Author: hhbrady

Trying to hear the music in everything... trying to tie everything back to sound– heavy metal… jazz… anywhere: and this, distinctly schizophrenically.

revolver-50fcad6dafd00

The Haunted, rEVOLVEr

“No Compromise,” “99,” and “All against all” are the best,with “No compromise,” easily in the top 20 of my favorite songs songs of all time– which actually led to this review: I figured, “If this song is on this album, the whole thing must be worth investigating, right?” And you know what? It is.

rEVOLVEr is the perfect marriage of singer Peter Dolving’s manic lyrical brilliance coupled with an unusual/off-kilter delivery and his hardcore punk-ish-but-not-somehow sounds, and the Björler twins’ thrash-death tastic riffing and soloing; both were balanced here– after this record, Dolving jumped the shark (he’s the hardcore punk who was too off-med/weird to front a band in 1988); but time had not yet finally caught up with him here.

cd-novo-importado-the-haunted-revolver_MLB-F-3084090143_082012Dolving was, essentially, the Agnostic Front/ Cro-Mags‘ unmedicated frontman with, essentially, At The Gates. Nice production, too: ultra-clear, like Arch Enemy‘s: must be a Swedish thing.

Dolving doesn’t do as well –nearly as well– while being slower, or softer, or singing over acoustic pieces; his pompous overstatement –not unlike Danzig’s, one suddenly forefront– overshadows his fury. It’s rare on this album, however, and quickly forgotten. It does become a problem on later releases, but that’s beyond the scope of this review.

“All against all,” and the bonus tracks “Fire Alive,” and “Smut King” reflect the very-distant but still-present Pantera image; the spirit of Vulgar Display of Power, but without the somehow-complete prostration thereto:

“Abysmal,”  at about 3:45, fades out, with regret, like Trouble’s “All is Forgiven,” and just as hauntingly….

“99″: the best of the reverse-gallop thrash tunes, and/or an even tighter Sepultura– tight solos, though however rare, and ones suggesting restraint– sounds like, almost, a Sepultura/ Vio-lence covers album: the best of the fury of youth, coupled with the best songwriters that they love.

random little tidbits 0610

Tidbits: the various, the sundries, the miscellaneous, the whatevers.

dev_randomEvery decade or so, at least for me, I hit a “dry spell” as a music listener and/or reviewer. No one album sounds that great, rocks my world, whatever– hence the four-month absence of Sawtoothwave from the “new article” section of Awesome Websites Monthly.

I finally figured that, since there were no full albums worth reviewing, on this, my birthday in the early/mid/late 40s, I should hip you to what I have actually been listening to whilst I get up, or work out, or wash dishes, or fall asleep, or whatever. Sound good?

And maybe, just maybe, these tracks are extra good because they pierced my shell of indifference, my equivocal soul, my hemming-and-hawing eardrums….

So, in no order:

Carcass’ “Thrasher’s Abbatoir,” and “316L Grade Surgical Steel,” from Surgical Steel: blistering thrash-cum-archetypal death metal, ferocious as fuck, played by experts.

Hail of Bullets’ “Pour La Mérite,” and “Dak” from III The Rommel Chronicles: a lumbering granite Godzilla, destroying the earth and teaching you about World War II German commanders all the while.

Finnish thrash-ish band Stone’s “Get Stoned,” from Stone: catchy power metal/ thrash that went on to influence bands like Children of Bodom. Great stuff.

Skeletonwitch’s “Burned From Bone,” from Serpents Unleashed: typical Skeletonwitch, in that it’s thrash/black/power metal’s heavy yet disco-ish fury in less than three minutes.

Pelican’s “The Tundra,” from Forever Becoming: if the whole album were like this, it would be as awesome as their greatest album….

Sting’s (I love Sting and every ounce of his pretentiousness, you shut your damn face) “What have we got?” from The Last Ship: add some distorted guitars to this and it would be Týr’s greatest song EVAR….

Speaking of which, Týr’s “Hold the heathen hammer high,” and “Trondur I gotu,” from By the Light of the Northern Star: pagan metal that is an inspiring as a pre-battle pep-talk from a renegade Norse warlord. Fair warning: play either one and you’ll hum it for weeks; it will be more of an earworm that anything Kahn could have devised.

Shining’s “Healter Skelter,” from Blackjazz, and “I Won’t Forget,” from One One One: tenor sax as jazz that really loves metal, much like….

Peter Brötzmann Octet’s “Responsible/ for Jan Van de Ven” from The Complete Machine Gun Sessions: jazz, as metal as it gets.

Fontanelle’s “Traumaturge,” from Vitamin F: if Miles Davis, specifically the Miles Davis from Bitches’ Brew, wanted to make some metal– and rub some funk on it.

