Friday, February 27, 2015

Morbid Angel - Nothing Is Not

Riff mark: 2:55

No David Vincent, he’s tied down to his wife in Genitorturers (nyuk nyuk). Seriously though, the formative nucleus of Morbid Angel has always been the gravity-fluctuating juxtapositions of Trey and Pete; the circulations of all bassists/vocalists/rhythm guitarists are mere afterthoughts. New guy Steve Tucker just so happens to have the esophagus for the proper growl, he holds a bass rather nicely and hits the right strings, so no Vincent, no problem, but of course letter F had to be idiotically overlooked because YOU-KNOW-WHO’S not on it. Shame, because Trey and Pete are pouring every creative, inventive ounce of heaving earth into the heaviest and fastest album to date. Formulas Fatal to the Flesh blisters in its opening seconds, Pete assassinating his toms and snare with lightning attack, a veteran of the business whose endurance is a terrorizer. Trey, per usual, invents new squeals and embouchure for his six-string conjuring, a new, breathing creature from land or sea or stars in every riff. And the riffs kill, producing the melting Nothing is Not, my new favorite in the MA catalog. Only whimper: the album ends in a strange, Abbey Road-like medley of instrumentals, some beautiful (Hymn to a Gas Giant) some confusing (Trooper). Mere smoke trails post-expulsion; Formulas is the sound of something large opening while we slept peacefully in lit villages. Fortunately, letter G got the respect it rightfully commanded three years later.   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Harvey Milk - Death Goes To The Winner

1:38 mark.

23 years is a long time, for some like Creston Spiers & company, that's how long they have been playing music. For others, like a few reading this for example, it will be how long Harvey Milk has existed before you heard their music. I myself, did not hear of them until 2009, the year after Life...The Best Game In Town was released.

Describing the record or even the band is trying, because they don't fit into conventional genres very well, it's like trying to hammer a triangle shaped peg into a round hole. This record touches on sludge, hard rock, punk, acoustic singer/song writer weirdness and pop all rolled together into a dripping southern barbecue sandwich of sound. Thunderous drumming can be heard throughout and is very much a driving force behind a lot of the songs. The band makes excellent use of pauses and other quiet passages, letting the last bit of a riff ring out until it fades completely, before crashing back in with another monolithic dirge. The record also features an impressive take on "We Destroy The Family" by LA's FEAR.

The band or at least singer Creston Spiers believes that this is their worst record. However, many fans, critics and myself strongly disagree. I feel as though I am failing to describe how great this band truly is, however in a few searches of the internet, most other reviewers have the same problem. The music speaks for itself and ultimately that is what is most important. Check out the links below to let the music speak to you.

"I am alive and it's good to be alive"

Friday, February 20, 2015

Today is the Day - Honor

 Riff mark: 0:00
Probably Today is the Day’s most accessible album, thanks in part to Steve Austin’s best rhythm section ever in bassist Bill Kelliher and stellar drummer Brann Dailor (later anchors to dem boys in Mastodon).  Still, In the Eyes of God is way beyond progressive, a carcinogenic void of music where noises from throats and strings fuse curiously to Keith Moon-like drum fills. Austin (his band, his recording, his production) writes half his riffs with the puzzling aggression of carnival music, the other half falling through the gratings below to Bill and Brann to salvage and make into the better moments of Eyes. So, even when it doesn’t work, it’s still acceptable as genius, and personalities are really working in Austin’s favor this time around. Ultimately, another one of those label-defying companion pieces to Pig Destroyer’s Prowler in the Yard and Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Frozen Corpse Stuffed with Dope. Twenty tracks, pieced intricately and linearly, creative and aware, threatening respect, gracious for it all the same. The early 2000’s were full of grind-ish-core albums from this niche. Not complaining. Icky album cover by Paul Booth (who else?)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dark Angel - The Burning of Sodom

0:00 mark.

A lot of 1980's thrash bands would like to make the claim that they were the fastest metal band on the planet, but unless they were named Dark Angel they were full of shit. From the release of We Have Arrived in 1985, the band announced their presence with authority. Becoming known by fans and peers alike as the "L.A. Caffeine Machine" for their lightning fast chainsaw riffing and Gene Hoglan's (who joined just after the debut album was released) maniacal drumming, the band were on the brink of their masterpiece.

1986's Darkness Descends is the fastest thrash metal album ever recorded, 7 songs in 35 minutes. Normally when you think fast, you think short tracks, but this record runs until the wheels fall off on every song, with no track shorter than 3 minutes and one track even reaching 8 and a half minutes. Vocalist Don Doty's growl punctuated with a shriek vocal delivery tackles the standard subject matter of Nostradamus, Judge Dredd and potential nuclear holocaust.

