Metal Music Reviews from siLLy puPPy

DEEP PURPLE The Book Of Taliesyn

Album · 1968 · Proto-Metal
Cover art 3.38 | 44 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Recorded only three months after their debut, DEEP PURPLE quickly released their sophomore followup THE BOOK OF TALIESYN which continued all the traits of “Shades Of Deep Purple” with a mix of originals and covers, however despite the basic similarities that include different styles such as psychedelic and hard rock mixed with classical music arrangements interspersed throughout, THE BOOK OF TALIESYN nurtured these ideas even further with more sophisticated compositional approaches that are now regarded as some of the earliest proto-prog archetypes of the late 60s despite the fact that the album was mainly aimed at the hippie crowds in the US where it was released in October 1968. DEEP PURPLE surprisingly was completely ignored in the UK (where it was held back until 69) with their earliest albums until they became so popular in a few short years (with “In Rock”) that they could not be ignored any longer.

The album title is a slightly alternate spelling taken from the 14th-century Book Of Taliesin which is one of the most famous of all Middle Welsh manuscripts that were attributed to the bard which was famous for setting a wide number of moods in the Medieval courts in the days of King Arthur in Camelot. Likewise the album THE BOOK OF TALIESYN is a loose concept album attempting to evoke the same sense of diverse mood shifts that a bard would propose in the context of the situation. The album contains seven tracks that range from spunky little blues rockers such as the opener “Listen, Learn, Read On,” “Exposition” and other segments in different tracks which all all tinged with a period glaze of psychedelic keyboard embellishments that deviate into fantastic classical musical expeditions which finds Jon Lord dishing out some impressive keyboard playing that was only rivaled by Keith Emerson in The Nice.

The original tracks were composed by Ritchie Blackmore, original vocalist Rod Evans, Jon Lord and Ian Paice making the early episodes of DEEP PURPLE very democratic in nature. Ironically the album cover art (which is my favorite of the DP canon) was created by John Vernon Lord (no relation to the keyboardist). There are three cover tracks as well. The most popular track of this album is the Neil Diamond cover “Kentucky Woman” and the two part track that begins with “Exposition” cedes into a woefully out of place more bluesy rendition of the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” The final cover and in my opinion, the best track on the album comes as the closer and is an excellent cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” which introduces a new highly developed progressive rock approach to the band’s resume as it churns out over ten minutes of satisfying musical changes taken Ike & Turner’s funky soul domain into surreal psychedelic and classically tinged progressive rock territory.

At this point DEEP PURPLE was far from a household name and listening to THE BOOK OF TALIESYN these days give few clues to the world class act they would become in their Mark II days. While this album is satisfying on many levels, it feels like they were trying to pull off too many ideas that never feel resolved. The mix of psychedelic bluesy rock mixed with outbursts of classical keyboard segments display veritable exciting ideas gestating in the midst and there are even moments where the chugging of the guitar and riff sound like they are ready to break into such classics as “Highway Star” however for the most part the album soars along in psychedelic blues rock mode and while Rod Evans certainly had the perfect voice for the 60s hippie scene, he lacked the overall powerful effects that Ian Gillan added down the road. Fans of DEEP PURPLE should certainly check out these interesting origins even if all the proper elements hadn’t quite coalesced in a totally satisfying way. Not a bad way to get your groove on. The newer remastered versions are quite superior to the original as far as i’ve heard.

ULVER Nattens Madrigal: Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden

Album · 1997 · Black Metal
Cover art 3.74 | 26 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While ULVER (Norwegian for “wolves”) has become synonymous with eclectic genre jumping between albums like virtually no other band in history of recorded music, in the beginning they at least attempted to create a series of albums in their “Black Metal Trilogie” which began with 1994’s “Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler.” However despite the supposed “black metal” part of the equation, even on their sophomore album, the wiley wolfy ones were pulling the old switcheroo by performing their second album in the metal-free zone of the dark Norwegian folk drenched “Kvelssanger.” For their third album they make a reprise and finish out the trilogy by bringing the black metal back to the forefront and on NATTENS MADRIGAL - AATTE HYMNE TIL ULVEN I MANDEN (translated from Norwegian as "Madrigal Of The Night – Eight Hymns To The Wolf In Man”), not only do they recapitulate the full fury of the debut but unleash the full fury of caustic black metal which races along like wolf pursued prey fleeing for its very life.

While the three albums are connected thematically, NATTENS MADRIGAL was the band’s international debut and most likely the first taste of the Norwegian wolf pack by the majority of the planet. The third installment of the trilogy is a concept that revolves around tales of the dark side of humanity that uses metaphors in the form of wolves in the moonlit night as depicted by the cover art. The album was recorded immediately after “Bergtatt” with no specific timeline for release but as the band got signed by Century Media in the late 90s, vocalist Kristoffer Rygg who is credited as Garm states that the band wanted to unleash their most abrasive and venomous attempt on second wave black metal as their international debut not only as a guidepost for their involvement in the early scene but also as a final farewell before they moved out of the black metal scene entirely. There was also a little shock value involved to freak out their new label as well.

NATTENS MADRIGAL is a relentless beast despite calm surreal interludes that incorporate ambient, industrial and other pacifying sounds. While these sounds are plentiful, they merely punctuate the main compositions that exude an overall abrasive and caustic second wave metal attack with adrenaline fueled blastbeasts, searing buzzsaw guitar riffs and lo-fi production that banishes the bass into Hades. As typical for the day, the din is fortified with vile, angry raspy shouted vocals typical of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Marduk and other similar second wavers of the 90s Scandinavian black metal scene. While the lo-fi aspects of NATTENS MADRIGAL are quite similar to the majority of over-adrenalized 90s black metal, ULVER excels in composing tight melodic constructs which at times such as in “Hymn I: Of Wolf And Fear” breaks out of the super aggressive mode and converts into melodic classical guitar with modern production before descending into the lo-fi hellfire pits once again.

While on the surface NATTENS MADRIGAL seems like a typical 90s black metal release, however it is in fact an interesting closer in their “Black Metal Trilogie” as it eschews the atmospheric and folk touches that the debut “Bergtatt” utilized and opts for a more primeval raw and angry evil as fuck sort of sound. While the fans of the day never could have predicted that after such an energetic and unrelenting display of black metal fury that constitutes the third and final installment of the trilogy, the clues as to where ULVER would take their next journey lay in the cracks between the caustic distortionfest. The ambient, industrial and psychedelic folk snippets between tracks would become the focus of the newer chapters of ULVER’s ever-changing journey. While i can’t say that i wish ULVER would have stuck to their black metal roots because so many other band’s were jumping on the bandwagon, i also cannot say that i don’t love the hell out of the early black metal albums that ULVER conjured up. On this one, they not only somehow managed to create beautiful melodies beneath the unbounded brutality but seeded the blueprint of their future musical adventures. NATTENS MADRIGAL is a satisfying adrenalized high octane 90s black metal release fortified with cool electronic embellishments.

JUDAS PRIEST Firepower

Album · 2018 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 13 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
It’s hard to believe that the metal gods of the 80s who formed all the way back in 1969, yep, that’s 49 years ago are still around almost 20 years into the new millennium with their 18th studio album are still cranking it up and pumping out the metal glory. While most metal bands have formed and disbanded within this time period, JUDAS PRIEST somehow seems immortal as they unleash their classic 80s sound in modern form on their newest sonic artillery range FIREPOWER. On their previous album “Redeemer Of Souls,” PRIEST seemed to be having an identity crisis of some sort. The album sampled a bit from their entire career with one of the most diverse sounding albums since their Gull Records days, but on FIREPOWER, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Scott Travis and the newest member of the pack Richie Faulkner (who replaced found K.K. Downing in 2011) zero in on the classic 80s PRIEST sound that made them some of the metal lords of eternity. In fact if someone were to re-write history and replace “Turbo” with FIREPOWER and listen to their canon in sequential order, no one would probably even notice if they were not familiar with the real order or course.

While JUDAS PRIEST may have had mixed reviews with their 80s output, it’s generally agreed upon that they hit a high note with “Painkiller” and although it seemed that the band were on top of the world ready to rule another decade, Rob Halford upped and left leaving the band to find a new singer while he jumped into other projects like Fight and his self-penned band Halford. Once he found himself back in the band on 2005’s “Angel Of Retribution,” the original lead singer was back but that old school PRIEST magic was not. After a divisive attempt at a prog album “Nostradamus” and their decently performed but rather safe feeling “Redeemer Of Souls,” PRIEST finally return with one of their most confidently performed albums since “Painkiller.” To help rekindle the spirit of yore, producer Tom Allom rejoins the cast after an absence stemming back to 1988’s “Ram It Down.” To keep things fresh and modern Andy Sneap stepped in as co-producer which means FIREPOWER sounds like classic PRIEST in all thunderous heavy metal glory with a crisp punchy modern production fit for the modern era.

Right from the very first guitar gusto bursting out on the opening title track, it’s clear that PRIEST were going for the aggressive guitar riff heavy sound that is all their own with a serious feistiness not experienced since the “Painkiller” days although Halford is a lot more conservative with his high-pitched falsetto but nails the mid-range dynamics of his vocals perfectly showing not a single sign of multi-decade strain. The following “Lightning Strikes,” one of the singles follows in classic PRIEST form with heavy dueling guitar attacks, catchy and dynamic melodies with bombastic bass and percussive backup from Hill and Travis. Both of these tracks easily could have slipped in on any of the 80s releases. However just when it seems PRIEST was going completely retro on us with a few classic sounding tracks, they start to show a more diverse picture starting with “Never The Heroes” which shows influences from Halford’s solo career more than classic PRIEST with Fight inspired riffage although the soaring sustained guitar chord choruses yank the listener back into the classic era.

Some tracks like “Necromancer” carefully craft riffs around previous classics only changing it up enough to keep you guessing where you’ve heard it before much like Iron Maiden’s “Book Of Souls.” “Children Of The Sun” which sounds more like something from the Ripper years with clean guitar arpeggiated sections with thrash laden riffs showing that PRIEST were just as interested in incorporating other aspects of their career rather than a totally 80s free-for-all. Likewise the piano based “Guardians” serves as an intermission reminding more of the “Nostradamus” album before jumping into the now familiar guitar driven riffs of “Rising From Ruins,” another heavy melody rich stew of aggressive guitar driven metal only with softer verses that build up momentum.

The rest of the album continues this trend and pretty much continues the strong selection of compositions. While the album is surprisingly consistent in its quality, the album does hit a brick wall at the end with the head scratcher of a tune “Lone Wolf” which with a dirty bluesy shuffle sounds very weak amidst the heavier tracks. Likewise the “Sea Of Red” finale seems a bit anti-climactic as well as it slowly oozes in with a soft melodic acoustic guitar passage that also seems out of place in the midst of heavier company and not a very dynamic way to end the album although it’s not necessarily a bad tune by any means. Perhaps if it were placed elsewhere it would have packed a bit more punch. It also sounds like the classic PRIEST sound mixed with a Maiden “7th Son..” era with the un-PRIEST-ly sounding background vocals. When all is said and done, PRIEST deliver on 14 tracks of classic heavy metal fortified with a modern production as well as a contemporary lyrical subject matter.

FIREPOWER proves that PRIEST is not even close to ready for the retirement home as far as pumping out feisty adrenaline fueled classic metal anthems, however the news of of Tipton’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease resulting in his possible dismissal from the band’s line-up beckons the lingering question if the band after nearly a half century of head banging service will simply call it a day and at long last bask in their heavy metal god status glory that few others have achieved. The ingredients displayed on FIREPOWER do have a rather epic flare of gusto that would be a good note to end on. Personally i never expect much from classic era metal bands to deliver something compelling but i was pleasantly surprised with FIREPOWER. True it may not go down as the number 1 favorite PRIEST album of all time. That indeed would be a tall order to fulfill, but neither will it go down near the bottom. While not a perfect album by any means, for a band who’s been around for so long to put out an excellent midrange album this late in their career, that’s certainly a classic comfort i can wholeheartedly support and with metal music having spun off in so many crazy directions since the classic 80s, it’s really cool that one of the veteran acts of the day can create something that grounds them to the past while keeping both feet in the here and now.

OZZY OSBOURNE Under Cover

Album · 2005 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 1.95 | 10 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Every so often in a metal god’s career, someone gets a wild hair up their ass and release something that is equivalent to entering the torture chamber and in the case of the godfather of metal himself, OZZY OSBOURNE delivers his biggest turd in the punchbowl of his career with his ninth album titled UNDER COVER which as the title suggests is indeed an unbelievably unnecessary collection of fourteen gawd awful tracks that makes me wonder after which party the quality control crowd passed out at when this was given the ole a-OK for release.

To be honest, i am not a huge fan of cover albums period but there are rare examples of where a band can pull off a track or two (such as Voivod’s extraordinary Pink Floyd cover “Astronomy Domine” or Marilyn Manson’s version of the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This.”) There are even a scant few albums out there such as Between The Buried And Me’s “The Anatomy Of” which effortlessly tackles a wide swath of musical achievements that leaves me in awe, however most of the time these types of projects make me cringe and in the case of OZZY OSBOURNE’s take on his favorite tracks of all time, cringe i do indeed.

Yes, it’s true that an artist should be allowed to pay respect to other’s in the biz that moves him / her to tears and what better way than a pointless, boring and unflattering cover album to tell them how much they mean to him / her. UNDER COVER is really one big batch of ridiculously misconceived and uninspired tributes finding OZZY tackling everyone from Joe Walsh and King Crimson to Buffalo Springfield, Mott The Hoople as well as The Beatles with the cream of the crop torturous moment achieved on John Lennon’s “Woman.” A number one flop on the cringe-o-meter for sure.

Despite the ridiculous nature of this piece of musical excrement, the production team and guest stars on board is quite impressive with even Ian Hunter collaborating on “All The Young Dudes” as well as Leslie West of Mountain joining in for a guitar solo on “Mississippi Queen.” There are tons of other guest stars as well including Joe Bonamassa and Gregg Bissonette to name a few. While this is the only album to find Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell filling the shoes of the great Zakk Wylde, this is hardly something he will be bragging about when he’s telling tales of lore to his grandchildren.

This is definitely one of those fan collectibles only and since i am indeed an OZZY OSBOURNE fan who is a completist at least as far as studio albums are concerned, this one sits on my shelf and got listened to one time and never again, well until i pulled it down for this review and i have to admit that this is one of the most horrible experiences i could ever imagine subjecting onto unwilling ears and if there is a hell then this one is surely on perpetual replay for eternity. Sorry OZZY, i love ya, man but this is utter crap! Every track is AWFUL but hearing OZZY sing The Animals, John Lennon and Bessie Banks makes me want to hurl. I think i’m scarred for life :o

SWANS Young God

EP · 1984 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.33 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
SWANS emerged in the short-lived New York City no wave noise rock scene with their debut album “Filth” and earlier eponymous EP but in 1984 they not only released their second album “Cop” but also an extended play (EP) that didn’t really have a title at the time. It consisted of only four tracks and has been referred to “Raping A Slave” and “I Crawled” (both album tracks) but is officially referred as YOUNG GOD which is the title of the longest track, therefore it has pretty much gone down in history under that title. The fourth unfortunate track that it hasn’t been named after is “This Is Mine.” Once again SWANS dishes out a strange concoction of punk infused energy, metal tones and timbres all parading in a drone drenched stripped-down minimalism and avant-garde outrage.

Following in the bleakness and brutal nature of the “Cop” album, YOUNG GOD takes the stylistic approach to even more extreme measures offering a glimpse into the mind of the serial killer Ed Gein. The EP takes the no wave, no frills droning percussive march into even more bombastic territories as it even utilizes a chain against a metal table offering a bleaker industrial feel than “Cop” ever dared explore. Likewise, the tempos are even slower and it genuinely sounds as if the sounds that emerge evoke the darkest, most abstract and utterly violent musical offerings possible with an abrasive surreal minimalistic barbarity unlike anything ever conceived.

YOUNG GOD contains only a mere four tracks that don’t even add up to the half hour mark but in their wake leaves a barrage of emotionally bereft hypnotic parades of industrial bleakness and surreal surrender of everything familiar in musical trends of the day. Melodies are replaced by jagged torturous textures of jarring guitar distortion, arhythmic percussive drives that churn along like heart palpitations and the bleakest sewer rat perspective of sado-masochistic sonic torture sessions that incorporate downtuned dread with utter hopelessness.

While the overall effect is equivalent to “Cop,” YOUNG GODS is even more surreal and hypnotic as the guitar parts are more uniform whereas the Michael Gira’s vocals are much more emphatic and take on a more diverse repertoire of tortured prowess. The main effect of YOUNG GOD is one of disbelief as the grimy filth of the guitar and bass distortion churn along with the atypically timed rhythmic flow of the percussion. This one has been cited as a major influence to bands like Nirvana, Neurosis and Godflesh. The Swiss band The Young Gods even named themselves after it. This is about as subversively sinister as music can get before it totally becomes irregular formless noise.

This is the last bout with sheer musical bleakness for SWANS. After YOUNG GODS they would incorporate Jarboe into the band and her influence would forever change the band’s course into more diverse arenas. While the EP was never officially released beyond the initial vinyl pressings, the four tracks that appeared on it can easily be found on modern compilations of the early works. YOUNG GODS takes the unique musical lexicon that SWANS crafted in their earlier years and fleshes out only the bleakest possibilities. So intense is this stuff that more than four tracks of it and it may have caused death. Include this on the “scariest tracks of all time” list.

SWANS Cop

Album · 1984 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.69 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While many will claim that the 80s were one of the worst decades for music but i must disagree wholeheartedly since some of the most original thinking musical entities emerged from this period. On the aggressive side of the musical equation, the punk and metal that had been gaining steam in the late 70s and early 80s really took off during this period. While punk and post-punk had splintered into a gazillion subgenera, metal on the other hand was only starting to see the potential of different styles emerging from the hard rock that had developed it a decade before. Out of all this craziness came SWANS whose unique style to this day is unclassifiable as they exist in their own musical universe but was even more the case in their beginning days. This NYC band led by Michael Gira existed in a strange gray area between punk and metal although they were technically part of the short-lived no wave noise rock movement.

Their debut album “Filth” set the tone for their abrasive unrelenting assault on melody with undulating waves of distorted noise grinding in a jarring rhythmical fashion like a thousand jackhammers pounding the city streets in unison and only slightly deviating from each other until a true cacophonous din results. On their second album COP, the band of four continues this aggressive assault and takes it even further with even heavier bombastic drum and bass beats accompanied by screeching downtuned and dissonant guitar riffs along with Gira’s tortured soul vocalizations that preceded the world of black and death metal by several years. It’s no wonder that early SWANS have been cited as one of the major influences for the heavy down and dirty approach of sludge metal because the thick guitar riffs that buzz to infinity create one of the loudest albums of the early 80s as if the band recorded this in a deep industrial bunker in the darkest recesses of the cockroach filled underbellies of a post-apocalyptic world.

While many comparisons have been made with doom metal and i can honestly see those connections, i find COP is more of a unique fusion of snarling punk attitudinal posturing with heavily cranked up adrenaline inducing distortion from the guitar and bass akin to the early extreme metal of Venom and Hellhammer with a bombastic drone-like march of a souless percussive drive that hypnotizes by sheer brutal force. Part of the allure is the ambiguousness of the subject matter at hand with lyrics flirting with scenes of sexual domination in unseen corners in dimly lit dungeons. The tempo on COP is much slower than “Filth” which adds a sense of valium laden dread to the abrasiveness of the fuzzed out guitar tones grinding the eardrums into audio submission like the morbidly obese woman on the cover depicts in utter despair. COP took the art of ugliness to perfect heights as the holy trinity of audio, visual and emotional impact impaled the listener from all angles.

COP is almost universally deemed SWANS’ most brutal album and i doubt anyone could disagree once encountering this seductively repulsive sonic terror. If the guitar dissonance and vocal anguish wasn’t enough, the drum and bass experience a hypnotic repertoire that is jagged with off-kilter time signatures that succeed in disrupting melodic flow in every way possible. Both “Filth” and “Cop” as well as the two EPs of the same era are cited as a major influence on bands like Godflesh, The Young Gods and the 90s sludge gods Neurosis with an almost tribal rhythmic drive gone horribly wrong into arhythmic sado-masochistic sonic torture sessions. This is not one for the faint-hearted by any means. After this album, Gira would incorporate the feminine charm of Jarboe to the band’s sound which would change the band’s style and sound drastically. However on COP, these guys pumped out one of the most monstrous and tenebrous death marches of all the early 80s. While bleak, this stuff is morbidly beautiful in its own way as it creates its own musical lexicon.

OZZY OSBOURNE Down To Earth

Album · 2001 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.77 | 16 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
OZZY OSBOURNE had every intention of retiring after the “No More Tours” era of the early 90s but his restless spirit couldn’t kick the heavy metal habit and ended up recording another album, “Ozzmosis” in 1995 which would cement his status as metal god in the alternative 90s. Soon thereafter that release, he and his wife Sharon had organized a totally new event called the Ozzfest Tour which was loosely based on Perry Farrell’s (of Jane’s Addiction) successful Lallapolooza tours. The event took place annually and hosted two stages and a dozen or so different bands. The festivals turned out to be a huge success which led OZZY to focus on constant live settings instead of releasing new material.

By the turn of the millennium his record label Epic was demanding a new product, so back into the studios once again to record new material which emerged with his first 21st century album DOWN TO EARTH, the first album in six years. Another lineup change in the process with only Zakk Wylde returning from past glories. The new OZZY lineup would consist of bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin, most famous from Faith No More. While not official members of the band, producer Tim Palmer added extra guitars, keyboards and military drums (on “Can You Hear Them?”) as well as Michael Railo helping out with keyboards as well.

It seems that OZZY had never had a more relaxed and stable period in his life where everything was running smoothly. He had the festival tours in his blood at this point and an army of collaborators to assist in the songwriting process, which was a wise decision to employ their talents because DOWN TO EARTH contains eleven strong heavy metal anthems in the vein of OZZY’s classic 80s metal spirit but yet exuded a strong 90s vibe such as the White Zombie heavy stomp heft on the heaviest tracks as well as the industrial synthesizer action that oozes out of the background between the cracks in the heavy metal bombast. It also seems that OZZY’s rekindling of Black Sabbath has rubbed off as well as many of the tracks have that old school early metal feel with crunchy fifth root chords chugging along like demons on ecstasy.

DOWN TO EARTH finds OZZY in a great spirit lyrically as well. His poetic lyrics propound the usual subject matter ranging from rough times in life to drug influenced experiences albeit from the point of the observer instead of the user. The tracks are all quite catchy and the true addiction is in the form of great tunes that have favorable solid melodies exquisitely performed by the top notch musicians on board. As usual there are even a few ballads such as “Dreamer” and “Running Out Of Time,” but at this point even the slow numbers are quite sophisticated in their orchestration and dynamics with clever arrangements and an alternative rock swagger. OZZY truly found a way to adapt with grace into the new world all the while retaining his timeless sense of godfather of metal status.

I have to admit that DOWN TO EARTH is one that didn’t grab me upon first listen. In fact i pretty much shelved it for several years before giving it another spin. This is not balls to the wall heavy metal in full madman status rather this is a contemplative collection of well-crafted tunes that stitch together various aspects of OZZY’s career and add a few modern ingredients into the mix which yields a rather excellent batch of heavy rockers and sweet syrupy ballads. OZZY’s voice seems even more controlled and relaxed on this one not to mention that the evil as fuck album cover which is one of the best in his canon. DOWN TO EARTH may not be one that blows you away upon first listen and one would surely expect something grand from the godfather at this point but what we get is that at all but rather an incredibly consistent collection of top crafted heavy metal tracks that only got lost in the shuffle because of the preponderance of newer metal acts that were stealing OZZY’s thunder at this point. Still though, not one to be missed.

SUMMONING With Doom We Come

Album · 2018 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art 3.83 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While SUMMONING officially formed all the way back in the early 90s, this current day duo from Austria has been quite sparse in their 21st century releases with only four full-length albums having emerged in the last 18 years which roughly means around five year gaps in between. Lo and behold and at long last a retreat back into the Tolkien lengendarium where Orks run wild and Mordor burns in fury as the Ring of Power remains firmly out of grasp as Hobbits dodge one bout with evil after another. Finally in 2018, SUMMONING which consists only of Selenius and Protector has unleashed their latest installment of their musical accompaniment for all things Lord of the Rings in the form of WITH DOOM WE COME. As with the previous albums beginning with 1995’s “Minas Morgul,” we are treated (or tortured) to another set of epic length jaunts into dark ambient melodic marches that feel as if they are procured by Elves, performed by Dwarves, considered by Hobbits and ultimately embellished with Gandalf’s white wizard ways of crafting the perfect balance between simple melodies that are glistened over with something more precious than Golem’s lost pride and joy.

