The Best, The Good, The Bad, The Rest
by Iann Robinson
So I’m back, everybody said I wouldn’t be able to keep my big mouth shut but I tried man, I really tried. I wanted to just vanish from the scene because I was over it, music was failing me. The thing that brought me back into the fold was the feeling that I had to defend myself to these "metalheads" who were skewering me via email and letters when I was writing for Decibel. Not only did they want to skewer me that way but I was told that these people actually spent their time being pissed off about me on message boards, the ultimate sign of either lack of sex or no job!! I know what you’re saying, you’re saying "Well Iann aren’t you doing the same thing by writing back to them via the internet", difference is I never personally attacked these people, I just stated my opinion, that’s all. These "metalheads" couldn’t actually make a smart argument against my point of view so they resorted to calling me names. So before I show you my latest batch of reviews, I figured I’d set some things straight.
None of you would have the backbone to say ANY of this to my face, you’re more than happy to call me names behind the wall of email and PO Boxes. If watching MTV is so not metal, if being associated with MTV in any way, shape or form is totally selling out then HOW DO YOU FUCKS KNOW WHO I AM? I haven’t been in many magazines, certainly not ones as underground as you purport to be, so unless your lying asses are watching MTV, how could you know about me at all? If you do watch MTV and you still question how "metal" I am then you’ve been suckered by that channel in a big way. MTV decided to call me the "metal guy" mainly because I had tattoos and they needed a little box to put me in. I love music, period, end of story. If the fact that I don’t jizz my pants over every metal album that comes out makes me "not true", that’s a fact I can live with. I love metal, it’s been a passion of mine for a long time but if you’re the kind of simpleton that can only appreciate one genre of music, if you can’t see why Slayer, Joy Division, Thelonious Monk, Robert Johnson and Johnny Cash are ALL important to the world of art and music, then I feel really bad for you. A bunch of you also jumped on me for saying I think Black Metal needs some growth in it, you claimed I didn’t understand Black Metal and I wasn’t true and blah blah blah blah!! I dig Black Metal, I may think it’s the WWE of music, but hell I LOVE wrestling so it’s all good. If your tiny little brain can’t see that I want Black Metal to reach it’s serious potential by evolving as all music must do, then fuck right off and take your corpse paint with you.
I also got a lot of shit about saying we need a new hand gesture because the metal horns had been co-opted by the popular culture and was pretty much dead. These "metalheads" said I should be slapped for insulting "a time honored symbol of metal"—WHAT!?? Are you serious? Are you also the type of distrubed individual that thinks burning the flag is treason? If your love of metal and music is wrapped up in a hand gesture and you get that upset over it, then I’m sorry I insulted you, I’m also sorry you wear a diaper, a helmet and can’t have chocolate because it makes you too hyper. There was also some comments about how nobody should take me seriously because I was an MTV sellout. Let me ask those people something, what were you doing for metal while I was having screaming matches with my boss about trying to cover Lamb Of God, Shadows Fall or Suffocation? What were you doing when I went to the New England Metal And Hardcore Festival on my own time and shot a bunch of footage of various bands (with the aid of the always amazing DENISE) to put on MTV so these bands could get some airtime? Most of you who insult me are teenagers who live at home, don’t pay bills and will probably forget about metal and punk once you’ve been forced to go out and earn a living. If you’re not that then you’re a sad little person who does nothing for the scene but bitch and moan about it or show up to shows and scream and shout. I doubt ANY OF YOU would push your beliefs and your music passion so hard that it would ultimately cost you your job — you wouldn’t have the fucking balls. Not to mention, go talk to some of your hero bands that I spoke to and helped out and see if they agree with you that I’m some big sellout. As for me being fat, well, yeah, I am and I doubt any of the people who’ve taken shots at me could stand naked in a room full of women without having them laugh, so deal with your own ugliness before you come fucking with mine. I guess this all boils down to the fact that if you don’t agree with something I’ve said, then argue that point, don’t act like a big baby and start calling me names and making degrading remarks about me because it just shows how insipid you really are. If you do want to make personal comments, make them to my face, don’t hide behind something as lame as a message board.