Tribulation: anything from The Formulas of Death, but you’ll only need one tune.

Eric Church’s “Smoke a little smoke,” from Caught in the act: Live– this country outlaw ends his tune about wine and weed with the main riff from Sab’s “Sweet Leaf” (love the audience’s collective What the fuck?)– what more do you need to know?

Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan”: a 32-minute opus of revolving licks and paeons to marijuana and altered states in general.

Finally, we have Sloath’s newest work (though it was recorded at the same time as their first album, one of my favorites of all time): “The Deep Rift IV.” Just listen.

I’ve been me and this is my time. Thank you very much, I’ve been great.

Ramming Speed, cover, hi-res

Ramming Speed, Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die

Ramming Speed, cover, hi-resWitness that cover, in terms of metal archetypes:

2 snakes,

2 eagles,

1 wolf, 1 skull, 1 diamond, 1 eye-of-Sauron-ish eyeball (at bottom).

This perhaps-symbol/ possible logo of the band perfectly encapsulates (or really bursts apart that capsule) their sound: metal, via any and every sub-genre. There’s definitely thrash, definitely hardcore, some grindcore that may or may not be death/grind, a bit of NWOBHM, wafts of power metal, even a sense of humor not unlike Scatterbrain (e.g., I’m sure they know the Army of Darkness/ Ben Hur reference that is their name)– and it works together like a good chili: tons of ingredients, but one overall taste.

Remarkable that these Bostonians have managed to have an easily-ID-able sound so soon in their career. Well done, men. Well done.

Needn’t bother with song titles, here’s the album, sonically-speaking:

Open with Dio-ish, end of the world chord which bleed into perfect thrash with raspy appropriate vocals… man that drummer is fucking good… vocal powerful like Chuck Billy… oh, now there’s blastbeats… now we’ve Scatterbrain as thrash band, gang vocals on the title track… these guys don’t give a fuck with this solo… “Anticipating Failure,” starts with the perfect, furious thrash, via MOD or Gothic Slam….

Primarily? Thrash. More specific? Thrash with blackened, deathly, hardcore-ishly-doomed power metal.  Overall? Just heavy metal, man. Or:

A heavier, meaner-yet-more-humorous Revocation?

Shit, I don’t know. Just listen and/or buy it already, eh?

Stream it at Terrorizer.com
Buy it at Amazon.com
Primitive Man, Scorn, cover

Primitive Man, Scorn

Primitive Man, Scorn, coverHere’s the first line regarding Denver “blackened doom nihilists,” Primitive Man and their debut, Scorned. My internet homeboy brother-from-another-mother, The Ripple Effect’s Racer, kept on me to review these guys, saying I’d like them.

Yannow what, Racer? Screw you. Being right all the time doesn’t make you smart.

Don’t think too closely about this statement.

Anyway, Primitive Man, amirite?!?! What’s up with those guys…?! Wildly, boldly misanthropic blackened sludge doom.

The last type of music the average human would want to listen to.

If that’s not an endorsement….

Nutshelled: black metal in slo-mo, on bath salts– detuned.

order/listen from their label

Listen to the whole thing:

Age of Taurus, album cover

Age of Taurus, Desperate Souls of Tortured Times

Age of Taurus, album coverOkay, so… here’s what happened:

In some alternate universe, one very similar to our own, Candlemass lost their one and only singer, Messiah Marcolin. He died in a fire or a train wreck or something. And they were totally sad– so sad they couldn’t record a new album under the Candlemass name. So they went to the States to hang out with their buddies Corrosion of Conformity (Blind-era lineup). But they were still depressed. So Reed Mullin or Karl Agell or whoever said, “Hey, what band gets you going? You should listen to them, like, a ton.” And Leif Edling was all, “Yanno what? He’s right. We should listen to fucking Trouble. Except, like, we should totally just jam out their songs to make us feel better.” And Karl or Woody or whoever was all, “Dude! You can totally use our gear to rock out with that Trouble tunage!” But then Candlemass was all, “But dude… we have no singer….” And someone in COC was like, “Hey! We know the singer from Pallbearer, and he’d be perfect for you! I’ll call him!” And that dude came over and ROCKED OUT with with Candlemass doing Trouble covers with COC’s gear.

But Leif was still all like, “We should still have the same type of album cover.”

And on Desperate Souls of Tortured Timesthat is what Age of Taurus sound like*.

*Top 3 of the year, easy.
TOAD, Endless Night, Cover

TOAD, Endless Night

TOAD, Endless Night, CoverTOAD are Slayer, drunk, with one member on PCP (you decide which one*), covering Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction.

