Search Results for "Album Review"

Album Review: Iron Maiden – “Senjutsu”

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Friday, September 3, 2021 at 9:03 AM (PST)

And now the question must be asked…Is Eddie the biggest cultural appropriator in metal or a galaxy-wide undead magic ambassador? Seriously, we have had Egyptian Eddie, Book Of Souls Eddie, Yautja look-a-like space alien Eddie, Indian headdress Eddie and now Samurai Eddie? Relax, dude. You’re like the Lana Del Rey of metal mascots at this point. It is feeling slightly cringe.

Anyway, here comes the real review…in a time of horrible compressed five second attention span Spotify-advert ready “music” being shoved commercially into our minds and reprogramming us to forget what any non soda commercial production sounds like, it feels counterintuitive to critique an institution of heavy metal intergrity like the legendary Iron Maiden. But being a rock writer and respecting the genre history also means you have to get your hands dirty sometimes.

Senjutsu, the 17th studio album, will give you a general Iron Maiden feel and elicit a certain nostalgia. It also certainly has highlights and if you love the band you can’t help but root for them and feel a huge sense of gratitude and warmth that lends a more charitable view to the records shortcomings. But let’s get down to brass tacks. If you play the new Iron Maiden album back to back with Blaze Bayley’s “War Within Me” or “The Dream of Alan Turing” there is no question that the Blaze solo album blows it out of the water for passionate performances and a much higher energy level. Blaze also simply sounds WAY stronger than Dickinson vocally now, who has sounded winded often on the last few Maiden releases. Blaze also did a Samurai thing first, so I hear.

As much as I love Bruce and he is iconic, and as much as he hasn’t gotten as bad as some of Axl’s worst having an off night on stage reed thin dry falsetto parrot sounds or  the outright gerbil swallowing, marbles and beer foam gargling internet melting trainwrecks in the case of Vince Neil, there are times even on studio tracks when Bruce sounds like he is struggling. He actually sounds better live sometimes than on the albums, IMO.

“The Writing On The Wall” was a great choice for a single, an exciting even if slower track that sounds like more classic era Maiden met with some spaghetti western adventure. It was a thrill to hear the single and gave me a lot of hope for the record. Unfortunately the album doesn’t curtail the bloat that hurt The Book Of Souls and The Final Frontier. Maiden have always been their own worst editors. I guess it is hard when you are used to huge and epic songs and have a very enabling fandom. And I love Maiden and this review already sounds way harsher than intended, so let me clarify.

As latter day metal elder Statesman, I understand that Dickinson and company might be holding it down and emphasizing long form poetic lyrical stories that stretch over vast track times. The problem is this makes for great read along with the booklet story time moments more than an invitation for repeat listening  unless the music is also as in synch with the story such as on the pretty decent “When The Wild Wind Blows” from The Final Frontier. When it works as a formula, it is still epic. When it doesn’t, shit gets super meandering. And it doesn’t help that Bruce these days needs more multi-tracking to beef up the vocals and the delivery lacks as much energy often and is more anemic.

They just can’t deliver the same punch as their younger and higher energy days as often, which is not their fault. The problem is they don’t trim fat or play to their current strengths enough.  “Lost In A Lost World” literally sounds like a bunch of cool yet wholly random and vaguely cheery at times Maiden riffs sort of glued together (though it does have an outro section after a pretty rockin’ solo that mixes the dynamics up and is one of the most thrilling moments on the album). It is a shame the song feels kind of disjointed because the intro of the song is an introspective, weary traveler type section that has some of the most powerful appeals to the bittersweet nature of our human condition on an album of juggled themes. But all in all it aint “Stranger In A Strange Land” (which the Brave New World album title already set a precedent for referencing, it seems) and this new song shares titles with a Moody Blues song that is pretty well loved.

4:31 of “The Time Machine” almost is a Rage Against The Machine riff, so there are some twists and turns. Ultimately the record suffers though from too much mid tempo similarity that doesn’t really crest. Track two, “Stratego” feels like it just sort of ends because it doesn’t know what else to do. While guitar solos are a highlight and the keyboards as well, the solos vary between lighting an emotional spark and feeling like a space filler, it hurts to say.

“Days Of Future Past” kicks off with some punch and swagger that reminded me of “The Eye” by King Diamond before the best riff of the album precedes Bruce’s arguably strongest performance and fullest voiced takes on the record. I kept being distracted though as an X-Men nerd comparing the lyrics to the story or movie version and also wondering why Bruce didn’t just write a song about the Silver Samurai fighting Eddie, lol. “Death Of The Celts” feels the most “important” as far as the lyrics and music having the most resonant connective tissue and the slow and moody intro is absolutely fantastic, one of the band’s best arrangements in years and a song which will absolutely entrance audiences if they play it live to a packed house.

All in all, while I am happy it is here and some of the themes and musical passages are quite cool (including a hard rock section of “The Parchment” that musically reminded me of a less interesting than “Zombie Eaters” by Faith No More), it doesn’t wind me up half as much as I hoped it would.

Album Review: ÆNIGMATUM – ‘Deconsecrate’

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Monday, August 9, 2021 at 2:24 PM (PST)

ÆNIGMATUM play incredibly sophisticated death metal that covers many sub-genres yet never feels like a putrescent pastiche, more of a masterful, murderous melding. Deconsecrate, their 2021 release for tastemakers 20 Buck Spin, finds the label completing a bases loaded grand slam they started this year with Ghastly unto Witch Vomit and then Cerebral Rot. Like those aforementioned skull fuckers, ÆNIGMATUM know exactly what styles of death metal they are harvesting and have a deep respect for the genres foundations.

