Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rotten Sound-Cursed

It only took me one listen to realize Rotten Sound hadn't made any headway since their disappointing Cycles. Calling it a slide might be a bit too much, rather than a fall like 90's Napalm Death, the band has simply repeated themselves and added only tweaks and bugs to their execution with recent releases. That stomach churning guitar tone that was responsible for clearing whole forests back in 2005 with Exit has been diminished to a digital liquid soup with lack of character. The grime that covered every inch in Exit (including the hostile artwork) has been blunted into a fatter, boring-er sound. The vocals have lost whatever punch they had and are some of the most repetitive and uninteresting around (this would be a title fight between Deafeatist in the land of the inane). Songs lack character and definition, possibly a symptom of using such a muddied guitar tone; but somehow all those Swedes back when made it work.

To make things worse, the band finds time to do their best Entombed imitation with "Choose" and it's immediate successor "Hollow." It's beyond me why this band's wasting time with slow sections because they're the same stock riffage the band has come to use (as well as any generic death metal band) in their trip into mediocrity. The song writing's so boring, if you were to play them "Slave" from Exit they'd view it as some superior entity above themselves.

A name that used to mean something, Rotten Sound's content to repeat themselves as long as you're content to listen.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweating the Small Stuff: Favorite not-full Lengths of 2011

Here's a handful of stuff that caught my ear this year. Look forward to a list of full lengths (I'm taking my time to backtrack as well as explore anything I might have missed). Share your thoughts, and please point out what I might've missed ( I always need new music). I've listed my 9 favorite not-full lengths of the year because 9 is the most metal number besides 11. Everything's gone topsy turvy since I found out Teitanblood has an ep that's just come out and near impossible to get a hold of. This list reflects that.

9.Suffering Mind/Neon HoleSplit 
Our favorite Polish grinders offer up nearly 4 minutes of the most consistent grind around. Neon Hole's not breaking new crust, but the death metaly grind chaos of their side is just enough to keep up with Suffering Kielbasa.
8.Pilgrim - Forsaken Man 
Old is new again, as Pilgrim fly under the radar of bands trying to recapture earlier magic of stale genres. Forsaken Man is a well executed and riff barrel of doomy goodness.
7.Short Walk -  Don't Be One 
A reminder to the scene that power violence started from punk music, Short Walk are off the wall with this light-hearted thrashfest of a release.
6.Mutilation Rites - Demo (2011) 
Thrashy chops, memorable compositions and great production show this NYC group's ready for the big leagues. Look for them at the forefront of the usbm scene soon.
5.Ash Borer/Fell Voices - Split 12" 
What else is there to say besides there are two of the best black metal bands around? Long, winding, and organic spindles of thread and sewn between the two of these West Coast deities.

4.Vastum - Carnal Law
 Vastum's demo/debut showcases a picture perfect reflection of early death metal channeled into one entity. Riffs reminiscent of Dismember, rhythm and attack familiar to Cianide, and an overall gloom that brings to mind Incantation. Far more than worship, Vastum's ritual form of blasphemy belongs at the top of what passes for death metal these days.

3.Protestant - Stalemate
Protestant's proper check in to 2011 has been yet another solid slab of metallic hardcore that's way more fulfilling than you'd expect an EP to be. Dynamic takes like the opener "Nothing Left" have as much to mosh to as there is to pump your fist and sing along to. A mature and well rounded release from a band that's melded the angst and violence of hardcore with the melodies and intricacies of metal.

2.Ruin Lust - Demo
Ruin Lust's Cyclopean sound burns not only in it's visceral songwriting, but also in the pure animosity within each member's respective instrument. Not since Teitanblood's Seven Chalices has a band sounded so powerfully dark and violent with drums like turbulent storms and vocals that coincide with animalistic slaughter. A step above your average Blasphemy worship, Ruin Lust's laconic demo drowns out the light and thunders in the darkness.

1.Massive Attack Vs. Burial - Four Walls/Paradise Circus
My favorite non full length of the year belongs enigmatic U.K. electronic artist Burial and his rendition of two Massive Attack tracks. This is somewhat new ground for me, so I can't comment about previous efforts, but Burial's treatment of the two tracks is otherworldly and mesmerizing. The slow, hypnotic beat finds it's way through both tracks as a lone familiar singer sings admist the serene passages of varying noises and glimmers. Simply beautiful and darkly touching, this is one of my favorite releases this year period.

0. Teitanblood - Purging Tongues

I don't even know if this is out here in the States, if I'll even be able to buy it, or whatever; but I'm going to do something completely illogical and say this is the best of the year even though I have only this to go on...

"'Purging Tongues' is the revelation of blood-stained truth from behind the wall of life. Death Metal told in blind voices, guided by mute vision from the bottomless pit."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Putting The Christ Back in Christmas

There's a million things to be said about the holidays, especially Christmas, but I'll say only one thing.

Enjoy the time you have with the people you enjoy and be sure to do something to that makes you happy.

Oh, and listen to some Christ smashing music.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gripe Pig Servant

If you've been hankering old school grindcore touched up with the spit and polish of a post-good Napalm Death world then look no further. Gripe's songwriting is highly entertaining, energetic, and bombastic; definitely their strong point as it's something that sets them heads above others in a subset in where cloning yourself 30 times for an album is quite common.

