Saturday, 30 July 2011

Premonition 13 - 13

Premonition 13


Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich has been at the forefront of stoner and doom metal for a good twenty-five years now, in an incredible career in which he can count himself a part of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and many, many more besides. The man is a true living legend, and like all good living legends within the wider rock community, the man just does not stop. Having got extremely prolific lately with his solo projects and Shrinebuilder, he returns here with ‘13’, the debut album by his latest project, Premonition 13.

Wino revealed in a recent interview that he and guitarist Jim Karow had been jamming together for nearly two decades prior to writing and recording ‘13’, inspired by a love of ancient cultures, particularly the Mesoamerican. It begins atmospherically, the gradual, airy build-up achieved through the e-bow guitar, forming the introduction to ‘B.E.A.U.T.Y.’, the album’s longest song, which when it kicks in, reeks of Place of Skulls-esque riffery. It slips back into this ambience further on. Measuring in at nearly nine minutes long, it’s a laid back rocker that could only be created under the desert sun.

The album rocks up a little more with the reckless abandon ‘Hard To Say’, flash with some incredible soloing from Wino, and the heavy stomp of ‘Clay Pigeons’. It then simmers back down into psychedelic territory in ‘Senses’, which creates a real laid-back vibe, given how mellow the song is. The album heads back into typical Wino domain with ‘La Hechicera de la Jeringa’ – building up with a prelude before hitting you with Sabbathian riffage. It doesn’t stand out for me, particularly against Wino’s huge body of work, but it’s still a quality tune nonetheless.

The album loosens up again a little later on with ‘Deranged Rock ‘N’ Roller’, a song somewhat Motorhead in spirit, and the anthemic ‘Modern Man’, which sees Karow given a chance to shine by taking over on vocal duties. He does an effective job and  the song has a simple yet cracking chorus. These forays into good-time territory are unusual but certainly welcome; that is, until closer ‘Peyote Road’ which reclines with Wino almost evoking the spirits of the plains against the hum of the e-bow. You could picture yourself in the desert staring at nightfall whilst listening to this song, it truly creates that impression. It winds the album down in much the same way ‘B.E.A.U.T.Y.’ introduced it, and provides a perfect companion piece in respect.

One sense you get from this album is that Wino is really having fun here. There’s a real passion in his voice, particularly as ‘Clay Pigeons’ kicks in. When he shouts ‘uh!’ , his heart and soul is right in the song. He’s definitely in the zone. On more than one occasion, there’s a real power in his voice, defying the darker approach that marauds his work in Saint Vitus and The Obsessed and the melancholy that was evident on his incredible acoustic album, ‘Adrift’. That’s certainly unusual but it’s not out of place, and his trademark style still has plenty to show here. He’s more than ably assisted by Karow, who doesn’t miss the opportunities to shine; and by the rhythm section of drummer Matthew Clark (Ostinato) and bassist Brian Daniloski (ex-Meatjack), both of whom add significant backbone to the mix.

It’s not quite classic Wino, not by any stretch, but it’s another solid offering involving the overlord of stoner and doom metal, another line on the resumé, and another body of work that fans of his work (and those less familiar) shouldn’t go without.

Peter Clegg

Friday, 29 July 2011

End of Level Boss 'Eklectric' album launch - tomorrow!

Just received notification that London's quirky stoner-metallers End of Level Boss are belatedly launching their album 'Eklectric' (which we briefly reviewed here) at a show at the address listed on the flyer above, taking place tomorrow night (Saturday 30th July)! And as you can see, genre-defying instrumentalists Astrohenge are supporting too. Furthermore, it's totally free! So if you've got nothing too and quickly need a plan (and you're within reach of this venue, unlike myself), get yourself down there - it's sure to be a damn good night.

