Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So What's Up

So, why haven't I written anything these past two weeks? Honestly, I've been too busy to listen to any new music with a critical ear. When I listen to music that I'm going to write about, I want to make sure that I really give it a fair shot and also get something interesting to say about it. Hopefully this week, though, I'll get a posting up. I definitely have heard some good albums that need to be written about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Difference Between The Genres

From the internet. A friend shared this with me, which he found on forums, written by user Mankvill. Whether it was original to him or not, the internet does not tell. But it is worthy of sharing.
    The protagonist arrives riding a white unicorn, escapes from the dragon, saves the princess and makes love to her in an enchanted forest.
    The protagonist arrives, fights the dragon, saves the princess and fucks her.
    The protagonist arrives on a Harley, kills the dragon, drinks a few beers and fucks the princess.
    The protagonist arrives with some friends playing accordions, violins, flutes and many more weird instruments, the dragon falls asleep (because of all the dancing). Then all leave........ without the princess.
    The protagonist arrives in a ship, kills the dragon with his mighty axe, skins the dragon and eats it, rapes the princess to death, steals her belongings and burns the castle before leaving.
    The protagonist arrives, kills the dragon, fucks the princess and kills her, then leaves.
    The protagonist is the dragon, dwells in the heart of the night with in a castle full of hellhounds and eternal flames. He kills the sassy knight, fucks the noble steed and sacrifices the princess to Satan.
    The protagonist arrives, kills the dragon and spreads his guts in front of the castle, fucks the princess and kills her. Then he fucks the dead body again, slashes her belly and eats her guts. Then he fucks the carcass for the third time, burns the corpse and fucks it for the last time.
    The protagonist arrives, sees the size of the dragon and thinks he could never beat him, then he gets depressed and commits suicide. The dragon eats his body and the princess as dessert. That's the end of the sad story.
    The protagonist arrives with a guitar and plays a solo of 26 minutes. The dragon kills himself out of boredom. The protagonist arrives to the princess' bedroom, plays another solo with all the techniques and tunes he learned in the last year of the conservatory. The princess escapes looking for the 'HEAVY METAL' protagonist.
    The protagonist arrives, the dragon laughs at the guy's appearance and lets him enter. He steals the princess' make up and tries to paint the castle in a beautiful pink colour.
    The protagonist arrives in a run down Honda Civic and attempts to fight the dragon but he burns to death when his moronic baggy clothes catch fire.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Speed Kills

Speed. It has long been a feature of metal music. Thrash, death, grind—all are concerned with playing fast and furious as genre feature, not just a band gimmick. Yet some bands go far above and beyond the call of duty in their furious applications of speed. We'll look some of these bands today.

First, why speed? Speed is often a measure of technical proficiency, and musicians throughout the vast array of styles use complex, speedy phrases and licks to demonstrate their talent. Whether in bluegrass & country guitar, like Danny Gatton & Brad Paisley, jazz music with Victor Wooten or John Coltrane, or the classical world of Franz Liszt & Nicoló Paganini, musicians delight to demonstrate their abilities in composing and then performing blazingly fast passages with both precision and feeling. Extreme metal, with its strong emphasis on musicianship, is no different. Speed impresses.

But metal is not merely a technical exercise or a talent establishing test. Metal, unlike classical, country, or even jazz music, is primarily primal. Metal is about power—the power of the subject matter, the power of the listener, and most of all, the power of the musician. What better way to emphasize power than with overwhelming speed? This isn't the elegant speed of a horse in motion, or a bird on the wing. This is the raw, out of control power of an avalanche; the man-made force of a drag racer; the brutal, unstoppable force of a rocket-propelled grenade. Speed in metal is intended not only to impress, but stir your blood. That is why in metal alone do we find the furious speed of the double bass drum. The speed of guitars, basses, and other instruments is matched and sometimes even exceeded by musicians in other genres. But nobody else plays drums as fast as metalheads. It is through this instrument that the metal musician can command chaos and fury into an ordered display of power.

