Al-Namrood is so kvlt that they can’t even turn down their projects’ master levels a few decibels. While simply nudging everything down a bit so it doesn’t clip as much might not be the best way to go about it, the fact that this completely insane brickwalling that’s apparently been dogging the fellows throughout their career goes yet unresolved on Diaji Al Joor does not exactly fill me with hope. As previously mentioned the last time a DMU writer took notice, Al-Namrood’s big gimmick is that they’re from Saudi Arabia and are theoretically risking more to get their content out. Remove their background and the absolute garbage mixing job, and you’re left with an okay but generally underwhelming folk metal album with some black metal influences.
On a scale of Orphaned Land to Melechesh, Al-Namrood leans closer to the latter for keeping a greater amount of metal technique in their formula. For whatever reason, they end up consistently midpaced in all instrumentation and otherwise lean towards a consistent sound. From a musicological perspective, their consistent use of Arabic maqams (a seven tone system of tuning and intonation) makes for a great selling point in the Western world and, amongst other things, leads to some dissonant/microtonal droning sections that I barely hear in metal; I furthermore believe that more ambitious and proficient musicians could do great things with such. On Diaji Al Joor, this potential is squandered and turned into tedious filler that adds little of value. This is best described as more of a vocal-driven album, anyways – the vocalist (who goes by the pseudonym of “Humbaba”) barks and rattles his way through these tracks and seems to have some idea of how to vary up his inflection and pitch to make himself more interesting and prominent. I’m cynical enough to call him a case of wasted potential given the lack of direction that manifests below him.
I’d probably go as far as to say this is, in spite of its clear flaws, ever so slightly better than Melechesh’s recent effort (Enki) was, since it’s a bit less openly streamlined and digs a hint deeper into its respective reservoir of musical ideas. That judgement may, however, be too subjective for your tastes. Even if it isn’t, the fact that Diaji Al Joor fails to rise beyond a basic level of competence makes it an irrelevant comparison.6 Comments
Editor’s note: Like gelled (i.e not whole berry) cranberry sauce and the driest cuts of turkey, there are still metal albums you want to keep off your table on the American feast of Thanksgiving.
Def Leppard – Def Leppard (2015)
Def Leppard are best known for a one armed drummer and being one of the biggest turkey pseudo-metal bands of all time. Responsible for the majority of STI infections in Des Moines in 1987. I’m only listening to this as “Getcha Rocks Off” was on on Lars Urlich’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal ’79 Revisited. Lars was wrong though. Def Leppard were not a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Their debut Def Leppard EP has one riffy 1960s style rocker, one fairly well done seventies metallic hard rock song in the vein of bands like Deep Purple (“Getcha Rocks Off”), and unsuccessful Led Zeppelin on drugs number. “Getcha Rocks Off” was their sole career highlight.
Why do established bands released self-titled albums that nobody cares about? Sodom’s Sodom which nobody remembers anything from, Dismember’s Dismember without Fred Estby, now Def Leppard’s Def Leppard for deaf, fat 55 year old lot lizards on crystal meth. The first two songs of this are fairly standard by the numbers glam metal pop. The third, “Are You Man Enough?” is a Queen song if Freddie Mercury and Brian May took power drills to their own foreheads in the manner of Shiite militias of Iraq. Def Leppard ask you in typical Def Leppard “We wrote the lyrics while getting head from a call girl” fashion “Are you man enough to be my girl?” Is Joe Elliot asking the audience if they are man enough to let him fuck them in the ass? The fourth song is a Christian rock number whose lyrics sound like Moses is about to spread some ass cheeks and lick some bunghole. The sixth also sounds like a nu-WASP song minus the burning in hell. Def Leppard do not seem to grasp Christian theology. They seem to believe than when Jesus returns, he’;s going to bukkake your face and you’ll float away to eternal life in the Kingdom of God on Def Leppard’s cum. Beyond butt rock. It could be Pygmies in Africa steatopygia rock, but pygmies are still little. Wal-Mart shopper with type two diabetes with her tits tucked into her jorts rock.
