Sunday, September 10, 2017

On Top "Top Dollar"

    Provocative album covers and some down and dirty eighties hard rock and metal music seems to be On Top’s formula. These Philadelphia rockers bring the loud guitar attack along with those songs that remind you of LA in the eighties and when Chris Holmes still had a liver that was sort of functional.

    This trio has crossed my path before with their previous EP appropriately titled, “Topless,” which featured the backside of a naked tattooed vixen. I do feel that their new EP, “Top Dollar,” is a slight improvement to where band is trying to break out of that generic hard rock and metal worship category and are climbing towards the peaks of being a strong act. Still, there are areas where I feel the band could improve.

    Now, the musicianship from this power trio should not to be overlooked. The guitar playing is exciting and the riffs on the new EP really grab your attention. Also, the production isn’t to shabby, especially the drum sound and bass tone. On Top’s sound is tight and the production for the album is definitely welcomed. On Top’s singer has a unique style that compliments the instrumental compositions by being less melodic and more ballsy with plenty of pissed off sounding attitude.

    The EP contains four songs of rock and roll fury with “Lovin’ the Devil,” “Walk the Walk,” “Everything,” and “This Way.” The band stays extremely consistent on each track and musically there is little variation. I guess you can take that as a positive if you are looking for a consistent and solid rock release, however, don’t expect some dynamic twenty minute epic if that is what you are searching for musically. I really enjoyed, “Lovin’ the Devil,” the most and the intro guitar lead was a great way to begin the song. The guitarist has a great tone and sort of steals the show by laying down plenty of killer riffs.

    Track number two, “Walk the Walk,” is a decent track and the lyrical presentation is strong. The singer sounds pissed off as if someone has taken his beer and his money then tricked him into signing a record deal where he has lost all the rights to his music. I thought track number three, “Everything,” contained a catchy main riff along with a feverish main rhythm. “This Way,” ended the album with yet another ripping hard rock attack and was really not much different is structure to the previous tracks.

    Overall, I am torn when deciding how to give a final assessment of this EP. I think if this was the first time hearing On Top I would not be as impressed, but because I have reviewed an EP of theirs before I definitely applaud the improvement. The guitar playing was taken to another level, which I think the band should build off of with their next release. Maybe incorporate some more variation into the songs and always work towards crafting songs with substance. In the end, these guys are doing a solid job and I look forward to their album cover pissing off those SJW feminist types. You never know, these guys might bring back the Sunset Strip days by releasing a killer album, although I don’t think Chris Holmes’s liver will ever return to normal.

On Top "Lovin' the Devil" :

Monday, August 28, 2017

Recommendation: Graveland "Thousand Swords"

    After wanting to own a physical copy of Graveland’s “Thousand Swords” for many years, I was finally able to acquire the album on vinyl from Hells Headbangers. “Thousand Swords,” is one of my favorite black metal albums and in my opinion features some of the most profound black metal recordings one can find. I've decided to write a recommendation in hopes of getting more people to check out this classic black metal release that I find to be extremely enjoyable.

    Released in 1995, the album was the band’s second full-length album following their debut, “Carpathian Wolves,” along with a handful of killer demos. When comparing “Thousand Swords” to their previous works one can hear where Graveland finally forms their unique musical identity. Rob Darken the main driving force behind Graveland composed what I consider to be the soundtrack for an assault on Christianity by a Pagan army of merciless warriors. Along with drummer, Capricornus, the songs contain a raw and unholy sound of distorted bombastic terror.

    The album’s intro builds up great anticipation for the first song, “Blood of Christians on My Sword,” and once the main riff begins you feel drawn into the harsh sounding assault of musical carnage. There are some clever tempo changes that demonstrate how the band does not just come up with straightforward tremolo picking black metal riffs. The next song, “Thousand Swords” continues the war like theme with more fearsome sounding riffs and drum parts. There are these horns that blare  over the music as if signaling for an attack upon a helpless village and adds to the albums strong theme.