Yet, there is still the balance. Speed alone does not make for the best music. If it did, then the most incredible metal could be produced by computers and drum machines set to 1,000 BPM (yes, such "music" does exist). The trick is to combine speed with feelings other than pure frenzy, feelings that are much more easily elicited at slower tempos. Many famous guitarists, including such famous names as Yngwie Malmsteen or Slayer's Kerry King, have been accused of surrendering too much "feeling" to speed. But how does one express a feeling through a sequence of sixteenth-note triplets at 240 bpm? Is it merely a matter of melody & phrasing? How does the guitar tone effect these things? Isn't it all just subjective anyway? Well, yes. So if you want to go listen to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, by all means do that. Actually, go do that. The album PCP Tornado is only 4:24 seconds long, and you can take that much time out of your life to experience something truly terrifying. Then come back and read about these bands.

Origin - Entity
Art: 4/5
Origin is a band known for its blazing speeds, where they're known at all. In the past, many people have remembered Origin as "that death metal group with the fat, bald singer." For Entity, however, former vocalist James Lee has been replaced by Jason Keyser, who is neither fat nor bald. Hopefully this will do something for the band's public image. It's certainly done plenty for the band's sound, as Jason's vocals on Entity are not only deeper and more powerfully delivered, but fuller in the mix than James's on Antithesis. The rest of the band certainly hasn't slackened off in the slightest, as Origin's raison d'être is to play as many notes as possible as quickly and as accurately as possible. Unlike some bands, however, Origin does this in the context of actual songs, and their albums sound musical, not like a collection of training exercises.

One of the ways that Origin is able to emphasize their speed is by slowing down. As axiomatic as this may seem, variations in speed are absolutely key to keep the human brain amazed by speed, as spending too much time at 280 bpm will leave the listener "speed blind." At first, it seems really fast, and then it just seems par for the course, since the mind cannot hold a contrasting slow tempo in mind for long under such a sonic onslaught. This may seem like an elementary concept, but bands as popular as Dragonforce to bands as obscure as Brain Drill suffer from this predicament. In fact, it took Origin five albums to learn it themselves. Entity contains much more diversity of tempo than even 2008's Antithesis, and this is a great thing for the band. The album is short, and seems to absolutely fly by at 36:31, but that's great for the band, as I've often found myself putting the album on repeat, something I don't usually do with speedy bands like this. They also find many ways to express the speed, whether through innovative guitar solos, advanced drumming patterns, or original riffs. One unique twist that guitarist Paul Ryan often incorporates into his riffs is the use of sweep picked arpeggios. That may not sound unique—everybody and their mothers sweep pick today—but Ryan incorporates his sweeps seamlessly into riffs. They actually are an integral part in the movement and feel of the song, not just gratuitous technical masturbation. Stand-out track "Saliga," a 6:52 epic, demonstrates all the best features in Origin's songwriting. This is a band that has grown not only faster but better with each release over their five albums and fourteen years, and that's amazing.

Grip: 5/5
This album has incredible flow. From the opening "I can't believe they're playing that" tapped lick of "Expulsion of Fury," through seven-minute masterpiece "Saliga," to the fade-out riffs of "Evolution of Extinction," the album never feels dull or bogged down. Indeed, when it's over, you will probably put it on to spin completely again, because it is that strong. Antithesis had its two or three riffs that have stuck in my mind even for three years, but I almost never listened to the entire album start-to-finish. As always, the musicianship is astounding. It's almost unbelievable that these men can play this many notes and not miss a single one, but it's even more astounding that they can do it in a song that sounds like it has purpose and drive. This album gets you pumped and ready to take on challenges. "Saliga" is a track that will undoubtedly stay in my rotation for years to come.

