Norma Jean has gotten far more mature in their songwriting since their fourth album. “Meridional” is chaotic, unbridled and energetic, tackling topical concepts throughout. Spouting off huge amounts of aggression and anger, Norma Jean isn’t afraid to launch into chaotic noisy metalcore with math-y abrasions. Or you know settle back into a furious metallic hardcore scream-a-thon. Challenging from start to finish, “Meridional” never rests on its laurels. It sticks its tongue out to the MTV crowd who likes heavy music but doesn’t LIKE heavy music. As technical as one would expect from the Dillinger Escape Plan, “Meridional” only pulls a punch when it’s all over.
Posts in category metal
When you hear the word ‘Danish’, I bet you think of fun little fancy pastries and not the Danish people huh? And I bet even if you did, you wouldn’t think brutal hardcore. Well if you did, then you’ve heard Straight to Your Face. “The Struggle” is what happened to Rick ta Life. I’ve heard some people call them “metalcore”. I couldn’t disagree more. I think they just remind of the old school metallic-edged hardcore that we grew to love in bands like Madball. So if that’s your bag, you better be grabbing on for dear life. Crushing rhythms, gang vocals, sickly brutal breakdowns and quietly literally a whole lot of Straight to Your Facing.
The Way of Purity is a group that wears balaclavas and military outfits set to deliver the message as God intended as nature from a dark place where evil and good are one in the same. So it’s with this so-called animals message that they barrage us with a deluge of syncopated rhythms, wailing guitars, and guttural vocals. Not quite death metal though it does boast some crushing double bass pedaling and technical guitarwork. Not quite hardcore or industrial or even metalcore – perhaps that’s what their title was intended to convey: this is a band that crosses the “core”. Not bad but bordering on slightly eye-rolling at times.
Helloween, long known as one of Germany’s best melodic metal bands to have ever existed, was proud to assemble a huge masterpiece of their songs alongside the 70-piece Prague Symphonic Orchestra, the choirs of the Gregorian singers, pianist Matthew Ulmer, vocalist Harriet Ohlsson (Hellsong), and saxophonist Albie Donnelly (Supercharge). Armed with fantastic arrangements that are simply mind-boggling, “Unarmed: Best of 25th Anniversary” is the perfect gift back to their longtime fans. A group that has toured alongside metal’s most elite such as Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Anthrax, Exodus, Helloween has also sold over five million records with 14 Gold and 6 Platinum awards globally. The band could have done this and phoned it in but that’s not their style; indeed the album boasts all new arrangements that are just as complex and compelling as the originals. Fantastic!
Oh Glenn Danzig, how the women adore you, the dudes want to be you, and music fans everywhere point to your very existence as a huge influence. “Deth Red Sabaoth” finds Glenn writing and producing some very special tracks that prove how amazing his journey was and still is today. Of course everyone knows about his past successes, but most probably don’t know that he spent some time composing and recording classical music via “Black Aria” which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Classical charts and the follow-up that reigned in the Top Ten. He’s joined by guitarist Tommy Victor (Ministry, Prong), drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Seventh Void), and bassist Steve Zing. This is a nice welcome back to the blues-inflected vocals, metallic guitar growls, and thick sound that you’ve grown accustomed to.
This almost seems like a throw-back, back-to-the-basics album for the Deftones. “White Diamonds” features druggy and sludgy guitar tones that shred with stoner rock ferocity amid Chino Moreno’s trademark out-of-this-world lyrical content delivered via screechy screams, fast spitting almost-raps, and softly sung spoken words. Still as atmospheric as their past releases, each tune seems to build off of one another delivering a true ‘album’ feel that the iTunes geeks won’t understand unless their playlist is the entire album beginning to end. Love the low-end bass tone on this album too; which is a great nod towards Chi who suffered a debilitating brain injury who sadly was absent but everyone is pulling for him to have a full recovery. I almost think that losing one of their brethren for this long-standing band is what helped craft such a fun, enlightening, and engaging album. “Rocket Skates” sounds like it was just lifted from a b-side from “Around the Fur” with its chunky guitar riffs that are perfectly fit for Mastodon fans. “White Diamonds” is at once dreamy and steamy with sultry vocals whispered and crooned by Chino and then counters all of that with caustic screams and yelps of dismay amid churning guitar distortion, weird sample atmospherics from their turntablist, and crisp rhythms and crashing cymbals. It’s not what I was prepared to hear from one of my favorite bands who I thought were on an unfortunate downswing and yet again proved me wrong. Love it.