The record opens with “Forged From Bedlam” as jazzy sounding drums that could be Elvin Jones joining Mastodon before things are soon exploding into death metal intensity paired with moving passages of melodic and emotional movements. These latter type of passages are often accentuated by the secret weapon bassist/synth player Brian Rush and one cannot help but wonder how many hours he spent studying Death records like Individual Thought Patterns to perfect the art of perfect accentuation.

Other highlights include the post solo almost thrashy devastation of the 4 minute plus mark of “Undaunted Hereafter” which then drops to half time and really mines the riffing for every drop of blood. Fucking outstanding section which then evolves into the dissonant longing of the “Disenthralled” intro.

This band is simply intimidating in their range and skill level without becoming so tech that it is annoying, somehow keeping things feeling evil and old school influenced but nonetheless displaying the kind of chops that would even make dudes like Archspire or Inanimate Existence probably take notice and give them props.

My only gripe is that in some places the mixes feel uneven or some things are a little too loud or brittle, but overall this shit is pure fire. My favorite is the cinematic, monstrous “Fracturing Proclivity” which really allows Pierce Williams to fucking destroy on the drums and show ungodly levels of talent that will have drum nerds gleefully oozing body fluids over this release.

The Ivory Crux artwork is also super dope, like some sci-fi horror realm comic book nightmare-scape or how the interior of Mars should have looked on Invincible as the parasitic cephalopods’ bedroom.

“Despot Of Amorphic Dominions” is as Lovecraftian a song title as you are ever likely to discover, whether the band meant that or not. Awesome name, though I am now hearing the Beastie Boys say ,”She’s Lovecrafty, She’s Just My Type” and that means it is medicine time. This song will make Gorguts and Grogus fans weep with joy whilst also achieving hallucinatory states of intense prog around 3:40 that Enslaved fans will appreciate.

This band knows how to write super addictive and intricate passages that astound without overwhelming and the repeat listening factor is huge as there is always more to discover, but somehow they still feel like songs and not showboating. Perhaps because the overall emphasis remains on the FEEL of the WHOLE experience rather than the ‘ooh, lookey what I can do’ of each section…ironically allowing them to get away with more insane shit somehow in the process!

Many hails to this band. I can’t imagine how long it took to memorize or chart all this shit! Much respect for sure. Lots of heart and talent. And again… a monstrously impressive new record for fans of old school and technical skill with actual emotional moments as well.

Album Review: Violet Cold – “Empire Of Love”

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Monday, July 19, 2021 at 8:05 AM (PST)

As someone almost solely operating this site on a budget of nothing and out of a labor of love, I don’t always get around to covering things on an industry timetable. It is corny af to me that it is frowned upon to review an album that is only a few months old instead of, like, only release week. Or the worst…having to ghoulishly rush publish when someone famous dies without having a chance to absorb the very human loss. What about processing music and living with it awhile?

This is, for obvious reasons, a terrible example but I couldn’t enjoy any Harry Potter movies when they were super hyped until the roar died down and I could take it in and experience it for myself (and now, with all apologies to my faves Luna Lovegood and Bellatrix Lestrange, it is hard not to sometimes regret that decision despite loving those stories when the author is campaigning against my community on the regular to a horrific fucking degree. Also, the irony of her having a Nonbinary actor Ezra Miller being the repressed obscurus is HUGE).

File Empire Of Love under Gaze rights? Albums with fantastic cover art that will enrage shitty people yet that Sense8 fans will cherish? In actuality it is nigh impossible to classify the new Violet Cold as anything other than great and much needed. I usually lie around in a diabetic, demiflux depression stupor most of the day and listen to black metal then go to my overnight vampire shift job at a 24 hour gym that forces members to overdose on Ava Max and Dua Lipa, so it is really compelling to hear the shameless pop vocal elements that would normally be cranked way too high in any dance mix buried here amidst radiant blackened technical opuses as if they were told to sit in the corner and have vocals be subservient to some guitars ala some Steve Albini olden days vocal mix until they learn how to play texturally with others. And to clarify, Ava and Dua both have talent and appeal, I am mostly talking about the vocal production in that kind of chart centered pop and how creative decisions get structurally imposed onto the zeitgeist in the name of commerce and centering familiarity.

Music doesn’t have to be only some commercial dominant morass of nutrition free cynicism and seeing what sticks to the wall, yet all styles can still be repurposed and have new meanings (like when Jennifer Herrema used auto tune in RTX and it absolutely slayed and likewise cracked the skye. Pitchfork, y’all needed to fuckin’ give that album a higher score).

Note- I am also not throwing shade on some trap or disco artists who are genuinely trying to produce weird, trippy textures and use auto tune as an instrument more than a crutch and other modern pop elements, as long as the content isn’t shite.

In other words, I thought this entire album was a mish mash of my subconscious cracking open wide into a multiverse. Pretty refreshing when many black metal types are still wallowing in the mire debating if it was “ok” for Mayhem to make the stylistic shifts on Grand Declaration of War. Fucking yawn.

The “can vegetarians wear severed pig heads and throw skulls at their fans and still cover Rudimentary Peni” debate is much more interesting, but I digress.

Anyway, “Be Like Magic” literally stopped me in my tracks and made me ask aloud wtf is going on (and of course has a brilliantly subversive title). Some of the results here are breathtaking and shocking (speaking of “allowed/aloud”), like Moby’s “God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters” grew up to have a progressive metal half brother. I mean, maybe don’t underestimate someone who probably singlehandedly gave Deafheaven their entire new direction. Violet Cold is already three steps into further pastures while (no shade to them, but…) a band like The Lion’s Daughter, for example, is only just discovering recently that they don’t need to care what others think and can make some of their best ever art by coloring outside the lines and USING KEYBOARDS, lol. Extreme Black metal is supposedly so transgressive and the “cutting edge” Max Martin school of pop was supposed to be ‘transformative’ as well in a much more socially palatable way than sniffing bags of dead crows before singing, but both became parodies and subsumed by narrow dogma…a Golden Dawn or Golden Ratio, hahaha (I’m dying).