(Cheers to Lauren from Rarely Unable for the heads up)

Peter Clegg

New stuff: Opeth/Mastodon

The spate of quality albums coming out lately is nothing short of stupendous, and anticipation is high for two of metal’s biggest hitters, Opeth and Mastodon, both of whom have released songs from their new albums this week to tease fans for what’s to come.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Worthy of Your Time: End to Empires

I only first caught wind of this band when they were announced as Closure’s replacement at Black Breath’s show at The Well (which we reviewed here). I was blown away by how awesome they were that night. Despite one or two technical glitches, they delivered an outstanding set that’s deserving of bigger things. Hence, End to Empires are the next band that we see as worthy of your time!

Hailing from Leeds and formed out of the ashes of D-Rail and The Vs. Project, End To Empires play uncompromising hardcore/metal with a slight d-beat slant, reminiscent of acts like Annihilation Time and Disfear. They released a three-track demo in 2010 through Beefy Records, and was a blistering example of things to come. They have since gone on to release a split 7” with fellow bruisers, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s Lavotchkin, which is available through Thirty Days of Night Records. They’re now working on new material for a forthcoming EP, while assaulting audiences in and around the North of the UK.

Everything End to Empires can be found at their official website, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and all. They deserve to be heard over a much wider area than the concrete jungles of the North, so go check their records and shows out, and spread the word for one of UK hardcore’s finest up-and-comers.

Peter Clegg

What's the point of half-year lists?

I don’t mind lists. As you may recall, I posted one a few weeks back. I’m drawn to them like my cat is to Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer wrappers. I’m always intrigued to see what’s included on them, and to add my two pennies if given the chance. What’s surprised me is that lately, half-year top 10/15/25 lists for albums of 2011 so far have been cropping up all over the shop. And I’m sick of it.

What’s the point?

Many of the lists I’ve viewed tend to take a look at what’s hot in America right now and while I can’t disagree a number of those albums are shit hot, my more open approach to music means I see things quite differently in some instances, as I’m sure many of you reading this to. Many of them lord the epic album, you know, the one that plumbs emotional depths, reaches astral heights and has some stunning twenty minute shape shifting song that drops your jaw.

That’s all well and good, but what for the records that just bolt out the gate and collide with you in such a way it smears your insides all over the back wall? I get the feeling that somewhere along the way, we lost our desire for the kick ass album. If an album can make me feel like I’ve just taken a swift beating from Manny Pacquiao, its succeeding in its job. A twenty, thirty, even forty minute album can be every bit the success the 79:59 monster can be. Most of these lists don’t appear to give that consideration.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a list constructed too. But I’m not going to publish it until the end of the year. It basically flips, flops, switches etc. many, many times over the course of the year because my mind is so active at this there’ll be times when it might be the best thing since sliced bread, and others where I’m thinking I was a bit hasty with that praise. I’m not naming any bands because that would just defeat the point of this post – but there are one or two, I’ll admit.

There’s still many a damn good album to come out yet and I intend to keep an open mind. I just get the feeling that, inevitably, you’ll draw the overall impression that you’re constantly comparing every record from here on in to that number one on your list. It would just feel slightly skewed to do so.

The English Premier League isn’t decided after 19 games. We don’t decide who’s won the 100 metre sprint after 50 meters, and you can’t decide how good a film is if you’ve only watched the first half. All slightly different in comparison to top ten lists, but the point here is the same – half-year lists are pointless. Let’s enjoy the rest of 2011’s offerings. Cheers!

Peter Clegg

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Acephalix - Interminable Night

Interminable Night
Southern Lord/Agipunk

Acephalix were originally more or less a crust-punk band, but on their second full length (if you can call it that), they’ve made a shift towards death metal. Regarding the term ‘full-length’ – ‘Interminable Night’ contains only seven tracks and clocks in at 25 minutes. But that’s all that’s required for you to get your ass kicked by this album.

You won’t find any blasting at all here; instead you’ll find plenty of crusty-death action that harks back to bands like Dismember and Nihilist. There’s nothing innovative going on here, but what they have got is head-pounding riffs in abundance and they’re designed for get fists in the air and heads banging up and down in worship. Tracks like ‘Christhole’ and ‘In Arms of Nothing’ are designed to damage and damage they do. The guitars scream pure evil at times, particularly during the solos, which hark like Kerry King’s in the way they sound on occasion as they wail into contention.

