Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alkoholizer - Free Beer....Surfs Up!!!

"Don't Get Fooled by the Free Beer!"


So... Alkoholizer from Italy is back. They were pretty prominent in the revival with the Drunk or Dead... album in 2009 which was nothing special, but a pretty decent revival album that could fit into any party. After that album the band kind of disappeared but in 2013 they released an EP to state that the Sardinian boars had returned and now we've been offered a new studio album.

It has been five years since the last studio album and since then, and things have changed within the Italian band. Vocalist Alessandro and drummer Gabriele who both played on Drunk or Dead... have departed. A new drummer has been brought in and bassist Fabrizio is now handling the vocals. Besides that the band also recruited a second guitarist, which results in a couple of solo vs. solo situations but that is about it. It seems pretty clear to me that Alkoholizer didn't want to change anything from their last record as Fabrizio's vocals is just a replica of Alessandro's. And even though I liked the old vocals better, they were still not mindblowing or anything. Just a kind of Tom Araya light... So what you're left with in the end is that Alkoholizer doesn't seem to have moved an inch.

In addition to that, Free Beer....Surf's Up!!! could easily have been released as a quick follow up in 2011 or so. It follows the exact same recipe as the previous album but it's not quite as good. In spite of the better production on this album, it lacks the real party thrashers that Drunk or Dead... contained. The least they could've done with an album title and cover like this, was to put a Sacred Reich cover on the damn playlist... but no. Negativity aside, of course there's good songs to be found and a fair amount of interesting thrash riffs in songs like Faceless, System Aberration and Breathalize and Destroy!! which also ends up being my favourites from this record.

So what's left of it in the end? There's a couple tracks here and there that you could add to your party playlist, but even for that I would still go back to the previous album. The album feel redundant to me when the only thing there's better than the previous album is the production and both songs and vocals where better on the last album as well. So if you're okay with getting more of the same then you'd like this album, if not, then there's more interesting releases to get. Not quite the comeback I had hoped for from the Sardinian boars.

You can find Alkoholizer on Facebook to keep up to date and check their material at Bandcamp.

Rating

7.0

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Earth - Primitive and Deadly

"The Serpent has Arrived"


Earth is a band originating from the United States, and are considered pioneers of drone/doom. And I have loved them since I heard the album, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull in 2008. They also have a personal meaning to me, since they helped me through a few rough months some years back, where the only thing I'd listen to all day was them. I don't know what really made me interested in them, maybe it was the psychedelic blend of genres I love, such as stoner, doom and country (to a certain level). Maybe it was their drone metal that made me feel like I was in another place, I don't know. What I do know is that their latest release, Primitive and Deadly is a great album. Hell, it is better than that. It is awesome.

This album has some of the best atmosphere in doom metal The finely produced distortion on the guitar makes the music sound thick, warm and ecstatic, as if you were thrown into a journey that takes you through and over both soft earth, majestic waters and towering mountains.

The music itself contains enchanting energy. The drums are well-produced, and plays almost daze-like beats throughout the album. Thanks to the thick atmosphere, the performance makes it sound like the drummer was in a well-induced trace. Every part of the kit sounds great. The snare has a really nice bottom to it, and does not sound sloppy like some doom metal bands sometimes do. The bass drum sounds hollow, yet rich. And the cymbals sounds clear, I mean like crystal clear it is almost impossible to describe it otherwise.

The vocals are performed by Mark Lanegan on There is a Serpent Coming and Rooks across the Gates (Which is my favourite song from the album), while the song, From the Zodiacal Light is performed by the beautiful Rabi Shabeen Qazi of Rose Windows fame.  They both do a fantastic job of fleshing out the album. It almost makes me feel like I am riding through the prairie. But best of all is the guitars, they play a lot of dissonant and slow chug-like riffs that often ends in a long sustained note, combine that with the screechy distortion it creates a truly powerful atmosphere. The riffs have a warm sound, almost making you feel like you are in a womb, a little world where you have nothing but time to study and experience this journey you have undertaken.

Even though this album is basically The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull but with vocals and a little bit more country-influence, Earth's formula have not gotten old. The music and vocals are incredible packed with a thick and astounding atmosphere. This is more than just another record, this is an experience.

Rating

8.8

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cradle of Filth - Total Fucking Darkness

"Total Fucking Excellent"


Note that this review is focusing mostly on the remastered version of the demo from 2014.

