Metal Music Reviews from Triceratopsoil

SLEEP Dopesmoker

Album · 2003 · Stoner Metal
Cover art 4.15 | 19 ratings
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FFFFOLLLLLLLLLLOWWWWWWWWWW THHHHHHE SSSSMMMMMMMMMMOKE TTTTTTTTO THEEEEEE RRRRRRRIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF FFFFFFFILLLLLLLLLLLEDDD LLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDD

Possibly the most essential stoner doom album ever released, Dopesmoker was, in a way, a big "fuck you" to London Records, who signed Sleep in the hopes of another Holy Mountain -esque album. Instead they got this crushingly heavy obelisk of an album. One slow, low, fuzzed out trip of a track spanning three LP sides, what's not to love? As they say, "sometimes a riff is just so fucking good that you want to hear it over and over again... sometimes for 52 minutes."

Dopesmoker is great music for many purposes. The obvious thing it's named after, for starters. Wearing in new stereo equipment. Drowning out your neighbours. Entering a catatonic state of pure aural bliss. Etc. Sometimes you just want to feel like you have been hit over the head with an bat (in a good way). Orange brand, of course.

ISIS Clearing the Eye

Movie · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art 4.95 | 3 ratings
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Probably only really for fans of ISIS (I mean, who else would buy a concert DVD than a fan of the band in question?), but an absolutely great experience. Witness an incredible band at their peak. The main feature here is the full 70 minute performance from Sydney Australia in 2005. Great cinematic camera work, a relaxing and overall fantastic performance of some of the best songs ISIS ever wrote. Top notch. No complaints here, though I'm a giant fanboy so take my opinion with a grain of salt or 10.

Most of the other live videos are curios, though they are quite good - not the same professional sound and video quality as the Australia concert.

I made my mom buy me this for Christmas a few years ago, ahaha

ISIS Celestial

Album · 2000 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 9 ratings
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One of the understandably less popular ISIS albums, Celestial really predates their signature atmospheric post-metal sound. This is a much heavier album than one would expect. Drudging, long, hypnotic dirges not unlike the earlier years of Neurosis. The vocals are harsher, the guitars are lower and rougher and heavier, the bass rumbles along. ISIS has as much of a solid wall of sound as ever, just a different wall. Music that slowly squeezes down on your skull and crushes the flowers and kittens out of your system.

Far more on the sludge end of things than post-metal. Recommended listening if you can handle it. Lay back and embrace the weight. Bleak.

CONVERGE All We Love We Leave Behind

Album · 2012 · Metalcore
Cover art 4.33 | 10 ratings
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Just like if metalcore was actually good.

Converge's All We Love We Leave Behind is utterly relentless. It simply never lets off for more than about 10 seconds at a time, which makes the relatively short 38 minute duration fly by. But more than that, the music is well composed and superbly executed. It also showcases quite high production value.

All We Love We Leave Behind is filled to the brim with catchy riffs, without eschewing any of Converge's well-known brutality. At times it reminds me of the band High on Fire, or maybe early Mastodon. The guitar work is searing, vocals are passionate and borderline actually understandable, and the bass cuts clearly through the mix - something we don't often get to hear in this style of music. The drums are frantic and never miss a beat, something which contributes to the overall driving feel this album has.

Though it lacks some of the clean, slower parts of Converge's (arguably) greatest masterpiece Jane Doe, and there are fewer moments of genuine weirdness, for many people these points will be pluses. All We Love We Leave Behind is certainly among Converge's finest releases, and comes highly recommended to anybody who can appreciate their particular brand of extreme metal.

SHINING Blackjazz

Album · 2010 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.03 | 22 ratings
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Shining's BLACKJAZZ is an album that I found almost laughably bad on first listen, but I find now that it has really grown on me. I appreciate the aesthetic and the instrument tones, particularly. This "avant-garde black metal meets free jazz meets Zu" approach is a new sound for Norway's Shining (not to be mistaken for the Swedish black metal band), and I think it works quite well for them. BLACKJAZZ is a very high-energy, loud album that incorporates - along with the aforementioned genres - elements of electronic music, which end up quite interesting with distorted, growled vocals overtop.

The only track I found remotely weak was the cover of King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man; the rest of the album definitely fits with my current tastes. However, I could easily see this as a love/hate album for most people.

WOLD L.O.T.M.P.