WITH DOOM WE COME is only the eighth installment in the world of SUMMONING and after years of delays (which remain unnamed), the album finds the first rays of 2018 shining upon it like a new Hobbit movie emerging from the misty fjords of New Zealand. With Middle Earth firmly fixed in gaze, SUMMONING once again delivers the expected epic video game soundtrack romp through a series of eight lengthy tracks that continue the (now) traditional theme of taking a simple (and catchy) piano or synthesized melodic flow that seemingly riffs to eternity but on the march to freedom captures subtle changes in their midst. You are correct to assume that SUMMONING have mustered up yet another album familiar to all, that being heavily atmospheric dominated melodies that crank up the buzzsaw guitar action and raspy corpse paint vocals to conjure up visions of despair and utter dismay as all hope seems extinguished and only carried through by a melodic string that holds it all together.

Whether you love em or hate em, one thing is for sure: SUMMONING has a sound and style like no other. These guys have conjured up one of the most unique elans in a strange world that straddles black metal, dark ambient and video game soundtrack epic grandeur. WITH DOOM WE COME seems to have taken the expected mix of melodic flow in military march with distorted guitar, raspy vocals and orchestrated-the-hell-out-of-it approach to even more extreme pastures. While the basics remain firmly in place, it seems that the production is off-the-hook clear and the use of choirs for background emphatics is even more pronounced and epic in nature. Just as the new release of the video game Zelda takes epic video game experiences to ever more heightened arenas, so too does SUMMONING’s emphasis on these same epic qualities that ride in the same wake. Never before have drum machines, fuzzed out guitar, raspy screaming vocals or synthesized orchestras with choirs sounded so, well…. grand. It’s more of the same but yet the quality is off the charts.

For sure kvlt black metal worshippers, who have been throwing darts at the effigies of Silenius and Protector all these years for betraying the one-dimensional black metal ethos that strangleholds so many, will find nothing on WITH DOOM WE COME to rein in their hatred for anything remotely symphonic and atmospheric in nature. However, to be fair i have never really considered SUMMONING’s form of musical expression a black metal band at all (OK after their first album that is) but rather a dark ambient, darkwave, epic video game soundtrack style of music that just happens to take the raspy vocals and buzzsaw guitar distortion of black metal along for the ride after their black metal origins. Needless to say, if you don’t like what came before, you won’t be SUMMONING any more of these demons but this duo really knows how to craft a lush and exquisitely designed romp through the musical soundscapes of the Tolkien universe and that is something no others have successfully tackled. SUMMONING have latched onto their own brand of hybridized musical expression and why would anyone expect them to explore anything else but?

WITH DOOM WE COME is a welcome respite into a familiar sound with an ever expanding production value in a set repertoire. This is very much a hypnotic type of album that seduces the listener with an irresistible melancholy yet utterly addictive hook and then slowly ratchets up the tension with the swirling sensation of synthesized embellishments that add more and more flavors to the mix. This is one for the audiophiles as the production is super crisp and clear and every detail is drenched in perfection. Yeah, i too am a lover of everything kvlt, demented and evil but that’s not SUMMONING’s game. Their shtick is in the grey zone where black metal, dark ambient and epic soundtrack music meet in the triangulated mysteries of the dark. While this is definitely akin to their previous offerings, i have to admit that i can’t get enough of this stuff and i personally have no problem with a band continuing down a path they forged for themselves. This is a really compelling listen even if it goes down familiar turf. It’s exquisitely performed and that’s more than good enough for me!

BUCKETHEAD Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique

Album · 2018 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
{:>

B U C K E T H E A D ~ Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique

1st album of 2018

Two tracks that clock in at 28:04

All instruments played by the chicken lover himself

“Forneau Cosmique” (11:49) begins with a familiar BH sound, that is a synthesized atmospheric backdrop with mellow echoey guitar parts, however it quickly bursts into a heavy alternative metal type of guitar riff with the bass and drums along for the ride. Not unexpectedly, guitar solos emerge here and there trading off with the riffs. Compositionally speaking, the main melody is one of those looped recurring series of chords that maintain a rhythm guitar, bass and drums as a lead guitar joins in to provide variety. Around the 3.5 minute mark, the heavy metal drops out and the echoey clean guitars steal the show with the same rhythm and melodic progression. When the distorted guitar joins back in its less frenetic as the a sizzling guitar solo extends for a lengthy period of time building up power and speed. As the track continues its long journey, it retains the basic melody but pumps out different variations but basically comes across as a tad uninspiring as we’ve heard this a million times before and this is really quite too tame despite some crunchy metal riffing that occurs.

“Endless Experiments” (16:15) is an even crunchier metal monster with heavy guitar riffs hitting the ground running. They alternate with some freaky electronica. Unlike the previous track, this one wastes no time changing things up and heads to the other extreme where totally unrelated riffs and melodies juxtapose and clash with avant-garde sounding guitar parts. After a while it jumps back into straight forward heavy metal, then electronica, then clean guitar parts and then heavy metal slowed down. It takes no time at all to realize that this is one of those tracks that changes things up often zigzagging in unpredictable ways from genre style to genre style with heavy riffs, solos, electronic bloops and bleeps and bluesy rock all trading off with each other. This track is basically like somebody randomly hits shuffle every several seconds and where it ends up is anyone’s guess but all the styles performed are nothing new to the BH canon.

This PIKE is really nothing out of the ordinary however the two stylistic approaches generally do not sit side by side on the same release. The first track has been done to death at this point and is really quite boring whereas the second track is more unpredictably wild and more to my tastes but same problem. This style has been done to death and is performed in more interesting ways on previous PIKEs. This two track PIKE is really BUCKETHEAD by the numbers as nothing on it is new in any way, shape or form. While BH slowed down in 2017 releasing a mere 30 albums, many of them simply retread previous ideas sprawled out in the vast BH universe. Likewise the first PIKE of 2018 offers little insight that the new year will provide anything but the same. Decently played and performed but not inspiring.

OZZY OSBOURNE Ozzmosis

Album · 1995 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.55 | 26 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Despite claiming that “No More Tears” would be his last album and even followed it up with an aptly named “No More Tours” jaunt around the world, OZZY OSBOURNE didn’t take to retirement too keenly and lo and behold found himself in the studios again to record his seventh studio album OZZMOSIS which came out four years after his last majorly successful comeback album. This is a rather unique album in all of his canon in not only lineup but also for its dipping into the current alternative rock and metal scene. While most of the band members from the past jumped ship after the previous album and tour, Zakk Wylde returned for guitar duties.

Also on board for OZZMOSIS is Geezer Butler who had just left Black Sabbath for the umpteenth time and on drums Deen Castronovo joined the team after serving in Wild Dogs and Bad English. His mellow AOR ballad band history shines through on this one. Also new to the mix was Rick Wakeman on keyboards. Yes, that Rick Wakeman of the progressive rock superstar band Yes and his first appearance with OZZY on an album since the 1973 Black Sabbath album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when Yes and Sabbath were recording in adjacent studios. Unfortunately despite one of the most accomplished prog rock keyboard wizards on board, there isn’t much in keyboard virtuosity.

OZZMOSIS was another hit for OZZY as it reached number 4 on the Billboard album charts and went on to be certified triple platinum. This was one of those huge productions unlike any of his earlier albums with a whole army of engineering assistants and production and mastering crews. As well as OZZY and Zakk Wylde contributing in the songwriting department, so too did Geezer Butler and quite a few others including Steve Vai, Dream Theater’s John Purdell and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Originally Steve Vai was on board to join the team on guitar duties but had a clash of personalities with OZZY allowing Wylde to jump back in the guitarist’s role once again.

Stylistically OZZMOSIS is a lot mellower than any other previous OZZY album. Starting with “No More Tears” he had shed the lunatic madman image and cleaned up his act. That album emerged at the tail end of the glam metal scene and a lot had changed in the next couple of years. Once Nirvana released their mega-hit “Nevermind,” the entire music scene shifted towards alternative rock and grunge and suddenly anything 80s wasn’t cool and bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots were suddenly kings of the music scene. While many an 80s metal band attempted to adapt to the sudden changes, very few did it in a convincing way, however OZZY pulled off quite a convincing mix of the melodic heavy metal of the 80s with a spruced up take on alternative rock.

The album starts off with extraordinary strong single “Perry Mason,” which while sounding like classic OZZY is a bit of a head scratcher for subject matter for only a decade prior, OZZY was akin to the devil for the far right and no longer was he biting off bats but singing about TV based law shows. The album is rather mellow as a majority of the tracks are pop rock ballads with an alternative edge. “I Just Want You,” “Ghost Behind My Eyes” and “See You On The Other Side” are all catchy and subdued rockers that are much slower pop oriented than anything of the past. The only real metal cruncher on the entire album is “Thunder Underground” that unleashes the full Zakk Wylde guitar fury. “I Just Want You” even has a rather Nirvana type of rhythmic drive and i could easily imagine Kurt Cobain at the helm incomprehensibly screaming his heart out.

This has always been my least favorite OZZY album because of the lack of iconic metal compositions but as i’ve listened to this again after so many years for the sake of reviewing, i haven’t given this album a fair shake. True that it’s not OZZY’s most metal and it’s not his most innovative and it is certainly not the one with the most pyrotechnic guitar soloing flair, however it is chock full of catchy melodies and is probably the most Sabbath sounding of all his solo efforts for the obvious reason of Geezer contributing bass. It’s also one of the best produced albums of the 90s as the instrumentation blends together like a symphony without being overproduced. True this will never top my personal charts but not as bad as i remembered. The only complaint i have is that it doesn’t seem like OZZY evolved very much and he simply settled into a comfort zone that suited the time. While that was nothing out of the ordinary for the day, it certainly shows all these years later..

OZZY OSBOURNE Live & Loud

Live album · 1993 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.85 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
After the album “No More Tears,” OZZY OSBOURNE set out for yet another tour and very much intended it to be the last one as he was reaching burn out and found his hectic schedule to be suffocating his soul and thus the following tour was called “No More Tours.” Two years after the release of his most successful post Randy Rhoads era album, he released a double album live representation of his time on the road in the form of LIVE & LOUD. By this point he was experiencing a lineup change once again with bassist Bob Daisley and keyboardist John Sinclair jumping ship and replaced by bassist Mike Inez (who would go on with Alice In Chains) and keyboardist Kevin Jones.

LIVE & LOUD is a collection of live performances from all over the world and even includes a veritable Black Sabbath reunion on the track “Black Sabbath” that took place in Costa Mesa, CA. The album was originally released in two forms with one called a fat boy 2 CD case with the album cover perforated like a speaker grill which is the one i own and have always admired the clever packaging details. The release saw another version with a live DVD which was the first time a CD / DVD combo package had ever been released. This album had some legal issues because of the track “Shot In The Dark” appearing on it as there was some sort of legal battle over the track from ex-bassist Phil Soussan who co-wrote it. This kept it from being re-released for years but has since found new life.

Ironically OZZY even won a Grammy Award for the live version of “I Don’t Want To Change The World” from LIVE & LOUD. The album rode in the success of “No More Tears” and hit #22 on the Billboard album charts and easily went platinum showing that OZZY was immune to the grunge scene that had usurped the heavy rock throne between the release of this album and “No More Tears.” Apparently OZZY had enough metal creds to weather the storm and his status of Godfather of metal was in no danger of being watered down due to the new developments of 90s alternative metal and rock. Likewise, the album found success in many other countries including his native UK which is quite the achievement for an 80s metal artist releasing a double live album in the 90s.

While most of the tracks represent their studio versions quite well without significant deviations from the norm, there are a few tracks on LIVE & LOUD that differ significantly or are a product of the live setting. The intro is a medley of both Sabbath and Ozzy tracks that finally leads to the Sabbath track “Paranoid.” This is a major source of contention for me as i feel that OZZY should have evolved past his Sabbath days at this point and ceased to rely on his past glories, however he did contribute to the songwriting so they were fair game. It’s all slightly more tolerable with the old Sabbath team of Tommy Iomi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward reunite for a few shows included here. Wylde cranks out a guitar solo BEFORE and not after “Suicide Solution” which probably symbolizes something but ultimately i find his flair for improv soloing isn’t quite up to snuff despite having a great stage present and overall rhythm guitarist feel. However he does nail the Rhoads solos on the classics such as “Mr Crowley” and adds his own guitar squeals and slides to personalize them a bit. There is also a decent drum solo by Castillo that is short and to the point instead of dragging on forever.

This is a fairly good consistent set of LIVE & LOUD tracks from the Madman however it does feel a bit by-the-numbers despite an energetic delivery of the best tracks selected from different shows all over the world. This was also the tour where OZZY had a break down when he was in Knoxville, TN. That was the venue where Randy Rhoads played his last gig. After a strenuous tour and lack of sleep, the OZZ man had had enough and had to walk out in the middle of the show. Something was clearly amiss these days as the entire band basically flew the coop and another album wouldn’t come out for a few years and then only with a bunch of guest musicians (with the exception of Zakk Wylde). Overall, a decent album but not one that i get tremendously excited about either. I’d rather hear “Tribute” any day. No offense, Zakk.

OZZY OSBOURNE No More Tears

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.14 | 33 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
It had been almost a decade since OZZY OSBOURNE’s career was in dire straits after the sudden death of his revolutionary guitarist Randy Rhoads but he bounced back and maintained a successful solo career all throughout the 80s. With 1988’s “No Rest For The Wicked,” the Madman had found the perfect new sidekick Zakk Wylde to take over the guitar slot after the departure of Jake E. Lee. With Lee, OZZY was somewhat stagnant and couldn’t quite shake the Rhoads loss, but Wylde added a new style of guitar playing that eschewed the neoclassical Rhoads elements and created more of a bluesy metal with touches of country rock and took OZZY’s sound in a new direction. OZZY took a full three years to reinvent himself and work on the potentials of the new lineup. The result of all this was his sixth studio album “NO MORE TEARS” which found the Madman cleaning up his bad boy image (notice the angel wings on the cover), as well as turning to outside songwriters like Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister as well as the new style of Wylde’s contributions. None of these extra efforts were in vain and “NO MORE TEARS” became a huge hit not only spawning a number of popular videos but also hit the quadruple platinum mark making it his best selling album just after the debut “Blizzard Of Ozz.”

“NO MORE TEARS” is by far, OZZY’s most eclectic and diverse album of his career which makes it a compelling listen even to modern ears. While Randy Rhoads was an excellent songwriter, the focus was placed on his neoclassical guitar shredding skills. On “NO MORE TEARS” the emphasis is on the strength of the tracks themselves that utilize strong hooks, heavy guitar riffing and more attention paid to contrasting dynamics, tempo changes and even adds some country rock aspects that Wylde brought to the work table. Also a strength for the album is one of the rare examples of a stable lineup in OZZY’s band with the entire cast of “No Rest For The Wicked” back for another round of heavy metal mayhem. This includes Randy Castillo on drums, Bob Daisley on bass and John Sinclair on keys, however both Castillo and Daisley would jump ship after “NO MORE TEARS” leaving OZZY with yet another dilemma of finding suitable musicians to fill the slots, however after three years of perfecting a new album and a lengthy tour of the last album that even resulted in a short live EP titled “Just Say Ozzy,” this stability of the lineup yielded some interesting results on this one.

“NO MORE TEARS” basically falls into two categories of tracks, well three if you count the title track which sounds like nothing else OZZY has ever recorded. There are the heavy metal crunchers like “Mr. Tintertrain,” “Hellraiser” and “Zombie Stomp” and the slower ballads “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” “Time After Time” and “Road To Nowhere.” It’s on the slower tracks where Zakk Wylde really cranks up the Southern flavors of country rock on the acoustic guitar and unlike many of the ballads of OZZY’s 80s albums, these were superbly crafted with special attention placed on lyrical relevance and tightly delivered instrumental dynamics. Although the album has no throwaway tracks, the star of the show is by far the outstanding title track which utilizes a bass heavy rhythmic drive with an ethereal atmospheric accompaniment. The longest track of OZZY’s career perfectly balances a call and response between a bass / vocal line with the heavy guitar in the verse sections with an atmospheric overload on the chorus. The track employs an interesting art rock synthesized bridge that leads up to a ratcheting up effect that leads to one of the best guitar solos on the entire album. The track is by far one of the most popular ones in the post Randy Rhoads era.

While it took exactly a decade to completely transcend the Rhoads years, OZZY OSBOURNE pulled off the seemingly impossible task on “NO MORE TEARS” which not only displays a willingness to incorporate influences beyond the metal comfort zone of the day but also comes off as one of the Madman’s most mature albums of his entire canon. While retaining the respect as the Godfather of metal all throughout the 90s and beyond, “NO MORE TEARS” in reality symbolizes a peak in OZZY’s career with the erratic release of the albums that follow seeming more like occasional side projects rather than works of passion. It also seems that OZZY’s drug and alcohol abuse had taken an irreparable toll by this point in his career possibly leading to a creative burn out. Whatever the case, “NO MORE TEARS” remains one of OZZY’s most celebrated albums for good reasons. While not focusing on the technical prowess that Rhoads delivered, the album is chock full of catchy heavy metal that in retrospect represented the last hoorah of the classic metal era as this release came out just as the more extreme death, black and thrash metal bands were taking metal to ever more shocking arenas, and of course the near collapse of everything 80s in the wake of the grunge scene. In short, this is one of the best albums the OZZ-ster cranked out and one not to be missed.

OZZY OSBOURNE No Rest For The Wicked

Album · 1988 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.53 | 25 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The years had been tumultuous for OZZY OSBOURNE after the death of Randy Rhoads as he was constantly trying to reinvent himself after the perfect band lineup of his first two albums. After a couple of albums with guitarist Jake E. Lee, the Madman was forced to find yet another guitarist after Lee jumped ship. Not exactly a surprise as it was later revealed that Lee wasn’t given credit for songwriting contributions on “Bark At The Moon,” and after the “Tribute” album was released during his tenure, it seemed too much to take and off Lee went to form his own band Badlands. After searching high and low, OZZY settled on the virtually unknown Zakk Wylde who had only played in small bands before auditioning for the coveting guitarist role with one of heavy metal’s hugest stars of the 80s. Actually the whole band had changed since “The Ultimate Sin,” with Bob Daisley reprising to take over Phil Soussan’s bass spot as well as John Sinclair usurping the keyboard throne of Mike Moran. Randy Castillo stick around on drums.

Zakk Wylde made his official debut to the larger world on OZZY’s fifth studio album “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ which ushered in a totally new sound for the bathead chomping Madman. During the Lee years, the emphasis was placed on trying to recreate the lost Rhoads neoclassical style especially on “Bark At The Moon.” While still retaining some of the same flavor, “The Ultimate Sin” meandered a bit into more pop rock oriented territory which watered down the metal aspects of the classic OZZY heft. On “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ Wylde dishes out a heavier metal feel once again while steering away from the neoclassical Rhoads era completely. Wylde contributed a more no nonsense bluesy shuffle style with distortion and metal angst turned up a few notches with heavy riffing, lesser emphasis on soloing and piggy guitar squeals. On the lyrical side of the equation, OZZY continues his assault on society with a stab at Jimmy Swaggart, the 80s televangelist who fell from grace after a prostitution scandal. Swaggart had been a huge critic of OZZY’s music and heavy metal in general.

Other tracks reveal more of the same with “Crazy Babies” and “Breakin’ All The Rules” showcasing OZZY’s rebellion-by-numbers approach and a nod to his vulnerabilities as heard on “Demon Alcohol.” Overall, “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ is a decent album with several strong tracks showcasing Wylde’s new role as heavy metal guitar god however the songwriting is still below the standard of the unreachable magnificence of the first two albums. While “Miracle Man,” “Crazy Babies” and “Tattooed Dancer” are all excellent heavy metal rockers, some of the tracks like “Fire In The Sky” and “Bloodbath In Paradise” seem a little generic by OZZY’s standards. There is also a hidden bonus track, “Hero” on the CD versions which offers a nice surprise. I would hardly call “ NO REST FOR THE WICKED, “ even close to OZZY’s best album but it is not without its charm either as it really sounds like no other in his canon. After this one, Wylde’s role would expand and so would the diverse elements of the music itself. This is one i rarely listen to, but i have to admit that it has a raw aggression that is very appealing and a few stand out tracks that guarantee a nice heavy metal head banging experience.

OZZY OSBOURNE Tribute

Live album · 1987 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.53 | 16 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
OZZY OSBOURNE hit the ground running after leaving Black Sabbath mostly due to his amazing luck of finding the extraordinary talented guitarist Randy Rhoads to join his ranks. Together the two would even share a flat together where they crafted two classic albums in the form of “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” which would catapult the Madman’s solo career to the ranks of success that he enjoyed with his former band. Rhoads had practically reinvented metal when he formulated a new style of neoclassical metal fusion that built on the classics of Ritchie Blackmore but fused it with the doom metal side of Sabbath’s metal sound along with the pyrotechnic flair of what Eddie Van Halen was famous for. The result was a blueprint for the neoclassical guitar shredding to come as well as the first steps for progressive metal artists to work off of. The duo seemed poised to dominate the entire 80s as nobody could match the songwriting skills and technical wizardry of Rhoads’ virtuosic skills. But that all came to an end on 19 March 1982 when Rhoads died in a senseless plane crash while on the “Diary Of A Madman” tour.

While a live album was planned after the tour was completed, Randy’s sudden death scrapped the whole idea and the project was pushed down the road indefinitely. Because of contractual obligations, OZZY opted to go on a short tour with Brad Gillis of Night Ranger on guitar and cover Black Sabbath songs which resulted in the release of the live album “Speak Of The Devil” (“Talk Of The Devil” in the UK) instead. While the show carried on with a new guitarist Jake E. Lee taking on the impossible task of carrying on in the slot, the project was never scrapped but merely delayed. Finally five years to the day after Randy’s untimely passing, TRIBUTE was released in 1987 in honor of the great talent who left us too soon thus memorializing him for eternity complete with an equal billing on the title credits. The album was comprised of different live performances from different venues, mostly on the “Diary Of A Madman” tour with the lion’s share recorded in Cleveland, Ohio on 11 May 1981 but a few were recorded in other venues and “Goodbye To Romance” and “No Bone Movies” were actually recorded on the “Blizzard Of Ozz” tour and are the only two tracks to feature bassist Bob Paisley and drummer Lee Kerslake.

The album was an instant hit and entered the top 10 on Billboard’s album chart and even saw a re-release of “Crazy Train” as a single. The album features Randy Rhoads strutting his stuff in a live setting and thus proving to the world that he was more than a mere studio hack. After a brief classical intro featuring snippets of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” the album showcases OZZY OSBOURNE’s reign of musical power of the early 80s with Randy Rhoads as the band’s highlight. Rhoads was not only a highly disciplined songwriter and guitar teacher but on TRIBUTE he demonstrates how he painstakingly would rewrite guitar segments that were designed for two guitar as heard on the studio albums and rework them so that he could capture the spirit of both parts woven into one. He also showed his spontaneous improvisation skills as heard on the outstanding extended soloing at the end of “Suicide Solution.” While much of the album very much echoes the authenticity of the solo albums, it’s the small fills and deviations from the norm that offer glimpses into Rhoads’ meticulous compositional skills.

TRIBUTE is one of those rare live albums that actually exceeds the studio albums from where the tracks were taken. The entire band performed extraordinarily well together and made the already strong tracks seem even stronger. The extra touches of improvised soloing and live energy was the icing on the cake. While i’m personally not the biggest fan of most live albums as i find most bands carry out their best work in the studio, TRIBUTE proves that the commanding power duo of OZZY OSBOURNE and Randy Rhoads were creating some of the most influential heavy metal of the era. While this live TRIBUTE album to Randy Rhoads was quite well received, it was the final straw for Jake E. Lee who had already been forced to sell his songwriting contributions away to join the band. After the release of TRIBUTE, Lee would jump ship and OZZY would be back to the drawing board of finding yet another guitarist and would eventually settle on Zakk Wylde. For live TRIBUTE albums, it doesn’t get any better than this solid series of performances that shows OZZY at the top of his game with one of the most deserving of guitarists who truly deserved the overused “god” status. This one is a must for anyone interested in the highlights of live heavy metal action of the early 80s.

