Friday, April 14, 2017

Death of Kings "Kneel Before None"




    In a world that needs more brutal sounding metal bands and less whiny indie rock bands, Death of Kings new album, Kneel Before None, arrives with a vengeance of pure unforgiving thrash. The Atlanta, GA based band’s new release is a culmination of their hard work and determination to create merciless sounding thrash metal music.

    I reviewed the band’s 7” single, Hell Comes to Life, just a few months ago and was extremely impressed by the new song from that single along with their killer cover of Judas Priest’s, “Hell Patrol.” That single gave people a great preview of what was to come with the release of, Kneel Before None. I think Death of Kings right now is firing on all cylinders, because the music on the new album does not disappoint and there is a consistency to their songs that I don’t hear often from most current metal bands.

    Another area where Death of Kings shines on the new album is the overall production and recording quality. The production is solid throughout the album, so there are none of those moments where you begin to question if someone fell asleep while working in the studio. From the recording of the drums and guitars to the vocals, the band sounds like they are determined to unleash that raw extreme sound on each track. I also found that the guitar solos really complimented the compositions on this album. Sometimes you get those bands who throw in awkward solos to where they are just trying to show listeners how fast they can play instead of making the music sound tight.

    There are nine tracks on the new album, so I consider there to be nine opportunities to bang your head and mosh around your bedroom. The first song, “Shadow of the Reaper,” is a vicious assault of chaotic sounding riffs and furious drumming. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Matt Matson, provides some hellish screams to compliment the song’s blasphemous sound. Fellow guitarist Matt Kilpatrick uses his instrument to decimate your speakers with plenty of skull crushing riffs. Drummer Amos Rifkin and bassist Scott Price establish a solid rhythm section and are sort of the unsung heroes in my opinion. For some reason those guitars players get all the attention, but you definitely need a strong rhythm section to provide a solid backbone for those crushing riffs and blistering lead parts.



    Once the main riffs in the second song, “Sojourn,” kicks in with its malicious sounding tone, you wonder if you will be able to survive the massive metal onslaught. Track number three, “Regicidal,” is probably my favorite song on the album and contains elements of more than just thrash metal. There are some death growls used to contrast with Matt’s style of vocals. The music takes you on this extreme rollercoaster that you wish would never end. The next song, “Descent Into Madness,” feverishly grinds out relentless sounding riff after relentless sounding riff. Tracks five and six, “Hell Comes to Life” and “Knifehammer,” are previously released singles added to the album. I consider, “Hell Comes to Life,” to be another one of my favorites as that song sounds as though Hell has risen up from below to reign upon Earth for all eternity. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    The final three songs, “Plague (Upon the World),” “Too Fast For Blood” and “Revel in Blasphemy,” maintains that ferocious sounding attack you heard on the previous six tracks. “Too Fast For Blood,” is a nasty piece of old school sounding thrash with this slight Exodus vibe. I thought, “Revel in Blasphemy,” was a strong choice to finish the album since I really liked the ending riff section. You feel as though the entire world around you is crumbling away as the guitar players unapologetically strike their instruments.

    If you were to ask me: what is one of the best sounding metal albums to come out in 2017 with an emphasis on consistency from start to finish? I would not hesitate to consider, Kneel Before None, as my first choice. Although they are not pushing the boundaries of metal music by incorporating latin jazz music with endless random scale runs, I appreciate Death of Kings for taking their enthusiasm for heavy metal and creating some extremely solid metal music. When will some bands realize that it is better to sound consistent than to write a tornado of musical diarrhea?! At least we know that at the end of the day, we can be assured that the hard work and brutal sounding thrash metal music from Death of Kings will always be there to appease our ravenous metal souls.



Death of Kings Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/deathofkingsmetal/

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Game Over "Blessed Are the Heretics"




    Game Over is a band that simply does not record an album and then disappears for a few years before returning to the studio. Last year the band released their third full-length album, Crimes Against Reality, and now they are back this year with a brand new EP called, Blessed Are the Heretics.

    These Italian thrashers have been on my radar since I reviewed their second album, Burst Into the Quiet. That release is well worth checking out and conveys such a raw old school thrash sound. Also, I have definitely heard an improvement in their sound since I reviewed that second album. When I reviewed Crimes Against Reality last year, I was impressed by the band’s hard work and dedication to take their sound into a more technical and dynamic direction.

