As another weekend approaches, the level of metalness in SLC will grow exponentially from last weekend’s local metal gigs and the Summer Slaughter Tour. Here’s a short preview and rundown of some massively good metal times to be had this week/weekend with some web-exclusive CD reviews, as well as some older concert-relevant reviews.
If your weekend starts on Thursday or if you just need a dose of brutality before the weekend, head on down to Burt’s Tiki Lounge and dig in to some porn-grind from the Meat Shits, death metal from Decomposition and local death metal wrecking crew The Obliterate Plague, whose original line-up will be together for the first time in six years. Also opening up the show is the local act Blessed of Sin. The brutal sounds are underway at 9 p.m. $10 at the door.
Friday night marks a rare occurrence for me, as I will be seeing a show comprised entirely of bands that I have not seen before. More importantly it’s a huge dosage of metal, more metal and god damned heavy metal. Exodus, Malevolent Creation, Bonded By Blood, Holy Grail and SLC’s Killbot will be wreaking havoc for the worthy and willing to bang their heads at Club Vegas. The show starts around 9 p.m. Tickets are available at The Heavy Metal Shop, via Killbot themselves, 24tix or Smith’s Tix and are $15.
One could debate the relevancy of the current incarnation of Exodus as compared to the Exodus of the 80s until the cows come home. The focal point should be that the band’s guitarist, Gary Holt, is a thrash legend, as is the band’s other mainstay drummer, Tom Hunting. I have my gripe about the validity of the “Big Four” shows that happened with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax— the first three bands’ influence to thrash metal and heavy metal in general are huge, but labeling Anthrax as part of the “big four” is up for debatable. I hear much more influence from Exodus in the new breed of thrash metal that’s crawling out of every scene’s orifices—hell, look at show support coming from newer thrash act Bonded by Blood, who took their band name from the classic Exodus album. In my cynical-ass opinion, Exodus has released many better albums than Anthrax. Yeah, Bonded by Blood is the uber Exodus classic, but I’m actually partial to Pleasures of the Flesh as far as older Exodus is concerned, and aside from the rather dull Atrocity Exhibition A: the year 2000 era Exodus is still awesome. I’m actually quite glad I don’t have to see Exodus as part of a big arena tour and I get to get my thrash fix up close and personal at a club show. The band just released their 10th studio album The Atrocity Exhibition B: The Human Condition—keep reading for a review at the end of this article.
Also posted in this entry and exclusive to the blog is my review of the killer new Malevolent Creation album Invidious Dominion. Malevolent Creation helped define the Florida death metal scene and helped define the sheer power of the American death metal. I’m easily just as excited to revel in some good old American death metal punishment as I am to see Exodus for the first time.
Also noteworthy as part of the Exodus tour package is straight up heavy metal band Holy Grail, which features ex-members of White Wizzard. The band will definitely be playing tunes you’ll only hear live, since they have only released Improper Burial, a four track EP which features two cover tunes. Based on the two original cuts from the EP, Holy Grail has promise to be much better than White Wizzard. If you’re a fan of the classic NWOBHM influenced stuff, you’ll dig what Holy Grail should deliver—it’ll be damned epic.
As for Bonded by Blood, it’s new thrash played in the old school vein. They don’t have much for memorable songs as of yet, but rumor has it that they do dish out a good show. Local openers Killbot won’t disappoint either. They have a recently released full-length, Welcome to the Cemetery, that shreds and is hotly unique to Salt Lake’s metal scene.
If you need to do further damage your hearing or just can’t get enough, a taste of the extreme will roll over Bar Deluxe on Sunday night with the Pentagrammation US tour. The show brings black metal from Belgium in the form of longstanding, 90s originating Enthroned, on the road supporting their latest record, Pentagrammation. Support comes from Australian black/thrash demolition masters Destroyer 666, who got their start releasing their raw, don’t-give-a-shit attitude tunes in the mid-90s. Then there’s Cali death metal band Pathology, who are out supporting their new album Legacy of the Ancients. Devastating and well-experienced local raw black metal band Iconoclast Contra, who just released a new album entitled Combat is the Voice of the Heathen, will open up the show.
