Dapper Dan Man…

March 20, 2010

Powerplay reviews – March issue

Obliteration

“Nekropsalms”

Genre: Death Metal

Label: Fysisk Format

Nicke Andersson, Entombed’s former drummer and one of the figure heads of the early Scandinavian death metal scene was quoted saying in a Swedish magazine a few years back that the best death metal was made in the period of 85-89. He’d absolutely love Obliteration, a young Norwegian band that has taken all the best parts of the American and Swedish old school, and pays homage to that era by delivering another gem.

After a good debut the band have now developed their dusty old sound even more- along with the raw and sloppy death metal there is a new ingredient, a slow and doomy psychedelia. Listen to “Catacombs of Horror” for proof of a slightly cosmic vibe among the lurching riffs, or “The Spawn of a Dying Kind” for an almost stoner-like atmosphere.

A song like “Ingesting Death” has that “Scream Bloody Gore”- like griminess but the slow parts bring to mind Autopsy and that particular brand of sludgy death they specialized in. Here is the beauty- Obliteration have managed to take the best from that genre and put their own twist on it. “Nekropsalms” is miles above any melodic death metal release of any year.

Rating:7


Elvis Jackson

“Against the Gravity”

Genre: Pop-Punk/ Ska

Label: Antstreet Records

This melodic punk group from Slovenia sounds so blatantly American that they will probably end up on a soundtrack to a college film in the very near future. “Against the Gravity” is quite possibly the sunniest, most feel-good recording so far this year- fans of this genre will no doubt enjoy beach parties while this is playing in the background.

It is difficult to be too be negative about this kind of uplifting melodic punk; it may not be original but it is played with competence and does put a smile on your face. What you get is the usual fast-paced songs with infectious choruses along with mellow ska/ reggae tunes like “Dry Your Tears”. Billy Gould (Faith No More) has done a great job with the production and this is a worthwhile investment for fans of cheerful punk to enjoy on a sunny day with a cold beer.

Rating:5


Blue Origin

“The Prism” EP

Genre: Heavy Metal

Label: Self-Released

One of the more striking things while listening to this mini-album by Blue Origin is how good the sound is, aside from the music itself being of high quality. The Stoke band are as yet unsigned but “The Prism” does not sound like the work of novices and also boasts a great production.

In a climate of extreme metal and off-the-cuff sounds, Blue Origin stick to the traditions and play riff-heavy classic heavy metal and do it with style. The songs are as heavy as they are catchy- a piece like “Darkside” is instantly memorable as are the following three and the bluesy vocals really enrich the songs.

It remains to be seen if the same quality can be delivered across an entire full-length album but “The Prism” is strong enough to make you believe it.

Rating: 6

Powerplay reviews #2 – February

Filed under: Uncategorized — gazzabazza @ 11:45 AM
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More reviews from the February issue:

Devilfork – Devilknife

Genre: Metal

Label: Independent release

There is a sense of a band having a lot of fun with their music on “Devilknife”. The eclectic mix of music along with the sarcastic press release is a testament to that. It starts normally enough with “Ju88”, a slab of groove metal that actually brings to min now defunct nineties rockers Transport League. By song three Devilfork all of a sudden throw in a sleazy cock-rock song, “When two embrace one”. They execute it well enough but that particular genre is hardly a favorite, which makes the classic heavy metal-influenced “The Dragonslayers Swordquest” all the more welcome.

The humor is very evident on the aforementioned sleaze song but it especially comes up on “Tip”, where the band mix melancholy rock with a self-help tape for eleven minutes. It is good to see a band that has fun but sometimes it can also make you not take them seriously, which is a shame as they certainly can be a very good metal band when they want to.

Rating: 5


Powerplay reviews – February

These are album reviews published in the February issue of Powerplay magazine.

Pure Hate – Hate is Coming

Genre: Metalcore

Label: Unholy Melodies

It’s no surprise that an album with this kind of music is called “Hate is coming”. The deal on this Polish band’s debut is tough guy metalcore with testosterone overload and a dose of melodic riffs influenced by the popular Gothenburg death metal strain of music.There isn’t much subtlety on offer on “Hate is coming”- songs like “Warriors” and the title track are chock full of slow, lurching riffs while a few like “Power and Pride” provide the kind of modern melodic metal popular today.

