Posts Tagged ‘album


Music Review: Amon – Liar In Wait (2012)

By Devdutt Nawalkar

Deicide. An institution in death metal. A band mocked for much of the last decade. The advent of easily accessible internet, and the regrettable attitudes that have accompanied it in tandem, have seen an upsurge in new fans, easily dismissive or worse, ignorant, of what the band once meant to this music. As a guy getting into death metal in the India of the 90s, Deicide, alongside other well-known luminaries, were the ultimate alpha dogs. The first two albums are stone cold classics, and to this day are capable of chilling one to the marrow. As tired as Benton’s shtick might’ve become over the years, for all intents and purposes, he was bestiality and devil incarnate on those two records. The Hoffman brothers, Eric and Brian, took their Slayer-influenced atonal insanity to unchartered waters – there was precious little that sounded like Deicide then. They were fast, they were loud, they were politically incorrect as all hell. They just “felt” death metal.

They never scaled those lofty heights of righteously pissed off youth again, and even put out a few cringeworthy efforts in Insineratehymn and In Torment In Hell. Scars Of The Crucifix was the last album they put out with the Hoffmans, a portent of the style they would go on to pursue with Ralph Santolla and Jack Owen – a more melodic strain of death metal which, while working wonders on The Stench Of Redemption – the sound of a rejuvenated band with something to prove – quickly grew old with following efforts. Of course, post-Scars was also the time when the Hoffmans parted with Benton and Steve Asheim amidst fairly unedifying scenes of public bickering over songwriting credits.

It’s common knowledge that Amon was the band name before they came to be known as Deicide. Word about an Amon “reunification” had been doing the grapevine ever since the Hoffmans split. It’s taken bit more than half a decade, but finally, in the grand tradition of jilted heavy metal heroes trying to get theirs back, ‘Liar In Wait’ sees the light of day. Helmed by the Hoffmans of course, alongside Mike Petrak on drums and Jechael on vocals/bass, Liar In Wait is an extremely solid, if slightly unremarkable, helping of fast, blasphemous, old school death metal. And by fast, I mean this shit is fast! There aren’t many current bands playing this style today; I don’t mean the super technical, brutal stuff, but bands with an almost single minded focus on belting out unrelenting, tremolo picked death metal like a Krisiun or an  Angelcorpse of yore. There is hardly a groove to be found on display here, and while the tastefully melodic solos are the only reluctant concession to accessibility, this is precisely thirty six minutes of ball point caving in of the human cranium.

Thirty six minutes is ideal for this kind of death metal. There isn’t much by way of variety here, and the songs often melt into one another. But I don’t think the Hoffmans would have it any other way. There is a single point agenda here, and that is to strip death metal of a lot of cute afflictions that currently plague it, and revert back to a more unrestrained, balls-out style. This isn’t like the first two by any stretch of the imagination; as mentioned before, it owes a lot to Scars Of The Crucifix. The soloing is immaculate, and unlike the case with Santolla, isn’t protracted, knows when to bow out with grace, and just fits the songwriting. The riffing is much like the more aggressive sections on The Stench Of Redemption (throws up an interesting catch 22 too; the carry over from Scars to latter-day Deicide efforts being obvious, who exactly have Asheim & co. been copying the past six years?), along with a lot of South American and Polish death metal inclinations.

Jechael is good on growls too. Passionate, snarling, mixing highs and lows with perfectly placed ferocity, he won’t have you pining for Benton. The drumming is fairly standard for this kind of death metal; blasting for the most part, rarely having a chance to slow down and display other chops, but certainly not a sore point.

