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928 reviews/ratings
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Songs for Insects Thrash Metal | review permalink
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Mods Carve the Pig: Assassins, Toads and God's Flesh Thrash Metal | review permalink
NOKTURNAL MORTUM - Lunar Poetry Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
CARACH ANGREN - Where The Corpses Sink Forever Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King Proto-Metal | review permalink
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
INFECTIOUS GROOVES - The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Funk Metal | review permalink
BEHEMOTH - Demigod Death Metal | review permalink
KYUSS - Welcome To Sky Valley Stoner Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal | review permalink
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal | review permalink
DARKTHRONE - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Black Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Black Death US Power Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Defender of the Crown US Power Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / Hermit Progressive Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / The Adventures Of Bumblefoot Progressive Metal | review permalink
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Hands Progressive Metal | review permalink

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 143 2.95
2 Alternative Metal 118 2.93
3 Hard Rock 75 3.38
4 Progressive Metal 73 3.97
5 Avant-garde Metal 71 3.92
6 Black Metal 52 3.53
7 Metal Related 46 3.34
8 Thrash Metal 39 3.67
9 Traditional heavy metal 33 3.83
10 Technical Death Metal 27 4.06
11 Proto-Metal 21 3.79
12 Death Metal 20 3.92
13 NWoBHM 13 4.15
14 Industrial Metal 13 3.81
15 Glam Metal 12 3.63
16 Power Metal 11 3.73
17 Doom Metal 11 3.86
18 Folk Metal 10 3.70
19 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 10 4.25
20 Funk Metal 9 4.11
21 Hardcore and crust 9 3.33
22 Symphonic Black Metal 9 4.22
23 US Power Metal 8 3.63
24 Grindcore 8 3.13
25 Metalcore 8 4.00
26 Death-Doom Metal 8 3.38
27 Brutal Death Metal 7 3.64
28 Groove Metal 7 3.50
29 Melodic Black Metal 6 4.17
30 Atmospheric Black Metal 6 3.83
31 Sludge Metal 6 3.75
32 Neoclassical metal 5 3.40
33 Gothic Metal 5 3.50
34 Drone Metal 4 3.38
35 Speed Metal 4 3.38
36 Stoner Metal 4 4.13
37 Symphonic Metal 3 4.17
38 Deathcore 3 2.83
39 Mathcore 3 4.00
40 Melodic Death Metal 3 4.17
41 Funeral Doom Metal 2 4.25
42 Depressive Black Metal 1 3.50
43 Crossover Thrash 1 5.00
44 Nu Metal 1 2.50

Latest Albums Reviews

XYSMA Yeah!

Album · 1991 · Grindcore
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XYSMA was a short-lived band that formed in 1988 near the Finnish city of Turku and has been cited as one of the earliest example of the much loathed term “death’n’roll.” The band’s name has the charming meaning of “material resembling bits of membrane in stools of diarrhea.” Now yeah! That’s fucking metal! I think :o

Despite living in Finland, the band had close ties to the Stockholm scene and were buddies with the legendary Entombed with whom they cross-pollinated ideas, thus going down similar paths by linking rock’n’roll meets Sabbath type compositions with the old school death metal scene. At this point XYSMA had a mix of grindcore as well as early traces of the death’n’roll that would be more prominent on their second album “First & Magical.”

Their debut album YEAH! lies somewhere in between Sabbath, death doom, grindcore and old fashioned death metal with lots of changes between tracks and even within individual tracks. At this point the band was a quintet. Janitor Mustasch as vocalist dished out the typical guttural growls of the old school death metal scene however a few clean vocal utterances occur. The demos showed clear influences from bands like grindcore era Carcass and Napalm Death.

XYSMA had an interesting sound and its easy to see where they were going and create a rather unique mix of styles. The tracks are short with only one hitting over four minutes. The riffs are fast and furious and fit into the old school death days. The drums are the weakest link with a lazy sludge type of drumming pattern without much variation however it’s the compositions that take on aspects of old fashioned rock’n’roll in the song styles.