    This new EP features a brand new song, a re-recorded version in Italian of the song “No More” from the band’s second album, a cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) and three live recordings. Game Over’s new song, “Blessed Are the Heretics,” reassures people that the band knows how to conjure up a fierce piece of thrash metal music with an unapologetic attitude. I thought the song’s production stood out the most for me. The track is not another generic thrash tune with basic boring palm muted riffs. There are some unique compositions to demonstrate a more progressive style of thrash which I notice Game Over is starting to focus more on.



    The second song on the EP is a re-recorded version of the song, “No More,” which is now titled, “Mai Più.” I liked the idea to record the song in Italian and felt the band did a great job presenting the lyrics in their mother tongue. For their cover of Dead or Alive’s, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), I was quite interested in hearing how the band would tackle this 80’s pop song. To my surprise the band cleverly converted the 80's one-hit wonder into a nuclear assault of thrash fury. The band’s vocalist provides some solid vocals to compliment the song’s fast paced tempo. I can actually picture some metal maniacs thrashing around in front of the stage during this cover.

    Listeners who enjoy live recordings will want to check out the final three tracks on the EP. The final three songs, “Mountains of Madness,” “Fix Your Brain” and “C.H.U.C.K.” are killer live versions of songs from the band’s previous releases. I personally enjoyed, “C.H.U.C.K.” the most out of the three live recordings since that is one of my favorite Game Over songs. The band summons that sinister riff driven old school thrash sound and I really like the bass parts during the song. That bass sound is something I would expect to hear from bands like Anthrax, Nuclear Assault or Overkill.

    Once again, Game Over is keeping the relentless thrash attack moving forward by putting out yet another solid release with, Blessed Are the Heretics. For the last three years I have reviewed three Game Over releases and I look forward to more music from these dedicated enthusiastic thrashers. If you are a fanatical fan of thrash metal I recommend checking out this new EP and the previous Game Over releases. I find that the metal world needs to put less emphasis on Metallica possibly collaborating with Lady Gaga and pay more attention to bands like Game Over. The up and coming acts such as Game Over are helping to keep the thrash metal legacy alive and I hope they continue to carry on the flag for many more years.


Game Over "C.H.U.C.K." :


Game Over Facebook Page:



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Classic Albums Review: Rush "Presto / Roll the Bones"




    2017 is sure shaping up to be a good year for rock and metal music. I have reviewed a fair amount of impressive releases with plenty more to come. Even with all these new albums coming out, I always find myself listening to Rush.

    As of recent I have been listening to Presto and Roll the Bones. In my opinion, these two albums are extremely important in the band’s history and begin the transition from their heavily electronic synthesizer sound to the more traditional power trio formula focusing primarily on drums, bass and guitar. Although the band still uses synthesizers on these two albums, you start to notice them moving away from the sound on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Also, I felt Neil’s lyrics started to take on a slightly different tone compared to their previous albums. The words from the songs can really relate to what people go through when dealing with a difficult and demanding society. Neil has always had that ability to write such meaningful lyrics, however, I notice the songs from Presto and Roll the Bones are extremely relatable.

    We start with, Presto, the band’s thirteenth studio album which was released in 1989. The band recorded the album at the legendary recording studio, Le Studio, in Morin-Heights, Quebec. Rush definitely moved away from the previous releases with regard to the heavy emphasis on synthesizers, but if you listen carefully there are still a decent amount of synth arrangements. Overall the music on this album is dynamic yet does not lose listeners with constant complexity. The foundations for most of the songs are very well thought out and the attention given to the verse and chorus sections instantly catches your attention. I believe the words leave an everlasting impact, while the musicianship reminds you how much talent Geddy, Alex and Neil have to offer.

    The album’s opening song, “Show Don’t Tell,” contains some of my favorite lyrics and also demonstrates the band’s instrumental genius. Some lines that stand out are, “How many times do you hear it, It goes on all day long, Everyone knows everything, And no one's ever wrong…Until later.” I find that statement is very telling about certain people and provides great advice for those who live in their own little isolated bubbles. The second track, “Chain Lightening,” is another work of musical brilliance with probably one of my favorite chorus sections. I always feel a positive vibe when listening to the song, especially when Alex breaks into the radiant sounding solo.

