Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thrust - "Invitation to Insanity"

WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT.  Even the slightest semblance of Fist Held High or '80s metal here would have satisfied my meager expectations.  There should have been more advance warning of the content here--such as a wiggerized front cover or a shitty modernized logo.  The first indicator of something wrong was the band photo:

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER.   The rhythm section look like disgruntled bikers, but then there's the nose-bolted and knit capped singer, who looks like he would fit better in an industrial or alternative band.

The one slightly positive thing I can say about the CD is that it was not awful in the way I was expecting, which was Pantera emulation nonsense like Omen's Reopening the Gates.  The riffing is groovy, but rather than angsty chugging, they seem to be attempts to be hooky.  Everything is quite mellow, there's some power balladish stuff, the production favors the vocals and drums, and there's a dearth of speed.  A significant chunk of the disc sounds more like '90s hard rock than actual metal. Remember, this is the band who titled a song "Posers Will Die!" and whose debut revelled in heavy metal cliche (fantastically so, I might add).  Despite my complaints about his appearance, the singer isn't an Anselloutmo clone, instead sounding like a mix of John Bush and old Chuck Billy.  If only he had better material to sing over.

Even though everyone from the album except Mr. Boltnose is still in the current lineup, I noticed that on the band's official website, Invitation to Insanity isn't mentioned at all in the bio or discography (which even lists The Best of Metal Blade Vol. 1!).  While disavowing this album is a sensible move, it's also pretty corny and Pantera-like to whitewash the band history.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Chinese metal - Dying Legion releases

Tractor/Skullcrusher - Sexy Big Butt/Machine Gun split

Tractor - Sexy Big Butt
Based on exhaustive research consisting of watching nude scenes in Chinese kung-fu and action flicks, sexy big butts appear to be a rare and valuable commodity in China, much like high quality manufactured goods designed to last.  Motörhead is the obvious influence here.  That said, I liked the fastest songs--"Flying V Girl" and "Sexy Big Butt" the best for their punkish speed, and they're the least Motörheadish.  The vocals are sometimes strained in the attempt for a more Lemmy-like delivery (sorry, not even close--the vocalist is just too high and accented).

Skullcrusher - Machine Gun
Gruff, heavily accented Engrish vocals here--very reminiscent of Japanese thrash or HC.
  • "Death of A.B.L." - "A.B.L." is apparently supposed to be Osama bin Laden.  Fucking killer Hellhammer "Messiah" worshipping main riff!
  • "Machine Gun" - They switch to typical faster paced thrash here.  Not bad, but ordinary sounding compared to their first song.
  • "Nuclear Threat" - This has the Hellhammerish tone, but takes a more galloping approach.  Reminds me a bit of "Captor of Sin" in some parts.   Vocals switch to oddly-catchy crooning during the chorus. 
  • "Die by the Sword" (rehearsal) - Amateurish and killed by the weak vocals. 

Spoiler alert! Skullcrusher are the best band of this entire post, despite atrociously covering one of the greatest metal songs ever.

The Metaphor/Sudden Evil - Evil Rulz as Snake split

The Metaphor - Evil Rulz
The description promised black/thrash.  Uh, sort of...
  • "Horror Attack" - Mostly generic black metal.  There are short thrash sections that are underutilized, which are of course the most interesting.
  • "Devils in Human-Skin" - Like a lo-fi, dirty version of '90s Slayer with BM vocals.
  • "Evil Rulz" - Black metal overall--I guess there's a recurring riff that's pretty thrashy, although not enough to really push it into black/thrash territory.
  • "Black Thrash" - After the intro, there's a mid-paced Slayeresque section which then segues into what the songtitle promises.  The speed and ferocity here make it stand out positively compared to their other originals.
  • "Darkness Descends" cover (live) - Ambitious choice.  Hard to tell with the so-so sound quality, but it seems like a faithful, well-done rendition.
Sudden Evil - As Snake
Sudden Evil's black/thrash is thrashier and generally more interesting riff-wise than The Metaphor's side.  Depending on the song, the main vocals range between some kind of raspy talk-singing and raspy moaning; although unconventional, I preferred it to the more standard BM secondary vox used a few times.  There are a couple (including right off the bat) unexpected Araya/Schmier high screams, but they're not strong enough to take seriously, and not numerous enough to provide tongue-in-cheek OTTness. 

