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I have been on a metal buying spree as of late

Between last Friday, the 16th, and Tuesday, the 20th, I purchased quite a few heavy metal records. 9 to be precise. I thought it might be nice to share a little break down of what I thought about these purchases.


Architect – Ghost of the Saltwater Machines


The first Architect record, All Is Not Lost, came out of nowhere. It was a recommendation by my friend Deegan who is always a consistent source for bands I need to check out. That first record completely blindsided me with it’s pure intensity. I was blown away. And then, while browsing the record store on Friday for some death metal (sometimes you just need it), I saw that Architect had a new one out. Done and done. I had to get it after how amazing their last effort was. I was not disappointed. In fact, I’d say of the whole haul, that this is far and away the best record I purchased. It’s not as heavy as some of the others, but it is just too awesome for words. Any fan of extreme music owes it to themselves to go out and get this right now. You will not be disappointed.


Belphegor – Bondage Goat Zombie


I encountered Belphegor on Blabbermouth a week or so ago. I had heard of the band before in metal magazines and the internets and wherever, and always thought “Belphegor” was a pretty sweet name, up there with Borknagar. I watched the video and thought it was a pretty decent mix of black and death metals, which I am down with. I’m certainly no purist when it comes to metal genre; it would only limit my intake. After getting the album, it’s obvious that the members of Belphegor have a 6th grade metalhead’s sense of humor, evilness, and sexiness. The album title is ridiculous, the song titles are ridiculous, and the liner notes are riddled with badly Photoshopped photos of evil sexy chicks with horns and bondage gear and shit. Lame. I mean, “Bondage Goat Zombie”? Seriously? Is this, like, some sort of concept album for 12 year old Norwegian retards with a leather fetish?

The irony of this is that the record itself, the music—the whole point—totally rocks. If you can get past the silliness of it, it’s actually pretty good. Funny how that works.


Bloodbath – The Fathomless Mastery


Sometimes the thing that will draw me to a band is its name (as we will see later), and Bloodbath is no exception to that. These guys are some sort of Swedish Superstar death metal band with members of Opeth, Katatonia, and some other bands filling their ranks. Their website states that the original intent of this band was “to thrash out some classic death metal in the style of early Entombed, mixed with some of the US Florida death metal scene bands.”

Now, if I had read that description before buying their record, I probably would have gotten in ages ago. Entombed? Floridian death metal? Thrash? I love all those things. What’s not to love? Does this record live up to that massive hype? Hell no. Does that mean it’s bad? Of course not; in fact it’s a quite adept death metal record, but it’s nothing all that special. It’s a good listen and if you’re looking for something new, check it out, but be prepared not to be amazed. It definitely puts off that old school death metal vibe though. Listening to it as I write this, I get flashes of old Dismember, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Gorguts, Suffocation, definitely Morbid Angel, with a slight twinge of a more modern, more Swedish sensibility. Even their band photo looks like something Deicide would have taken in 1990. Cool, if you were into that shit. I don’t know, listening to this even more, I might be wrong and this might end up being totally awesome. We’ll see. It’s making me feel all nostalgic.


Brain Drill – Apocalyptic Feasting


Holy living fuck, this album is gnarly. And by “gnarly”, I mean “awesome”. And by “awesome”, I mean “totally fucking awesome”.

