Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein‘s contributions to modern metal and punk cannot be mistaken, and he has finally taken things into his own hands and put his own brand of creepy metal on disc for all of us to hear. Although he has released other material with Gorgeous Frankenstein, Abominator epitomizes all that Doyle is know for. Growing up on Misfits, he, Glenn Danzig, and the rest of the band played a huge part in my musical tastes early on. I can’t tell you how elated I am to see him back in such strong form. I got to see him live as part of the Danzig‘s 25th Anniversary tour this summer, and he dominates the stage with his presence. Those Misfits songs sounded as good as ever, too.
Doyle has assembled quite the crew for Abominator. Alex Story (Cancerslug) is featured on vocals, Left Hand Graham on bass, and his former Misfits bandmate, Dr. Chud, on drums. Abominator weaves through a dark, metal-infused cemetery tour at midnight. The title track opener is a burner, exclaiming, “You will pray for death,” right off the bat. It’s awesome! When I first heard this, I thought about Rob Zombie but without all the electronics and samples. It’s just go-for-the-throat metal! The album has it’s share of catchy tunes, too. “Learn To Bleed,” “Dreamingdeadgirls,” “CemetarySexx” and the killer “Valley of the Shadows” will leave you thirsting for more. They are true fist pumpers to say the least. “Mark of the Beast” and “Hope Hell is Warm” are dark metal classics in the making. “Hope Hell is Warm” is my favorite on the album. It just breathes contempt.
Doyle makes a strong statement here with Abominator.
Abominator is out now on Doyle‘s Monsterman Records.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Once upon a time, James and Stuart Hunter were in a chaotic metalcore band that I actually liked called Johnny Truant (a band I once described to a friend as a stripped-down Killswitch Engage). But as bands sometimes do, they split up. So when I got Anacondas’ debut offering, Sub Contra Blues, from Prosthetic Records, I was pretty psyched to see what the Hunters are doing now.
Track one and two are rough; “River” and “You Set The Moon on Fire” are chock full of corny lyrics I’d expect to hear from a high school garage/punk band, not from the guys who wrote “Seven Days at Knifepoint.” This is not what I’d come to expect from Johnny Truant.
I was about to put the album aside, and then “Cold Blooded, Warm Hearted” reclaimed my attention. While there aren’t any surprises, there’s some real talent in this band. On “This Night Will Last Forever” (which I think is the highlight of this album) it’s evident these guys are capable of writing some nice, sludgy lyrics, but the clean vocals used in the majority of this record left me cold.
Maybe I’m being too hard on them as a fan of their former gig. Sub Contra Blues is honestly not bad for a debut; however, it lacks consistency, both stylistically and musically.
I read a quote from Anacondas that said they’d like to be referred to as “Slunge” – a mixture of grunge and sludge. Um …. no. That’s lazy and pretentious.
Anacondas need to take the time to figure out who they want to be before their next album. If they can do that, I think they’ll be one to watch.
Sub Contra Blues is out now on Prosthetic Records.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars.
Winds of Plague have never been shy with breakdowns and gang shouting vocals, and they aren’t on this release either, but the mix, and the symphonic layers really seem to accentuate them here. “Open the Gates,” the intro piece, is dark and not nearly long enough. I was excited when I first heard it, and Johnny Plague‘s vicious vocals hit hard right off the bat. The beating continues with “Say Hello to the Undertaker” and “Sewer Mouth.” Vincent Bennett‘s (The Acacia Strain) low growl style on the latter is unmistakable. I hear influences from not only hardcore bands, such as Hatebreed and Biohazard, but also Sepultura, especially on “Snake Eyes.”
There are no bad tracks here, and “Left for Dead,” “Good Old Fashion Blood Bath,” and “No Man is My Master” will have you screaming along to them after one listen.
Winds of Plague have released their best album to date with Resistance.
Resistance is out now on Century Media Records.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Asomvel hold nothing back on Knuckle Duster, and they don’t care whose feelings they hurt, as evidenced on “Cash Whore.” I’m not sure who the inspiration was for this musical “fuck you,” but if they’ve heard this tribute, I am positive they are still in the fetal position and rocking back and forth.
As flattering as being compared to Motorhead must be, I have to imagine over the last 20 years Asomvel has grown tired of it. It’s impossible to have ears and not hear Lemmy’s influence, but they are also very clearly their own band.
If you are looking for a bright side or warm and fuzzy, you won’t find it here. Every song on this album is a threat. The title track exemplifies just how little patience these guys have for bullshit, and Conan’s whiskey-and-cigarette-sodden vocals punctuate what you have to look forward to should you choose to forget it.