    “The Dark Battlefield” and “The Time for Revenge,” maintain that raw black metal sound by unleashing more extreme sounding pieces of distorted grim chaos. I also find Darken’s vocals to be some of the most haunting black metal vocals and they work well with the instrumental compositions. On “Born for War,” you can hear the unapologetic attitude of the band come through the vicious main verse section. “Black Metal War,” is a short yet aggressive sounding track and declares war against those who are the enemies of this type of music. The final song, “To Die in Fight,” features some powerful lyrics that tell of falling in battle and awaiting the journey to that hall up high with the other fallen warriors.

    Overall, I find “Thousand Swords” to be such an underrated black metal release that deserves more attention. We have given too much exposure to the Norwegian black metal scene and all there albums, and I feel it is important to focus on the accomplishments of Graveland who have been very influential over the years amongst the underground black metal community.

    I also want to bring attention to how I am disgusted my Antifa and all those SJW morons who have labeled Graveland’s music as racist and a tool for promoting white supremacy. These groups don’t have a clue, because not once on “Thousand Swords” do you hear the band trying to promote Nazi ideology. The music is about paying homage to their European Pagan ancestors, so the whole they are Nazi sympathizers needs to stop. In conclusion, check out this album if you have not and remember to ignore those Antifa jerks who are the real fascist... and pieces of shit.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Paralysis Album "Life Sentence"

    Usually when I think of New Jersey and thrash metal two bands come to mind right away, those two being Overkill and Whiplash. After listening to Paralysis and their debut full-length release, “Life Sentence,” it looks like there is another band from the Garden State that knows how to deliver some cranium crushing thrash metal music.

    Paralysis is a young band with tons of potential and the music on this debut full-length demonstrates great crossover thrash talent. There are too many bands who rush their recordings and release in my opinion generic worship music which shows no imagination and consideration for quality. The production quality and the songwriting are two areas where I felt Paralysis did very well, especially considering this is their first full-length album. Although they are not reinventing the wheel, these guys are keeping that brutal crossover thrash style alive and kicking.

    “Life Sentence,” contains ten songs of headbanging aggression with raw thrash riffs that will conjure instantaneous mosh pits of relentless brutality. The opening track, “Ignorance,” brilliantly builds up anticipation with a killer bass riff and the slower tempo eventually explodes into a tornado of thrash chaos. I really liked the singers vocal style and he delivers the lyrics with an aggressive and unapologetic attitude. Plus, the vocals were extremely well recorded, so the lyrics vividly standout during the song. The second song, “Your Will,” contains some catchy riffs that fans of old school thrash will feverishly enjoy.

    Songs like the title track and track number four “Misery,” don’t stray far away from the traditional crossover thrash formula, but these guys do not write boring recycled riffs of monotonous garbage. Other tracks I want to mention would be, “Deepest Void,” “Nothing But Death,” and “Karma.” The lead guitar part at the end of, “Deepest Void,” sounded great when matched with the overall composition. “Nothing But Death,” contains an adrenaline pumping verse riff that makes way for a classic sounding eighties thrash chorus section. The final song on the album, “Karma,” hammers out some intense sounding riffs that are as fast as a blood craving shark. I really hope their live shows bring about the same level of energy which they offered up on this album, because I bet the venue would be decimated after their set.

    I find when evaluating young metal bands you need to understand that even though their style of music is nothing new, at least they are breathing new life into the genre and keeping the music alive. Paralysis showed that they know how to write some vicious sounding riffs, lay down some tight drum parts and can get the job done by recording some good quality crossover thrash. In the years to come we shall see where Paralysis will take their music, but I hope they always maintain their solid raw and unforgiving sound. Like with all those bands who came before, it is about crafting a sound that can stand the test of time. I do believe Paralysis is on a good path and I think the world of thrash will begin to take more notice with the release of this new album.

Paralysis "Life Sentence" :

Paralysis Facebook Page:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Toxik "Breaking Class"

    Highly respected for being a pioneering force in the world technical and progressive thrash, Toxik is seeking to conquer 2017 with some epic new material. The band will be releasing a new three song EP called, “Breaking Class,” August 4th and there is talk of a full-length album to be out around the end of the year.

