Swedish DM

It’s not just for Swedes anymore. Ex-Slugathor (FI):

Since China may attack India, and entangling alliances are notoriously sticky, it’s entirely possible Russia will be brought into the Indo-Chinese war and then, as things tend to go, attack Europe.

Men, get ready to join me as we venture to FINLAND and volunteer to fight in Winter War II: Electric Boogaloo.

No Comments

Pasadena Napalm Division – P.N.D.

Pasadena Napalm Division – P.N.D.

This solid slab of “modern crossover thrash” tends more toward hardcore than 1980s thrash but shows the quirky influence of the three bands from which it draws members: DRI, Dead Horse and Verbal Abuse. Showing the evolution of metal since the 1980s, it has the tighter rhythms and more encompassing wall of guitars achieved with more precise tremolo.

In a nod to the NOLA music of the last two decades, it uses “riot vocals” where all band members chant and sing at once in infectious trope; from DRI it borrows the fluid rhythms and almost theatrical interruptions of song structure, but like later Dead Horse it tries to merge blues, rock, punk and metal into something more accessible. More like SOD than the original DRI, it features very much punk-influenced riffs that do not vary in shape or intensity as much, which makes for a more continuous listening experience. Vocal rhythms guide these songs which tend to be longer and more sociable in topic than the old thrash songs.

“P.N.D.” improves on the technical precision (or lack thereof) of older thrash, and by mixing in the death metal influences, makes this music hit more like a linebacker than a cynical kid zinging one-liners over the heads of the Responsible Authority Figures (RAFs) nearby. It’s good to hear Kurt Brecht when they let him do the vocal tracks alone, and he has lost none of his vitriol, but has more of a uniform delivery.

In fact, what makes this different from older punk and thrash the most is that it is more uniform in approach. Riffs are all strummed at the same speed and do not break for weirdness like DRI did. It’s hooky, with the melodic chants dominating the listener’s brain. The somewhat funky rock influence may turn off hardliners from the thrash days, but for listeners accustomed to newer hardcore, metal or swamp-groove metal this will be a powerhouse that may open their eyes to a wider world.

No Comments

Death Strike – Fuckin’ Death (Re-Issue)

Death Strike – Fuckin’ Death (Re-Issue)

Like a glass-bottomed boat sailing over the submerged remains of an ancient city, this re-issue lets us voyeurs peer into the past of death metal. Master/Deathstrike/Abomination represented one wing of the early hybrids, sounding more like the aggressive uptempo hardcore of the early 1980s as crossed with the attitude that had been consisten in metal since its earliest days.

To wit: a straightforward absence of quirky changes, an emphasis on cadence instead of alternating syncopation, a historical view of the world that subsumed politics to a whole view of the human experience, and songs made by fitting riffs together in an internal dialogue that not only kept the song coherent but propelled it forward. These distinguish Death Strike as well, which packs them into punch songs of high-intensity fast tremolo punk riffs.

Our original review of this Death Strike masterpiece still stands. Like its associated band Master, Death Strike represents an early form of death metal that was nearly contemporaneous with Slayer-influenced bands like Sepultura and Possessed, as well as European-style proto-death/proto-black bands like Bathory, Hellhammer and Slayer. All of these re-interpreted punk hardcore in metal a different way than thrash (DRI) had done, and as a result, achieved a unique sound that was later highly influential to scenes as diverse as Sweden and New York.

The re-issue is beautiful. Quality pressing, good photos, elegant disc. The inclusion of demo tracks is always dubious, since you get more primitive versions of what you just heard, providing only academic interest; it’s better to release a historical issue like Immolation did. However, in this case, the rehearsal of “Pay to Die” is truly worth hearing to see how far this band came in the early 1980s.

Seeing this classic ride again in general availability is a sight for sore eyes for any true old school metal fan. If you want to know the origins of this music, pick up this CD and explore the first releases of the other bands mentioned above. While the know-nothing music press trumpets Venom, it’s good to see that contemporary acts were exploring other avenues for metal with the power of hardcore punk, and from this fertile ferment, death metal was born.

