Dapper Dan Man…

March 20, 2010

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


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January 19, 2010

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.

August 17, 2009

Music Review: Supercontinent – Vaalbara

Filed under: Music,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 4:46 PM
Tags:

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.

July 29, 2009

Music Review: Aimee Allen – A Little Happiness

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 10:29 AM
Tags: , ,

Published on Blogcritics.org July 16, 2009

Link

Aimee Allen is described as an “explosive, outspoken voice” on her website, and that is probably right when considering her earlier work.

But now it’s hard to imagine that when this album, at least music-wise, exudes gentleness and serenity. It’s a collection of mostly acoustic tracks that sound tailor made for contemplation in the sunshine or sitting by a campfire. Without delving more into comparisons, these are the images brought up while listening to A Little Happiness — the mellow tones of the music inspire it. It’s only in the reflective lyrics that less happy themes come up like heartbreak and organized religion.

Allen has a great voice, part soothing and part sass, and the slow reggae-like tones definitely benefit. This album actually brings to mind the much missed ska punks Sublime. One of their finest songs, “Santeria” even gets the cover treatment here, with this version coming close to the sun-drenched perfection of the original.

The funky piano in “Crazy” is a nice touch, which along with the sing-along chorus provides the song with an even more upbeat feel. “Calling The Maker” has much of the same influence, but with a much more thumping drum beat and backing vocals that bring to mind gospel singing, a touch that makes it more memorable

Not all songs on A Little Happiness have that bouncy, happy sound though. A few, like “Silence is Violence” deal with the same musical template, but differ in the melancholy sound they carry. The same can be said about “La La Land,” a song about bad relationships and infidelity. Some of that edge that Aimee Allen is usually known for definitely comes across in the more sombre moments of this record. But A Little Happiness carries a more positive message in the end. Read the lyrics and this will come across.

This is a great summer album, perfect in every way for this season, but which will also sound good when listened to at any other time of the year.

July 9, 2009

Music review: Bulldozer – The hammers

Filed under: Music,punk,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:15 AM
Tags: ,

Published on Scenepointblank.com

Sadly this is not a album by recently reformed Italian thrashers Bulldozer but a disc made by a New York band playing bog-standard punk rock with melodic and shouty sing-along choruses.

It’s hard to get wet and excited over another punk band that has flashes of rock’n roll and sounds like they came straight from the practice room – especially since most have probably heard, by estimation, around eight poorly produced albums of the same sound with tin-pot drumming this month alone. Last time was probably when your kid brother’s band played in front of twelve people in some dive bar.

The problem is not that the music on The Hammers is thoroughly bad but that it’s just bland and doesn’t inspire any reaction. Bulldozer is the quintessential bar band – there to play songs like “The Cocksmen/ Gravedigger” to whoever wants to hear jokey rock’ n roll in the vein of Guttermouth on a Tuesday evening and doesn’t mind the utter lack of variety. The guys are probably aware of and content with the situation.

Throw in some thoroughly meat-headed lyrics – apart from “Guido Beach” which did raise a smile – and you have a recording likely to be forgotten within the hour of turning it of.

Link to review

Music review: Big Business – Mind the drift

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:11 AM
Tags: , ,

Published on Blogcritics.com

Big Business is a band with a sense of humour. For proof of that take a look at some of the band photos over the years, or absorb the fact that they decided to create an audio commentary for the promo version of Mind the Drift, their third album and the first one recorded as a trio. It’s a surreal experience to hear Coady Willis, Jared Warren, and new member, guitar player Toshi Kasai talk about the recording process while the songs are playing, especially since some of it verges on gibberish. But it is funny too.

Mind the Drift also presents some differences and progressions in sound- overall the band sound cleaner here but still retaining their trademark sound. Big Business have always been a bombastic band, thanks to their massive drumming sound but the scuzzy, rumbling, and bass-heavy influence is now a part of a much leaner production, stripped of dirt but still heavy. With the addition of Toshi’s gentle guitar playing there is now an added dimension- instead of a straightforward rumble the music also has some texture throughout. At times it sounds as if Kasai doesn’t follow the bass and drums at all but digresses and plays a completely different tune but put together in the context of this album it is a vital part of the whole. Without this the songs would sound poorer.

Another small departure concerns Jarred Warren’s vocal delivery. On the previous two albums it was a raw, throaty and unpolished bellow and on Mind the Drift you get to hear a change in the deep and smooth singing- save for in the title track, a swaggering bluesy stomp that sounds more rock’n roll then anything out there at the moment. It would not be out of place on a latter day Melvins record which is fitting seeing as Willis and Warren also play with the cult heroes these days.

This could be their attempt at reaching a wider audience and there is nothing wrong with that. This is band that’s heavy enough to always be liked by the stoner rock/ doom contingent but also carries plenty of song writing prowess worthy of being heard by many more. They prove this with “The ayes have it”- a Hammond laden melodic piece that is one of the most refreshing things Big Business have put their name on. Its moody tunefulness makes it the standout track on Mind the Drift.

It all finishes with the 8 minute long “Theme from big business II, a slow psychedelic song that perfectly sums up their third album- slow, heavy but with added harmonies and experimentation.

European tour is hereby requested.

Link to review

May 29, 2009

The Poison Arrows – Casual Wave review

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:25 PM
Tags: , ,

Posted on Wednesday May 27th, 2009 – Scenepointblank

Being from Chicago, The Poison Arrows have a style that unmistakeably brings to mind the old, early to mid 90’s alternative rock scene. Since that particular time spawned quite a few great bands then this can be considered a good prospect. The debut EP from this band doesn’t necessarily resemble the noisy endeavors of Steve Albini or the madness of The Jesus Lizard – instead, their languid, flowing sound has more in common with the dark and gritty sound of an underrated bunch like Girls vs. Boys, while the wash of the mellow synth and electronic sound behind them adds color to the urban feel.

This sounds like it was borne out of a concrete jungle, as the repetitive beats of the likes of “The Lure of Lore” evoke visions of city lights and neon reflecting over Michigan Lake. Casual Wave finds the band in a dark and contemplative mood, something they manage to bring to the listener with ease. It’s in the small details, like the moody trumpet in “Frozen Human State.” It’s just a tad frustrating that four songs are all we can listen to at the moment.

Should The Poison Arrows continue to deliver on the promise of this EP than those who like their brooding music have much to anticipate.

Link to the review

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