    Although Toxik may not receive the same mainstream recognition as Metallica, the band has a strong cult following who will lose their metal minds once they hear Toxik is releasing new material. Toxik’s first two albums, “World Circus” (1987) and “Think This” (1989) are brilliant releases that pushed thrash into a more technical and progressive world back in that mid-eighties to late-eighties period. I have friends who play in bands that worship Toxik and work on crafting their music in a similar fashion by being progressive with thrash instead of just copying the same old generic song structures.

    The new EP, “Breaking Class,” features three songs that continue to fuel the minds of thrash fanatics with insane lead parts accompanied by thought provoking lyrics. Josh Christian, guitarist and founding member of Toxik, is an unbelievable player with such a tremendous technical style that crafts some wicked riffs. Singer Charles Sabin who joined the band for the “Think This” album, delivers a killer vocal performance and I think he is one of the best singers in the thrash/speed metal genre. Toxik has always been about high caliber musicianship, so one should expect that this new music is far from basic and simplistic.

    The opening song, “Stand Up,” starts out with an eerie sound clip of children singing “America the Beautiful” and then explodes into a furious thrash assault. Josh lays down some vicious riffs of blistering fury and his leads are extremely well executed. He demonstrates that playing fast does not mean shit if your solos can’t compliment the music. All around the band’s sound is impactful and each musician contributes an equal amount of monumental energy to the song.

    The second track, “Breaking Class,” definitely maintains that rapid fire tempo of technical thrash madness with crushing drum parts and blazing guitar riffs. Some of the riffs even reminded me of something you would have heard on, “World Circus.” Instead of just hammering out recycled riffs, Toxik strives to add a refreshing variety of clever sounding instrumental compositions. The final song, “Psyop,” is probably my favorite song off the EP. There are plenty of dynamic compositions that fans will be frantically banging their heads along to when listening at max volume. Musically you just can’t complain and the song keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

    Even though there are only three songs, fans of Toxik are going to want to pick this up when it is released. Also, I am definitely looking forward to a full-length release from Toxik. Unlike some bands who return after a long hiatus, Toxik is not hastily rushing to throw an album together. These guys take pride in their music and the new tracks show a desire to offer fans some brilliant technical and progressive thrash metal. Plus, I think right about now is a great time for Toxik to return since the world is truly becoming a World Circus! …Just look at the news! ...Don't do that actually, but instead listen to Toxik!

Toxik "Stand Up" :

Toxik Facebook:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Phylactery "Necromancy Enthroned"

    Hellish death thrash devastation invades the metal world with Phylactery’s debut full-length release, “Necromancy Enthroned.” These Canadian extreme metal musicians take the relentless speed of thrash with the unforgiving brutality of old school death metal and create some terrorizing sounds of unholy proportions.

    Phylactery happens to be yet another band from Unspeakable Axe Records that does not disappoint and knows how to construct solid extreme metal music. Their debut album features eleven tracks of vicious riffs, thunderous drumming and demonic sounding vocals of unworldly terror. For their first album I think the band did a solid job crafting a unique raw and brutal sound that simply does not fall into the category of generic metal garbage.

    Each track on the album runs about the same length of time and the songs are usually about two to three minutes long. I think length of each song is just perfect for the band to deliver their merciless death thrash assault. If the songs were longer I believe the band would be recycling riffs to the point of complete and unbearable redundancy. The opening song off the album, “Risen Restless Dead,” wastes no time by thrashing away at a flesh tearing riff. Even though the song is short there are plenty of distinct riffs that are vicious yet extremely catchy. The band’s nonstop aggression continues on the second track, “Wisdom of Heretics,” with bombastic drumming and lightning fast guitar parts. I really liked the guitar solo, because the lead guitarist composed something that actually complimented the song instead of being a random hurricane of obnoxious shredding. Don’t get me wrong, I like shredding when it has a purpose and is not just an excuse to show how fast you can play through scales.

