Archive for November, 2009

Phil Lynott – The Philip Lynott Album 1982 – 75%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on November 18, 2009 by misainzig

This is a pop album, pretty much exclusively. I myself aren’t too fond of pop music. I’m sure well over 95% of the people who visit this site aren’t fond of straight up pop music. Knowing this is a pop album, how can the rating be anything but 0%? How can any self respecting metalhead enjoy such a type of album? Because Phil Lynott is the subject under the microscope, and Phil Lynott knew how to write music that was catchy, heartfelt, and genuine. Every song dips deep in the pool of Phil’s superior songwriting skills in one way or another.

Although a pop album, the style of pop varies from song to song. The Man’s a Fool, for instance throws in some upbeat horns with a speedy beat. It’s somewhat disco, somewhat funky, and somewhat old school rock and roll.  Another track, Ode to Liberty, takes a more country style and mixes it with some upbeat acoustics. Phil’s great voice is probably at the top of it’s form here, as he strives for perfection. When he went for the same goal in Thin Lizzy, the results were quite different. Here, he knows he’s playing a different style of music. Thin Lizzy is for the heavier output Phil is able to write. His solo project is explicitly his, and it’s clear he’s striving for pop hooks with every instrument, including catchy as hell keyboards. In Cathleen (A Beautiful Irish Girl), the main hooks come from the presence of a harmonica. It’s quite a soft ballad, written for Phil’s daughter. It’s made slightly humorous at the end, as Phil proclaims, “Now shut up and go to bed!”

Old Town is probably my favorite song, and it’s probably one of the poppiest. It features a story about a girl screwing up a relationship, only to have the boy cracking up and breaking down. It features some catchy-as-AIDS trumpet and piano sections, which almost have a classical vibe to them. These sections provide a stark contrast to the dark omen emitting constantly from the chorus, possibly in parallel to Phil’s own problems at time in life.

Songs like Old Town, Growing Up, and Yellow Pearl (Remix) are primarily piano driven. Phil has proven himself to be a very capable pianist, and he’s nearly as good on it as he is on his usual instruments. Growing Up does also share the spotlight with a lot of saxophone. The sax, as sax tends to be, is smoooooth. If you know there’s saxophone on a pop album, you should know what to expect. The performance is completely up to par, and nothing about it is out of place at all. Phil really did try to write a diverse selection of songs. The driving piano in Old Town shares no real similar characteristics compared to the piano in Growing Up. The piano normally retains a prominent role in the music, basically giving everything it’s shape.

Yellow Pearl is another highlight of the album. It’s done in a very 80s Queen style, when they dropped the rock for a more pop sound. It has some robotic vocals in it, along with Phil’s traditional style. Apparently it’s a remix of a song from Phil’s first solo album. It’s again a very upbeat/quick track and serves as a bit of a mood lifter, after the down-tempo Growing Up.

The song Together is probably the most Thin Lizzy like song on the album, followed closely by Don’t Talk About Me Baby. The former is driven along by Phil’s rather heavy bass, and a very stacotto sounding drum machine, while the latter ends the album on a positive musical note in a Thin Lizzy style. It employs some somewhat heavy distorted guitars, followed by a solo that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on some of the early Lizzy albums. Phil sounds like he’s singing with all the conviction his heart can produce in every song I’ve ever heard by them, and these songs are no exception.

Songs like Cathleen, Little Bit of Water, Growing Up, Gino, and Old Town can probably come across as way too poppy (they are), despite just how genuine the songwriting remains. It’s clear Phil was writing pop music to try and garner some success.  That’s what solo projects are for though. It’s obvious this is not a Thin Lizzy album. It was never intended to be. This is Phil expressing his softer side. This album is not for fans expecting more Thin Lizzy rocking. This album is for Phil Lynott fans who simply love the man’s style of writing music (such as myself).

Highlights include: The Man’s a Fool, Old Town, Yellow Pearl, Don’t Talk About Me Baby

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Jackhammer – Lethal Injection 1983 – 19%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on November 17, 2009 by misainzig

First of all, this sounds like shit in pretty much every way imaginable. I understand this is a demo, but the vocals wouldn’t even be worthy of karaoke! I don’t know why the singer is being so tender and sweet, but that’s obviously not the way to sing on a fucking metal release. The falsettos reek of someone imitating a sugary pop song in a way that gives off the impression of joking around. Unfortunately, these vocals are hilarious like that. A chorus of a song like “Satan Will Fall” should invoke fear and power! Loud, powerful vocals “SATAN WILL FALL!!!” right?!?! Not this semi zombie like enthusiasm that just calmly states out of key, “Satan will fall…” Where is that acceptable in metal? That’s not how metal is fucking done!

Oh it gets better though. You’d think that was bad enough, but each song manages to get progressively worse, save for the final song. Live By the Sword probably has some of the most piss-poor vocals you could ever imagine. The timing is incredibly off on a lot of guitar and drum parts during this song, as well as in the song Demon’s End. In both instances, the drums appear to come in about a split second late. To me, that’s one of the biggest things a band can mess up, because it makes them look horrible. If you can’t even get your drums on time, it’s fairly obvious the drumming will be unacceptable. The drums are simply there for the sake of turning a bunch of shitty musicians into an actual band.  Overall, the music isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard. It really doesn’t do anything I would ever consider within shouting distance of “good” though. Kill the King, for instance doesn’t do anything worth hearing at all. The riffs are incredibly generic, tame, and simple. I’m not one to dismiss something for just being generic, but when the music is this uninspired and hard to listen to, there’s no fucking excuse.

Demon’s End starts with a pretty cool bass line for a change, only to be ruined by the aforementioned drum mistiming. This song has the best solo of the entire demo, but there’s really nothing that great about it. It’s simply a few hairs less shitty than the rest of them. Often times, the riffs are no more than a filler instrument so there isn’t any silence. They literally do nothing on here. Demon’s End is the least shitty song on here, with the vocals at times actually in key! But you’ll still be subjected to those horrible falsettos.

Whiplash would eventually turn out to be legends in the underground thrash scene. How they reached that status, from this steaming pile of dung, is a complete mindfuck to me.

Senmuth – Exouniverse 2009 – 93%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on November 17, 2009 by misainzig

By far one of the most prolific musicians to ever grace this dusty speck of a planet, Senmuth channels several feelings of insignificance and minuteness through your headphones and into your soul. Senmuth’s music ages in numbers, rather than time. Throughout his career, listeners have been able to grow and mature with each passing album. If they’ve got the time that is. In a world where hearing 10 albums is normally a band’s full legacy, that is merely scratching the surface of this epic and complex undertaking that is Senmuth.

The theme here is space, as with several other of Senmuth’s works. What sets this apart is the calm tranquility the synths and atmosphere provide, nurturing you through your lifetime of exploration throughout the album. This album is pure ear candy, as each time you listen intently, you’re still not going to pick up on all the subtle and creative pieces of instrumentation. It’s incredibly difficult to even imagine all of the different sounds or instruments portrayed, as their numbers are gargantuan. In a few songs, the synth is so real and rich, I actually couldn’t tell if it was a real piano playing or not. Sometimes the synths take control, while at others the main focus is the hauntingly firm acoustic strings, while occasionally, some chunky metal riffs take over (what an off the wall concept – metal riffs on a metal album!).

Atmosphere is everything on this album. It can range from being spacious and bleak (deep space), to a relaxing form of warmth, not all that removed from lying on a dry sand dune. Other times the atmosphere bleeds the practice of being sneaky and mysterious. At times you’ll feel the warmth of the center of a star staring directly in your face, and at others you’ll be subjected to the total and complete freeze of space to your bones. The guitars (as seen in Cosmology Singularity) are very comforting, emotional, and finalized. Each note is carefully placed as to fit in with the others as good as they possibly can. The same can be said for the percussion, as it compliments every melody and every section with it’s own casual and collective style. While the drums are never aggressive or actually metal for that matter, they don’t need to be. Metal drums would only set this album off balance, and would ruin any chance of this album fitting together coherently.

The level of professionalism in music doesn’t get any higher than this. Everything is beyond crystal clear, with everything emphasized to perfection. There’s something about this album that takes an extreme amount of luck and precision to hit just right. Exouniverse is literally a journey through space. As you bounce off stars, zoom past planets, stall out among the dust clouds, and feel the chill of space to your bone, you’ll realize this. Not only will this music open your mind, it will portray some of the rawest and most mindful emotions directly to your soul like a black hole absorbing a far off galaxy. This album flows beautifully, thoughtfully, and with purpose the entire way. Highly recommended.

Highlights are: Synchronous Creation of Space, Galaxies Merge, Cosmology Singularity, Dark Invisible Weight

Gargoyle – Ryuu Kaze Ronpuu 2005 – 85%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on November 17, 2009 by misainzig

The thing most impressive about Gargoyle is the consistency. Throughout the numerous songs I’ve heard from their 20 year career, one thing has stayed consistent: these guys fuck around without managing to fuck around. The music is always energetic, and nearly always aggressive and thrashy. With all of these things in the mixing pot, it would seem as though we’re assured to have a winner, right?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is a slightly more complicated juggle of yes and no.