Violet Cold again throws cold water in the face of multiple genres and cultural limitations in the name of exhilarating, soulful freedom. I’m convinced “Life Dimensions” is the widdly waves of music Steve Vai would dream after absorbing post-gaze into his musical hive mind like the Phalanx in X-men. Liturgy and Frantic Bleep, Candiria or Anneke van Giersbergen’s work with Devin Townsend are some of the only artists I have ever heard be this crazy and make it work so fluidly. This is a highly addictive record to inhabit awhile and a revolutionary work of art for individuality, collective love and solidarity outside the exploited, barren wasteland of capitalism’s binary Matrix. Dark Funeral once promised humorously to Teach Children To Worship Satan but in this genuine, Earth in crisis moment where we need an actual Aquarian shift, Violet Cold will teach your kid to worship possibility, learn to be themselves and above all…that it is ok to hope, despair, rage, celebrate and be complicated. And still be loved. And to the edgelord brigade stuck in the past who can’t adapt to new horizons, (not to be ageist) but as Anal C*nt once said…”You’re Old (Fuck You)”. Better an empire (Empyre?) of love in 2021 than Bard from Emperor stabbing marginalized people in Lillehammer in the 90’s.

Album Review: King Woman – ‘Celestial Blues’

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 6:23 PM (PST)

King Woman
Celestial Blues
Relapse

5/5

Some of the best art comes from outgrowing that which does not serve us, self-empowerment through (not strictly Biblical) transfiguration. Doing the hard work of allowing change. Everyone has light and dark sides and, not always, but in many cases that depends on your vantage point. But sometimes we have to risk it all to grow and thrive.

As far as an example that relates to the new King Woman album, what came to mind first was Margarita (influenced by Faust’s Gretchen) from one of my favorite books. Yes, I mean Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (I have a large rib tat of the evil sarcastic drunken Satanic black cat Behemoth pointing his pistol towards my crotch, hahaha). Anyway, not only did this classic book serve as the impetus for “Sympathy For The Devil” but it featured a skewering of false and vain people, an examination of Christ and Judas as almost co-dependant in how they expose one another’s weak spots, a woman escaping an unhealthy situation and demanding art be deified and a sort of culmination of apotheosis via a Walpurgis Night wild ceremony. While King Woman’s new completely cathartic doom and bloom (over strictly gloom) sophomore album draws more from Paradise Lost influences- the classic of literature, not the metal band- there are some similar touchstones here. Albeit with smoky, jazz alluding shadowy atmosphere paired with heavy metal and brilliant vocal layering.

Created in the Image of Suffering was our album of the year when it came out and I kind of think this one is even better already. Damn, yo.

The title track captivates from the start with a plaintively almost hesitant Kristina Esfandiari speaking the album name over sparse and atmospheric, frail notes. It almost sounds like a statement of intent…celestial blues. To feel the vast cosmos in all sadness and beauty, contradiction and pain. All of the band’s music has felt like both a refuge and semi-addictive but also totally overwhelming at times, and things start right off that way this time as well. Something about the initial energy reminded me fleetingly of PJ Harvey’s “Catherine”, maybe the saddest song and my favorite from the Is This Desire? era and the “I damn to Hell every second you breathe” sparse bluesy vibe.

King Woman (and Jack Shirley) have created a masterful event here. Esfandiari channels characters and bares bones over intense and well composed doomgaze. I have been thinking how it feels more streamlined, but not in a watered down sense. It is like the band have managed to not lose their avant-garde edge while really refining and focusing the material more than ever. There is a hypnotic pull and spellbinding tension to doom songs that other less talented bands would plod on worshipping the riff into bong induced monotony until the horse is beaten dead. While that can be cool sometimes, there is also something powerful in respecting then crescendo and emotional peaks that come with pairing such material with pretty much the best vocalist in several genres at the moment (I have been telling people that about Kris for a few years now and stand by it).

“Psychic Wound” is like a tormented lullaby with the most intense screams yet attached to this project and the catchiest melody and riffing as well to date. It is both sensual and also terrifying, like the paint is gonna peel off the walls and gush blood like Evil Dead 2 at any minute (which the video sort of reflects, haha). It has become one of my top three favorite songs from the group (along with “Deny” and “King Of Swords”, if you were wondering). “Morning Star” is completely amazing with the most intimidating and bad ass video of the year paired with chanting at the end that is pure falling from the heavens payoff and will light the fire in any heavy music fan like a ritual torch. Like the new Amenra record De Doorn, you are experiencing total respect and immersion into the artistic process. A little patience will be rewarded aplenty, such as when the six minute plus “Golgotha” showcases this group’s ability to raptly weave dynamics, storytelling and rhythmic shifts into unconventional storytelling that is like a doorway to another land. “Coil” is another standout track, stacatto percussive hits and hyperventilating ushering in a sort of tribal beat and riff that is almost like King Woman channeling Dead Kennedys and anarcho (post) punk. It is big and droning and exciting.

There is really just no one doing it this good right now and KW continue to top themselves. But isn’t that the point of flying closer to the sun, to dare to dream of bigger possibility? This is the kind of shit that people are going to be able to revisit for years and ultimately that will change (and can even save) lives.

Album Review: Mammoth WVH – “S/T”

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Friday, June 18, 2021 at 11:55 PM (PST)

Don’t be worried that the rock scene can’t handle both a Mammoth and a Mastodon, cuz they are entirely different beasts (ha). MAMMOTH WVH is, of course, the long gestating project of Wolfgang Van Halen. It sounds nothing like Mammoth Grinder. LOVING the superb album art, though.