    Out of the elven tracks I find choosing a favorite to be a difficult task, but I will name some of the ones that I think standout a little more than the others. “Morbid Existence,” is a furious cut of metal music with insane sounding verse sections accompanied by haunting vocal parts. “Where I Dwell” contains some bone crushing guitar riffs and the bass sound adds an extra explosion to the distorted fiery chaos. I have talked about this before in previous reviews and still want to stress the importance of having a strong bass sound. There are some bands who turn the bass volume down to where I question if the bass player even showed up during the recording process. The final song I want to mention is, “Enslaved by the Dawn.” On this track the band delivers some nasty riffs of raw thrash attitude. I want to try and compare them to other bands, however, it is hard because their sound takes from so many different extreme metal elements.

    For their debut album I think Phylactery did a great job being themselves and leaving room for them to take their music into an even more unforgiving and brutal level. Some bands want to hit home runs for their first album, but sometimes just offering a consistent brutal sound is enough to peak the interest of listeners. Highly recommended for people who desire some vicious thrash and raw old school death metal blended together into one diabolical concoction. Also, I recommend people check them out because they are signed to Unspeakable Axe Records. I trust Unspeakable Axe Records more than I trust the people in charge of running the state I live in…

Phylactery "Unholy Empire" :

Phylactery Facebook Page:

Unspeakable Axe Records Facebook:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Necrot "Blood Offerings"

    Unforgiving, relentless and ear splitting riffs of crypt desecrating madness is what Necrot unleashes upon the metal world with their debut full-length album, “Blood Offerings.” These Bay Area death metal musicians have become a force to be reckoned with amongst the underground metal community. The time just seems right for them to make their conquest across the brutal landscape of extreme music by showing no mercy with the release of their debut album.

    After the release of their compilation of remastered demo songs, “Labyrinth,” I have noticed Necrot feverishly putting in the effort and keeping their extreme brand of old school sounding death metal firing on all cylinders. The work ethic is what I respect the most about these guys and the songs on this new album demonstrate what it takes to truly craft some brutal pieces of cranial crushing metal. “Blood Offerings,” is the perfect conjuring of raw old school death metal with a brilliant and unmistakable sound that comes from years of passionate dedication for extreme music.

    Like any great trio in rock or metal history, the skill level combined creates such impactful music. The vocals provided by singer and bassist Luca Indrio are bold and merciless. Sonny Reinhardt's vicious guitar playing abilities add such a boost of aggression. Also, his lead parts are precise and get to the point instead of being an extra thirty seconds  of aimless shredding. Drummer Chad Gailey plays an important role laying down some crushing drum parts. The recording of his drum sound on the new album is well executed and injects tremendous force into the already bombastic sounding riff sections.

    Out of the eight tracks on the album, you are going to find yourself struggling to choose a favorite. For the opening song, “The Blade,” the band unleashes a blistering assault of riff carnage. Chad ushers in the destruction by pounding out some thunderous rhythms from his kit. Sonny’s guitar solo provides a wicked touch to the already devastating sound by offering a flurry of sinister sounding notes that are perfectly incorporated into the song. Track number two, “Rather Be Dead,” wastes no time and dives into the chaos with a rapid fire sounding verse section. The riffs are very catchy and provide optimal moments to bang your head. On the next song, “Shadows and Light,” Necrot maintains their feverish old school sound with Luca presenting some haunting growls. The title track off of the album, “Blood Offerings,” is ferocious sounding and keeps your attention focused on the monstrous sounding instrumental compositions. Sonny’s string bends toward the end of the song send chills down your spine as the song comes to a close.

    The second half of the album is just as solid as the first half, so there is little time to catch your breath. Song number five, “Empty Hands,” sounds like something from the Tucker era of Morbid Angel. The tempo fluctuates yet conveys this sound of suffocating musical brutality. “Beneath,” and “Breathing Machine,” hit you hard in the gut with thick distorted guitar and bass riffs. The final song, “Layers of Darkness,” begins with a bone grinding riff of relentless chugging fury along with Chad’s intense style of drumming. There are no dual moments, so until the song ends you will be possessed by the unholy sounding power of Necrot.