   Out of all the songs on the album, “The Pass,” is probably my favorite. The song talks about dealing with the serious topic of depression and feeling isolated. Neil writes the lyrics as a way to motivate people out of the darkness by not losing hope when feeling down. Geddy also provides some memorable bass lines to accompany his confident vocal delivery. The next song, “War Paint,” contains a very catchy chorus that easily gets stuck in your head. Also, Neil’s playing really drives the song by providing such a bold rhythmic supporting force to the verses.

    I will mention a few more tracks that I think standout the most on Presto, because if I go through each track off the album, this might turn into more of an essay than an article. The title track off the album features Alex’s brilliant dynamic guitar playing skills and I believe the phrasing of each note during his solo is flawless. “Anagram (For Mongo),” offers listeners a very soothing keyboard section to compliment Geddy’s vocals, while “Hand Over Fist” unleashes a very strong sounding main riff from Alex with Geddy and Neil providing solid support.




    Moving on now to Rush’s fourteenth release, Roll the Bones, we find ourselves with the band using the same recording studio and even using the same producer, Rupert Hine. Released in 1991, the album is known most for the title track which features a rap section during the song. Overall, I consider the album to be a continuation from Presto with a few slight differences. On this album the band wrote an impressive yet very modest instrumental song called, “Where’s My Thing (Part IV, “Gangster of Boats” Trilogy).” Unlike, “La Villa Strangiato,” the instrumental on Roll the Bones does not contain as many complex time signatures and the length of the song is shorter. Still, the musicianship is mesmerizing and the overall piece sounds exciting from beginning to end.

    Similar to Presto, I notice that the first three songs on Roll the Bones instantly establishes the album by coming up with extremely memorable tracks that demonstrate powerful lyrics and great musicianship. “Dreamline,” “Bravado” and “Roll the Bones,” were probably the best choices when figuring out which three songs should start off the album. I personally enjoy, “Bravado,” the most and I am always blown away by the song’s deep lyrical content. The lines, “We will pay the price, But we will not count the cost,” sort of makes you stop and think about the world around you. In my opinion, there are few bands that can come up with something as meaningful and thought provoking as Rush.

    Other tracks I wish to highlight off the album would be, “The Big Wheel,” “Heresy,” and “Ghost of a Chance.” The main riff in, “The Big Wheel,” packs such an aggressive punch and then transitions into a very vibrant and inspiring chorus. I would say I prefer the first half of the album to the second half, but it is really close. Rush simply knows how to produce great full-length albums with great engaging songs from start to finish. That is why they are the masters!

    To conclude this article, I recommend anyone who has not yet checked out these albums do so right away, because you are sure missing out on some amazing music. For all those Rush fanatics reading this article, please tell your thoughts on these two releases in the comments section and maybe even share some memories when the albums came out. The best part about being a Rush fan is that you can meet people who are just as passionate about the music as you. Plus, we can agree that no matter what the trend in music is at the time, we will always have those timeless recordings from one of rock’s greatest bands (In my opinion, they are the greatest band)!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Night Demon "Darkness Remains"




    After releasing what I considered to be the best metal album of 2015, Night Demon is looking to take 2017 by storm with the release of their second full-length album, Darkness Remains. The Ventura, CA trio’s hard work and enthusiasm for heavy metal is undeniable. Ever since the release of their four song EP, Night Demon has been relentlessly touring and appeasing those ravenous classic metal worshipping fanatics.

  I have always felt that Night Demon is not just another typical N.W.O.B.H.M. / classic metal worship act. The band plays with a tremendous level of exciting energy that keeps you engaged throughout each song. Curse of the Damned, Night Demon’s debut full-length album, is from top to bottom full of great songs and features all the elements you would want in a strong heavy metal release. Plain and simple…these guys know how to write damn good songs!