Now, on to the reviews:
I Was Your City
Hawthorne Street Records
Rising from the ashes of Kiss It Goodbye (who rose from the ashes of Deadguy) come Playing Enemy a Northwest band of extreme-noise-violence and prog-rock that get the job done in a big way. Not as good as their predecessors, but still a crushing force to be dealt with, Playing Enemy have collected 11 songs that sound as if Rush took a lot of drugs and decided to write songs with Slayer, and how can you go wrong there?
My friends we’d better look to the North for some serious inspiration because Canada is bringing the pain with their bands. First the rock gods of Danko Jones and now a band that puts the nut-kicking-goodness back into heavy music CURSED!! Cursed are back with their second album and it’s a thick sludgy mix of rock, metal, grind and general evilness. This is dirty, ugly, mean music and it’s made for people who are bitter. Cursed fucking rock!!!
Witness Relocation Program
This is a direction for music that I’m really excited about, the idea of songs as short bursts of utter ugliness that make you feel uncomfortable and yet inspired at the same time. The Exelar have crafted a record that mixes hardcore, grindcore, noisecore and all the cores to make their own vision of the world. It’s a dark underbelly and that tale is told so well by these guys. Big Thumbs Up!!
Hugs And Drugs
Monarchy Music Corp
Holy Shit this record is great!! Quick bursts of insane extremenoisehardcore that are the audio equivalent of a car accident. These guys are definitely Converge fans but have their own spin on it. Plus they begin and end with weird noise/ambient soundscape stuff. I don’t know much about them except that they fucking rock!!
These guys have been the unsung heroes of extreme music for a long time. They constantly put out exciting records and a lot of the time are overlooked for the Heavy Band Du Jour. This time Cephalic mix extreme noise violence, death metal, hardcore and thrash and it all works. The songs range from groovy to face splitting intensity and the writing and playing are first rate. The style with which each song flows into the other almost makes me use the dreaded words "Concept Album" but whatever it is, it’s a slab of pain that must be heard.
HIGH ON FIRE:
Blessed Black Wings
High On Fire have always been a force to deal with but Blessed Black Wings finds the band maturing in style, sound and songwriting. Always able to work the epic, "Blessed Black Wings" has a spark of Motorhead-style-rock which really ramps up HOF’s already unique sound. Granted I was a little leery when I heard Steve Albini was going to be at the helm of this album based on his high-end, super noisy past productions but Steve has done himself proud. Christ, even the artwork by Arik Moonhawk Roper is gorgeous. The only thing that could possibly top this album is seeing the band live.
I’m all for noise rock and art but something about Fantomas always seemed pretentious to me and I figured their fourth studio album "Suspended Animation" wouldn’t do much to change my mind, I was wrong. This time King Buzzo, Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo and Trevor Dunn have designed something really special. "Suspended Animation" is dedicated to the art of cartoons as well as the month of April, the whole month ? seriously, all 30 songs on the album are titled for each day in April. Imagine the soundtrack for a cartoon snuff film done by Coil after a night of drinking and a serious crack binge, mix with grindcore and art rock and you might have the recipe for Suspended Animation.
Hydra Head Records
Rising from the ashes of Godflesh, Jesu is the brainchild of Godflesh vocals/guitarist Justin K. Broadrick and it’s a sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes sinister and often inspiring piece of ugliness. . If I was forced to make a quick comparison I’d say it’s Neurosis and Vocokesh playing Swans style music on the Skeptycism freeway. If you’re into the ugliness and beauty of the human soul, if it means something to have music course through you and take you on a journey where you might be moved to learn about yourself, then Jesu is for you.
BLOOD RED THRONE
This is an obnoxious record and I mean that in the best way possible. There’s 99 tracks on the album, each one less than a minute and usually no more than 30 seconds and it combines weird, ambient soundscapes with blistering shit-kicking death metal. It’s really fucking crushingly heavy stuff and in a genre that is usually boring and tired, this album sets up a new dawn for all Death Metal bands.