OZZY OSBOURNE Bark At The Moon

Album · 1983 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.58 | 37 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The year 1982 was a terrible one to say the least with OZZY OSBOURNE losing one of the most gifted guitarists in the nascent years of heavy metal music in the form of Randy Rhoads who met an untimely passing in an airplane crash early in that year. After two hugely successful albums that launched OZZY’s solo career into the same league of his former band Black Sabbath, it seemed that it was all about to come crashing down. Forced to fulfill the impossible task of finding a guitarist to take the place of the unreachable heights of Randy Rhoads, OZZY finally settled on the young guitarist Jake E. Lee who had paid his dues in the bands Micky Ratt (who would later become the successful glam metal band Ratt) and Rough Cutt. After a short tour with Brad Gillis of Night Ranger as the guitarist performing Black Sabbath songs to fulfill his recording contract with Jet Records, OZZY wasted no time grieving over his huge loss and unleashed his third studio album BARK AT THE MOON as the year 1983 came to an end which found his debut on the Epic branch of the CBS label.

The death of Randy Rhoads also signaled the end of the first lineup of the OZZ’s early years. As well as Jake E. Lee jumping on board, Tommy Aldridge took over the drumming duties formerly occupied by Lee Kerslake and Don Airey (of Rainbow, Colosseum and Michael Schenker fame) joined as the first official keyboardist. The only member to cross the new frontier into the next chapter of OZZ was Bob Daisley on bass. It’s hard to fathom just how popular OZZY was during the early 80s and the fans responded with resounding enthusiasm supporting their favorite madman by adding yet another platinum album to his resume as it hit number 19 on the Billboard charts. Your experience of BARK AT THE MOON will depend on which side of the Atlantic you reside since there are two versions of the album with mostly the same tracks but different track orders. The US version contains the tracks “Slow Down” and “Centre Of Eternity” which arent’ on the UK version and likewise the “Spiders” and “Forever” tracks are only on the UK version. Remastered versions contain all the tracks but the US track order has become the standard. BTW, “Forever” and “Centre Of Eternity” are actually the same track with different titles.

Stylistically OZZY had hit upon a new sound with Rhoads joining his ranks and it sounds like all efforts were to replicate that successful formula at all costs on BARK AT THE MOON. While the neoclassical compositional constructs are apparent complete with the boogie rock flavored metal riffing as heard on the albums “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman,” it is clear that Jake E. Lee didn’t quite have the technical prowess of Rhoads, therefore his own idiosyncratic style of playing is the first thing that is noticeable on BARK AT THE MOON. Whereas Rhoads was a master of neoclassical constructs and tremolo picking, Lee on the other hand utilizes a more unique style of riff shuffling with more bluesy solos that utilize the art of guitar slides. While not as developed as Rhoads, Lee actually handles his guitar duties quite tastefully in the thankless job of filling the shoes of the one history’s greats. It was later revealed that Lee had a huge part in writing the album although he was pressured to give up such claims by Sharon Osbourne to sell out those rights so that OZZY could claim full songwriting credit. This was a major point of dissatisfaction of course which led Lee to hang around for only one more album.

Lyrically OZZY continues his shenanigans of lunatic in chief with errant juvenile rebellion in full form as heard on tracks like “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel,” madman imagery as heard on the title track and the attempt to once again try to pull off a lame ballad in the form of “So Tired,” one that would signify a major downward trend in OZZY’s popularity as this sort of track has always been a thorn in his side. Add to the controversy was the fact that a Canadian man murdered a woman and her kids after listening to this album and claimed that the album made him do it. All of this hit at the same time that similar charges were coming to roost regarding his song “Suicide Solution.” It’s hard to understand how these things panned out in the 80s when in the 21st century it all seems so tame in comparison to modern day standards, but the religious right in the US were on a major witchhunt with artists like OZZY OSBOURNE the poster child as public enemy #1.

Despite the tragic loss of Randy Rhoads, OZZY pulled out a fairly decent album and while not up to par with the ridiculously brilliant first two albums, isn’t as bad as many make it out to be. The compositions are the same catchy melodic traditional heavy metal that was going strong in the 80s by this point and the addition of the keyboards adds another element of melodic counterpoint. Jake E. Lee, while not quite up to god status, pulled off a rather heroic duty of not only anonymously contributing to the majority of the songwriting on the album but played beautifully delivered heavy riffing with his own unique guitar soloing that had those satisfying squeals. While tracks like “Slow Down” and “Waiting For Darkness” definitely have more of a pop rock feel than metal, the title track, “Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel” and “Centre Of Eternity” aka “Forever” are all some of OZZY’s best tracks. Even the ballads aren’t as bad as many make them out to be. No, BARK AT THE MOON will never usurp the throne as the OZZ-man’s greatest moment but considering the dark chapter of his history that it emerged out of, i think it turned out fairly decent. And yeah, that “Spiders” track is just weird!

PORTAL Ion

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.33 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The stygian band PORTAL has emerged from its secret Australian outpost after a five year gap following their previous release “Vexovoid” (which ironically has already spawned a new band with that name). Following in the footsteps of their extreme surreality that some call avant-garde blackened death metal comes the followup ION which continues the brash brutality fix that they have been known for since the beginning. While their influences may have emerged from Morbid Angel, Beherit and Immolation, PORTAL have long since found their own comfort zone of death metal reality to call their own by becoming one with a parallel musical reality that sounds as if they are somehow trapped between a hyperdrive dimensional shift and in the process something went really, really wrong. Drowned in darkness and delivered in dense undulating waves of sonic fury, ION finds PORTAL churning out their most frenetic and brutal release to date.

As the intro track “Nth” slinks into existence as if a subtle hazy brume has wafted into your room, the ghostly fortifications of muffled tortured screams emulate with backmasked effects creating a dark ambient horrorshow soundtrack and thus insinuating a return to the impenetrable layers of atmospheric darkness that had created their wickedly new realm for extreme tech death metal. However, as the first blistering notes of “ESP ION AGE” rage into the scene, we are confronted with a new interdimensional rage and fury usually reserved for only the most brutal of death metal beasts more often heard in bands like Suffocation, however the angular nature and complete detachment from traditional old school standards allows a sepulchral wall of sound that allows each wailing formless riff to pierce the soul like a dagger flaying a adrenaline fueled beating heart. Add the pummeling relentless percussive overdrive with groaning guttural growls and the divinity of chaos has been reached.

The name ION is a fitting title if you know chemistry. An ION is an atom or a molecule with a non-zero net electrical charge, meaning it is either positive or negative and very susceptible to energy changes thus creating a potential for massive instability. As such PORTAL have constructed the perfect soundtrack for a state of energy easily activated by entropic changes and thus erratic and unpredictable shifts in magnetic fields. The noises emerging from the freneticism of the guitar, bass and drums are tantamount to the ionizing effect of a built up electrical charge bolting down from the thundering skies above with pulverizing consequences for any hapless atoms in the line of fire. PORTAL simulates the same sort of lightning bolt reality with jagged undulating waves of sound that capture brutal metal instrumentation in flux with atmospheric dungeony bleakness.

PORTAL remains an enigmatic and mysterious beast. Graced with faced masks and alter egos (such as The Curator on vocals and Horror Illogium on lead guitar), the band more than lives up to this alienating image with the brutal angularity and interdimensional avant-garde compositional constructs of ION. Once the dark ambient intro cedes into the frenetic chaotic metal meltdown the album remains relentless in its caustic between-realities surrealism that culminates in the harsh noise sonic terrorism of the instrumental “Spores” and then after one more shovel in the face with “Phathom” ends the album with the psychically damaging metaphysical dark ambient horror theme outro of “Old Guarde.”

While many tech death bands try to deliver the goods by creating sonic impressions of otherworldly atmospheres and moods, nobody does it quite like PORTAL. Perhaps the strange landscapes of their land down under have given them an alternative view on reality where their angular riffs shape shift like restless sands in the great deserts that cover most of their homeland. Whatever the case, PORTAL have perfected their sonic surrealistic terrorism with nine undulating tracks that despite sounding like no other band, remain utterly distinct from each other as one seemingly formless riff frenzy somehow ekes out a series of recognizable patterns that barely allow it to be classified as music as if the band are in the process of creating a whole new grammatical paradigm for death metal. One that the listener learn this new diabolical language and lexicon before being admitted to the club. Yes, this is an acquired taste reserved for only the seekers of the most technical sort of earache music possible, but if that’s what you crave, PORTAL delivers like a charm.

DOL AMMAD Star Tales

Album · 2004 · Symphonic Metal
Cover art 3.82 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Having named his project after a fuel refinery in the Descent 3 computer game, Greek keyboard wizard Thanasis Lightbridge decided to take the electronic influences of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis to new heights when he formed his experimental avant-garde metal band DOL AMMAD in 2000. After churning out a couple demos he recorded a full debut album titled STAR TALES which took a few cues from Therion’s “Theli” and expanded the roles of the electronica involved. STAR TALES consists of four musicians cranking out the usual rock instruments which includes guitars, drums, bass and synthesizers but following in the footsteps of the Swedes is the addition of the 12-piece Europa Choir consisting equally of men and women covering the whole range from bass all the way up to soprano. The album could loosely be called electronic opera metal as it contains a number of swirling electronic effects, the choir adding a wide range of vocal nuances which are all accompanied by heavy metal guitar riffing. Unlike Therion, Thanasis never came from a metal background so in effect DOL AMMAD sounds more like an electronic opera album that happens to have metal involved rather than the other way around.

This album is busy and bombastic to say the least. The album focuses on strong epic melodic developments that groove on into more complex pieces. The scales are somewhat classical in nature as to add the most effectiveness for the opera performers. The symphonic touches heavily fortify the overall glut of sounds with different synthesizer sounds oozing around and wriggling about like a million landed eels after a coastal tsunami. The music rather resembles the artwork that graces the cover with a busy layout of electronica and vocalizations doing gymnastics around each other while the metal sequences chug along in a rather mundane fashion. Unlike Therion there are never really any major metal outbursts as the heavy guitar distortion remains subordinate to the airy swirl of synthesizers and vocals. The whole idea of electronica art metal is quite the unexplored idea to say the least and one that is demanding as to keep up with all the different parts, however the simple rhythmic drives guarantees you can tune in and out of the deeper constructs at will without missing a beat.

What’s even stranger is that despite 12 choir members belting out notes in varying timbres and dynamics, this appears to be completely wordless and nothing more than a series of ooo-ing and aah-ing in what sounds like some sort of ritualistic summoning of Zeus and the god gang from far above. There is a flighty spaced out effect from the constant plethora of vocalizations with the treble section winning out because the bass and tenor tend to get melded with the metal instrumentation. While the overall mood is quite consistent throughout the slightly over hour listening experience, the tracks are varied enough to keep a sustained listened and there are purely electronic intros and overtures to change things up from time to time. This is certainly a grandiose and overweening production job that must have taken forever to mix in the perfect way and for that it is utterly amazing along with other twists and turns that include ethnic percussion sections and angelic harps just to name a few.

While the whole thing comes off to me as some sort of epic video game soundtrack as i can picture different scenarios where a player is fighting the gods in chariots in the sky or some sort, the music is sophisticated enough to hold up on its own two feet. While certainly not for the faint of heart and the bane for those who cannot decipher subtleties between a ridiculous amount of sonic elements, the music overall comes across on many levels depending on how deeply one wishes to focus therefore it is equally compelling as background music as it is a contemplative active experience. For the most part, this is a relentless hyperactive driven album with galloping guitar riffs surrounded by zooming synth parts swirling about in every direction but when it all slows down and the metal drops out, it becomes a progressive electronic heavenly experience. While often compared to Therion, and rightly so is a direct lineage, DOL AMMAD takes the whole concept of operatic metal to a completely different universe and one that i really love to visit.

ENTOMBED Left Hand Path

Album · 1990 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.96 | 24 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Emerging from the festering swamps somewhere around present day Stockholm, the band that began under the name Nihillist which had pumped out a few demos switched gears after a couple years in the late 80s and redesigned themselves as ENTOMBED. As one of the pioneers of early Swedish death metal, ENTOMBED was riding the old school first wave along with contemporaries Dismember, Grave and Unleashed, thus making them one of the “big four” of that particular scene. While developing a unique style that has been retrospectively designated “death’n’roll,” ENTOMBED began very much a fully fueled death metal band as heard on their debut release LEFT HAND PATH which found the band creating a unique sound that has been very influential. What ENTOMBED did was fairly revolutionary for the day. They in effect took the punk infused grindcore energy and distortion overload and married it with the more thoughtful heavy constructs of bands like Death, Obituary and Morbid Angel which immediately changed the course of the entire death metal scene which from this moment would raise the bar.

The title comes from a term in Anton LaVey’s “The Satanic Bible” and lyrically the band engaged in some of the earliest forms of shock and awe with words drenched in dark misanthropy and baleful anti-religious disdain. ENTOMBED were also famous for ushering in some of the earliest buzzsaw guitar sounds which ironically along with the Satanic influences from early Celtic Frost and Slayer would find their home in the second wave of black metal and quickly disappear from the death metal scene from whence they spawned. Even ENTOMBED themselves quickly changed gears after LEFT HAND PATH and deemphasized the Satanic aspects of their music and began shifting to the new style of death’n’roll which they would also have a hand in raising the bar. While moving on quickly from their debut, LEFT HAND PATH became the blueprint for the multitude of old school death metal bands to build upon whether it be the Floridian branch of the scene or the Gothenburg melodic enterprise.

LEFT HAND PATH is a journey into distortion hell where the heavy detuned guitar chords pummel the senses with feedback and fuzz on steroids that were the result of Peavey amp abuse and customized guitar string torture. While not the first purveyor of heavy death themed thrash metal turned bad, ENTOMBED were one of the innovative few from Sweden who steered the genre in a new direction with a different style of composition that retained some of the features of old school rock’n’roll and 80s heavy metal while bands like Morbid Angel were becoming detached from those styles and veering into more surreal territories. ENTOMBED was in effect fundamentally responsible for putting Sweden on the map in the upcoming burgeoning death metal scene. Graced with eerie atmospheres and the tortured possessed vocal style of Lars-Göran Petrov, LEFT HAND PATH not only sounds like a depraved psychopath’s holiday but has moments of melodic beauty with graceful solos wisping away amongst the cacophonous din as if a dove had flown into a dark cave full of rabid bats.

Stylistically LEFT HAND PATH is a fairly monotonous listen which is the reason it took me so long to warm up to it. I have always been more partial to the albums that follow such as “Clandestine” and “Wolverine Blues,” but persistence has paid off and the secrets that are locked up behind the wall of sound have finally unleashed their presence upon me. While similar in style, structure and tone, ENTOMBED employed a rather unique method of song construct that allowed an interesting free form songwriting process. Try to predict where any of these tracks will lead and you will only go astray. The ten tracks on LEFT HAND PATH may sound similar upon first listen but careful listening will reveal how different they are when it comes to the different segments that are stitched together to create them. This is early death metal for sure. There are yet no blastbeat drum outbursts and the guitar squeals don’t rival contemporaries like Morbid Angel. Instead ENTOMBED unleashed a frightening murky mix of sonic assault with a few atmospheric keyboard embellishments to create a morbid mood setting rather than technical prowess. While it has taken me a while to fully appreciate the innovation that LEFT HAND PATH unleashed unto the world, i have to admit that once it sunk in, it has comfortable dug itself deep into me in ways unexpected.

EXTREME Extreme II: Pornograffitti

Album · 1990 · Funk Metal
Cover art 3.98 | 30 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
After catching the attention of the metal scene with their eponymous debut mostly due to the guitar wizardry antics of Nuno Bettencourt as well as the childhood themed syncopated funky metal sound that even got the track “Play With Me” included in a couple films including “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, EXTREME rode the momentum and cranked out their second album EXTREME II: PORNOGRAFFITTI which technically is followed by (A FUNKED UP FAIRY TALE) but absolutely nobody including me knew that it was the case and seems a little excessive actually. The band found huge success with this album as it cashed in just before the total collapse of the glam metal scene that was increasingly becoming more cheesy pop than metal. PORNOGRAFFITTI is no exception to that trend however EXTREME carried out the marriage of glam metal and cheesy pop with more sophistication than say Poison, Warrant or other kitschy purveyors of cheese of the day. Add to that the funk infused compositions and they were ready for primetime.

Nuno Bettencourt was a bona fide guitar hero of the day with technical chops so bold and daring that he was admitted into the big boys club that included the neoclassical greats such as Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteem and Steve Vai. His sophisticated riffing and soloing sequences were the wet dreams of guitarists of the day and he was admittedly brilliant in juxtaposing extreme speed and seemingly improvised techniques into some of the catchiest pop infused melodies in all of 80s metal. On the pop metal side of the equation, the band wrote some incredibly catchy funk metal tunes with addictive multi-part harmonies and ear worm quality melodies that the public ate up which catapulted the album all the way to the #10 position on the Billboard charts and earning them a double platinum release.

To say the least, PORNOGRAFFITTI is quite a diverse release however the tracks basically fall into two categories. The heavy funk metal rockers that display the assiduous riffing with funky syncopation and include extraordinary complex soloing and then… there are the others. The remaining tracks are softer, sweeter and more pop oriented. These tracks include the huge #1 hit “More Than Words” which was basically a duet between vocalist Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt playing on an acoustic guitar. The track was so friggin’ popular during the day that it created a very unique situation in all of metal history that had 80 year old grandmothers lining up at record stores to buy a mostly metal album based upon the one song that touched them like grandpa never did! They most likely assumed that this was some new version of Simon & Garfunkel which led record store employees to have to convince them to buy the single rather than the album!

The followup single “Hole Hearted” was also a huge hit peaking at #4 on the charts. While also an acoustic number, this one sounded more like Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit” as it was based on a 12 string guitar with an upbeat mid-tempo stomp sort of groove. Also on the album is a totally left-field turn in the form of “When I First Kissed You” which is a cheesy synthesized Frank Sinatra type of tune that showcases Cherone’s gift for crooning. Given that these mellower pop tracks were so popular makes me realize that Cherone was actually a better crooner on ballads than heavy rock vocalist because when he rocks out he sounds a lot like Paul Stanley of KISS while on ballads like this he displays more sophisticated subtleties. Sometimes on the heavier tracks his vocals just didn’t fit the bill but he always got the job done.

Lyrically speaking, the band utilized the same sort of childhood fantasies laced with nursery rhymes as heard on the debut such as on tracks like “Li’l Jack Horny” and “When I’m President” but on PORNOGRAFFITTI they also developed a sense of political satire as heard in the title track, “Get The Funk Out,” “Money (in God We Trust)” and “He-Man Woman Hater,” the latter of which opens with an outstanding display of Bettencourt’s sizzling guitar playing virtuosity before breaking into the main song. Some of the tracks are head scratchers like the lyrically WTF moment on “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)” which are the lyrics followed by “Suzie wants her all day sucker.” Perhaps the biggest cheesefest on the album comes in the form of “Song For Love” which is a rather hilarious sort of kumbaya moment where hippie ideals unite with sunshine pop embellished with metal backings. Pretty funny but amazingly addictive at the same time!

PORNOGRAFFITTI portended quite a few trends in the music scene that were about to unfold. Firstly, this album was perhaps the death knell for the glam metal world that was about to get dethroned by the grunge scene once Nirvana’s “Nevermind” hit the market. While glam metal of the 80s started out with a raw and gritty sound as heard on Motley Crue’s earliest albums, throughout the MTV years it continued to get more and more infused with cheesy pop hooks and uninspired ballads that eroded its credibility. While bands like W.A.S.P. and Guns N Roses gave it some sense of legitimacy, EXTREME’s “More Than Words” went the final step and completely eliminated any trace of hard rock or metal altogether resulting in nothing but a Simon & Garfunkel sing along type of guitar and vocal piece. While well performed, it didn’t exactly sit well with metalheads of the day.

Secondly, the funk metal scene and genre mixing would catch on with the ultimate culmination resulting in Mr. Bungle’s debut album the following year. While EXTREME may have been on to something as they saw the signs of a burgeoning alternative approach to metal brewing all around them, unfortunately they latched on to the most loathed aspects of the glam metal scene which would be their ultimate undoing. Personally, despite the negatives of PORNOGRAFFITTI, i actually find the compositions to be brilliant and the lyrics, while cheesy much of the time, are lighthearted and don’t irritate me like they seem to do to others. Perhaps the only problem i have with PORNOGRAFFITTI is that EXTREME are trying too hard to be too many different things and haven’t quite found their unique signature sound as they would on the followup “III Sides To Every Story.” Still though, this is a fun little spin that i’ve listened to a ridiculous number of times. While the production of the original is a little sucky, the newer remastered version makes up for it and possible the one to check out.

HATED Breathless Art

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
As the 21st century churns along, it seems that the heavy metal of the 80s and 90s has become ever more distant as bands continue to experiment and strive to find ways to differentiate themselves from the gazillions more bands on the planet these days. In the world of death metal, this has never been more true with the technical strain reaching out in every possible direction, sometimes hitting on something totally awesome (think Gorguts, Obscura or Portal) and more often than not retreading someone else’s surrealistic fantasy (too many culprits to mention). Hailing from the outpost city of Orenburg, Russia which is straddled next to the border with Kazakhstan comes a new type of band that also straddles borders musically speaking. HATED was founded in 2014 and tackles the retro 90s sound of Chuck Schuldiner’s Death in its full glory.

The band is a mere trio consisting of Tim “Graveyard” Verb on bass, Morgoth Hel on both guitars and drums and guitarist / vocalist who goes by the sole name Andrew. HATED succeed in producing a fiery cacophonous technical workout with the obvious influences deriving from Death albums such as “Human,” “Individual Thought Patterns” and “Symbolic.” Never before have i heard such a convincing second coming of Chuck Schuldiner’s unique and innovative sound finding new life long after his untimely passing. So convincing is HATED’s performance on their debut digital release BREATHLESS ART that if someone were to tell me that this was some sort of long lost collection of unreleased Death tracks, i would fuckin’ believe them. Even Andrew’s vocals are a dead ringer for the dead singer as he nails every aspect and nuance of Schuldiner’s idiosyncratic style. Likewise the guitar riffs, bass and drum parts simulate the complexities of the aforementioned Death period of albums.

For the most part HATED dish out an almost perfect carbon copy of Schuldiner and the rest but they do add their own to it as well albeit not as often as i would prefer. As well as the plethora of Death sound blasting out at high decibilage complete with frenetic guitar squeal solos and chugging riffs, the band at times implements standard classic 80s thrash and traditional riffing and captures the early 90s zeitgeist quite successfully. Old school is the name of the game with this one however some of the compositions take the approach of newer tech wizards Vektor with more sophisticated compositional changes and deviations from the straight forwardness of old school performances. I guess in that respect they do tackle the Death experience of “The Sound Of Perseverance” at times but the tracks have more of an old school death metal form of worship.

HATED simply nails the Death retro sound. Hyperactive intense guitar riffs complexly transverse sophisticated compositional multiverses with Andrew’s impressive vocal range effortlessly assuaging every distorted note into compliance. HATED is very much a band to look out for in the future. At this point they are way too derivative of their icons for my comfort but BREATHLESS ART is an intensely compelling listen finding the power trio in full command of their retrospective musical roles. The tracks are exquisitely designed and manage to match the high standards of classic Death. Once these guys shed the blatant Schuldiner worship and find a more original style of their own, these guys could be the next Vektor. I’m the meantime they more than impress on their rehashed and uninventive musical prowess.

OZZY OSBOURNE Speak Of The Devil

Live album · 1982 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.79 | 13 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The year 1982 was a difficult one for OZZY OSBOURNE to say the least. After recording two successful solo albums he was confronted with the sudden death of guitarist Randy Rhoads which left him in a scramble to find a replacement. Before Rhoads’ fatal airplane crash, there were plans to release a live album that covered both the “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” albums which showcased Rhoads’ spectacular guitar playing in a live setting, however after his death the whole project was put on hold for personal reasons but yet OZZY’s label Jet Records were demanding two more records, so a compromise was made with an alternative live album with two titles: SPEAK OF THE DEVIL in the US, and TALK OF THE DEVIL in his native UK. This was also a time of great uncertainty as to how to continue his up til then successful career considering he owed a great deal of his solo success to the extraordinary songwriting and guitar playing skills of Rhoads.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (i’ll just use that title since it’s the only one i’ve known) was basically a last minute sort of project and a whole tour was created just to support it. The SPEAK OF THE DEVIL Tour took place from 10 December 1982 to 29 May 1983 in order to produce enough material for a double live album which would fulfill his contractual obligations. The one little kink in the plans is that at the time, absolutely nobody was accomplished enough to fill the shoes of the amazing Randy Rhoads who was light years ahead of the pack. The decision was made to cover twelve Black Sabbath songs instead and the cast of musicians included Brad Gillis of Night Ranger on guitar, Rudy Sarzo freshly out of Quiet Riot on bass and Tommy Aldrige who played with Pat Travers and Gary Moore on drums. So basically a completely different lineup than the Rhoads album years.