Wolfie teased this baby for like half a decade, it feels like. Recorded at the iconic 5150 Studios, the production is very clean but the tones still sound great for what he is going for. Michael Baskette produced, known for working with Slash, Alter Bridge, Muddle of Pudd and more.

It is impressive that the young multi-instrumentalist pulled off this monster hard rock album in the midst of so much else going on. It serves basically as his “first Foo Fighters” record where so much was done by one person. And speaking of Foos, “Horribly Right” reminds me of them and STP in the stomp department. You can hear the time spent with Clint Lowery and Tremonti really paid off in that every song has catchy as fuck arena radio rock moments with big hooks. The tunes don’t differentiate themselves as much as Van Halen songs, but there is a lot to enjoy.

“Mr Ed” reminds me of Broken Valley-era LOA  and lots of era STP, with a bigger, less miserable radio chorus ala Shinedown. WVH tends towards uplifting and sort of positive sounding melodies, never shying away from harmonies or feeling comfortable with being poppy- but never to a detriment. That is rare these days.

“Epiphany” is my favorite. A big soaring almost Jesusy chorus and piano and a big bridge that made me reminisce on “Right Now” Van Halen memories. Lifting you up to feel grand while still having something to say. “Where were you when it went to hell…”?

“Don’t Back Down” has a ‘Beautiful People’-esque drum and guitar interplay pattern in the verses (fuck Manson, just noticing a similar beat) but the song is basically a huge hard rock bluesy riff fest with very clean, uplifting vocal melodies. So much of this album is meant to propel momentum and make toes tap. Honestly, I get Lifehouse “Hanging By A Moment” vibes from a lot of the vocals but Wolfie has a higher register and is less annoying doing that style.

On the GnR tour the huge ending riff of this tune will blow heads off.

“Resolve” has a beautiful jangly guitar intro Van Hagar fans could get behind. The vibe is very bright and sort of reminds me of “Angel’s Son” by Sevendust (albeit without the sad theme of that classic). The guitar leads tone is just unbelievably crisp and smooth. Of course “Distance” is another highlight and a tribute to his dad, beloved and missed by millions.

All in all a solid and impressive outing right out the gate under incredible scrutiny. It is way more commercial than what I usually hang with, but you have to give props where due. Wolfgang is clearly dedicated and a great dude who deserves all the accolades and appreciation coming his way. I bet these tunes sound even better live!

Bodom After Midnight – ‘Paint The Sky With Blood’ EP

Posted by Ralka Skjerseth on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 11:46 PM (PST)

 

When it comes to Finnish death metal, I could go on talking for hours about it. Renowned big names such as Abhorrence, Demigod, and Amorphis have helped the scene build a continuous worldwide legacy that will forever prevail. And speaking of Finnish death metal, of course we can’t forget the legendary, off-kilter Children of Bodom with their viciously hell-raising sounds. Unfortunately, the band didn’t last more than 25 years (even though it’s probably best for them and it’s meant to be so I can’t complain, considering the situations). Moreover, the passing of Alexi Laiho has definitely left everyone actively involved in the metal scene devastated.

As for me personally, Children of Bodom opened the gates of discovery towards the Finnish death metal scene for me as a 12 year-old back in 2010, therefore hearing the news about his passing shocked me to a great extent. Just right before passing away, Alexi Laiho, together with Bodom After Midnight, left his one last legacy in the form of a sonic thrashing, which is this Paint the Sky with Blood EP that I’m reviewing.

Bodom After Midnight itself is a new act in the Finnish metal scene that Alexi Laiho and Daniel Freyberg proceeded to form, not so long after the disbanding of Children of Bodom. Together with bassist Mitja Toivonen (of Santa Cruz fame) and drummer Waltteri Váyrynen (of Paradise Lost fame), they went on to create ferocious resonances that bear an inclination towards persistence and heavy rhythms. Posthumous works (in this case, music) are always heart-wrenching to listen to, mostly if you have a profound attachment towards the late musician. So whenever I listen to this EP, somehow fragments of reminiscence towards Children of Bodom would still replay itself in my head. I can sense some Blooddrunk-ish hints here and there, and the album artwork of this EP reminds me of Hate Crew Deathroll. But enough reminiscence for today, I guess.

This EP consists of three tracks, in which, two of them are original tracks, and one of them is a cover of Dissection’s very own “Where Dead Angels Lie”. The title track is one hell of a far-out wonder; it presents intricate chord progressions, frantic drumming, and chorus with enchanting melodies. The fast paced guitar solo also helps build an intense nuance that makes the tune even more ghastly.The second track, “Payback’s a Bitch”, is quite strong on thrash influences. Aggressive riffs and barrelling rhythms are two of the qualities I noticed first when I came across this track for the first time. The distortions on the vocals really got me hooked as well. And finally, the Dissection cover. They took a bold step by attempting to cover a song by these Swedish extreme metal einherjar, and that bold step turned out to be a good step. It starts off as tranquil with its intro that features orchestral instrumentation, but then strikes like a malevolent thunder, and while Bodom After Midnight presented their own kind of eclectic authenticity in a cover, they still retain the dark and atmospheric ambience that Dissection has.

Even if Bodom After Midnight is not going to continue on with the absence of Alexi Laiho, I’m already satisfied enough with the release of this impeccable EP. It explores
many sides of death metal converging with a bit of thrash and the way they keep their sounds consistent throughout the whole EP is one of its good sides. Thank you for your last riffs, Alexi Laiho. Rest in power.