It’s apparent the band was on to something with YEAH! However, somehow it misses the mark feeling like a rather mediocre batch of tracks that never simmer down into the proper nourishing broth. Death metal riffs alternate with Sabbath laced guitar runs and occasional grindcore bursts of freneticism all seem randomly strewn together without much thought as how to tie them together. There’s even an acoustic opening on “Uranus Falls!” Stool sample time maybe? LOL,

While sometimes verging on brutal, YEAH! mostly floats by in the mid-tempo range with grungy guitar riffs and a rather weak percussive drive. The bass is also almost buried in the mix and the vocals do become a bit monotonous. Unfortunately XYSMA had all the elements to craft a killer metal album but hadn’t quite mastered the maturity to place all those pieces into the right places. Hardly a bad listening experience, YEAH! does deliver a nice slice of old school adolescent rawness however it sort of misses the mark in comparison to other established acts of the era.

PORCUPINE TREE The Sky Moves Sideways

Album · 1995 · Non-Metal
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Although it all began as a joke, by the time Steven Wilson and his now official band called PORCUPINE TREE made it into the 90s, the popularity of their Floydian inspired space rock was taking off like a rocket ship to the moon. After a number of demos and two fully fledged space rock albums to get their feet wet, the band was really more of a solo project but starting with this one, a real band was in play with a style that reached the culmination of the psychedelic space rock sound on the third album THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS. Your listening experience for this one may depend on which side of the Atlantic you reside because of the fact that two different versions exist. THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS was the debut album in North America and showed the band mastering their full potential as they also unveiled various aspects of the different styles they would take on future releases. The European version which came out first contained the seventeen minute track “Moonloop” as the second to last track whereas the US release nixed it in favor of a shorter running time. Since the US version is the one i’ve grown attached to, it is the one i prefer so all my gushing admiration for this album is based on it.

It was never any secret that 70s Pink Floyd was the biggest source of inspiration for Wilson and company and that was never more true than on THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS which has been compared to “Wish You Were Here” for having two sprawling tracks that begin and end the album with shorter tracks sandwiched in between, however a careful listen will yield all kinds of influences from the Floydian world up to “The Wall”. Likewise, all the tracks flow together relatively smoothly making it in reality a long series of movements that culminate into larger suites and extended musical motifs. Although Steven Wilson remained ringmaster and creator in chief even at this point, this was very much a real band effort on album number three which allowed a blossoming of musical expressions to make a much richer album than the previous two. Most importantly added to the lineup was ex-Japan keyboard wizard Richard Barbieri who deftly mixes his best Klaus Schulze styled progressive electronic backdrops over the hypnotic space rock grooves. Likewise, Wilson’s alter ego in the art pop outfit No-Man found him a steady drummer with Chris Maitland filling the spot. With all musical spots freshly manned with eager talent, PORCUPINE TREE was ready for prime time and THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS shows them honing their chops into highly addictive seductions of sound.

THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS starts off rather chaotically with sputtering electronic effects that belie Floydian space groove that soon steals the show. A false flag to throw the listener off? Not sure, but once the Floydian rhythmic flow begins, it grooves with a vengeance. While the “Phase 1” of the title track gently rolls on with a sensual rocking groove as “The Colour Of Air” movement strives to lull the listener into a hypnotic state, it does however evoke a call and response that makes me want to scream “Hello, Is There Anybody In There?” at times. Perhaps too comfortably close to “Comfortably Numb,” but even with such brazen Floydisms slapping the listener in the face, somehow the electronic wizardry derails any cached earworms from the past and keeps PORCUPINE TREE sounding like distant cousins of the Gilmour and Waters team rather than mere imitators. The near nineteen minute suite churns on into a gentle space rock groove with Wilson belting out his unique fairy tale narrations before the track goes into an upbeat psybient and psytrance mode that summons a high intensity percussive drive and multidimensional atmospheric turbulence in the “Wire The Drum” movement. Tribal drums meets staccato keyboard sequences while a bouncy bass illustrates spaced out blissful melodies. The suite finds resolution with the “Spiral Circus” finale which drifts off into the clouds and exits with a soft acoustic guitar riff with a fluttering flute run flapping around like a pretty butterfly in the breeze.

