My review queue has a wealth of quality live DVDs, CDs and “Best of” albums, all of which are reviewed here for your reading pleasure continuing the theme of last week’s blog featuring reviews of re-issued and re-mastered albums. Live albums, concert/documentary DVDs and best of collections can be fun, but sometimes you get a stinkpot live production or a not so “best of” collection. Here’s my attempt to weed the good from the bad, but in all honesty most of this stuff is killer material for fans of the bands. Also included, as usual, is a rundown of upcoming shows and some blog exclusive Grind CD reviews!
On Friday night, December 3rd, California’s black/death/thrash metal crew Unholy Lust, supporting their latest album Taste the Sin through the Fire, will headline an awesome night of underground extreme metal with Depths of Misery and locals Xolotl and Winterlore at the South Shore Sports Bar & Grill, 2827 S. State. $7 gets you in, tunes get underway around 8 p.m.
On Saturday Dec. 4, Burt’s Tiki Lounge (726 S. State) hosts some stellar tunes from Relapse Records artists Cough, who just released the terrific album Ritual Abuse. Labelmates, Elitist will perform with Salt Lake City’s Subrosa, who recently signed with Profound Lore Records. $7 gets you in the door, tunes underway around 9:30 p.m.
Also Saturday night, Salt Lake City’s Separation of Self will play their farewell show at Club Vegas (445 S. 400 W.) with SLC’s Cave of Roses playing their first show in months if not years along with Massacre at the Wake and Deny Your Faith. $7 gets you in to see SoS say goodbye, tunes underway at 8 p.m.
On December 8th, I have word from the band and their label that they’re playing in Salt Lake, even though it hasn’t been promoted locally and I can’t find anywhere to purchase tickets. Nuclear Blast Records’ melodic-tech-death crew Arsis are set to headline at the Complex (536 W. 100 S.) with video-game “8-bit” guitar shredders Powerglove, who just released their tribute to Saturday morning cartoons, Saturday Morning Apocalypse. Opening the show is Sumerian Records’ Conducting from the Grave. Again, the show is Wednesday, December 8th at the Complex. As for ticket prices I can’t find any, but I suggest calling local ticket providers to see if they’re selling them, and keep vigilant on the net to make sure this is happening.
This is not a Threat, it's a Promise
Agathocles = Repulsion + Discharge + Doom + Terrorizer + Napalm Death
Holy crapload of releases Batman! I’m not even going to attempt to count all the splits, EP’s, full-lengths and other goodies from Belgium’s Agathocles. The band has been grinding at the grind for 25 years and they have more releases than any anal-retentive record collector could attempt to acquire. The question is, does the quantity take away from the quality? I have no idea or point of comparison since this is the first I’ve actually heard of the band, but honestly I don’t really give a shit. All that maters is the here and now, and this album’s got all that grind has to offer. There’s tons of groove, crust-punk-fueled breakdowns, guitar solos, multiple vocal attacks, buzz saw blasting, the kitchen sink filled with bloody glass from bar brawls, ladies at Wal-Mart wearing sweatpants—this has everything. It’s a mighty pleasing buffet of sounds otherwise not so pleasant or happy. Crystalline clear production can be good and all, but this grinds at your eardrums like a two-year old with a dirty diaper running a rusty butter knife down the sidewalk. This just earned a top spot in my grind listening rotation. Antwerp, Belgium is known for diamonds—Agathocles is a diamond in the rough of grind, and I want more! –Bryer Wharton
Kill the Client
Set for Extinction
Kill the Client = Napalm Death + Nasum + Extreme Noise Terror + Phobia
You hear that? It’s the sound of violence blinking—or maybe it’s Kill the Client’s third full-length album. Either way they’re both pretty damn vicious. Set for Extinction firmly reminds me of the British grindcore style. There are some stylistic nods to the mighty Napalm Death, but it’s the outright blasting Napalm Death style. Kill the Client aren’t out to reinvent any notion of grindcore, and I’m damn fine with that. The band is definitely intent on blasting the hell out of their instruments and vocal chords and there’s not much grooving or really any distinguishable guitar riffs. The guitar seems more like a noise addition to the album whereas the bass and drums play the more decipherable and potent role. I’d love to know the average BPM of this record—it’s about 26 minutes in length, but once you spin it, it feels much more like it’s over in like five minutes. This is straight up, no frills grindcore with emphasis on being violent and pissed off instead of standing out. It’s meant to be blasted as one piece of music like most grind should be. It’s fully safe to say that if you’re a grind-head, Set for Extinction is one to look into. –Bryer Wharton
Wojczech = Carcass + Excruciating Terror + Discordance Axis
Germany’s Wojczech have been kicking out the grinds since 1995, but in true grind fashion it took the band 10 years to actually release a full-length album by way of 2005’s Sedimente. After plenty of blasts from Pulsus Letalis, the band’s second full-length, I’m going to promptly hunt down that first album somehow. The mixing and mastering from Harris Johns (Coroner, Kreator, Voivod and Pestilence) of this is powerfully heavy and just damned grand—it adds a refreshing and highly metallic touch to what could’ve been a semi-standardly produced grind record. The guitars are congealed and clotted, bloody sounding with plenty of razor sharp leads and soloing which sounds like it could be coming from two guitarists but actually comes from just one fellow. There are dual vocalists, one I’m guessing is the more death gurgling guy and the other the scowling screaming type. It’s all very appropriate attire for the record. This album is a great hit as a whole, as are some individual tracks like “Battlestar,” “Izotope,” the album’s title track and “Klonkrieger.” Wojczech do a great job at mixing up death, classic crusty grind, and punk fueled grind. There may be lots of grind bands and releases that came out this year, but don’t let this be one you missed. –Bryer Wharton
Live DVDs, CDs and Best-Ofs:
At Vance = a big old offering of sugary to stellar German power metal
Decade is pretty self explanatory,—I mean come on, if you’re going to do a “best of” album at least give it a cool name. At Vance, you’re an ultra cheesy power metal band that’s released eight albums in 10 years—you’ve got to have a ton of ideas. Maybe this offering is more of a record label controlled thing than a band thing, but who knows. One could argue about the best tracks of At Vance, but I’m not one of them because I’ve only heard songs here and there from the band, mostly their silly ABBA cover tunes. This is actually is a good double disc offering if you’re not too familiar with the band. Die-hards will most likely already know the material, but for a newcomer, it showcases the band’s styles from their earlier neo-classical fast guitar and vastly different vocal style to the current more standard melodic and crunchy/catchy guitar-based German power metal sound. This is, as advertised, a summation of At Vance’s decade of musical works, plus a second disk with B-sides and cover tunes, including three ABBA covers, which leads me to think At Vance have a secret (or maybe not so secret) love for disco. For good measure there’s also a Deep Purple cover as well as an Eagles cover and a silly Survivor cover of “Eye of the Tiger.” Covers are all fine and good to an extent, but the real wealth of the second disc is the nine instrumental reinterpretations of classical music pieces—it’s a great display of playing prowess from the band and a great change of pace from the album’s silliness and cheese factor. –Bryer Wharton
Heaven & Hell
Neon Nights: Live in Europe
Heaven & Hell = the last official live recording of the classic Black Sabbath line-up fronted by Ronnie James Dio
I think it was quite wise of Dio-era Black Sabbath to rename this incarnation of the band Heaven & Hell. When the vast majority of people think of Black Sabbath they think of Ozzy—the band actually decided to call themselves Heaven & Hell out of respect for the Ozzy Osbourne era of Sabbath. The majority of songs included in this live release are considered “Black Sabbath” songs, aside from “Fear” and “Bible Black,” which were part of the only original full-length album the band released under the name Heaven & Hell. The line-up here is classic and highly regarded, portrayed on the cover of the CD in marquee fashion: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice. As far as live recordings go, this is top notch, as the crowd noise and sound clarity go hand in hand. It has that feel that every live record should. It feels like you’re sitting in the audience experiencing the performance first hand. The song selection here is rad, with an almost 18 minute version of “Heaven & Hell.” Dio’s performance throughout is staggering, but for me it hits a note of extreme awesomeness on “I.” The concert recorded for this live CD is also available in a DVD package with a couple extra tracks and interviews with all band members. A good hunk of the same material was covered on the original Heaven & Hell release Live From Radio City Music Hall, but this release contains a few tracks that weren’t part of that release and it’s shorter one-disc format, making it more accessible to fans of every sort. –Bryer Wharton
The Seventh Date of Blashyrkh: Live at Wacken 2007
This DVD/CD combo could be considered bare bones, since it only consists of Immortal’s 2007 reunion performance at Wacken Open Air in Germany. There have been some ho-hum semi-official Immortal concert performance videos prior to this release, but this is the first official pro-shot show. The track/set list is stellar—including tracks from every Immortal album except Blizzard Beasts and of course All Shall Fall, which was released a few years after this concert even took place. The production sound and visual quality is stunning enough to capture Abbath’s fire spewing. It seems a bit silly to have three dudes trouncing the huge Wacken stagem but the small number of band members doesn’t detract from their mighty sound. The small amount of pyro and explosions included in the show seem out of character for the band, and ultimately like an afterthought—something added just to give the Wacken audience some flair to the tunes. The line-up for the show is fairly solid including original member Abbath, a black metal icon and the only voice for Immortal, longtime drummer Horgh and relative newcomer bassist Apollyon. If you’re strictly a fan of pre-At the Heart of Winter Immortal, this won’t strike your fancy much. It includes older songs, but they’re played in the vein of the current Immortal sound. This is a sure bet for all around fans of the band that like to watch recorded performances and want to have a suitable live album from the always-epic Norwegian black metal legend that is Immortal. –Bryer Wharton
Live At Roadburn 2007
Neurosis = the masters of post-metal
Neurosis has quite the collection of live album releases and this latest offering of the band’s headlining 2007 performance in Tilburg, Holland at the Roadburn Festival is heavily focused on the last few records. Four of the disc’s nine tracks are from the band’s last full-length album Given to the Rising, which admittedly I hadn’t listened too that much. I can say I really appreciate the live versions of the songs from said album more than the recorded versions. “At the End of the Road” is easily the album highlight. Although the crowd noise is minimal, the album has a slight echoing clank to it and some subtle nuances that let you know this isn’t the band on studio record. Live at Roadburn 2007 is not only a great sampling of Neurosis’ more recent works, but an astounding and harrowing live entity of its own, something that fans of the band and fans of post-metal in general can get plenty of long-time enjoyment from. –Bryer Wharton
Lords of Depravity: Part II
Sodom = all any Sodom fan ever really needs to know about the later career of the band + a kick ass concert
Band documentary DVDs are generally a fan only indulgence, but if you’re a fair-weather fan or newcomer, Sodom’s Lords of Depravity: Part 2’s first disc contains a 200 minute documentary chronicling the legendary German thrash band’s career from 1995 through 2007. It is a massive undertaking to take in during a single sitting even if you speak German (the documentary is completely subtitled for us American folks). I’d gamble and say it’s a more interesting watch than Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster—at least Sodom were about persevering and continuing in the name of thrash throughout the 90s and early 2000s. In short, you won’t find any whiny rock stars included in this. If the documentary wasn’t enough, there’s also a live DVD of the bands 25th anniversary show in 2007 at Wacken. The song selection for the concert is quite wicked, though the sound recording isn’t what I’d like it to be. It’s a bit too perfect, most likely a soundboard recording. When the music’s playing, the mix between Sodom’s three players is strong and clear, but the crowd and stage noise (which would come from the flames shooting from the stage) are absent. You can only hear the crowd in between songs. The absence of crowd noise and sound quality that is a bit to pure for a live show may give me a disconnect from feeling like I was part of the show experience. There are plenty of crowd shots though—showing what I’m fairly accustomed to in other live footage from Wacken—a statuesque crowd surging, headbanging, moshing and crowd surfing. Regardless, there’s plenty worse live audio/visual recordings out there and this two DVD set offers a hell of a lot of metal from the mighty Sodom for a not-so-hell-of a big price. –Bryer Wharton
The Best of a Decade
UFO = a classic rock/metal band with many glorious incarnations
The premise here is simple. UFO’s The Best of a Decade is a compilation album of “best of” picks from the last decade of UFO’s career. UFO have always been on the fence of rock and heavy metal. This album is mostly just rocking, which I have no complaint with. It features UFO mainstay’s Phil Mogg, Vinnie Moore and Andy Parker, which is a good thing. If you’re a die-hard UFO fan or collector, this compilation is pretty useless, but that’s an issue with any “best of” compilation—most hard-core fans already own what’s being released on these albums. If you’re a fair-weather fan and have missed the last decade of what UFO have had to offer, this is a safe summation of the best songs they have released in the last decade. It could also be a precursor for fans of the classic UFO goods who haven’t heard what the band has done lately to check the (relatively) new-ish stuff. This isn’t by any means an essential compilation to own—there’s no exclusive tracks—but it’s cheaper than buying everything they’ve released in the last ten years. –Bryer Wharton
While Heaven Wept
Triumph:Tragedy:Transcendence – Live At The Hammer Of Doom Festival
Cruz Del Sur Records
While Heaven Wept = epic as all hell power doom metal
In the realm of doom metal bands, While Heaven Wept is not average. I’d say maybe one point of comparison would be Solitude Aeturnus, but they are still vastly different than most of the doom fare that exists in the metal world. The music has its gloomy side, but there’s also a large hopeful feeling to the music. The band’s grandiose song structures and astounding guitar melodies/harmonies are coupled with some vastly heavy riffing and vocals that feel more classic metal than doom. This live recording also can be purchased as a DVD, which comes with band interviews and an extra encore track. The live audio recording is everything I ask for when it comes to a live album: if you sit and close your eyes or just fully focus on the music playing you’ll feel like you’re actually part of the audience. The instruments and vocals have an echoing effect, but not too far gone to sacrifice any sort of sound quality whether you’re listening on a surround sound system or just a boom-box. The crowd noise is consistent—it just exudes that live feeling that so many bands try to capture. The track-list consists of songs from each of the band’s releases, which is good for newcomers to get a sampling of the bands music, but the quality and continuity of the songs sound will also appeal to die-hard fans. –Bryer Wharton