Album Review: Korpiklaani – “Jylhä”

Posted by Ralka Skjerseth on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 8:27 AM (PST)
Korpiklaani – Jylhä 
Review by Ralka Skjerseth
Release date: February 5th, 2021
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Folklore, nature, and celebration have always been some of the prominent themes in Korpiklaani’s songwriting  – and on this one eleventh album of theirs, they featured those themes too. Jylhä has a magnificent resonance packed in a form of 13 tracks, released under Nuclear Blast records (of Sabaton, Enslaved, Immortal fame). Apart from featuring the themes of folklore and nature on this album, they also featured three murder stories. One of them includes the Lake Bodom murders which happens to be one of the most well-known homicide cases in Finnish criminal history that is still unsolved. The lyrics were powerfully written by the renowned poet and author Tuomas Keskimäki who is also Korpiklaani’s long-time lyricist. He managed to engrave words into enthralling tales that possess their own complexities. The release of Jylhä also marks the very first feature of the new drummer Samuli Mikkonen on a full-length album, replacing Matti Johansson.

This album is very diverse in terms of genre classification; Korpiklaani incorporated elements of thrash metal, power metal, reggae, ska, and even a bit of punk on this album aside from their folk metal roots. The instrumentation also comes in a wide range, featuring various kinds of ethnic instruments that are beautifully presented such as accordions, mandolins, and fiddles. The generous amount of rhythmic fiddles featured on this album strengthens the folkish element that gives vibrant colors to this album. 

This album opens with anthemic drums and catchy eclectic riffs that are presented on “Verikoira”. And then we also have a tune that is strong on power metal elements, which is “Niemi”. “Leväluhta” meticulously combines reggae with folk metal and opens with such fast paces. “Mylly” is a folkloric tune that is powerfully written, telling the story of a working man’s journey to the mill. “Tuuleton” is one of the tracks on this album with slower paces and it sounds tremendously poignant at first, but manages to become more powerful and resurgent in the end. Next up we have “Sanaton maa” which is an easy-listening classic folk metal tune. Then there is “Kiuru” which is a song that tells the story of Finland’s unresolved homicide case. “Miero” opens with a riff with progressive tendencies, almost Sabbathian to an extent – then Järvelä proceeds to sing peaceful slow paced vocals. It is also an existential song under the subject of the cosmos. “Pohja” gradually progresses from a ferocious intro into an exuberant set of riffs. “Huolettomat” is a fun poika anthem that also presents intricate bass lines and immense energy with its layered arrangements. “Anolan aukeat” presents a solo using accordion and it’s unusually intriguing. The instrumentation of “Pidot” is obviously danceable and it’s what makes the track festive. The last track “Juuret” has harmonious choruses that become a perfect closing to this album. 

 

The themes of this album are quite diverse, as it speaks of a wide range of topics ranging from folklore to murder to the universe and our own roles in it. It may sound festive but it also has its own darker side. I should say this album would remind its listeners of the likes of Turisas and Eluveitie. This is the perfect kind album to drunk-dance to, especially if Finnish folktales and festivities are your kind of thing. 4/5

Album Review: Undergang – ‘Aldrig i Livet’

Posted by Ralka Skjerseth on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 3:13 AM (PST)
Undergang – Aldrig i Livet 
Review By Ralka Skjerseth
Release Date: December 4th, 2020
Label: Dark Descent Records, Me Saco Un Ojo, Extremely Rotten Productions

 

The precarious side of the Copenhagen underground music scene has always been fascinating to me, especially with names like Halshug and Nuclear Death Terror surrounding. This time, I found a recent interesting discovery which is the death metal act Undergang. The band has been around since 2008, actually. And back in December 4th, 2020, they released an impeccable new album called Aldrig I Livet which is signed to Dark Descent Records, Me Saco Un Ojo, and Extremely Rotten Productions.

 

Having characteristics that incorporate the elements of Finnish old school death metal, Undergang’s sounds will remind their listeners of Abhorrence and Demilich, mostly when it comes to the intricate riffs and gnarly guttural vocals. The Finnish influence can also be found on the name of one of their previous records, Kuolema Parantaa Kaikki Haavat (translation: “death heals all wounds” in Finnish). It’s not like I understand enough Danish to comprehend the whole lyrics on this album, but my intermediate proficiency in Norwegian (which is mutually intelligible with Danish) helps me understand the main themes that are elucidated in the lyrics; which are death, bacterial infection, corpses, and the act of slaughter. Belligerent enough to represent the brutality of the death metal scene — followed by the fact that Aldrig I Livet roughly means “over my dead body”. The cover art of this album, which is said to bear a striking resemblance to Totalitär’s Sin Egen Motståndare (although not intentional), manifests Undergang’s own familiar idea that death is the escape from life when life gets too much, with the illustration of a man cutting his own throat. It strengthens the gory imagery of Undergang.

 

It has been almost four years ever since Undergang last released a full-length album. If their previous release Misantropologi (2017) is rather inclined towards doom metal-esque elements with its slower paces and absence of blast beats, then Aldrig I Livet rather sticks to their death metal roots; with its abrasive and chaotic grinding sounds, even though the deeply resonating doom elements are still a bit intact. The undecipherable vocals of Aldrig I Livet present erratic layers of distortion and involve a lot of gurgling. There are a lot of menacing hooks you can find on this album, also followed by stark riffs with thick atmospheres. The drums kind of implement punk elements, and the groovy fast paces of the drums help build a ghastly nuance. Reverb and distortion can also be found on this album, precisely on the title track “Aldrig i livet”. Meanwhile, cleaner guitars are presented on “Ufrivillig donation af vitale organer”. The track “Sygelige nydelser…” features feedback and has a vehemently heavy guitar solo from around 01:15 to 01:14. You will come across resonances that will remind you of early Carcass materials on the track “Indtørret”, and you will come across a convergence between death metal and crust punk on the track “Rødt dødt kød”. The track “Menneskeæder” is one of the tracks that makes you instantly notice the Finnish old school death metal reference.