I was on the phone with Charlie in the record store, browsing through the Bs, when I came across Brain Drill. Remember when I wrote about how sometimes all I need is a good name? Well, here it is. First, great name. Second, great album name. Third, great song titles. Fourth, fucking great album art. I am a total sucker for this kind of horror movie gore death metal. It’s just awesome. I was a HUGE Cannibal Corpse fan back in the Chris Barnes days, and The Bleeding is still one of my favorite death metal albums. I think one of the things that prompted this whole “heavy as I can find it” music search was that I felt like folks just aren’t making metal records like that anymore, and I most certainly don’t see coverage for bands like that on MetalSucks, Lambgoat, or Deciblog. Luckily, I knew from my childhood that finding bands like this is usually as easy as finding the holy trifecta of offensive band name, offensive album name. and offensive song titles. You are almost guaranteed with those three things in place that you have a death metal album on your hands. The history is there and these guys are definitely carrying on the legacy of some of the great old death metal bands. Even better is that their brand of death metal is clearly informed by Grindcore, another extreme music subset that I cannot get enough of. All in all, the heaviest record of the bunch. It might not be as technical as some of the other ones, but in terms of pure brutality Apocalyptic Feasting shines.


Cattle Decapitation – The Harvest Floor


Probably my favorite vegan death-grind band from San Diego, I was really excited for this release. Maybe too excited after 2006’s Karma.Bloody.Karma. The Harvest Floor, while a fine album in its own right, does not stand up to their previous effort, but, really, I’m picking nits. This is a serious, no-nonsense party death metal record that does not skimp on the harmonized growls (YES). If Cattle Decapitation had never released Karma.Bloody.Karma, I might feel more strongly about this new one, but I can’t get the old one out of my head. It’s a good record, a really good record, but it just misses the mark set by the last one and that is disappointing. Definitely pick this up and give it a listen or thirty as it is still one of the best metal records I’ve purchased in a while.

I don’t want to come off as harsh. This album is brutal. You will like it.


Decapitated – The Negation


Decapitated, as you would rightly expect, is a death metal band. This is another highly capable death metal band, like Bloodbath, that is good, but not really all that special. They do everything right, except stand out. One great thing about this record is their cover of Deicide’s “Lunatic of God’s Creation”—I love the original SO MUCH. I remember being in 7th grade or whatever and knowing every single word to that self-titled album by Deicide, which, for me, is still the best thing they’ve ever done along with Once Upon The Cross. There is so much good metal history for me with Deicide that the cover on this album automatically gives Decapitated points for good taste.


The Faceless – Planetary Duality


When I described this band to Charlie, I referenced Protest The Hero, which I think is pretty fair, if Protest The Hero was a death metal band. Maybe these guys should be called Prog-Death Metal? Did I just make up a new subgenre of metal? The Faceless are probably my new favorite Prog-Tech-Death-Robot-Metal band, but not to be confused with my all-time favorite Prog-Tech-Robot-Metal band, Genghis Tron. Get it, the difference is DEATH.

This record is great, filled with technical flair and interesting song structures, yet still capitalizing on the pure, straight ahead awesomeness of double bass drums and harmonized growls. And to appease the electronic music dork in me, they liberally throw the vocoder into the mix, which is great. They even have Candiria style jazzy interludes. How cute!

My one complaint about this record is that the lead singer commits, for me, the most grievous sin one can in metal: he sings without the ability to do so. What could have been a truly classic release is relegated to the “Pretty fucking good” category for numerous bad-singing-in-metal-songs infractions. Too bad, The Faceless, you were so close. Maybe next time!


Origin – Antithesis


Another Origin record, another wall of hyper-technical death. If you’re into this kind of stuff, you already know all about Origin and you don’t need me to convince you. Why do I buy these? I already have Informas Infinitas Inhumanitas. Shockingly, the title track “Antithesis” actually has something approaching a groove that’s not just a wall of blast beats. Possibly worth the price of entry for that track alone. Luckily for you, that was not the track I posted so you don’t get some sort of deluded opinion of this release.


Severed Savior – Insurrection


Drunk on my recent acquisitions, I listened to a handful of 30 second clips of this record on Amazon and when I saw it in the store, I threw it on the stack. Even more so than Bloodbath and Decapitated, this album is totally average. At least the former two have something going for them. Severed Savior is just boring compared to the other records in this list. Maybe it’s an issue of context. If this was the only metal record I had purchased while buying a bunch of other music, or if I had made the mistake of buying a Misery Signals record when I meant to buy a Misery Index record, then perhaps this album might feel more special. As it is though, I am totally underwhelmed by it. It does absolutely nothing special. It is technically good, but it’s kind of like the band you see before the band you went to see and you bob your head to the music and you clap, but you’re sure as shit not down there in the pit and you’re not going to be heart-broken if you miss a song while getting a beer or taking a piss.