‘Liar In Wait’ isn’t the freshest thing you’ll hear this year, but you can’t fault it for passion and honest intent. It sure beats out the hundred and forty seventh attempt at ripping off Incantation.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Solar Deity – The Darkness Of Being (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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FREE DOWNLOAD: Solar Deity – In The Name Of Satan (Raw Black Metal)


Music Review: Harsha Iyer – When It’s Time (Part One)

Harsha Iyer has already set himself up as one of the most unique artists around. With a nearly perfect debut behind him, the 19-year-old from Chennai has major expectations to live up to, and he is taking on them the only way he knows: with a multitude of instruments and a versatile voice, Harsha Iyer tirelessly weaves seamless songs that take unexpected turns throughout the course of the album. This part of When It’s Time could be one big piece of music separated by song titles, as everything goes with everything else. It’s seriously likable psychedelic pop-rock, with the only downside being that no song really grabs you, except No Easy Answer (easily my pick from the album). It may be no trouble at all to get tunes from Curious Toys playing in your head, but most of the ditties here just don’t stay with you even though the whole affair is grand and elaborate, but unlike the previous album, the fine detailing here works only as a whole, which isn’t a bad thing at all because you’re supposed to listen to it from start to end. It would be fair to expect catchier songwriting from Harsha Iyer on the second part of When It’s Time though, considering the young man has proved more than once that he can rustle up an atmosphere for a dream.

LISTEN/DOWLOAD: Harsha Iyer’s When It’s Time (Part One) | Harsha Iyer’s Curious Toys



Music Review: Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning

By Karan Patel (Simple Complex Continuity)

Steven Wilson, the primary creative force behind progressive rock’s most iconic band, Porcupine Tree, recently came out with a solo effort called Grace For Drowning. To be more precise, it was out in September, 2011. I only heard it in April, 2012. I had heard about such a solo album to be out by one of favorite musicians and he had a show in LA in the House of Blues, Sunset Strip. I decided not to hear a single song and just go for the show. Here’s the reason: I went for a Porcupine Tree show some time ago when they were touring for “The Incident”. The band literally played each and every song that was on the album. It was the best concert I had ever been too. Yes, I am super biased because you just possibly cannot find flaws with the music they have made.

The live performance was better than expected. Like every progressive band, they utilized a lot of arts/visuals which were more than mesmerizing and perfectly synchronized with the songs in a way that there indeed was another band member playing an instrument to go along with the songs. The solo effort is more than incredible. Steven Wilson already has a reputation of contributing his talents in many a pool. Whether its Opeth/Storm Corrosion or Blackfield, he has only written good music. Period.

Grace For Drowning is definitely a masterpiece and well, bonus points for solo. A very big applause to all his band members. They all did more than a brilliant job. My favorite one being Raider II, an epic 23 minute song which takes me back to days when I was and still obsessed with Dream Theater‘s “Change Of Seasons”. As a writer myself, I am totally obsessed with his style of writing lyrics. It never ceases to amaze me. Be it Porcupine Tree, or his solo, he has a phenomenal talent with words and there is just no escape from it.

I am not sure if he was always a multi instrumentalist, but in the concert he was mostly on the keyboards and of course the guitar. It was definitely fun to see him on the keyboards. The album has all the Porcupine Tree elements embedded with electronica, ambient, psychedelic rock. Most interestingly, it has a lot of jazz elements (something I do not understand, and probably don’t want to, at least at this stage of my life). However, it was very interesting to hear a mix of all these sounds under the general progressive sound which I am completely nuts about.

The album is such a trip. The production is way beyond spectacular. The writing is incredible and the music is just so evolved in today’s times with the whole mix of genres, old and new, that it has had me listening to it since I went for the show. A must listen, especially if you have a taste for the progressive sound.

MORE POSTS BY KARAN PATEL: The Best Guitarist in the World | Film Review: Road, Movie | The Adventures of Tintin | Music Review: The Rosewood Thieves – From The Decker House


Music Review: Serj Tankian – Harakiri

Artists who think people should give their music a chance because it supports a cause should listen to System Of A Down. A band like that or Rage Against The Machine or artists like Michael Jackson are the best examples that teach us that great music that can help a cause, that clutching a cause does not make music great or even good, and that the cause should never become greater than the music. Serj Tankian drives his points straight home with superbly crafted songs that are as accessible as Linkin Park tunes, but don’t run away, because Harakiri is high on the intelligence scale. Very easy on the ears, and a lot of fun, the album makes you sit up and think. If you don’t know what Serj Tankian is singing about, it will make you find out. The music is energetic, and at times, poignant. Harakiri has none of the lunacy that System Of A Down‘s debut was possessed by, but the eccentricities that set Serj Tankian apart from every other artist are here. Harakiri is a thoughtful and serious work of art from an amazing vocalist who is awake to the world around him and also knows how to sing about what he sees and thinks about it.

