Monday, July 15, 2013

One last chance: Amon Amarth, Darkane and several other reviews

Amon Amarth, Darkane and several other reviews.
Ok, so, here is the last batch of reviews from Metal Bulletin Zine issue number 36.
Soon I will post reviews and interviews for issue number 37, but I thought that--in case you missed these albums--you might find at least some of them to be to your liking. Some of these bands are famous like Amon Amarth, others are wild punks like Full of Hell, and others elegant like Trail of Tears, and still other just plain bananas like Shining.
Read on, and hunt some of these down! Some of the albums have are just releasing now.
Full of Hell (U.S.): “Rudiments of Mutilation”
I have to tell you that Full of Hell’s music is for those into annoyingly brilliant noisy grind punk doom sludge whatever. The songs range from total grind blazing speed to very slow spacey sludge doom, with a strong tendency to make a lot of noise. A lot.
If you don’t like bands that cross genre boundaries, then you won’t like this. If you genuinely love noisy stuff, and you don’t get frustrated that one song sounds like grind, and another is a crawling, snail’s pace number, then this is for you.
Categories, limits and rules all mean exactly jack squat to Full of Hell. It’s crazy, bipolar, dichotomous music.
Mumakil (Switzerland): “Flies Will Starve”
There is never, ever a bad day for all-out grind! Mumakil proves that the millions (and millions!), and millions (and millions!) of grind fans need blasting. Fast is headed your way right here! 24 songs in about 36 minutes, and only one song reaches the 2-minute mark. Yes! Mumakil is the type of music that you put on, and get your hearing wrecked in a whirlwind of blasting and growling, and then they are gone. Done. Yes!
Great, that’s the efficient way. Don’t waste my time, just get to the grind, play the grind, play fast, really fast, scream, yell, growl and grunt and lose your mind. I love it. Never too much blasting. Can you smell what Mumakil is cooking?! It’s a spicy dish of no-nonsense grind, served on a hot plate of sarcasm and anger, with a tall glass of talk-smack lyrics. With a thick, modern production, not a garage-style sound. If you like to-the-point, old-style, drill-and-blast, nothing-but-grind grind, then invite Mumakil to your house. Not for schmucks.
heavy metal (traditional)
Attic (Germany): “The Invocation”
Attic signed a contract with the evil powers, and it is a one-sentence contract, as follows (yes, I receive copies):
“Attic is hereby granted their wish to sound, as much as demonically possible, like Mercyful Fate 1981-1985, and in return they agree to surrender their soul to me [you know who] and to spend eternity in my lake of fire.”
Anyway, yes, yes, the song titles, the singing (even down to the laugh), and everything is meant as a huge tribute to Mercyful Fate.
How much do you love classic Mercyful Fate?! Well, that’s nothing. Attic loves Mercyful Fate more!
Everybody interested in all things MF/King Diamond, here’s a band to keep you entertained.
melodic/growl metal
Amon Amarth (Sweden): “Deceiver of the Gods”
Amon Amarth. This model of consistency, reliability and quality will once again satisfy the metalheads. Overall, the galloping riffs and the melodic hooks/solos illustrate why this band has never disappointed me. From the looks of it, those into them will also be pleased. The vocals are gruff, as always, but easy to growl along to. The drums sound perhaps a bit faster, with excellent segments of double-bass where it’s needed.
Most importantly, you can bang your head like nobody’s business. The band has mastered the art of headbanging, memorable melodic/growl metal. Put it on your “to get” list because it has everything that Amon Amarth listeners like: quality songwriting, catchy melodies, uptempo/galloping riffs, and a great sense of how to get you moving.
Throughout nine albums the band has gradually changed from a death metal band to uptempo and memorable growl metal, while adding some heavy metal catchiness. Formed in 1992, it’s like Amon Amarth has studied the history of legendary metal bands, has avoided those huge missteps that alienate their listeners, while getting bigger each time.
Darkane (Sweden): “The Sinister Supremacy”
Quality. Experience. High Standard. Perseverance. Darkane.