The brutish hardcore parts are preferable as they get the blood going and make you feel energized.

“Hate is coming” makes no claims for originality but if your Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage albums have been worn out during the gym sessions then reach for this competent substitute.

Rating: 5


Nargaroth  – Jahreszeiten

Genre: Black Metal

Label: No Colours

This German one-man black metal entity has based this latest outing on the concept of seasons of the year, hence the title. The prolog is followed by four long pieces, starting with Spring.

It is a fitting concept for a black metal band but the first song leaves you instantly bewildered when the riffs on “Frühling” kick in- it sounds like a bouncy old folk song in its melody and in all honesty a tad too chirpy for this kind of music. This last for a few minutes and finishes in the same manner but in between you get the usual grim, frosty riffing so familiar to black metal. It is at least an interesting touch but with songs this long variety is welcome.

Herein lies a small problem-most songs are too long, save for “Herbst”, whose mellow and melancholy build-up merits its rich length. As for the others, all the grimness and emotional cold could have been conveyed in less time but Nargaroth is clearly one of the better black metal bands around today.

Rating: 6


Fallen Within – Intoxicated

Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Label: Coroner Records

All the way from Greece what we are graced with is a piece of pure, Sweden-inspired melodic death metal with a fair deal of electronic influences. It actually feels as if death metal is a misnomer as the melodies and clean vocals in parts evoke modern metal releases and seem to shun the heavier end of the spectrum. The Greek band’s debut brings to mind In Flames’ 2003 release “Reroute to remain”- the sound is very similar, albeit more rich in industrial overtones with Fallen Within, especially on songs like “Pain Right Under”, which has a thick layer of electronic throughout.

The guys are clearly competent musicians but will more than likely suffer for operating in a genre that has clearly reached its saturation point already. They would be wise to expand on the electronic influences and carve out their own niche, while toning down the obvious In Flames/ Sonic Syndicate influences.

Rating: 4

I Shalt Become – The Pendle Witch Trials

Genre: Black Metal

Label: Independent Release

These days the grimmest black metal seems to come from across the pond rather than from the parts of Europe where it started. Thus, this release is brought to us from Michigan and it is one truly depressing piece of work. Every fibre of “The Pendle Witch Trials” breathes utter hopelessness and desolation which makes for quite an unsettling companion. It is not recommended to listen to this while taking a nightly stroll through the park.

I Shalt Become is mid-tempo, atmospheric black metal inspired by the likes of Burzum. In evoking a sense of unease and a world devoid of hope this album clearly succeeds with its intent but the bad production ruins the experience. The vocals are so far down in the mix that they are barely heard and can hardly be said to even accentuate the harsh music- in that respect this could have simply been an instrumental album and sounded better for it.

Rating: 4


January 19, 2010

Mount – Three Song Demo

Filed under: StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 3:46 PM
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Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com) – link to site and review
Self Released
Release date: 2010

This northern English band – they have since, according to their site, changed the band name to Maars – make themselves known with a nifty three-song demo sounding as if it was delivered straight from the seventies. They’re slow, pondering blues songs stripped of any excess – raw and bare boned and they make you wish this demo had more music on it. This is surprisingly good considering it is coming from a still unsigned band.

“Hassle” is a soulful piece with a distorted, rumbling bass as intro; the vocals are rich and expressive and the song is a perfect introduction to the bands rootsy blues-rock. The closer “Garden” is a similar offer but it is slightly longer and is given time to slowly build up, seeming like the band just warmed up and got comfortable. Only the middle song breaks the mould and is a straight forward rock ’n roll song – it’s perhaps the weakest of the three but strong nevertheless.

The sound is of expected demo quality; once this Leeds group have the means to record in a decent studio and write more songs they have the potential for reach. The genre may be difficult to get huge in but they at least have the skill to be as good as another English blues-rock band – Firebird.