The "Pleasure to Kill" cover might have bordered on being a passable one-man-band version, but the vocals make it comically awful.  The vox are a lethargic moaning--this guy is an evil Chinese version of Rodney Dunsmore!   When it got to the slow middle section and I heard "I return to the cemetery," I imagined a retarded kid singing Kreator in that gimp semi-whisper and I lost it completely.

The Metaphor - Strike Back
2010 live CD.  Compared to the split, they seem to have dropped the black metal (except for the harsh vocals) and opted for a more streamlined violent thrash sound.  Definitely a wise decision.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tales of the Unexpected

Farcry - Slaves of Chaos
This was listed simply as "thrash" on a distro clearance list--a very confounding oversimplification that prompted me to give it a try.  Fairly technical, groovy modern thrash with quite a lot of death metal influence at times--some parts sound like they cross into death/thrash (NOT in the classic sense) territory, but not enough where the album as a whole can be classified as such.  Even the more straightforward parts are too uninteresting and modern for a quick thrash fix, and the vocals are an unfortunate forced style evocative of metalcore.  There are some progressive interludes and the bassist does a few jazzy runs, but in this context, they seem less like nice progressive flourishes and more like routine attempts to inject monotony-breakers into the music.

Meatslab - Slaughter of the Human Pig
Here we have a perplexing fundamental disconnect.  The band name, title, and cover artwork heavily suggest gore- or death/grind.  Certainly what I expected.  Not a trace of death metal or grind here.  Internet sites classify them as death/thrash.  Nope.  The band's own hyperbolic, cliché-ridden bio ( paints them as old-school thrash.  Laughable.  They play that awful '90s style of baggy pants and wallet chain groove/"thrash," which sounds dangerously similar to modern metalcore due to the groove sections and ultra-forced vocals.  Imagine a band of individuals with only casual metal knowledge attempting to emulate Chaos A.D. musically and Phil Anselmo vocally, and you get the idea. 

Nefasto - Exterminador
Musically this doesn't deserve to be lumped in with the previous two modern metal turds, but it was quite different from what the plain "thrash" descriptor had me expecting.  About as punkish as thrash can get before not calling it crossover is deceitful.  Main letdown for me is the vocals, which are a gruff HC/crust style.  Not exactly the South American thrash experience I was hoping for, but that's not the band's fault.  Cover reminds me of a mutant commando version of the shyster from the Jew memes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Since this is a Pulverised release, let me stress how glad I am the super jewel box never really took off except with them, Spinefarm, and Peaceville.  I don't think reinforcing jewel case hinges so they don't break as easily is worth the inferior changes in design that were made.  Who really needs spines on all four edges?  I've seen lots of cracked super jewel boxes, so they don't seem particularly sturdier.  The worst aspect is having to flex the booklet in order to get it out.  The one thing I genuinely like is the locking mechanism on the case--in case you are a plastic manufacturing magnate and happen to read this post, please put these locking mechanisms in high quality regular jewel cases and I'll buy thousands of them from you.

This has somewhat of a modern The Haunted vibe to it, which is strange considering Patrick Jensen has long been out of the band.  It's a more straightforward album, so in that sense I would say it's stylically closer to Fornever Laid..., though it's not as brutal and American DM influenced. Respectable output but didn't excite me (a Morgue, Total Death, or Orchriste CD reissue would, though).

I'm neutral.  This was a 2006 album, so going in expecting anything remotely like Illusions is a level of optimism that crosses into retarded.  The more modern mid-paced chug stuff is uninteresting, but they're hardly the worst offenders.  Every couple of songs they throw in a fast, straightforward thrash riff, as if to make things more palatable for older fans, but these seem very tame compared to the craziness of that first LP.  The main riff from "Sick" is the only time things hearken back to the first 2 albums in a significant way, but even that is sabotaged by the chorus coming in.  Oh, and for some reason Darren's vocals on "Smackdown" remind me a lot of Rob Urbinati circa Torment in Fire.

Let's move on to the bonus disc, the real reason for picking this up:

Black March - The speedy part at the end makes it better than anything on Elements of Anger--so naturally it's the only '94 demo track not on the album.
Invaders cover - Okay musically, but obviously the normal Sadus vocals are a hindrance here.
Merciless Death cover - Best thing they have recorded since 1992.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

When the tomb beckons...