Vocalist Dan has an immense range about him, possessing a real guttural roar at times, which at times he holds for almost inhuman lengths of time and can warp into a scream at the right moments. It adds an extra dimension to Acephalix’s sound in itself; again, it’s not innovative, but it’s bloody effective.

If you had to nitpick, there’s not much variety between the songs, but it’s rare that I enjoy albums in such a way that I just want to go ape and at 25 minutes, it’s short enough to do just that and not get bored at all. There’s just enough variation at least in terms of speed – they do slow it down a little on the closing title-track – but it never feels to relent. Death metal is in safe hands with acts like Acephalix on the horizon.

This album has been out a few months now and was on limited pressing – originally 1000 copies through Agipunk, and a further pressing of 2000 CDs through Southern Lord. It’s still available as a CD; links below. It’s a worthy investment.

Peter Clegg

Friday, 22 July 2011

Sourvein - Black Fangs

Black Fangs

2011 has thus far been a cracking year for sludge metal, particularly when acts like Crowbar and Weedeater are pumping out quality records and the likes of Eyehategod are destroying venues all over the shop. Hence, Sourvein’s return is all too welcoming if southern-fried sludge is your thing.

Sourvein know too well the power of the riff, hence the production on ‘Black Fangs’ places the guitar (provided here by James Haun) to the fore. Bassist Ahmasi O’Daniel and drummer Jeffrie Moen provide capable amounts of groove and crash to back up those riffs, while vocalist T-Roy Medlin stays just below the top of the mix. As always, he sounds like a ravenous, unhinged beast trying to break out of a cage. Overall, the album sounds gritty throughout the furious hateful onslaught and that’s the way it should be.

The majority of the album, for me, is decent sludge metal – nothing over the top in terms of something memorable or something to force into that slow nodding jam; but there are some killer tracks to be found; opener ‘Fangs’ begins with some trademark sludge feedback, before launching into the main riff. Vocalist T-Roy Medlin roars the place down, and if that transition into the second riff is as devastating live as it on this record, there’ll be a few people black and blue in the pit.  Outstanding.

That’s a knack that Sourvein, whatever the line-up, have down to a fine art, and although not every song on ‘Black Fangs’ stands out to memory, the casual ease with which they seemingly conjure with riffs is evident – ‘Nighteyes’ builds the pressure and releases it with atomic power, a dirge that constricts and suffocates in equal measure; similarly, ‘Gemini’ has this effect later in the album – although it’s rather more like getting clubbed round the head as they shift gears again part way through the song. There’s a couple of faster numbers too – ‘Gasp!’ and ‘Nomadic’, the latter of which giving a nod to 70’s riffage, certainly one of the album’s highlights.

It’s an album reeking with whiskey-drenched bile, filthy riffs and a sonic pulverization that will resonate for some time. It won’t quite top my personal list of sludge highlights in 2011, although I’ll keep that close to my chest for now. But I certainly enjoyed this record and you should too. ‘Black Fangs’ is an excellent return from these North Carolinans.

Peter Clegg

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sublime with Rome - Yours Truly

Sublime with Rome
Yours Truly

Fueled By Ramen

Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost – Sublime with Rome’s ‘Yours Truly’ doesn’t quite meet up to the bar set in the band’s glory days in the 90’s. I personally don’t find new vocalist Rome Ramirez as appealing a vocalist as the late Bradley Nowell – not that there’s anything wrong with his voice; it certainly suits this latest incarnation of Sublime and befits the legacy – but Nowell’s had a lot more personality. Or at least that's how it feels. On top of that, the songs sound a lot more accessible – again, not necessarily a bad thing – but Nowell lyrically was pure excellence, and the songs here simply don’t match up in stature against the band's heyday.

That’s not to knock the album completely, for bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh still have what it takes to write catchy, groovy and potentially successful songs, on the first album to use the Sublime name in some form since the original Sublime disbanded in the wake of former vocalist/guitarist Nowell’s death in 1996. For those of you not looking to rush, the majority of the album is laden with some great chilled out jams and reggae grooves, ‘Same Old Situation’ and ‘You Better Listen’ and ‘Spun’. Rome’s voice – while not entirely as great as Nowell’s – is just as soulful and suits the direction of the album here.