Karnivool is Australian for Tool. Yeah ok that was an easy pun but “Sound Awake” is an exact replica minus some of the narrative and talent of Tool – hell they even go by a nickname of “Vool”. Don’t get me wrong, they’re extremely talented but their sound is so cookie-cutter of Tool that it’s almost laughable. Their singer is great and their guitars deploy more melodies than their darker idols but the undercutting bass and percussion are very similar as are their song structures (and song lengths), textures, and bleak atmospherics. Regardless people will soak this up…
Okay so I admit this review is well over due. But just because I’ve been slacking off, doesn’t deride any of the importance of how truly epic and essential Converge’s seventh record release is. Jacob Bannon (singer) and Kurt Ballou (guitarist) are two of the most influential people in metal/hardcore/heavy music today, with Kurt Ballou having established himself as one of music’s most revered producers/engineers with his God City Studio a well-sought after destination. Ballou’s resume in the production, recording, and engineering realm is as impressive as his own musical one with a long resume that includes The Hope Conspiracy, pg. 99, Cave In, Modern Life is War, Blacklisted, Champion, Scars of Tomorrow, Orchid, and Paint it Black among many others. Indeed the group as a whole is a visceral auteur of heavy music, paving the way for many other experimental and chaotic bands to land into a scene that is welcoming, always moving, and rarely if ever stagnant. On “Axe to Fall”, Converge yet again expands their horizons with wavering and sober moments like “Cruel Bloom” featuring bluesy gravelly vocals sung by Steve Von Till (Neurosis) amid moist piano and ambient acoustic guitars. “Wretched Bloom” also features a guest vocalist in Genghis Tron’s Mookie Singerman who smoothly pours out a velvet of clean vocals that oddly complement the typical raging storm of Bannon’s ferocity. The album pours out buckets of emotion into a room that was once soaked with blood but is now drying, peeling off red-flecked paint chips like a million past childhoods wrought with self-destructive actions, something a song like the punk-fueled “Cutter” seems to cry out on. Converge are champions of everything heavy and prove their worthiness of the crown by dipping their quill into an inkwell of heavy rock, visceral chaotic metal, churning hardcore, and melodic heavy alternative art. “Axe to Fall” will fell an entire forest before it’s through rockin’ you out.
As if co-founding Manowar wasn’t enough to put pen to paper on a budding musician’s resume, Ross the Boss has now perfected the art of the solo album – though don’t go telling him that. Despite the self-titled band moniker, Ross assures all that this is indeed a full-fledged band outfit. “New Metal Leader” conjures forth the same naughty fist-pumping anthems of metal that Manowar was made famous with such crucial albums as “Battle Hymns” and “Kings of Metal”. Ross the Boss punctuates his glorious choruses with punchy guitar licks that are bound to enable even the most lackadaisical metal maven into a maniacal frenzy. The Metal McCain would shout to the heavens, “Horns held high on this one, friends!”
Album opener “When Sun Comes Out” is an awesome dance-oriented rock song that blows your mind with phat bass lines and a kick drum that blasts through walls like the Kool-Aid Man. Stomping rhythms and dynamic melodies coalesce into a twisted new form of pop music that is fit for kings and ladies. Complex song arrangements and infinite sound spectrums numb your ears while the sick rhythms that only someone from Austria could build together mash your guts inside out. Humorous lyrics, crunchy distortion, and industrialized beats aren’t the only attraction with Bulbul, they blend their own uniquely weird take on electronica, hard rock, indie art-rock, and bass-oriented thick melodies for something just outside of the Jesus Lizard and Mr. Bungle. Damn good combustible rock that is impossible to put into any subcategory–unless that subcategory is ‘awesome’.