Brain Drill - Quantum Catastrophe
Art: 3/5
Brain Drill is a band known for its blazing speeds...oh, wait. Of course, I already gave away my opinion of this band in my review of Entity. These Californians released Quantum Catastrophe in May of 2010, so I've had an entire year to form my opinion of it. Brain Drill's purpose is to play the fastest, most technically difficult music that they can dream up, and they do that well. They are undoubtedly talented musicians who are skilled at what they do, but what they do is monotonous. I would compare Origin's music to Bruce Lee giving a martial arts demonstration, and Brain Drill's to a professional body builder who lifts things up and puts them down. Yes, the body builder is moving a lot of weight. Yes, Brain Drill are playing a lot of complicated notes really fast, but why? It doesn't seem to accomplish anything. It's less a piece of art, and more of a building plan. It isn't even that Brain Drill doesn't know how to turn down their metronomes. They occasionally turn the tempos down, usually at the end of songs, but even when they do, it isn't a relief from the constant barrage. "Beyond Bludgeoned" is a fantastic name for one of their songs, because that's exactly how you'll feel after listening to this album.

While I certainly have leveled a lot of criticism at the band for not knowing how to write, I must praise them for knowing how to play. The kind of insanity that these guys dish up is quite impressive, especially the two-handed-tapping lines on the six-string bass. That's difficult. Not only that, but the ability to hold all that material in your mind in order to perform it is also something impressive, as I can't distinguish one Brain Drill song from another. Who knows, maybe at live shows they just count off when to start playing, wail on their instruments, and then stop at a prearranged point. I don't know.

Grip: 2/5
It's really difficult to hold a song in your mind when you can't remember any riffs. It's really hard to hold an album in your mind when you can't remember any songs. Still "Beyond Bludgeoned" usually comes to my mind when I think of Brain Drill, if just for that particular line in the chorus, and that I find the word "bludgeoned" to be awesome. Unlike the Origin album, Catastrophe exhausts the listener, not pumps him up. I've only sat through a complete front-to-back play-through of the album once, mainly because the album closer is 11 minute behemoth "Quantum Catastrophe," and that can truly be a chore to work through. The best song on the album is "Awaiting Immanent Destruction," the only track that clocks in under three minutes, because, as grindcore players learned long ago, less is more when it comes to this particular level of ferocity. Much longer than that, and the listener begins to get worn, which diminishes the impact of the music. Still, Brain Drill is a relatively new band on the scene, with only two albums to their name. Their album isn't that much different from Origin's early work, and so we can only hope that the members of Brain Drill learn to use their prodigious talents to do something other than "lift things up and put them down."

Hate Eternal - Phoenix Amongst The Ashes
Art: 4/5
Unlike the previous two bands, Hate Eternal isn't known so much for its blinding speed as for its burning fury. Eric Rutan and company certainly play fast, but they do it with a unique style of riffage that always sounds more "earthy" than bands like Origin and Brain Drill, who can tend towards the cerebral. Their last album, 2008's Fury and Flames, aptly demonstrated this tendency, but was plagued by a less  than flattering production that over-emphasized the drums to the detriment of the guitar parts. And believe me, Hate Eternal is a guitarist's band. Since Erik Rutan, formerly of Morbid Angel, is the primary songwriter for the band, this isn't surprising (I'm sure that Erik is glad now that he only contributed to Domination and Gateways To Annihilation, two great MA albums). And what riffs they are! There's always something interesting happening with the guitars, and the bass doesn't just copy-cat them either, but although the bass is present in the mix, it doesn't have a very rich tone, meaning it easily gets subjugated to the roar of the bass drum. Drummer Jade Simonetto is a young drummer,  but a monster on the kit. His performance on Phoenix is more dramatic than on Fury, and although he doesn't have the variation of Origin's drummer John Longstreth, he manages to avoid the mechanic qualities of Brain Drill.