As to be expected, OZZY’s former bandmates in Black Sabbath weren’t particularly happy with his decision as they were releasing their own Dio fronted live album in the form of “Live Evil.” Despite the disapproval, OZZY’s live album outperformed and rode on the phenomenal success he was enjoying as a solo artist and perhaps a sympathy purchase out of respect for the recent Rhoads tragedy. SPEAK OF THE DEVIL was basically a mix of different recordings from live settings. Some of these are from live performances that were not in front of audiences as to get the most possible takes and then some of the audience noises were dubbed in later. This double album includes various Sabbath tracks that cover the entire lifespan of OZZY’s stint with the band. It includes the classic “Black Sabbath” from the debut release all the way up to his last album’s title track “Never Say Die.”

It’s imperative to keep in mind the circumstances in which this album was recorded in order to appreciate it. I’ve always considered this a throwaway album of sort but when i learned of the context in which it was released, it all makes sense and i do love it for the reasons involved. In a way it’s an escapist retreat to the past in order for OZZY to catch his bearings since his usual method of coping was getting obliterated on drugs and alcohol. It was in retrospect a good move as it was something totally within his grasp to fulfill his recording contract obligations. As for the music itself! It is exactly as you would expect. The tracks performed are all of excellent quality and honor the original renditions respectfully. That is both a strength and a weakness.

While performed exquisitely by the band members and OZZY himself, this wasn’t really material that needed to be revisited at the time as the current metal scene was more forward leaning than retrospective, however given the circumstances, OZZY was doing the best he could. This is actually a very well performed album and the later remastered versions correct the lackluster production of the earliest releases. While this pales in comparison to the outstanding “Tribute” album which showcases Randy Rhoads that would come out five years later, this is still a quite satisfying Sabbath tribute album by their former lead singer and not one that i’m ever disappointed to listen to once i decide to do so.

OZZY OSBOURNE Diary Of A Madman

Album · 1981 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 4.15 | 42 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The early 80s were a magical time for OZZY OSBOURNE who had left Black Sabbath without any guarantees of future success. By sheer luck he met the late great Randy Rhoads and together they set a new standard of heavy rock and metal that would usher in the next chapter of heavy metal music for the 80s riding alongside the NWOBHM. After the success of “Blizzard Of Ozz,” OZZY and Randy Rhoads collaborated on yet one more album of the same style as the debut but in the process of an incessant touring schedule become more of a cohesive unit as heard on the followup DIARY OF A MADMAN (the title is possibly taken from the 1963 film about an evil spirit). Rhoads in particular found that the album was rushed through due to time pressures imposed by the label. This is the period of crazy turbulence for the OZZ man which produced great controversy and in the process a whole lot of publicity. Plagued by accusations of Satanism and an overall image of public enemy #1 for the conservative folk about, OZZY’s image of biting off bat heads and allowing his future wife to scare the band off as a ruthless manager overshadowed the fact that DIARY OF A MADMAN was a very innovative album, musically speaking, in the history of heavy metal music.

While OZZY’s lyrics continued the polemic mysticism and poetic errancy, the real star of the show was the classically trained guitarist Randy Rhoads who raised the bar over his own neoclassical guitar prowess of the debut album. On DIARY OF A MADMAN, Rhoads put his heart and soul into the compositions contained on this album which showed his musical sophistication move up a couple notches. Once again, Rhoads’ guitar playing is a fusion of the Black Sabbath metal construct embellished with the neoclassical tricks that Ritchie Blackmore developed in Deep Purple. Also in the mix is the pyrotechnic soloing prowess straight out of the Eddie Van Halen playbook only with more finesse and thoughtful in delivery. Tracks like “Over The Mountain” and “Flying High Again” have become classic standards in the metal universe and demonstrates OSBOURNE’s one two punch of escapism and drug indulgence issues, however tracks like “You Can’t Kill Rock And Roll” and “Believer” display a rather innocent sense of optimism absent from “Blizzard Of Ozz” which seemed to be stuck in a negative outlook.

One of my favorite tracks on the album and in all of OZZY’s career for that matter is the exquisitely designed title track which is a basic blueprint for the progressive metal to come. The track seamlessly melds different time signatures and unique classically infused chord progressions peppered with differing dynamics that create a bona fide masterpiece of heavy metal music. Despite having been rushed through, all songwriters and musicians on board gelled quite beautifully and the album doesn’t suffer one bit showing the professionalism of everyone on board. Likewise the album flows nicely as each track has a unique feel and stands on its own two feet. The only track i find to be a little weak is the forgettable “Little Dolls” which could have used some sprucing up. Because of the momentum created by “Blizzard Of Ozz,” the followup DIARY OF A MADMAN was an instant international hit selling well and even spawning two hit singles (unlike the debut), but as always it wouldn’t be an OZZY album if there wasn’t some controversy involved.

The controversy derives from the fact that bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake were very much a part of the songwriting team but received no credits for their efforts. Another misstep occurred with the 2002 re-issue that took erased their roles on the album altogether and was re-recorded with OZZY’s at the time bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Mike Bordin (of Faith No More.) History has rectified theses errors as the 2011 deluxe 30th anniversary edition returns the original album but these bad moves has surely tarnished OZZY’s reputation as a fair player in the world of business, but to be honest, it was probably more on the management which happened to include his wife Sharon Osbourne, the true business brains behind the scenes.

DIARY OF A MADMAN is one of my favorite metal albums of all time with strong catchy melodic metal tracks augmented by some of the best musicianship of the day that makes it feel like the timeless classic that it is. The album also feels like it was the mere dawn of a new era for the OSBOURNE / Rhoads team and everyone was anxious to see how Randy Rhoads would evolve into the next level as he seemed utterly unstoppable but sadly it was not meant to be. While on tour for this album, Rhoads played his very last show on 18 March 1982 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum in Tennessee and died the next day in an airplane crash in Florida. The tragedy would send OSBOURNE’s career in a tailspin and another bout of deep depression. While the world was robbed of one of the greatest musical contributors to the metal universe, luckily Rhoads left behind two strong albums with OSBOURNE before his untimely demise. DIARY OF A MADMAN is perhaps the stronger of the two but personally i find each album has its own charm.

LIMBONIC ART Moon in the Scorpio

Album · 1996 · Symphonic Black Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 18 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
LIMBONIC ART originated as a band of three members but as the story goes in the world of extreme metal, personalities clashed and the project was whittled down to the two members of Daemon on lead vocals, guitars and bass and project manager Morfeus on keyboards, lead guitars, drum programming and vocals. Riding in the wake of fellow Norwegian bands in the second wave of black metal, LIMBONIC ART was one of those who opted for the symphonic route in the vein of Emperor, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. MOON IN THE SCORPIO was the debut and displayed the early years of black metal engaging in increased uses of symphonic elements that while already explored in black metal, hadn’t been fully exploited to full effect.

The main focus on MOON IN THE SCORPIO is in creating an operatic symphonic circus of sorts although a rather deranged one. Like much black metal of the day, the guitar and bass create receptive tritone riffing loops while the keys provide the atmospheric accouterments delivered in a more sophisticated symphonic fashion. While the black metal elements such as tremolo guitar playing, demonic raspy vocals and blastbeat drumming patterns are successfully utilized, what sets LIMBONIC ART apart from the pack of the day is that the main focus is on the melodic symphonic keyboard atmospheres that make the whole affair sound like some sort of black metal version of Phantom of the Opera especially when the showtune type segments break from the bleak monotonous riffing and Deamon sounds like a Broadway star.

Overall the atmosphere is dark and chilling with the tracks slowly ratcheting up with extended lengths. The opener “Beneath The Burial Surface” cranks it out for almost fourteen minutes. The album also makes use of a variety of vocal styles including Gregorian monk type chanting on “Overature: Nocturne” and choral arrangements on “In Mourning Mystique.” While the drum machine isn’t quite as satisfying as a real drummer would have been, the truth is that black metal drumming isn’t quite as technically necessary as say a killer death metal band requires and although a little variety is always preferred, i have to admit that in the case of MOON IN THE SCORPIO it works out just fine as the arrangements are well thought out and nothing sounds canned. Add to that the nice production and mix of the aggressive metal elements and the melodic sensual darkness of the synthesizer runs, bell chimes and other sounds that make a rather compelling listening experience.

At times the droning march does remind me a bit of Summoning’s brand of atmospheric black metal but LIMBONIC ART creates a more diverse use of several different movements within tracks that go through different stages with diverse dynamics and tempos. It’s obvious that LIMBONIC ART was very much an influence for later bands like Carach Angren that mixed black metal with dark Gothic operatic features. For me the atmospheric and symphonic branches of black metal can be very hit and miss and the results depend on the proper balance of the opposing forces involved. LIMBONIC ART manages to craft the proper tug of war between those forces to create a unique and satisfying debut in the form of MOON IN THE SCORPIO and a formula that they would utilize for their multi-decade run to the present. The title of the album was most likely taken form the 1987 film but doesn’t really convey any sort of connection.

EXTREME Extreme

Album · 1989 · Glam Metal
Cover art 3.12 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Coming from Boston, USA, the funk glam metal band EXTREME formed from the ashes of several other bands imploding before they barely got started. Gary Cherone (vocals) and Paul Geary (drums) from a band called The Dream, Pat Badger (bass) from a band called In The Pink and guitarist Nuno Buttencourt coming from Sinful. Once the four hooked up and began writing songs, the chemistry was complete and quickly caught attention in the live circuit of the Boston region. While forming in 1985 it only took a year to win the Boston Music Awards in both 86 and 87. This caught the attention of A&M Records turned PolyGram in 1988 and soon thereafter the band was signed and released their eponymous debut album catching the wave of the 80s alternative funk metal scene coupled with a glam appearance.

Despite the attempts to pigeonhole EXTREME into any sort of categorization however they were actually quite distinct from other bands of the day with their tracks consisting of catchy Van Halen-esque guitar riffs accompanied by funky syncopated counterpoints. Nuno Betterncourt was a particular developed guitarist offering super fast and technically advanced guitar soloing much in the vein of Eddie Van Halen. These guitar antics are most pronounced on “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” and the track “Play With Me” the latter of which took parts of Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca in A minor” as the intro and outro with a sizzling classical infused solo in the middle. “Play With Me” track was featured in the films “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Jury Duty” which helped get the band some greater national attention. Also, Gary Cherone had a deep voice sounding a lot like Paul Stanley of KISS and the band also employed three-part harmonies especially on the slower ballady tracks such as “Watching, Waiting” and “Rock A Bye Bye.”


While exhibiting a funk metal approach to the compositions, EXTREME comfortably fit in the glam metal scene as well with the standard gaudy hairspray and stretch pants of the day but mainly with the catchy pop hooks wrapped up in heavy rock riffing and extended soloing. On this debut album the band was still struggling to shed their influences which despite having a fairly unique sound still has plenty of sections that sound like they would fit right off a Van Halen or Queen album. The band also displays their love of genre jumping with not only classic heavy rock but the more subdued slower tracks as well but nothing near the more expansive free reign of their second album “Pornograffiti.” The album enjoyed moderate success selling over 300,000 albums with the help of the singles “Little Girls,” “Kid Ego,” "Mutha (Don't Wanna Go To School Today)" and "Play With Me" which found airplay on MTV and select radio play.

EXTREME is a fairly pleasant album to experience. The musicians are all tight with Nuno Bettencourt showing a highly developed sense of melodic virtuosity beyond the standard of the day. The tracks have an innocent playfulness to them as they are all associated with childhood experiences and the rhythms are not only catchy but have a bouncy carefree delivery save the two slower tracks. This debut album is actually a pretty accomplished recording but there a few issues i have with it. First of all the production is a little lackluster and sounds a bit too thin as if it was released on an MP3 before they existed. Secondly the band tends to try too hard to be other bands on any given track and a unifying chemistry hadn’t quite gelled yet as they were still getting their feet wet. All in all, EXTREME is a decent debut for a band that had a larger musical palette than most of their contemporaries. This debut was successful in garnering enough attention that would allow their followup to break them into the mainstream.

XYSMA Yeah!

Album · 1991 · Grindcore
Cover art 3.17 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
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
Cover art 3.44 | 17 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
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
Cover art 3.41 | 46 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
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
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
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.

TÝR How Far to Asgaard

Album · 2001 · Folk Metal
Cover art 3.61 | 5 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While the tiny little territory called the Faroe Islands may hardly be on anybody’s radar as far as the world metal music scene is considered, this little rugged subpolar archipelago located just north of the UK and equidistant between Norway and Iceland could be considered an extension of the Scandinavian music scene in general. With only a population slightly over 50,000 inhabitants, the tiny territory has produced a significant number of metal bands alone (as well as other musical genres) ranging from Heljareyga, Hamferð, Vernon, Synarchy, Asyllex, Hatursvart, Terji to this review’s subject of choice TÝR which has managed to poise themselves as the islands’ greatest musical export. All these musical connections result in the fact that the Faroe Islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark with close ties to Copenhagen as well as the rest of the Nordic lands. The culture traces its language and history back to Old West Norse from the Middle Ages and the language is closely related to Icelandic which makes it one of the closest linguistic connections to the old Viking tongues of the past.

Not surprisingly the subject matter TÝR is almost exclusively steeped in Viking lore, mythology and history. Their name itself is derived from the god of law and justice in the Norse religion and the music is heavily steeped in kvæði, the traditional folk music of the Faroe Islands which consists of stanzas plus a chorus sung between every verse. The band was formed in 1998 when Heri Joensen and Kári Streymoy decided to get together and jam which resulted in a similar outlook of creating a style of musical that was designed to break down the walls that have been erected between the various styles of metal the that have been created thus the music of TÝR is a unique blend of power, doom, progressive, Viking, folk and traditional classic metal. The debut album “How Far To Asgaard” may sound like a tribute to the Lord Of The Rings style Tolkien-based themes but in reality “Asgarard” is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir tribe of gods in Norse Mythology. For the debut Pól Arni Holm was recruited for vocals and Gunnar H. Thomsen for the bass parts.

While TÝR would develop quite the epic progressive metal sound on subsequent albums, on the debut, “How Far To Asgaard” displays their knack for mixing all the styles of metal ingredients dispersed throughout the metal universe around a mostly traditional Faroese folk style of compositional construction complete with homegrown musical scales and quirky time signatures. The album starts off feeling more like a doom metal release with chugging and slowed down tempos as “Hail To The Hammer” and “Excavation” delve into the Viking world lyrically and plod along with downtrodden doom inspired riffs constructed with a folk feel and a progressive metal methodology of incorporating high register vocals and challenging time signature jitteriness. A classic 80s metal feel comes into the picture as well as the metal aspects tend to have a somewhat classic compositional style with verses, choruses and virtuosic guitar solos. The mix of all these styles may sound quite strange at first and it took me a few spins for “How Far To Asgaard” to sink in as i found i needed to calibrate my sensibilities to its quirky idiosyncrasies but after i did so found myself really loving the intricacies of how these tracks were constructed and the melodies become quite catchy once you catch the Faroese vibe.

My favorite tracks are those that think outside the box such as “Ten Wild Dogs” which uses a hammer on guitar lick as the guitar with a slightly warped sense of rhythm yet existing in the general framework of the established fusion sound TÝR have created. While the tracks are definitely metal based with Faroese folk mixed in, the track “Ormurin Langi” is a metal version of a traditional Faroese song and if anyone if familiar with some of the Pagan leaning black metal bands of Norway, Sweden and Finland such as Enslaved and Moonsorrow, this traditional style of Nordic folk music should sound quite familiar. The lyrics are mostly in English on “How Far To Asgaard” but native Faroese is also used in some choruses and of course on the traditional. Here’s another debut that i find myself against the grain on. True that it requires a little indoctrination to the subtleties and an education into the ethnomusicology folklore that it derives from, but once i put this on while driving on full audio emersion, i found i loved this one a lot as it’s some of the most authentic fusion of ethnic folk music and modern day metal i’ve ever heard and doesn’t resort to some of the beer chugging bards of future albums. Nice harmonics, instrumental counterpoints and history lessons. Excellent!

“How Far To Asgard” has been released twice. One with the original ominous purple sea album cover with the rune inspired band logo and again with an artistic vision of the Faroese landscape with Vikings gazing out from the clouds above. This second version re-released in 2008 on Napalm records after the band found more worldwide success contains the two bonus tracks "Ólavur Riddararós” and “Stýrisvølurin" which are two more examples of traditional Faroese folk music dressed up in metal clothing and are highly recommended. Not only do i like the second release better for the artwork and extra two tracks, but all the bad production gripes i’ve encountered regarded this album seem to have been rectified on this second go at it. While it’s taken me a while to get into the music of TÝR, i have to admit that after hearing a few albums, it was this debut that made it all click and now i’m hooked.

MASTODON Cold Dark Place

EP · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 2.75 | 4 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Following 2017’s full release album “Emperor Of The Sand,” Atlanta based sludge metal outfit MASTODON gave hardcore fans another slice of their unreleased material on this four track EP titled COLD DARK PLACE which came out in September digitally and on CD but also as a limited edition ten-inch vinyl edition that came out at the end of October 2017.

COLD DARK PLACE is basically the leftover tracks from the band’s last two album session. “North Side Star,” “Blue Walsh” and the title track all date back to 2014 from the “Once More ‘Round The Sun” sessions and “Toe To Toes” comes from the latest “Emperor Of Sand” sessions.

There is nothing on this EP that you wouldn’t expect. Nothing here is experimental or out of the parameters of the band’s established style that was displayed on the retrospective albums that these were initially recorded for. MASTODON has been toning down the heaviness in their music ever since the 2011 album “The Hunter” and COLD DARK PLACE shows the band continuing their journey into less metal territory with more emphasis on progressive rock.

While most tracks are on the borderline of progressive rock and metal, “Toe To Toes” is exceptionally mellow for MASTODON’s overall sound. There are more clean vocals displayed on this EP than on any proper album. Overall i’m not too keen on MASTODON’s direction that they’ve been going.

While metal bands mellowing out and going prog rock isn’t anything new or something i’m against in any way, MASTODON seems to be getting stale with super predictable tunes that cruise on auto pilot. This EP is okay with nothing being offensive but i find it quite boring compared to the greatness they unleashed a decade ago.

ZU Jhator

Album · 2017 · Non-Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The Italian band ZU is one of those bands that is entirely pointless to categorize because throughout their two decade career they have fully embraced their diverse palette with an extra emphasis on experimentalism. For the most part though, this trio of Massimo Farjon Pupillo on bass, guitar, piano, synth, Tomas Järmyr on percussion and Luca T. Mai on baritone sax, electronics and vocals hasn’t strayed too overly far from the amorphous free-form drone compositions with extreme metal clothing that incorporates harsh guitar distortion, heavy percussion and hellish Zorn inspired sax attacks. While totally unique in any regard, ZU share their chameleonesque genre shapeshifting once again as they continue to go Ulver on us and completely throw a curve ball with their 15th release (counting the collaborations) JHATOR which retains the meditative practice that they are famous for but drops the aggressive brutality that typically supports it and opts for a more relaxing and contemplative soundscape.

The title JHATOR is a Tibetan practice of sky burial funeral practice of placing a corpse on top of a mountain to decompose and allow the natural world to reclaim the elements that compose the body. This “excarnation” of allowing a body to be scavenged by carrion birds and natural bacteria is practiced extensively in areas such as Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Mongolia and Bhutan. This album contains two expansive tracks that sound as if they are the soundtrack for such practices as the moods and styles fit the bill perfectly. Unlike the more metal meets jazz oriented albums that ZU is famous for, this one straddles the line of post-rock type sprawling soundscapes that incorporate ambient synthesized atmospheres with experimental electronic simulations of animals, spirits and natural events accompanied by traditional Eastern instruments such as the Japanese koto (21 stringed versions as well as the 17 string bass koto), gongs as well as other unorthodox instrumentation such as a hurdy gurdy, amplified tuba and Flugabone which all requires an extra eight guest musicians to pull off.

It’s almost as if the band members went on a spiritual retreat to the Himalayas somewhere and gained inspiration in the most profound ways as the sprawling meditational tracks perfectly convey the message in pure instrumental form. The first track “Jhator: Sky Burial” opens with gong strikes followed by an electronic insect swarm of some sort that signifies the inevitable return to the Earth and the ultimate recycling of the corporeal being into the natural systems that surround us. The build up of the over 21 minute track is tantamount to the most apocalyptic sounding Godspeed You! Black Emperor material with a dreadful drone effect characterized by the subtle flux of the instruments in tandem. The second track “The Dawning Moon Of The Mind” signifies the decomposition stage and utilizes its twenty minute plus existence with a darkened droning synth background with what sound like distant angelic forces mediating and chanting while the electronic noises sputter around. The exotic instruments break in from time to time to offer ceremonial intermissions as the otherworldly dirge continues.

Despite having been around for two decades and known for not only dipping into the metal, jazz and progressive rock worlds with their cross-genre skipping eclecticism, ZU still remains a bit under the radar as being slightly too off-kilter for the average genre dweller. ZU is far too overreaching to be easily pegged into any of those genres and with JHATOR, they completely reveal completely new aspects of themselves as they effortlessly navigate the expansive narrative soundscapes that convey the message of the ancient Tibetan ritual. This album totally eschews any metal aggressiveness, any jazz syncopation outbursts or progressive rock excesses. JHATOR is exclusively grounded in soundtrack type epic sprawling tracks that simulate post-rock but come off more as deep tribal ambient type music that finds inspiration from ancient wisdom rather than from modern day society. This one is almost like a musical painting where each note is equivalent to a paintbrush stroke that exhibits its effect for an allotted period of time. Strange and hauntingly beautiful, JHATOR is a bizarre experiment from ZU that works out remarkably well.

MR. BUNGLE OU818

Demo · 1989 · Funk Metal
Cover art 3.36 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
MR BUNGLE released their fourth demo OU818 in 1989 after three previous demos that showed the band debut as a death metal band on “The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny” and then took a complete stylistic shift on their second demo “Bowel Of Chilly” as they completely dropped the style in favor of a Fishbone inspired fusion of ska and funk rock, however it took them a couple demos to warm up and finally scored a cohesive band sound on their third demo “Goddammit I Love America!” On OU818 they continued to hone their sound into an undeniably addictive eclectic mix that at long last sounded like no one else on the music scene. Not only did Mike Patton get his vocal act together but compositionally speaking, the band began to fuse progressive rock into the jazz-fusion and funk metal mix.

The title OU818 was a play on the popular yet lame Van Halen album of the day titled “OU812” which found the Van “Hagar” sound rapidly failing and becoming stale. This is the point where both Danny Heifetz would replace Hans Wagner on drums and Bär McKinnon would take over Luke Miller’s role on horns. The classic lineup was complete and the chemistry is magic at this point. The band had even taken it upon themselves to handle the production and it really does sound much better than the three demos that came before. While the debut demo was clearly rooted in the metal world, the band took a hiatus for the next two with only snippets of heaviness but the heavy riffing returned on OU818 with bombastic outbursts of funk metal riffing interspersed between the surreal soundscapes that sandwiched them.

OU818 is in effect a rough draft of the eponymous debut album that would appear on the Warner Brothers label in 1991. Of the six tracks aboard, four are almost nearly completed tracks from the first album which include: “Squeeze Me Macaroni,” “Slowly Growing Deaf,” “The Girls Of Porn” and “Love Is A Fist.” The remaining two tracks consist of the opening “OHUE818” which is a snazzy little intro with Patton emulating a radio DJ talking shit about the new demo and dissing the Van Halen album that was current with electronic music sputtering on in the background. While the main staple is the ska infused funk rock and metal that they had been developing, MR B had diversified its sound manyfold finding not only more metallic riffs interspersed about but a clear John Zorn influence raging on in the horn section especially on “Love Is A Fist.”

The final track only appears on this demo and despite a track name like “Mr. Nice Guy” sounding like a possible alteration of an Alice Cooper classic, it is in fact a ska funk number with jazzy guitar riffs, a beefy bass line and an overall similar sound to the riffs heard on “The Girls Of Porn.” MR B also has entered sound effect territory with the classic dialogue from the 50s school skit about how not to be a MR BUNGLE finding its way into their world as well as sudden genre shifts and time signature freak outs run amok. Overall this is an excellent demo and the best of the four as it sounds like a fully formed mature MR BUNGLE has emerged from the death metal and early Fishbone clone sounds of only a few short years before. So impressive is this demo that it caught the attention of Warner Bros who would release one of the weirdest albums of their label’s history. While this is excellent as a demo, it still lacks all the perfecting touches that a major budget provides and since four out of six tracks are on the debut in a much better finished product, this remains excellent but not really essential. Very well worth the time to explore beyond just a hardcore fan curiosity though.

MR. BUNGLE Goddammit I Love America!