If you want to keep getting bigger profile national metal tours, be sure to come out and support at least one of these maddening metal extravaganzas. I’ll be at both Exodus and Enthroned, and should be easy to spot because I’m sporting a goofy, un-metal Mohawk. Tune in next week for reviews of the aforementioned shows.
Brand new blog exclusive CD reviews:
Black ‘N’ Roll
Black River = Clutch + Monster Magnet + The Cult + The 69 Eyes (early)
Poland’s Black River is being billed as an “all-star” group, though it’s biggest star is Behemoth bassist Orion, and the runner up, so-to-say, is the current live drummer for Dimmu Borgir. Other members bands’ include Neolithic and Rootwater, neither of which have that much “all-star” quality. That stated, Black ‘N’ Roll, which really isn’t black n’ roll at all, is a fairly decent heavy metal/hard rock album. There are some memorable guitar moments that lead the way for the band’s punchy biker-rock style to root around and make the album sound like a rocking jam session. The vocals are an acquired taste, which, after repeated listens, I did not acquire. The singers’ accent stands through and on the majority of the tracks, which makes him sound goofily off or draws away from the distinctly American heavy metal/hard rock vibe. I can think of another super-group that tried doing this style and pulled it off better: Chrome Division. Black ‘N’ Roll is definitely a record to try before you buy. –Bryer Wharton
Into the Crypts of Blasphemy
Interment = Grave + Dismember + Demonical + Centinex
Avesta, Sweden’s Interment never cranked out a full-length when they started back in 1988. This new album probably was spawned purely due to good timing. Most of the members are from the now-defunct but longstanding Swedish death act Centinex, who resurrected the band and finally made an Interment full-length after their applauded 2007 split with Funebrarum. Thank the death metal gods that they did. Into the Crypts of Blasphemy is pure, nasty Swedish death metal, and very much feels like it could’ve been born in the heyday of the genre. not the revitalizaed Swedish death metal seen as of late. This isn’t even attempting to be a throwback album in any way—the production does contain that foul trademark chainsaw guitar tone made known to the world by Swedish death acts, but it’s also extremely well produced. It has a sonic semblance of smart bombs going off and has a full-on touch of freshness to it. If this record is better than the newest from Swedish stalwarts Grave & Unleashed that’s up for discussion, but it is a damn ripping good down n’ dirty 36 minutes of grizzled Swedish death. –Bryer Wharton
Malevolent Creation = Cannibal Corpse + Divine Empire + Monstrosity
There’s no denying the fact that Malevolent Creation are key players from the 90s Florida death metal scene, which entails it’s own maddening style among all that is trademarked as regional American death metal. The unfortunate fact is the band never really got the chance to break out of the underground like fellow Florida band Cannibal Corpse. Despite a few ho-hum albums and the usual line-up changes with 11 albums, they’ve stayed consistent in kicking ass with straight-up raw, speedy cranium-beating death metal. Invidious Dominion is rampant with thrash metal tempos and a good amount of death metal groove. What it lacks in memorable songwriting it makes up for in sheer brute force of straight-up death metal. It’s a nice refresher, because it feels as if almost every death metal band has the ethic of faster, heavier more brutal and overproducing to create that perfect brutal sound. The production effects are toned down massively from the over-produced and rather generic last album Doomsday X. The new record reminds me quite a bit of the death-thrash shredding on the band’s 2002 album The Will to Kill. The albums best quality is its updated take on 90s era American death metal—it’s raw, fast and a great break from all the gurgling, blast-beat ridden death metal that’s overtaken the trend now. –Bryer Wharton
Proghma-C = Tool + Candiria + Meshuggah + Alchemist