Total Fucking Destruction – Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction

Posted on Tuesday January 12th, 2010 – Scenepointblank.com

Grindcore is one of those genres where these days you are just as likely to come across an abject piece of music as you are something good. This could be said of all genres but you got to be skilled to provide something original with music where speed is the primary ingredient.

The classics brought something new and did it with a youthful and naïve charm and can still be considered supreme. It has been a long time since a band like Napalm Death was the most brutal thing in music – plenty of bands are more extreme today – but any new record they put out wipes its ass with anything by a modern grind band.

Luckily, Total Fucking Destruction carry some pedigree with them by having a member from a legendary grind band in the ranks and by delivering good music. It is refreshing to see that they have not opted for the most extreme delivery on Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction but have decided to spice up their politicized brand of grindcore with some different influences that helps from turning the listen tedious. Let’s face it – listening to over twenty songs with just blast beats and screaming can get tiresome no matter how much you love grind.

It starts with familiar territory though – “Bio-Satanic Terroristic Attack” is just under one minute and full of total speed. The quintessential song of the genre in other words. But already on the next song “Monsterearth Megawar” do things get slightly different. It’s not as fast and slows down even more with some rhythmic breakdowns in the middle. “Non-Existence of the Self” goes even further by for the most part being a melodic punk tune with clean vocal delivery. Small differences like these help make an album that could have been standard interesting. Even the closer, the longest on the album and a spoken word/rap piece does not feel out of place on an otherwise heavy, intense recording.

December 17, 2009

StonerRock.com review – Orcustus – S/T

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 5:21 PM
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Orcustus – Orcustus
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Southern Lord Records
Release date: 2009

Link to review on Stonerrock.com

Orcustus are a slightly obscure entity made up of more or less reputable musicians in the black metal world. Luckily they don’t delve into the world of theatrical black metal rich with keyboards as so many of their peers these days do – this album is all the better for containing nothing more than the basics. There is more atmosphere here than on any work done by the likes of Dimmu Borgir.

Don’t mistake it for sounding primitive, though, as the production and packaging here is top notch, from the disturbing cover art and the accompanying booklet to the atmosphere of the bone sharp, melodic riffs.

The vocalist has the near perfect voice for this kind of music and more black metal front men ought to have voices this acidic and raspy. Orcustus go for depth on this album rather than full on speed and mayhem. Their approach has more vigour as they opt to vary by also having a lot of rhythmic delivery rather than playing blast beats for seven songs. At times the rhythm can almost be said to have a punky edge to it.

The fast songs are there though; “Coil” and “Death and Dissolution” have the pace, but the album as a whole provides a lot of contrast which is good since the songs are rather long.

These guys may not be as popular as some in the vast pool of black metal but should they pick up on the activity then they should be, as this self titled disc outdoes many in the genre.

November 26, 2009

I Klatus – Surveillance and Worship

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 5:25 PM
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I Klatus – Surveillance and Worship
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com) – Click on site name for direct link to review
Label: Horse Drawn
Release Date: 2009

The two bands that keep coming to mind while listening to Surveillance and Worship are Neurosis and Isis. It’s inevitable when the music is atmospheric, noisy and experimental metal. Some might say that due to their similarities only one of them will suffice to mention, but there are reasons to disagree with that.

I Klatus sound like certain parts of both; the unnerving, slow doom of Neurosis is brought to mind and even the vocals during these pieces are similar, whereas the mellow and melancholy influences resemble Isis’s free-flowing suggestiveness (from their three last albums in particular).
The sound of desperation is at the forefront of the opening track “The Rift.” The first minutes are based on a glum intro of guitar strumming but with a creeping sense of unease, followed by black metal-like screams and then the eruption of the massive wall of riffs kicks in. This nine minute long opener is interspersed with little details that cement that unsettling feeling of the beginning. A small instrumental breather follows before “Flaw,” a song that bears the kind of nihilism that Eyehategod championed in the bad old days.

The record is not entirely full of noise though; “Flawless Covalency” is in parts a wonderfully sombre slow burner with better singing that can be expected from an album of this kind. Perhaps I klatus should have delved even deeper into these parts and let them flourish because at times the clanging and experimental noise tends to ruin their better, tender moments.Still, the good parts are in a definite majority.