Sandwiched in the middle of the lengthy title track suite that begin and end the album are three shorter tracks (plus the “Moonloop” jam if you have the European version). “Dislocated Day” debuts a more familiar sound heard on future PORCUPINE TREE albums and the first of the band’s career to demonstrate heavier rock with hefty guitar riffs, biting percussive drive and much increased tempos. This also provides the gateway into their progressive rock leanings that would culminate on albums like “In Absentia.” “The Moon Touches Your Shoulder” on the other hand is a totally chilled out acoustic guitar on codeine type of track with a catchy melody and poetic lyrics from Wilson’s most chilled singing style. “Prepare Yourself” is nothing more than a short spaced out bluesy soloing sequence that serves as a fluffer for the the “Phase 2” of the title track, unless of course you have the European version with “Moonloop” inserted between. This track is my least favorite and i’m happy to have the edition without it (or at least thrown onto the second bonus disc). It is nothing more than a drawn out spacey sequence of synthesized loops and effects.

The final “Phase 2” is begins much like “Phase 1” with non-committing electronic atmospheric effects only finding stability after a drum roll coaxes them down to Earth. The opening “Is…Not” segment displays more love of classic Pink Floyd as it generates a heavy connection to tracks like “Have A Cigar” with restless electronica and eventually a banging bass. Once a melodic development is allowed to form, it bursts onto the scene with a dramatic guitar riff which calms the atmospheric presence into an obsequious counterpoint. Nice guitar work on this one for a while but eventually as “Off The Map” continues the suite, an estrogen filled siren seduces a rambunctious guitar to come out and play. As it arrives it begins to perform a rather spunky blues workout around the ostinato bass line. It performs all kinds of tricks yanking every emotional heartstring with a mere bending of a note or two. It gets wild and woolly before the track slowly wends down as it reprises the initial Floydian bass dominated riff that began it all, not after more bizarre excursions into ambient electronica however.

On THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS, Steven Wilson and PORCUPINE TREE not only joined the ranks of the progressive rock revival that was unfolding alongside bands like Anglagard, Opeth, Dream Theater and the neo-prog bands like IQ and Arena but were also fundamental in the revival of good old fashioned 70s psychedelic space rock alongside other space tripping bands like Ozric Tentacles. While Pink Floyd was still around in name only, it was really just a David Gilmour solo effort milking of the enterprise and tarnishing of the name with mediocrity in the form of albums like “The Division Bell”. PORCUPINE TREE on the other hand were uploading an entirely new operating system into the space rock paradigm by adding all the relevant 90s influences of neo-psychedelia and chilled out electronica such as trip hop and as well as bass heavy stoner rock in tandem with the tried and true chill pill elements of 70s psych and electronica.

While never really intentionally wanting to steal the baton away from the great Pinksters, somehow on THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS, they did just that and created one of my personal favorite albums by the group and the absolute best of the 90s output. The 2 CD re-release is well worth the time as it has a brilliant alternative mix of the title track suites as well as the “Moonloop” tracks that went missing on the US release. I’ve been holding off on reviewing this one since i couldn’t decide if the Floydisms are too derivative or not but when all is said and done, they are no more derivative of Pink Floyd than Floyd was of the blues artists who came before them and this is one of those rare albums that i literally never tire of because Wilson’s brilliant mixing and production skills weave such a massive sonic web around any similarities that it keeps them in their own unique musical territory while respectfully conjuring up warm fuzzy memories of the past. This is where PORCUPINE TREE came to fruition as a band and a trend that would only continue to develop into a more distinct musical entity.