It's been a while since I've been so excited about anything that could be remotely classified as a recent recording (I realize this is already a couple years old and consists of a lot of re-recorded old material).  Stylistically nothing has really changed since the Heralds of Oblivion days.  The updated production value is most notable in the guitars, which are a lot more distinct, though in some spots I miss the evil aura of the murky demo production.  It definitely fit the kind of death metal they were trying to do.  As for individual track comments/comparisons:

Matanza - Not bad, but lacks the sinister feel of the original.  This is the one song where I preferred the old Heralds version by a wide margin.
The Catapult, When the Tomb Beckons - I prefer the older versions slightly and probably always will since I'm so used to them.  There are just little things I miss like the effects on the vocals in "When the Tomb Beckons."
Necromancy - Just listen to that opening riff now!  This one was tightened up quite a lot; the song is worthy of its title now and blows the Los Angeles Death Coalition version away.  After hearing this new version, the only thing the old one has in its favor is the Beetlejuice intro.
Hallucinations - Not sure if this is an old or new song.  The intro riff reminds me of that part from Goatlord's "Chicken Dance," and the main riff has a Acheron "Prayer of Hell" vibe to it.  Killer stuff.

Seems more straightforward and consciously old-school than their debut.  The album as a whole is an enjoyable listening experience but I don't really have that much to say about it because while solid DM, it's not exemplary.  Well-done Demigod cover but as is often the case, the choice of strong cover material overshadows the original material to some extent.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monotonous modern DM here--two things interested me here, and neither was the music.  I really like the cover art, since all the military hardware reminds me of those Illustrated Guide to Modern Weapons of the USA-type books I used to love as a kid, with vehicles and ordinance spread out on the covers.  The color scheme and flying jet also immediately bring the first Raise Hell album to mind.
The guitarist is Gene Hoglan's girlfriend, which I found impressive given his body type.  Based on some videos I saw, she seems like a bit of a horn-throwing "WIMMEN RAWK!" airhead though, so perhaps there was a bit of a tradeoff there (don't get me wrong, I wouldn't hesitate to mock Gene's weight or many of the bands he's been involved with, but he seems like a well-spoken guy).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I've had this CD for years, and the vocals were as perplexing as they were terrible.  Why would any label bother to release it and not just let Unsung Heroes press a few dozen CD-Rs?  How is it possible the singer was not sacked?  Then I listened to bits of the obviously fake Death Beast "live" recording and a couple of Rampage tracks, and when coupled with the band pics/pseudonyms, it's clear that this album is not by an actual band, it's another Lord Vic solo work.  It's not a conclusion that takes any investigative genius, so I realize I am not uncovering some Exorcist-was-David-DeFeis level metal secret.  It's just another case of someone showing a profound lack of self-criticism and quality control.

The vocals are what might result if you asked someone with a limited sense of melody to sound menacing (and them failing).  Most of all they're very uncontrolled, often breaking into shrieks and yelps.  They remind me of drunken/overzealous people at concerts that badly sing along to the music more than anything else.  I have to confess that I'm not sure if this is some sort of trolling attempt only the old Usenet crowd is in on, and the vocals are just a overexaggerated send-up of OTT singers like Baloff or Nasty Ronnie.  At the same time, I can totally see Mister Schindler hearing the shrieking and coming up with some "sounds like old Exodus" distro list blurb hyperbole.  

Although the vocals aren't of the so-bad-they're funny variety, one of the tracks has a "1-2, 1-2 FUCK YOU" Slaughter count off as well as the line "tell your god he can suck my motherfucking dick," both of which made me laugh the same way I did upon seeing the red sweatered kid crowdsurfing in Ultimate Revenge 2.

The music itself is fairly good Motörheadish black/thrash, and I was surprised how comparatively focused and competent sounding (vocals aside) it was compared to Lord Vic's other music experimentations.  Still, there's nothing special enough about it to make up for the impediment of the vocals.  The unlisted Nasty Savage and Twisted Sister covers are good choices conceptually but the vocals ruin them.  You know how there are certain body language cues and vocal mannerisms that can help determine when someone is being dishonest?  Note that the there's no room for the wannabes, the has-beens or the bad line in the "Stay Hungry" cover is literally stumbled and mumbled through.   Even this album's creator has trouble uttering words that so blatantly contradict his own material.