  Before I get into the tracks off the new album, I wanted to talk about the musicianship and production. Bassist / singer Jarvis Leatherby offers up some killer bass lines and does an exceptional job as the band’s frontman. Dusty Squires once again demonstrates his talents from behind the kit to where each track thrives on his ability to lay down crushing rhythms of pure metal force. The new album also marks the first Night Demon release to feature guitarist Armand John Anthony. I was in attendance for Armand’s first show with Night Demon last year after the departure of the band’s former guitarist Brent Woodward. I think Armand comes into this album bringing his own creative style and sound.

  A slight difference between this album and Curse of the Damned, is that I felt like the production on Curse of the Damned sounded a bit more raw. I especially noticed this with how the vocals were recorded. There are a fair amount of songs on Darkness Remains that focus heavily on building up these more melodic choruses. For fans expecting the more raw sound like on the EP and Curse of the Damned, they will hear a minor difference between the old material and the new songs. The new tracks definitely maintain that distinct Night Demon sound, so you can be assured that Night Demon isn't going off into some bizarre direction by adding saxophones and trumpets in their songs.

  The new releases's opening track, “Welcome to the Night,” grabs your attention right away by building up suspense and then exploding into an epic riff section. This is the album’s first single and the band even created a music video for the song. Overall I would say that it is solid song, but in my opinion it isn't one of the top songs off the album. The next track, “Hallowed Ground,” is a scorching piece of metal music with a more aggressive tone compared to the opening song. Track number three, “Maiden Hell,” is a catchy tune that references the titles of Iron Maiden songs. I thought the song was a clever way to pay homage to one of metal’s most iconic bands.

  Song number four, “Stranger in the Room,” reminded me of certain tracks off of, “Curse of the Damned,” with a slower tempo and very impactful lyrical delivery by Jarvis. For the next two tracks, “Life on the Run” and “Dawn Rider,” the band demonstrates their ability to capture that classic metal energy by coming up with some bad ass lyrics and wicked guitar riffs. I especially enjoyed the ferocious galloping riff on, “Dawn Rider,” which I guarantee will get you banging head along to the music.

  The last four songs on the album deliver a truly unforgiving punch of metal vengeance. “Black Widow,” is an intense sounding metal assault that contains a blistering solo by Armand. Also, the vocals sound great during the chorus to where you instantly start singing along. My favorite song off of the album, “On Your Own,” contains some powerful riffs and really inspiring lyrics that listeners might find very relatable. The second to last song, “Flight of the Manticore,” is a well constructed instrumental piece full of creative sounding dynamic compositions. Unlike some instrumental songs that I have heard, Night Demon does not bore people with endless amounts of random shredding. The final song, “Darkness Remains,” is rather unique compared to the other tracks. Jarvis' vocals are altered and the music takes on this gloomy atmospheric quality. The overall song sounds as though you are drifting through an eternal void of darkness as the album reaches its conclusion.

   In the end, Night Demon is still bringing the heavy metal heat with the release of Darkness Remains. Although I think Curse of the Damned was a stronger release overall, I must say that Darkness Remains is an impressive album in its own right. I look forward to hearing these new songs performed live since out of the five times I have seen the band live, they have always put on an amazing live show. So remember to mark your calendars for April 21st when the album is released worldwide, because you are definitely going to want to pick up a copy. No matter how much the world changes, I feel confident that Night Demon will always be there fighting for metal and giving us fans something to look forward to at the end of the day.



Check out the video for "Welcome to the Night" below :




Night Demon Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/nightdemonband/

Night Demon Website:
https://www.nightdemon.net/

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sojourner "Empires of Ash"




    I have noticed in the last fews years there have been many stellar atmospheric black metal albums. Bands like Caladan Brood, Lustre, Dreams of Nature, Eldamar and many more, have done an amazing job crafting such epic and fascinating sounding releases. Sojourner is an up and coming atmospheric black metal band that released their debut full-length album, "Empires of Ash,” in May of last year. The band has teamed up with Fólkvangr Records and will release the cassette version of the album March 31st.

    For this article I have decided to review the album since the band is going to be releasing a cassette version. I remembered listening to a couple songs off the album last year on Lightfox177’s youtube channel. After being sent this promo for the release of the cassette version, I think it is time for me to evaluate and see what Sojourner was able to accomplish with this debut full-length release. Are they on that same atmospheric black metal level as some of the bands I listed in the first paragraph?