There’s perhaps a little too much reggae influence though, as it threatens to cast a shadow over the rest of the record in terms of its overall presence. Fans of the original Sublime’s hardcore punk leanings may be disappointed with the lack of forays into high-energy material. Those songs in particular are welcome when they appear – the lead single and album opener ‘Panic’ is full of bounce thanks to some excellently timed saxophone, and ‘My World’ and ‘Paper Cuts’ provide a speed boost just as the album begins to lull into something of a coast. From that point on though, its back onto Easy Street, and whether the poppier stylings are your bag is another question altogether.

To continue to compare Sublime with Rome with the days of old is futile. On its own merits, ‘Yours Truly’ is actually a decent album in its own right, and although it’s not classic material by any standards, these songs will still burrow into your head speaks for the quality of the music. If you’re in need of something a little different and just in need of something a little more laidback, you could do far, far worse.

Peter Clegg

Monday, 18 July 2011

Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever

Carnival Is Forever
Nuclear Blast

Poland’s Decapitated should have been death metal royalty by now. Formed at an early age and on an upward wave following killer album after killer album, their progress was suddenly and tragically halted in a tour bus accident in Belarus in 2009, which took the life of drummer Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka at the age of 23, and left then vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek facing a painfully slow recovery ever since. Such adversity would have finished off lesser bands, but Vitek’s brother Vogg (Waclaw Kiełtyka) would not let the Decapitated flame die.

The new look Decapitated returned last year, now consisting of Filip ‘Heinrich’ Hałucha on bass, Rafał ‘Rasta’ Piotrowski on vocals, and Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lechner taking Vitek’s position on drums, leaving Vogg as the only founder member remaining. They devastated live audiences across the world and then set to work on fifth album ‘Carnival Is Forever’.

As with all previous releases, ‘Carnival…’ has eight tracks and is straight on the hammer with ‘The Knife’, which sees Rasta unleash an almighty scream roughly a quarter of the way in. His voice has more range than previous vocalists Covan and his predecessor, Sauron, those screams featuring more than guttural growls and roars from past releases. There’s a lot more variation to them than his predecessors, although whether this suits you, the listener, is down to individual taste. For me personally, it was a minor quarry at first, but something I managed to get over fairly quickly.

The title-track sets out to be the album’s centrepiece, a near 9-minute song that begins with some lone echoey guitar from Vogg, before launching into the heavy section. It reverts back to a quieter, eerie section again, giving the song room to breathe before blasting back into action. It’s not perfect but at least it don’t plod along, which so many bands striving for the epic button fall into the trap of. These new darker elements also crop up later in ‘A View From A Hole’, which sees Rasta getting in on the progression with some unsettling whispered vocals.

At first, ‘Carnival…’ does feel like Decapitated are trying to settle into a groove. The first half is a little hit and miss at times, and the grooves aren’t quite as memorable as they were in the past. That said, the album does begin to pick up as it goes on and the songs seem to get better and better. ‘404’ is reminiscent of Meshuggah in places but maintains its own identity, chameleonic as it shifts between riffs and beats, topped off with an electrifying solo from Vogg. And ‘Pest’ brings in some buzzsaw shred and some serious blasting. The closer, ‘Silence’, is feels somewhat reflective, almost as though it’s a requiem for the fallen members, particularly Vitek. It’s a fitting tribute, if that’s how it was intended, and it’s an ideal comedown to the freneticity with its single, haunting guitar.

It was always going to be hard for Decapitated to create an album to reach the bar set by the likes of ‘Nihility’ and ‘Organic Hallucinosis’ and overall they fall just slightly short. Krimh in particular puts in a shift behind the kit, but he is always going to be compared to Vitek and those memorable moments that Vitek was able to provide through his own incredible ability aren’t replicated here.