In the immortal words of Nuutti, this band is pretty all right.

I know a lot of you out there will read this and listen to the tracks and think, What the fuck is Joe talking about? All of these songs sound exactly the same. Well, I say you just don’t know what you’re listening for. I promise that if you had spent half your life listening to heavy metal, you’d understand every single thing I’ve written. In particular, I’m looking at Charlie and Austin, Deegan if he reads this. You guys will understand. The rest of you, I’m glad to have shared yet another tiny sliver of the mess inside my head.

I think Charlie’s header image says it all.


Listen to death metal.

Gojira’s “All The Tears”

What is it that the French put in the water that they are collectively able to produce artists with such fine tuned aesthetic senses? Creative pills? Iodine? Calcium? Whatever it is, it has succeeded yet again with this killer video for “All The Tears” from Gojira’s most recent record, The Way of All Flesh.

Check it out.


The Day the (Robot) Music Died

Florian Schneider (L) and Ralf Hütter (R) in less mechanical days.
Florian Schneider (L) and Ralf Hütter (R) in less mechanical days.

Terrible news. Florian Schneider has officially left Kraftwerk. This leaves Ralf Hütter as the only remaining founding member, of, well, the two of them, Ralf and Florian. Can a band really go on when the two founding members have played together for 40 years and one of them leaves? I am doubtful. Then again, when was the last time Kraftwerk actually released a record of new material? 2003’s Tour De France Soundtracks? Whichever way you look at it, this is a dark day for fans of robot music.

Headbanger’s Ball’s Top 10 of 2008… Sucked.

Last week I watched my DVRed episode of Headbanger’s Ball from this weekend which counted down the top 10 videos from 2008. All in all, it was a horrible Top 10 list. So bad in fact that I nearly threw up the cold steak taco and chips I had eaten for dinner. That bad.

I went to the official Headbanger’s Blog to get the track list of the top 10 so I could rant about it here and I discovered that it was actually a top 25 of 2008, but they only showed 10 videos. That changes nothing really because the top 10 still sucks. Here’s the list.

  • 10. Brian “Head” Welch “Flush”
  • 9. Whitechapel “Possession”
  • 8. Slipknot “Psychosocial”
  • 7. Underoath “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”
  • 6. The Devil Wears Prada “HTML Rulez D00d”
  • 5. Dream Theater “Forsaken”
  • 4. 3 Inches of Blood “Trial of Champions”
  • 3. Avenged Sevenfold “Unholy Confessions”
  • 2. All That Remains “Two Weeks”
  • 1. Dir En Grey “Dozing Green”

Let’s break this down shall we?

Number 10 – Brian “Head” Welch “Flush”. I only saw the second half of this video and, correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t “Nü-metal” die in 2001? This video is terrible. Oh jeez, you’re chained up? Is that a metaphor for something? Aw, what’s this crazy pixie stix powder the porno looking chicks are licking and pouring all over each other? Is it supposed to represent something?

Well, if all the ham-fisted, inept imagery weren’t enough to convince you that this is a complete piece of trash, then how about this sampling of lyrics?

Life is boring/Same old story/Get drunk, throw up/Sleep all day/Like I’m something/I’m not nothing/I can’t let myself decay

Wow, “Head”. Deep. I love your delicate, sophisticated word play and the imagery you employ while calling to mind the words of master poets like Eliot, Keats, and Byron! This is playground poetry of the highest caliber. I know you’ve found Jesus, but that is no excuse for spouting such inarticulate nonsense at unsuspecting listeners. This was the first time I watched your video and it will also be the last.