Demo · 1988 · Non-Metal
Cover art 2.92 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
MR BUNGLE released their first demo “The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny” in 1986 primarily influenced by the emerging thrash and death metal scenes and created a lo-fi punk feeling noisefest but soon thereafter must have realized how much they sucked at it and started listening to the funk ska rock of Fishbone and early Red Hot Chili Peppers and the rest was history when they turned all funky ska rock on their second demo “Bowel Of Chiley.” While the band completely changed their sound up, they weren’t ready for prime time for sure as the whole affair came off as a little amateurish despite some interesting moments. On their third demo release GODDAMMIT I LOVE AMERICA! the band was more comfortably adapting to the more recognizable sound heard on their debut album of 1991. On this one Mike Patton and company had totally developed their swinging ska sound with the occasionally driving heavy funky metal.

The tracks are all crafted primarily with funky guitar riffs, a beefy funk bass and Mike Patton’s vocal acrobatics have already gained the power to veer all over the place like a circus performer. Also heard in the mix is their quirky carnival music that blends so well with their amusement park stylistic approach. GODDAMMIT I LOVE AMERICA! is a huge step above the first two demo in terms of songwriting as well as production. This is the first demo that would find two of its tracks to be more refined and polished and released on the debut album. Both “Egg” and “Carousel” are essentially already presented here in their full glory although they are clearly in need of some fine-tuning mostly in Patton’s vocal abilities as he hadn’t quite found the proper dramatic flair to grace each passage. This is especially true of “Carousel.” On “Egg” there are interesting differences that can lend a clue as to how the track evolved into the huge monstrosity that it would become.

The rest of the demo is filled with similar sounding songs in comparison with those two that would appear on the debut album but none quite having the strong attraction of the one’s chosen. Tracks like “Bloody Mary” and “Waltz For Grandma’s Sake” aren’t that bad actually however they sound a lot more like the ska funk rock band Fishbone who were doing a similar style at the time. At this point the three big names Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance are all on board with their respective talents as well as some early bunglers on the horn section including Luke Miller (who replaced Scott Fritz) on various horns and Theobald Lengyel on sax which gives the band a healthy sultry swing that had improved significantly from “Bowel Of Chiley. Gone as well are the comparisons to a mariachi band as the band has taken on a proper band sound of its own.

It was a wise choice for MR BUNGLE to walk away from the death metal that they displayed on their debut. Here they sound like they were made to create this interesting swinging, funk metal hybrid music that still incorporates some of that punk and metal freneticism from time to time. “Definition Of Shapes” is probably my favorite track on here that didn’t graduate to the ranks of the debut album but possibly didn’t cut the mustard because it has some of the same riffs as heard on “Egg” and also plays around and even briefly throws out some “Another One Bites The Dust” riffs by Queen with the end mixing funk rock with the track “Need You Tonight” by INXS. “Incoherence” is a nice little rocker turned into a beer hall polka mixed with punk angst. Overall this is a good demo well worth hearing once but just shy of essential and very much improved over the first two releases. This one was released only as a cassette and still hasn’t made it onto a CD format.

MR. BUNGLE Bowel of Chiley

Demo · 1987 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 2.79 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The second MR BUNGLE demo emerged only a year after the first and found the band shedding their death metal skin and began to take on a ska funk rock sound that was part of the alternative underground of the 80s most notably mastered by bands like Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers and 24/7 Spyz amongst others. Likewise with a sound shift came a new cast of characters. While Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn were riding the BUNGLE carousel for the long run, others like Jed Watts and Martin Fosnaugh jumped ship after only one demo. While Theo Lengyel wouldn’t remain with the band till its demise, he nevertheless appeared on all the early demos. The is also the only appearance of Scott Fritz who played trumpet.

So different in style is the second demo BOWEL OF CHILEY compared to the previous “The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny” that it sounds like a completely different band with only Mike Patton’s signature vocal style giving a clue as to who this band is. While the first demo was rather short in length, BOWEL OF CHILEY is a full album’s length with different tracks taking on different identities ranging from ska and funk rock to (occasional) avant-garde metal and just plain weird rock. While the the next two demos showcased many of the primeval forms of tracks that would be reworked and released on the 1991 debut album, this one contains almost exclusively compositions that would never see the light of day on any album with the sole exception of “Carousel” which sounds very primitive compared to the masterpiece it would become. While the main melodic riff was already developed, Mike Patton’s vocals weren’t and the whole thing sounds like a drunken romp at a Mexican mariachi party.

Speaking of mariachi parties, “Evil Satan” probably sounds the most like a Mexican tequila march and fully in sync with the swing revival fad of the 90s with a dash of alternative rock guitar added to the recipe. Nice trumpet work though and this tracks sounds a lot like Fishbone only not nearly as good as their debut EP from 1985. “Jumping” has some great jazzy guitar work from Spruance although Patton doesn’t quite pull off the Ethel Merman thing with his scatting. The track “( )” (no, Sigur Ros didn’t come up with that!) is probably my favorite as Trevor Dunn displays his full bass playing fury as does Spruance churn out the most funkified guitar riffs that turn into heavy funk metal. Also Patton seems to have mastered his vocals and overall the track is just more interesting and varied. It sounds more professional and closer to the avant-garde funk metal prowess of the debut album. It’s also a sneak preview into the world of progressive rock with some wickedly cool time signature deviations and compositional fortitude.

There are two versions of this demo. The first was released as a cassette and meant to be what it was released as: a demo. It contained twelve tracks from “For No Reason” to “Freight Train.” The popularity of the band in the 90s found the demand for their demos to be re-issued so lo and behold a CD version emerged in 1997 with five extra unreleased tracks with cute names like “Far In A Bag” and “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” Although an improvement and a welcome stylistic shift from their lackluster death metal days, BOWEL OF CHILEY is a long way from prime time and finds the band able to write a few catchy songs, most of the tracks come off as amateurish and mediocre. Add to that that they still haven’t mastered the art of performing them. Patton’s vocals are particularly awful and he hadn’t quite learned the techniques he was grasping for. An interesting historical artifact for those who wish to dig deep but not really of interest for anyone else.

GORGOROTH Under the Sign of Hell

Album · 1997 · Black Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 13 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
One of black metal’s purest forms of primeval rage appeared on GORGOROTH’s third album UNDER THE SIGN OF HELL right smack dab in the middle of the 90s demented era of the second wave black metal frenzy. While clearly inspired by the likes of Darkthrone and other Norwegian church burning miscreants (hmmm… i wonder who THAT could be :?), this short but slightly over thirty minute long outburst of pure eeeee-vile kvlt freneticism drops its sonic intensity upon the listener like a bomb on Hiroshima razing all to the ground and leaving anyone still breathing only to fester in torturous anguish following its radioactive wake.

While not stylistically different from the first two GORGOROTH albums, something shifted here. Inferno, Pest and Grim somehow created the perfect triumvirat of black metal angst with pummeling distorted guitar and bass riffs in tandem with some of Pest’s angriest and most ferocious vocals to appear on any GROGOROTH album accompanied by the frenetic blast beat fury of Grim at breakneck speed. Likewise the compositions are more diverse than ever with not only the expected frenetic energy infused headache music but include elements of black’n’roll, Scandinavian folk (even clean lyrics like Enslaved would utilize to full effect) and even dreadfully dark ambient segments.

The short nine track album is punctuated in the middle with great success by a bizarre and utterly deranged delivery of pure eeee-vile with the backmasking rich collage of sounds on “Postludium” which exhibits the anguished and tortured sounds of hell with moans, groans, indecipherable pleas with sonic swirls of sound in the firestorm pits before once again revisiting the frenetic distorted apocalyptic visions of the world of black metal drenched in the muck and murk of lo-fi bleakness.

“Ødeleggelse og Undergang” displays the band’s stylistic explorations as it treads doom laden sonicscapes interspersed with thrash riff attacks that employ ample melodic chord change shifts rather than relying simply on aggression alone which BTW remains on full display during this is fury is frenetically unleashed. Despite lasting a mere 32 minutes and 53 seconds, UNDER THE SIGN OF HELL is a frighteningly complete listening experience bringing the listener to the brink of what they can tolerate as the album exploits every fear factor of grimness and is one of the few black metal albums that effortlessly succeeds in descending me to the underworld and leave me feel suffocated while i’m experiencing it.

I’m a huge fan of GORGORTH on all their journeys of changing it up over the years, but they hit a high note (or should i say satisfying low one) on UNDER THE SIGN OF HELL where they delivered on all the beastly best of what makes a hardcore black metal album so utterly satisfying without an iota of compromise and no fucks given about the consequences. Lo-fi beastly fun for the whole family. Well, the Adam’s Family that is! Oh, and forget about that nonsensical 2011 re-recording of demonic excrement. There never has been a need to re-record this because it’s perfect as it is. True kvlt black metal is SUPPOSED to have warts rolled around in goat feces. WTF were they thinking?

COMA CLUSTER VOID Thoughts From A Stone

Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
After becoming one of underground metal’s most up and coming revered tech death bands of 2016 with their debut album “Mind Cemeteries,” the multi-national COMA CLUSTER VOID unleash their second offering to the world of sonic sadomasochism seekers with THOUGHTS FROM A STONE which while at running length of only 21 minutes and 40 seconds could possibly be thought of as an EP but in reality i haven’t seen any reference to it as such by the band themselves so despite clocking in a roughly half the time span as their debut, i would have to assume that this is in fact their second album. While the time length has been shortened, the number of musical cast members has gone up by two. While the five members on the debut all make a reprise, they have also expanded their roles beyond their retrospective instruments or vocal duties. This meaning that there is more of a classical music approach in the intro and other segments strewn throughout that find bassist Sylvia Hinz also playing recorder and guitarist John Strieder tearing it up on the violoncello. Two guests appear with Alexa Renger on violin and Anthony Lipari adding yet more guttural death growls and other vocal utterances.

Once again COMA CLUSTER VOID are on a mission to create the harshest and most atonal dissonant din there is to be experienced. While mostly centered on the bizarre surreal tech death soundscapes of Gorguts’ “Obscura” for their source of proggy inspiration with flurries of zigzagging math rock time signatures run amok, the heavy bombast also brings the kings of dissonant djent-fueled orotundity, Meshuggah to mind but it’s those slowed down creepy jarring atonal chords and arpeggiations that always point the finger to Deathspell Omega’s most demanding listens. While not quite as murky and layered as bands like Portal and Pyrrhon, the distortion that bleeds to infinity adds an extra layer of tension that only becomes ratcheted up to the ultimate creepy climaxes. While the tech death metal parts are fairly similar to the first album, what really sets this one apart is the use of the chamber rock classical music pieces which start to sound like Kayo Dot’s most experimental earlier albums however it’s the semi-spoken declarative poetic proses uttered by both male and female members that gives it a sense of urgency and unique flavor.

Personally i find THOUGHTS FROM A STONE to expand fairly well from the debut as it takes all the extreme elements set forth and adds new layers of surreality, brutality and technical complexity which all conspire to unleash a startling spine-chilling sonicscape of extremes. Perhaps my favorite is the ending “We Are As Low” which is a jangling distortionfest mess of chords, eerie atmospheric dread and guttural growls trading off with Diamanda Galas-esque types of litanies of horror and anguish. This is the type of complexity that requires acclamation as it is the equivalent of transversing an oxygen-starved environment while climbing Mt Everest. The elements exposed here are built upon the complexities of the high tech arts that preceded and will surely leave the uninitiated into this cult of chaos utterly bereft of any connection to a musical experience whatsoever. Proggy as hell and brutally extreme to the max yet an almost undetectable thread of beauty that stitches the whole thing together. Another winner in my book. COMA CLUSTER VOID is the real deal.

COMA CLUSTER VOID Mind Cemeteries

Album · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
If you wish to advance past the avant-garde atonal brutality of technical death metal such as the landmark Gorguts album “Obscura,” then it is not with that band’s following albums that is the path to the ultimate expression of progressive metal orotundity is furthered as Luc LeMay and his pioneering band would tone things down ever so slightly and drift in a slightly more accessible direction. While the desire to one up the great Gorguts has been attempted by quite a few tech death metal bands over the last two decades, very few have matched the intensity and sheer bleakness of that pioneering album of sombre and uncompromising hopelessness and intimidation. Coming from Germany is is the extreme tech death metal band COMA CLUSTER VOID who offer a serious contender for the Canadian classic with their debut album MIND CEMETERIES which delivers a veritable frenetic intensity worthy of its title.

The band is the project of John Streider who plays a down-tuned 10-string guitar and is the main composer of this maelstrom of progressive brutality. The band is completed with the bass playing of Sylvia Hintz (yes! women play tech death metal too) and Chris Burrows’ ferocious percussion attacks that effortlessly groove and roll around the swirling freneticism of the endless stream of dissonant string action swarms. While the music is of the utmost avant-garde experimental death metal most reminiscent of “Obscura” era Gorguts, all the complexities are turned up several notches creating one of the most forbidding musical experiences in the entire metal universe. The vocal duties are shared by Mike DiSalvo (formerly of Cryptopsy) and Austin Taylor (of the band Dimensionless). The pair trade off between in sync frenetic torturously screamed rants to semi-spoken declarative prose that at time sounds like some of the mystic Satanic revelations of Deathspell Omega. There are occasional clean Pagan folk type vocals as well but they are muffled by the incessant din.

The album begins with the bleak ambient atmospheric opener “Prologue: I Am” which sets the tone for an utterly devastating attack of sonic fury to come before the first disharmonious delivery of atonal distortion churns out of the guitar and bass which for better or worse act as a single instrument for the majority of the album’s run making it indistinguishable where the 10-string guitar ends and bass continues in the lower realms of the bass octaves. Burrows is an absolute beast on the drums as he effortlessly keeps the beat to the unsettling time signature deviations at blastbeat speeds with jazzy fills that frenetically outpace the anguished angular rhythmic assault of the guitar riffs fueled with distortion that stretches to infinity. While the album is rather unrelenting in its delivery, a small hiatus occurs in the middle with the slowed down intermission “Interlude: I See Through Your Pain” which while set in ambient mode yet still find the atonal guitar strums interrupting any attempt to regain sanity.

COMA CLUSTER VOID offer up an extremely demanding listen with MIND CEMETERIES and sound like they took many cues from the masters of the extreme by utilizing the compositional prowess of Gorguts, the atonal fury of Deathspell Omega, the distorted multi-dimensional surreality of Portal and Mitochondrion and take it all up a few more notches believe it or not. Personally i didn’t think that could be done but they prove here that this angular zigzagging can indeed be cranked up on the extreme-o-meter. Needless to say, that this isn’t your parents’ heavy metal. This is some sort of freakazoid science experiment akin to a genetic mutilation that occurred from some secret extraterrestrial genetic experiment that got loose and is driven to create as much havoc as the laws of the universe will allow. This one is only for those who can immerse themselves in the most brutal, the most progressive and the most surreal soundscapes that have been crafted by demons. Definitely not a sing-a-long album but one that will surely blow your mind and ear canals to boot.

VEXOVOID Call Of The Starforger

Album · 2017 · Technical Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Given the fact that Vektor has won the increasingly finicky metal community over so unanimously means serious business considering metal bands are a dime a dozen this far into the 21st century where there are far more copycats than fertile imaginative product. It has occurred to me that surely there must be some band out there somewhere who would jump on the blackened thrash bandwagon in similar vein to what the Arizona tech thrash band has achieved so gracefully. Well it turns out that there is indeed an assembly line in the works out there. In this case coming from the fertile wine growing regions of Sienna, Italy, the tech thrash band VEXOVOID who despite copping their name from a Portal album (thus showing their allegiance in many forms to the tech thrash world) sound like a dead ringer for Vektor in almost every way right down to the sci-fi based themes and eerie space album cover artwork.

The band released only one EP “Heralds Of The Stars” in 2014 but recently released their first full length album CALL OF THE STARFORGER three years later. When i say this band sounds like Vektor, i’m not kidding in the least. This band has a PHD in Vektor-ology and has learned how to mimic every little nuance that the first V-band has developed over the years right down to Danny Brunelli’s imitation blood curdling vocal screams that nails David DiSanto’s signature style. Similarly the music is practically identical in compositional form and delivery. The caustic blackened tones delivered in a stampeding thrash gallop all point to Arizona’s top dogs is rather uncanny as VEXOVOID has all the chops to pull off all these technical antics off with ease. CALL OF THE STARFORGER not only incorporates all of the aggressive bombast in perfect mimicry but they carefully craft out atmospheric passages as well.

While i’m not keen on blatant ripoffs of other band’s styles, i have to admit that VEXOVOID matches their muse exceedingly well and even sounds like they could pull off a usurping of the throne if only they had developed this style first. While Vektor is without a doubt the primarily band of worship here, there are also nods to “Rust In Peace” era Megadeath as well as the true pioneers of sci-fi thrash Voivod. As i’m writing this review and listening to this album, i’m torn between being highly impressed with the outstanding musicianship that cranks out some of the best 21st century technical thrash apart from their heroes of worship Vektor themselves but i’m also left with a slight bad taste because it’s sorely lacking in any sort of original stamp whatsoever. So what i’m left with an impression that this band is physically ready for prime time but needs to have a few epiphanies in order to glean some inspiration or reflection on their own identity. Well worth hearing and recommended as an up and coming band that will hopefully find its own voice on its journey. It certainly is dripping with potential and a great listen if you can stomach such copycatism.

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Pacifisticuffs

Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.14 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Very few bands in the overcrowded world of progressive rock / metal manage to develop a highly unique and utterly original sound right from the start and even fewer manage to keep the legions of copycats from jumping on the bandwagon, but fourteen years after their formation, the bizarre avant-swing-symphonic-metal-rock group DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA still manages to exist in a musical universe all their very own. After long speculation of whether or not the band would continue after the departures of vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund and percussionist Petter Karlsson, the band kept the rumors at bay by declaring that they were still an active musical group yet somehow the years slipped by with no new album. Finally after a mere half decade DOS returns with their fourth album PACIFISTICUFFS. While originally slated for a 2016 release, the countless delays and technical difficulties in the mixing resulted in a year long delay from the original target. But at long last towards the end of 2017, the album has finally emerged and sounds exactly like what one would expect as a followup to their 2012 album “Pandora’s Piñata.”

As with all the DSO album, PACIFISTICUFFS is quite the sophisticated project that may not be apparent upon a casual listening experience. The band once again take the disparate elements of swing revival and symphonic prog rock as their main canvasses to paint upon but include the usual metal guitar riffs to add the extra heft albeit the latter are much less pronounced as opposed to their earlier heavy guitar-laden riffing. This album still retains all the DSO characteristics that came before but there are a lot more genre diversions as well. The most prominent of these is a heavy emphasis on Balkan gypsy folk rhythms and musical scales that add that polka-esque oom-paa-paa feel to much of the album. Some of the brass sections also carry a klezmer type of flavor at times and there are even parts that dip into Elvis Presley country-esque territory (“The Age Of Vulture Culture”) and tango (“Cul-de-sac Semantics”) as well as occasional banjo outbursts. The symphonic tracks are quite grand with lush violin and viola passages that make you forget you’re listening to a rock based album at times. This is quite the assembly of musicians and contains a huge army of personal on board to bring about this album. There are not only eight members credited to be official members but an additional eleven musicians that add the touches of violin, viola, double bass, clarinet, tube, additional percussion and backing vocals. The production department is no less impressive.

While DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA gets lumped into the avant-garde metal camp, i have to emphasize that this is not really a metal band at all but an avant-garde swing revival band that just happens to incorporate aspects of metal into their overall sound. For those who only rely on the metal bombast to keep their interest, then PACIFISTICUFFS will surely disappoint because of the fact that the metal parts seem to play much less of a role this time around. True that tracks like “Superhero Jaggnath” have ample bursts of guitar riffing prowess but for the most part, this album is more of a silky smooth studio album that some may call overproduced and overweening in its pompous operatic outbursts that at their peak don’t sound too far off from some of the zeuhl band Magma’s most in-yer-face moments. Also as always, DSO focus their full force on over-the-top catchy melodies that become exaggerated by the pomp and awe of the many backing elements of swing, rock and symphony. Both newbies vocalist Kristin Evegård and drummer Johan Norbäck integrate perfectly into the band with Evegård sounding exactly like her predecessor in every possible way. On a side note, the non-album track “Jigsaw Hustle” which appeared in 2014 as a lone single has been rerecorded and shows the diverse palette expand even further into the disco revival world. The track reminds me a lot of ELO’s “Out Of The Blue” era.

After only a couple listens to PACIFISTICUFFS, i’m utterly amazed at how well it all flows together so seamlessly where every little touch is disciplined and the puzzle pieces placed in a precise order in order to achieve the desired effect. All the delays in the mixing room were worth the wait as the production is absolutely crystal clear and instead of all the disparate instruments sounding like a big muddy mess, each has found its niche in the greater sonic picture as if a great conductor is hiding behind the scenes as to ensure that nobody jumps the gun and gets all jiggy on us. PACIFISTICUFFS will not win over any non-believers for sure. If anything it will scare off all but the most serious music nerds who are fans of the many genres on display here. For me, this album ranks as one of the band’s most ambitious and taking the logical path of progression past 2012’s “Pandora’s Piñata.” It’s hard to know what to call this anymore since the tracks vary so much and no element dominates the soundscape for long. Not every track contains metal, nor swing nor symphonic chamber rock. Some contain all three but no matter which of these holds the reins at any particular moment, they are always accompanied by unexpected elements guided by memorable and captivating melodic developments. I do believe that DSO have proven that they are no mere novelty and that they have the chops to pull off some of the most mind-bending genre juggling there is to be heard.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 273 - Guillotine Furnace

Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
For those of us who are actually keeping up with the prolific world of BUCKETHEAD, it is a chore indeed to keep up with his incessant flow of albums in the never-ending PIKE series but after his release of “Pike 272 - Coniunctio” at the end of August, 2017 there has been an unexpected multi-month silence from the chicken lover most likely due to a touring schedule where i finally got to see dude in a live setting. While 2017 will not come anywhere close to his million albums of 2015, finally in December, BH releases his 30th album of the year

PIKE 273 - GUILLOTINE FURNACE. This is another one of those albums where every track has the title of the album only with an added “Part 1” all the way up to “Part 8.” And like the majority of these types of albums, all these parts are really just, well, parts of a much longer track that takes up the whole album that clocks in at 28 minutes and 3 seconds but each “part” is really just snippets of smaller “parts” so in effect this is basically a bizarre display of surreality in full avant-garde mode

“Part 1” starts things off with a clucking keyboard part before a little solo erupts and gives way to a barrage of riffs interrupted periodically by electronic noises of various sorts. Sometimes these can deviate into pure ambient passages that totally shifts the mood into another musical universe. After a few of these it’s apparent that this is one of those albums that shifts around from different styles willy nilly with no rhyme or reason. The initial guitar riffs pop in from time to time to remind you that the music no longer resides there but then it bounces around from funk to post-rock to blues rock and so forth

As “Part 2” begins it shifts from the bombastic soling that the previous track exited with and provides a serene ambient soundscape before erupting into alternative metal, industrial metal and some sort of avant-garde funk metal that is followed by good old fashioned funk for a while and then more riffing. Things change it up often and quickly as one style sticks around for a short time and then is replaced by another. Sometimes being weird electronically tinged funk and at other times being face-melting solos over bluesy metal. It only gets weirder and wilder with more disparate genre styles and experimental features peeking in and out of the incessant parade of changing-it-up

While “Part 3” begins with a processed funky bass followed by an eruption of guitar virtuosity, it becomes apparent that i would have to write a million word review to catalogue every single style shift that occurs with this one so in short, there’s no need to chronicle this wickedly wild roller coaster ride into the avant-garde. This is one that is best experienced to believe as it’s just too fertile and ambitious for words to convey. Just expect a wild ride where nothing stays same for long. The melodies change, the dynamics change, the tempos, the genres, the rhythms, the instruments, the time signatures, they all change it up and often

This is not the first style of eclectic excess that BH has done in this fashion but it remains one of my favorite types of albums where absolutely anything goes and the only constant is the unexpected. Another renegade egg has hatched and is growing up quickly into a beastly monster that cannot be contained. Be warned. This is really a musical trojan horse trying to take control of our brains. Oh my, i suddenly feel the urge to drive to the country and hang out with chickens. Oh nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

NILE Black Seeds of Vengeance

Album · 2000 · Brutal Death Metal
Cover art 3.87 | 24 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While NILE hit the ground running on their debut release “Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka” which found the band utilizing the Egyptian mythology that Iron Maiden flirted with on their “Powerslave” album, it was their second album BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE where they really started to take the ideas laid down on the debut release and organize them into a more cohesive package that began their slew of epic feeling death metal releases. In the lineup department, this was a volatile period of the band’s existence with band leader Karl Sanders having to replace percussionist Pete Hammoura because of injuries sustained during touring. In to save the day was Derek Roddy who was a seasoned drumming veteran at this point after playing in several bands including Hate Eternal. He would fill the role in the drum department only for this one album before he would be replaced by the great George Kolias. Another great change in the band’s sound came with the addition of the second guitarist /vocalist Dallas Toler-Wade who added a new heft to the band’s already heavy sound. The new two-guitar lineup granted the expansion of rhythm and lead counterpoints which the band exploited superbly.

