Shortstacks 3/1/2016

The second ever batch of shortstacks has a bit of a drop at the top in terms of quality, but the same overall value across all the ratings. Yesterday we had one album crack the recommended tag, if just barely, in Eissturm’s The Oak, while the remaining two meddled in the average to bad category. Today we have two albums who have merit, but don’t quite reach that level, and two that are just… really bad. One of which being the second worst album I’ve rated this year. I guess that’s quality in itself, isn’t it? I mean, why else read the shitty rated albums if you don’t simply want to feel better about your own failed musical endeavors? Well don’t worry, we have that for you today. Without further adieu, here are today’s 4 horsemen of the mediocrepocalypse.


Witch’s Heart – The Crvshing Waves of Silence Wash Over My Wretched Soul

Well this certainly is spooky. I’m not sure how good it is, but it’s a hard listen. Witch’s Hearts create a really unique sound of combining droning sludge guitar tones with heavy and dark industrial synths and noises. It utilizes these disfigured blackened “vocals” (???) along with blast beats to create a terrifying musical sight to behold. At first it’s really a cool experience, opening up with these angelic choirs combining with darkness the rest of the influences hold. Unfortunately, the album gets old pretty damn fast. I love dark industrial stuff, but I can only take so much of one droning overall sound per track. There just isn’t the variety here to keep me interested. There’s potential for good stuff, these guys just need to figure it out.



Nova Serpens – Oculto en las sombras

Not bad. Generic, but not bad. Once the novelty of “Mexican power metal band that sings in spanish” wears off, there isn’t really much substance here worth mentioning. Standard stuff that’s done pretty well for what it is, but doesn’t break any mold in terms of the larger scale. I will say that the vocals are actually quite good, having a bit deeper range than most other power metal bands while still maintaining quality. That said, everything else here is something that’s been done before, and been done better.



Avitas – Pioneers

Complete mess of an album with equally messy song titles and production job. Everything sounds chaotic in all the wrong ways, like the band just doesn’t know how to write a song. When it isn’t just a mess, it’s just one riff over and over again over some incredibly insipid lyrics (which are mostly bigoted, but there’s reasons beyond that why they’re bad). It’s a real shame it isn’t anywhere near as good as the cover art, because I was pretty excited to listen to this based just on that. Awful album that is to be avoided.



Panoptitron – Swansong

Imagine Dream Theater, if they never got a record deal. If they never even left their garage. Having been disappointed in not getting attention, they go for a lofi-black metal aesthetic while still being a prog band. So what you get is some of the worst quality production jobs you’ll hear in a non black or death metal record, coupled with copious amounts of awful quality midis and drum machines, resulting in climaxes that have the extremely mediocre vocalist singing his guts out while nothing but midi horns and empty synth drums back him up. Swansong gives approximately the same feeling as watching a severely autistic child try to play the recorder. You feel a mixture of audible pain, immense sadness, trying empathy, and just a tiny but of happiness because you know that despite their poor results, they’re trying their best. This record is why you give your friends constructive criticism rather than just blindly praising their work. Because otherwise they never realize how shitty what they’re doing is, and go on to make albums like this, which is actually part 4 in a series of concept albums. So please, criticize your friends. It can save a life.


Sorrow Plagues – An Eternity of Solitude ALBUM REVIEW

You ever listened to an album that was so sappy it made you want to kill yourself? This is that. While Moonlover was the good side of hipstorcore, this is the “waterboard the band members with pumpkin frappicinos” side of hipstercore. I couldn’t finish this. I always make an major effort to finish an album, because it could always end up better than how it started. Many albums I’ve listened to have had mediocre first halfs, only for the second half to be utterly unbelievable. I absolutely could not manage to do that with An Eternity of Solitude, mostly because an eternity of solitude sounds much more pleasant than listening to this ep. Hell I couldn’t even get past the second track. Cheesy synths, chord progressions that make you want to throw up, the laughably inexplicable use of bells, this has everything you could possibly want to not have in a blackgaze album. Blackgaze is already cheesy enough with the post-rock influences, don’t ham it up more. The only reason this doesn’t get a lower score is because at the very least the band members seem to be able to competently play their instruments, but if that’s the biggest compliment you can achieve, you might want to find a different career. Or just play random notes and call it avant-garde, I’d probably like it better honestly.