Jay-Jay Winter can rest peacefully knowing his band is moving forward in capable hands.
Dirty. Honest. No Frills. Metal.
Knuckle Duster is out now on Bad Omen Records.
Rating: 4/5 Stars]]>
What he does with The Retinal Circus, available on CD and DVD, is nothing short of astounding. This loosely tied musical encompasses songs from his entire career, and the Strapping Young Lad songs (“Detox” and “Love?”) sound killer here. Townsend isn’t the star of this show so much as the conductor; his smile and stage persona clearly show how much fun he is having and it reflects in the entire cast/crew.
This show, based on the fantastic voyage of Harold, is narrated by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. Townsend also employs the help of the fantastic Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals. Her presence here is unmistakable, and she provides a show-stopping performance. Jed Simon, former Strapping Young Lad bassist, also joins in on the fun.
The stage show is incredible and you must own this on DVD to truly appreciate it. It gets a good polish job, but you really never lose the live feel. After the four-minute introduction by Vai, “Effervescent!/True North” rings in with a full choir. The show starts kicking ass with “Lucky Animals” and “Planet of the Apes” right after, complete with full costumes and regalia. While the stage show seems to take the focus here, the music never gets left behind. The brutality of “War,” “Planet Smasher” and the aforementioned SYL songs are amazing. “Ih-Ah,” “Bend it Like Bender!,” and “Juular” also sound stellar. Townsend went out of his way to make this production a feast for the eyes and the ears.
Devin Townsend has delivered an incredible performance, perhaps the best of his entire career. I am not a fan of musicals, but I can’t quit listening to The Retinal Circus.
The Retinal Circus is out now on Inside Out Music.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Track one, for instance. “Loneliness Remains.” I tried four times to identify the impetus for the “despair” and the doomy intensity, and was only successful in giving myself a nosebleed. In spite of this I kept listening until the very end…
To Summarize: It’s like someone sh*t in my earholes.
In an effort to find a positive, I did a little research on this band to see what the opinion of others might be. “Perhaps I’m over thinking this,” I thought. “Perhaps words that rhyme are enough.” In so-doing, I found a handful of interviews in other mags over the years stressing their fanbase is comprised solely of those who “truly get it,” and I inadvertently answered my question. Paradise Lost are not only doom metal, but hipsters long before it was fashionable. Their approach? Take something unintelligible, nonsensical and a little ugly, proclaim it’s product is something only an enlightened insider could possibly be a fan of, and ta-dah! That is the only kind fan this band wants.
I applaud Paradise Lost on their longevity, but baby, that concludes my clapping.
Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) is out now on Century Media Records.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
The first thing I noticed on The First and Last Days of Unwelcome was the vocals, and more specifically, how theatrical they are. I say that only because I was quickly reminded of Dave Mustaine, and his style isn’t what I would have expected to hear on such a release. This isn’t terrible, just… weird. I can actually do a good Dave Mustaine, so if you dudes in Lumbar ever tour my area and need someone to help out on “Day One,” I’m your guy. All jokes aside, I do miss theatrical vocals. Guys like Mustaine and King Diamond really just put their guts into it and belted lines hard. You can hear the strain. Lumbar definitely go for this feel and they succeed.
Sonically, the band is … fucking gross. If these guys were oatmeal, you could stick a heavy spoon in the bowl, and the mother fucker would stick straight up. Perhaps one of the sickest moments on the album comes in nearly two minutes into “Day Two” (I feel like I’m writing a police report here with all the days, guys, Jesus …) when Lumbar has their guitars set to stun and the vocals take a deep, “I’m probably about to shit” drop. Tightly packed and thick as pea soup, Lumbar sound like some great and horrible lumbering, humid swamp beast, trudging the mire. As I suppose is part of the trappings of the genre, there is a lot of atmosphere – sounds as opposed to proper music. On first listen, it was sort of a put-off , but after a couple of spins, it felt right, as if it were a setting to part of the story.
Mud-thick tones and the soundscaping of some bleak apocalyptic nightmare, The First and Last Days of Unwelcome is the sort of album to play when it’s overcast and you’re in the mood for something dark. I’ll give it 3.5 stars.
The First and Last Days of Unwelcome is out now on Southern Lord.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Take the title of In Solitude’s newest release, Sister. Frontman Pelle Åhman and company turn this term of endearment into a cancer, prickling with understated evil. They summon the darkness with the delicate opener “He Comes” before unleashing hell with a razor-sharp litany of offenses. The following seven tracks are bathed in a nightmarish haze, but the heaviness isn’t found in blast beats or hyperactive guitar shredding. Rather, In Solitude dress their dark message in the guise of accessible, infectious metal that latches on, breaks the skin, and then festers.