See this is what I like, a little hand n’ hand love between death metal and thrash metal, that makes life good. Usurper are by no means the best band in the world but they do make a damn fine death metal album that’s sprinkled with some genuine thrash goodness. If you’re into Death Metal you’d be a fool not to pick this album up, it’s fucking killer. Plus, how can you not like an album called Cryptobeast!!!
MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT
Time & Withering
As Isis and other bands have always done Mouth Of The Architect gets its inspiration from the world ending sounds of Neurosis, which is fine by me. This idea of creating heavy emotion and atmosphere as opposed to just plain old "heavy" is an amazing one, and certainly more creative. MOTA are really great at it musically, the only problems are the vocals kind of suck and sometimes they beat things to death. I think great things are coming for this band but this record is more of a starting point.
This is the new band from Integrity frontman Dwid and while it’s not anywhere near Integrity, it’s not bad. Solid metal/hardcore but not in a cheesy Bleeding Through way, more like brutal and slap-you-around style. Dwid’s voice is good, the whole thing is well done it’s just not Integrity and I didn’t love it.
Enemy Of God
Kreator have reached new thrashy heights with "Enemy Of God", 12 tracks of blistering, old school thrash that feels neither dated nor silly. "Enemy Of God" bristles with solid riffs, power house drum production and some really terrific song writing. The only trouble in thrashadise comes with the vocals, which begin to wear thin after 10 songs and a few of the tracks on this record are pretty filler-riffic. "Enemy Of The Sun" is a solid album that’ll do any thrash fan justice, even if it’s not a classic.
Here’s To The Mourning
I know these guys have been around forever, and kudos to them for that. However, this is very basic pop-punk, nothing too inspiring here. It’s well produced, catchy as all hell and vocalist Scott Russo has a competent pop-punk voice but at the end of the day who really cares? It’s pretty by the numbers and a lot of it sounds like heavy 311, really lame.
Burning Heart Records
Very run of the mill posthardcore/death metal. The riffs are boring and stock and the vocals grate on your nerves almost immediately. Nothing here amounts to song writing so picking a "best track" is an exercise in futility. This is the kind of album that makes me think heavy music is becoming a dead art form.
THE ROCKET SUMMER
Hello, Good Friend
The Militia Group
Take a generous helping of early Billy Joel, add a bit of post-70’s Elton John and sprinkle lightly with a whiney voice that makes you want to puke. I think this band was trying to recapture the bigger than life singer songwriter of yesteryear but they fail miserably. Instead of this heap just go by the best of early Billy Joel, much better item for the money.
Wake The Dead
Jesus Christ, this insipid album opens with a chorus much like the ones done back in the day for the likes of Sick Of It All and so on, only this time it’s just dumb. The music is once again hardcore for girls, super fast attempts at aggression but with nothing behind it. I’ll stick to my Negative Approach records, thanks anyway.
Razor & Tie
More soulless, post-ironic rock that all the kids love today. Imagine Shudder To Think without the talent and trying to write songs for Jet ? yeah, it’s that bad. Take the Razor, cut your throat and hang from your tie.
EVERY NEW DAY
The Shadow’s Cast
Hand Of Hope Records
I’m not sure exactly when this horrible infection of "Hardcore For Girls" took over the posthardcore world but man do these guys personify it. Metalish riffage combined with hardcore speed and those "heartfelt" whiney vocals. You can hear the guys trying to inject some testosterone in their music but it all just falls flat, like the officer said "Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along."
The Lair Of The Whiteworm
God Dethroned are a heavy band, no doubt, and they are fast ? nobody is disputing that and they can throw together a death metal album in a very professional way but when it all comes together, it amounts to very little. This album is stock, boring, by the numbers metal that neither challenges nor inspires. Not that all albums have to do that but if you’re going to name your record after an amazing movie, you’d better bring you’re "A" game. I’m sure God Dethroned fans and all the little pricks who hate me because I don’t love everything "metal" will love this. For me, it’s a pass.
The Window Purpose
Ever wonder what would’ve happened if Late Era Queensryche had decided to play prog-metal? Yeah, neither did I.