Grave Disgrace – The Mystery of the Dead Revive ALBUM REVIEW

And here I was beginning to think that it was impossible for me to hate a stoner doom album. I figured it was my one weakness, something that no matter how bad it is, I would always like at least somewhat. I actually became kinda worried about that, as I want to remain as unbiased as possible when I review something. Thank god that’s been proven to be false.

It’s funny, because it actually started out as something I thought I would enjoy. I love really dirty doom/sludge, and that had that guitar tone nailed way past my expectations. To a fault actually. You can only get so dirty before you eventually need to take a shower. This guitar tone reeks like a NEET who lives in his mom’s basement and hasn’t showered in weeks. And then it just kept going. And going. It didn’t help that it was accompanied by a really awkward cymbal tap the entire 4 and a half minute intro. Which leads to the worst part of this EP. The vocals. I actually would’ve done a better job at vocals than the vocalist of this band. And I’m an awful singer. Like, nearly tone deaf at singing. Not only can you hear the russian accent in this guy’s speech, but the way he speaks just sounds robotic, like he’s a 7th grader doing a speech presentation who is reading the entire speech from a sheet without looking at the audience once. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so annoying. At the end of the 12 minute long title track (yes, there’s 12 minutes of this) there are some actually pretty cool riffs, but they’re so distorted and garbled up by the production that you can barely hear them.

The second track, Sacrificed God, is another behemoth at 20 fucking minutes. Thankfully it’s better than the second track by virtue of not actually being the title track of this album. Also it has some pretty cool bluesy solos that remind me of 60s psychedelic rock, which is always a plus. But then…. is that… yeah I heard that right. That’s cowbell. They actually put cowbell in this album. The thought “This needs more cowbell” actually went through the band’s head’s and they implemented it. It’s almost like a sick joke or something, like they knew this was bad and wanted to add humor to distract from the fact that they aren’t good musicians. The rest of the track honestly isn’t awful, though one major issue is that the actual song is basically over at 8 minutes, but it continues on for another 12. There is absolutely 0 reason for Sacrificed God to be a 20 minute track. Actually had this EP been just the first 8 or so minutes of Sacrificed God, everything would’ve been perfectly fine (except for the vocals, those are still terrible). But they had to quadruple the length of that for seemingly no reason at all. There’s no substance to justify the length of the tracks, even if there are only two. It just seems like they had a few ideas, realized they didn’t have enough for an entire album, and said “Hey, wanna fuck around for 20 more minutes and call it an EP?”.

It’s a shame because I got excited at the cover art (cover art isn’t uploaded yet, but it’s basically a women with an axe through her forehead with fake blood around the wound, looked kinda kooky and cool to me). I was expecting lo-fi amateur stuff, but not something this bad. The fact that there is a stretch of The Mystery of the Dead Revive that isn’t awful is the only reason it doesn’t get lower. Speaking of which, what kind of name is The Mystery of the Dead Revive anyway? Sounds like someone took a mad libs that read “The (noun) of the (adj.) (verb)”. put random words in there, and called it good. Fitting shitty title for a shitty EP.


Doomas – La Muerte ALBUM REVIEW

Question: has there ever been a band labeled “dark metal” that has ever turned out to be good? I sure haven’t. It should be a warning sign by now, but I’ve seen it just little enough to where I’m curious each time. I really shouldn’t have been, because this was exactly as I expected, which is to say, not good.