While “Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka” found NILE with a relatively unique sound in the burgeoning death metal camp that glutted the 90s, one aspect of that release that was missing was a true sense of cohesion with well laid out concepts that flowed in a rather logical manner. The album was more simplistic in the composition department and retained an element of the punkish innocence that was a leftover from the demo days. On BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE, the twelve tracks on board take all the disparate elements present on the first album and arrange them in a more logical and seductively pleasing manner. Firstly the lush Middle Eastern orchestral parts are no longer separated from the brutal death metal bombast and the two are allowed to mix and mingle at various points of the album. The technical aspects have also increased as the tracks are not only more varied in sound but the unorthodox song structures take more liberties to twist and turn in myriad directions superimposing the ritualistic serpent marches with the atonal caustic freneticism of the lightning fast guitar riffs and blastbeats. Likewise Derek Roddy delivers a more technical percussive workout offering more variation in the jaw dropping drum rolls and percussive bombast.

While the death metal orotundity has exponentially increased its technical virtuosity, it too diverges from the power driven speed of the debut and offers crushingly slow death doom passages that allow sustained chords to sustain in unison with Turkish gongs as well as creating thrash palm muted passages to parade through the serpent’s temples as the compositions are more infused with an exotic Middle Eastern flair and finds the band expanding their use of musical scales and experimental string tunings in various keys. Likewise the orchestrated exotic flair of the Conan the Destroyer soundtrack parts exhibit more variation this time around as well with extra musicians on board to offer tastes of exotic instruments and eerie choral vocals that conspire to create one of the most surreal death metal experiences of the turn of the millennium. The attention paid to the atmospheric possibilities in conjunct with the portentous ferociousness of the growled vocals and instrumental death metal assaults is quite artfully achieved. Tracks such as “To Dream Of Ur” offer up the full potential of these cross-pollinating aspects with strange growly chants, exotic Middle Eastern stringed instruments and death doom tempos that allow the tracks to build up to crescendoes before transitioning to more aggressive passages.

BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE is rather unique in the NILE canon as it is the perfect transition album that finds the band shedding their old school brutal death metal skin and dressing it all up in their tech tuxedo of death in which they would continue to perfect on future albums but something about this second release continues to draw me back for returned visits more than any other NILE album. I believe that it is the album that most uses the death and doom metal elements to emphasize the Ancient Egyptian musical feel rather than the other way around. Every aspect of BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE seems to revolve on keeping the listener anchored in the fertile pharaoh ridden shores of the river that sustained the ancients and all their mysterious ways. This one has more time dedicated to these non-metal aspects including chants and periods of eerie mummy raising rituals. The bombast of the metal simply reinforces the themes and mythology that the lyrics and exotic scales construct. For my money, BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE is one of the best NILE albums in their discography and while albums like “Annihilation Of The Wicked” may be more technically advanced, they are still simply variations of the syncretic ideas laid out on this sophomore album. This album is EXCELLENT!!!!

NILE Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka

Album · 1998 · Brutal Death Metal
Cover art 4.06 | 29 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
It was bound to happen eventually. When Iron Maiden released their landmark album “Powerslave” in 1984, it not only displayed a classic metal band in full form in the midst of their long creative peak that would span the rest of the decade but it also sowed the seeds that fertile imaginations could take several steps further. In other words, “Powerslave’s” album cover imagery insinuated a fully developed concept album about the world of ancient Egypt and the mythology and power structures that enabled it to endure for centuries, however in reality the album was a collection of unrelated tracks ranging from military airplane maneuvers to medieval sword fights. After the years went by, Iron Maiden never revisited the Egyptian themes again and finally in the 90s a young death metal band from South Carolina would release the mummies from their chambers and resurrect these themes and create an entire career based on the squandered opportunities of Maiden’s voyage into the land of the sphinx and Alexander The Great.

NILE started out as a mere old school death metal band and as evidenced from their demos were nothing out of the ordinary in the beginning. However somewhere in their nascent years the band discovered not only the fruitful possibilities of cross-pollinating Egyptian themes with intense and brutal technical death metal, but went several steps further and added orchestral segments to their music that incorporated the feel and musical scales of the far away lands where the pharaohs once roamed. NILE debuted with a bang on AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA where they immediately set themselves apart from other old school death metal clones and established a fascinating hybridization of the brutal death metal genre with music and lyrics inspired by Ancient Egypt history, mysticism, religion and arts coupled with healthy doses of H.P. Lovecraft sci-fi veneration.

The title of the album is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” where NEPHREN-KA was a fictitious Egyptian Pharaoh who committed horrendous atrocities to fuel his cult worshippers that ultimately resulted in his actions to be erased from the historical records only to be unearthed in the CATACOMBS where he was buried. The music on the album mostly exudes the brutal technical death metal that NILE has become synomous with but also displays their knack of developing the orchestral instrumental parts that originated on Morbid Angel’s “Domination” and put an Ancient Egyptian spin on them. There are also classical inspirations such as the intro of “Ramses Bringer Of War,” a clear references to Gustav Holst’s “Mars Movement” from his best known works on “The Planets.” The Middle Eastern sound is quite strong with additional musicians lending a hand on bona fide thigh bone flutes, Turkish gongs, Damaru human skull drums and eerie sounding choirs. In fact, the whole affair somewhat comes off as a more technically developed Morbid Angel death metal album making an appearance on the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack as the orchestral parts remind me of that movie.

While NILE would continue to hone and craft their sound and ratchet their complexity and sophistication up several notches on the ensuing albums, their debut AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA is an excellent album in its own right with heavy distorted death metal chops blastbeating their way into your nervous system while Karl Sanders pummels away on the guitar with his death growl vocal style. In this early lineup of NILE, it was Chief Spires on bass and Pete Hammoura on drums and while he didn’t quite match the intensity of George Kollias’ speed, he more than displayed the adequate stamina to churn out satisfying death metal chops. This debut perhaps does not stand above the more accomplished albums that follow but is still one not to be missed. True that the tracks are generally shorter and more to the point without the compositional prowess of albums like “Annihilation Of The Wicked,” but AMONGST THE CATACOMBS OF NEPHREN-KA delivers the goods in a totally satisfying way that adds the mystique of the tales of another time and place with brutal death metal outbursts fortified with lush excursions to a feel of the silk road.

SATANIC BLOOD Satan Boven Alles

Album · 2004 · Black Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Almost two decades into the 21st century black metal has taken a wild ride into many disparate channels of creative outlets with some merging with other genres such as Oranssi Pazuzu effectively becoming psychedelic black metal while others are intent on never leaving the second wave of the 90s and insist on remaining kvlter than kvlt and in the dungeon for eternity. Such is the case with the Dutch underground black metal outfit SATANIC BLOOD which exists in the same demo ridden dungeons that pretty much every other 90s act emerged from, however in the case of this band, they seem to never want to leave. In 2003 they released one 2-track demo and then this one so-called full release SATAN BOVEN ALLES in 2004 before releasing another live album and then breaking up and fading into the abyss from whence they emerged.

While the music itself is a fairly familiar romp through the extreme cauldrons of vileness and dark arts mythos, what really helps them stand out from the crowd are the ridiculously long band member names as well as the titles of the tracks that look more like entire paragraphs in a murder mystery novel. Just check out THESE monstrously long band member names: Radiant Death Bringer of the Serpent Daily (bass), Destroyer of Souls Who Fell Into the Yawning Abyss of Eternal Chaos (drums), Unholy Sodomizer of the Virgin Lambs (guitars) and Masturbating God on the Stench of Burning Death on vocals. Well, ok now!

Also check out the song tracks such as “When Betraying Those Travelling on the Infernal Paths of Devil Worship and Satanic Dogmatism, Be Prepared to Bleed for Their Hatred as Its Consequence.” And who says kvlter-than-thou-ism is dead? LOL. Stylistically this is some fairly wicked stuff and probably reminds me most of Deathspell Omega only utilizing only the lowest of fidelity techniques for that truly sickened maggot crawling feel of hellish dungeon pit black metal. Musically the band churns along a rather monotonous guitar and bass driven riffing that serves as the main freneticism to the mix while the drums are actually more subdued with only the cymbals emerging from the din. There are lots of beastly noises that emerge from the pits of hell only to prove that they are suffering in eternal agony as the band provides the soundtrack to their utter fiery dismay.

Masturbating God’s vocal style is more of a narrative one as he utters indecipherable prose over the musical madness but not in sync which is where the Deathspell Omega comparisons come in. The entire musical section is nothing more than a backdrop to his angry rants about who know’s what. What i like about this one is that the tracks all have a steady flow but are distinct from each other and the drumming style is totally unlike what’s usually heard in black metal. There are only sporadic blastbeats and hyperactively fueled hate. Instead the percussion churns along in a mesmerizing fashion as if there is a sense of surrender to the dark forces that the band members have been inured to however there are periodic episodes of heavy percussive attack that do emerge from the muddy murk, it’s just that they are usually subdued while the cymbal action is more pronounced. While this style has been done to death, i really love it when it’s done well and SATANIC BLOOD provides a flawless falling from the heaven’s into the eternal bloodbath’s of hell by checking off all the extreme second wave checklists and then adding an extra dose of SATAN. Love the beastly moans and groans as well!

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS We... The Enlightened

Album · 1999 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
THE ELYSIAN FIELDS took an extraordinarily long time to follow up their debut album “Adelain” with a four year gap between their first offering and their sophomore release WE… THE ENLIGHTENED which came out in 1999, but it makes a lot more sense when you realize that this was not a normal type of band in any way whatsoever. This was a band that was initially composed of two music nerds who only wanted to make music in their spare time and never even once performed their creations in a live setting. Mostly this was due to the ambitious nature of the music itself and the unwillingness to collaborate with any sort of label in order to increase the band’s membership required for such live events to suit the sounds heard on the albums.

This was a passion and a hobby that only happened when the music allowed and in this case it took four long years to unleash the next chapter of the band which this time around found the addition of the third member Marinos A. who joined the Greek extreme metal band to add more guitars and keyboard skills to the mix which was an excellent idea because WE… THE ENLIGHTENED took all the signature sounds of the debut album and takes every several levels further. He would also help in the composition department which also saw many positive turns for the better.

While “Adelain” introduced the burgeoning 90s extreme metal scene to a totally new way of hybridizing not only metal genres but disparate influences ranging from new wave, classical and electronica (well, for those who were paying attention), WE… THE ENLIGHTENED further expands all those boundary crossing adventures and expands its tentacles even further all the while creating more sophisticated compositions, more intricate melodic developments and a much broader range of dynamic shifts, expansive soundscape horizons and metal hybridization possibilities. As with the debut THE ELYSIAN FIELDS deliver melodic based tracks that generally speaking utilize the melodic hook of a Pagan folk based keyboard riff as the main anchoring and then infinitely expand the dynamics and textures of the music around it.

The other constants making a reprise is the mix of death and black metal influences with other meanderings into thrash, doom and gothic metal territories. While the band did a great job at expanding the typical role of keyboards in an extreme metal band on “Adelain,” some of the antics on this one were just plain unprecedented at the time. The closest comparison would probably be early Emperor with biting caustic metal riffing accompanied by the pacifying effect of melodic keyboards however THE ELYSIAN FIELDS make the keyboards much more of an acrobatic player in their sound with key riffing so intense that it makes Keith Emerson wankery seem obsolete.

I’ll explain in detail the progressions of my two favorite tracks in order to demonstrate how sophisticated the band’s sound has become at this point. “Until The Cries Rise In The Heart” begins with a rather doomy sludge riffing pattern with a melancholic keyboard riff as a counterpoint but quickly picks up the tempo with the raspy vocals ushering in the black metal riffing and blastbeats. The keys increasingly display a more classical feel but drop out as the tremolo guitars, bantering bass and blastbeats are joined by Bill A.’s frantic angry vocals. After a couple of minutes the metal drops and the track morphs into a melodic yet high tempo piano run with thrash metal guitar riffs. The vocals exhibit a wide range of semi-spoken and shouted lyrics before the keys go fuckin’ crazy and sound like they’re ready for take off on a Philip Glass field trip before being joined in by the extreme metal riffing and vocal bantering. The interchange between melodic counterpoints is quite sophisticated as well as addictive.

“Arcana Caelestia” begins with howling wolves and then a thrash metal guitar attack with black metal vocals before morphing into a tremolo picked power metal type of riff that alternates with a more black metal oriented sequence. The vocals remain wickedly raspy and evil as the metal bounces back and forth between the stylistic shifts. The real surprise comes in as the metal turns into an epic soundtrack theme with military march style drumming and then finally a slow and melancholic organ and acoustic guitar passage. The interplay of tremolo guitar picking and keys returns and goes through a series of melodic repetitions before the earlier thrash metal riffs make a reprise but the track picks up speed on the last minutes with the intensity ratcheted up with the guitar, bass and drums and the keys go insane all the while Bill A. is coughing blood.

While those 2 are the most extreme and varied tracks, the others are carefully crafted and exhibit many stylistic shifts as well like a restless chameleon parading down a psychedelic street fair. While speed and aggression often rule the roost, they never usurp the throne of the melodic development but on the other hand always keep it intense and edgy. Add with that plenty of tempo drifting into doom, goth and even what sounds like early porto-metal chord changing domination and you’re in for one brilliantly composed album. While the comparisons to other Hellenic black metal acts such as Rotting Christ are valid in certain areas especially in the vocals, at this point THE ELYSIAN FIELDS delivered some of the most unique sounding metal in all of Europe.

Needless to say, this band has been woefully underrated, tearfully under the radar and utterly forgotten as time has marched on throughout the ensuing decades. While this lack of recognition is somewhat understandable since this is a band that has never played live and existed in a small European country far away from where most of the action was taking place, it is still dismaying that it has never seen the just dessert of its fruitful labor and quite sad that in this modern era that this unique band hasn’t seen some sort of resurrection in popularity for its most unique contributions that could possibly give it the subgenre tag of “chameleon metal.” Personally, THE ELYSIAN FIELDS has become an unexpected favorite band in my world with WE… THE ENLIGHTENED finding its way to not only the top of their four album canon but also ranks fairly high on my absolute favorite melodic extreme metal album list. This is one that should not be missed. Don’t let the melodic tag fool you. This is brutal and gentle at the same time in ways you’d never expect.

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS Adelain

Album · 1995 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
While the Scandinavian second wave of black metal was in its full glory, the lesser areas of Europe were busy gestating their own version of musical misanthropy in the form of extreme metal ranging from the death and doom dirges of maximum distortion to the blackened pits of fiery hellish metal that served as the soundtrack for Hades. Eastern European black metal bands may have been few in number in comparison to their northern neighbors but nonetheless some persistent aficionados of the style churned out some memorable albums. Greece has never really been on the forefront of any musical movement perhaps since the homegrown folk styles such as rebetika, however lurking in the shadows arose a few well known extreme metal bands such as Septicflesh and Rotting Christ. One of the lesser known but no less worthy of recommendations were THE ELYSIAN FIELDS who may have taken their namesake from the conception of the afterlife in Greek religious philosophies but were very much a part of the here and now of the 90s when they released their debut album ADELAIN in 1994 after a couple of attention getting demos.

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS created one of the most unique forms of melodic black metal in the 90s despite sounding somewhat familiar in comparison to its Hellenic counterparts of the scene but yet somehow drifted into its own unique arenas that took disparate sounds and made them their own. The band very much developed their sound in conjunct with bands such as Rotting Christ and Varathron but somehow fell off the radar while the others rose to the ascending throne of the world’s attentive ears. THE ELYSIAN FIELDS gained a loyal following in the early 90s as they released a few demos and demonstrated a unique interpretation of the black metal scene. Dominated by heavy aggressive guitar riffs and blastbeats that offer a backdrop for the angry raspy vocals to lash out against, this melodic black metal band’s sound was actually centered around a melodic keyboard riff that served as the anchor for the full fueled fury to dance around. In this regard THE ELYSIAN FIELDS took the same approach as the Ukrainian band Nokturnal Mortem did on their debut demo turned EP “Lunar Poetry” which uses a simple melodic hook on the keys to generate a never ending stream of aggressive riff changes and second wave black metal fury.

Also unique to the band were its exemplary ability to utilize aspects of death, gothic and doom metal in their musical cauldron to create a larger than life experience that mixed the typical blackened metal aggression with piano laden spoken word segments and more moody slower parts that created a unique contrast. At times during the slower parts the band can bring a doom metal band like My Dying Bride to mind but during the heavier parts the vocalist known only as “Bill A” is a dead ringer for Sakis Tolis of fellow Greek band Rotting Christ as do their crunchy guitar riff attacks mimic periodically throughout the album. THE ELYSIAN FIELDS also had a knack for a poetic prowess like few others of the day and created a more epic feel with their lyrics rather than simply blasphemous or misanthropic passages. Having been well steeped in the traditions of the Ancient Greek mythologies, this band utilized their exposure to these hidden worlds quite effectively and likewise utilized the proper mood setting musical principles to amplify their power. While the following album “We.. The Enlightened” expanded the overall sound manyfold, ADELAIN remains a typical melodic black metal 90s album that while not quite as frenetic as what Emperor or Cradle of Filth were pulling off back then, maintained a heavy sound with only certain moments where the full speed of their fury was uncaged.

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS remains one of the forgotten obscure Hellenic black metal bands that has fallen through the cracks to the point of true obscurity but more than deserves a resurrection from the vaults as the band crafted some excellent melodic black metal with death, doom and gothic touches. The piano and keyboard accompaniments are purely evil in their minor key hauntings and usher in the perfect storm of extreme metal savagery with devilish guitar distortion that alternate between tremolo picking and doomy sustained chords that linger on to infinity. This is an excellent taste of extreme Greek metal from the 90s and in my opinion much more sophisticated than what Rotting Christ was cranking out at the time with their early releases. THE ELYSIAN FIELDS knew just how to craft their compositions with the proper ingredients to create something not too far removed from the overall second wave black metal scene but yet with enough touches to make it sound totally original at the same time. Highly recommended.

INSIDE THE SOUND Wizard's Eyes

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.17 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Although the Ukrainian band INSIDE THE SOUND began merely as a side project of guitarist / keyboardist Max Velychko (most notably from Modern Rock Ensemble as well as Karfagen, Sunchild and Hoggwash) and bassist Dmitry Trifonov while working on other projects, the promise of fusing all the love of their disparate genres of music proved too tempting not to engage in a fully realized development of the band’s potential. While sort of put on the shelf for a few years with only sporadic recordings emerging, they found enough quality material to release a debut titled “Time Z” in 2010. What may have seemed like a one shot release as the years slowly sputtered by, it turns out that Velychko and Trifonov were simply taking their sweet time to carefully craft the perfecting qualities that took the template laid out on “Time Z” and further expand into unthinkable arenas. The result is that finally in the year 2017, INSIDE THE SOUND has finally released the second long awaited album in the form of WIZARD’S EYES and although i wasn’t aware of this band at the time of their debut, i have to say that for fan’s who were holding their breath for a new release can finally exhale and take in an exhilarating new inhalation of some of the most pleasing progressive symphonic prog meets metal i’ve encountered in a while.

While “Time Z” laid down the foundations of an Allan Holdsworth type of instrumental progressive rock sound complete with heavy rocking guitar laced with jazz-fusion compositional styles, WIZARD’S EYES takes everything that came before and perfects them and then adds a plethora of new ideas and sounds to the mix. The core trio remains the same with Velychko performing exquisite guitar workouts and atmospheric keyboard nuances while Dmitry Trifonov returns for bass duties as does Max Didenko on drums. New to the band is Dmitry Yeryomin who contributes an expanded role on the keyboards and adds a whole new layer of intensity to the band’s symphonic and atmospheric touches that the debut album only hinted upon. Also new to the band’s sound is the inclusion of four guest musicians, each offering a unique stamp on the band’s already established and accomplished sound. The biggest contributors are Indranila who adds his Indo-raga charms on acoustic sitar and Vedic chanting as well as Nila Goal who supplies a nice touch of tabla that is interspersed judiciously throughout the album. The track “Friends” receives the royal treatment with two more guests in the form of Antony Kalugin on extra keys and Daniel Ilyin on electric violin. The combo effect of all these musicians in tandem creates some of the most divinely pleasing melodic progressive metal that while does include some steaming hot metal outbursts, more often than not tends to merely simmer in progressive rock stews.

While the album is touted as a prog metal journey into instrumental fantasy worlds of epic proportions, WIZARD’S EYES is far more varied and magical than that mere title insinuates. Graced with superior production techniques and intricate compositional flows, the album begins quite nicely with an almost soundtrack type of orchestration that slowly but surely ratchets up the the drive and intensity that finally erupts into a more heightened tension as it bursts into a heavier form of rock with great care paid to every detail. The opening track “Intro: A Secret Journey” truly sounds like a jazz-fusion project of the great Allan Holdsworth only on a higher energy level with a Steve Vai sort of prog metal infusion that at times reminds me of some of the more adventurous antics on his “Passion and Warfare” album. While the jazz meets metal thing is the underpinning of it all, the music is laced with intricate symphonic polyrhythms and counterpoints that add smooth atmospheric suavity to the metallic guitar riffs and jarring time signature workouts. “Dreaming Deja Vue” ratchets up these very attributes of the music with exquisite instrumental interchanges and driving dynamic shifts. “Fantasia” is more of a jazzy ballad with sensual piano lines providing the melodic underpinning while the guitar solos are the most reminiscent of Vai on the album.

“Friends” is a quirky number that provides a smooth jazz sort of feel that veers off into more spacey territory and delivers outstanding key and violin solos. “Empire V” reveals a subdued influence of Eastern European folk music as the melodic developments hint of the virtuoso guitar compositions of Serbia’s Borislav Mitic however Velychko displays some of his most creative guitar soloing on this track that successfully creates a lighter than a feather weightlessness to the sound. “Haribol” is the most exotic sounding track with the inclusion of the sitar and Vedic chanting that offer a taste of musical curry and naan. “Horizon” delivers yet another midrange rocker while the title track provides the album’s most scorching hot metal track complete with rapid fire guitar riffing and percussive overdrive as well as interesting counterpoints delivered by the exotic flair of the keyboard approaches. It also offers some of the most intense progressive time signature workouts making it one of the most daring tracks to be heard. For me the weaker tracks on the album arise at the end as “To The Sky,” “Outro” and “The Cold Spring (which is considered a bonus track) seem to run on auto pilot where the album needs to go out on a bang but instead finds a comfort zone.

INSIDE THE SOUND has crafted a beautifully manufactured product on WIZARD’S EYES that displays all the details and loving touches that all the years of creation incur. The musicians are of top calibre and meld their respective talents together in a seamless fashion with strong compositions to boot. The production is crystal clear and offers a plethora of subtle touches that make blasting this on full decibelage a true delight. While this is almost a perfect product for me as a huge lover of both Allan Holdsworth and Steve Vai, i have to admit that sometimes the influences are a wee bit too strong in their direction despite the compositions maintaining a fierce independence streak that gives the album a unique charisma. Overall an impressive sophomore offering from the Ukraine with only a few tracks at the end fizzling out the excitement of hearing these dedicated musicians hard at work. WIZARD’S EYES is indeed a magnificent display of intricate musicianship that shows a true depth in musical tastes. The term progressive metal will surely be misleading because while the progressive term remains a constant throughout the album’s 51 minute and 44 second run, the metal part does not partake as much with the majority of the album falling somewhere in the orchestrated ambient rock universe with the metal riffing and soloing only emerging part time. While personally i would prefer a few more heavy hitting numbers, i have to admit that the skills displayed on this album make me think of what i wanted the Liquid Tension Experiment albums to sound like because the care and scrutiny of every detail is impressive indeed. A worthy and heavier companion piece to the Modern Rock Ensemble project. Excellent.

BUCKETHEAD In Search of The

Album · 2007 · Non-Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
My longest review EVER!!! I deserve a puppy treat for this one ʕ•́ᴥ•̀ʔ !!!

Anyone familiar with BUCKETHEAD will already be fully aware of how prolific his output is. In the early days it may not have been as obvious because of the fact that many of his projects weren’t under his own name and instead fell under pseudonyms such as Death Cube K or as collaborative efforts with Brain, Travis Dickerson, Jonas Hellborg, Viggo Mortensen, Cobra Strike, Cornbugs, Deli Creeps, El Stew, Giant Robot, Praxis and many, many more! Throughout the early naughts, BUCKETHEAD had steadily been shifting to create more music under his own moniker and in 2007 he finally went for broke by releasing a huge boxed set which was only the first of many solo and collaborative releases of 2007.