The Burning of Sodom is potentially the fastest song of that era, doing so without the help of a single blast beat. Hoglan writes the lyrics and Doty tacks each word onto the next in a frantically cryptic run on sentence, condensing 6 verses and 3 chorus' into an absolute blur, a Soviet ICBM screaming towards the ground and bringing about utter annihilation.

Bonus Riff! 2:11 mark.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dystopia - Leaning With Intent To Fall

4:17 mark.

Everyone has experienced that moment in their life when things get too real. That first time you watch Requiem For A Dream for example, or maybe that moment when you realize you aren't a kid anymore. The first time I heard Dystopia is one of those moments in my life. This eponymous release just so happened to be their last, and the first I had heard of them unfortunately. Wanting to make up for lost time, I dove right in.

What happened over the next 33 minutes was rather unsettling, and a bit unnerving as well. The record immediately set the tone with a sampled monologue by Eckhart Tolle, ranting on about how mankind continually poisons the present by looking too far into the future. That present suffering will some day pay big dividends, if we can just make it through until then.

For some this mindset either works for them or they fake it and self medicate, and then there are people who just self medicate. The particular track I have chosen begins with a sample of a heroin addict explaining his habit to an unidentified person. The man explains how as his addiction progressed, his money ran out, his friends money ran out and then he ran out of friends. Singer Dino Sommese growls and wails, vocal chords throbbing with anger. Some might say the lyrics are a bit insensitive towards the disease of addiction, and that may be true.

But to me, it sounds like grief. Words pouring forth in frustration and sorrow at the body laid out in front of him, either on a morgue slab, an open casket or maybe even the living room floor. The pain of not being able to save someone who didn't want to be saved. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped. This is a horrible truth and this record is chocked full of horrible truth.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Death - Suicide Machine

Riff mark: 1:26

There were flints sparking in a small handful of bands and years leading to this record (namely Atheist, maybe Sadus), but the explosion of ember from the furnace of determined creation that is Human was, and remains, one of the most important works of progressive, technical death and a blueprint for aspiring metal musicians not wanting to suck. Sculptor Schuldiner, per usual, precision-picks his session roster:  journeyman fretless magician Steve DiGiorgio and two younger, secret-faced guys in guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert (of later ilk Cynic). Human is philosophically and technically played like god from above, flattened of emotion, without bias, and wholly aware of the clay from which it must shape (fitting, given its half-formed “in-his-image” album cover). Every note and beat is played with perfect, stunning staccato, made even more impressive given its slight on-spot, jazz-like tendencies, found swimming in tracks such as instrumental Cosmic Sea. All is remarkable, but Reinert (my 2nd favorite drummer EVER) is playing for the titans of power and mathematics, working speed, proficiency, improvisation, and power without weakness, really becoming the vocal of Human. A staggering transition from any Death album before it, made almost entirely in part by the hired hands involved. A likely candidate for best death metal album of its decade. Mandatory follow-up: Cynic – Focus (1994)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - North American Corpse Desecration

Riff mark: 00:23

The immediate problem with Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope can be identified in less than 45 seconds, in which everything humanly possible is crammed in song as quickly as possible. Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer, Anal Cunt, everything) is 16th-noting like he’s systematically punching away at calculator keys, the drum machines are programmed at such a ridiculous speed its robotic nature is amplified, and the vocals…well, I believe there are four people behind them? It's like a Greek chorus of grindcore pain. Not sure which kingly saint to slap over politically-incorrect lyrics such as “you’re real gay about pussy” and “all I’m buying a bitch is a bag of shit to choke on.” (I’ll exclude bassist Richard Johnson, an old friend and pen pal from the grind scene, from being a culprit) Whatever the point may be, agoraphobic, claustrophobic, xenophobic, pentaphobic (to quote Lucy Van Pelt), Frozen Corpse is scared of everything and addresses everything by playing everything. And, as a doctrine to the altered states of America (more on that later, if you have the right tray in your CD player), it’s a brilliant record, a tortured newscaster turned apocalyptic prophet not unlike Peter Finch in Network (weird film parallel). But sadly, the riffs ain’t there, and it’s more concept than album. ANB proves to be Scott’s drug addicted infant, and Pig Destroyer remains his honor-role child. Too many Holy Mountain (movie, not Sleep album) samples. Too many samples, period.