Monday, March 19, 2018

Metal Mail: Landmine Marathon Cassette Box Set

For a short period of time a few years back, Landmine Marathon was the subject of a ton of hype.  Most of it was due to Revolver Magazine slobbering all over themselves at the thought of a pretty girl fronting a death/grind band.  Actually, that was damn near all of it.  Unfortunately, Landmine Marathon was much better known for Grace Perry than for their sound, which is kind of a shame.  I actually really enjoyed the band and picked up their first two full-length albums on CD when they were fairly new.  They were also featured in my Honorable Mentions post for my Favorite New Bands of the 2000's. 

I sort of drifted away from the band after their second album.  I did not even know they released anything else, much less two other albums before Perry left the band.  I do not really know why that happened, but Landmine Marathon attempted to move forward, replacing Perry with Krysta Curry.  Technically the band is still active but has not released anything since the switch in singers.  I am curious as to what Perry is up to these days.  It does not appear she stayed in metal.

This is not a complete box set collection, it only contains the second, third, and fourth albums out of the band's five total albums.  That is okay because these are the better albums from the band and contain two of the releases of which I am most familiar.  Landmine Marathon's sound is based mostly in the sounds of early death/grind bands like Bolt Thrower, Carcass, and Napalm Death.  Grace Perry is the star of the band on these releases, with her impressive full-throated roar, through she is not the band's driving force.

This could be a better box set if it included everything from the band.  It is nice to get a few of the albums together, but there are two albums missing.  And those are the harder ones to find.  So, not a bad set, but not as good as it could be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Metal Mail: Rare Finds

I picked up both of these albums from a seller in Canada off of Discogs.  I'm not sure how I ended up with two underrated U.K. albums from the same seller in Canada, but whatever.

This is actually my third Onslaught album, and thus far the best one I have heard.  I do not know nearly as much as I should about this amazing U.K.-based thrash metal band.  My first experience with the band was 2013's VI, which was a very good modern thrash metal album.  After that, I picked up the Steve Grimmett-led In Search of Sanity, which is apparently not terribly representative of the band's typical sound.  So I tried this one, and holy fuck I am glad I did.  You see, I am a big fan of Slayer, but my absolute favorite album by them is Show No Mercy which was their debut album and was more of a NWOBHM-influenced album than the brutal brand of thrash metal that most people know of their sound.  This album by Onslaught is very similar to Show No Mercy.  It is pure Venom-worshipping thrash metal with some absolutely incredible songs.  This is not only my favorite album by Onslaught, it might be up there with Sabbat's Dreamweaver as my favorite U.K. thrash metal album.

Speaking of Sabbat, Skyclad is frontman Martin Walkyier's band after leaving the great, underrated thrash metal band.  Skyclad was one of the pioneering bands in folk metal, fusing Irish melodies and instrumentation into thrashy, Iron Maiden-esque riffs.  Of course the highlight of the album is Walkyier's staccato barking vocals.  Walkyier has one of the great vocal styles in thrash metal and it is on full display throughout this album.  As much as I love Walkyier's work, for some reason I have just not gone through much of his stuff.  I have just one Sabbat album, which I absolutely love, and now two Skyclad albums, both of which I really enjoy as well.  Well, that will likely become one of my goals.  There is really only one other Sabbat album, which will likely be the next one I check out, but there is quite a bit of Skyclad material.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Metal Mail: Rapid Fire Records

For some reason, I only recently decided to check out Running Wild.  The German power/speed metal band has been around for 40 years, yet I never took the plunge.  It was only a few months ago that I added Blazon Stone to my collection and loved it.  So I picked up this release which was the album that immediately preceded Blazon Stone and I love it even more.  Running Wild, along with Blind Guardian and Helloween, really helped usher in the European style of power metal.  This album is filled with terrific, pulse-pounding burners with infectious hooks and choruses. The middle tracks drag just a little bit, particularly with the instrumental "Highland Glory" and its oddly bouncy bass riff, but it picks right back up on "Marooned".  I was a little concerned when I saw the tile "Bad to the Bone" that Running Wild might be attempting an ill-advised cover, but this song is an original and quite catchy.  After two positive experiences, I will be checking out additional material by Running Wild.  There is a lot of stuff to go through yet.