Phoenix makes you want to smash things. The passion that Rutan and his bandmates put into this album flows straight out of the speakers and into the listener. I think this is the best kind of death metal. Not music like Brain Drill that exhausts you, or even music like Obscura, that causes you to gaze at the stars in wonder, but music that inspires you to howl at the heavens and tear the stars from their moorings, because your world has been desecrated by nature, and so you will destroy her back. No, I'm not saying "listening to Hate Eternal makes you want to pollute." That's stupid. I'm talking about something bigger than that. Something like cracking the Earth to the core and letting molten rock burst forth in a terrifying geyser to consume all living flesh while you tower over your enemies, a Lord of Monstrosity. Phoenix Amongst The Ashes sounds something like that.

Grip: 4/5
Phoenix is full of pulses and surges, giving it a boiling, seething sound. Unique applications of riffs and patterns stick in the listener's mind, like the riffs that open "The Art of Redemption," played on the high E string, instead of the low E, giving the song a screeching hellkite ferocity. Erik's vocal delivery is powerful, but I haven't found any incredibly memorable lines like "Behold Judas" from 2005's I, Monarch (my favorite Hate Eternal album). Standout tracks are "Phoenix Amongst the Ashes," aforementioned "The Art of Redemption," and album opener (ignoring intro track "Rebirth") "The Eternal Ruler." The guitar solos are well done because they recognize that the riffs and drums are already tearing forward with unstoppable speed, and so they don't have anything to prove in the speed department, letting them focus on melody and phrasing instead of gratuitous masturbation. Which isn't to say that there aren't fast and technically challenging solos. Because there are.  Phoenix shows that Rutan is back. He's been through flames, but like the phoenix, he's back again. The fury, of course, never departs.

That's all for this week. Next week we'll look at some of the best black metal releases so far this year. It's been a great year for death metal, but an even better one for black metal. Out of 98 albums I've heard so far this year, I've heard 10 death albums that I would rate a 8 or above, and 12 black metal albums 8 and above. If you expand the scores to 7-10, the numbers stand at 14 death albums and 19 black. I can't wait to see what comes out in the second half of the year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

When Great Bands Go Bad

Sometimes, good bands go bad. We all know it happens, and we can't predict why or to who it will happen next. Bands that have been interesting or even innovative put out albums that are dull and cookie cutter. Black Label Society recorded Shot to Hell, and Children of Bodom put out Blooddrunk. But then there are albums that are truly ghastly. Bands that defined genres, that produced albums essential to every metal collection, whose names we had tattooed on our chests and whose members we had named our children after put out albums so abysmal that they become bywords among metalheads and drag their creators down from their legendary status for years to come, if not forever. Today we will look at three of those albums. Since these are, admittedly, not good albums, I'm going to deviate from my typical Art/Grip scoring mechanism, and instead look at how bad the album is (Suckage, with 1 being "cringe inducing" and 5 being "absolutely ghastly") and how we would have responded if a different band had recorded it (Second Chance, with 1 being "they would suck too" and 5 being "cool new band!").

Metallica - St. Anger
Suckage: 5/5
St. Anger, to me, is the ultimate betrayal of what a band can be. Metallica was my first metal band. Metallica inspired me to play guitar. Master of Puppets was one of the greatest thrash albums ever created, and I actually own it on vinyl, even though I don't own a record player (it's a 2008 repressing, but if I ever find an original...). And it's not just Master of Puppets. Every album they made through The Black Album is a five-star incredible piece of music, and even the Load and Re-Load albums, and the various cover and live albums have their songs and moments, although they're obviously a different style from the first few releases. In 2003, when I heard Metallica would be producing their first album in six years, I was excited. Since I was 10 years old when Re-Load came out, this would be the first Metallica album I had been able to experience from Day One. And then I heard "St. Anger."