    From the impressive recording quality to the consistent songwriting, "Blood Offerings" is an album for all those fans who enjoy old school death metal with an unforgiving spirit of unfound brutality. Also, the album is a great example of what happens when a band does not hastily throw material together and knows how to write a strong album from top to bottom. Necrot may not be reinventing the wheel of extreme music, however, their tight sound and solid songwriting skills are quite desirable in the world of extreme music at the moment. We need more bands like Necrot and less bands that sound like a tsunami of musical diarrhea...

Make sure to get your copy of the album from either Tankcrimes (CD) or Sentient Ruin (Cassette). Two great DIY labels from the Bay Area! 

Necrot "Empty Hands"

Friday, May 5, 2017

Demonsmoke "Morphine Moonshine"

    Traveling through the air on dark wings, the monumental distorted power from Demonsmoke’s music brings forth an onslaught of unforgiving doom and sludge devastation. Hailing from the wastelands of Antioch, CA the band offers listeners a juggernaut of sheer doom with their debut album, “Morphine Moonshine.”

    When I saw Demonsmoke play in a Petaluma diver bar about a couple years back, I remember thinking these guys had the potential to write some really crushing music. Their sound is very tight and the band gives every ounce of energy when playing their songs. The vicious passion from the singer’s delivery to the nasty sounding riffs of sinister reverb, unleashes a sound that stays in your head. Honestly, this debut album surpasses what I originally thought they were capable of recording. I remember them being a solid band, but the musicianship and songwriting on this debut album is utterly amazing. Also, getting Greg Wilkinson to record the album was a good choice since he really captured the raw and unapologetic attitude that Demonsmoke can deliver through their music.

    Out of the nine songs on this album you will not find one piece of generic music. I am talking endless skull crushing fuzz guitar riffs and bluesy sludge rhythms that make you want to bang your head into oblivion. The opening song, “Creeping Down Your Neck,” was actually featured on the band’s three song demo which I picked up at the show in Petaluma. Also, featured on that demo were “Morphine Moonshine,” and “Sever.” All three songs sounded great on the demo and have somehow been elevated to even greater heights on the new album. Demonsmoke writes solid verse sections that eventually reach these behemoth climaxes filled with earth shattering drum parts and riffs of glorious doom.

    “Morphine Moonshine,” is one of the song’s that stands out the most with its rebellious audio clip from the movie, “The Wild Angels,” in the beginning on the song, followed shortly by their singer’s cry of torment over the bombastic riff attack. I want to live inside that guitar amp because the tone is insanely addicting. Another song that I want to mention is, “Spewing Disgust,” which contains some demonic and vitriolic vocal parts with plenty of low end destruction coming from the drummer and bass player. Once again the riff tears through the speakers spewing distorted sounding hatred without remorse.

    Track number five on the album, “Set in Stoned,” is another solid piece of doom and has a killer bass intro that creates a haunting buzz of noise right before the band kicks into a heavy jam section. Songs like, “Through the Sun,” and “Backside of the Spoon,” have this hypnotic vibe going at times, yet they convey an extremely raw and bold attitude. The band also does an impress cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Junkie,” by taking the music and applying their own vicious sludge and doom interpretation. The last song on the album to mention is, “Sawed Off Sociopath.” I thought it was one of the band’s heaviest songs which is saying something, because all the songs on this album are unbelievably heavy. While the guitarist hammers away to the main riff you stand there anticipating each note of sludgy aggression.

    Compared to a lot of Sabbath like doom and sludge worship bands, Demonsmoke does not mess around and has their shit together. The production was flawless and the strong recording quality made these musicians sound great from start to finish. For a debut album the band should be extremely proud of what they accomplished. Each song is well written and does not sound like it was hastily thrown together. Demonsmoke is a great example of how the power of the riff can still conjure up some killer sounding tunes. If you enjoy sludge and doom metal and want a cascade of loud distorted aggressive sounding music to come crashing down into your ears, you need to get this album right away!

Demonsmoke Facebook Page: