The Writhing Squares – In the Void Above

Just a bit too much space on the space rock part of things. The album gets stale after the first few tracks, and not even the saxophones can help. The production is terrible, even for a space rock album. Only Balloon to the Moon did anything for me. I feel like there’s just too much emphasis on texture, and not nearly enough on actual content. I mean yeah, it’s cool to hear all of the weird guitar noises, but 46 minutes of that with relatively little else interesting going on just doesn’t do it for me. The jazz parts are really basic and seem to be there more just for superficial flavor, rather than being an integral part of the music. Call me unconvinced.


Witch’s Heart – The Harrowing

Harrows Hymn is actually a pretty damn cool industrial black ambient piece, and the desolate beauty is a surprisingly pleasant to listen to psychedelic, quiet, sludgly black metalish track. Unfortunately the rest of the album is boring, mindlessly repetitive industrial sludge noise that tries to make itself out to be experimental and satanic. It’s an interesting take on blackened sludge, but interesting does not equate to good every time.


Countless Skies – New Dawn

Really disappointed in this album. I was really looking forward to a good melo death record in a lifetime with so few of them, and if it was something I “discovered” that would be a bonus. Unfortunately, while there are some ok melodies, anything good about New Dawn is destroyed by the god awful production job. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against noisy production. In a lot of atmospheric records it’s a great idea and fits with the music perfectly. This is fucking melo death though. Since this is 2016, you are essentially playing heavier melodic metalcore with harsh(ish) vocals and fewer breakdowns. You do not need complete whitewashing. Your goal is not to be heavy, it’s not to immerse the listener, it’s to give some good tunes for them to jam to. And I’ll admit, if I could hear anything other than the buzz of the guitar I would probably like some of what I hear. I mean yeah, none of this shit is bonkers good, I don’t think the album ever flirts with more than a 7/10, but it would’ve been nice nonetheless. Basic, but nice. Unfortunately, as well as melodically being just “kinda nice”, Countless Skies tries to do this sub focus on being atmospheric, and heavily fails, resulting in a bit of a frustrating experience as a listener, but in the large scheme of things, one that I will absolutely forget.

Oh, and the mandolin (??) interludes were kinda weird and unnecessary. I’d try not doing that next album.


Megadeth – Dystopia ALBUM REVIEW

Well let’s start out with the positives; it’s not a complete disaster like I thought it would be. Anytime an old school band tries to revive its sound through a concept album, normally things start to go arye pretty quickly. In fact, for much of the album, Dystopia is actually quite good. Really good in fact. The main riff from the title track is one of my favorites I’ve heard in this young year. The lyrics are shit, sure, but nobody would expect anything else, instead you just enjoy how fucking groovy and head-bang worthy the tracks are. The fact that an aging old man is desperately trying to sound edgy doesn’t dawn on you as the riffs and solos caress your ears like a mother feeding its baby some spiked milk. Sweet, with a bit of a kick to it.

And then they just… stopped. Like, Death From Within comes on and the entire rest of the album is complete mediocrity with good solos. There’s lots of chugging sure, but there some good grooves there, nothing really awful. At some points there are tracks where it is actually just a bunch of chugging until the solo, Post-American World being an example of such. It is literally just absolutely fucking nothing until the solo hits, then the song ends. And this isn’t the only track like that. But again, that’s generally forgivable.

What ISN’T forgivable is what I mentioned before, those god forsaken vocals. It’s just so damn obvious that this is sung by an old geezer, and it really takes you out of Megadeth’s aesthetic. You know that scene in 30 Rock where Steve Buscemi infiltrates a high school, arrives is dressed up in teenager cloths and goes “how do you do my fellow kids?”? That’s how I feel when I hear Mustaines voice. The dude is desperately trying to remain relevant and just can’t fucking do it, not only to a failure, but to a complete detriment of the album’s quality. The culprit of all of this is how precisely and clearly Mustaine states every single word, when it would be a really, really good idea not to.

Terrible lyrics in metal is not so uncommon. In fact, I’d even say it’s the norm. Metal is unlike most other genres, in that the lyrics are normally quite unimportant, which explains why much of the most highly acclaimed metal albums of all time have rather lackluster lyrics. Part of that is because you literally can’t hear them, which is I guess one way to mask being a shitty writer. In black metal, death metal, and even some sludge metal, it’s very normal to not be able to hear a single word spoken in the entire album. It’s why there is actually a distinction between vocals you hear and vocals you can’t, called “clean” vocals. Now I know pretty much everyone who is reading this knows this shit, but I feel like there is a lesson to be learned here. Even in bands with clean vocals, normally the lyrics aren’t that great, but it’s masked by the fantastic musicianship and melodic playing, with riffs and all that good shit. A lot of people only listen to metal because of those riffs in the first place. Basically, this is a very roundabout way of saying if you’re going to have shitty lyrics, have something to distract someone, or make sure they can’t hear them anyway.

Megadeth doesn’t do that. Instead they let their 9th grade reading level fupa hang out. And when it hangs, it pours. Because what they do is instead of masking their poor writing, they actually strip down the music so that you can’t focus on anything other than the lyrics. There really isn’t a eloquent way I can put it that’ll take up text space, this is just pure trash. The Emperor in particular is some of the cringiest lyrical garbage you’ll hear out of a major band. Not that there isn’t any other cringe on this album (the end of Poisonous Shadows gets a solid B+ in that department), but I think The Emperor easily tops them all, which is saying something.

I really wanted to like this. For the longest time I was holding on to the fact that this was a 7/10 and a great comeback. And I do think it’s a step in the right direction. But a step is just a step, and where they’re stepping from is one of the worst records in recent memory. In reality, while I dissing this a bit more than it deserves, Dystopia really is just average overall. If I was a major Megadeth band, I would really hope this would be their final record, because if this is all they got, there’s nothing left in the tank.


Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs ALBUM REVIEW

Often music has the ability to transport the listener to other places, be them earthly or cosmic. I can feel like I’m in the amazon rainforest, or floating through the cosmos, or even in the pits of hell. This is what people often called transcendence, where the music transcends physical being and places your consciousness in another realm entirely. In the case of Aria of Vernal Tombs, the destination was medieval Europe. Through the use of period instruments and scales, Obsequiae creates an ethereal dream like soundscape, which makes me feel as though I’m at the crossroads of time, the in between space between years, traveling but never quite arriving at my destination. It’s a unique atmosphere, but one that I feel ultimately fails the assumed goal.

While yes the period instruments do help create a literal creation of medieval Europe, it’s never quite implemented as a fusion, but rather in interludes between songs. The album follows a distinct formula of song, interlude, song, interlude, etc. I don’t have any trouble with the format itself, however the way it is executed leaves a lot to be desired. Every song and interlude sounds essentially the same, with the occasional key difference. The interludes are more noodling improvisation than song, reinforcing the notion that you’re in limbo rather than in the physical world. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s calming, however quite frankly it’s boring. The same can really go the metal tracks, which have the same dreamy atmosphere, albeit more structured as songs rather than improvisation. However the notion that they all sound the same stands. There is very little if any variety in this album whatsoever, so if you’re no enamored with the first two tracks, you’re going to have a tough time with this record.

I feel like the atmosphere it does bring is very unique and wonderful in it’s own way. However Aria is simply a one trick pony, lacking in substance, and is ultimately relegated to nothing more than background study music. Mediocre study music at that.


Lucifer’s Child – The Wiccan ALBUM REVIEW

In keeping with the Greek melodic black metal tradition, the majority of this album is comprised of stale riffs and production. The steady rock beats give an almost happy vibe which, combined with the harsh vocals and the fact that it’s black metal, creates a uncanny valley effect on the music. It doesn’t feel like black metal, but it is. Sort of like the reverse of what a clown is; supposed to be funny, ends up being creepy. This is supposed to be funny and ends up sounding like trailer trash black metal, if that is even a thing.

And then the Lucifer’s Child grew up and created two amazing closing tracks. Both delve deep into doom metal, the last track, aptly named “Doom” actually ends up being more doom metal than black metal altogether. Both start innocently enough and then expand into emotionally driven epic tracks. The final ascension to the apex of the last track, with the continually rising pitch of the lead guitar to go along with the almost post-rock driven background storm of sound, made me honestly think I was listening to a different album. What the fuck happened to that mediocre melo black band I was listening to just 10 minutes ago, and why are they so radical?

Unfortunately, batting .200 isn’t going to get you a good score, but it will save The Wiccan from being labeled by me as a bland album. Instead I will name it simply a whole bag of nothing and then some missed potential.


Valkyrie – Shadows ALBUM REVIEW

If anything, this album taught me that there is a limit to how generic a stoner rock/trad doom album can be before it doesn’t please me anymore. Previously, considering my ratings and feelings on pretty much all of this genre that i had listened to, I did not think it was possible. I thought as long as isn’t shit it’ll shit, it’ll get at least a 6. I was thankfully proven wrong. Sure, it has good riffs, but let’s be real, anything in which the point of the whole genre is riffs is going to have at least a few good ones. That’s just probability, if you put enough ideas out there, some of them will be good. But you to do more than what is expect to get an above average score. I generally like things that are generic but well done, however that’s under the assumption that it’s REALLY well done. If you want to really get technical, this is a “well don” album in that it sounds professional, but that should be the minimum of what any album should do, unless the purpose is the opposite. This sounds professional, but it lacks any sort of imagination. It’s all things I’ve heard before multiple times over. I actually had to really convince myself to give this a fair grade, because one part of me was yelling “but it sounds good!”. So I had to wrangle myself in and tell my biases to commit jihad, because if I want to be objective, this doesn’t deserve anything above a 5. So I’m giving it a 5.5, because I really suck at wrangling myself in.


Pitbulls in the Nursery – Equanimity ALBUM REVIEW

I feel like I should like this… but I don’t. There’s just something off about this album. Yeah it does great tension building, and yeah it has some ok riffs but… it feels like the band is trying too hard. It’s like they’re purposely trying to make this album feel dark and foreboding. And yes, I realize that most albums do intentionally try to create the atmosphere that they try to portray, that much is obvious. But this feels forced. Unnatural. It feels like Pitbulls is trying TOO hard. Like it’s pulling out all the cliched stops in order to make sure you feel a certain way. It doesn’t help that most tracks sound very similar, mostly based on the same riff and chord progression, and there’s just WAY too much chugging. So while yes, I do feel like this has a lot of elements to a good album, it doesn’t feel natural, and there’s just not near enough variety for me to give this a really good score.


Visceral Decay – Implosion Psychosis ALBUM REVIEW

Not much to say about this. It has some cool moments. The riffs are about 60/40 in terms of good/bad, getting better when they’re more atonal. The technical passages that are there aren’t really that amazing, but not really bad. The one thing I can talk about is the drums. God man those are really bad. The band sounds like they’re literally using a fisher price drum set. Fortunately it’s brutal death metal, so nobody gives a shit. Average album, not bad not great.


Dopethrone – Hochelaga ALBUM REVIEW

As the band name implies, this band tries to copy Electric Wizard as hard as possible. And to a point, they succeed. But there’s such a thing as copying a band, and then copying them and not quite getting it. The rough vocals don’t match with the music except on Scum Fuck Blues (how great of a song title is that?), and while they copy the overall sound, it feels like it’s copying just one song over and over again, with some variation. It’s pretty good, but copybands really can only go so far.