DEEP PURPLE Who Do We Think We Are

Album · 1973 · Hard Rock
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DEEP PURPLE was always a strange act. A rather random cast of characters starting as a pool of talent arranged in a similar way to pop acts like The Monkees, somehow found its own soul as one member after another built upon what came before and finally beginning with their 1970 landmark album “In Rock”, the band had hit upon the perfect chemistry. This was the period that has been designated the Mark II era of the band’s long and changing career and was the time when Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitars), Jon Lord (keys, piano, organ), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums and percussion) were one of the most successful bands alongside Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in the nascent world of hard rock and early heavy metal. The band sold albums by the millions and couldn’t book enough shows to fill the demand of their dynamic live performances. Their success was the envy of musicians far and wide and one of those rare acts that seemed to appeal to all whether they preferred hard rock, prog, soul, jazz or classical. This band simply had a universal charm.

And then there was the negative side of the equation. After the success of their multi-platinum release “Machine Head,” DEEP PURPLE became living legends and toured like there was no tomorrow under the management’s brutal dictatorship and constant pressure to perform. All was not well with the PURPLE ones after the whirlwind tours across the world had finally come to an end. Exhausted were they and that is exactly when the pressure reared its ugly head. Instead of the sensible idea of allowing the band to recuperate from their enervating and demanding live performances, the record company and all the money grubbing whores who profited dearly from the band’s phenomenal success instead pulled out their slave driving whips and put the band immediately back in the recording studio to pump out a followup album which resulted in the very frowned upon WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE which to this day still divides hardcore fans like the DMZ between the Koreas.

As the tale goes, the infighting between management and members resulted in major schisms that led to Ian Gillan jumping ship only a few months after WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE was released. Citing fatigue as the main culprit which led to all the other issues at hand, the band carried on the best that they could although agreeing on tracks to include on the album was one of the major points of contention. The rather short album consists of a mere seven tracks and includes one of the band’s most famous tracks “Woman From Tokyo” which narrated the famous Japanese tour that also yielded one of the most celebrated live album recordings of the entire rock era with their hugely popular “Made In Japan.” After that famous single, what we mostly get is another six musical compositions that have sort of fell to the bottom ranks within the greater DEEP PURPLE canon, and that is indeed a true shame because i happen to be one of those who actually loves this album although i will readily concur that WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE is indeed one of the weakest releases within the Mark II lineup.

Often cited as nothing more than a series of disconcerting efforts and passionless pits of uninspired drudgery that showed the band playing their older material by the numbers, i see this album from a different point of view. True that this without doubt could have been a better album given all the vital circumstances needed to create a “Machine Head 2,” however even taking the album for what it is, this is one excellent album filled with classic PURPLE material. For one, i don’t want a sequel of a previous masterpiece but rather a new set of tunes that take a bold new approach to the sound laid out from what came before. WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE does just that with heavy guitar riff oriented bluesy rock in tandem with the excellent keyboard accompaniments and yet more strong vocal performances from Gillan. There is no slacking off here that i can detect.

After the initial “Woman From Tokyo” the tracks continue with an interesting array of heavy rock that is more blues oriented than on their previous albums but not too far off the cuff of other Mark II albums when all is said and done. “Mary Long” is an exception listed below (me no likey) and while “Super Trouper” doesn’t jump into the typical heavy DEEP PURPLE rocker, it does however have a unique fragility to it with a very catchy melody and smooth instrumental interplay that is more sophisticated than the average DP track. “Smooth Dancer” is an absolute gem with a heavy emphasis on a nice guitar riff (reminds me of what “Nobody’s Home” would sound like on the future “Perfect Strangers) with excellent keyboard interplay in the form of a rather honky tonk sounding piano run. The melody creates one of my absolute favorite DP tracks of their career. The keyboard solo is also quite adventurous as Lord is a relentless madman.