No Comments

IXXI – Assorted Armament

IXXI – Assorted Armament

The way modernity destroys you is entry through the back door (hehe). While you’re watching for the enemy at the gates, someone sidles up to you with a mild proposition and you OK it. In the process, you’ve admitted the basic ideas of your enemy and those then grow inside of you.

IXXI is one such fifth column. Like a cross between Rammstein, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter and Ministry with an emphasis on black metal stylings and more organic percussion, this band seems extreme but in fact is a domesticated version of the feral emotions that metal unleashes. This is tamed; it panders to you, repeats itself, has jazzy interludes and rides the offbeat like a rock band. This is entertainment, not subversion.

The result is that you can listen to this whole thing and tune in for the death metal and black metal riffs in it and not notice how it quickly detours to hardcore riffing and then some funky, hooky, cheesy and quirky rock-n-roll tricked out in powerchords. Nothing here is badly done, and it’s catchier than most, but it has nothing to offer.

No Comments

Harkonin – Ghanima

I am a nihilist; I believe nothing is inherent, not even nothingness. It all arose as a result of the logical composition of the universe.

I am also fond of many of the people in this universe, and am aware that others hate me. I understand. Nothing I do is without purpose and I do not compromise my principles.

Part of that is the old saw: the best reviewer is a friendless hermit.

You want to help people you like; what if you don’t like their music? Or what if you like their music, and they don’t like you?

The answer is that such things are irrelevant.

Harkonin – Ghanima

This is the first album to get everything right but be all wrong. Harkonin just broke up, probably from the huge amount of hope invested in this CD. After all, they did all of the parts right — riffs, rhythms, production, songs that fit together at the right paces, on top of every development in metal, good vocals, excellent playing — but when they put those together, the result was less than the sum of its parts.

Like a rock record, this album comes across as disorganized, mainly because it attempts to hit us with contrasts between unrelated elements instead of seemingly unrelated elements that resolve to complementary pieces which cooperate like partners in a conversation to tell a story. It’s amazing that this is the case, given how much proficiency is shown. It as if confidence in their own tastes in metal held these guys back. That, the aforementioned “modern metal” style disorganization, and boring melodies that result from trying to keep it short and hookish and playing it too conservative.

Mixed elements of black metal, death metal, speed metal and even power metal comprise this CD. The problem is that they change within songs without any clear roadmap, so what results is the sensation of random pieces thrown together into carnival music, trying to shock us with how radically different each part is and as a result, creating a norm of differentness in which some kind of developing consistency would be the only shocker. The case is not song structures being constructed to fit a song, but archetypes modified to be distinctive from one another and their origins. As a result, form and content are confused. It is as if the band is trying to use form to substitute for content, but the result is not songs that are “about” a certain kind of impression, but a general song theory adapted to fit whatever topic is assigned.

It’s a heartbreaker to hear this one. It is fundamentally not interesting. It’s not boring, in that there are frequent changes. It’s not bad as in incompetent; in fact, it’s so super-competent that had it been interesting, this would have been an A-level album and a new classic. But it’s not about anything. It centers only on the idea of tweaking appearance to create a pattern, but that pattern gestures at nothing else, and descends even if in negative impression from an archetype, which leads to this album not distinguishing itself and so remaining a pile of high-quality parts that never gels into a whole.

Harkonin Facebook

No Comments

Lord Wind & Alruna “Ales Stenar”

Lord Wind & Alruna
“Ales Stenar”

Photos for album Lord Wind “Ales Stenar” (2011) Wolftyr Prod (USA)

with Alruna (fiddle)

Fraghments of Lord Wind music with Alruna fiddle, you can listen on : http://www.reverbnation.com/lordwind

(first song : fragment of song19 “Cult of Set” with A…)

From the Graveland web presence.

No Comments