Albums that run over an hour in length rarely manage to keep my attention, whatever the genre. Proghma-C attempt and accomplish a lot with Bar-do Travel, but my attention while listening to the album does waver and drift, making the record the background noise and not my main mental priority. It’s hard to put a genre tag on the band, but I’m almost apt to call it alternative prog-metal. If you’re a fan of Tool but want some heavier edged riffing and vocals with even more mathy, polyrhythmic goodies, Proghma-C is a safe bet. There’s no real strong structure of flow to the album, which for my prog tastes is a bit of a letdown. Normally prog-metal albums try to explore a few themes, and this album would fit in that category, but there’s quite a bit of ambient experimentation intermingled amongst the core of the songwriting. Bar-do Travel is a challenging listen with abrupt heaviness, lots of improvised feeling playing and jazz-type tinkering. If you’re a Tool and Meshuggah fan, this should appease your appetite for something familiar yet distinctly different. –Bryer Wharton
Votum = Opeth + Porcupine Tree + Anathema
At the end of Polish prog-rock/metal six-piece’s sophomore album Metafiction, I find myself stuck in an indifferent state. The record isn’t a bad assortment of modernized prog tunes, and while it bears influences to the big prog-rock/metal acts, it also has its own niche. My indifference lies in the fact that after multiple listens, nothing quite stands out. While this is ultimately a pleasing listening experience with lots of mellow work, outstanding piano melodies and up-and-down guitarwork, the band should’ve played more heavy-riff moments. Metafiction is not something I’m really going to want to return to unless I just feel like mellowing out and going to sleep. While the lyrics are well written, the concept lies a bit dry with themes of isolation, desperation, love, and sanity. It just all pops with that “I’ve heard this before feeling,” namely in Porcupine Tree who have done it quite better. If you’re a fan of modern prog this is an inviting listen just don’t expect to draw more out of it after a few listens. –Bryer Wharton
Concert relevant re-posted reviews:
Exhibit B: The Human Condition
Exodus = Testament + Metallica + Slayer
Thanks to the Metal Gods, Exodus’s Exhibit B is far more enjoyable as compared to 2007’s The Atrocity Exhibition … Exhibit A, which was horrifyingly awful, boring and way too long. The production on Exhibit B enjoys some perks that thrashers can enjoy, like a meaty yet raw guitar tone (almost German thrash-styled) that has a great shredding value, and a nice, audible bass guitar sound. The songwriting also endures, with plenty of all-out speed/thrash metal glories or slow-wound opening grooves. However, while this album is far better than its predecessor, it is still flawed. The songs are still too long—the band should’ve taken the short and sweet approach, because listeners can easily tire of Exhibit B after time. The guitar soloing is also mostly rather stale. Also, the vocals are painfully uninspired and downright annoying. In the end, though, I’ll take this album for what it is rather than have no Exodus album at all. –Bryer Wharton
Shove Headed Tour Machine (Live At Wacken And Other Atrocities)
Exodus = Metallica + Dark Angel + D.R.I. + Destruction
I’ve never really sought out purchasing “best of” albums because if it’s a band I enjoy, I already have most of their albums, along with the sometimes obligatory live album. With this latest live offering, you get what Exodus sounds like now from some newer tracks, as compared to the old-school-sounding Exodus from thrash’s glory days. The production is clean and clear, sometimes to the point you forget it’s a live recording. The only time you can tell it’s live is when the singer screams at the fans to mosh and go crazy. The end result feels like a strictly Exodus fan affair. The downside is that there really isn’t anything on this record that Exodus hasn’t already shown us. –Bryer Wharton
Enthroned = Battle Dagorath + Watain
For almost 20 years, Enthroned have been spreading their brand of black-metal poison throughout the earth and have garnered a fair amount of reverence among their fans for their continual consistency. Pentagrammaton is a great example of modern black metal which still holds true to its roots and influences but doesn’t make it painfully obvious, which is a sure sign of a respectable veteran band. Each time I listen to this album, it goes by quickly enough that I find myself looking forward to starting it over again once the paced intro of the final track begins to play. The best part about this band for me is the drumming, which doesn’t exactly go out of its way to be flashy, but still instead brings out the best in the guitar writing by ensuring that each transition and bridge stays tight and aggressive and doesn’t deviate off into questionably wank territory. The reverence previously mentioned is much deserved. –Conor Dow