Next up: the phenomenal “Rat Bat Blue.” This is yet another masterpiece of music in the band’s long career with a heavy blues riff that adds some interesting progressive rock time signature workouts at key moments (albeit brief). Honestly it sounds a tad like “Rock ’n’ Roll Hoochie Koo” by Rick Derringer only without the lame cheesiness and elevated to a higher arts position. Brilliant grooves, excellent vocal interplay and one of Jon Lord’s most treasured sizzling keyboard performances in his entire career that makes Keith Emerson look like nothing more than a piano student who wants his mommy. “Place In Line” takes the pure blues route that sounds more like a John Lee Hooker track than the DEEP PURPLE the world had come to know, however despite this sidetrack into a sorta “Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues” that sounds a tad Janis Joplin, this track finds resolution as it ratchets up heaviness. A major faux pas for some but for me this merely finds a band paying tribute to a style of music that inspired the members all the while adding their own voice. I find it quite satisfying myself. Last up: “Our Lady.” Spacey organ intro is followed by a semi-ballad that maintains a thick organ presence and sounds a bit like a 60s psychedelic band of some sort. Not one of the best tracks of the album and definitely not a wise ending choice but i find this one to have a nice groove and beautifully intricate melody as well.

Here are a few reasons i can detect as to why this album has received such a bad rap. 1) Reputation. Yeah, this album has gotten trashed by everyone over the years to the point that someone who had never listened to this album would assume that the band was trying to record covers of The Partridge Family or something. 2) The album cover and title are admittedly awful and give the impression that all the stale and soulless tunes that have been purported to exist surely must be as such since the cover is about as inspired as a adipose laden ass sitting on a plexiglass coffee table. 3) There are some bad moments on this one although not nearly as bad as one would expect. Unfortunately one of these musical faux pas’ s comes as the second track “Mary Long” which is a rather insipid tale doubt a girl losing her virginity and even hosts a major no-no of stealing the riff from Clapton’s “I Shot The Sheriff” for certain parts of the track. 4) This is different than “Machine Head” and has a completely different energy. Riffs are varied, solos (both guitar and organ) are more varied. Everything is more eclectic and more ideas are strewn about which makes some people feel uncomfortable i guess, especially when the relativity factor is part of the equation (that being it followed the brilliant consistency of its predecessor.)

A perfect album this ain’t. There are so many ways this could’ve been a better album but i personally love this one a lot and find it a testament to the fortitude of a great band at their absolute worst that is still able to crank out excellent music despite wanting to pull out a semi-automatic rifle and blow everyone else around them away. While i would never tout this album as the pinnacle of the band’s career in any way, shape or form, i do find this to be woefully underrated, under-appreciated and misunderstood. While i will probably never convince anyone to the contrary, i cannot find the horrible aspects of this album that i have read about forever. This is an excellent album that only could’ve been much better with some rearranging of tracks and a few more months of recovery after a lengthy tour. However, as fate would have it, the band would splinter, Gillan would exit stage right and David Coverdale would usher in the Mark III phase. True that we cannot change history but we can alter our misguided perceptions of a great album that’s been deemed inferior for too long.

Four stars because the strengths are so much greater than the weaknesses.

IRON MONKEY 9-13

Album · 2017 · Sludge Metal
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Existing in the concrete jungles and unheard of for almost two decades, the Nottingham simians IRON MONKEY swing off their vines and onto the world’s stage once again. Having formed in the 90s when sludge metal was in its infancy, the band followed in the footsteps of Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Buzzov-en and Grief when they finally released their debut album in 1997. The band got their feet wet with their eponymous debut that displayed their primal ability to deliver the sludge metal treatment like the big boys with all the caustic fury and hypnotic distortionfests turned up to 11. After an initial positive response the sludge apes quickly pumped out their second release “Our Problem” which was not only met with critical acclaim but remains one of the hallmarks of late 90s sludge metal. As is too often the case, the band became plagued with personal and music industry disputes and soon the MONKEY go bye-bye leaving a mysterious void in the potential that seemed would never find a second life.