Nuclear Assault is the band that really got me into crossover.  I had heard groups like Suicidal Tendencies and Prong, and even the Corrosion of Conformity stuff that was more crossover-oriented, but it was when I checked out "Critical Mass" again that I was really sold on the genre.  I loved the album that that song appeared on Handle with Care as well.  So, when I had an opportunity to add their debut album to my collection, I jumped on it.  I do not like this one quite as much as the aforementioned album though.  The band had not fully grown into their sound on this release.  It is more of a straight thrash metal album than the later release.  There are a lot of great songs on this album, but some of the tracks are clearly done to be humorous and end up falling a little flat.  There is nothing inherently wrong with doing humor in metal, but it does not always work, and this is one of those occasions.  The more serious tracks are definitely the standouts and keep the album interesting. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Metal Mail: Gruesome

First of all, I love this album cover.  Just some excellent Lovecraftian-style horror.  I have been somewhat familiar with Gruesome for a little while.  The band was started by Matt Harvey (not the Mets pitcher, the guitarist for Exhumed, Dekapitator, and others) and some other longtime death metal musicians, as a way to pay tribute to Death.  The sound of the band is clearly based on the early works of the great death metal pioneers, particularly Scream Bloody Gore.  There is a breakdown in the title track that absolutely calls to mind one in Death's "Zombie Ritual".  Gruesome has only released one full-length album so far, which brings me to the only problem that I have with this release: it is just an EP.  Hopefully Gruesome will release a new full-length album soon.  In the meantime, this is some good stuff for anyone looking for something like the early Death albums.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Metal Mail: Random Tapes

These are just some random tapes that did not fit in with any real category.

FVRLVRN: DEMO 2016 (2016)
I am pretty sure that pronunciation is supposed to be "Forlorn", but I could be way off base.  This is an extremely quick and dirty demo from a band experimenting with combining black metal and grindcore, two styles that I am not sure get mixed together too often.  The band features two members of blackened slam (also two styles that do not get mixed often) outfit Hateful Transgression, a band whose demo tape I am still trying to find after originally ordering it from the label only to find that it was no longer active.  There are some interesting moments on this release, in particular the drum blast in opening track "Crawling Inside" that is so fast it sounds like a motor sputtering to life.  The black metal parts mostly come from the vocal style, which is often a rasping shriek rather than the more typical grindcore style.  There are some riffs here and there that are more black metal in nature as well.  Otherwise, it is more of a death/grind release.  Fvrlvrn deserves credit for trying something new.  I still prefer Hateful Transgression personally and will hopefully one day find that demo tape.  Fvrlvrn recently changed their name to Morgue Walker.

Well, with a title like that, you pretty much know what to expect: balls-to-the-wall pure fucking metal, and that is what you get.  The Motorhead and Exciter covers hidden in the album cover art are some additional clues.  The combination of those two bands is a pretty decent way to describe the band's sound, definitely fast-paced with soaring vocals and sing-along choruses.  Seax has apparently been around for some time as this is the band's third full-length album.  There have been a lot of bands popping up in recent years playing this kind of retro heavy metal, so Seax has their work cut out for them if they want to break through.  They definitely have the chops though, as this album attests.

I discovered Unspeakable through recommendations by various people on Facebook and Youtube.  The band is a black/death metal band in the vein of Archgoat, Black Witchery, and the like and from St. Louis.  This band is certainly raw and primitive-sounding, which I can definitely appreciate.  The songs are fast-paced and intense and sound like the kind of thing that would have been recorded in the mid-1980's.  Of particular note is "Fevered Dreams in the Witch House", not just for the face-melting riffs, but I dig the Lovecraft reference.  Final track "Unspeakable" caught me by surprise at first as I kept thinking this sounds a lot like very early black metal bands.  Sure enough, it is a cover of an NME song from their debut demo in 1985.  That makes sense.  I love this tape so much I ordered their previous release and will be keeping an eye out for a full-length, which is apparently coming soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Metal Mail: Tapehead City

I have been collecting all of my music on cassettes lately.  Not really sure why, I just decided that is the format I enjoy the best.  My wife thinks I am crazy.  She is probably correct.

Despite how much I love Symbol of Salvation and John Bush's work with Anthrax, I never really checked out any more of Armored Saint's early work.  Part of this is likely due to not really enjoying the more recent output by the band.  Part of it may be due to simply lack of opportunity.  But after I saw them live in support of Queensryche a year or so ago, I decided I would take a chance on them again.  It seems odd now that I did not give their earlier work a chance because this album is terrific and is definitely closer to Symbol than their later material, which only makes sense because this album immediately preceded it.  Now, there are not any truly awesome songs like "Hanging Judge" or "Reign of Fire" on this one, but there are some damn good ones.  Ultimately, I will probably always prefer Symbol over this one, but this is definitely a good album, and much better than anything the band has been putting out in recent years.

I have been on a 1980's metal kick lately.  I blame my wife.  It seems reasonable.  Anyway, I have been trying to find bands that were overlooked in the 1980's that definitely played metal.  I have been mostly using the Metal Archives as a source to look bands up when I come across them on sites like Tapehead City.  This album received some a very favorable review on that site, and it was cheap, so I took a flyer.  This album is definitely a product of its time.  It is a metal album, clearly there are metal riffs, but the band is more of a combination of U.S. power metal and the more popular styles of hard rock/heavy metal from the time period.  There are some damn catchy songs here, such as the title track, which absolutely would fit in on an album by Manowar or Helstar.  There are some other highlights as well.  This album would have been avoided based entirely on the super cheesy cover, but it is an example of why one should not judge an album just by its cover.

One of the things that I have really enjoyed since starting to really collect cassettes has been finding old demo tapes, particularly of bands that never made it.  And Tapehead City seems to have a number of obscure demos.  Demos from bands that are well-known are usually a bit pricey, so this is just fine.  I picked up this demo from a Massachusetts-based band based on the fact that they are listed as a thrash metal band on the Metal Archives and because it was pretty cheap.  Well, if they ever were a thrash metal band, they are not on this demo.  This is the last of five demos the band released in their short existence and it is very clear that the band was aiming for more of a Pantera/Machine Head/Exhorder style of groove metal.  It is not bad, but it is not really what I expected either, and I am not typically much of a groove metal fan.  It is interesting to note that one of the former band members from this group went on to play in Godless Rising and Goreality, two bands of whom I am familiar.

This was a little-known doom metal band that existed for a few years in the late 1980's/early 1990's.  They released this album, their debut, before going on hiatus for a few years, released albums in 2000 and 2004 before disbanding.  Recently, they have re-formed again.  This is the first time I have had a chance to check them out.  This is a very bluesy style of doom metal, calling to mind the early Black Sabbath albums.  The album is somewhat long and most of the songs are very slow, making it seem that much longer.  That is not really a problem, though it would be nice if there was a little bit more variety.  The better tracks are those that are faster-paced.  This is certainly an interesting album and would definitely appeal to the true doom metal fans out there.

This is not actually what I ordered.  Usually I avoid live albums and I ordered one of the band's early studio albums.  But when it arrived, the J-card was correct, but the tape was this live release.  I gave it a shot anyway and I am damn glad I did.  I avoided Lizzy Borden for a long period of time due to assuming they were just another glam band.  Honestly, the band definitely looks ridiculous, however musically, they have more in common with early Iron Maiden than Poison.  This is 100% pure 1980's heavy metal with searing guitar solos, infectious riffs, and soaring vocals.  Yes, it is a live album, but the production is so good that the songs do not lose anything.  In an ongoing review of 1980's groups, Lizzy Borden stands along with W.A.S.P. as truly impressive metal bands in an ocean of forgettable glam bands.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Metal Mail: War on Metal

I recently placed an order on a small record label, mostly to check out the reissue of Summoning's debut.  Deciding not to get just one album, I also picked out a demo that I thought I would like.  

I went about discovering Summoning in a weird order.  The Austrian black metal band has been around for a long time, forming in 1993, but I just decided to check them out this year.  I started with their newest release, 2018's With Doom We Come.  That review is coming soon, but it was not quite what I expected.  Nevertheless, I gave them another chance, picking up the reissue of their debut album here.  It is clear from this release that Summoning was still looking for their niche, this is a much more typical black metal release from this time period, but there are moments where the band's future sound shines through.  Certain songs lean heavily on atmospheric keyboard melodies, which became the band's calling card later on.  I definitely enjoyed this release a lot more than their new album, which I am still working on discovering.

This is the first demo from a Chilean death metal trio.  South America tends to produce some filthy and raw old school metal and Vomit is no exception.  Taking their cues mainly from the very early death metal bands, Vomit is completely filthy.  I can definitely identify a strong influence from Possessed, particularly in second track "Vomiting Death" which has a riff clearly resembling Possessed's "The Exorcist".  But Vomit is definitely not a clone of older bands.  They do add their own twists onto things.  This is just the band's first demo and they did release a second one last year too, but I have not managed to find that one.  I will be keeping an eye on this band.  I have been a fan of South American extreme metal since first hearing Sepultura and the continent has not let me down yet.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Metal Mail: Pantera

What the fuck is that?!  

Yes, this is a Pantera album.  The band in the 1990's wanted everyone to think that their first album was Cowboys From Hell, but that is not true in the least.  That was actually their FIFTH album.  Pantera disavowed their first four albums and that is not terribly surprising given the large difference in sound and quality, but I would argue that this is a pretty damn good album.  In fact, it is not all that dissimilar from the aforementioned Cowboys.

This was the first album with the classic Pantera lineup as Phil Anselmo joined the band as singer.  His style at the time was less tough-guy hardcore and much more dynamic.  Anselmo can truly sing on this release among some truly impressive shrieking.  Seriously, he does one hell of a Rob Halford impression here.  

Another highlight to this album is the amazing guitar work of "Diamond" Darrell.  He would of course go by "Dimebag" later on, but he was "Diamond" here.  People have long claimed that he was one of the greatest metal guitarists of all time, but I was never totally impressed with the groove metal work, much preferring his work on Cowboys.  He has some of his greatest riffs on this album and some damn good solos as well.  

There are some less-than-stellar songs here, such as the regrettable "P.S.T. 88", but most of the songs are actually damn good.  "Proud to be Loud" is the kind of anthemic track that would have been at home on an early 80's Judas Priest album and the first half of the album is full of some of the best and catchiest songs of the band's career.  

If you are looking for something like Vulgar Display of Power, you are going to be disappointed with this album.  However, if you are like me and Cowboys is far and away your favorite Pantera album, you should at least give this album a shot.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Iced Earth in Omaha: Feb. 27, 2018

Last night, Iced Earth brought their Incorruptible World Tour to Omaha with support from Sanctuary and Kill Ritual, as well as a performance from local band The Clincher.  The venue was Sokol Auditorium, but it was in the basement instead of the main stage, which was definitely weird.  The basement was pretty musty and featured a small stage.  It was a shockingly small crowd for a band of Iced Earth's stature and the band seemed somewhat dismayed by it (that and some douchebaggery in the crowd).  I do not blame them.  I thought that Omaha was doing a better job of supporting metal bands in concert, but this was a step backwards.

Omaha band The Clincher was the first to take the stage.  I will admit I knew next to nothing about the band before last night.  They had a strong performance, and I would be interested in checking them out a little bit more.  Vocalist Lori Piper was the main draw with her ability to change her vocal style from a soft croon to a blood-curdling shriek quickly.  

Kill Ritual was next, and I was able to get a little bit of information from the Metal Archives on them, though I feel that information needs to be corrected.  The band is much more of a power metal band than a thrash metal band.  The riffs were definitely not all that thrashy and the vocals were the driving force.  They were catchy enough at the time, but not terribly memorable.

Up next was Sanctuary, a band who has hit some major hardship recently.  Legendary vocalist Warrel Dane died suddenly while the band was in Brazil on tour in December.  Somehow, the band managed to find a replacement singer to continue with their commitments, and that singer does do a hell of a Dane impression.  After overcoming a few sound issues (we were treated to a very loud bass solo randomly), the band performed an incredible set that covered all of their albums.  I recently discovered Sanctuary's early albums before forming Nevermore and kicked myself for not looking into them earlier.  The performance was of course dedicated to the departed Dane.    

Iced Earth finally took the stage and they were absolutely incredible.  The band is celebrating 30 years of releasing material under the name "Iced Earth".  Of course, guitarist Jon Schaffer is the only continuous member of the band during all of that time, with a variety of other members over the years.  Of particular note is that Stu Block, formerly of the underrated Into Eternity, has been the singer for the last few years.  Block does a shockingly good job performing a number of songs that were originally written for Matt Barlow.  I was a little disappointed there were no tracks from the Ripper Owens era.  I think Block could have handled them well.  They played songs from all eras of their history.  The biggest surprise for me was seeing Schafer himself sing on "Stormrider" from the band's first album.  I was not overly impressed with the new songs from last year's album, but a lot of the other songs were great.  Iced Earth really does put on a terrific live performance and a lot more people should have been there to see them.

The highlight of the night from my wife's perspective was likely the compliments she received about her clothes and the fact that another woman acknowledged to her that it was nice to see another woman there.  She has long referred to metal concerts as sausage parties.    

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nuclear Blast Reissues Testament

Despite the fact that I have long considered Testament one of my favorite bands (and, in fact, if pressed I would probably name them my favorite band of all time), I never picked up every single one of their releases.  It has only been over the last couple of years that I picked up The Legacy and The New Order, even though those are arguably their most popular albums.  I blame part of that on the fact that I grew up with their mid-paced stuff like Low and The Gathering and part of it on the fact that I had numerous compilations and live albums that covered most of that era.

Even after picking up those two early albums, I was still missing a few things.  Not any more.  Nuclear Blast reissued a bunch of Testament's stuff on cassette and vinyl and I was able to fill the holes in my collection.  There were three major releases that I had to grab, each with new artwork.

DEMONIC (1997)
I am honestly not sure how I never picked up Demonic.  It was the band's next album after Low, an album I absolutely adore and still consider my favorite by the band.  Demonic is probably the band's weakest release, and maybe that was part of it.  I enjoyed the title track when I heard it (it was on one of the aforementioned compilations), though not to the same level as any of their other stuff.  So I really do not know why I never picked it up.  After hearing it, I can see why it is not well-received, though I do enjoy it.  Testament was definitely trying to alter their sound to keep up with the groove metal style popularized by Pantera, yet also trying to get heavier to keep up with the rise of death metal.  What results is kind of a confused album with some decent tracks that call to mind thrash-era Testament ("Hatreds Rise") and other tracks trying to be more modern (the explosive title track).  Like I said, I do enjoy this album, but I would definitely pick up any of their other releases before it.

I stayed away from this one for awhile, mostly because it seemed so unnecessary.  This came out at a time when a bunch of bands were re-recording a lot of their early work.  It led to mistakes like Exodus's Let There be Blood, a re-recording of their landmark debut Bonded By Blood.  Testament re-recorded a number of songs from their first two albums with more modern recording equipment and techniques.  It is actually not all that bad.  A couple of the songs are not nearly as good, in particular "The Preacher" which has some questionable decisions.  The most unusual and interesting aspect of this release though is the last two songs "Alone in the Dark" and "Reign of Terror" which feature Steve "Zetro" Souza on lead vocals instead of Chuck Billy.  Souza of course made his name with Exodus but was actually Testament's first singer.  These songs are an interesting look at what might have been had Souza stayed with the band and are the major reason to check out this album.

Yes, this is a reissue of a reissue of the band's first live album released shortly after their debut album.  I think the reason I missed out on this way is a combination of my general disdain for live albums and the fact that I just did not know about it.  But, I do love Live at the Fillmore, and I have been enjoying going to concerts a lot more lately, so I took a chance on it.  This is early Testament and it is clear that the band is very raw, but the performance is nonetheless quite impressive.  Testament has always been a very good live act and it appears as if that was something they became very early on in their careers.  This is by no means an essential pick-up for anyone other than a huge fan of the band, but Testament is my favorite band, so I had to pick it up.

I would be hard-pressed to recommend any of these albums to casual fans, but for huge fans of the band like myself, they are definitely worthwhile.

Monday, February 19, 2018

2017 Demo and EP Roundup

I have accumulated a lot of these this year.  Rather than have each one get its own post, due to their lengths, I figured I would just do a roundup post.

Despite the fact that Bone Awl has been going strong since 2002, the band has only released one full-length album.  But they are pretty prolific all the same, putting out at least one release every year until 2011 when the band suddenly went on hiatus.  This demo was the band's first release since that time.  According to liner notes, these songs were recorded as demos for a full-length that was supposed to have come out in 2013.  That apparently never happened.  I had always heard a lot about Bone Awl, but never really checked them out.  Their mix of black metal and punk is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it is an impressive blend nonetheless.  

Technically, this one is a compilation.  It collects together each of the band's demos and combines them onto one release.  It still only comes out to four songs though.  Cosmic Void Ritual is an American one-person death metal band that sounds Finnish.  The one individual in the band goes by the "name" Unknown Entity.  I was definitely drawn into picking this up by the Lovecraftian album cover.  The riffs are dark and twisted with an unsettling guitar tone.  Unknown Entity is clearly heavily influenced by the early 1990's Finnish death metal scene, with music that calls to mind Demilich (unfortunately, the vocals do not really measure up), Convulse, and others.  This is nightmarish death metal that more than lives up to the album art. 

Ah, yes.  I can get behind this band's name.  It is simple, yet very effective.  Crime is a very new band from Chile, and this is their first release.  They play a sleazy brand of traditional metal, which is not at all surprising given their South American location.  The band definitely seems to use their name as a theme, opening things up with a hair-raising sample leading into the fist-shaking "Highway Robbery".  The best song on the album is the anthemic "Give Your Life to the Ruin".  This is a great start from a promising band.  

Draghkar is another new death metal band that sounds like they would have been more at home in the early 1990's when death metal was really starting to come around.  Draghkar has a raw and filthy, malevolent sound that calls to mind groups like Incantation and Morbid Angel.  With those kinds of influences, it is no wonder that this demo tape has garnered some attention.  Draghkar do a great job of subverting expectations on this release.  Instead of blazing through each song, the band slows things down masterfully, crafting an occasional doom/death sound that Asphyx would be proud to play.  Another promising debut.

And here we have yet another death metal band that is clearly stuck in the past, not that that is necessarily a bad thing.  Ensepulcher's frame of reference is the early 1990's Swedish death metal scene.  Think Dismember, Nihilist, and others and you have the idea.  They even manage to have a similar buzzsaw guitar tone that the Swedish scene was well-known for.  If I did not know any better, I would have sworn I was listening to some early Dismember demos when I put this one on.  The music is fast-paced and intense, with rough, snarled vocals.  Whether or not to check this one out depends entirely upon opinions of the Swedish death scene.  I love it, but freely admit that this band really does not offer anything new and innovative.

I did not choose this one.  I placed a decent-sized order with a distro and they sent me a couple of tapes as a bonus.  I do not turn down free stuff, but while one of the tapes was a pretty decent melodeath band called Mistweaver, this one is more of a black-gaze album with post-rock influences and not the kind of thing I typically listen to.  I probably would not have chosen it at all.  This is an emotional release, full of anguished and tortured vocals.  There are some decent moments where the black metal influences shine through and it sounds pretty decent, but then a crooning vocal section will start in and change the dynamic completely.  I do not mind the album over all, but there are definitely moments that I could do without.  It is a little weak for my typical tastes.

Katakomb is a Swedish black metal band of whom there is very little information on the internet.  I think it is a one-man act, but I am not even sure of that.  This is a two-song demo and the first song is fairly standard for Swedish black metal, with clear influences of Marduk and early Watain.  It is a very dark and foreboding release.  It is hostile and harsh and not terribly melodic.  The only real problem with this release is an extended sample at the end featuring a man singing in what sounds like Russian while flies are buzzing.  It sounds like something out of Fiddler on the Roof, other than the flies, which sounds woefully out of place on the rest of this release.  And like I said, this continues for about five minutes.  Other than that, this is an impressive first release for an uber-kvlt black metal band.

Nerve Saw is the one-man death metal project of former Hooded Menace bassist Markus Makkonen.  As would be expected for a well-known member of a doom metal band, Nerve Saw's sound is generally slower and heavier, with the exception of third track "We, the People", which is a much faster-paced track.  The songs are filthy and grimy, just what one would expect from a Finnish death metal band.  This is an impressive release and I look forward to more from Nerve Saw.   

Okay, it is pretty easy to see that this band is absolutely not serious about anything.  With the Toys 'R Us-inspired band logo, ridiculous name, and even more ridiculous cover art, this group is definitely tongue-in-cheek.  The song names don't really give off a serious vibe either.  Of particular note is "Fornicating in Ethically Sourced Fair Trade Chocolate".  Party Cannon is a slam band.  More particularly, they refer to themselves as "party slam".  However, there is nothing that sets Party Cannon apart from other slam bands musically, and you really can not understand the lyrics in most slam bands, so despite the much different and much more positive lyrical content, ultimately it is a difference without an effect.  But I like a good slam band and Party Cannon is a good slam band, so I can overlook any of the other issues.

I was a little disappointed with this one.  I love the album cover in a cheesy, sort-of-ironic way.  Most of the song titles reference animals ("Steel Falcon", "Iron Rhino", "Sabretooth Strike"), and this is a traditional metal band from Finland.  I did not think it could possibly go wrong.  Unfortunately, despite some decent ideas, there is one flaw to this release that pretty much completely ruins it.  The band uses an echo effect on the vocals.  Through.  The.  Whole.  Damn.  Thing.  It is really fucking annoying.  It is impossible to focus on what is actually happening in the music because that damn echo keeps going and going.  Honestly, I first thought that I had some sort of defective tape, but I listened to it online and the echo effect is there too.  So, Sabretooth, lose the echo effects.  Seriously.

Ah yes, here we go.  Like the Cosmic Void Ritual release, this one is also a compilation, collecting together the band's 2011 and 2013 demos.  I have actually covered this band before, in particular the Stellar Damnation demo, back in 2014 when the band contacted me.  I remembered being fairly impressed with the band so when I saw this compilation tape for sale when I was buying some other stuff, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a physical copy of it.  Teleport is a Slovenian band that sounds like a somewhat blackened version of Vektor.  They play highly technical thrash metal with vocals performed as more of a black metal rasp.  This was the best release of all the stuff I have covered in this post.  The only quibble that I have, and it is a very small one, is that it would have been better to have the demos on either side of the tape instead of both being on the same side and repeated on the other.  Like I said, it is a small complaint. 

Recently, I re-discovered the Decibel Blog, in particular their Hall of Fame features and the demo posts.  I use both to discover new music and it led me to this demo by U.K. death/doom band Void Tendril.   This is one of my favorite demos I have picked up in the last year.  It is truly dark and disturbing.  It creates an uneasy feeling with fast-pounding drums, but slower dissonant guitar riffs.  The vocals are sepulchral and match the tone well.  It is a slower, heavier beast of a release.  There are some haunting melodies at times, particularly in the beginning of second track "Shivering Residue".  I am very anxious to see what this band does next.

This is the other one of two demos that I picked up after reading about them on the Deciblog's demo roundup page (coincidentally both bands have "Void" as the first word in their name).  This is the band's first ever release and it is some old-school-sounding death metal in the vein of early Immolation and Incantation.  It is the type of filthy and raw, evil-sounding death metal that I love.  Hopefully some more stuff will be coming out soon from these guys, because this demo contains just two songs and I would love to hear some more.

Witch Vomit is a very classy name for a death metal band.  Between the band's name and the pretty cool album cover, I figured I would take a chance.  The album cover is very appropriate because the band sounds like they just escaped from a tomb.  From the cavernous production to the desiccated vocal style to the meaty riffs, this band pushes all the right buttons for a truly horrific death metal band.  Witch Vomit has been around for a few years now, but have only released one full-length album and some other short recordings in addition to this EP.  I will be keeping an eye out on this band.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Amazon Mailday 2/15

How is no one talking about this band?  Seriously, this is fucking criminal.  Mark Riddick has made a name in the underground metal scene with his amazing artwork (including the album cover shown here), but he also makes some really impressive death metal.  Sounding like a cross between early Rotting Christ and a little bit of old school death metal, Fetid Zombie's music is haunting, captivating, and surprisingly melodic.  I first found out about the band when I randomly picked up a split the band appeared on with Greek black/thrash band Swamp.  I was blown away by Fetid Zombie's work, so when I randomly came across a full-length album, I jumped at it.  And I am damn glad I did, because this album is fantastic.  Seriously, Riddick's music is just as impressive as his artwork.

I used to read about stuff mentioning Wild Rags Records a ton, particularly on the old Metal Inquisition blog.  It was an underground metal label in the late 1980's to late 1990's specializing in death metal and grindcore which was fairly infamous for being a bit sketchy in their business practices.  Well that and the head of the label being wanted for income tax evasion and disappearing.  Anyway, I came across a seller selling a bunch of old Wild Rags demos from the early 1990's and decided to pick something up for the hell of it.  Previously, I only had an Impetigo album from the label, so this was something kind of new.  Mausoleum is an old school death metal band and this is a quick three-song demo.  It is fairly interesting stuff while listening to it, but ultimately not particularly memorable.  There is likely a reason this band never released anything beyond two demos.  Apparently, there was talk of a reunion at one point, but that never came to fruition.