    To begin, the band’s sound invokes that cinematic feel one might find on a Summoning album, or the many other bands who worship Summoning. Their music is melodic yet has that grim black metal sound to achieve a contrast of atmospheric splendor. The opening song, “Bound by Blood,” does a great job getting listener’s attentions right away and the composition is well thought out. Instead of using the guitars to create more distant sound, the riffs are very prominent during the song. Overall, the opening track reassures listeners that Sojourner is capable of writing solid atmospheric black metal music. However, does the band do that for the rest of the album?

    The following tracks continue the sound and style from the first piece, but I find the music to not be as compelling and dynamic as I would have expected. There are plenty of great soothing moments that break away from the fury of the guitar and drum aggression. I just felt like the band played it safe a few times. The second track, “Heritage of the Natural Realm,” has very captivating sounding moments and would have liked to have heard that more throughout the album.

    Sojourner also goes for a very somber tone at times like with the song, “Homeward,” that I think is one of the best tracks on the album. The incorporation of melodic clean vocals with the black metal style does work at times, but is subject to moments where I thought they band could have just used the black metal style. Lastly, I want to point out how the music conveys a very epic tone. You find yourself imagining a fantastic world of nature and old majestic kingdoms beyond our mundane society full of lazy people enslaved to technology.

    In the end, Sojourner’s, “Empires of Ash,” is a really good sounding first album full of long epic atmospheric black metal tracks. Unfortunately, there are bands who compose atmospheric black metal that have recorded some utterly brilliant albums and in my opinion Sojourner is not yet on that same level. I do believe Sojourner are talented and have the potential to write some amazing music since there are definitely moments on this album I truly enjoyed. If you are a fan of atmospheric black metal I do recommend checking out Sojourner, because the music is without question better than any of that progressive metalcore bullcrap.


Sojourner "Bound by Blood" :



Sojourner Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/metalsojourner/

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rob "the metal guy" Rant: Equal Criticism for Crappy Bands



   Most of the time I ignore music I dislike, because I rather not waste my time listening to garbage. Of course I understand that some people enjoy the music I label as garbage, so I will try to not be too disrespectful. However, when I came across a Metal Injection article that featured a video by Otep, I could not help myself and decided to watch and listen to this train wreck of an artist.

    If you are a fan of Otep I will not label you as a moron, however, I do find Otep to be a generic Hard Rock / Nu Metal band trying to stay relevant by writing controversial songs. Also, the band’s singer, Otep Shamaya, is extremely political and does not hesitate to voice her opinion. Being political in your music is not a bad quality and I do respect that she is not afraid to voice her opinions, even if I disagree with some of what she has to say. Still, her new video, “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts,” is complete rubbish.

    The song’s main theme is about fighting against homophobia and even advocates for violence against homophobic people. Now, I have nothing against homosexual people and think homophobic people are douche bags/trolls on the loose. However, promoting violence against other people does not help your cause and makes you look like a major douche bag as well. Lyrics like, “He called me a dyke, I called him an ambulance,” does not help your cause. Actually, there won’t just be an ambulance coming to the scene of the fight, you will have the cops showing up as well charging Ms. Otep with aggravated assault. These lyrics are something I would expect from a rapper artist. Then again, the song sounds like a generic gangster rap song with horribly constructed riffs to achieve an utterly horrendous mix of rap meets metal. Other lyrics such as, “And we fucked till the morning, She found religion in every position, Screaming "oh god" and singing in hymnals,” are once again pointless and sound like something I would expect from a gangster rapper.

    Time to focus on the video now, which is equally as unbearable as the actual song. I think my major criticism with the video is that Otep comes across as wanting to be some sort of hardcore gangster. Just imagine a 50 Cent video with more lesbian and gay imagery, and that is your entire video. She also gets into a fight with a guy and comes out as the victor in the altercation. In my opinion the video made no sense and was a cinematic failure. I guess this is why I get labeled a metal elitist sometimes, because I listen to actual metal music that makes good videos.

