Celestial Shadows – An Endless Void

There are certainly worse things out there, but this sounds just about exactly like any other random black metal bandcamp project from aussieland would be expected to sound like. I’m not sure the “experimental” aspects are entirely intentional, let’s put it that way.


3.5/10

https://celestialshadows.bandcamp.com/album/an-endless-void-2

Schammasch – Triangle

Note to any band out there: if you make a 100 minute concept album, make sure you concept is worth making 100 minutes of music about. Second note: playing louder does not make your statement any more grandiose. Schammasch apparently missed these two memos, and as such have created a monster of an album, and not in a good way.

Triangle is brash but not bold, loud but way too fucking proud, and the result is an extremely long waste of my time. Before even getting into the music, what the actual fuck is that production job? They managed to make the least important aspects of the music (backing guitar and drums) the loudest part of the album, and by far. It’s actually hilarious every time I hear this pretty good technical solo being completely drowned out by the droning backing guitar (who essentially plays the same “riff” the whole time, just in different keys) and the drummer who’s slamming his sticks harder than a teen who just discovered what porn is. And it’s not just the solos, you can’t even really hear the vocals. Like in an album that’s supposedly philosophical in nature, you’d think they would make it as easy as possible to hear the lyrics, because as pretty as notes are, they can’t really key in on philosophical opinions in anything other than a general manner (at least not in a way that the listener can reliably catch on to). So what you get instead is 2 of the 3 disks (which I may add, contain 66 minutes of music) is essentially atmospheric, black metalish noise, in some cases this noise being favored over elements to their music that are actually somewhat interesting.

But I can’t really give them too much credit. While I appreciate the ambitious disk 3 that contains a mix of tribal ambient and black metal, and the attempt to mix so many damn genres together, it just doesn’t fucking work. The higher you aim, the higher the bar you set, and this album doesn’t even come close to clearing it. The actual experimental elements (which apparently include generic prog metal as experimental, as if that’s never been combined with black metal before) seem very tame and unadventurous. Do not be fooled by the genre tags, most of them come from the mish-mash of genre influences that orthodox black metal can be. In reality the first two disks are very much lacking in not only variety, but after the initial “oh hey this is cool” wears off, imagination. I get having motiffs, but the droning, dissonant, tremelo riff is seemingly the only thing played by the guitars in this album, especially on the first disk. The only difference is the key that it’s played in. And again, any variety that IS there is just washed away by the production job that fucks subtlety in its virgin asshole, to the point where rape charges should really be filed. Subtlety is not bad, I hate that so many “experimental” black metal bands ignore that to try to one up everyone in the edgy art student dick measuring contest.

I will say, I have not spoken in length about the third disk because it is actually quite tolerable. I wouldn’t call it “good” however. More like a somewhat interesting concept executed to an acceptable level. At the very least it’s the one part that didn’t give me tinnitus. I really do like the concept of tribal ambient combined with black metal guitar tones, I just feel like for an album who’s whole shtick is being spectacular, they really took it easy on the one part of the album where they could’ve been very unique. It’s overall easy to listen to, but quite boring. I mean fuck, the whole album is boring, that’s the entire issue. But this was boring in a way I could accept, rather than a way that makes me think your entire career is made to compensate for your 4 inch penis.

Triangle is a failed experiment that doesn’t even try to experiment that much. As hyped as this album is, I see it as nothing more than pretentious, vapid genre porn, made for people who don’t like metal to feel both cultured and sufficiently edgy.


3.5/10

 

 

Woman Is the Earth – Torch of Our Final Night

It’s a sad state of affairs when the tag “Atmospheric Black Metal” has around the same consistency of quality as “Djent” and “Metalcore”. Look at the band’s name. Look at the album cover. Look at the genre tag. Congrats, you now know what this album sounds like, and hopefully know to avoid it.


3.5/10

Textures – Phenotype ALBUM REVIEW

I’m just going to get it out of the way, I fucking hate Textures. Like, a lot. I see them as the band that single-handedly ruined djent and gave it to all of the scenecore bands to fuck up. Not only that, but even at their absolute best, they were a shitty Meshuggah clone, never original outside of coming up with the brilliant idea of adding metalcore to djent music. This trend continues with Phenotype, to absolutely no one’s surprise.

If you’ve ever heard a popular djent record in the last 4-5 years, you’ll know what this sounds like. High production value, forced as hell “harsh” bits to sound edgy, followed by dime a dozen clean vocals, with various other random shit thrown in so they can label it as prog. The cleans really are the worst aspect of this album. Every time I hear the vocalist open his mouth I just picture a man with the most punchable face imaginable, like that one guy with a nose ring that’s always playing shitty nirvana covers, with his expensive acoustic guitar his parents got him for barely having a 3.0 the first semester of his freshman year, outside a local coffee shop. Surprisingly, the music actually doesn’t sound that pretentious. In fact it’s the exact opposite, everything here is super safe and full of shit to pander to the populace. Not that there is literally nothing here worth listening (Illuminate the Trail is actually a pretty dang good track), but for every one thing this album does well, it does a fuckload more things very mediocre, even in the case of Zman, an entire track dedicated to emotional and cheesy piano that fits nowhere in the album, they do shit that’s so bad it makes me want to throw up.

Textures’ newest record is like a high budget action flick, with every stereotype you would expect. Except there isn’t any action. Instead of seeing giant robots fighting, you’re watching giant robots contemplating philosophy at a 9th grade level, pandering to those who don’t actually know anything about philosophy itself. For the average person, it’s an enlightening experience. For people who actually likes metal, it’s a complete waste of time.


3.5/10

Mgła – Exercises in Futility ALBUM REVIEW


So…this is it? This, is the far and away number one album of the year so far? Are you kidding me? Is this an elaborate ruse done by all of Mgła’s fans? Considering I’ve heard people call this album dissonant, I’m starting to think so. This album is the exact opposite of dissonant, it’s way too tonal. There’s been other comments on this album that makes me think people just haven’t listened to it, or like I said, are trolling. This includes some people saying it’s experimental, which is laughable. To start off the critique, let me explain the formula to this album. Take one idea. Repeat it ad-nauseam until the listener grows bored. Then keep doing it for another few minutes until the track is over. Repeat that six times, and you have some fittingly named Exercises in Futility. This album is like a theme and variations, except they forgot to add the variations part. Now I am not saying I’m against repetition in albums. One of my favorite albums of all time is Corrupted’s Paso Inferior, which is essentially repeating one idea for an hour. The difference between the two is that Paso Inferio has atmosphere. The album conveys the pointless struggle of existence, the torturous repetition of daily life, how we slog through every trial only to end up in the same place. It’s painful to get through, and it’s a work of art and a master piece. It also helps that it’s rumored to be about life after the Hiroshima bombing, in which case the possible added context just makes it so much better. In Exercises in Futility, Mgla decided to say fuck that, let’s go play major 7ths. Which brings me to my next point. The major 7th is the single most dangerous chord to use in music. Because it either makes you look like a genius and brings a climactic eargasm to the listener, or it makes you look ridiculous and your entire song becomes an embarrassment. Guess which direction this album goes towards? It’s not even that Mgla uses it a lot, it’s that they complete ABUSE it in every track. It is a staple chord in almost every song on the album. And since every track is just one repeated idea, you’re going to hear it a lot, and get tired of it really fast. And the worst part about it goes back to what i was talking about with atmosphere. From what I understand, this is supposed to be a modern take on traditional black metal. And it does certainly sound modern, though I would attribute that almost entirely to the production job. The problem is, even though traditional black metal albums repeated ideas a lot, they had an atmosphere. That is, a generally feeling about them that was consistent throughout the entire album. And while sure, much of that feeling could be reduced to generic things like darkness, satan, etc, there was at least something tangible to hold onto. The album had some sort of direction. This feels like it’s going nowhere. It doesn’t feel dark because of the major 7th chords, and it doesn’t feel triumphant because of everything else. It just feels stuck in neutral, and when the atmosphere is neutral, that makes for a very dull album. In a possible twist of genius, maybe that just is the exercise in futility, but I highly doubt that, and if is, that’s just lazy art. The one good thing I will say about this album is that the drumming can get somewhat interesting. The opening track, though I think it’s the worst on the album, is driven mostly by not only blast beats, but some sort of punk rockish rhythm. There are multiple examples of multi-rythm on here, in which there are generic black metal beats combined with interesting beats using symbols. There’s a bit of syncopation that’s pretty cool that I haven’t heard in any other black metal album. But alas, that cannot save this album, which considering how long it’s high rating holds, might be one of the most overrated metal albums of all time. Exercises in Futility certainly is an a exercise in futility, in that it’s futile to find much worthwhile to listen to.


3.5/10

Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar ALBUM REVIEW

This album seems so manufactured it’s ridiculous. I was really excited when I saw it labeled “arabic folk music” (i’m an aspiring ethno-musicologist, so this shit is my game). Little did I know how cartoonish and silly it would be executed it. It’s cartoonish and almost offensive in how they portray arabic folk music, the melodies are way more pop rock than progressive anything, and just for kicks, they’re completely random death vocals, because why the fuck not right? And when I say random, I MEAN random. They’ll just switch back and forth without any warning or reason. And they’re often, no, ALWAYS completely out of place. Now, I have a thing for switching back between harsh and clean vocals, if done right. I love that stuff. This is not that. At all. The sad part is, I can’t really rate this lower because the instrumentals, although they contain really forced ethnic influences, aren’t actually bad and have some good moments. It’s jut the everything else in this album that makes you feel like you just watched a bad disney movie.


3.5/10