Having been almost forgotten as a mere footnote in the growing annals of metal history, IRON MONKEY has left the thick over-grown jungles and released an album of new material. Despite existing in a rather truncated history in their early stages, IRON MONKEY still had their share of lineup changes and with this resurrection there is no exception. This comeback was orchestrated by two of the original founding members: guitarists Jim Rushby and Steve Watson. This decision is somewhat of a gamble since original hardcore punk inspired vocalist Johnny Morrow surprisingly died in 2002. Also adding to this dubious reformation was that the original drummer John Greaves wasn’t invited to rejoin the new MONKEY spanking club. Undeterred, the band has reemerged as a mere trio with Rushby adding vocal duties to his resume and Watson trading in his guitar for bass. New to the mix and picking up the drumming duties is Scott Briggs who brings his hardcore punk sensibilities to the table from his stint with the crusty punkers Chaos U.K.

One of the most immediate head scratchers for those of us who accumulated IRON MONKEY’s mere two releases and the twofer comp release is that 9-13 uses the exact same album cover artwork as the 2-CD compilation “Our Problem / Iron Monkey” which is obviously going to cause great confusion and could possibly invoke a flurry of cursing in paragraphs for the uninitiated who happen to accidentally order the wrong product unknowingly. The product inside though is quite different than the two albums that precede it. This is the new IRON MONKEY that has grown out of the old. While incorporating the expected template of grinding sludge riffery and adrenaline fueled feedback frenzies all dressed up with misanthropic vocal tantrums, the band has certainly opted out of dirge doom drudgery and added a more hardcore punk infused energetic delivery that ultimately leads back to the days of such early birds like Discharge which is a welcome change since the early albums were lacking that extra ass burning drive that this one seems to have.

In fact, the opener “Crown Of Electrodes” misleads by insinuating that the band has gone hardcore and crust altogether. The following “OmegaMangler” does nothing to dispel that conclusion. Finally on the title track which is third on the queue list, the old IRON MONKEY begins to shine through as the punk infused drive yields to the distant sludgy jungle calls of the past with that unmistakable Sabbath-esque doom shuffle and high octane distortion cranked up for full pyroclastic feedback flows. On “Toadcrucifier - R.I.P.P.E.R” we’re treated to an extraordinary bout of feedback abuse before the energized bluesy sludge shuffle steals the limelight. “Destroyer” tears the roof off the joint as it delivers one of the most unrelenting and uncompromising heaviness of the band’s entire career and one that sounds like the ultimate crowd please in a live setting. Ditto for the following “Mortarhex.” “The Rope” is perhaps my favorite track of the lot as it delivers an instantly evil-as-fuck riff supplemented by Rushby’s more than adequate for the job vocal delivery. In fact, Rushby does an excellent job at replacing Morrow as he has perfect control over the gargling grunge and sludge mood setting management that this style of metal requires. “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” continues almost by the numbers, the full sludge effect. “Moreland St. Hammervortex” takes a stab at creating a lengthy near ten minute closer guaranteed to leave a caustic acrid taste in your mouth with intended results delivered.

In the end, i understand why IRON MONKEY felt they had to leave the jungle and jump onto the world’s stage once again. As the internet allows older music to be exposed to a wider world audience, their first two albums have gained more recognition than they did at their time of release and there has always been a sense of unfulfilled destiny as the group mysteriously disbanded seemingly forever. Overall, 9-13 provides a platform for the two founders to uncork all that pent up sludgy rage that has been simmering for two decades and unleashes it in full metal fury and for once doesn’t sound overly derivative of early sludge masters Eyehategod or Acid Bath. Here they exude a volcanic explosive energetic release that in some ways blows away their 90s output. However, the whole thing still comes off as rather retro as countless sludge bands have long surpassed IRON MONKEY in their ability to perform their metal jungle gym routine. Despite the recycled album cover that is supplemented by recycled 90s sludge tricks of the past, these guys trimmed down to a trio do a surprisingly excellent performance of a nice modern punk infused retro sludge metal routine.