I really can't get over the opening track's title "Ghetto Rapist," whatever the lyrics might be, it seems at odds both with the style of the band, as well as the other song titles (much of which contain the typical grindcore/punk ethos). To be blunt, the vocals need to be toned way down. Beyond that, the band plays a competent style of grindcore that reminds me a lot of my Turkish love affair with Sakatat ( yet is a bit too clean and rhythmically proficient to have that Warsore/E.N.T. vibe). I sound like I'm not too impressed, but I am. When the guitars come through they absolutely crush and even get hummable at times. And while the complaints I make about the vocals could be made about the drums, I like loud as hell drums and this drummer seems to be a machine that's learned how to dream of sheep. The pieces are on the table, and Gripe's just gotta find what clicks.

Check it out for free over at here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coins As Portraits - Form and Structure. Storm and Fracture.

Have you ever rolled your sleeves  and walked into a mess of a room prepared to tackle it, then looked at it a bit too long and completely space out and not do a thing? I ask, because I had a similar feeling upon first listening to Coins As Portraits. But, like the mess in question, when I got into the thick of it, I found all kinds of things I had forgotten about, lost, or simply never appreciated. The uneasy, disjointed jazzy grind that Coins As Portraits plays reminds me a bit of those tech hardcore bands that were all the rage in the early 2000's, bands like Ion Dissonance and the like, but without the necessary bro-ness and floor punching sections (thankfully).

Instead, with CAP (props for a cool acronym) you get highly playful grindcore that I can only compare to !T.O.O.H.! a band I had largely admired but nearly forgotten about. All of that said, the band's songwriting and technical chops is as much the flag they carry and the sword they fall on. My attention starts to wander after a couple songs as each song is next to impossible to discern one from the other. And while this is true,  tracks like "The Human Predicament: Part II" and "Solipsism" standout with oddball moments of melody  that sounds  tragically simple amongst the sea of start-stop riffs and blast beats and encircling vocals that give little, if any, room to breathe.

Check out the last track "Solipsism."

CAP definitely have something going here and  from a musicianship perspective it's quite impressive ( the swing section during "Solipsism" is damn cool). There is a seamless blend of varied musical schools of thought and disciplines underneath the umbrella of blast beats and frantic screams. Much in the way Swarrrm, and aforementioned !T.O.O.H.! and other have played with the confines of a genre that was birthed with 30 second songs, Coins As Portraits play challenging grindcore that is nothing short of intimidating. The band could benefit from a little more moments of normalcy and melody, (using the expected in the unexpected has worked wonders before) but benefits from a just polished enough production and enough variance and discernability to keep you listening  through the 15 minute window of Pollock meets Monk.

I also can't ignore the wittiness the band employs as both their name, and the title of this ep, Form and Structure. Storm and Fracture., is not only a fun play on words, but extremely fitting for their style of erratically familial music that plays extensively with form and mood.

Check it out from Fading Halo Records or Asiluum

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Leviathan - True Traitor, True Whore

Where solo act Leviathan has found success in the past in densely harrowing, vulgar, and paradoxically beautiful efforts, he seems to over look it with his latest release True Traitor, True Whore. Personal impetus aside, the album appears to be a connect the dots effort in order to make an overall homogeneous, digestible, and painfully overproduced work that leaves a die-hard like me disappointed.

Much to blame is the production, not only in sound and style, but in the sheer amount of effects and things at hand for Wrest to over complicate and distract with. Right from the beginning there is this laughable gibberish which goes into a great curve ball riff that's then torn apart by a very violent and thrashing riff. I get it, he wants to play with the listener's expectations and contradict whatever might be pleasant and melodic sounding with violent and unsettling sounds; but it's just so forced sounding. This works well on some tracks, "Her Circle is the Noose" and "Blood Red and True", but for the most part, every song seems to follow the same idea and strains my interest.

My favorite track from the album

The album is a strange form of retrogression as it borrows not only previously used ideas and tropes from Leviathan's back catalog, but also previous songs ("Shed this Skin" and "Blood Red and True"). The variance between tracks themselves is little, if any. They all jump from typical black metal sections to overproduced hazes of effects and creepy effects, in some way, shape, or form. Previous efforts had such strong writing chops and attention to structure, in that sense, True Traitor, True Whore feels much more like a pop album, where each track was conceived on its own and only the production with a vague agenda to keep them together.

While Wrest deserves the attention he's got for this record, I think it would've been more appropriate some five years ago. Sheer talent and good ideas don't save Leviathan from this overproduced (literal) nightmare of an album that lacks the atmospheric brilliance of prior releases and pushes the envelope of digestible dissonance black metal to another level. The simple, ending track shown above "Blood Red and True" manages to build upon a simple, plodding riff which shows Wrest's talent for not only creating dense and creepy songs, but also something rhythmic and hypnotic.

Will I buy it? Probably on vinyl, because as both a fan and a collector, it has been Leviathan that first spurred me to collect records. Will I listen to it? Doubtful.
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