That was always going to be a challenge with the major upheaval they have endured, but despite that, Decapitated have proved they are still a potent force, proving they can still blast with the best of them, while introducing one or two new elements to their sound. Come the end of the year, it probably won’t quite be among the top death metal releases of 2011, which you could definitely say for their previous records; but it still blows most of the competition out of the water. It’s good to have them back.

Peter Clegg

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Visions: Weedeater - Mancoon/Turkey Warlock

This one’s for Mike.

Weedeater returned earlier this year with the impressive ‘Jason…The Dragon’ and have decided to release a video for the pairing of ‘Mancoon’ and ‘Turkey Warlock’. Directed by David Brodsky and part of the Scion A/V video series, it’s presented as part performance vid, part silent nightmare as the band are captured by some smartly dressed man and a man in a raccoon mask (a ‘mancoon'?!). It’s brilliantly entertaining and both songs kick ass. It was directed by David Brodsky, filmed in the backwoods and swamps of the band’s backyard. Enjoy!

Peter Clegg

Friday, 15 July 2011

Black Breath @ The Well, Leeds, 13/07/2011

Supported by: End To Empires + Beasts

Leeds' very own Beasts have been about for a few years now, and are no less abrasive than they were when they started out. They powered through their setlist with reckless abandon and at high energy too, pulling mostly from their self-titled debut album. It’s effective stuff, but the sparse crowd didn’t really help matters and nobody seems willing to get moving to their racket this early in the evening, despite their enthusiasm. They deserved a bit of moshpit action at least for a more than competent performance.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Review Roundup: Karma To Burn/S.O.S./Gripe

Karma To Burn


Since reforming,
stoner rock legends Karma To Burn haven't really gotten any flowing momentum to get them back to where they were before they originally split, although ‘Appalachian Incantation’ was an impressive album and among my favourites of 2010. Unfortunately, the aptly named fifth album ‘V’ is a little flat. There’s not much in the way of memorable riffage, although ‘Fifty’ and ‘Fifty-One’ are great desert rock stompers that will get the toes tapping and the heads nodding, but other than that, it’s severely lacking impact, and the vocal tracks, particularly ‘The Cynic’, don’t fit in very well, although the cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die’ right at the end is faithful at the very least and provides an uplifting finish. The inescapable fact, however, is that their very best days were left behind a long time ago.

I Owe You Nothing
Good Fight

S.O.S. is a new hardcore supergroup of sorts, featuring Terror’s Scott Vogel on vocals, and additionally including members of Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and Trapped Under Ice. Debut release ‘I Owe You Nothing’ is a riotous romp through 7 tracks of traditional American hardcore that’s sure to instigate a few circle pits and beatdowns. The fast parts are fast and indeed furious, and the ventures into traditionally hardcore mosh territory are satisfying indeed, particularly ‘Never A Brother’. At roughly 10 minutes long it doesn’t last long at all, and collectively these guys aren’t making anything drastically different from their main concerns. That said, it’s an enjoyable blast and worth a few listens.

The Future Doesn't Need You
Grindcore Karaoke

Finally, we have a slab of raging, grinding powerviolence that kicks some serious ass. Gripe’s ‘The Future Doesn’t Need You’ contains 10 brutally harsh tracks. They keep it interesting through – not every track is a 30-second blast – songs are allowed to flourish, allowing for deviation in the riffs, the tempo and more. As a result, it kicks ass all the way through. The final track here, entitled ‘Universal Stupidity’, pretty much sums up the way Gripe set up their stall – in one way, and one way only – to smash some heads in. And with a closing lyric such as ‘Gripe wins!’, you can’t really argue.

As with every Grindcore Karaoke release, it’s a free download. So what are you waiting for? Get over there and discover for yourself this exciting new band.

Peter Clegg

Friday, 8 July 2011

Worthy of Your Time: The Scaramanga Six

Surely one of British rock’s best-kept secrets, The Scaramanga Six were formed in deepest darkest Huddersfield in 1995 (at that time under the name of Scaramanga) by vocalists and brothers, Paul and Steven Morricone (guitarist and bassist respectively), and have put out several albums, EPs and singles ever since. Influenced by the likes of The Stranglers and Cardiacs, among many others, they play theatrical rock music pretty much made for the perfect adventure movie soundtrack, and so much more. The line-up is completed by long-time member, guitarist and co-vocalist Julia Arnez, and drummer Maraca Gareth Champion.

