This week’s blog features exclusive reviews of new albums from Ulcerate, Abysmal Dawn, Psycho and Tuck From Hell. Also featured is a rundown of this week’s metal happenings and a link to hear the latest from experimental/drone/doom favorites Earth.
NPR is hosting a free full album stream of the Earth’s new album Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1, out Feb. 22 on Southern Lord records. The constantly evolving band offers a great and hefty work of fully instrumental songs. Fans of the band or those willing to go outside the realms of what is considered “metal” into territories of drone and progressive music should check it out. The album stream will be available until February 7, and you can listen here: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/30/133245988/first-listen-earth-angels-of-darkness-demons-of-light-1?sc=tw&cc=share
On Friday night, Of What May Come, Reaction Effect, Dethrone the Sovereign and Red Locust play Club Vegas (21+). $5 gets you in, tunes underway around 8 p.m.
Next Thursday, Feb. 10 the Urban Lounge hosts Led Zeppelin 2 “The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute Band.” Led Zeppelin 2 features Bruce Lamont, who is the frontman of notable prog/avant metal crew Yakuza and a collaborating artist on many forward-thinking heavy musical endeavors. Lamont also recently released the solo recording “Feral Songs for the Epic Deadline” on At A Loss Recordings. Advance tickets are $10.
Blog Exclusive CD Reviews
The Destroyers of All
Ulcerate = Immolation + Morbid Angel + Anata + Portal
Your standard death metal is all well and good, but bands like Ulcerate are needed as extreme metal evolves constantly—Bands that have the ability to look forward instead of back are few and far between. New Zealand’s Ulcerate’s third full-length album The Destroyers of All offers up a musical experience that doesn’t feel like a rehashing of the classic death metal greats. The guitar tone alone on the album is toxic. I reviewed the bands 2008 album Everything is Fire and reckoned the guitar tone sounded like “napalm-fueled… if you could touch the riffs, they would instantly incinerate your fingers.” That statement still stands and then some. Ulcerate’s Destroyers of All doesn’t lull you with grooves to latch onto or use grunting and growling vocals to cause any sort of pattern, but each song on the album lunges you further into the blazing and apocalyptic fires that lie in each Ulcerate track. One could claim they sound a bit like a slowed down version of Immolation, but it almost feels as if some post-metal influences crept their way into Ulcerate’s sound this time around. The music manages to stay relatively slowly paced, but it plays out in a wall of sound fashion. There is little pause or space between riffing—the guitars buzz and pulsate in a layered fashion to create an album that not only gives listeners something new to hear with each listen, but a death metal album unlike any other. –Bryer Wharton
Leveling the Plane of Existence
Abysmal Dawn = Malevolent Creation + Morbid Angel + Decapitated
Los Angeles-based Abysmal Dawn don’t bring much to the plate as far as new death metal deviations. Aside from some tech styling and more machine-like drumming, they sound a bit like Decapitated. This is straight-up, mid-paced, groove-blasting-oriented death metal with standard cookie-monster vocals that become tiring fairly quickly. I had only heard whispers of the band prior to indulging in this new album, since the whispers were never enough to make me want to run to the store and snag any of their albums. If you like death metal, mainly American styled with terrific production (mastered at the hands of not surprisingly Erik Rutan), Leveling the Plane of Existence is a safe bet. “Perpetual Dormancy” is the standout track of the album offering diverse tempos, some nicely layered instrumentation and refreshing songwriting as compared to some of the other almost filler-like tracks. It also features some fantastic soloing with a bit of help from Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun and Kragen Lum of Heathen and Prototype. The album ultimately isn’t any form of terrible—there’s great value to be found in some of the guitar solos—but it definitely depends on a certain mood for full enjoyment. When that mood isn’t present, monotony can set in. –Bryer Wharton
Pain Addict Pigs
Psycho = Incubus (the metal band) + Bathory + Sarcofago
I get pretty harsh on the retro-any-type-of-metal scenes quite a bit. One thing I have noticed is the fact that most of the culprits of retro-trash are American bands—Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Bonded By Blood, the list goes on. The point is, I’ve come across many bands from all corners of the globe that wear their influences proudly, most likely on back patches adorning their jackets. Singapore’s Psycho are an exception to the fact that anything retro is garbage. Why the exception? Psycho aren’t pretending to be any other band. They incorporate all their influences with ease and have an album here that sounds like it could’ve come straight from ‘86. Psycho’s name fits them and the music dished out on these 9 tracks clocking in at a bit over thirty minutes. Black, death, thrash and just flat out heavy metal assault every sense. The vocals, death growls and black metal scowls build off one another, setting up maddening tempo changes from thrash assaults to death metal pummeling and blast beats to some tremolo scrapings and plenty of howling to hell and back guitar soloing. Moribund usually knows how to pick them, and they gave Psycho, a relative unknown, a chance—so should you. –Bryer Wharton
Tuck From Hell
Tuck From Hell = Metallica + Evile + Testament
The UK’s Tuck From Hell offer no gimmick, no frills thrash, but it’s basically Testament and Metallica worship. I fully admit bias to the whole retro-thrash scene, especially when the supposed “new” band offers absolutely nothing new in any way shape or form. Tuck From Hell take it a bit too far—the vocalist sounds like a straight cross of classic James Hetfield and Chuck Billy, then there’s title of their album Thrashing—like there were no other possible album titles that they could’ve come up with. At least tease the audience and make them think they’re getting something more than dime-a-dozen, rehashed thrash metal riffing. Everything about this is cookie cutter and ultimately a definitive reason as to what is completely wrong with the “retro” metal scene. If you need some not-so-rehashed thrash, go pick up the new Destruction, or if you’re in the American mood, snag the new Forbidden and steer far clear of this pile of your dad’s left over beer bottles. –Bryer Wharton