Nechochwen – Heart of Akamon (2015)
Opeth hates white people now? So conquering the new world was wrong? What? This is Opeth if Opeth was a whiny social justice warrior in a van abducting seven year old white and black kids for playing ninjas as that’s cultural misappropriation and all appropriators of foreign culture must be shot and buried in a ditch as people of a different color hired ninja spies to rape and murder the family of the Shogun’s Decapitator. The band claims this is “Native American Folk Black Metal”. This is Hammerheart if Quorthon was the token HIV-positive cast member on The Real World in 1998 that later ended up credited for bass on a System of a Down album. This nu-metal band has less T-cells than Charlie Sheen’s AIDS-infested, coke-limped cock. Give them some blankets for warmth and smallpox.12 Comments
Here’s another recording released by Iron Pegasus Records. Like yesterday’s Eurynomos, it occupies that strange liminal space between traditional heavy metal and black metal, although the existence of two such albums in quick succession sometimes leads me to believe that it’s larger than previously suspected. However, if Eye of the Pantheon was at home in 1984 or so, Mercenaries of Mordor is more reminiscent of the early 1990s, although its ancestry is more obvious than the actual recordings of that era. It also labels itself “Pure Goblin Black Metal” for what are presumably marketing purposes, but people looking for a new Summoning in Orcrypt are going to find something more conventional by far.
On Mercenaries of Mordor, Orcrypt desperately claws for atmosphere and ambiance and creates songs of long drones stapled together by sampled audio (shamelessly ripped from the Ralph Bakshi adaptation of Lord of the Rings) and a great deal of guitar leads. It’s often reminiscent of of the blastier bands in the genre, but since the drumming and songwriting is generally of a middling pace, the rhythmic texture of the album ends up spacious in a way that deemphasizes the percussion. Besides the Bakshi, though, everything here has frequently been done. Orcrypt’s strength here is that they manage to pull a mixture of techniques and aesthetic adornishments from the air in a relatively organic way. Part of this is a pseudo-lofi production that is crystal clear (even the bassist is audible and prominent) despite its attempts to sound like garbage. It does, however, give them a strong foundation on which to build songs and make something valuable, but their dedication to that is spotty at best, mostly due to the emphasis on drone with limited elaboration outside the sound effects.
Ultimately, this is a proficient but not particularly interesting record, especially since it exists in a context of bands that have done what it does more effectively. I feel like a lot of the problems here are explained by the marketing material. The record label’s site claims that the band “…plays in the tradition of the early 90s underground, before Black Metal became popular,” and generally cites the earlier, more prototypical works of bands like Burzum and Emperor as influences as opposed to their more refined peaks. From a stance of rawness, that’s all fine and well, but it generally does more for you to imitate your idols’ heights rather than their rises. However, Orcrypt would have to go beyond merely imitating either of these to become particularly valuable as more than a quick shot of nostalgia.
This short EP has been sitting in our review queue for a while, for better or worse. I personally didn’t know what to expect from this band, but I certainly wasn’t expecting Root or After Death style ‘traditional’ heavy metal with extreme metal technique (i.e what we call power metal in the local parlance). The specific genre probably isn’t important, but Eye of the Pantheon does fit in quite well with the nebulous “first wave” of black metal despite its contemporary vintage. Luckily for us, Eurynomos takes after the better metal in that vein by making up for its technical shortcomings with ambitious songwriting and that certain ineffable gutter charisma I find rather common in similarly primitive recordings.
Having never heard of Gama Bomb before this album, after the first few moments of music I was afraid that I had gotten ahold of some sort of the modern-faux-thrash-revival that is somehow cool to people who don’t listen to thrash bands. But I was wrong; Untouchable Glory is not a forced revival or a rip-off; it’s just dumb music. This not to say that the guys in the band are dumb, because they clearly have practiced their musicianship and are attentive to the dynamics and compositional symmetry in their songs. But the result of what they do is still dumb, and apparently they want it that way.