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Music Review: Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

By Himanshu Singh Rathor

Gojira! It’s a Herculean name in itself, and this review is coming from a guy who has been listening to Gojira for four years now. They have their own territory in this ginormous metal scene. It’s a major and well-known stop for any metalhead. They sound fanfuckintastic in both forms i.e live and on record. The Flesh Alive DVD is an immense evidence of how fucking tight they are and can be! They sound awfully insane in the Flesh Alive CD. That was my first impulse before album could come out (leak). But then I got my hands on L’Enfant Sauvage where they sound like gods of their scene. They have their own sound, and it makes the progressive metal world go crazy. The Way Of All Flesh was a fucking win for every Gojira fan. They have what it takes to stand apart from any other mainstream band. Back then, I got blown away from their versatility. Now, this album is an extension of the Gojira sound, but not an expansion. I was hoping for the same amount of change which took place between Terra Incognita and The Way Of All Flesh. Nevertheless, I’m still saying L’Enfant Sauvage has what it takes to unquestionably be the album of the year.

On the current album, one would easily discover the use of two or more pitches turning out to be ‘reciting tones’, the use of which is perfect. I mean, it’s just flawless. The first song to notice this in is ‘The Axe’ – a mixture of death and black metal which only Gojira is capable of doing. The reason I call it “black metal” is because of its dark journey with the chanting in the background. It makes you close your eyes and feel the ambience through your head (on-a-loop kind of material). It’s one of my duckie picks from the album. ‘Liquid Fire’ is like a prolongation of the ‘The Axe’. That doesn’t mean anything bad – its a jaw-smashing beauty with one tempo carried throughout. ‘Mouth Of Kala’ has the pace that only Gojira can carry… such a groove throughout the song, with the gloomy pitch running in the background, and bassline is world-class. Such uniqueness, oh boy!

And here comes my favorite track for this year: Gojira takes it away with ‘The Gift Of Guilt’. A great idea of what Gojira can do to a song. Diversity!? Check. Groove!? Check. Heaviness!? Check. Perfection!? Check. It passes the entire test. I like the way it ends but if a solo could have been written for the end, ‘The Gift Of Guilt’ would have crossed all the limits to be Gojirasmic. Other tracks such as ‘Pain Is A Master’ is a deluding track as it starts with a slow ambient part and bashes away into the technicality of “death metal”.

I’m thoroughly impressed with what Gojira are offering here. This album is a huge transformation, more twisted towards the unique ‘progressive’ sound, which in itself is a massive thing to achieve, but it is not, as I stated earlier, an ‘expansion’. Buy or download L’Enfant Sauvage or do whatever you want. But listen to it!

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Music Review: Moonspell – Alpha Noir/Omega White (2012)

Even though Moonspell are closer to Gothic Metal than Black Metal, this sentence isn’t going to make sense because talk of musical styles is meaningless when the band in discussion is a pillar bound to fall on you no matter which way you run. The bastards from Portugal have enjoyed their uniqueness in the metal kingdom since their debut and have freely developed their songwriting to churn out album after fantastic album. Alpha Noir/Omega White is their tenth studio full length and captivating as anything else by Moonspell.

Alpha Noir

Thunderous from the first second, Moonspell sound demanding on Alpha Noir. The music is urgent and punchy, and the band retains its flamboyance throughout. These guys are amazing at creating atmospheric parts and inserting tingling guitar solos just when you’re about to start missing them. Alpha Noir has a highly charged Moonspell stomping all over the place with chunky riffs that will make Dave Mustaine wish he’d written them. This part of the album is clearly for banging your head to, so don’t expect to find too much depth here.