Although bands like Neurosis and Intronaut, for example, have long ago taken the sludge metal paradigm to more progressive pastures leaving the 1.0 version of the sub sounding a little one dimensional, IRON MONKEY nevertheless exudes a revitalized energy on their latest 9-13 despite not offering a great deal of variation in terms of compositional development. If old school feedback and fuzz coupled with crushing riffs augmented with the classic angry vocal effect is your poison, then 9-13 won’t disappoint but if you don’t exist in an anachronistic bubble of another era, then this one just misses the mark at finding a top tier status under the infinitely more sophisticated bar that modern metal bands have raised so high. In the end, 9-13 will ignite the pistons, grease the spark plugs and rev the engines and produce the full adrenaline effect that only this sort of raw, filthy and primal type of metal can induce, but after 18 years i would have expected some sort of upgrade in compositional development. As it stands 9-13 will have to serve as a decent but not outstanding slice of super heavy sludge metal from one of the underground classics of the 90s. Whether IRON MONKEY deserves a position in the 21st century as a contemporary sludge metal act remains to be seen, but i have to admit that i’m a sucker for this sort of primordial manic outburst of energy without the overly complex layering of effects at times.

EX EYE Ex Eye

Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal
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Post-rock? Post-metal? Post-jazz? or Post-psychedelia? Well, all of the above actually. EX EYE is a new kid on the block and making a whole lot of noise without resorting to cliche been-there done-that retro worship. This quartet of seasoned veterans formed in New York City consists of alto and bass saxophonist Colin Stetson ( Eternal Buzz Brass Band, The Sway Machinery, Transmission Trio ), guitarist Toby Summerfield ( Algernon, Crush Kill Destroy, Never Enough Hope ), synthesizer wizard Shahzad Ismaily ( 2 Foot Yard, Barbez, Burnt Sugar, Causing A Tiger, Ceramic Dog, Doveman, Kotkot, Pure Horsehair and Secret Chiefs 3 ) and drummer Greg Fox ( Guardian Alien, Liturgy, Teeth Mountain, Zs). EX EYE is one of those avant-garde type groups that is similar to others like Zu and Aluk Todolo and succeeds in creating a sort of frenetic drone type music, that meaning a very hypnotic anchoring system with a hornet’s nest of buzzing instruments that swirl around its center with extra attention on hyperactive saxophone attacks, black metal riffs that dance in the dark with oscillating swirling synthesizer sounds.

While the post-metal tag genre tag has traditionally been somewhat synonymous with sludge metal such as with bands like Neurosis and Isis pretty much fitting into both worlds, the two subgenera are not exactly identical at all. Sludge metal is derived primarily from doom metal with aggressive emphasis on guitar feedback and groovy riffs and angry vocals often bordering on hardcore punk whereas post-metal owes its atmospheric hypnotic riffs and grooves more to the world of post-rock which focuses on long drawn out and repetitive passages that slowly shift the dynamics of the atmosphere and tempos. EX EYE is more of the latter but does exhibit both styles as they are conservative with root notes and profligate with the subtle and abrupt changes around them. The end result is a very groovy and hypnotic drift through frenzied sax and guitar solos and complex flurries of synthesized bliss that deftly blend the simplistic with an array of complex counterpoints. The band is also unique as far as i know in that they substitute the bass guitar with a bass saxophone. Their debut eponymous album consists of four mostly lengthy tracks and there is a bonus twelve minute track on digital forms.