The music sucked. The riffs were sloppy and simplistic, the songs were repetitive and boring, the drums sounded like cans, the lyrics were more inane than Linkin Park (yes, I listened to Linkin Park when I was 16). Worst of all, where were the fucking guitar solos? How was I supposed to inspired and driven by this piece of mediocrity? And it wasn't just the album - there was the pathetic Some Kind of Monster documentary two years later that just drove the nails in further. Who could find heroes in the bunch of pussies that the members of Metallica were revealed to be? I still managed to hang onto my respect for Kirk (at least he didn't seem to have the ego of Lars or the drug & alcohol problems of James), but my image of the band was devastated. Thankfully, in 2003 I discovered Children of Bodom, Black Label Society, and Lamb of God, so I still found plenty of sources to draw inspiration from, and began my journey into the heart of extreme metal.

Second Chance: 1/5
Even if another band produced this album, it would still be fraught with issues. For one thing, the album is seventy five minutes and one second long, and contains about twenty minutes worth of unique musical content. I'm not even exaggerating. Each song has one verse, one chorus, and perhaps a bridge, and each of those pieces is repeated enough times to get a 6, 7 or even 8 minute song ("Some Kind of Monster," "Invisible Kid," and "All Within My Hands" clock in at 8:28, 8:30, and 8:48 respectively). And each verse or chorus may consist of only one or two lines repeated over and over. Yes, I understand that kind of simplicity worked for the old delta blues masters. But that's comparing apple pie to cow pie. They're both in the general category of "pie" (music), but one is a delectable pastry, and the other is just shit. Then there's that snare. CLANK CLANK CLANK! You'd think that somebody would have told Lars that snares have snares attached to the bottom of them for a reason. That's why they're called snares. But no. If I had a friend in a band who wrote a song like "Invisible Kid," or produced an album that sounded as hollow as St. Anger, I'd at least have the common courtesy to tell him how fucking stupid he was being before he went out and made a fool of himself on stage. And if he had to hire an army of therapists and filmmakers in order to produce said album, I'd go home and cry because if he had wanted to throw away money, I would have been happy to use it for him.

Cryptopsy - The Unspoken King
Suckage: 3/5
The reaction to this album was absolutely astounding. It's completely possible that the reaction to St. Anger was even more extreme, and I just didn't experience it, because in 2003 I wasn't involved in the extreme metal internet scene. But I doubt it, and here's why. Metallica may be a metal band, but they're also one of the most popular bands in existence today, and certainly the best selling. Not only that,  but The Black Album, Load, and Re-Load had already shown an extreme stylistic shift away from the old thrash days.That means that the most close-minded, underground metalheads had already rejected Metallica years ago, and it is that kind of person who reacts the most vehemently when their beloved band changes. You see, Cryptopsy weren't uber-popular thrash pioneers. Instead, they were a fringe brutal death metal group from Quebec who recorded an album in 1996 called None So Vile. The vocalist for the group at that time was a lovely man named Lord Worm, and they used to sing about destroying Jesus and other ultra-brutal topics. And by "sing," I mean grunt incomprehensibly. The musicians were incredibly talented, however, and None So Vile developed a strong cult following. After that album, however, Lord Worm left the band and Mike DiSalvo joined as the vocalist. Cryptopsy put out a couple albums with DiSalvo, developing their incredibly hectic riffing style. In 2005, Lord Worm rejoined the band and they released Once Was Not, which featured more furious blasting by drummer Flo Mounier, complex guitar riffs drowned out by the sound of the drums, and Lord Worm grunting about this and that. In other words, par for the course. Then they kicked Lord Worm out of the band and released The Unspoken King in 2008. And the first song they released on their MySpace page, leading up to the release of the album, was "Bemoan the Martyr." Which is, without doubt, an absolutely ghastly song. It starts out with weird electronics, a basic rock beat, and a simple grooving  bass line. Then new vocalist, Matt McGachy, moans out his first line, sounding for all the world like he is singing "You made a mistake." Oh, boy, did he.