The demos of Cradle has always been known as the good material before they "went to shit". I don't quite agree with that though, as I love Cradle of Filth and I don't think they've made one bad album. No joke hidden in the grass there. Of course some albums are better than others, but the thing about Total Fucking Darkness is, that I've never really listened to it. Why? Because every time I put on the first track The Black Goddess Rises I just couldn't put up with the quality. I seriously can't remember listening to all of the tracks in one go. Until now.

What made me pre-order this demo is that it contains the only surviving track from Cradle of Filth's album Goetia which was supposed to have been their debut album. That track is Spattered in Faeces and it is my favourite track off this release without a doubt. It's pretty reminiscent of what Cradle turned into with the release of Dusk... And Her Embrace. For me the track is Cradle to the core with both atmosphere and brutality, the way only Cradle of Filth delivers it. It's a absolutely amazing track, and that alone makes this demo worth the money. It does however make me think about what could have been if they original Goetia recordings haven't been erased. Since Spattered in Faeces was recorded prior to their debut album Principle of Evil Made Flesh you would expect the vocals to sound like on that album. But they don't. They actually sound more like the vocal style that Dani developed on later albums in the 90's. And for me, that is just great as I never digged the vocals on Principle of Evil Made Flesh.

Furthermore we also get four tracks from the band's Samhain rehearsal in '92 that also contains an unreleased track; Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli), but besides that the rehearsed tracks are the same tracks as the ones on the original recording, just from the Samhain rehearsal. The track just mentioned is not as strong as Spattered in Faeces when it comes to both the music and vocal delivery. The main attraction on this demo is without a doubt the remastering and the missing Goetia track that I've already mentioned a dozen times. It's interesting to get a feel of the Samhain rehearsal but it's not as strong as the demo tracks as those tracks sound better and are better delivered. I often listen to everything on this release anyway, so don't think the rehearsal tracks a redundant. It's worth noticing that the demo's runtime used to be around 24 minutes and now it clocks in at 57 minutes. If you are one of the lucky motherfuckers who got a hold of the LP version then you also get two other tracks which is two instrumental pieces from the old keyboardist Benjamin Ryan.

With the re-release of this demo and the band's recent tour with Behemoth where they played an old school set, embraced their roots, I've really gotten my hopes up for the next album. The Manticore and Other Horrors had me thinking that Dani was out of screams but after seeing them two nights in a row in 2014 he proved me wrong.
So to sums things up, the remastering of this demo certainly brings some justice to the table and the demo, making it worth every penny. It's a true pleasure listening to Cradle's more brutal period in a more enhanced way than before. My favourite of the re-mastered tracks is without a doubt Unbridled at Dusk, the mid section just sounds fantastic. Get this if you love Cradle of Filth and their early period!

Rating

8.4

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blood Eagle - Kill Your Tyrants

"The Tyrants Are Killed, Now Go Home..."


Blood Eagle is a deathgrind band from my home country, Denmark and is the supposed 'supergroup' of leftover musicians from Hatesphere, Volbeat and Mercenary. Now I don't mean that in a bad way, it is just that the 'supergroup'-expression is something I really dislike. Most of these 'supergroups' have not really amounted anything besides having impressive lineups, obviously there are few exceptions, like Bloodbath and Down, but those have big musicians like Mikael Åkerfeldt and Phil Anselmo. The members in Blood Eagle are the a bassist from Hatesphere, a drummer from Raunchy and a brief guitarist from Volbeat. There has to be a limit, you know what I am saying? I obviously mean no disrespect to the musicians of Blood Eagles talents, I just think that there should be a limit on when we label things a 'supergroup'. Anyway, enough of my rambling, lets get to the music.

So a good thing is that the production is great, it is really thick and feels like a hammer pounding down on you. The drums are well-played, but lacks energy. The hi-hat is way too high in the mix and makes the snaredrum disappear whenever blast beats are being played, which is a really bad things since snaredrums are essential in deathgrind. It has to be said, in the slower/mid-paced sections the snare sounds good. While I have no problem with clicky bassdrums, but the ones used here got a little annoying by the end (which is saying a lot since this EP is only nearly ten minutes).

The bass is inaudible, which is in some cases excusable since deathgrind tends to blend all the instruments together. The guitars on this EP are some of the best I have heard in a while, they are really heavily distorted, which fits the musical agenda. The riffs, while not the best, are really well performed and gives a great mix between death metal and thrash metal. They also sometimes feel like they belong in a post-metal band, which is evident in the end of the song, Death Sub Zero.