OR:

An alternate-universe Slayer that, being from LA, loved the music of the sunset strip (e.g., Ratt, LA Guns), but were so metal that they in fact ending up sounding like TOAD.

Stream it now on Brooklyn Vegan

*It’s Tom Araya.
Orchid, The Mouths Of Madness, cover

Orchid, The Mouths of Madness

Orchid, The Mouths Of Madness, coverAllow me to address the nagging, unspoken eternal question:

How does one begin to review Orchid?

Reference this article? Or this one?

Review with irony, or without?

No. I will take my cue from this scene from some movie whose title I don’t want to write out, and riff on this question, one very very similar to the one on which they did riff….

You know how I know Orchid are metal?

They’re Electric Wizard if they worshiped a slightly lighter dark God….

Because they are so close to being a Black Sabbath cover band without actually being one, yet a band wildly-ecstatically inspired by one, that their performances and recorded material verge on performance art… on shamanistic pagan ritual*….

Because Ozzy Osbourne’s hair is not greasy enough for them: they go on Ebay and buy locks of his hair from the early 70s, wring out the oil and brush their teeth with it, because that’s soap to them, man… they’re that funky, in both the George Clinton and the CDC sense….

“Mouths of Madness,” a generic if rousing rockish opener, “Marching Dogs of War,” boring filler (even great albums like Vol. 4 had filler, now though, come on…), but “Silent One,” is another Orchid gem here… “Mountains of Steel,” very COC-circa-Pepper-Keenan… “Leaving It All Behind,” just no, you fucking hippies… “Loving Hand of God,” (great title) sounds like the Doors, of all stoner metal bands. At first? Annoying. After a few listens, though, it’s pretty DamnedGod awesome.

“See You on the Other Side,” sounds like, really really Sabotage, dude: you totally know that they know that, man… it’s like Megadeth’s “502″ flavored by Trouble’s 1989 masterpiece….

*You know how I know I’m gay? Because I used the phrase “Shamanistic Pagan Ritual.”

best-heavy-metal-albums-bands-universe-five

The Heaviest Record

“Heavy.”

As a term used to describe music [previously semantically reviewed here], “heavy” suggests to me analogies to horror movie monsters; in this, there are two axes: power, and precision.

heavyThe maximum power might be something like Godzilla, King Kong, or Cloverfield’s LSA…. (i.e., a giant monster– crude, obvious, but massively destructive)

The maximum precision, then, would be something like the various Terminators (Arnold, Robert Patrick or that one chick)– very hard to beat, very organized and intelligent, but smaller-scale.

So moving that analogy to music (and metal), is the heaviest album loud, bombastic, and destructive– or precise and devastating?

And is there an ideal combination of the two? The musical equivalent of a 200 foot terminator? Or even one that can change its size at will like Apache Chief?

Let’s get all Eh-neeek-chock up in this bitch and sort shit out.

Thus forms my review.

Ahem. You may know open your prayer guides to page 69. Though this review has nothing to do with Ministry. I just thought I sounded vaguely priestly for a second and I ran with it, speaking writerly.

My second thesis  –more of a sub-thesis, really– regarding this most (un)holy and (un)righteous of metal questions, is: regardless of whether it was powerful, precise, or some combo of the two, what album, what 8-track, what cassette/CD/illegal digital download, even what concert, slapped you in the dick/vag the hardest?

What had the most impact on you at the time? Even if that impact has been soured by habituation and the gradual numbing of senses that both Rimbaud and Lady MacBeth talked about all the Goddamned time?

In other words:

What album rocked your world, fucked your face off, blasted your ass, tickled you pink… no, tickled you arterial-spray red, busted your nut, shredded your denim jacket (with or without patches, though if “with,” were they also shredded?), slapped your “little Johnny” behind the ear, yodeled in your canyon, shifted your paradigm, helio-centricized your mediaeval world, emptied your Bastille (vived your La France), exterminated your Jews then killed itself, Tommy Lee-ed your Pamela Anderson, tortured and slaughtered your Only Begotten Son, or just made an entirely distinct and perhaps noteworthy impression on your soul– via your ears?

Dark Angel, time does not heal, coverIn 1991 Dark Angel released their fourth and last album, Time Does Not Heal. That is my baby here. I was already a huge –like only teenagers can be really– Dark Angel fan at the time. I had gotten Darkness Descends (their second album) on a mix tape from some kid in my biology class, waited in line at the record store for Leave Scars (third album), and seen DA in concert with Death (very coolly my brother’s favorite band at the time; that was a good show).