The line he actually sang was "You may have escaped, but you've only delayed your fate." These  still proved to be accurate words for the band, as the fans went absolutely bonkers. "Bemoan the Martyr" is a horrendous song, and releasing it at all, never mind first, was a terrible mistake for Cryptopsy. But overall, although the band did simplify its sound, the stylistic shift between King and Once Was Not wasn't actually as dramatic as that between Load and St. Anger. In fact, electronic elements had already been introduced in Once Was Not, but the fans were absolutely infuriated that the band would dare incorporate metalcore (i.e. HotTopic popular) elements into their music. The band included clean singing! And breakdowns!  "Oh my fucking Satan! What happened to my Cryptopsy?" Fans began deriding the band as "Coretopsy" or even "Craptopsy," referring to the album as "The Unspeakable King" and saying "Cryptopsy is dead." What really made the situation horrible, however, was when guitarist Alex Auburn gave interviews to online music publications where he absolutely blasted fans for not loving the new material. He also lambasted Lord Worm as an incompetent vocalist who didn't care about the band and could barely perform that material in the studio and didn't even know the words to the songs to perform them live, and praised new vocalist Matt McGachy as much more talented than Worm (actually named Dan Greening). Now, I agree with Auburn that Lord Worm is not a good vocalist, but it's simply bad form to deride a former bandmate in public like that, and absolutely unacceptable to tell off your fans, not to mention just plain stupid to praise a man who obviously couldn't sing to save his life.

Second Chance: 3/5
I'll be honest. I actually don't think that The Unspoken King is that bad. There are some great riffs on it, and the musicianship is still top notch, although the production unfortunately hides a lot of the guitars and bass behind the sound of Flo's drum kit. But that's always been the case with Cryptopsy albums. If this album had been a band's first release, I would have said it was a good, solid release, and I'd look forward to seeing where the band went in the future. I would have (and do) recommend that McGachy never sing again, but he can scream relatively well. I don't necessarily hate the deathcore style, and as far as that style goes, King is actually a good release. But it wasn't what fans wanted from Cryptopsy, as evidenced by the 16% rating the album has based on 15 fan reviews on Encyclopedia Metallum (as opposed to the 48% St. Anger has based on 21 fan reviews). Real critics who I respect, like the writers at, gave the album 5.6 out of 10, which isn't that much worse than Once Was Not's 6.8.

Morbid Angel - Illud Divinium Insanus
Suckage: 4/5

Morbid Angel has the distinction of being one of the first death metal bands. Anywhere. Of all time. Their demos in 1986 and ’87, followed by debut album Altars of Madness in 1989 put this Florida group at the very beginning of the scene, along with Death, Autopsy, Obituary, and Deicide. They produced several other classic death releases—Blessed Are the Sick, Covenant, and Domination—with their original lineup, and were even able to produce another landmark album in 2000—Gateways To Anihilation—with new vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker replacing David Vincent. Well, in 2011, Vincent is back in the band, and Morbid Angel have released their first album in eight years. And what a pile it is. In fact, hearing this album is what inspired me to write about these other two metal disappointments. Yes, bands change and evolve. It’s not unreasonable for an album created twenty-five years after a band’s creation to sound significantly different from their first release (unless you’re AC/DC). But this is Morbid Angel, people! Fans expect death metal from a group like this. MA releasing this album is something like if The Rolling Stones had released Backstreet Boys. Sure, there are plenty of people teenage girls loved that album, but it wouldn’t have appealed to fans of The Stones, nor would it have been appropriate for them to adopt that style.