“Xenolith; The Anvil” (3:55) is the shortest track that carries a repetitive almost funk type groove that extends pretty much throughout. Graced with a heavy dramatic technical drum workout to dazzle us upon first listen, the track quickly chills out with a lackadaisical percussive drive as the groove unfolds slowly followed by the guitar and sax counterpoints that ratchet up the tension. “Opposition/Perihelion; The Coil” (12:29) takes on a new persona with a syncopated drum and bass sax line on hyperdrive and stuck in a two note groove that eventually takes on a slight musical scale and is the track that sounds most like Aluk Todolo however just when you think the groove is set on cruise control it changes things up with a partial melodic change. After the frenetic intro, the guitar becomes sludgy and slows down while the saxophone parts become fuel injected as if they are channeling John Zorn at his most caffeinated.

“Anaitis Hymnal; The Arkose Disc” (11:56) makes me think a Klaus Schulze CD has been slipped into my player as a dark and brooding electronic storms brews with a dreadful hum and a swarm of insectoid aliens flying ahead. The percussion joins in but as an intermittent tom strike that feels as if a sole giant is thundering the Earth as he walks upon its fragile crust. As the synth takes me to Neptune, the sax gains power as an oscillating beacon of terror and then, the final straw breaks the camel’s back as the relentless blastbeat drumming adds the final fear inducing ingredient as the sax goes even crazier and the instruments all start to fade in and out of tune with each other until they reach a terrifying frenetic climax. Yes, indeed. This is the soundtrack of nightmares. “Form Constant; The Grid” (8:08) delivers an oscillating sax attack that is accompanied by a high pitched atmospheric backdrop before it all goes nuts with frenetic nonstop avant-garde jazz sax noodling, guitar bombast and a minimalist synthesizer sequence that reminds me of Philip Glass’ “Glassworks” and “Koyaanisqatsi” era.

Tten Crows : The Corruptor” (bonus track digital only) (12:01) is surprisingly quite different from the rest of the pack and the most bizarre. It consists of an intermittent guitar riffs, somewhat lazy following percussive drive and a frenetic synth and sax dueling it out. This one actually has more of a drawn out melody although every note is amplified by sax shredding and atmospheric weirdness. The guitar is also much more aggressive as it enters pure metal territory. In the middle it changes into some sort of Latin percussion with an acid jazz type of keyboard run. The guitar fuzz is thicker on this one and there is more of guitar dominated soloing that steals the show from the attention hog saxophone parts. This one is pretty cool and just as good as the other four tracks. Unfortunately i have the CD so it’s not on there.

EX EYE crank out a fairly sophisticated mix of minimalistic grooves wrapped up in jazzy saxophone virtuosity and psychedelic atmospheric ambience. The guitar, while present is usually reserved for power chords with the odd dominant riff entering the scene but is always in the background. All the musicians rely on intricate interplay and although certain segments showcase a retrospective instrument, the overall fabric of the music is very much dependent on how it’s all woven together. The repetitive groovy feel is extremely hypnotic while the overly busy counterpoints whizz around like a swarm of wasps that just had their nest knocked to the ground. While this isn’t as avant-garde and weird as it’s made out to be since it’s in the same musical experimental tree as bands like Aluk Todolo and Zu, EX EYE does however stand out as a fairly unique sounding outfit. Whether this pans out to be a full time project or not remains to be seen, but as for now EX EYE has conjured up a satisfying slice of hypnotic varied post-metal with all kinds of frenetic accoutrements that take the listener into dark musical soundscapes.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 day ago in King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (prog something
    Funny you brought this band up. I'm on the PSIKE team which evaluates psychedelic rock and this was suggested. I lsitened to a few samples and didn't find it very proggy so voted no. I'll have to check out some of the newer stuff cuz maybe they've changed it up a little. Didn't find them particularly hard rock for sure. They are a combo of stoner rock and neo-psychedelia. The few tracks i've heard though are pretty cool. They are certainly getting more popular. We haven't rejected them yet on PA so there may be a day when they're there :P
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    IQ The Road Of Bones reviews
  • Posted 6 days ago in Babymetal guitarist Mikio Fujioka dead at 36
    Damn. That's too fucking young! I still haven't checked out Babymetal but nobody should die that young. RIP :(

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