IN SEARCH OF THE is a behemoth of a musical marathon with a staggering 13 albums in total and was placed into a new category called a “special release.” This was also an attempt to create some of the most direct artist to fan projects possible as every single edition consisted of hand burned CDs with spontaneous artistic doodles as album covers created by BUCKETHEAD himself therefore no two sets were alike. In hindsight this ambitious effort would prognosticate the never ending Pike series and could possible be deemed as a proto-Pike set of sort for it has a similar vastness in scope. On this one there are a total of 92 tracks with the shortest being only 33 seconds and the longest 45 minutes and 1 second.

The project is quite clever as each CD is titled a letter of the title IN SEARCH OF THE and collectively clocks in at a whopping 9 hours 27 minutes and 37 seconds however believe it or not it all actually began as a much more ambitious endeavor. It was supposed to be a massive undertaking consisting of 30 CDs that spelled out IN SEARCH OF THE DISEMBODIED SOUNDS…….. :OMG! As fate would have it, the project proved to be too taxing for even the indefatigable chicken lover as his popularity rose and even his robot dance moves couldn’t generate enough to please a rabidly hungry fan base. Luckily this was trimmed down but it’s still a super massive blackhole of attention sucking life energy to get through it :P

Only somewhere around 1000 copies were actually made so this is another case of YouTube being your best friend (unless you were lucky enough to find a set) if you even dare to tread on these grounds because admittedly this set is not for the feint of heart! All discs have untitled tracks with Volume 11 hosting the most (11) whereas Volume 13 (E) contains the least (1). The music varies as much as BUCKETHEAD’s vast musical arsenal in his special place in his own musical universe. There are no credits given so whether every instrument was played by BUCKETHEAD or if other artists contributed remains a mystery.

Although all tracks are officially untitled, some hardcore fans have decided that tracks without titles were unacceptable and needed some serious spicing up so they created their own project of naming every single one of the 92 compositions. Amazingly all of these titles fit the bill fairly well that presumably would even delight the chicken loving creator. Here is a list of all the volumes with all the tracks including the unofficial default names that have adopted by all chickens big and small. This means that both Jersey Giants and Belgian D’Anvers can effortlessly refer to their favorite chicken dances in perfect gallus gallus domesticus harmony!

—————————————————————————————

I: 44:19 (Volume 1)

Track 1 (0:54) “Sonic Slaughter” is a strange horrific ambient intro with screaming guitar

Track 2 (14:51) “Pollywogs Dancing On A Quilt Of Faces” is the longest track and begins with a funk bass line and clean guitar with wah-wah. The tones are clean, warm and friendly and it only sputters along at a mid-tempo pace. After three minutes the guitar gets brave and starts soloing. After several minutes the bass line remains the same but the guitar gets more jittery and erupts into bluesy solos that range from appropriately tasteful to full on dissonant space metal. Nice track but outstays its welcome.

Track 3 (2:58) “ Jengamoose” completely changes things up with a medieval guitar intro before jumping into a drumbeat with an electronic swirling haze like something off an early Hawkwind album. Then it gets weird. A guitar and different types of percussion battle it out as the ambience swirls on in the background. Halfway through it becomes a Joe Pass type of jazz guitar with lo-fi drumbeats and some sort of metal pan type of percussion. More happens in this short tracks than the over long second one.

Track 4 (2:31) “Appenzel Pointed Hood Hen” has a canned monotonous drum machine beat with an avant-garde guitar dissonantly (and out of tune) trying to create some sort of melody with a bop jazz bass. In the middle it just breaks down into a bunch of electronic sounds with a random guitar guitar plucked.

Track 5 (0:41) “Trail Of Misconception” begins with beautiful chimes and a symphonic sounding synthesizer melody which builds up even more counterpoints but is short and an intro for next track.

Track 6 (15:02) “Sourced Autonomy” is the longest track and starts hard and heavy with a heavily distorted grungy guitar with all kinds of freaky effects. The drums and bass are heavy while the guitar just goes nuts from the get go. The riff is super heavy and fast with a distorted wah-wah type of effect and the soloing is frenetic and crazed. Despite the length of this track the energy level remains on full flame with incessant whizzing up and down the guitar scales while down-tuned riffing chugs away beneath the high pitched sizzling solos. Close to the six minute mark some jittery electronica joins in as the guitar soloing gets absolutely crazier and even faster. After a while the electronica turns into a funky riff while the guitar remains on overdrive and after a while the soloing becomes stranger but never lets up for a second. Whew! This is probably the loooooooongest uninterrupted guitar solo i’ve ever heard and the energy level remains intense for the 15 minute duration. My fingers are bleeding just listening to this :o

Track 7 (1:44) “Transmission Miscommunication” is a freaky little electronica number with pulsating electro weirdness. Sounds more like some weird 50s electronic pioneer but strange processed guitar parts come bleeding through and they screeeeeeaaaaaammm!

Track 8 (5:33) “Angiobanjiplasti” sounds more like an 80s Legendary Pink Dots type of psychedelic track with electronic drums and strange freaky keyboard runs. Chimes join in so does weird electronic noises. It keeps a steady beat but then breaks down totally and avant-garde keyboard runs tinkle away while a buzzing thing hovers in the forefront and then a steady drumbeat and funky keyboard run joins in followed by a weird processed guitar. The funky keyboard starts “talking” and then everything cuts out and a wind chime type of sound sets in with an ambient background which goes on for a while and fades out. Www-eee-i-rrrrr-ddd ! ! !

—————————————————————————————

N: 44:49 (Volume 2)

Track 1 (1:26) “Pullets On Parade (Million Chicken March)” is a little synthesized keyboard anthemic march with weird timings and a cool guitar solo

Track 2 (10:49) “Flying Finger Fury (In The Coop)” is a bass-heavy funk rock extravaganza with some serious Hendrix finger channeling mojo wanking out in wild and woolly wah-wah mode. While the funk never ends and churns out over the ten minute mark, the guitar noodles around bit and conjures up some coolness in the mix however perhaps a bit too long of a track despite keepin’ a serious groove

Track 3 (2:58) “Hanged Man's Lament” begins with the peal of a bell and a slow creepy organ and then turns into a drum trade off that is sort of a military march only staccato style meaning a drum roll trades off with silence. Interesting but feels like an incomplete interlude

Track 4 (2:09) “Robot Foot Pursuit” is a bouncy and funkified number that starts off with lightning quick funk bass, drum machines and eventually adds some avant-guitar rhythms. Reminds me of some of the DJ electronica mixed with funk on “Somewhere Over The Slaughterhouse”

Track 5 (15:49) “Blue Marbles Moon” is a more relaxed number with mid-tempo groovy bass with a peppy keyboard riff and a clean guitar melody mixin’ it up. As the longest track swallowing up two thirds of the real estate, this one really takes its sweet time escalating any kind of tension. It is fairly repetitive with a monotonous funky vibe, recurring peppy keys and guitars adding some much needed flavor. Needless to say, despite being well produced and a pleasant listen still carries on a wee bit too long however it’s easy to hear a lot of future Pikes on this one, yep, my least favorite kinds that just loop to infinity

Track 6 (3:18) “Droid Factory Conveyor Belt Ambush” begins another “Somewhere Over The Slaughterhouse” type track with a DJ electronica beat with electronic weirdness but quickly adds a slower ambient counterpoint that sounds like a totally separate sort of epic soundtrack beneath. The DJ beat drops in and out and seems totally out of sync. Some tinkly pianos add another of weirdness. I love the juxtaposing forces on this one. It shouldn’t work but it does

Track 7 (6:04) “The Beheaded” is another funky number but a weirder one. It has funky guitar playing over a rather chaotic stream of noise churned out by frenetic drums. It then gets wild with the guitar being played backwards. There’s a pulse of rhythm that tries to keep it all cohesive but it really just gets freekin’ weird really. The funk guitar makes a reprise at the end while the noises hiss in the background but ultimately gets extremely experimental again before gaining control at the end

Track 8 (2:16) “Memories Of Forgotten Dreams” is a creepy dark ambient track with all kinds of mentally scarring noises going for the jugular for panic mode. Avant-garde and angular rhythms dual it out with jarring synthesized horror film soundtrack type ambience. Subdued screams and muffled electronic “pig oinks” add to the extremely bizarre effects which end this second volume in a very www-eee-i-rrrrr-ddd way

—————————————————————————————

S: 43:27 (Volume 3)

Track 1 (14:51) “Funkaslunk” is as funkadelic as the name suggests with a super slappin’ bass line that even George Clinton would approve of! This starts off as basically a bass line that slaps on in complexity with a rather hollow disco beat and while the beat remains steady, BH gets more weirded out on the bass lines doing all kinds of funky acrobatics. Around the six minute mark the bass is replaced by guitar (i assume, at least it sounds like it) does some freaky stuff and then back to the bass getting weirder and weirder. Around the eight minute mark the repetitive percussion picks up a few beats per minute. Around nine minutes it becomes distorted into weird effects and alternates with the slap bass. After swallowing up a third of this disc it just abruptly ends. Could’ve been trimmed down about five minutes but was actually pretty good!

Track 2 (2:16) “Down A Darkened Hallway” creates a stark contrast with strange dark ambient ethereal synthesized sounds, some sort of dark chime sounds and finally some jazzy drumming as it all fades out. Strange growls appear and echo and then weird electronica makes jarring percussive attacks along with other strange sounds

Track 3 (3:48) “Slow Shifting Highway / Memories Of Forgotten Dreams” is completely different again with super spacey echoed guitar parts that slowly turn into a rather funky rock type of track. Sounds very 70s with semi-distorted guitars providing a simple riff with a strong drum and bass behind them. It alternates with the echoey space intro. Nice melody and nice track all the way around

Track 4 (7:32) “A Dead Brains Pulse” has a super bass riff, the kind you hear in hip hop with all the subwoofers shaking their sheet. While the deep bass bounces on theres a bass guitar doing weird things and a guitar part in the background doing weird guitar things like strange scales, licks and slides. Gets a funky bass added at the end. Cool track but a little too long

Track 5 (4:24) “Listening Device” continues the deep bass effects but adds a dark ambient electronic effect around it. This one is much more surreal and then a sizzling guitar whizzes by at a million miles and hour not doing any type of musical scales but simply buzzing like an insect. A keyboard seems to be talking while the heartbeat type of bass rhythms blasts the subwoofers. As it all ends a strange rumbling occurs while the guitar and electronica just freak out totally. It gains in intensity, takes little breaks and then the boombox bass comes back. This is one strange number

Track 6 (10:31) “Wormhole Collapse” is not really a surprise when it starts off in funk mode! Funky synthesizers that sort of slide in and out of tune sounding like a funk concert on some sort of mind altering substance. The drums sound real and not electronic. There is an alternation between the synth funk and the guitar lines. A deep bass line also reverberates a funky riff. As the track progresses, the bass riffs get more daring and acrobatic. I don’t know how BH can get so much out of a simple funk riff but manages to do so on this one :o

—————————————————————————————

E: 42:30 (Volume 4)

Track 1 (3:20) “Raging Nugget” is actually a funky nugget with a funkified synth line playing with the bass and a nice cool cat drumbeat. It remains in funk mode and ends with a nice guitar solo.

Track 2 (7:07) “The Machines Shall Remain” is very strange. Kind of jingling chimes, a tinny “talking” synth riff, different percussion. This is utterly alien and sounds more like a soundtrack for a cartoon or something. The keys remain melodic for a while but then it turns into a kind of jungle tribe percussion call with the processed guitar slinking and sliding all over the fucking place! It ends with noise. Wow! This is perhaps one of the absolute coolest tracks i’ve ever heard from BH. Utterly bizarre, alienating and mind-blowing :o

Track 3 (9:02) “Milk Plus Synthemesc” has a “normal” drumbeat but the bass and guitar are playing totally weird counterpoints. The bass is lower than normal while the guitar sounds slightly out of tune. The bass line remains constant while the guitar gets to freak out in totally wild ways before becoming somewhat funkified. It’s actually pretty cool how the bass slowly ratchets up the funk-o-meter while the guitar just goes plain fucking nuts at times. It becomes a frenetic lightning bolt that whizzes by at a million miles per second. Whoah!

Track 4 (3:29) “1984 Beat-Bumpin' (Tribute To Darren Robinson)” is as the title suggests. A big fat boom box beat however it’s accompanied by an unlikely counterpart. Some sort of folky keyboard run. The beat drops out and it becomes chaotic but then it picks back up again only more subdued. This one is sort of randomly strewn together.

Track 5 (5:21) “Domo-Kun's Nightmare” is a dark ambient equivalent of an emotional breakdown with dark synths sloshing around with random buzzing sounds. It never really goes anywhere. It sounds like globs of liquid dripping and then someone hitting pipes with a wrench or something and then like an underwater adventure.

Track 6 (3:29) “Silkie Bantam” is normal music, uh, for BH that is! This actually has a guitar, bass and drum set playing together. There is a melody, a rhythm and a rather bluesy feel. Unfortunately after all those wickedly cool tracks, this one seems rather mediocre. Nothing more than a little bluesy rock jam and nothing more.

Track 7 (3:58) “Ectoplasm Circus” is drums and…… well, more drums. Oh wait! Here comes a synthesizer. It’s sort of melodic but sounds like someone learning how to play. The drums are energetic at least. Finally some weird guitars, oh my…. this is getting waaaay strange. The drums have changed. Wow, everything has changed. This started out pretty lame but has become very, very, very, very, very weird. It ends with funk. I LOVE IT!!!!

Track 8 (6:39) “Visiting Rights” has a heavy bass drum beat with tinkling chimes that alternate with some sort of staticky sounds. Electronica whizzes in and out of the scene. Kinda sounds like chicken clucks. The bass drum is mostly consistent, the chimes intermittent but when they both drop out the electronic synth goes whacko and creates some sort of “alien” soloing. Very bizarre track on a extremely bizarre Volume of this massive CD set ;P

—————————————————————————————

A: 42:27 (Volume 5)

Track 1 (10:35) “Fractal Shadows” is a rather mellow rock number that has a spacey clean guitar mixed with bass and drums and is an indicator of many Pike tracks to follow. It’s a rather non-offensive little light number that takes a simple melody and chord progression and repeats with a little guitar variations along the way. Not a bad track by any means but doesn’t warrant a length of over ten minutes.

Track 2 (1:14) “Red Eye Spider Cloud” is as weird as the title sounds. Strange erratic percussion with some electronica chirping away around it. Totally experimental and bizarre.

Track 3 (4:48) “Liquid Tungsten Robot Factory” is an industrial noise track and it sounds like it could be machines talking to each other via electronica and a guitar line. Another totally out there wild child. A funk line somehow emerges from the din. Basically sounds like Coil plus an avant-garde guitar riff and electronic noodling.

Track 4 (10:11) “Bucketbot’s Bass Binge Buddy” is a more normal track with a super funky bass line and drum both playing at a slow tempo. Basically drums stay slow and bass shows off once in a while but stays funky. Not too much going on and definitely not interesting for over ten minutes.

Track 5 (5:00) “Atomic Butterfly” is a strange little synthpop type of number with a floaty keyboard riff fluttering around like a, well pretty bug that flies! It has intermittent breaks where it becomes ambient and then techno drumming gets down and dirty. A funky guitar with effects eventually does a little funky dance with it all while ambient keys frost the horizon. The track ultimately falls back to the synthpop riff that it started with.

Track 6 (1:40) “Sander’s Retort” is another funky number only the bass is kind of tinny and in mono while a drumbeat that sounds like someone plays a can commences. It then all stops and weird randomness occurs and then it picks up again. Short and pointless really.

Track 7 (1:58) “Percolates Jazz… The Last Drop” is also short but more interesting as it has an industrial percussive sound mixed with a series of clicks and a jazzy guitar wailing away. The tension is thick as the counterpoints are stark and freaky. A classical keyboard sort of plays along even though it’s in its own world.

Track 8 (2:54) “A Moment I Can Give” is a mellow little rocker that sounds a lot like the opening track. A melodic clean echoey guitar is joined by a bass and drum and all proceed at a nonchalant pace down a bluesy placid path to nowhere.

Track 9 (4:03) “Funeral Parlor” is a strange electronic reverberation to infinity as notes slowly repeat and slowly fade away. Not much happens. It’s just a series of notes that repeat the electronic reverb dance but it’s effective.

—————————————————————————————

R: 45:00 (Volume 6)

Track 1 (19:45) “Eye Of The Storm” is the behemoth of this disc swallowing up over half of its real estate. It begins with a steady drumbeat and a frenetically strange guitar riff that can’t make up its mind if it wants to make psychedelic weirdness or shred like a muthafucka. Spacey Hawkwind-like synth sweeps raise their pitches behind the guitar shredding which begins to dominate as the sizzling solo gets ever faster and faster. At ten minutes in the frenetic soloing is still going on with only minor breaks popping up with the spacey electro-ambience flowing along in the background. The drumbeat pretty much stays the same tempo even as the guitar gets more furiously fast. At eleven minutes a background synth line does create a more calming layer as the guitar quickens. After nearly twenty minutes of this, all i can say is ENOUGH! This track is totally monotonous. It proves BH’s ability to sustain shredding for long periods of time but this is not a very interesting track. The drumbeat is boring. The electronic parts are boring and even the shredding is just the same riff played over and over and over and over and over again. I love intelligent shredding but this is super-meh :(

Track 2 (3:42) “Unhinged Paradox” begins with a funk bass but then quickly changes into a dungeon synth type of industrial track but wait a cheerful piano enters but then disappears. Oh, i see. It’s one of those tracks where several different unrelated instrumental parts are played and then layered over each other but then sometimes they all play together. This is weird i say! It becomes more of a dungeon synth track after all that chaos settles. Dark synth runs and strange higher register synth parts as well. I’m lovin’ this one. Could be a Coil or Throbbing Gristle track.

Track 3 (4:30) “Last Light” goes the complete opposite direction and has a fluffy happy vibe. It’s a clean guitar with bass and drums and is mid-tempo rock with a slightly spacey effect. Melodic and peppy without being too energetic. Nice guitar parts. Not too different from what BH would recycle on many of the mellower Pike albums and this one works very well by balancing all the elements quite well.

Track 4 (1:11) “Dig Up From Underneath” conjures up a trip hop type of beat accompanied by a deep bass line and a jazzy guitar riff

Track 5 (15:46) “Amputee Shuffle” is the second longest track but for sure the best fan given name of these untitled tracks! It starts off with a funky bass and guitar with jazzy drum rolls. While this one is very much similar to the opening lengthy track, there is one fundamental difference. THIS ONE IS ACTUALLY INTERESTING! The drum rolls may not vary greatly but they are interesting even upon sustained repetition. The jazz guitar is cool and the varied nuances are exquisitely brilliant. The bass gets more hard bop style as it progresses and even becomes much more audible. More than half way through the bass becomes more melodic and less jazzy. It harmonizes notes and almost sounds like it’s singing. Despite the length this one is really cool as it morphs from jazz to blues towards the end. Love the bass as it becomes a chuggin’ force to be reckoned with.

—————————————————————————————

C: 41:13 (Volume 7)

Track 1 (2:58) “Grease On My New Shoes” starts out as a mid-tempo alternative rock type of track with jangly guitars, a prominent bass line and steady drumbeat. The guitars eventually add a more energetic riff and then turn into a more subdued sustained note bend type of lick. When the riff returns it’s more metal sounding with the distortion turned up.

Track 2 (16:40) “Solitary Psychosis” is the lengthy beast on this volume and swallows up a good third of the album. It begins with an erratic keyboard sound and is followed by a guitar that riffs and solos around the off-kilter time signature. After a while all stops and a solo freaks out but then turns back into the groovy rock. The synth line becomes more aggressive and weird and takes over the guitar. Some synthpop type riffs emerge as well. As it continues it gets stranger with the guitar performing bizarre acrobatics with a strange synth run bubbling away in the background. It sorta alternates with a more “normal” bluesy riff on speed but goes back to weird. The beat is fairly nonchalant and consistent as all the craziness unfolds over it but sometimes it’s left to just do it’s thing without any other instrumentation over it. This one goes on for a while but is actually quite cool. After a while i realize that the overall melodic underpinning is very much of carnival music with all the crazy stuff layered over it. It doesn’t become apparent until a keyboard part solos towards the end. This is a primo example of a lengthy track that is well worth existing!

Track 3 (4:14) “Flaming Pinãtas / Burnt Candy” is a synth funk track with electronic drums. Maybe something Herbie Hancock would have done on “Future Shock” even. Becomes more trip hoppy as it goes on with some backdrop guitar antics emerging.

Track 4 (4:20) “Tower Of Insanity” begins with bluesy rock guitar and somewhat antsy drums that really want to jam hard but the guitar wants to go no wave, dude! The drums say, your mama. I wanna jam MF! Guitars say in yer dreams farkface. Drums say i’ll do it my way thank you much. Guitars say i will hypnotize you into submission. Drums say bite me. Guitars say ok let me get the hot sauce. Drums say don’t mess with me bitch. Guitars say hmmm lemme think bout dat. Drums go ballistic and can’t hear guitar but guitar make meditation chord go vroooooom. No one lived happily ever after and everybody died.

Track 5 (1:52) “Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys” is woefully tuned down so low in volume that i can’t hear it! OK, this is obviously some sort of demo turned into a track. Basically jazz guitar that is on practice mode. It begins and stops. Quite boring and pointless to add this.

Track 6 (11:03) “Easter In The Batcave” begins with an ambience in the background that sounds like a storm brewing and some chimes tinkling along. Electronica whizzes in and out of the scene as well as guitar riffs. Very musique concrète as it rolls along. The different roles of instruments just sort of fade in and fade out. There is no percussive groove nor any melodic development, just sound collages that sort of gel together and then fall apart. Eventually the guitar gains enough steam to perform some totally weird string gymnastics that words cannot convey. Sort of has a funk groove but in an alternative universe. It almost sounds like the guitar is emulating R2D2’s robot language patterns from Star Wars in its sonic peaks and troughs but also goes through other totally strange acrobatics including normal riffing like Hendrix type blues rock that sort of spontaneously emerges and then turns weird again. It becomes more dramatic towards the end with symphonic classical additions popping in and the guitar getting more jittery and unpredictable. This track is fucking brilliant!

—————————————————————————————

H: 41:37 (Volume 8)

Track 1 (10:20) “Oishii” starts things off with a steady bass, choppy drum pattern and echoey clean guitar riff that creates a recurring melody. As it carries on the bass and drums gain a little speed and the riff changes things up a little every so often but basically this is a repetitive looped melody that carries on for way too long. Nice but not OMG

Track 2 (2:26) “The Orpington” starts things with an irregular house drumbeat and is followed by a blues guitar line that has some funk in it. The percussion goes haywire at a million miles an hour while the guitar remains unfazed in its nonchalant playing style. This is basically a little improv number that has no real purpose but gets really weird as it ends.

Track 3 (5:27) “A Day In The Park With Herbie” is completely different with a heavy bigbeat type drumming session with a drone type synth line in the background. It all changes and a funky bass enters the equation while the drums tame down a bit but still sound like something off of a hip hop album. It changes again and becomes some sort of nursery rhyme melody based in classical music with an obsequious drum behind it. This one is just weird really as it changes into a series of weird electronic noises, avant-garde guitar work and tinny percussion twangs but turns up to the same bigbeat mix that started it.

Track 4 (9:55) “Switch Way” is the second longest track and begins with a steady drumbeat and a synth funk reminiscent of “Head Hunter” era Herbie Hancock only a bit sped up. It deviates a bit from the funk by breaking into solos but pretty much continues the synth funk thang for the entire near ten minutes which is a bit too long.

Track 5 (2:30) “Treasure Section” has a strong trip hop type of groove but also has a jazzy horn (probably synthesized) along with quickly played staccato keys. Has a real catchy groove and is slightly hypnotic as it allows the jerky keys to relax so atmospheric ambience can flow in

Track 6 (0:33) “Wire Bop Pumpkin” is a super short drumbeat with jazz guitar

Track 7 (3:32) “Captain Kangaroo's Ether Hypnosis” is finally a track without percussion and is a weird electronic piece that has different sounds a sorta spooky riff that reverbs. It sounds like it’s in a trippy sound chamber where sound is bended. Sounds like a blueprint for the countdown to Halloween series of 2015.

Track 8 (4:36) “In Search Of The Bigeminy Junction” is another funk track although with a very lo-fi production. Percussion is rather tinny with a guitar that is trying to be jazzy with a funky beat to it. It becomes more avant-garde. The percussion is looped and remains the same while the guitar gets wild and woolly. Basically sounds like BH is practicing next a metronome really.