Number 9 – Whitechapel “Possession”. I’ve discussed this video on this site before. It was awesome then, and it is awesome now. Next.

Number 8 – Slipknot “Psychosocial”. To be perfectly fair, this video isn’t all that bad. It looks nice for sure. I could do without the song. And the performance parts of the video. And Slipknot. But it looks nice, which is ONE good thing. I take exception to the title which is ALMOST the worst title on the list. Psychosocial? What the hell is that supposed to mean? I suppose that it makes the song sound tough to have the word “psycho” in the title, but I can’t help but think of the Biopsychosocial assessments my girlfriend does when she has new therapy clients. GRRRRR THERAPY IS SO METAL!!!!

Number 7 – Underoath “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”. This video is well executed. I am not a fan of performance in videos, typically, and I’m not a fan of it here. But, the dark fairy tale styling of the animated parts is excellent. The song is totally underwhelming and could easily find itself the topic of another “On Singing In Metal” if there were not two other songs on the MTV list more qualified for that distinct honor.

Number 6 – The Devil Wears Prada “HTML Rulez D00d”. Ok. This is horrible. First, let’s take a look at the band’s name. The Devil Wears Prada? The band is named after a book that’s a vaguely fictional memoir of a woman’s experience in the fashion industry in New York? For real? I’m not even going to get into how bad of a choice I think that is. That’s not even cleverly inane. It’s just stupid.

The song title, “HTML Rulez D00d”? Again, I demand to know what the fuck they were thinking when they thought of this idiotic stinker of a title. Is HyperText Markup Language some hilarious thing with the kids these days that I missed out on? Is the deliberate misspelling of the word “rules” with a z (zed for those outside the US) trying to convey something about the dynamically evolving nature of language? Does using two zeros in “dude” expand on that notion while tying back into the digital nature of the original HTML call out by referencing the l337-speak of computer yore? No? It’s just a stupid fucking title chosen by a bunch of morons? OHhhhhhhh. I get it now.

Let it not be thought I have something against inane song titles. I do not. But at least a band like Curl Up and Die had the sense to use asinine song titles to great effect with winners like, “Doctor Doom. A Man Of Science, Doesn’t Believe In Jesus, Why The Fuck Do You”, or Drowningman’s “Yeah, You’re Pretty But Do You Think You’ll Really Get Away With It?” There is a difference between stupid and irreverent that The Devil Wears Prada (again, that name, horrible) just don’t seem to get.

Ok, now that I’ve bagged on their obvious lack of decision making prowess, let’s approach the song, shall we? It’s totally generic, metalcore garbage, complete with god-awful whiny singing. Why do people think this shit is good? The singing in this song makes me want to stab knives into my ears and thereby deprive myself of the world of sound for the rest of my mortal existence. It’s really terrible. I have already written at length about how I feel about shitty singing in metal songs, so I’m not going to do it again, but god damn this song is terrible. It is still not the worst singing on this list though.

Number 5 – Dream Theater “Forsaken”. Dream Theater is classic metal band. I mean, really, there basically wouldn’t be prog metal without Dream Theater, so, like them or not, you can’t deny that they have been an important force in shaping the metal landscape. This video though is not that good. It’s not bad, exactly, but it sure isn’t good. It’s just cheesy. This whole rotoscoped animation thing they have going screams cheese, like the first Heavy Metal movie. Or the second one. Or the magazine. I think the video itself is well made, but I question the taste that went into it. All in all, not bad if you’re 13 and play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons.

Number 4 – Three Inches of Blood “Trial of Champions”. I’m into Three Inches of Blood. They’re an all right band. I dig the whole “pirate power metal” thing they do. This video fucking blows big ones, however. This is the perfect example of how having absolutely no budget can ruin a music video. Whether it’s the super “edgy” band against black background performance footage, the “acting” by the “actors”, or the complete lack of set design and decent cinematography during the non-band sequences, this video looks like crap. Note to the colorist: desaturating and pumping up the blues do not make badly shot footage look good. It makes badly shot footage look blue.