Sister is dramatic and buzzing like a jigsaw on high, its metal grooves sharpened on goth and new wave. It is In Solitude’s finest, darkest work to date. Thank you, Upsala.
Sister is out now on Metal Blade Records.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
In a time when Adult Swim is airing little more than shitty anime series and an ever increasing number of completely crap live-action shows that require absurd amounts of pot to enjoy, Metalocalypse is one of the only reasons I ever had to watch this channel or television in general . When I first heard about the show’s existence I experienced a freeing realization that a cartoon show about a metal band that has all but taken over the world means that I can die happy.
Needless to say, I’ve been a hardcore fan of both the show and Small ever since (his previous show, Home Movies, had its moments too). The best thing about the whole concept of Dethklok is that, not only are they a fictitious source of entertainment, but they’re brought to life by the very real musical talent of Small and his cohorts. I collect their albums like I would any real-life band and have even been able to experience a live performance on their tour with Mastodon a few years back. More than just a comical parody, Small has clearly developed Dethklok into a living, breathing entity
After several seasons of the show and three full albums, what’s next? The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera, that’s what. It’s an hour-long special episode in the form of an animated death metal opera featuring brand new studio recordings accompanied by a full orchestra. What could possibly be better (aside from a super high budget feature-length movie)?
While the special episode itself is the intended format for fans to enjoy, this review is for the soundtrack which was released a couple of days after the episode aired in October. What you get on the soundtrack is basically the entire audio portion of the episode in track-by-track form, along with a full album version of the song “Morte Lumina” and the full orchestral on a single track.
If you haven’t seen the episode, I recommend that you watch it before listening so you will understand the context of the lyrics. The story is basically a continuation of the show from the end of the preceding season. Toki Wartooth is kidnapped by the masked assassin and former Dethklok guitarist Magnus Hammersmith, and the rest of the band members have to overcome their selfishness to go rescue him. Of course, hilarity ensues for the duration.
What we get in the music here is as diverse as any fan of the show would expect. There is not only the driving brutality of Dethklok’s metal ensemble and the dark profundity of the orchestral contributions, but also the wacky, head-bobbing bounce of “Partying Around the World,” the danceable groove of “Givin’ Back to You” (an obvious bite off of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”), and a good, old-fashioned piano rock ballad, “How Can I Be a Hero.” There’s even a Toki vs. Skwisgaar Skwigelf guitar-wanking duel that is a metric shit-ton of awesome.
The overall sound of Doomstar Requiem is on par with the Dethalbum 3, if not a bit improved. It is definitely a higher quality production than the first two albums, which probably had much smaller budgets behind them. If you haven’t listened to any of the music past the first album, get ready for a world of difference. I would even say that the compositions are a marked improvement from the third album which, aside from a few highlights, turned out to be a bit boring. Another big plus on Doomstar Requiem is the great cast of vocal and instrumental contributors, including Gene Hoglan on drums, as well as George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, Jack Black and Mark Hamill in vocal roles.
A big kudos to Brendan Small and Dethklok for putting this together. It’s easily my favorite Dethklok album, and I only hope there are more to follow. It does beg the question thought … will this ever be a live stage performance, on Broadway perhaps? Certainly a cool thought, and a far better prospect than Rock of Ages. It’s probably the only way you’d get me to go to another Broadway show, in fact. Here’s hoping.
The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera is out now on BS Records.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
In the Minds of Evil, Deicide’s eleventh studio release, doesn’t let up, and it doesn’t stray from the shadowed path that these death metallers have worn raw since emerging on the scene. It is fast, impenetrable, and serves to summon the dark spirit that has propelled the band’s controversial career. It takes little more than a look at the titles (“Godkill,” “Even Gods Can Bleed,” “Trample the Cross,” “Kill the Light of Christ” and “End the Wrath of God”) to know that nothing has changed in the subject matter, and that also goes for the riotous rhythms and pummeling riffs, enhanced by the guitarist Kevin Quirion who makes his debut studio performance with the band on this release.
Benton and his horde of miscreants subscribe to the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” ethos, and In the Minds of Evil is pure Deicide, nothing more and nothing less. There’s little new here, but that’s OK; its death metal, after all. At least they didn’t pull a Morbid Angel.
In the Minds of Evil is out now on Century Media Records.