Album · 2005 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 2 ratings
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A strange, confusing foray into the depths of noise that will potentially leave the listener questioning their sanity, L.O.T.M.P. definitely left me feeling slightly disorientated and physically ill during and after my first listen through. Layers of low-fi black metal, fuzzed out beyond recognition, covered with straight noise and feedback, overlaid again with soft, floating angelic melodies, this album is a peculiar beast to say the least. The vocals are nigh-incomprehensible, but it doesn't detract from the music, I find.

Possibly the most unique, and scariest, band in existence. Although this album is, in my opinion, practically a masterpiece, I can't recommend this to anybody as the vast majority of people will not enjoy it.

Listen at your own peril.

PRIMUS The Brown Album

Album · 1997 · Funk Metal
Cover art 3.71 | 11 ratings
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Probably Primus' least-loved work, and probably their grittiest, The Brown Album is by far my favourite thing Les Claypool has ever done. That is saying a lot, as I love everything he has ever done; I can't even think of an exception.

Every track on The Brown Album tells a story of sorts, in that strange, eccentric way with words Claypool has. This adds a lot of personality to the album; each song has a character to it.

Perhaps the most appealing thing about this album, to me, is the dirty, fuzzy, distant sound all the instruments - especially the drums - have. It is just a tone that I find really appeals to me, although I can easily understand why it might bother other people.

Yes, I love this album to tears now, but it was not always so. A warning to the listener, this one is a grower for sure. If you don't like it, try again some time later; you may be surprised.

BARONESS Second

EP · 2005 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 3.91 | 9 ratings
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A sludgy mess of an album, Baroness's Second is vaguely reminiscent of early (i.e. about the same time) Mastodon, with a distinct southern drawl. The vocals are rough and harsh without ever sounding anything other than badass, the guitars are low, heavy, and play many slinky harmonized lines. Everything is tight but loose, groovy and thrashing.

The whole thing is rough, it's not always quite in time or in tune, but damned if it doesn't have more balls than anything else. One of the best examples that sometimes the best music isn't perfectly executed or polished to a lustrous shine.

In contrast to their EP First, which by the way I feel should always be taken directly before this one, I find that Second's weakest moments come somewhere in the middle, and its ending is a giant wallop upside the head. Regardless, its lows are far better than most bands' highs.

And yes, this is just a slight reworking of my review for First, but basically everything that can be said about First applies to Second as well.

AGALLOCH The Mantle

Album · 2002 · Folk Metal
Cover art 4.21 | 70 ratings
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Triceratopsoil
Widely regarded as Agalloch's masterpiece (not by me, though), The Mantle eschews the largely black metal -based sound of Agalloch's other releases in favour of a more acoustic sound. Straight from the woods, this is the album from which the term "elkcore" was coined. It also has a very post-rock feel to it, which is accentuated by the development of a repeated musical theme throughout the album. The booming tympani adds some power to the music, and overall The Mantle feels like a very deep and emotional affair.

I highly recommend this album to anybody. It's hard to express in words how much this album can affect people.

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History

Album · 2004 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.14 | 37 ratings
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A ridiculous, crazy piece of work, Of Natural History has possibly the most unique and distinct pieces of music I've ever heard on one album. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum use their signature plethora of homemade instruments to great effect, there are all sorts of slinky, booming or just plain distorted instruments, most of them seeming to be percussion or string based, and they all sound absolutely perfect in conjunction with the music. The lyrics are simultaenously silly (BAY-BEEEE DOCTORRRRR!) and serious, carrying powerful messages in amongst the amusing wordplay.

A wonderfully eclectic album, Of Natural History is perhaps more avant-prog than metal but heavy enough to headbang along to.

ZU Carboniferous

Album · 2009 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.10 | 15 ratings
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Zu's noisy and groove-oriented sound is somewhat reminiscent of French avant-jazz three-piece Jean Louis (an entirely unaffiliated act), although with a metal edge to it. The bass on Carboniferous is loud, crunchy and very prominent. Distorted saxophone makes a lot of racket (in a good way). The drumming is pretty jazzy for a metal band, but that can largely be attributed to the fact that Zu has anything but a typical metal sound.

Right away, the first track "Ostia" sets the tone for the album, revealing Zu's high energy blast of finely sculpted noise-metal. The pizazz loosens up a bit on a few of the tracks, but for the most part Zu's liveliness is unrelenting.

Carboniferous is fairly "out there," but I highly recommend it for anybody with a tolerance for avant-garde music or free-jazz.