    In the end, I think the reason I wrote this critique because I don’t get how an artist can go around demanding equal rights, but at the same time advocate violence. I don’t get why it is okay to write songs like this, but when a black metal band like Marduk writes songs about World War 2 it is okay to shutdown their concerts and falsely label them as white supremacists. Shouldn’t we advocate for Otep shows to be cancelled for promoting violence?

    You know what…I don’t care at the end of the day if Otep wants to sing songs like this, because she is using her freedom of speech. Although, if a band was to write songs about punching homosexuals in the face we must accept that too. Equal rights for all songwriters should be a new slogan. Wrapping up, Otep is definitely not my cup of tea and a band I have no problem calling out for writing what I think is trash music. Agree or disagree, you have that right because in America we have the freedom of speech…unless you are black metal band who writes songs about World War 2 and Paganism…then you are a Nazi and can have your shows shutdown. The logic of today’s world is scary…

Please feel free to leave a comment...trolls are welcomed...but no violence advocating humanoids please!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rude "Remnants…"




    Bay Area death metal fanatics, Rude, conjure up yet another colossal and malicious sounding release with their sophomore full-length album, Remnants… . For all those fans who were possessed by the unforgiving old school sound off of Rude's debut album, Soul Recall, those fans will rejoice as the band delivers more crushing tunes of unspeakable destruction.

    These guys have really raised the bar with Remnants… and have also reassured people that the old school style of death metal is alive and kicking. Although there are numerous bands who play a similar style of death metal, I have always felt that Rude’s sound and presentation of the music separates them from the other old school death metal worship acts.

    Rude really put some thought into the new songs and one can hear where the band improves in certain areas. The recording quality for the new album is probably where I think the band excelled the most. I thought the drum sound of the first album was solid, however, the new album has a more bombastic and bold drum sound. Also, I think the riffs were recorded extremely well on Remnants…,which is saying something because I thought Soul Recall had a great guitar sound that captured the band’s vicious old school attitude.

    Out of the nine tracks on the album I find choosing a favorite rather difficult, because each one has strong qualities. The overall songwriting is extremely solid, so the album does not have any dual moments. For their opening song, “Torrent to the Past,” the band grabs your attention right away with a bold crushing intro riff that leads into an explosion of old school devastation. The second track, “House of Dust,” creates a very bone chilling atmosphere in the beginning and I liked the song’s dark tone. Rude’s singer/guitarist Yusef Wallace helps strengthen the music’s haunting sound by providing some gruesome old school death metal growls. I think he is definitely one of the best death metal singers around, especially with regards to the more old school style.

    Track number three, “Blood Sucker,” is a nasty piece of guitar riff carnage. I like how the bass sounds during the song and the playing by bassist Jason Gluck is very impressive. The following songs, “Interpretations of the Ultimate Finality,” and “Remnants” continue the fiendish sounding musical destruction. Drummer Chad Gailey lays down some crushing drum parts while Yusef and fellow guitarist David Rodriguez crank out plenty of blasphemous sounding riffs. On track number six, “Fracturing the Gates of Truth,” the band composes a dynamic piece of extreme music and cleverly transitions throughout the aggressive sounding musical landscape.

    The final three tracks, “Sanctuary,” “Reboot,” and “Children of Atom,” are not too different from the earlier songs with exception to track number eight, “Reboot.” On, “Reboot,” the band creates a very prog like instrumental piece with these mellow yet haunting chord progressions. The last song, “Children of Atom,” would have to be my favorite if I was forced to pick one. I found the song’s science fiction horror theme to be very appealing along with the band’s instrumental compositions. You feel as though time has stopped and you are drifting through an endless vortex into worlds beyond with the music playing in the background.

    I think it should be noted that some people have this belief that a band might go into a slump after putting out a solid debut album. Well, I can say that your fears about Rude going into a slump shall be put to rest when you listen to, Remnants… .  Rude shows that if you are going to write music in the old school death metal vein, you better not just release boring and simplistic crap. I think the most important aspect to emphasize and the one that will hopefully get more people to check out this album, is that these guys know how to write pure unforgiving old school style death metal music. If you can't write the songs, your music shall not remain…Definitely not the case for Rude.


Rude "House of Dust" :



Rude Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Rude-391039200987363/

FDA Rekotz Website:
http://www.fda-rekotz.com