Omega White

And depth is what Moonspell deliver by the bucketful on Omega White, emitting clouds of atmospheric passages, sounding settled after the blows they give on the first part. Calm and inviting, the band is in a contemplative mood, and the sternness of Alpha Noir turns to surrender on Omega White. The vocals too change – the growling makes way for the crooning; you won’t need to read the lyrics except when the singing/growling isn’t in English.

What a fine balance Moonspell strike here: Alpha Noir whets the appetite with heavy rumbling and Omega White satisfies you completely; you’ll know it even before the album has run its course. Even Moonspell know it, but it’s Album Number Ten for the monarchs of Portuguese nights, and they stretch Alpha Noir/Omega White with great delight. If you’ve been missing Type O Negative a lot, you should listen to this immediately, but that would be the wrong reason to check this out. The right thing to do would be to let these sounds into your ears because it’s the new album from fucking Moonspell.

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Music Review: Cannibal Corpse – Torture (2012)

Had a smaller band released an album titled Torture, it would’ve been laughed off. But one has to take a couple of steps back in disbelief and fear when one thinks of the Cannibal Corpse logo above the word ‘torture’, because with that name comes a guarantee of unadulterated brutal death metal bliss no other band can match up to the quality of.

The visceral power of this unit is legendary; they come at you like hungry barbarians who’ve chanced upon a sheep, pounding away like it’s the first time they’ve got that chance, surprising you with how they keep their attack fresh each time without succumbing to the pressure of doing something new.

As became their style long ago, Cannibal Corpse begin the album with a frenzied assault: ‘Demented Aggression’ becomes the youngest brother of opening cuts like ‘Priests Of Sodom’ (from Evisceration Plague), ‘Pounded Into Dust’ (from Bloodthirst – my favourite CC record from the Corpsegrinder era)  ‘I Will Kill You’ (Gallery Of Suicide), ‘Devoured By Vermin’ (Vile), ‘Savage Butchery’ (Gore Obsessed) – yeah, I’m going to name them all, or as many as I can think of right now – ‘Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead’ (The Bleeding), ‘Meathook Sodomy’ (Butchered At Birth) and of course, ‘Hammer-Smashed Face’ (Tomb Of The Mutilated), ramming into you without a warning and preparing you for the next 30 minutes or so of battering, with is done in the usual way: some more pummeling tracks, a couple of fillers, instrumentals or experimental pieces of music dripping with bile. With songs like ‘Encased In Cement’ and ‘Followed Home Then Killed’, Cannibal Corpse assure you they’re going to push ‘As Deep As The Knife Will Go’.

Technically, Cannibal Corpse have never lacked anything: Chris Barnes was perfect for what they were doing back then, and George Fisher is a powerful monster with the richest growls in death metal. What am I doing? It’s pointless talking about Cannibal Corpse’s musicianship – they’re Cannibal Corpse: the band that defines death metal with every album. I’m not sure what other ‘fans’ expect of them, but I certainly don’t want them cave in to the pressure of trying to redefine their style or reinvent themselves and fall flat on their face. To hell with that… it’s thrilling to be reassured with every release that there’s one band that doesn’t care about jumping out of the vast boundaries it has created for itself and the genre.

Cannibal Corpse are relentless on Torture; predictable as you think they are, you can never guess what they’re going to do next. In the river of pus they’ll be hacking cadavers rabidly for a few seconds and then will suddenly throw you a groovy piece of flesh to rip apart as you regenerate in the fountain of blood.

Say what you will about CC, but you’ll always remember them as the most consistent death metal band ever; Cannibal Corpse have always been the best at merging gore-soaked brutality and ghastly horror with top-notch technicality to become a flesh-ripping, bloodthirsty beast that erodes everything in its path.

Torture, exactly like every other Cannibal Corpse album, is brutal death metal at its most sophisticated. It’s overpowering, even if not always overwhelming, and it’s futile trying to fight what was created to kill. We can only decompose in sickness and disease under the rotting pile of carcasses.

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