The album the Floridians have unleashed upon their helpless followers does contain four death metal songs of varying quality, but they are the shortest songs on the album and the other seven tracks (and 70% of the album’s hour runtime) are so horrible they boggle the mind. It seems that what the band was trying to do was bring some diversity and excitement to the music by incorporating industrial elements. Okay, I listen to industrial. I like industrial. I even enjoy industrial metal, and death and industrial can be combined with fantastic results, as Australian group The Amenta clearly demonstrates. But instead of drawing on good industrial for influence, it seems that MA have decided that Limp Bizkit would be a good influence for death metal album. With track titles like “I Am Morbid,” “Too Extreme!” (exclamation point included) and “Radikult,” you have to wonder if these 46-48 year old men have 14 year old sons who they let name their songs. These songs are painful to listen to, even if you’ve never heard another Morbid Angel song in your life, and I cut my teeth on Trey Azagtoth’s riffs back when I first started learning to tremolo pick. The lyrics on these songs are the worst kind of fake tough guy posing. If you have to tell everybody how morbid and extreme you are, guess what, you’re neither. Morbid Angel have never been poetic lyrical masters, and have often fallen prey to what I refer to as "Satanic dick wagging," but at least they used to have a dick to wag. Check out these lyrics from “Too Extreme!” Keep in mind that these are the lyrics that open the album.

This is your one warning...

Pounding, pounding... You feel it
Burning, burning this lava
Scorching weakened hearts be troubled
They scream we're too extreme
Guess what. The song is six minutes long. The drums sound like a cheap drum machine, the guitars play a few power chords, and it goes on and on. Then there’s “Destructos Vs. The Earth/Attack.” Narration-accompanied metal about alien invasions was funny when Devin Townsend did it, because he’s out of his mind. Morbid Angel wasted seven minutes on it here. Seven and a half minute “Radikult” is even worse, featuring a hip hop beat, a riff copied from Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” and such lyrical gems as
We’re living hardcore and radical
We'll always be maniacal and animal
They fear us cause we're physical irrational
Our radikult is thriving!
“Radikult” is so bad that I can barely imagine that the band actually produced it. If it was a hidden track at the end of the album, I’d laugh along with the joke, but there’s no indication that the band is anything less than serious. It’s fitting that the album closes with a song called “Mea Culpa.” You’re so guilty it’s not even worth a trial.

Second Chance: 2/5
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there are four good songs on Illud Divinium Insanus. “Existo Vulgoré,” “Blades for Baal,” “Nevermore,” and “Beauty Meets Beast” are all solid death metal tracks. “Blades for Baal” is even a worthy Morbid Angel track. If MA had released an EP with these four tracks on it, I would have given it full marks and looked forward to their next release. So obviously, if another band released those tracks, I would be duly impressed. But the other tracks? “10 More Dead” would sound shitty if Drowning Pool released it. The “boom boom” of “I Am Morbid” would be one of the worst tracks on nu-metal disappointment Soulfly, and “Radikult” would be shameful even if it was explicitly labeled a joke. “Destructos” is amusing in a way, and might give Rob Zombie a little bit of excitement on his next album. Closer “Mea Culpa” is probably the only place where the experimentation produces anything that I would interested in hearing developed. The fact is Illud Divinium Insanus would be a turd no matter who released it, and it’s painful to see a band who shaped one of my favorite genres end up like this.

And thankfully, that brings us to an end of horrible music for now. Next time, I'll review something that's actually good.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Modern Metal Guitarists

For the past couple weeks, has been putting up a list of the Top 25 modern metal guitarists, which, as a guitarist myself, I have been reading with interest. Many of their picks surprised me, as well as some of the exclusions, knowing the tastes of the writers MetalSucks. Their top guitarist of the modern era is David Davidson of Revocation, and I thought it was worth mentioning him here. Revocation is a death/thrash group out of Boston who are an incredibly talented group of musicians playing a unique take on the genre. Revocation's last album, Existence Is Futile, was one of my favorites from 2009. Apparently, they have a new album coming out this August, so I'm excited to hear how much they've developed in the past two years.

Here's a video from Existence Is Futile. Like axe-master Alexi Laiho (and the legendary Israelite king who he shares a name with), David plays the strings and sings, which anyone who's hefted the instrument knows is a whole new level of difficulty. Hopefully David won't burn out in ten years like Alexi seems to.

And while I'm being nostalgic, here's an extremely low-quality video of "Kissing The Shadows" played ten years ago in Seoul.