – Incendium

burial_vault-incendiumMaking melodic death metal proves more difficult than it might seem at first. The constant use of any technique brings new challenges in how to keep it from being overwhelming. And when that technique makes everything sound “good,” the tendency is reduce music to a wash of harmony which then loses all features.

Burial Vault attack this style with a radical idea: riffs should fit together instead of dramatically constrasting each other every time. Incendium does not make the listener feel like the center of attention as much as your average modern metal band, but by fitting together the circuitry of riffs into clear pathways, it creates an aesthetic appeal and a sense of balance. Like some of the best melodic death metal from the last generation, it washes over the listener like a tangible form of light, and immerses them in the mood of anticipating a wash of beauty. Guitar fireworks glisten in each one of these well-crafted but deliberately honed down and almost mnemonic riffs.

Compared to its peers in the melodic metal world, Incendium sounds less polished but more constructed and as a result is easier to distinguish from the background hum of popular metal. Most “melodic death metal” at this point is essentially a grab-bag of Halloween candy riffs, mixing the horror movie “Monster Coming Down the Stairs” riffs with Iron Maiden styled galloping riffs and glistening, Dissection-inspired riffs reminiscent of transcendence in darkness. It is less so here; these are riffs which fit together in a slightly blocky construction, but give you an idea of where they’re going.

If anything, Burial Vault need to concentrate on style. It experiments with clean vocals, power metal, hard rock, death metal and alternative rock. The “yelling until I’m out of breath” style beat-leading metalcorish vocals don’t fit with the rest, which could use a stronger and honestly more emotional vocal delivery; the metalcore style only does one emotion, and it’s probably an emotion felt by nothing but automatic coffee dispenser machines. It needs to find its own voice. In the meantime, Incendium gives a clearer vision of how melodic death metal riffs can be more than isolated, vanishing moments of beauty in a sea of chaos.

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