Time Does Not Heal could’ve been shit and I would’ve loved it; DA were fast and ferocious as fuck and I loved, and love, that. (Though they’re not particularly Satanic –as their name and song titles up to 1991 might imply– just menacing/ unsettling.) The new dimension they added to TDNH (and added well) was precision.

And fucking hell, did they add that.

TDNH is crushingly heavy while also being fast (strangely difficult to do perfectly); industrially-precise while sounding like it was being played by humans and not machines, and it was fiercely literate, smart as hell: speaking as a therapist, drummer Gene Hoglan, who wrote all the lyrics and riffs, had some genuinely great insights into many aspects of psychopathology that hold up even after my years of mostly-useless-but-looks-good-on-a-resume education.

Sidenote: Gene Hoglan? Goddamn. Man never studied psychology, guitar, or even drums (where he’s known as the “atomic clock” for good reason), and he just knocked it out of the park on all aspects of this record.

Unfortunately, for some fucking reason, TDMH is not available digitally anywhere I could find– and freaking Terry Date produced the thing! You can tell, it sounds awesome–the perfect blend of clever mixing with sheer power, as was most of his work at that time: just look at Overkill’s The Years of Decay or Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell or Vulgar Display of Power….

Anyway Amazon has the CD for sale (though at a pretty high price for a 22-year-old, used CD), but you can find it illegally, I’m sure, or just listen below.

[Just for shits and giggles I tried to think of what might be the "modern" successor to TDNH, and it's most definitely 2009's Evangelion by Behemoth. Interesting connection there.]
Beseiged, Victims Beyond All Help, cover (hi-res)

Are Your Victims Beyond All Help? They’re probably… [duhduhDUH!:] Beseiged.

Beseiged, Victims Beyond All Help, cover (hi-res)

Like Community‘s Pierce and his semi-mantra, “It just came up organically,” (about banging Eartha Kitt in an airline bathroom, generally), most great forms of metal music, if not music outright, emerged as reactions to other music scenes: NWOBHM reacted to rock– speed metal, like Motorhead, found NWOBHM too staid– speed metal fucked hardcore acts like Gang Green and/or D.R.I., and begat thrash metal– thrash metal popped out death metal–

et frackin’ cetera….

Most recent “re-thrash” outfits (I’m looking at you, recent technically-accomplished yet overall-lacking re-thrash outfit whose name starts with “H”) tend to seem like inspired covers of… Men From Long Ago. Problem is, those men– they weren’t playing in standard with lots of palm muting at high velocities that started and stopped on a dime and generally had political lyrics because That Was Where Life Had Put Their Music, but because They Loved Rocking Out… and at that time, Rocking Out meant playing thrash metal.

Do you see the difference?

Victims Beyond All Help seems like it arose (Sepultura cough! See Below!) organically, without commercial intention: the fine fellows in Beseiged seem angry and like they’d never heard metal at all before playing– and somehow, perfectly randomly, they made protest music that sounds like something you and I have called “thrash metal” for over two decades.

Their ad copy cites Beneath the Remains and Darkness Descends (which, to this day, I still think of as being sounds heard from a green cassette, via Kevin in my Freshman Biology class)– and is overall quite the accurate talking point….

Victims Beyond All Help is to be released July 9, 2013 (with an Ed Repka cover no less –and this a particularly-cool one, like Sepultura’s Arise, though otherwise…? Generic name, logo, and what?!-type album cover… though to be fair, it looks like a tape I would’ve bought solely for said cool cover, this probably on Roadrunner Records circa 1989… not unlike Obituary’s Cause of Death…).

So, anyway, there is in fact a review in here. It begins NOW.

First and foremost: great drummer! (He doubles the count… always! And this at rather high velocities!)… great drum sound overall: tasty, minimalist… sounds like someone using a cardboard box for a snare, but somehow this completely works and ends up sounding something like Neal Peart if he were homeless and just randomly drumming on shit around him versus playing in Rush.

Riffs? Clever; and this, for a thrash band (something not normally required for a good thrash album overall, where it’s more important to have a clever arrangement (see Vio-Lence’s Eternal Nightmare), versus a genre like stoner/doom/sludge, which lives and dies by a specific refrain, or “riffs”)….

Nutshelled– sounds like Beneath the Remains-type tunes, but (somehow) recorded during the Arise sessions; signer sounds a ton like Max Cavalera, ca. 1988….

Oh… opener “Internal Suffering,” has no intro: no fucking acoustic intro, or a Goddamned ambient intro, or a swell-in, or what-fucking ever: at approximately 0.1 second in, the tune takes fucking off: fast as fuck and endorsing of no Bullshit….

FYI: they’re from Winnipeg, Manitoba… I somehow picture them touring with non-nonsense Canadian metalheads like 3 Inches of Blood and Bison BC….