BARONESS First

EP · 2004 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 3.93 | 8 ratings
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Triceratopsoil
A sludgy mess of an album, Baroness's First is vaguely reminiscent of early (i.e. about the same time) Mastodon, with a distinct southern drawl. The vocals are rough and harsh without ever sounding anything other than badass, the guitars are low, heavy, and play many slinky harmonized lines. Everything is tight but loose, groovy and thrashing.

The whole thing is rough, it's not always quite in time or in tune, but damned if it doesn't have more balls than anything else. One of the best examples that sometimes the best music isn't perfectly executed or polished to a lustrous shine.

In contrast to their EP Second, which by the way I feel should always be taken directly after this one, I find that First starts off with a giant bang, which carries on most of the way through, and then its weakest moments are near the end. Regardless, its lows are far better than most bands' highs.

RUSSIAN CIRCLES Enter

Album · 2006 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.11 | 27 ratings
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A wonderful interpretation of post-metal/math rock. I've heard no other bands that do quite the same thing as Russian Circles.

Mike Sullivan's guitar is densely layered through the use of loop pedals, creating the sound of many guitars in a very cool way that he can reproduce live. Colin Dekuiper's bass is thunderously low, adding a lot of power and heaviness to the music. Dave Turncrantz drums are rock solid and steady, keeping a nice groove throughout, and very technical at times.

Overall, catchy-as-hell music with copious amounts of both soothing ambiance and heavy metal riffing. One of the best debut albums in decades.

CYNIC Focus

Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.01 | 62 ratings
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While I understand why some people love this album so much, it just doesn't quite do it for me. The music is absolutely fantastic, a wonderful jazzy fusion of progressive rock and death metal, but the vocals - high pitched and electronic - are a huge turn-off for me. Still, if that is something you like, you will doubtlessly find this album to be excellent. The growls are still good, and I wish that all of the vocals were growled.

Focus is an album that is definitely at least worth trying, for anybody, even if you end up not liking it.

AGALLOCH Marrow of the Spirit

Album · 2010 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art 4.15 | 43 ratings
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Agalloch's bleakest and blackest work yet, Marrow of the Spirit is a big contender for my top album of 2010. The music is simultaneously saddening, groovy and heavy, and the vocals are some of the most tortured I've heard, especially on the magnificent Black Lake Nidstång - which also has a wonderfully chilling organ interlude, my favourite moment on the album. This album comes less from the woods, as Agalloch's previous releases, and more from the tundra I would say. A frozen wasteland of a listening experience, Marrow of the Spirit hasn't been as widely well-received as it should have been because of the black metal emphasis, but it is possibly Agalloch's best yet.

MR. BUNGLE Disco Volante

Album · 1995 · Metal Related
Cover art 4.13 | 54 ratings
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Everywhere and everything at once, Disco Volante is Mike Patton's eclectic masterpiece. There is scarcely a genre of music that does not make an appearance on this album. Although Patton and Mr. Bungle's silliness is very apparent, there is also an indisputable seriousness to the music that wasn't around on Mr. Bungle's self-titled album.

All of the musicianship is flawless on Disco Volante, and Patton's vocals are unmatchable, even when he is just making sound effects.

An absolute trip, well worth embarking on. Almost a modern-day, metal Trout Mask Replica.

Faith No More fans beware; nevertheless, this is without a doubt a masterpiece.

DYSTOPIA Human = Garbage

Album · 1994 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 3 ratings
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A magnificently dense, filthy, crusty pile of sludge, the mood of Human = Garbage is well set when it starts off with a pained rant about the evils of the world overtop of a slow slinky bass line and phased guitars. The lyrics are extremely powerful and depressing, and are nearly all about suicide, politics, death, drug abuse, and many other social issues facing the world today. The music is all heavy, dirty, and doomy. Pain and hatred are practically dripping off the vocals, Dino Sommese's voice being raw and hoarse. A very emotional and fierce listen that may not be for everyone

KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye

Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 53 ratings
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The glorious first offering by Toby Driver's post-maudlin band Kayo Dot, Choirs of the Eye is a largely emotional and powerful album. Driver evokes feelings of despair, hatred, and insanity (especially insanity) via both the lyrics and music. There is a mixture of calm, beautiful soft parts, angry heavy parts, and straight-up insane noise which seems to lack any structure at all. The songs are simultaneously distinct and lacking boundaries. Toby Driver's compositions reach beyond the mind into the very depths of the soul, if one believes in such a thing.

An entirely flawless piece of perfection, and one of the best albums of all time, in any genre.

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