Earlier this year, they released their seventh album, ‘Cursed’ to widespread. It captures them once again at their full, bombastic pomp. Plenty of members of the UK music press have heaped praise upon the band for their work and their approach, and have won a great deal many fans in the process. They’ve also shared bills with Electric Eel Shock, The Eureka Machines and many more, exhibiting a live show full of flamboyance and danger.

And what’s more, they’ve done all of this while remaining completely independent. All their releases have been released under their own label, Wrath Records, and Paul even set up his own production company, Poison Pen Films, to handle the band’s music videos. Such an approach has ensured they retain their individuality and possess a level of creativity most bands can only dream of.

The band recently put together a compilation which available via their Bandcamp page either as a free download or a ‘name your price’ purchase. Fittingly entitled ‘An Introduction to The Scaramanga Six’, the compilation covers their career from 1995-2010, and features cracking songs including ‘You Should Have Killed Me When You Had The Chance’, ‘Baggage’, ‘The Poison Pen’ and more.

So what are you waiting for? Get on over to their Bandcamp page now and find out what you’ve been missing out on for the last sixteen years. And then go and buy their proper albums too.

 The Scaramanga Six - The Poison Pen

Peter Clegg

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Review: Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory

All Guts, No Glory

On their first full-length of original material since 2003’s ‘Anatomy Is Destiny’, San Jose, California’s Exhumed are still as sickeningly brutal and gory as ever and the album’s eleven tracks prove that Exhumed are still more than capable of grinding out their gore-soaked death metal twenty-one years into their career. Whether ready or not, the listener should be ready to behold the surgical and rotting horrors that lie within ‘All Guts, No Glory’, as for all their putridness, they’ll stick in your brain and fester away.

Tracks such as ‘Distorted and Twisted into Form’ are delightfully chaotic, trading between lyrics of sadistic surgical alteration and brilliantly crafted solos by vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey. Other songs, such as ‘Death Knell’ and ‘Necrotized’, display Exhumed’s knack for the catchy mini-chorus and it doesn’t take long for most of the songs to get embedded under your skin in this manner.

All this talk of necropsies, pathology, blood and guts undoubtedly brings up the comparisons with pre-‘Swansong’ Carcass again, particularly the ‘Necroticism’ and ‘Symphonies of Sickness’ days, but Exhumed stopped stealing their organs long ago; and like Carcass, they’ve evolved into very much their own breed a long time ago and the guitar work in particular nod to the Gothenburg melodeath sound on this occasion, fusing nicely with their own stylings. Harvey’s screams are traded off with guttural growls frequently enough to keep the vocals interesting, and while every song on ‘All Guts, No Glory’, bar the intro, follows a simple formula of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-verse/chorus, and within this formula, there’s no real deviation in terms of speed, style and indeed, finesse – or rather, lack of it. But that’s just a minor complaint.

It doesn’t quite stack up as their very best, but in a year where death metal legends are making their comebacks to mixed results, Exhumed show little sign of sounding out of touch. And although it’s largely more of the same, it’s a devastating, catchy death-grind soup that’s worthy of repeated offerings, served up to feast your ears on time and time again. I think I best stop with the horrid puns there.

Peter Clegg

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

1986: A Thrash Odyssey


I imagine that a lot of people who stumble upon this article will, like me, have been too young to remember or even know metal’s epic year of 1986. Similarly, I’m sure there’s a fair few of you out there who will remember those halcyon days with great reminiscence. So a few aspects of this article are going to look back upon this particular era retrospectively. With the year of 1986 twenty-five years in the making, I felt I had to revert to complete fan-mode and construct an article on it.