The vocals are not bad per se. But what ruins it for me, is that the singer sounds like he tried to combine the deep, hoarse growling of death metal and the screaming and yelling vocals of grindcore. I think the vocals would sound much better if they went either way, and did not combine the two voices into one.

Overall, this was not a bad experience as it may seem like. It is very short one, only ten minutes into three songs, but I actually have no doubt that this was a teaser trailer for what is to come, and I think that Blood Eagle could create something great for the danish metal scene. The really fast deathgrind stuff mixed with the hard-pounding post-metal and mid-paced thrash metal sections are really good, but they just needed that extra push to make it great.

Rating

6.5

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Amken - Adrenaline Shot

"Be Careful Not to Overdose"


Amken is a debuting thrash metal band from Greece who's been around since 2011. These fellas have received some good press talk especially in their home country where the Greek Metal Hammer magazine named them band of the week earlier in 2014. Not only that but they also secured a spot opening for Six Feet Under, which is quite impressive. Adrenaline Shot with its awesome looking artwork is their first release, so here's a little insight on just that.

True to the EP's title, you'll get an adrenaline shot and it starts with skank beats, as soon as you play the first track which is also the title track. But I'm not going to plunge into each track as there's only four of them. I am however going to break it down a bit, quite specifically into two parts. But before that, a quick little look on the production. It is crisp. It is clear. Everything is audible and sounds really good, to me it doesn't sound like there's a guitarist or a drummer in the band in charge. It sounds professional and not in a overly polished shitty way but in an impressive way for a debut release. The general way this EP is showcased and done is quite nice and it doesn't feel like it's just a 2nd rate thrash metal band, but someone who wants to be taken seriously.

In spite of these things, Amken struggle to set themselves apart from other thrash bands coming out, but in some way they manage to do it anyway to a certain point. The first half of the EP, meaning the title track Adrenaline Shot and Zombie Pets are your typical no-brain thrash metal songs. There's not much to them besides the great production and pure fun, and to be honest I need more than that to be entertained by thrash metal these days. Otherwise I see no point in returning to a certain record and listen to it again. It's hard to put words on the vocals, but they're not revolutionary. They feel like a mix of harsh and squealy-like vocals and they are pretty decent but still average. And since the EP is only 19 minutes long it doesn't give you the chance to get enough of them. The real interesting thing however, is the last half of the EP, which is the tracks Nightmares and God's Asleep. On these songs Amken take an important step in my eyes and creates two more grown up thrash songs. Nightmares features my favourite riff off the record and the song itself just got a gloomy feel to it mixed with thrash metal of course. That goes for God's Asleep as well, and that is where Amken really shines and manages to vary the tracks and keep them more interesting. I would love to see the band continue down that road and experiment some more with those ideas.

So what remains after these four tracks? A fairly entertaining debut release from a Greek thrash band which I hope will turn into something more than just a band who plays no-brain thrash metal. Adrenaline Shot is not going to convince that friend of yours who's sceptical about thrash metal that it's the real thing ever, but you who do enjoy thrash should pick this up for its potential.

Support the quartet on Facebook, check out their Zombie Pets video and get a hold of their EP at BigCartel.

Rating

7.5

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fatal Mutiny - Existence in Extinction

"Existing Strength and Confidence"


I feel like Greece is treating me really good. That country keeps spawning new awesome bands and the amount of them seems unending! Fatal Mutiny is the latest addition to my library of Greek metal bands, and they play technical thrash metal. They have been active since 2010 and now they have released their debut album, Existence in Extinction which will be put under the scope.

I'm not quite sure how to start off though because I just want to get it out immediately that I think this is a really strong and impressive debut album. Allow me to specify. The production is really, really fucking good, it's heavy and thrashy. The drums sound outright amazing and they got a fierce punch that last through the entire album. Everything is clear and audible, and that goes for the bass as well! Besides the sound of the drums, I can't get enough of the production sound of the solos on this album. They sound like the band went back to the 80's and took back the sound with them and I love the 80's sound. The regular guitar tone is thrash no doubt and the overall sound of the album is modern and well produced, then mixed with those solos. It sounds amazing.