The basis of Gama Bomb’s style is made up of high-speed two- or three-chord minor riffs over which a vocalist rants and chants cleverly cadenced lyrics with just enough emphasis that his voice never becomes a full-on yell but keeps up (barely) enough energy to avoid sounding bored. A typical Untouchable Glory song starts up at full-speed right out of the gate and rushes through a verse, then hits you with slightly bouncier, chunkier variation of the same riff you just heard (but transposed a few steps up or down) as the drums switch from dense d-beats to a sort of swaggering rock rhythm. After that comes the chorus, which is usually not made up of a more interesting riff but does have some very catchy vocal pattern that, coupled with the rapid-fire lyrics, creates a hook powerful enough to snag a whale. Some songs have guitar leads and these are mostly made of 16th-note blather with no discernible direction other than back and forth because that’s the extent of the movement of the chords. There are a couple of times where the chords underneath the lead shift unexpectedly and the lead follows (which undermines the purpose of a lead! Maybe I shouldn’t be calling the guitar antics “leads”…) and resolves the progression in a viscerally satisfying way. However this satisfying resolution is all too rare and the guitar leads rather serve as marks of distinction among the generally formulaic songs.
So far, I’ve only pointed out common failings of metal albums – probably more than 95% of all metal commits the transgressions that I’ve detailed above. So what makes Untouchable Glory worse than a mediocre album is the purpose mentioned in the first paragraph? Gama Bomb is made up of competent musicians, but they have no ambition. Every song sticks to the same method of structure and dynamic manipulation. Every lead begins and ends in the same way. The band must rely on their vocalist and his method of delivery, which does a great job to augment the repetitious rhythm of the guitars, but this only exposes the weakness in the guitar and drum composition, because the vocals never let up or give the music a chance to expand beyond its immediate template. Typically I’d refer to chord progressions when describing song structure but the chord patterns that make up the songs on Untouchable Glory don’t progress, they just recycle. This tendency in the composition reflects the band’s attitude toward metal (and presumably music) as a whole.
The ultimate failure of this album is not in its compositional shortcomings but in its intentional stupidity. Song subjects cover kitsch and cliche topics such as getting high, getting drunk, hating authority, burning witches, being a ninja, and being undead. That these topics are dealt with is not enough to warrant criticism, but the self-consciously ironic attitude that Gama Bomb takes towards the topics is what separates them from quality acts that they are aping. Metal and punk bands have been covering these topics for decades but they didn’t have their tongues in their cheeks while doing so. Since those topics were taboo, metal bands explored new methods of song construction to fit with such uncomfortable or repulsive themes and great music was created as a result (and I always refer the uninitiated to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” or Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” for an example of how musicality and lyrics support one another to establish and expand on a theme). Meanwhile, Gama Bomb have nothing new to say about any of these topics and so it would logically follow that they needn’t invent any new music to support their take on the topics. Thus all we get to hear is basically a parody of speed metal and thrash. If you think that type of music deserves to be joked about, then Gama Bomb might be right for you. If, however, you appreciate and honor the innovators who brought extreme subjects into popular music and brainstormed methods of expressing them musically and lyrically, then you’d best move along, because Untouchable Glory is an affront to honesty.6 Comments
A constantly evolving story we have here, folks. Last Wednesday, parts of the internet caught fire after Andrew Ricks, a police officer from Sanford, Florida, was fired for participating in a Vital Remains concert while on duty. The last bit seems to be what sealed his fate – in an interview with the Daily Beast, Ricks’ supervisor (Chief Cecil E. Smith) claims that prior to this incident, Ricks had previously violated police policies – for instance, not keeping a body camera active during ‘community contacts’. It’s also worth noting that Ricks had already given notice of impending resignation and would have performed his last day of policework yesterday had he not been fired. Whether or not Chief Smith’s actions were justified, it does make a potent case for keeping an eye on a news story and paying special attention to any new information that comes up as it evolves.
There’s also arguably the issue of Vital Remains. Although their musical abilities aren’t likely to play a role in upcoming elements, it’s not our style to let them go unmentioned. Unfortunately, this is one of the bands I haven’t exactly given more than the most cursory of examinations (and even that was several years ago) but I seem to remember them falling into the common trap of having disorganized songwriting; an especially great problem as they also tend to favor extended songs. Is this accurate? I’d like to read about your opinions.11 Comments
Regardless of how you might feel about My Dying Bride as a whole, you could make the point that their earlier, more death metal oriented works gave them more musical breadth to work with. Feel The Misery mostly tosses the ‘death’ part of the band’s legacy and doesn’t replace the holes with anything. To be honest, I found it quite depressing, but I don’t think it was really for the reasons that the band intended. By trying to stretch out a minimum of musical ideas to just over an hour, My Dying Bride has turned their latest studio album into an exercise in tedium and predictability.
