Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dezibel Zero - Dezibel Zero

Wasn't quite sure what to expect here.  The band seemed to have a decent pedigree, with a bassist/vocalist from Desert Storm and (briefly) Minotaur, the guitarist from a relatively obscure but solid thrash band, and a drummer who would later do a short stint in Zed Yago.  I figured from the cover photo that the guys had jumped on the '90s groove bandwagon, but then I took a look at the back of the booklet:


It's not, but it's nothing great either.  I can waste my time in far better ways than trying to thoroughly dissect the various musical influences here, but with the groove and funk influences I'm just going to use the bullshit "alternative metal" umbrella term and be done with it.  I can see some of the heavier sections being considered kinda thrashy prog. metal, but that's being extremely generous.

Based on the lineup and reuse of songs from this CD, it seems that Dezibel Zero effectively became a later Desert Storm lineup.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I thought the cover might be some sort of strange homage to the art on Holocaust's Heavy Metal Mania EP, but that's a pretty big stretch my brain was making.  Upon actual comparison, they only share the common theme of very unhappy-looking winged things getting impaled, and nothing else. 

Speaking of homages, the older pics in the booklet are already great, sure--obviously, it's hard to go wrong with Possessed and Slayer shirts and a length of chain.  But I was blown away to see the Prowler 7" in one of the pics.  ATTACK OF METAL STRIKE YOUR CUNT !!  It took me a few moments to figure out why there was a rather scantily-clad guy across the bottom of the picture, until I realized they were posing in a parody of the EP cover. 

Anyway, my main reason for this post is to ask if anybody has any further information on the unlisted bonus track at the end of the disc.  Let me know if you do.  My own searches didn't yield info on the mystery track, but did produce this autotranslation gem:

I dunno about Bathroom's Quorthon, but Quorthon's bathroom makes me imagine the Occulta recordings stashed behind a commode somewhere, though more realistically it was probably the place where Destroyer of Worlds was conceived.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pro-Fé-Cia - Hechos de Metal

Right off the bat, let me say that this CD is better than it looks.  The hyphenated bandname, logo, and layout could have easily been warning indicators for Hispanic groove metal, but luckily there's no such shit here.

If you've read my blogs, you know I have a fascination/mild obsession with the Heralds of Oblivion comp., and I was initially curious about this CD because I saw the drummer for Decomposed played on it.  As it turns out, ANOTHER Heralds alumni--Emilio Marquez--also plays on it.  There are 8 musicians pictured on the inside cover...So the guitarist and bassist were in Prophecy (CA)...There's a guy credited with "samplers" (this will come into play shortly)...Karlos Medina of Evildead/Agent Steel fame plays on a track...Oh, and there's a guy playing drums on that same track:

YEP.  I honestly did not notice it was Dave Lombardo the first time I looked at the booklet; I guess the knit hat made him really inconspicuous.

The music itself is pretty generic mid-'90s style death metal.  A couple of riffs get a bit more groovy than I personally like, but nothing to an offensive degree.  "Fe muerta" has an acoustic guitar intro and some sludginess which makes it marginally more interesting than the other tracks.  The combination of a production on the lo-fi side, the rumbliness of the music, and the Spanish lyrics do make them sound like a Mexican/Central American DM band.  

However, from the very first track you'll notice there are sound effects in the background, courtesy of Mr. Samplers.  Things start off relatively lightly with pulsating electronic sounds and simple synthish stuff, but he seems to be emboldened as the CD goes on, and delves into more cosmic-sounding, oscillating effects.  I'm neutral about the effects overall.   There's some vaguely The Terminator score-sounding stuff that adds a tiny bit of atmosphere, but even the most out of place effects are too minimalist to be a big disruption.  Weird stylistic choice, but hardly the most bewildering musical embellishment on a metal album.

End of the disc has three cover songs:

"Desvaneser al abissmo" - This is Metallica's "Fade to Black."  In English.  They even put spacey effects here, and it's probably the highest concentration of them!  Weirdly interesting as a "cosmic" version, but the whispered vocals at the beginning are dumb.

"El enviado del infierno" - Transmetal cover.  WHAT A TRAINWRECK.  Here, the effects are very intrusive; before the guitars started, I thought this was going to be some sort of ridiculous electronica version.  Obviously just a throwaway track to show off Lombardo's guest drumming.

"Celula" - Cover of a Mexican band called Caifanes, who I had never heard of (I attempted to check out the original on YouTube as a point of comparison, but I bailed when it got uncomfortably close to mariachi music). The cover doesn't sound very much like what I did sample and seems like an extremely loose deathdoomy interpretation.  Approaching it just as a metal song and not as a cover, it's fairly decent except for the out-of-tune clean vox.

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.