There's a good amount of interesting riffs that supports the technical element of this album quite good, and the mix between all out thrash and technical parts are well varied. And some songs even have jazz inspiration though while thinking what it really reminded me of, I couldn't help think about Atheist. Not a bad thing at all. The vocals are hoarse and angry so don't expect a Toxik clone as Fatal Mutiny feels like they're up in your face most of the time. On two occasions the vocals get varied, one is good and the other is less good. On the track Closing In... Time is Gone we're treated with a deeper vocal almost reaching growling. I really liked that when it comes to variety, because I think the standard vocal fits the music to a certain point. Throughout the album it can be a bit long-drawn to listen to those hoarse vocals and it could probably bother a fair amount of people. Anyway, the other vocal variation is on Ligeia where there is small sections where the vocals almost go harmonic, trying to press in some proper singing, and that did not work for me. I would like to stick to Ligeia for a second as it's the longest song reaching almost 9 minutes. When I saw the length I was expecting the fellas to go progressive on me, which would have been fine but they didn't. Instead it breaks into a solo focused song and then returns to vocals in the end and they actually nail it, and here's where the solo production sound really shines!

Fatal Mutiny achieve what a lot of bands fail to. They set themselves apart from the rest. Even though their logo might not implicate just that, their music sure as hell does. I hope it's a sign of the times that the "pizza, beer & mosh"-cliché thrash is dying out. Thrash is my favourite sub genre, but enough is enough. But looking at the other side of the coin, where does Existence in Extinction fail? The vocals as I mentioned earlier might be a factor for a lot people and it can be for me as well. It lacks the interesting or catchy songs if you want to call them that, the songs stays on your mind after you've listened to the album. There's not a song like Spontaneous, Heart Attack or World Circus on here. It's probably a bit unfair to just drag in Toxik like that but it is well meant because I want this record to succeed as much as possible.

What does all this rambling leads us to? A 42 minute long album that is very impressive from a young Greek band that I'm eagerly going to follow in the future. With highlighting moments like Bloodlust, Existence in Extinction and Ligeia it's going to be exciting to see what the future holds for this band. If you're into any kind of thrash I would definitely recommend this album to you, and if you've been longing for something with technical elements then you should rush out to get this album!

Head over and support the boys at their Facebook and please yourself with their music at Soundcloud.

Rating

8.0

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Endless Recovery - Thrash Rider

"Beware of Greece"


Before we start I would like to use an old saying: Don't judge a book by its cover.
Now let get this thing started! Endless Recovery started back in 2010 and Thrash Rider is their debut album. Even though the band haven't been active for that many years they've really shuffled through some members leaving drummer, Michalis as the only remaining founding member. But that is not the biggest change to note, as the biggest change is the vocals. Their old vocalist was your generic shouting thrash vocalist, but new in the ranks is Mixalis, whose vocal is leaning more towards black metal but keeping the thrash element to it. If you really wanted to, you could probably draw some lines to the old Sodom, but still keeping its own style with the use of squeals at the end of certain lines in the lyric.

Thrash Rider contains 8 tracks and it spins for 30 minutes. The total time of this record actually becomes one of its strongest forces and therefore minimizes the chance of the album becoming too long and dull. Instead of that it becomes a thrash metal fix you can consume in 30 minutes. As the first force of the album was its length, the second force is the vocals. The third and final force is actually the production. Sound-wise I really like this album, while it is nothing special or big change within the genre it does what it is supposed to. In particular, I really like the pumping sound of the bass drums which really comes into play in Corrupted Media Propaganda with its continuously high tempo. Besides that song I would recommend Power of Hate which contains some good harmonic solos and then the title track, Thrash Rider with its "catchyness" if that's even a word... probably not. Listen to it anyway!

So why not judge a book by its cover? In my case I would have turned this album down immediately if it was something I had found myself. In spite of thrash metal being my favourite sub genre, I am tired to death of cliché revival bands. Luckily some bands like Evile, Violator and Fueled By Fire matured...
Not all of Thrash Rider is entirely cliché but it is overall a really good and well crafted thrash experience that lasts 30 minutes, simply put: It doesn't outstay its welcome. Once again Greece proves to have a gem within its metal scene among bands like War Device and Bandemonic. I would definitely recommend Endless Recovery and I hope they can follow up with another fun and thrashing release like this one!

You can follow the band on Facebook and check out their music at Bandcamp.

Rating

8.3