 

My verdict is that Aldrig I Livet intensely brings you to a funereal yet memorable death metal experience. You will find incoherent distortions and massive hooks here and there, and that’s surreal. Not only that it will bring you back to early Carcass materials, but also early Obituary materials. I can see that Undergang keeps on growing and improving, and Aldrig I Livet is one of the manifestations of their growth.

Album Review: Cro-Mags – ‘In The Beginning’

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 9:14 AM (PST)

Cro-Mags have one of the more turbulent legacies in hardcore and currently are ripped in half into two bands who each fairly have a serious karmic claim to aspects of the legacy. While Harley Flanagan owns the name now and . Let’s get this straight – In The Beginning is a more than admirable hardcore record full of plenty of aggro, solid moments and pit worthy consistency. To his credit, it is clear Harley didn’t just dial it in at all. He also made sure great people were attached to this era, from Rocky George (who steals the entire show with ease) to Phil Campbell’s cameo energy. Gabby also kicked a lot of ass. It sounds great mix wise and the performances range from on point to totally killer.

On the album’s artwork, Flanagan explains, “The front of the album is my old building I used to live in, called ‘C Squat’ where I wrote most of the music for 1986’s Age Of Quarrel album. The rear of the record shows me looking down at the site where the building once stood, essentially, it’s me looking at my past and where everything began.” I love the LES and C Squat makes me think of getting heroin spritzed out a needle up my literal nostril and then seeing Choking Victim in the basement while people urinated down an orange traffic cone. Damn, my life is somewhat different now.

The title of the record is honestly a big distraction for me, seeming like less of a PMA statement and more a troll reminder of who founded the band (although I am not tone policing dude on the things he is cynical about). It also is because I am a huge Mercyful Fate fan and The Beginning is a compilation album released in 1987 consisting of the Nuns Have No Fun EP and different versions of 4 tracks from the album Melissa. I know it is nitpicky and corny to note that and that neither this album or The Beginning are the most imaginative titles, but I don’t like thinking of other art when I am trying to concentrate on what is in front of me.

“PTSD” is a standout track, just about anything you might want in a Cro-Mags song present. That is good and bad. “Don’t Give In”, while also kicking ass, has almost the exact same development from a classic pace-setting slower intro to a growling, faster remainder. It is good but kind of makes you want to just listen to “We Gotta Know”. Or does it? Am I biased because Cro-Mags have a smaller discography than The Ramones? Plenty of Ramones songs sound similar and I love them all. Lots of elbow swinging, two-stepping mid tempo classic reminiscent moments to experience are present (or re-experience if you are an old fan) in a new chapter here.

While there is power in a lot of this, it also feels like an homage to bygone days. Still, he has way more of a right to that than half the new jack bands copying actual old school artists personal creative contributions and aesthetics but then acting as if they are hotter shit. No. Your new school band will never be Cro-Mags, Judge or Chain Of Strength. Stay motivated and do your thing, but don’t get it fuckin’ twisted and pay your respects, kids. “No One’s Victim” has some cool dissonance for the intro that I liked, before setting up an elbow swinging march sprinkled with mandatory lead guitar widdlies.

I guess I will just come out and say it. John Joseph and Mackie Jayson on board as well would have made this so much more fucking awesome. Harley did an admirable, great job holding the vocals but he isn’t a frontman and singer like John. The songs are cool but would’ve been cooler. Mackie is untouchably good. No contest. You can’t expect people to just forget knife fights and court shit or whatever you believe, but after the triumphant majority of Misfits (don’t forget poor Googy) and Guns N’ Roses (sans Stradlin) reunions of recent times, it is impossible to hear this and not also notice the missing elements in the room unless you are cave man headbanging so hard it doesn’t matter. One love and pma to all of these people, all of whom have profoundly influenced my life. It just makes me sad.

Listening to the strong closer “There Was A Time” (also a song name on Chinese Democracy, ha) I think this record is overwhelmingly well meaning and has a ton of real energy to it. I would never want to take away from that. It is admirable Harley went so hard and wrote so many songs for this, not ceding an inch of passion. Along with the new Body Count record, it is great to hear vets of the scene still give their all and not lose their beliefs. Sometimes survival is about being thankful for the good aspects and reality of the situation we have, not what we wish was different. In that paradigm, let’s be thankful we can still hear any of these musicians at all and support whichever version of the band (or both) and try and keep ahead of our collective societal demons, y’all.

Album Review: Protest The Hero – “Palimpsest”

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Thursday, June 18, 2020 at 7:44 AM (PST)

Today is a huge day for prog/metal/screamo fans as Protest The Hero release what may one day prove to be their crown jewel, Palimpsest. Moved up a day to honor Juneteenth, the record is simply awesome (but there is little “simple” about it). First off, the Derya Nagle production on this record is the best the band has ever sounded. No shade on their other excellent albums but this is the best balance of a mix I have ever heard for this complicated act (“Gardenias” is a barreling rollercoaster that a less deft hand could have quickly derailed with a less sophisticated ear). The songwriting is also next level, even for a band known for mind boggling and death defying arrangements.

This album features the showmanship paired with connective tissue heartfelt and relatable lyrics meets extreme concepts the band is known for, but much of this album is firmly rooted in current problems in society more than ever before. Themes of real populism versus the fool’s gold peddled by Trump to his wrestling mark cult are peppered throughout this record. Art like this more prominent in the public discourse would actually make us great again. Rody Walker singing ,“I’m dreaming of a life I can’t afford” on the all-killer “All Hands” is relatable to almost anyone.