Another band in the never ending assembly line of hardcore/metal bands coming out. These guys aren’t sure if they’re metal or hardcore and they don’t do either very well. The catch here is that they have screechy vocals and singy chorus’s ala Killswitch Engage but not as good. If you’re a huge fan of this genre then you’ll like it, if not, it’s pretty boring stuff.
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
Six Reasons To Drop Out
Reasons 1-5: Bands that sound like this type of bad attempt at recapturing hardcore’s past. Reason #6, this album in particular. Boring gentlemen, very boring.
Cru Jones is yet another band whose posthardcore leanings make them just another face in the crowd. Emo/posthardcore music, kind of heavy but not really, forgettable song writing and those GODDAMN whiney vocals. If you are in a band like this and you read this, PLEASE turn your band into something else, enough already!!
The Gathering Wilderness
Metal Blade Records
Irish metalers Primordial are back and this time they’ve decided to offer up another slab of something I like to call folk metal. It’s appropriately dark, there’s all kinds of Lord Of The Rings type imagery and the songs have decent riffs behind them. The problem here is that the parts don’t add up to anything that’s very good. The songs plod along, usually staying around a full minute longer than they need to and the vocals are so run-of-the-mill that you don’t really care what they’re about.
This band is aptly named because man, I’m SOOO over this band and they’re 21st Century peers. Enough with the pop punk, catchy chorus horseshit. It all sounds like one band recording a bunch of the same songs under different names. It’s not as much of a bum out as those bands where the singer whines/sings while somebody else backs him up by screaming, but it’s pretty close.
The Fall Of Rome
Metal Blade Records
How about the fall of boring, redundant death metal. Everything here fires at a hundred miles an hour and none of it hits the target. I’m all for extreme and dark and heavy but not when it’s boring. Once again, if the album had been as dark as the artwork, it might’ve been a great album. However, it is not.
The Politics Of Dancing
These guys suck.
The Black Halo
I’ve never been a huge fan of power metal but as far as it goes this Kamelot record ain’t bad. Chock full of triumphant riffs, high pitched vocals that sound like somebody calling to Thor atop some distant mountain and tons of keyboards and guitar solos. To me all this shit is lame as hell, almost silly, but I know it’s a genre all unto itself so if you’re into it, you might dig this. It did make me want to go start up my old D&D club again.
Hand Of Hope Records
While this isn’t a bad record, it’s pretty standard stuff. Imagine a bunch of guys in their basement wishing they had written Slaughter Of The Soul and you pretty much get the idea. Solid thrash/death metal riffage and a guy screaming his head of about nothing in particular. If you’re seriously into all things At The Gates sounding then you might like this, it just bored me.
THE BURNING SEA
The Haze Of Infatuation
Hand Of Hope
Taking a page out of the Killswitch Engage/Bleeding Through book, The Burning Sea hit us with a bunch of metal riffs and a posthardcore screech ala either of the aforementioned bands. Where they split form Killswitch is in raw talent and song writing, which seems to have passed Burning Sea up. Not an awful posthardcore-metal record but really, who cares?
In The Midst Of Bloodied Soil
This is not an awful album but it’s pretty standard Black Metalesque stuff. The production and song writing is a step above average Black Metal but it’s nothing to write home about. Lots of "scary" vocals over a hundred-miles-an-hour playing—very impressive and very boring. Another band that would’ve been amazing if their music was half as dark as the album title.
This would be a great instrumental album. Good songs, well crafted thrash metal that makes you remember why thrash was king for so long. However everything comes crashing down when the vocals kick in, much like all Overkill albums. I respect Overkill for being around for so long but man, the vocals sound like nails across a chalk board to me.
"Thirsty and Miserable" is Iann Robinson’s very own column here at Metal Sludge! Whenever he feels like it, Iann will write about whatever it is that’s on his mind. Much like us, Iann is never one to mince words or hide his feelings, so he’s a welcome addition to our Sludge Family!
To send Iann mail, demos or stuff you want reviewed, write to:
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