To state that hyperbole and false statements of quality are hallmarks of the music industry would be stating the obvious. Additionally, the term “super group” is often thrown around too haphazardly. Just because a bunch of guys from bands that people dig form a side project doesn’t really mean a thing.
Well, the truth is that CORRECTIONS HOUSE have proven to be one of the best new bands in extreme music and their full length debut, Last City Zero, is an instant classic. The band is indeed a collection of guys from bands that people have dug for a long time: Mike IX Williams (EYEHATEGOD), Scott Kelly (NEUROSIS), Bruce Lamont (YAKUZA), Sanford Parker (MINSK) and Seward Fairbury.
Sonically, CORRECTIONS HOUSE is free form in the sense that the songs are not composed of a traditional band configuration (guitars, bass, drums) nor traditional song structures. Instead, the band are unbound in their sound – using layers of cold mechanical electronics, different brooding guitar and saxophone sounds, various vocal styles, and various other sound effects. The album explores experimental stylings and acoustic guitars in varying degrees. Some songs are sonically heavy like “Serve or Survive” and “Bullets and Graves” while others are stripped down like the title track.
Last City Zero is more of an experience than anything else and a spiritual one at that. The band’s atmospheric soundscape approach is absolutely potent. The feelings of desolation, desperation, and nihilism cannot be understated. What I’m trying to get at is that for many, Last City Zero will speak to them on a deeply profound level; a life changer if you will.
Bands like CORRECTIONS HOUSE don’t come along too often and the magic here is undeniable. Awesome. (Neurot Recordings)
Remember the good old 90′s and early 2000′s when a plethora of metalcore, mathcore, post-hardcore, etc. were busting out so many underground gems? Well, that fine tradition continues thanks to Winnipeg, Canada heroes, KEN MODE.
KEN MODE‘s dynamic range and overall musicality is what continues to distinguish them from any perceivable peers. You’d be hard pressed to be able to predict what comes next on Entrench. The best way to summarize Entrench is “atmosphere.”
The band can crash and bash with anyone (i.e. “Counter Culture Complex” and “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sic“) but it’s the unique way in which they create atmosphere that is the most compelling trait. KEN MODE show no interest in creating fleeting, temporary impressions. They are focused on only dishing out compelling songs. Be sure to check out “Romeo Must Never Know,” “Figure Your Life Out,” and “Monomyth.”
Entrench also has a good mix and song order to keep you on your toes and not fall into a lull of up tempo poly rhythms or slower, chunkier songs.
Any further description or analysis would only delay you from checking out one of the best albums of 2013. Also, make sure to catch these road warriors when they come through your town. (Season of Mist)
Let it be declared that BEASTMILK are destined for stardom. In addition to their songwriting skills, charisma, and musicianship, these Finns have that special intangible that separates the stars from the merely “really cool” bands.
While a long list of bands and labels, such as JOY DIVISION, BAUHAUS, SISTERS OF MERCY, DANZIG, post-punk meets gothic rock, etc., could be used to describe their sound, the band describe themselves as “Apocalyptic death rock from Finland.”
From the first seconds of album opener “Death Reflects Us,” you are overcome with the instant classic feel of it all. The huge chorus just sweeps over you and nirvana ensues. The uber catchy songs don’t stop coming as Climax pushes forward. And it’s not just about the hooks, BEASTMILK create a dark, haunting atmosphere that lends to their charisma.
The closer you listen to Climax, the more it’s clear how much each band member holds up their end. Great musicianship all around.
BEASTMILK‘s debut full length, Climax, is an instant classic – one of those albums that you’ll be spinning nonstop and telling all your friends about. Greatness is here. (Magic Bullet Records/Svart Records)
DOOMRIDERS is back with their third album, Grand Blood, and another collection of diverse, cool songs. We could include the other bands that the members play in but that’s irrelevant as DOOMRIDERS should be judged by what they do alone.
The band continue to explore new sounds with their unique style, which can very loosely be described as noise rock, sludge, and hardcore. Vocalist/guitarist Nate Newton does a solid job in the vocal department with his strong bellows and clean vocals. Much of the material on Grand Blood sounds like they were born from jam sessions as the song parts sound natural and flow easily together. The band predominantly play in a stomping mid-tempo with dynamic changes to instrumental song sections. Highlights include the catchy “Mankind” and “Bad Vibes.”
Kurt Ballou‘s production work rules again here with the thick bass and drums coming through so perfectly in the mix.
The bottom line is that while Grand Blood will most certainly not explode your mind, it is a cool album and solid for what it is – a fun side project for these busy gentlemen. (Deathwish Inc.)
Like a supernova in the cosmos, CROSSFAITH explode with seldomly matched energy and power with their third record, Apocalyze. While some bands get by purely on talent alone, these beasts from Osaka prove that talent plus fervor can make a more profound impact.
CROSSFAITH merge a wide range of influences – Swedish melodic death metal, metalcore, nu metal, electronica, dub step – into a unique and cohesive whole. Sometimes the record will sound like IN FLAMES meets KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and other times it will sound like the DEFTONES versus THE PRODIGY. Apocalyze is well suited for a live show as there are plenty of hooks, big time breakdowns, and uptempo rhythms. While vocalist Koie Kenta utilizes good clean vocals, his roar leads what is an aggressive record. Female vocals are also used.
Underneath what, at times, seems like a wall of sound is good musicianship with each member of CROSSFAITH showing their chops. Their songwriting skills should also be complimented as their fusion of different genres into a well balanced record is neither specifically one thing or another.