Elsewhere “The Fireside” lampoons people who take for granted their privilege over an exhausting (in a good way) series of musical gymnastics and school essay length lyrics that would make “Masters of War” seem like cliff notes.  “I’ve got a job for every able-bodied man/Munition factories for women and children/And all we needed was a reason/And you gave us one, gave us one,” calls to mind Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight military industrial complex skewering documentary from the early 00’s and makes me wonder why we STILL haven’t invested more in sustainable energy jobs for common folks instead of still jacking off weapons manufacturers and supplying them with endless worker ants. “Mountainside” and “Hillside” break things up as beautiful interludes that sort of stir a patriotic longing for a non-nationalistic blindfold, eyes open to see this country for warts and all rather than false idol worship.

“The Canary” is a triumph of a single and within the scheme of the album itself. The flow and style recalls their earliest Kezia days manic and earnest, poetic decrees paired with their maturity and widened world lens.

“I was named after my grandmothers in the tradition of my family/I was born after my stillborn sister
Romantic idealistic lies euphemize as fantasy /But the water always bursts first from the blister.”

Breathtaking. It is more important than ever to actually sing about meaningful shit and not just murdering women or other stupid things in metal. Our world is crying out.

A compelling and very multi-layered record concerning ‘root essence’, occult layers of self, the Tarot and much more, Lux is a major moment for Denver’s In The Company Of Serpents. Pummeling sludge, dreamy wasteland hallucination and solar ego fat melt are all part of the experience.

Produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero, the album is the most dynamic release yet from a band who, like Ufomammut or Bask, are content to stack up solid releases upon each other and let the work speak for itself rather than get cocky and big heads. Still, the band have to be feeling pretty stoked on some of this brilliant material. “The Fool’s Journey” is ten minutes of patient stage setting that then leads to one payoff moment after another. The essential statement examined on here is that all is sound, mind, light.

“The Chasm At The Mouth Of All” is probably my favorite, creeping along like Giant Squid was more desert rock minded with a craggy old wise man on verse vocals. I was definitely feeling the bleak country moments of that one.Ethan Lee McCarthy & Ben Hutcherson provide guest vocals on “Scales of Maat” and Paul Primus adds tasty viola to some interludes, giving this whole release the feeling of some dark film revealing moments of hope during a weary series of trials.

If you have slept on this band before this is a great place to start and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of huge riffs from the formidable trio as well as bellowing screams to counterbalance the more “open minded” moments. It’s a profound and killer record anyone from Neil Young to Mastodon fans could curl up next to a campfire with (while keeping a watchful eye out for deadly critters).

What The Dead Men Say is a well named album for the ninth release from heavy metal modern champions Trivium. Sadly as there are mass graves around the world right now there are probably many dead with things left unsaid in this mortal plane. This new record from one of the hardest working bands in the business cements their legacy and proves once and for all they are a long term force in the genre who broke well above many of their one time peers from the pack of bands they emerged with. It is full of tight performances, a love of big moments and insane musicianship and packs a lot of punch along with the emotions.

My favorite recent record from the band remains the Michael Baskette produced and easy to connect with Heaven & Hell influenced Silence In The Snow, though I like the Josh Wilbur crisp production on this even better. Wilbur produced the recent The Sin & The Sentence record as well (which feels like it just came out to my time blurring together mind), but on What The Dead Men Say you really feel the pairing clicking more than ever between Wilbur and the band. Songs like the relentless and brilliant “Catastrophist” or the instrumental and cinematic Annihilator meets Death Magnetic sized Metallica – opener “IX” burst forth with complete confidence and go to work on you fast.

“I looked up what the word ‘Catastrophist’ means, and it’s one geological view of how the world has been shaped by very catastrophic and immediate changes,” says Paolo Gregoletto. “You can apply the same narrative to the C.E.O. of an oil company making decisions for profit, but ruining wildlife. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you do it anyway. When you’re born, you have no say in the world you grow up in. You do as you get older though.”

“Bending The Arc To Fear” could give Arch Enemy a run for their money with a fierce melodeth intro before a big verse opens up into catchier terrain.

The balance between screams, hooks and borderline hokey but still rad big rock moments is very well done, with a very healthy amount of savagery left intact for the mosher metalcore and heavy metal kids out front. Listening to this record legit makes you proud of how far Heafy and pals have come. The press release reveals the genesis of “The Defiant” can be traced back to “streaming in a Hungary dressing room trailer at a festival.” They are always incorporating their journey into the work and holding their own against the trends. It has earned the band a lot of respect over the years and a place in the halls of metal forever. No fan can hear the glistening solo of “Sickness Unto You” and not feel some force in their chest call them to higher purpose, even as the song revels in anger at the parts of us left dead by the world. But the album never gives in.

“I’d love for people to be inspired to pick up an instrument and write a song,” Heafy says. “The reason I love metal is it goes against the grain. The best way to overcome darkness is to make something creative. Whether the impact is small or large, I hope it’s positive for listeners. We hopefully built a community to make them feel safe where they can talk about what they want, enjoy it, and get help if they need it. It’s possible to even find a lot of love and light in there.”

While their are still some older and bigger bands around, Trivium are well poised to be the leaders of the pack for the next generation as time marches on. “The Ones We Leave Behind” uplifts with soaring melodic riff moments and tribal into speed obsessed drums paired with inspiring and hoarse sung vocals, giving the feeling the band does it for the fans as much as themselves. It’s another big win all around.

Album Review: Testament – Titans Of Creation

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 1:40 PM (PST)

From the moment you hear “Children Of The Next Level” blast out of the speaker’s with supreme artillery confidence, it is evident that 2020 Testament is take no prisoners prepared to stand taller than any new buzz band in the genre. The huge grin of nostalgia and thrill of promised new glory that fans get each release is an awesome feeling that the band deliver on with ease. Undoubtedly in the top 4 now that Slayer are no longer standing (and arguably they were already deserving of being in the Big 4 over Megadeth for friggin’ years), Titans Of Creation is a near masterpiece of thrash. From Hoglan completely savaging the kit with jaw dropping performances locked tight with Steve DiGiorgio to many memorable lyrics and the bedrock structuring Testament is known for thanks in no small part to Eric Peterson, you can’t lose with this album.

