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.
Received this right before Nick Menza died.  COINCIDENCE?

Also got this CD-single the same day.  Not a fan of the balladish title track, but thankfully it includes live versions of "Heaven and Hell" (with Mr. Martin in particularly fine form) and "Paranoid."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not great, but improves my opinion of the band tremendously.  I was fully expecting retrothrash when I checked out their later releases, but the full length and Resurrected Abominations were a hodgepodge of extreme metal sounds--it was if the band were going for Deathchain-style death/thrash but detoured into too many death and black metal influences and lost focus.  This is what I initially expected from the band, and is reminiscent of late '90s Scandinavian retrothrash (though not as good as the albums that movement produced).  Slayer cover is energetic but the vocals are a bad fit.  They have a habit of peppering the studio tracks with needless extreme vocals.

The bonus live tracks are inoffensive filler and get better when the oft-uneven vocals settle into a kinda old Pagan Rites-sounding style.  The closing Exodus cover isn't done that well but its familiarity makes it somewhat more interesting than the originals.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bought a decent-sized Japanese CD collection a few months ago.  I already had a lot of these discs, but getting Japanese pressings for the manufacturing quality was worth it.  Almost everything came with an obi strip and there were very few sample CDs, so I was quite happy.

The Japanese CD has two unique differences compared to other versions of the album:

Notice anything weird about the tracklisting above?  A tad short perhaps?  Yeah...They actually took "Khomaniac" off the CD.  There's a note about the omission in the booklet, but my Japanese isn't good enough to translate it.  This is the very first time I've ever seen a Japanese press of a musical recording that is objectively inferior to other world pressings released at the same time.  Even more of a letdown since it's the best track, too.

The other difference is the cover logo.  It's not as striking in this photo, but the border and edges are hot foil stamped in gold as opposed to the black print on other versions.  I will say while it does look much cooler, the aesthetic difference is hardly enough to make up for the missing song.

Sample copy.  Sticker on the back insert covers Jeff MacDonald's hand.

Every Japanese sample CD I've ever seen previously had "Sample" pro-printed in English around the center of the disc (usually with some additional Kanji) but this has a dot matrix printed "SANPURU" in katakana.

A complete set of the Japanese pressings would have been nicer of course, but the first 6 are all that really matter.  Pressing-wise, they aren't terribly interesting since they're so similar to the '94 US CD versions.  They suffer from generic back insert layouts which don't use the art/layout of the original LPs, and the tracklistings are the same ("Hit the Lights" on MM1 is the re-recording, the MM8/9 2-on-1 still has the 4 tracks taken off--but at least the Japanese press actually mentions this).   The liner notes are more substantial with a write-up about Metal Blade and brief brand infos, but all in Japanese of course.

A few weeks before getting this I was lamenting how I didn't have their first two albums, since they represented a huge gap in my '80s classic metal collection, so this was definitely my best score.  As for the inevitable comparison, the early Chastain albums are more underground/USPM sounding with more aggressive vocals, while these have a bit more popular traditional metal/Priest influence.  The guitarwork is also flashier than Chastain, though not in a particularly better/worse way.

Already had an obi-less Japanese press.  One of the two CDs in the group with actual Japanese bonus tracks.

Already had.  Several years ago I hunted for this CD intently and ended up picking it up in a lot of Japanese Silver Mountain discs at auction.  Fine for what it is but like Universe itself, just makes me hunger for the sound of that first album even more.

Not a particularly big fan in the first place, but even so, the tracklisting seems kind of weak.  All the recordings are from '85 but strangely nothing from Mean Streak is included, which would have probably helped.

Like the Metal Massacres, this suffers from a rather generic mid-'90s Metal Blade layout, and a classic should deserve much better.  Still hoping for a CD version with the Par Rec. cover someday.

Not a very interesting album for me, but at least it's a not very interesting album pressed in Japan.

Technically this would probably rate as the second or third best disc out of everything.  Of course after looking for the first two CDs for a while, a few days after getting this I find out they've been reissued with plenty of bonuses.  Not bad by any means, but not as cool as their first album and not as classy and developed as the first Angra.

Solid power metal, terrible cover.

Now we're talking!  And the title track is the best metal song ever to throw in a random keyboard solo.

Previously I did not really remember the band's 2nd and 3rd albums despite owning them, so I'm glad that the Japanese press allowed me to revisit this one.  It's not quite the US answer to Painkiller that some claim (Priest were out for blood at the time and it just lacks that frantic aggression).  That said, the choruses for "Cyberchrist" and "Psycho Zoo" have been firmly stuck in my head for weeks. RED A-LERT!  RED A-LERT!

Haven't listened to it yet (I suspect it's not going to be as good as their older material), but it feels weird to see that Rodney Matthews art on something other than Am I Evil, even if band-name-appropriate.

Sample copy with no obi, and the sample sticker was partially removed from the back.  I don't seem to have much luck with this CD.  The first time I tried to buy one that was listed as the Japanese press with bonus tracks, the seller sent me the regular US version.

Don't get me wrong, I like this album, but at times it feels strangely disconcerting since very hooky parts will suddenly come into music which is for the most part otherwise very uncommercial, complete with those mournful Scandi-HM vocals.  Also, while popular opinion seems to set this as the crown jewel of Finnish traditional HM, I far prefer Fire in the Brain, Robot Stud, etc.

Haven't given this a full listen yet.  Based on some initial sampling, it's nowhere as good as the first 2 Crimson Glorys, but better than their later stuff.  Hey, speaking of which...