Thirteen tracks, including an exclusive U.S. bonus track, may seem like a lot but the band don’t wear out their welcome. There are enough peaks and valleys and diversity to keep you into the action until the end.
For a band just starting to break into international markets, Apocalyze is the perfect record that CROSSFAITH needs to achieve worldwide success. (The End Records)
P.S. If Devin Townsend loves them, then you know they gotta be good.
If you’ve heard DARKTHRONE‘s latest album, The Underground Resistance, then you’ll have a good idea of what NOCTURNO CULTO’S GIFT OF GODS project sounds like.
Nocturnal Culto goes it alone on this project laying down all the instruments and recording duties. GIFT OF GODS is heavy metal that celebrates the decadence and bombastic elements without being mucked in heavy metal cheesiness. Naturally, there is underlying thread of black metal and old school doom that helps to keep things on a darker, serious tone. Expect long songs with dynamic changes providing some excellent song progressions. The EP has long instrumental sections that take off on their own. Tasty riffs and guitar leads are all over the place on Receive. He utilizes his full range of vocal stylings from clean, traditional metal vocals to the harsh, distorted ones he uses in DARKTHRONE.
Judging by the results, Nocturno Culto is more than qualified to operate as a one-man project. GIFT OF GODS‘ Receive is a good starting point for what could evolve into very strong LPs. (Peaceville Records)
If you haven’t become a fan of TOXIC HOLOCAUST yet, now is the time. Album number five, Chemistry of Consciousness, just scorches. Singular in its fast and aggressive attack, TOXIC HOLOCAUST take no prisoners – no mid-tempo songs, elements of the goofy side of classic thrash, filler, or wasted time.
One of the band’s fortes have always been the hooks and Chemistry of Consciousness is no exception. Songs like “Deny the Truth” will stay in your head for days and days. The death metal influence has been turned up a few notches as heard on songs like “Salvation is Waiting.” Mainman Joel Grind‘s vocals and vocal lines are flawless. Not only is the production superb but the guitars are perfectly crunchy and bright. Credit goes to collective hard work of Joel Grind, Nick Bellmore, Kurt Ballou, and Brad Boatright.
There really isn’t much that needs to be said about TOXIC HOLOCAUST‘s finest hour. It’s hands down one of the coolest crossover albums put to tape. Rage! (Relapse Records)
Regarding the band’s new album, Obsideo, PESTILENCE mainman Patrick Mameli has been quoted as saying, “The musicianship is such high quality; it is really ten of the most demanding songs written in death metal.” While that statement may have you believe that the band have written the most over the top technical masturbation of all time, Obsideo is actually a very straight forward and catchy album. It is most certainly technically proficient like all PESTILENCE albums but the song always comes first and there are no self-indulgent parts just for the sake of showing off musical skills.
Obsideo is easily better than its predecessor Doctrine. Simplicity finds a good marriage with complexity. Patrick Mameli‘s vocal lines are thankfully a ton better this time around. New members drummer Dave Haley (PSYCROPTIC) and bassist George Maier are quality additions. Dave Haley is tight, fast, and has seamless drum parts. George Maier brings the bottom end and is stylistically very different from the departed Jeroen Paul Thesseling. Don’t expect the big bass farts or slides of the Jeroen.
Armed with 8-string guitars, the band incorporate a lot of dissonance, tempo changes, and lighting quick fretboard action. Some riffs/parts often sound eerily familiar though.
The bottom line is that Obsideo is pretty cool. It’s one of the catchiest death metal albums to come along recently. Is it a game changer? No. But it is a good return to form for one of the genre’s pioneers. (Candlelight Records)
If someone were to tell you that Earth Blues is a near perfect record for what it is, that would be an accurate statement. One would be hard pressed to find anything wrong or bad about it. Everything is what it should be.
Eight albums into their career and SPIRITUAL BEGGARS are right in the pocket. Perfect chops and production only lead one to look to the songs to determine one’s enjoyment level. The twelve songs on Earth Blues are wonderfully diverse, rockin’, and proudly carry on the sound of 70′s rock. Will it change your life? That’s probably going too far but it easily fills in the gaps in your classic rock collection.
Look, it’s pretty simple – you either love 70′s rock or you don’t. And while there are some up and coming bands that play this general style, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS are at the top of the mountain. (Inside Out Music)
Every genre of extreme music gets stagnant and needs a kick in the arse. Finland’s ORANSSI PAZUZU provide the type of injection that black metal needs with their third record, Valonielu.
For the unitiated, the band occupy their own space in the avant garde black metal universe. Psychedelia, black metal, and some dark metal are seamlessly blended to create sinister and eerie atmospheres. Perhaps, latter day DODHEIMSGARD and MAYHEM, and early ARCTURUS could serve as loose reference points. It’s easy to picture the band playing somewhere in a forest as the Northern Lights go off in the sky.
From the outset, Valonielu pulls you in and keeps you interested in where the band will go next. The feeling of unpredictability and the novelty of the songs is a compelling force. ORANSSI PAZUZU never stick to a specific song structure or songwriting formula. They do whatever is best for a particular song. A prime example is “Vino Verso,” which features one riff that is repeated throughout the song. ”Tyhjä Tempelli” is centered on a tribal beat, bassline, and spaced out guitar effects that rise and fall in a cascade of keyboards. In other words, the record is a cosmic journey.
Valonielu only has six tracks but you would hardly notice that due to the immersive content. They prove that their substance prevails. Also, it’s important to recommend their back catalogue as well.
While other black metal bands are focused on retreading territory that legendary bands have already conquered, ORANSSI PAZUZU forge ahead with their innovative sound. Undoubtedly, one of the best albums of the year. (20 Buck Spin)