MOTORHEAD: 1916 (1991)
Would you believe that this is actually the first proper album I have ever owned by Lemmy Kilmister and company?  It is true.  Previous to this, the only thing I owned by Motorhead was a Greatest Hits compilation, which I bought some time before deciding that such compilations were kind of lame.  As much as I enjoyed it, I never really saw a need to pick up something else.  I decided to change that and picked up a reasonably cheap one that contained a song I knew I enjoyed ("I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)").  I was a little surprised by the diversity of this album.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Motorhead, but was shocked by some of the slower songs, in particular the heart-wrenching title track.  Of course there were the fast-paced Jack-and-coke-fueled tracks, but the variety made this a damn good album.

In the late 1980's, a lot of thrash metal bands were becoming more and more progressive and technical.  Bands like Heathen were at the forefront of this movement, but one of the best bands to tackle the style was the underrated Watchtower.  Watchtower utilized influences from genres as diverse as jazz fusion in their brand of thrash metal.  What results is a bizarre mix to say the least, yet Watchtower, in particular guitarist Ron Jarzombek, have the chops to pull it off and write some damn catchy songs to boot.  The biggest problem with a lot of technical bands these days are that the technical ability oftentimes overshadows the hooks.  Watchtower never fell into that trap.  Unfortunately, this was their last full-length.  There have been some short releases in recent years, so it is always possible we could see another Watchtower album soon.

This is the second time I have bought this album.  The first one I bought, I made it through the first side of the cassette and the tape snapped off the reel.  I tried to fix it myself, but that did not work out so well.  So, that was it.  A lot of Japanese metal is just like the rest of Japanese pop culture, weird.  X Japan (or just X) is incredibly diverse with some speed metal tracks to go with mid-paced rockers and ballads.  The lyrics often alternate between Japanese and English.  There are a number of highlights, including the touching "Endless Rain" and the infectious "Week End".  This was a band I was just wanting to experiment with, along with other Japanese bands, such as the much more straightforward Loudness, but I am glad I took a chance on them. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mailday 2/14

Just one today.

There was a time a few years back when I really got into some massive New Wave of British Heavy Metal stuff.  Obviously Iron Maiden was a focus, but I also was obsessed with finding stuff like Angel Witch, Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head, and others.  But I never really got into Saxon for some reason.  I decided to take a flyer on an early Saxon album.  This album is a tale of two halves.  The first half is somewhat mid-paced, radio-friendly hard rock which would not seem out of place on a Def Leppard album.  The second half is much harder and faster and is what I was hoping to hear from a NWOBHM band.  I still prefer Iron Maiden (of course), Angel Witch, Blitzkrieg, and Diamond Head, but I may have to do some more looking into Saxon.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mailday 2/13

Three more for the collection.

No, I have no idea what that title means.  Absu is one of the most highly-regarded American black metal bands, but they are a band that for some reason, I just have not checked out all that much.  Previously, I only had their 2009 self-titled album on vinyl, and I love that album so it is a big mystery why I have never checked anything else out.  This album is quite a bit different from that release as the band is more of a death metal band here.  The Celtic Frost influence is pretty clear, especially in some of the experimentation that the band uses which calls to mind Into the Pandemonium.  Despite the much different sound, this is a terrific release, and maybe it is finally time to delve more into Absu's discography.

On the other hand, this is a band that I am very familiar with, even if I have not heard quite everything the band has done.  I generally have heard all of their full-length releases, but the band releases lots of other stuff in between albums, and that is where I am still filling in some gaps.  This is an EP released shortly after they released their first full-length album and features four new songs and a cover of Voivod's eponymous song.  All of the songs are terrific, as is to be expected with Deceased.  This is absolutely one of the most underrated metal bands of all time.  Everything they have done is absolutely killer and this EP is no exception.  It is nice to find something rare like this for my collection.

Over the last six months or so, I have been really digging into my old cassettes and listening to that stuff over and over again, while adding to that particular part of my collection.  I previously had Nocturnus's The Key, and while I enjoyed it, it did not make a huge impact on me.  That really changed recently and the album has been catapulted into one of my favorite death metal albums of all time.  So, it was time to check out some of the band's other releases and this is the follow-up.  It is clear that Nocturnus was trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice as the band took the aspects that worked on The Key and ramped them up on this one.  What results is a pretty decent follow-up that just does not quite have the same charm to it.  I still really like this one, but it is not quite up to the same level.  Maybe in time it will be as The Key did not immediately have a huge impact on me either.