I’m a man of many genres, none more so, however, than thrash. I’m so drawn to everything about it – the speed, the shred, the intensity, the crazy guitar solos and feckin’ furious drum beats and blasts. And even though I wasn’t even two years old when one of metal’s greatest uprisings was taking place, I still hanker for those days like no-one else. When thrash had a mini-resurgence a few years ago, no-one was happier than I was. Denim-patched jackets were back in, and as my fervour grew, so did my hair. The litany of explosive shows, neck-wrecking antics and aches and bruises increased. To hell with future good health, because to thrash is to live.

The Bay Area trio of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth were already making waves prior to ’86. Metallica had already made a huge statement of intent on their first two album, 1983’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and 1984’s ‘Ride The Lightning’; Megadeth, formed by Dave Mustaine after his well-documented exit from Metallica, had arrived on the scene with ‘Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!’; while Slayer were showing their potential prowess with 1984’s ‘Hell Awaits’. These bands, along with bands such as Anthrax (the other member of the so-called Big 4), Overkill and Razor, were blazing a trail for thrash as it grew in popularity. And all this before I had any visual memory.

This all culminated in the thrash explosion of 1986 – a year in which classic album after classic album was released. The main three, of course, were Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’, released on March 3rd of that year; Slayer’s ‘Reign In Blood’, released on October 7th; Megadeth’s ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?’ in November.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Review: The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual

The Black Dahlia Murder
Metal Blade

While most of their peers have headed for the commercial route and generally struggled to meet high expectations or live up to previous efforts, Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder have managed to get better and better over the years, becoming successful while evolving musically in terms of refining their sound while not doing much to change it, except to make it that little more savage instead of being airplay friendly for the sake of going commercial. ‘Ritual’ sets about providing another round of pummelling melodic death metal, with further scintillating songs of the occult and the sadistic.

While there’s nothing particularly new about their style on this record, the Black Dahlia Murder have only gotten more precise with their attack over time. ‘Moonlight Equilibrium’ is possibly the catchiest BDM song to date, without losing any sense of ferocity. Its an ode to everything lycan and I defy you not to sing/scream along as Trevor Strnad shrieks ‘You’ll feel the pull of the moonlight equilibrium/pitch black transmission of the soul’. This isn’t any Twilight shit – this is one song about werewolves that will have you howling at the moon in no time.

Strnad’s lyrics continue to shift between occult themes and tales of horror, the blistering brief ‘Den of the Picquerist’ and ‘The Grave Robber’s Work’ two such examples that might have you wretching into your cereal if you’re of an uncomfortable disposition, but will have you banging your head throughout. Likewise, ‘Malenchantments of the Necrosphere’ proves BDM can find a slightly slower, thuddier gear and still be effective and closer ‘Blood of the Ink’ adds a symphonic element that doesn’t sound cheesy at all. It all adds to the atmosphere of the album.

Musically, The Black Dahlia Murder are firing on all cylinders, no doubt powered on by guitarist Ryan Knight (ex-Arsis), whose partnership with Brian Eschbach provides some incredible fretwork and soloing moments across the whole 45 minutes. Drummer Shannon Lucas puts in a real damn good shift behind the kit, blasting and pedalling the performance of his life, and combines well with bassist Ryan Williams throughout, particularly on their moonlighting intro to ‘Den of the Picquerist’. On top of all that, the production is a crystal job and designed to further annihilate.

Without a doubt, ‘Ritual’ is The Black Dahlia Murder’s best work to date; like any fine wine, getting better and better with age. I personally cannot wait for more grim tales from these guys.

Peter Clegg

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Updates - Contact page

Hi again everyone

Hope you're enjoying the articles and various posts here. As you may have noticed, we have now set up a contact page at the top of the site. If you wish to have your band listened to, possibly reviewed, or even just featured, please view our submissions policy. This goes for bands and labels alike.

Please note that the blog is the run just by myself and Mike. We both have busy lives - well, who doesn't? - but, as the policy says, we're only a small team and have limited free time on our hands. So please don't expect miracles from us, especially if we suddenly become burdened by several requests. That said, we will give you our time at the very, very least.

We hope you continue to read We Must Obey and enjoy what we continue to post. We really want to keep promoting kick-ass heavy music and push new bands to the fore. Help us carry that statement forward.

Peter Clegg