Like many a doom band before them, MDB takes a style of metal (on this album, really basic traditional Black Sabbath type stuff) and plays it especially slowly. The emphasis is generally on the vocal performance of Aaron Stainthorpe, who on this album seems shackled by the sluggish pace and constant atmosphere of the recording. His combination of both proficient growls and a clean baritone register give him some versatility that would certainly come in handy on an album with enough diversity of musical language to accommodate his talents. The emphasis on the traditional, mainstream sorts of metal, though, come with a troublesome burden – permanent consonance and conventional pop music language mean that anything the band introduces often lasts for a very long time or is callously discarded without much in the way of elaboration. The songwriting here isn’t completely stagnant, but it certainly meanders, and the inability to properly develop on anything makes an already lengthy album feel even more drawn out than it already is.
The obvious point of comparison is not necessarily to death-doom or even more mainstream forms of doom metal as a whole, but to other drawn out, minimalist/ambient works. The best works of that sort (sparse as their construction often is) tend to trace out a sort of musical “journey” by building up a logical connection between every aspect of the music. Compared to more conventionally structured music, it’s simultaneously easier and harder – the former because there’s less elements to work with, and the latter because listeners would therefore have more opportunity to inspect and scrutinize what actually is there. It seems, however, that My Dying Bride doesn’t even attempt this on Feel the Misery, which is content to wallow in its own sorrow. If you want a miserable navel gazing experience, it would fit just fine, but as a work of metal, it is a dismal failure.
Article by David Rosales (read the original by Dan McCormick here)
Ares Kingdom has brought yet another stillborn child into this world. It has all the ingredients, but somehow it is not alive. It possesses such an unbearable need to be metal that it becomes so self-consciously metal that it could be considered tongue in cheek, but it isn’t. This makes it painfully embarrassing to listen to, the annoyance it causes being staved off by a feeling of uncomfortable pity. While this will entertain and even have the superficial effect of caffeine on the young metalhead, it will translate into a sure headache for anyone expecting the music to say something besides “I am so cool”.
The Unburiable Dead is the sort of album that a band with a lot of metal in its “system” but altogether too few neurons could put together in about a month or so. It suffers from a reliance on rhythmic riffs completely divorced from strong themes that it is borderline nu metal. As it replaces concrete content with emotion, this music is a huge mess. In order to counter the effects of its own unfocused babbling, Ares Kingdom resorts to the simplest means of keeping the music on some sort of track, namely, bringing the song back to early riffs and verse-chorus appendages within the incongruous mass of wacky solos completely out of context running over riffs with little to none motific connection most of the time.
The previous review on this site placed the album squarely in an ultra-musical context to better appreciate it. This is very appropriate and we could argue that it is the best way to appreciate music. Music nonetheless must deliver powerfully, especially from within its intended context and mentality! If it fails to exploit the ground from which it grows, expanding from the idea to musical moods concretely and coherently expressed, then it simply has failed as music, no matter how interesting the original idea was. Rather than a metaphysical reflection of the world thrown into chaos, I get a picture of a drunken brawler swinging an axe at imagined foes in the middle of a forest. Perhaps this picture is also an accurate representation of civilization’s thin veneer, after all. Perhaps Ares Kingdom has succeeded in portraying the self-deceiving nonsense and purposeless chaos they criticize in civilization through the literal mediocrity of their music.
While at first one could be tempted to say that Ares Kingdom speaks a language of its own, that it has stylistic coherence, the microscope reveals something different. Their music, not only on this last fiasco but throughout the band’s play discography, is namely an extremely distracted riff salad in which the individual riffs can be brought in from sources as different as galloping power metal to thrashy death metal to alternative nu and groove “metal”. This is headbang-core for beer metallers and other social metalheads (those who listen to metal in social contexts only and are not actually addicted to it).75 Comments
Review by David Rosales (read the original by Gabe here)
First things first – let’s get the obvious clear and out of the way. Satan is a band of not only competent instrumentalists, but songwriters with an ear for balance, color and dynamics. The previous review written for DMU on this album emphasized and praised this point as much as the band deserves. As it remarks, the attention to structure in the composition throughout the record and its faithfulness to its chosen style is worthy of praise. The only thing being suggested here is going one step further in our observations.