Darkane is modern metal incarnate, in a positive way, that only experienced, tested veterans can be. What doesn’t Darkane have expertise in?! There’s enough of everything for everyone here. Whether it’s huge thrashing guitar work, melodic hooks and solos, in-your-face heaviness, energetic/aggressive vocals, singing, and well-arranged songs, it doesn’t matter, they deliver a coherent, smooth impact.
Clearly, the matter of coherence is key. Darkane finds ways to unite different components in one single, unified sound.
Sometimes, Darkane goes into total thrash mode, where the pace dictates joining in, or getting out of the way. Just join in, as in “Humanity Defined,” where the thrashing, galloping tempo takes over, while allowing breathing room for a bit of melodic soloing.
This same Darkane vibe and sound, somehow manages, in places, to sound more death metal-ish on “The Decline,” yet it sounds very much like Darkane. Mainly, it is because Darkane does not stay in a box, and just cuts across different genre lines.
They even manage to surprise with the unexpected “Hate Repentance State,” not a full-on thrash attack, but the opposite, a mellow, melodic ditty that seems to appear out of the blue. Recommended for followers of bands that are concerned with good songs, and not so much the name of the genre. “Thrashing, melodic growl metal”?
Here’s an interesting fact for the Darkane followers. Do you remember their debut 1999 album “Rusted Angel”? Or have you heard it? Lawrence Mackrory did vocals on that album and he disappeared from Darkane’s history as “that guy” from the first album. “That guy,” surprise, surprise is “Larry Lethal” from silly thrashers Freddy Krueger’s Ünderwear (FKÜ) and now is back in Darkane. Such is the cycle of life.
Trail of Tears (Norway): “Oscillation”
Many, many, many great news about “Oscilllation” by Trail of Tears. There is also some bad, bad news, but it’s not even bad news about this album. More on that in a second.
In terms of style, Trail of Tears represents the dichotomy of elegant, lush symphonic/melodic/melancholic/pop/catchy sensibilities with heavy/growl/headbanging metal. On this album, they master their craft impeccably and beautifully. It is certainly the one that I have enjoyed the most since their debut in 1998, “Disclosure in Red.” It would be easy to go into great detail, but for the sake of brevity, I will tell you about one thing that really, really, really steals the show here: the singing by Catherine Paulsen. What can’t she do?! What a talent. She knocks it out of the park on this one. Excellent way to carry melodies, passionate singing, with a variety of voices, from intense high, air-raid siren acrobatics to soprano gymnastics, to midrange singing.
Anyway, I won’t bother you with more details. The songs by Trail of Tears = excellence in their style. Ah, yes, the bad news, eh? Trail of Tears has disbanded! So, this is it. No more Trail of Tears. Reunion, anyone?
prog (traditional)
Scale the Summit (U.S.): “The Migration”
An instrumental prog band like Scale the Summit comprises a different listening experience from most metal because the listener can hear everything well, without the screaming/growling (and special effects) and without other things to distract from the music (sound compression, constant blasting, etc.). Instead of a barrage of noise, Scale the Summit endeavors in a fluidity of sound, flowing notes/solos that ease their way through the songs.
Guitar, bass, drums, and good songs. Kind of rocking at times, but in a mellow-proggy way. The sound of music, just the instruments. Highly recommended if you want something musically accomplished, but that still has songs to get into. It’s not show-off stuff, but a good balance of music for musicians and music for intelligent listeners. Guitar enthusiasts, this could be for you!
weird experimental
Shining (Norway): “One One One”
Shining celebrates a carnival of clashing traditions of sounds with their “blackjazz”: industrial jazz saxophone mosh scream electronica paranormal postfreaky metal rock.
Shining hovers-un/covers their art with highly annoying, teeth gnashing, nails-on-chalkboard idiot savant majestic beauty brain snaps for the mentally rearranged puzzles in an epidemic maze of purposeful confusion mis/re/un/directed at mindcluster eccentricity.
This makes all orthodox/traditional/impatient listeners reach for a new pair of clean diapers. That’s right, come and get it. Brain melt function mode on.
Grab a paper bag. Hyperventilate.

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