Sadly, the band seems to have been struck by tragedy with the death of bass player Tariq Ali, so where this leaves them is unknown. Support them at least by giving this disc a listen. URL: http://www.myspace.com/iklatus

October 19, 2009

Necrophobic – Satanic Blasphemies

Posted on Friday October 16th, 2009 – Scenepointblank.com – Link to review

Necrophobic are one of the classics of the legendary old school Swedish death metal scene, along with underground titans such as Entombed, Dismember, and Carnage. They remained slightly less known then the aforementioned compatriots but nonetheless command great respect in underground circles and bring a lot of history with them. If you are at all familiar with and love old Swedish death metal then you will instantly know where the gratification will come from here.

Satanic Blasphemies has nine songs brimming with evil vibes and the trademark buzz saw guitar riffs that are so prevalent in the genre. Think Entombed circa Clandestine or Carnage’s Dark Recollections for further reference. The songs are never too fast here but rather fluctuate in tempo and always remain savagely raw.

This collection is comprised of re-mastered material from the band’s infant years. It contains songs from their first two demos: 1990′s Slow Asphyxiation and 1991′s Unholy Prophecies along with The Call 7” EP from 1992 and a deluxe twelve-page booklet.

It’s enough old material to have fans salivating, and listening to it you are struck with how the band seemed to find their voice so early on. One of the reasons these guys get so much respect is, apart from the great music, the fact that they have never changed their sound. It has always been based on death metal with a heavy touch of black metal, which is where they also slightly differ from the above mentioned colleagues. They may have found their feet fully later in their career and sound a tad unpolished here but still recognizable.

This is most evident in the melodic, heavily frostbitten guitar melodies in the title-track but they’re also interspersed throughout the album. It is cold sounding as only music made in Scandinavia can be. Bands like Necrophobic never excelled technically but with small means they have always managed to outdo most modern metal bands that think it’s important to sound as technically adept as possible.

A song like “Sacrificial Rites” with its swarm-like riffs, shifting tempo and sick growls will always sound more savage. The guitar playing gets even grimier and scuzzier in “Unholy Prophecies” but still maintains the underlying melodic quality. The guitar harmonies are one of the band’s best features and contrast well to their otherwise feral attack. Get involved.

September 21, 2009

Four New Reviews Published

New reviews have been published- two each on StonerRock.com and Scenepointblank.

Click on the links below to read.

Behold! The Monolith – Behold! The Monolith EP

Melon – Never Eat on an Empty Stomach

Lanterns – Apocalypse Youth EP

Black Market Fetus/In Defence – Split 7″

August 17, 2009

Music Review: Supercontinent – Vaalbara

Filed under: Music,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 4:46 PM
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Supercontinent – Vaalbara
Review By Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Saw Her Ghost Records
Release Date: 2008
Published: August 15, 2009

Link to review

Considering the meaning of the term supercontinent it can be said that these guys from Ann Arbor, Michigan have quite a fitting name. The sludge/doom on Vaalbara is practically overloaded with dense, overwhelming riffs and the album is largely instrumental so those that favour riffing over singing should love this. As befits the genre this album is very low on tempo, sounding instead as if most songs were played in a muggy swamp.

Naturally, due to the nature of this genre and the fact that Supercontinent also have quieter moments they will draw comparisons to more esteemed bands like Isis. This is inevitable but they actually have a tad more in common with Cult of Luna, particularly with their 2003 album The Beyond and during those very few moments when there are vocals present this comparison becomes clearer.

What Supercontinent do well here is manage to keep an album with over 60 minutes in length interesting which is not an easy thing to do, especially within sludge. They do it by calming things down halfway through with the mellow “Rain Gives Rise,” which is five minutes of beautiful melancholy as good as anything by the post rock bands. Another highlight is the mighty “Monolith,” a ten minute piece that goes full circle from churning heaviness, through introspective calm and back to suggestive riffing.

Sadly, this band is now defunct but don’t let that stop you from tracking Vaalbara down.

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