Track 9 (2:14) “Cybernetic Chickenheads & The Scavenger Slunk Run” is an avant-garde noisy little bugger. Strange guitar is subdued and sounds like an angry cat with an unrelated series of drum rolls. There is also hyperactive keyboards that just go crazy and drown everything else out. It devolves into noise and musical gibberish. Great way to end it all.

—————————————————————————————

O: 42:39 (Volume 9)

Track 1 (9:23) “Bullfrog” begins with an energetic drumroll and then is joined by a fuzzy funky bass line and a fuzzy distorted bluesy guitar riff. It repeats in a repetitive loop and over four minutes in the guitar starts soloing more recklessly while the bass and drums continue to robotically carry on in the same manner. This is basically a nine minute plus jam type of track and although it’s okay, it isn’t anything terribly exciting either not to mention too friggin’ long.

Track 2 (4:23) “Escher Relativity” has a very strange vibe as the given title implies. It is basically an energetic drumming pattern with a guitar intermittently cranking out some somewhat atonal riffs. The drumming sounds like a warmup to a further solo but continues the same and then suddenly it stops and everything changes. The drums become more subdued and a clean echoey guitar strums away for a while. While the guitar is very atmospheric and dreamy, the drums continue to crank it out as if existing in a different genre altogether although they are subdued as not to overtake the mellower aspects of the track.

Track 3 (5:18) “The Poison Hand” begins with “singing” synth notes that sound like a choral chant while electronic percussive sound bloop and bleep away. It abruptly changes into a steady mid-tempo drumbeat or sample maybe with improvised electronic keys tinkling away. Sounds like a rough draft of some initial idea. It then changes up the electronic drumbeat and key sounds again and keeps doing so every so often for the rest of the track. It’s eventually joined in by the guitar and becomes more “rock” like albeit experimental rock. Nothing lasts long on this one and it gets even weirder and more outlandish. I like this one. It’s highly dramatic and freaky.

Track 4 (16:52) “Robot Chicken” swallows up nearly half of this disc and sort of sounds like it continues where the last track left off. On this compilation BUCKETHEAD seems to love to engage in avant-funk rock tracks that last for a long period of time. This is yet another one of those with a steady drumbeat and what sounds like a keyboard that is distorted but it could be a processed guitar as well. Basically the drums stay steady while the melody carries on through variations. Actually it might be a guitar and keyboard alternating. Sometimes the melody changes into a familiar pop song like “Push It” by Salt N Pepa :o Overall this one is pretty cool in it’s experimental improvisational way but the running time certainly seems excessive. Actually it sounds a lot like the electronica vs metal experiments on “Somewhere Over The Slaughterhouse” except without the metal. That meaning the riffs sound recycled somewhat.

Track 5 (6:37) “Tunnel To The Light” thankfully changes things up. A distorted downtuned guitar riff crunchily creates a staccato riff while a keyboard performs acrobatics around it but nothing too wild at first but definitely in syncopation but then the floodgates open and it thinks it has joined Cirque du Soleil. The crunchy guitar only changes up occasionally while the high notes of the keys (or processed guitar) slink around like a downed power line in a mud puddle. This one has a strange impractical tension to it but becomes nice and “normal” at the end with the instruments playing nicely together. Pretty weird!

—————————————————————————————

F: 42:31 (Volume 10)

Track 1 (5:13) “Aldebaran Strikes Back” begins with a heavy trip hop type beat with epic horns backing it up and stuttering ghostly keyboards. Simulating the Star Wars experience a little as the background interacts with an epic melodic keyboard line. The drum remains steady and unchanging. After a couple minute a guitar solo erupts in a robotic way and fades in and out changing its dynamics.

Track 2 (9:35) “Down In It” is the longest track and follows in the footsteps of other monstrously long tunes on this massive release by gettin’ all funky on us again. While a funk bass prances around, the guitar is bluesy and distorted. After the proper introduction, the bass gets super fast as does the guitar and gets all aggressive on us. It backs off and goes back to the mid-tempo into style. There are also some of those cool Hendrix styled “the sky is crying” type of wah-wah guitar licks and some great feedback moments. Overall this one outstays its welcome as it doesn’t have enough variation to warrant its running time.

Track 3 (6:45) “The Ludovico Technique” is a very strange progressive electronic track with different synthesized sounds “talking” to each other. There is a deep bass drone and higher register riffs erratically tinkling away. A steady drumbeat joins in while a violin sound fills the spaces behind the other noises. It changes again to a pure ambient sound with no percussion at all and becomes some sort of chamber classical piece. Sounds sorta like something Mozart would have written. This carries on as it fades in and out for a quick millisecond and continues until the end of the track.

Track 4 (1:13) “Hole In The Feeding Tube” is a short jazzy track that sounds like glass jars being struck for percussion very rapidly while a jazz guitar strums along at a more relaxed pace.

Track 5 (6:45) “Aces Of Galaga” sounds like a Baroque piano run (a la Bach) with some other electronic noises competing for attention as they totally bloop and bleep out of sync with the music. The classical music gets overwhelmed by the electronica and a bass comes in and starts a funk riff. The electronica begin to sound more like a video game being played with some of the squeals fairly startling. Guitar solos even manage to find their way into the whole cacophonous din. It just gets weirder and weirder as the guitar solo sounds processed and the tempo is sped up and slowed down while the clunky electronic video game simulations unfold around them. Strange indeed. Game Over.

Track 6 (3:36) “Bot's Lament” sounds like another video game but less frenetic with only a single series of processed notes creating a bizarre avant-garde riff at a slow speed with some notes bending. Turns more into a dark ambient synth sound. Maybe a theme track for Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark? Nah, too weird for her. Would definitely go well on one of those dark ambient Halloween albums.

Track 7 (7:13) “Strange Visitation” starts off with a classic record scratching noise that then turns into a strange riff that sounds like a harpsichord. Rather X-Files feeling only much weirder. It’s definitely a weird piano sound on a synthesizer but the scale is so exotic. After the piano tinkles on for a while it stops and a drone synth note sustains for a while, like for minutes actually up to the end of the track. Weird :o

Track 8 (2:07) “Evil Lurks Within” begins rather like the previous track did, that meaning an avant-garde atonal piano riff with a scary edge. It’s accompanied by intermittent ambience and bangs. Short but sweet. A true contender for scariest track that BH has conjured up :/

—————————————————————————————

T: 42:29 (Volume 11)

Track 1 (2:56) “Binge Buddy Lounge” begins as a funky rocker with steady drums and a funk bass line. The guitar takes its time joining in but when it does it’s a clean echoey series of chord plucking but eventually turns into a funk guitar counterpoint for the bass. It also engages in some light soloing while the bass line changes it up a bit. The guitar gets more bluesy.

Track 2 (4:21) “I Never Made It Without Biting (AKA Bloodblister Popcorn)” begins with a very slow drumbeat that slowly picks up speed and then a guitar strums a distorted chord over it while the drums remain energetic. As the drums continue, it does indeed start to sound like a popcorn popper as the same guitar chord strums and arpeggiates but remains the same notes.

Track 3 (1:10) “Electronic Zookeeper's Revenge” is a short electronic frenzy of bloops and bleeps with a steady hip hop type drumbeat. The electronic sounds start to dance to the beat.

Track 4 (4:04) “Delirium Chamber” begins with atonal tinkling on the piano and remains that way for a while but suddenly turns into crazy electronic noises bending their pitches as a thematic bass riff creates a soundtrack vibe. It changes it up again and sounds like underwater music of some sort. The bass returns with clicking sounds.

Track 5 (6:10) “Animatronics Séance” is as strange as the name suggests. It has a sort of tribal electro-beat while a squealing electronic note slides. They dance together and when they pause a bubble pops sometimes. Of course, it totally changes into random electronica sputtering away but the drumbeat retains that tribal jungle call. It just gets weirder and weirder as it goes on.

Track 6 (3:14) “Slunk Funk” is, well waddaya think it is?!!! A freakin’ funk track of course. Funk bass, funk guitar and drums! March on! I think we’ve heard this before rather recently in fact. Bluesy guitar with wah-wah and feedback. Too soon for this reprise. Next.

Track 7 (3:24) “Funeral For A Fiend” is an interesting synchronized riffing process. Sorta flamenco / Spanish guitar runs but very avant-prog as well. Strangely tuned guitars that do strange things. The tone is clean and the runs are rapid. A guitar(s) only track, this one. Cool. Almost sounds like the fast intro part to Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato” only out of tune.

Track 8 (3:50) “Chicken Cleaver Duty” a drumbeat and ambience turns into a techno beat that gets attacked by another drumbeat and then both fade away while the ambience returns but a chaotic drumbeat comes back and recomposes itself into the techno beat with faint ambience in the background. An explosion occurs and all stops. Now we hear what sounds like chickens clucking only on instruments. The techno beat gets faster and then gets slower. A weird guitar solo takes over at the end with only some cymbal action.

Track 9 (4:05) “Sugar Booger Auditory Wax Candy” is a spooky Halloween sounding melody on synthesizer but not dark ambience like some of these. This one is more playful Adam’s Family type of stuff. The guitar joins in and does fancy little licks with pauses in between. It remains a guitar only affair for most of its endurance.

Track 10 (4:25) “Random Order” is a pop dance number with heavy hip hop bass drumbeats and tinkly chimes providing a cute little melody. Well until it turns into a dark ambient drone with a smooth guitar but wait! It changes again into a keyboard riff and then a toy drum with jazz guitar and then……oh what’s the point in going through the list. The given name of the track is just as it suggests. It’s like a sampler of different styles totally unrelated but all existing in the weird BH universe. I love these kind of wild rides. It’s like a musical kaleidoscope.

Track 11 (4:46) “Scabscratcher Shuffle (They Buried Him Alive)” continues the avant-jazz guitar with an intermittent tinny clang both punctuated by silence. The jazz guitar becomes more recognizable as a jazz riff and electronic percussion intermittently keeps a beat. The guitar builds up a cool swing and syncopation as if this is a real track only slightly muddied under the tone. It develops into a more bluesy form of jazz. A nice ending and a reminder that BH is a serious musician and not just an avant-weirdo who conjures up some of the strangest experimental sound collages ever. Great track.

—————————————————————————————

H: 49:44 (Volume 12)

Track 1 (3:12) “Animatronics Workshop” kicks off with funk bass, unenergetic drumbeat and a guitar that only wants to play half the time meaning it just supplements a few notes here and there. It’s rather a half-funk number. The guitar becomes more agitated and adds more notes but it’s like a the blues with only certain notes emphasized. The bass remains nonchalant but has a nice tone. The guitar turns into a jazzy blues lick by the end. Way cool!

Track 2 (10:48) “The Organ Grinder's Mishap..” takes us in a different direction with an energetic tom-tom drum and cymbals cranking out while a clean echoey guitar slowly strums away. After a couple minutes it completely changes gear and turns into a synthesizer plunking away like a popcorn popper with a single guitar chord repetitively strummed. After the plunking ceases, the guitar plays on alone but actually sounds like it might be a harp actually. But it stops and weird electronic noises come in and then it goes into a rather experimental ambient mode with occasional drum crashes. The layers of electronic effects increase and everything utilized to create tension. After a while it changes up and shrill notes start to blast away and then begin to sound like the theme track to the “Jaws” movie (or maybe “Psycho”) and then it freaks out totally. It then becomes lullaby guitar music.

Track 3 (2:15) “The Last Tooth To Be Pulled” begins with upbeat drum driven synth funk with weird note slides on processed guitar that seem to be talking to each other. It stays weird and funky till the end.

Track 4 (10:16) “Alektorophobia” is a tripped out ghoulish electronic haunting that has a startling dramatic electronic bass crash that comes and goes. Perfect for Halloween! A steady drumbeat kicks in after a while. It abruptly changes into a weird galloping electronic sound with other synthesized notes adding a strange melody but after a while changes back into a sort of bigbeat type sound with heavy drumbeat and melodic synth line. It continues to get freakier with reverbing notes and then atonal polyphonic touches. It stays weird and freaky. This one is horrifying but i love it anyway.

Track 5 (2:57) “Electromagnetic Interference” begins with a bunch of clicking sounds and a talking “something” while jazz guitar is played in the background. Extra percussive things included. Track 6 (3:33) “The Sticker On Endorphins” is a strange series of electronic notes that sound like a 70s primitive video game. Melodic patterns do emerge briefly at times but mostly a drone type of note that comes and goes.

Track 7 (1:19) “One Last Breath” has tinkling guitars with note bends which simulate breathing i guess.

Track 8 (15:19) “Monsta Kreep-A-Thon Mk. II / The Revenge Of Mutant Slunkzilla” turns out to be another lengthy funk-a-thon with wickedly wild bass slapping away with a killa processed guitar tone that makes the monstas come out. Monsta funk is where it’s at after all. Yet another lengthy funk attack on this endless multi-disc release. This one stays funky as the bass remains a constant perpetual loop with different segments but always recurring. The guitar has permission to go for broke and creates some wild ass acrobatics within the confinements of the funk riff. It goes on far too long but the guitar manages to keep things interesting despite the length. A nice background track but not OMG or anything of the sort.

—————————————————————————————

E: 45:01 (Volume 13)

Track 1 (45:01) “The Butcher’s Last Dance”

is the grand finale of the 13 volume monster release with one ginormous one track lasting 3/4 of an hour. It begins with a rather unexciting electro-drumbeat and a few guitar slides but then it changes into a military march drum style with the guitar doing bluesy lick acrobatics around it. The guitar lick is replaced by either a keyboard or a totally processed guitar but basically doing the same thing. OK, it’s clear now that the guitar is simply changing tones and timbres and effects but basically juggling the same duties over the military percussive march. Sounds like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” actually. The guitar parts get weirder and wilder.

Ten minutes in and the military march percussion continues as well as the guitar doing it’s antics around it. There is no bass to be heard or any other instruments. This is BH jamming on guitar around a monotonous metronome type of percussive style. Very impressive stuff as he gets funky, he gets down and dirty in the soloing department and dishes out all kinds of feedback and bluesy fury often in the Jimi Hendrix tradition. Around the 15 minute mark, this is all going strong as the march never ends and neither do the guitar gymnastics which get quite wickedly freaky at times.

Twenty minutes in, same military march but the guitar effects are getting more bizarre and bordering on electronica bloops and beeps but enough guitar twang keeps it grounded in the guitar world but it makes me wonder sometimes as everything becomes more atonal and video game sounding. There is even a very warped solo around “It’s A Small World After All,” you know, the Disneyland attraction. The guitar stops soloing and starts arpeggiating chords instead in a squeaky clean tone. The drum march continues unabated.

Thirty minutes in and it seems the military march is here for the entirety of this last disc finale but the guitar parts are getting more adventurous in not only unconventional soloing techniques but more reckless in distortion, tempo, timbre and are now aiming for the most bold and daring freakiness allowable by law. At this point i’m diggin’ the guitar parts but the percussive parts are becoming quite annoying and monotonous. The dichotomy has never been more clear at this point! Perhaps this is a lesson in how humankind has cut itself off from the nature rhythms of the universe. I dunno. Just sayin’!

Forty minutes in and guess what? The military march remains unchanged. The guitar parts have become unrecognizable as guitars as they not only ratchet up extreme speeds but create a surreal counterpoint to the monotonous percussive march. Never before have i heard two musical parts drift so far apart but i guess a half hour of pounding in a marching rhythm gives liberty to do such? By the time we get close to the end, the guitar sounds like a motor engine revving up at great speeds.

This is actually a brilliant strategy for a huge behemoth of a track but not exactly something that invites a repeated listen very often. However given the circumstances it does make this 13 CD release go out with an extraordinary bang.

—————————————————————————————

Total Time: 9 hours 27 minutes 37 seconds! Whew!!!!

What can i say about IN SEARCH OF THE, the ultimate multi-disc release? There is more than enough OMG outstanding material to be discovered here. There is also a lot of mediocrity as well, however, i think the joy of the treasures certainly outweighs the tracks that may not constitute greatness yet certainly don’t qualify as unlistenable. After sitting through this in its entirety it is quite clear that many of the eggs that would later hatch and constitute the never-ending Pike series were first laid here on this expansive set of experimentalism. In the end this behemoth of a release is just too bloated for an essential label but certainly is a notch above merely good. 3.5 sounds fair and each of the 12 volumes can easily be heard on YouTube but personally i love this one enough to actually seek out the physical copy. No clucking kidding, folks! And DO remember to give me a puppy treat for this one ;)

RUINS Symphonica

Album · 1998 · Non-Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
In the ever changing weird world of Yoshida Tastsuya and Hisashi Sasaki came yet another RUINS release in the busy year of 1998 when they released four albums (“Refusal Fossil,” “Vrresto,” “Tohjinbo” (as Derek and the Ruins)” as well as their eleventh album SYMPHONICA which found the duo expanding their sound a bit by adding keyboard player Kenichi Oguchi and not one but two female singers, Emi Elonola and Aki Kubota. The tracks included are remakes from earlier RUINS albums with “Thebes”,”Infect” and ”Big Head” coming from “Stonehenge,” “Praha In Spring” from “Burning Stone,” “Graviyaunosch” from the same titled album and “Brixon Varromiks” and “Bliezzaning Moltz” coming from the “Hyderomastgroningem” album. The results of these additional characters at play creates one of the most fulfilling RUINS experiences to date and offers a greater expansion into the world of prog and a sound even more reminiscent of their primarily zeuhl inspired influence of Magma. With the extra touches of the keyboard there is also a rather avant-prog approach as heard by the Italian band Area as well in some of the unhinged riffing touches and the male vocals remind me of the crazy vocal antics of Demetrio Stratos as well in his more outrageous form.

As usual Yoshida and Sasaki pound out their most frenetic Magama inspired zeuhl rhythms cranked up on overdrive and turned up to “ultra-freaky,” however despite the hyperactive freneticism that RUINS so deftly churns out at light-speed, SYMPHONICA as the name implies has a more smoothed-around-the-edges feel due to the suave effects of the keyboards that help craft one of the most “accessible” RUINS albums in their canon if that adjective can truly apply to anything that RUINS pumps out. While clearly closer in sound to traditional 70s Magma on such albums as “Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh” with the female singers creating a comparable operatic frenetic whizzing up and down the musical scales, RUINS as expected takes it all to the next ten levels and beyond by pumping out more bombastic rhythms laced with angular time signature frenzies gone absolutely wild with keyboard runs jolting around as quickly as Yoshida’s percussive limbs pound incessant chops about.

While being crazed and technically demented seems to be the primary goal of the RUINS experience, on SYMPHONICA there are plenty of passages that simply allow notes to sustain while the divas grace the listener with utterly pure vowel sounds approaching glass shattering magnitudes. This is a really impressive album as all the members are extremely playful and a rather tight unit as the vocals, keys, bass and drums can play in complete unison or meander and leap frog around each other creating bizarre musical atmospheres. While the two long time members have always been an impressively tight unit, the magic of this album derives from the stylistic diversity and virtuosic deliveries of Kenichi’s mastery of the synthesized effects. Likewise the duo diva effect of Aki and Eleonola not only match the magnitude of their Magma influences but take them places those pioneers never dared venture. This is one of the most adventurous zeuhl releases i’ve ever heard and despite the usual freneticism of a typical RUINS release seems a little more disciplined here as the crazy parts are mixed stylishly well with more contemplative and “normal” aspects of the music. This is one of my favorite RUINS releases. The extra musicians add the very touch many of their albums lack.

DAMAAR (دمار) Triumph Through Spears Of Sacrilege

Demo · 2007 · Black Metal
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
So you think black metal is exclusively an anti-Christian type of bombast solely for pissed off Europeans to spout off their venom? Don’t tell Muslims who have adopted the lo-fi sacrilegious and misanthropic styled discordant furor for their very own. While not exactly conquering the Islamic world, there are a few examples of top notch black metal erupting from all over the war torn regions of the Middle East in all its chaotic distorted din. Janaza and Seeds of Iblis come from Iraq and the black metal band Al-Namrood defies all odds and emerged in the unlikely theocracy of Saudi Arabia but perhaps nobody and i mean nobody erupts in full vitriolic fury more than the war metal band DAMAAR (which means “destruction” in Arabic) from Beirut, Lebanon that released a mere demo turned EP titled TRIUMPH THROUGH SPEARS OF SACRILEGE in 2007 and then like a mirage in the sand completely disappeared leaving this sonic assault as the only evidence that they ever existed however other Lebanese black metal acts like Ayat and Veinen have certainly attempted to match this ruinous havoc.

If you think you’ve heard bombastic black metal brutality then you haven’t heard anything if you haven’t had DAMAAR erupt out of your speakers leaving war metal wimps like Teitanblood, Blasphemy (whom they cover here and blow away in the process) and Archgoat in the dust. With tracks like “Preaching For Mass Suicide” and “The Goatphoenix” this band channels all their war torn fury into an eruptive pyroclastic frenzy of raw energy that is some of the most brutal and intense sonic savagery ever committed to release and perfectly emulates the chaotic swirl of incessant violence that has plagued the region at large where they reside for time immemorial with the biggest middle finger towards the religious dogma that dictates the repressive stranglehold of a truly free society.

TRIUMPH THROUGH SPEARS OF SACRILEGE is a mercifully short sonic journey into a gun barrel as it’s being fired in successive rounds as the incessant pummeling of blastbeats of Napalm’s drumming act in tandem with the buzzsaw distortion of Nunrider’s guitar and Heathen’s bass while utterly ravaging rhythmic jackhammer approach to thoroughly deplete the listener of any possible signs of hope from eternal bondage of chaotic devastation while Heathen’s vocals provide some of the most intense rage i’ve ever heard in a black metal act and he has a greater vocal range than most. Technically this was only released as a demo but some of the best black metal comes in lo-fi underground packages and DAMAAR really stands out as one of the best. If you love the most hyperactive and brutal aspects of black metal, it doesn’t get any more punishing than this short journey into the bowls of hell.

BORN OF OSIRIS The New Reign

EP · 2007 · Deathcore
Cover art 3.15 | 10 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
The Chicago based deathcore band BORN OF OSIRIS had quite the difficult time choosing a name as in a mere short period from 2003-07 they chose and rejected the names Diminished, Your Heart Engraved and Rosecrance before finally settling on the Egyptian deity who was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. During that time they produced a few demos under all those names but wouldn’t release their debut studio EP - THE NEW REIGN until 2007 as BORN OF OSIRIS. Although the band started out more as a metalcore outfit they began adding more death metal elements such as the abrasive growled vocals as well as the expected rhythmic breakdowns more suited to the death metal scene however all those core elements are retained. This band somehow latched onto the progressive world as it seems to pop up as such although the progressive touches take a back seat to the brutal metal aspects in the forefront.

BORN OF OSIRIS deliver a typical death metal meets metal ore = deathcore sound with the expected death metal riffs and blast beats while retaining all those core breakdowns with all the hardcore punk infused energy and brutality, however what sets this band apart from the rest of the pack is that it utilizes atmospheric keyboards to create a backdrop of ambience and also throws in a few unorthodox sound effects on the side. Ronnie Canizaro’s vocals are nothing out of the ordinary nor are the staccato riffs of Lee McKinney however Matthew Pantelis dishes out some melodic lead guitar parts along with squeals and little tricks and trinkets to add a sprinkling of more class metal to the mix including a few solos here and there.

The percussion seems to be the weakest part as i’m not hearing the OMG drum abuse i would expect for a deathcore band, or at least not to the extend that i would prefer. Yeah, there are blast beats now and again but generally the percussive parts are fairly by the books and not overly exciting. Overall the tracks are all fairly similar with only the keyboards and lead guitar differentiating them in any significant ways. Deathcore is certainly not my favorite subgenre in the metal universe and BORN OF OSIRIS doesn’t dish out a whole lot of originality to make me change my mind on that one. This debut is a nicely delivered near 22 minute display of metal energy with some atmospheric elements thrown in but in the end it’s all fairly predictable and doesn’t even come close to blowing me away.

Member Zone

Username:
Password:
Stay signed in

Metal Subgenres

Artists Alpha-index

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Moving Pictures Hard Rock
RUSH
Buy this album from our partners
Powerslave NWoBHM
IRON MAIDEN
Buy this album from our partners
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II Power Metal
HELLOWEEN
Buy this album from our partners
Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
MEGADETH
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Manor Of Infinite Forms Death Metal
TOMB MOLD
Buy this album from MMA partners
Atheist / / Omnist Metalcore
HERE STANDS A HERO
Buy this album from MMA partners
The Best Of Times Metalcore
BURDENED HEARTS
Buy this album from MMA partners
Queen Of Time Progressive Metal
AMORPHIS
Buy this album from MMA partners
Nordic Glares Bless the Dead Atmospheric Black Metal
WINTAAR
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Metal Online Videos

Skin Yard - Slow Runner
SKIN YARD
Unitron· 11 hours ago
More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us

Buy Metal Music Online