“Curse Of Osiris” is a track that  opens with blistering hate that reminded me of superfast early The Legacy style Testament married to some unholy near Demonic worthy screams amidst the standard Chuck iconic barks and even some blasts. The tom rolls on this song! Chuck is in full command on this song, a total boss.  “Catacombs” has a theatrical ancient epic vibe you might expect on an instrumental current Sepultura track. This band is perfect for rallying the dejected right now.

“Dream Deceiver” stands out with more melodic, groove thrash riffage and a pushy mid-tempo chorus that alternates with technical faster measures for a thrilling and satisfying fix. “She won’t stop haunting me at night!” I firmly believe 100% that no other major thrash band has had as good a late stage 4 album run as Testament have pulled off since turning heads sharply when the excellent The Formation Of Damnation salvaged the group from an early grave. Just thinking back to the live shows from that time is such an exciting feeling, but I am just as excited about them this current album as ever. This really is the meaning of LEGACY (pun intended). Alex is one of the greatest guitarists in the history of the genre and this album certainly cements that yet again.

“The Healers” is timely considering the Coronavirus scare Chuck and Steve just went through and is one of the more stage ready powerful songs of the album telling us to get back in touch with nature in a time of 5G debates, pollution, mass death and traffic jams. Howling wolves and a respect for Mother Earth pepper the lyrical content with emotion and strength drawn from old wisdom. It’s one of the band’s most explosive and bad ass songs – along with the still anthemic “Native Blood” – in their storied discography. Also, who else in metal can bellow “My healing powers crystal blue” and have it sound tough as shit?

“Night of the Witch” is cool but was actually one of the weaker songs on the album. It is a single and still kicks the ass of half the bands out there, so that is pretty cool if a song still as good as NoTW is actually not the strongest material on a record. I can see why they released it as a single though, since the song has some of the eviler riffing and darker “Hell” vibes a lot of devil craving metal maniacs lust for. Skolnick and Peterson really own this song the most in the band, lending a Pantera level of technical flourish and rage to a few moments.

Again, this is peak 2020 metal that will strengthen any fan during this hard time. Hails to the legends!

Add to My Radar   Add to My Radar

When writing about noise based releases I tend to try to evoke the feeling more than spending time attempting to wager what gear was involved or micro-manage increasingly sub-atomic sub-genres with fancy descriptors. Even though noise to some people is one of the more atonal and thus mechanical or perhaps dehumanizing of genres – the potential for dystopian hallucination running very high – I find that in itself lends me to have MORE not less of an emotional reaction. The best noise to me feels like immersion into a sort of industrial fan’s isolation chamber nightmare, black waves of dread or out of body astral projection above dead cities calling my name in ghost impressions amidst static and blips.

The new terrifying WHITEPHOSPHOROUS release GOD//BLESS//AMERICA – a noise offshoot project of antifascist black metal mischief maker’s Neckbeard Deathcamp – delivers on most of the above checklist. If we were playing some sort of sick and sad bingo for the death of hope in this country, this could certainly soundtrack it if you add claustrophobic dread of state violence, gun addiction and a mounting wish to shake the complacent out of their shells. This is a really engaging tape release that you’ll want to listen to in a dimly lit room and question if your bills are even worth paying or if there is any way out of the hellscape. It’s a powerful surprise statement midway through an awfully fucked up year. From “Walmart Footsoldier” to the grim opener “226”, the release manages to find the sad heart struggling to sing and beat beneath the deep soul bruise and desensitization of a constant barrage of hate in our society. It’s ok to be angry and not accept this as a normal, ok life. It’s also ok to damn well give your listeners an out of body experience expressing your discomfort at things (“Predator” may be the, no pun intended, apex of that here) – the saddest realization being there may be nowhere left to go but up.

So the choice now is, try or die? Or “No Future”.

Album Review: VEIL OF DECEPTION – “Dissident Voices”

Posted by Andrew Johann Datoush on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 7:56 PM (PST)

They say that digital is the way to go these days, because nobody is buying physical CDs anymore. I guess when I got my physical copy of the new VEIL OF DECEPTION album Dissident Voices in the mail a few days ago, that was my nice way of giving a big middle finger to those who won’t buy the band’s albums. I’m old school that way. I enjoy studying the album cover. I love reading the lyrics as I listen to the album and getting lost in whatever tales the band is trying to tell me. I like reading the credits and thank you notes, trying to make connections to other bands I like, or even people I know. (“Oh, they thanked Bubba Barclay! That’s Joe Bob Brigg’s personal lawyer! Awesome!”).

I will never not own a physical copy of an album as long as it is possible, but people need to be buying CDs,
Vinyl, or even cassette tapes. All sorts of shit is possible these days. Anyway, speaking of buying CDs, that brings me to the reason we are all here right now! I’m going to sell you on an album to go check out!

Dissident Voices is the band’s third, and best musical offering to date, and it hits you harder than they have before with a unique blend of heavy in your face raw power, soulful heartfelt lyrics, and at times, haunting melodies. Guitarist / pianist Dejan Jorgovanovic perfectly matches singer Daniel Gallar’s voice, which I’ve often described as part Davey Havok (AFI) and part Erik A.K. (FLOTSAM AND JETSAM). I first discovered singer Daniel Gallar back in 2011 when he was announced as the new singer for NEPHWRACK, another criminally underrated band I will suggest you check out, but I’ll do that at a later date when I do a “From The Vault” review! Fast forward 8 years, and 5 musical offerings later, and his voice has gotten better.

Read more and hear a track BELOW.

Add to My Radar   Add to My Radar