And it was apparent that it was going to be bad from the very beginning. Another one of those warning signs, opening with sad acoustic guitar. That’s probably one of the biggest signs of amateurism in metal, because it shows that you only have a surface understanding of what makes people feel. Being in a minor key isn’t automatically sad, and neither acoustic guitar. I’ll probably be screaming this for infinity, but I feel like I need to say it every single time. And the worst part is that it’s actually worse without the acoustic instruments. Because when they actually try metal, it sounds like just really shitty deathcore. Not like, brocore level, but certainly bad deathcore. It’s not really that you can’t understand a word the vocalist is saying that’s bad, that’s expected in extreme metal. What’s bad is that he sounds like the lite version of someone gurgling during a seizure. Not mention the mindless chugging that you would imagine would go on in deathcore like music. But it gets weird because, and this is the reason this score isn’t lower, there are then sudden moments where the acoustic sections sound actually kinda cool. They involve some cool rhythms, upright bass (when’s the last time you heard that in metal?), the previously awful acoustic guitar, and it sounds like something made by someone who actually understands music. It then immediately goes back to shit, but the most frustrating aspect about LaMuerte is that there is potential. It’s barely ever exemplified, but it’s there nonetheless.

Doomas very much takes influence from neoclassical darkwave, which is a bit of a red flag as that is really easy to fuck up. And oh boy do they fuck up, creatively in fact. One of the tracks opens with soft sad piano music and the sound of wind blowing, which is already pretty damn cheesy and bad, but that’s not where they fuck up. No, they added a sample of a women crying softly in the background. No I am not shitting here, they actually were so unsure that the audience would get the blatantly obvious intended emotions of the track, that they thought they should metaphorically just yell at the top of their lungs “HEY, THIS IS A SAD SONG, IT’S IN A MINOR KEY, YOU SHOULD BE FEELING DEEP DESPAIR BY NOW”. I would call it insulting the listeners musical intelligence, but I think this band has already shown such a lack of respect for that that I don’t think it needs to be said again.

The big word of the day here is uninspired, which succinctly describes this entire album in shorter terms than I ever could. Not only is nothing about this new, it is tropey as tropes can get. Which makes every time it doesn’t sound like shit, all the more infuriating. The sad part is they will probably never learn, as so many people eat this shit up because it’s just dark enough to make them feel edgy, but inoffensive and obvious enough to not make them think. Not as if metal is supposed to be a hyper thinking genre, but it should be at least somewhat up to you what emotions you feel when you hear something, not just forcibly stamped on your forehead, like here.

As an aside, I’m only putting this on the Doom list because the band self labeled themselves this way. I figured if I’m going to take a shit on them, I should shit on them at their terms.


Mondfinsternis – Where the Heaven Ends ALBUM REVIEW

There are many warning signs to let to know that an album is going to be bad. And you can take in these before you even listen to the album sometimes. To name a few
1. The band has released 2 full albums within a month of each other
2. The album art contains an actual photograph of an animal that just so happens to have been run through photoshop by someone who has had photoshop for probably only a few months
3. The band that made the album self labels themselves as “epic metal” on their bandcamp

Coincidentally, this album happens to have all of these warning signs. So how “epic” really is this “epic metal” album? Well, not very epic at all. Actually, it’s not much metal at all either. If I were to completely guess with no effort put into any actual measurement at all, I would say that there’s about 5-6 minutes of actual metal on this album, and the rest high quality 90s point and click PC game music with what sounds like a drunk russian attempting to “sing” black metal vocals but failing. Fortunately, despite it being extremely awful music, the one saving grace is that high quality midi music generally doesn’t hurt your ears as long as the production volume isn’t cranked up to 11. So actually this isn’t that unpleasant of an album to listen to. It’s just really bad in every other way. But hey, focus on the positives, right?

It’s come to my attention that dungeon synth anything is going to be extremely bad, yet I’ve heard that there is indeed good dungeon synth. It’s like how you’ve heard there are high quality McDonalds in other countries, but it’s pretty hard to believe until you’ve seen it. Also to all bands out there, please stop capitalizing “The” in a song title if it’s not at the beginning. That’s bad and you should feel bad. Almost as bad as this album is. But not quite, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.


Mechina – Acheron ALBUM REVIEW

Everything about this album seems manufactured in some way. The riffs are stale and processed, the symphonic parts seem generic and uninspired, and the ethnic influences seem forced. The entire album is going for cheap epicness and while at times it has some cool sections, overall it’s just a completely uninspired mess.