While managing to produce memorable, heavy, and always entertaining thrash, there are definitely some factors missing in Ryuu Kaze Ronpuu that keep it from being completely awesome. Everything on here is done well. Everything! The guitar tone is sharp, lethal, and explosive, with the riffs to back it up.  Gargoyle’s key signature seems to be catchy choruses, and this album has no shortage of them. You’ll be able to sing many choruses by the second time you hear them. At times, this can make the music harder to take seriously, which is one of the main flaws of Gargoyle. Spark, while an album highlight and riffmonster, suffers from this syndrome.

Kiba’s vocals register fairly low, at times recalling the low grumble of Chris Boltendahl. I know this is a bit of an unfair judgment to make, but coupled with the sometimes silly and simple vocals, the Japanese never does much for me. I really can’t take them seriously. I find that the vocals drag down the music, despite being well done (like everything here).

While the riffage often ranges from good to an occasional excellent (about once or twice a song, at least), the solos are another story. For me, they’re the main draw. Whatever creative force some of the less entertaining riffs are missing, the solos more than make up for. Kentaro is an absolute jaw-dropping virtuoso. The solos are by far the most memorable and redeeming part of the music. Each solo bares a strong and thoughtful melody, that can’t help but conjure up a comfortable familiarity. Some of the most engaging solos are in Spark and Tabi No Dokeshi.

Gargoyle take themselves seriously, while still being loose and casual. Often times, this style is great for a band to maintain. Here however, a lot of the laid back and care-free attitude keeps me from enjoying the tracks as much as I should. While the musicianship is superb and fulfilling, everything is just under the plateau of total greatness. The way I see it is this: most of my favorite music has one or 2 things that are absolutely the best or coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I really can’t say that about any thing here, though an argument could be made for the solos. It’s like everything is good, but just not quite there yet.  With this and some of the other silly tendencies in mind, it’s difficult for me to take this 100% seriously.

Highlights include: Ikusa, 1.618,  Jidai O Shiranai Kodomotachi, Spark, Tabi No Dokeshi, Rakuen Ni Shisu

Death Heaven – Viral Apocalypse 2007 – 82%

Posted in Heavy Metal Reviews on November 17, 2009 by misainzig

Death Heaven’s 2007 debut Viral Apocalypse shoots out of the gates, with an intro preaching exactly what you’d expect from the title. This is followed by guitars that spit out rapid machine gun fire, showing you exactly what you’re going to get with this album, and setting the bar quite high from the get go. This is a trait you’ll hear throughout the entire album, as these guys definitely place an emphasis on chunky and technical riffage, not all that far removed from post-W.O.C. Decapitated. To them, fast and furious is the main name of the game. This is technical death metal that forces dense riffs into your brain, with melody not even being an afterthought save for the solos. Rather than wank around with incessant melodies and leads, the primary component of nearly every riff is the chug.

The vocals are of the standard modern death metal growl, with very little flair or difference from many other of their peers. At times the they can sound a bit powerless due to the strain his voice seems to be going through.  They’ll wear on some listeners who would rather have more variation thrown in the mix, as the singer only uses one rather monotonous style. The vocals are difficult to understand, but this concept album paints a bleak and meaningless future where an apocalypse is currently happening, and has happened numerous times already.

A problem this album encounters is that it’s not original in any real way. The emphasis is easily on the riffs, which chug well above anything else in the mix. Whenever the bass comes through, you’ll be treated to fills that really don’t add much to the music other than to let the bassist go, “I can play my instrument as well. Observe…” Occasionally you’ll hear it clanking underneath everything. The music doesn’t suffer much from a lack of bass, however. Of course if the bass were louder, it would have added to an already rich and pulverizing overall tone.

At times the band attempts other styles, such as jazzy fills or your run of the mill acoustic sections. There are 2 instrumental acoustic songs (Inner Reflections, Into The Desolation Of Artificial Spirituality) which only distract from the music’s main goal, which is to crush. They have little emotion, and do little other than serve as interruptions that bother the continuity of the album. One thing the album gets some extra points for is the epics that are the final two songs. After the second part of Techno Decomposition World gets over, you literally feel like the end has just occurred.  If you’re so inclined to continue listening, you’ll be treated to 10 or so minutes of a repetitive, and hollow drum loop with murky sounds fogging up the sound above. After that, there’s some old guy reading some passage or something in a foreign language.

What you see is what you get. There’s nothing earth shattering about this. It’s modern tech death. If you want decent death metal that chugs alongside you, rather than soaring melodies that fly over your house, this album is for you. If you find yourself enjoying Decapitated or Iniquity, rather than Necrophagist or any other cheap Ramen noodle bands, I’m willing to bet you’ll find something awesome about this.

The tour of 2010

Posted in Heavy Metal Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by misainzig

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