Number 3 – Avenged Sevenfold “Unholy Confessions”. Why is an Avenged Sevenfold video of a track off their 2003 record Waking The Fallen in the top 10 of 2008? Really, I couldn’t tell you. That doesn’t stop this video or band from being complete trash. I am going to hold my thoughts on Avenged Sevenfold for a future entry in “On Singing In Metal”. Let’s leave it at acknowledging this is one of the worst bands on the scene today and the worst abuser of bad singing in metal songs on this list.

Number 2 – All That Remains “Two Weeks”. This shit is so boring it puts me to sleep faster than that Isis show I went to see at The Bowery Ballroom where I nearly fell asleep over the balcony.

Number 1 – Dir En Grey “Dozing Green”. The Japanese have given us many gifts over the years: Godzilla, Robotech, Akira, Kwaidan, Kurosawa films. But did they give us the best metal video of 2008? Fuck no. Yeah, the projections on the screens are cool, but not groundbreaking. But that’s about everything that’s not just totally plain in this video. Ok, some animation, some scans of weird manga, some other crap—none of it good. Oh look! There are maggots and a chinook and some comics and the film burning and a sunset! WOW. WHAT STUNNING VISUALISTS THESE JAPANESE ARE. My mind is so blown, like oh my god.

I am totally offended that this was picked as the best video of 2008. No, not offended, ashamed. I am ashamed of America for picking this miserable top 10 list when there have been many other, BETTER videos this year.

To be fair to the people at MTV responsible for Headbanger’s Ball, their staff picks for the top 10 are significantly better than the fan picks. You can see both lists of 25 here: Headbangers Viewers, HBB Blog Pick Best Videos of 2008.

Major props for putting a video that I am in at number 6. Fuck yeah, The Sword is awesome.

Look out for another post where I list at least 5 videos from this year that should have been in the top 10 that weren’t.

Poni Hoax’s “Antibodies”

Here’s your daily music video from me. Be careful, since there be boobs in that thar vidya. Nothing sexual or nothing, just some naked French boobs.

I wish the director had put it up on Vimeo in HD since the photography is excellent. The edit is sharp and smart and really matches the track nicely. It’s just a damn good video all around. Check out the director’s other work on his page.

Cathedral’s “Hopkins (Witchfinder General)”

seal_of_approvalIn a previous post I mentioned the Earache My Eye tape. This video by Cathedral was one of the videos on that tape and always seemed totally incongruous because it’s not very heavy and it has a very showy style that didn’t fit in with the videos by other bands like Godflesh and At The Gates. I remember it always being the video I would fast forward through on the way to Carcass or whatever was next.

My friend Deegan just posted it in a comment and, looking back on this, it’s actually a pretty fucking sweet ass video. It’s got intense ass Barbarian metal babes, the Devil doing some crazy shit, Vincent Price, and who knows what the fuck else.

All in all, pretty bad ass. Check it.

See? I officially give it The Seal of Approval.

The American Dollar’s “Anything You Synthesize”

This isn’t exactly my preferred kind of music (see previous posts for examples of that), but the video is beautiful. It reminds me of the Chemical Brothers video for “Star Guitar” by Michel Gondry, but I like it more than that. The Chemical Brother’s video is rad, but I think the visuals in the “Anything You Synthesize” video are much more striking on a purely photographic level, even if the video is less kinetic and punchy (but not in a bad way). I love how the elements in the “Star Guitar” video sync to the music, but there is something really epic about “Anything You Synthesize”. Mega epic. For serious.

Here’s the Chem’s video for reference:

See? Similar, though not the same. I like them. There is something to be said about videos that not only don’t have performance, but don’t have the band at all. And that something is “they’re awesome.”