Thy Catafalque – Meta

I think this album demonstrates a difference between quirky and colorful. Colorful in my eyes is something that elicits imagination, creativity, and certain kind of lushness to the music. It feels like the band put their heart and soul into the record, and as a result creates an album filled with every color of the rainbow, in a truly unique and satisfying experience. Meta is just quirky. Sure it has some weirdness to it, with various electronic and orchestral oddness, but it the melodies are so ridiculously uninspiring that I can’t help but feel both bored and disappointed the whole way through. There are brief moments where I think the album hits (Mezolit for instance), but for the most part it feels like Thy Catafalque through a bunch of related shit together, strung it over the same few melodies, and hoped for the best. Not to mention the album is over an hour long, with a 21 minute track that feels exactly the same as the majority of the album.

Sure Meta has a lot of parts to it, but I would rather have an album with a few well crafted parts that go together, than an album that throws a bunch of different things together that come off as a bit random, and end up sounding the same anyway.


5/10

Sunburst – Fragments of Creation

Perfect, that’s how I wanted to end my evening, chug prog that desperately tries to disguise that fact with soulless technicality. Fantastic, this’ll be a short one. Fragments of Creation is another drop in a sea of unmemorable power prog that’ll be released this year, and the only reason I’m even being arsed to write a review about it is because I happened to be dumb enough to give it a shot. Not a single memorable song lies on this album, essentially being a 56 minute waste of your time. If you like solos that have been played endlessly, if you like prog metal that’s “totally not djent guys, really honestly it’s just a slight influence, we’re our own thing I promise”, and if you like dry reflections of power metal that do nothing but add insincere “cheese” to the album, be my guest. Go ahead, like it, I can’t stop you. I’ll admit, once in a while there’s a riff that kinda cocks my head a bit. Beyond that, there’s nothing worth saving here. Move along folks, nothing to see, just joining the endless crowd of other albums like it released on a yearly basis.


5/10

Stam1na – Elokuutio

I think it’s time for people to step back and realize that maybe we should just stop with the whole concept album thing in metal. And that has about as much to do with the genre of metal itself as it does the people making them. First off, the people who actually want to make a concept album (usually power, heavy, progressive, thrash metal dudes) can’t ever actually make them, part of which is because power, heavy, and thrash metal are so limited in scope instrumentally, so you have to rely on either skits or vocals to tell the story (which lets be real, metal bands are exactly geniuses are writing lyrics), and progressive metal is just a trash genre right now. The other part is because the people who play in those bands are usually not “artistic” so to speak, which you kind of need to be to create a true concept album. I don’t think something like Program Music I would be possible in a metal album without adding lots of other subgenres to the tag list. Second of all, concept albums in general are overrated as hell. I don’t need the music itself to tell me it’s telling a story, the music IS the story. One of the great things about non programmatic music is how its meaning is totally up to the interpretation of the listener. I typically listen to a metal album and just enjoy the music for what it is, rather than the story it has to tell. Often times I don’t care about any story or even want one, I just want to listen rad jams. This album is exactly what you think it would be; it does a few things to fractionally grab your attention, but largely falls flat at any grand theme, and for the most part blissfully wanders into chugland. It’s not terrible to listen to, but it’s not really worth the entire 47 minutes of your time. True, the lyrics being in finnish do make it harder for a filthy american to understand the whole concept, but based on what I heard, I don’t think I’m missing much.


5/10

Sarke – Bogefod

The album itself is mediocre, but Dawning may be the most inappropriate song you could ever put in a black metal record.

“Hey guys, this album is lacking in the variety category, we need a song to spice things up, what kinda song do we want?”
“Let’s put an overly emotional, female fronted adult contemporary track, that is exactly what we need”
“Sounds good, what next?”
“Fuck if I know, just do the regular thing I guess.”


5/10

Rotting Christ – Rituals ALBUM REIVEW

I’m not particularly sure what I just listened to, or if it was good or not. For that matter, I don’t exactly know what genre this is either. It seems to be somewhat black metal but the guitar tone is way too deep, reaching doom metal levels throughout most of it, and nothing else in the album has any sort of black metal traces to it either than the occasional blast beats. I want to call this “heavy metal” in the sense that it’s heavy and it sure is metal, but it’s pretty obvious why I can’t do that.

The album itself is I guess mediocre, consisting of repetitive, ritualistic chugathons that toe the line between dark and foreboding, to really fucking boring. I get that this is what Rotting Christ was going for, I really do. It’s called Rituals for a reason, and beyond the various bits of ethnic ritual music influences, it does accomplish the goal of sounding like an attempt to summon satan. Though it’s more like an attempt to summon satan by a 16 year old goth kid whose parents happen to have lots of money, in order to get revenge on the bullies at school. That is, they’re just saying a bunch of random evil shit and hoping it sticks. Seriously some of the lyrics are pretty damn cliché from the ones I did actually manage to catch over the entirely brickwalled production, at least the ones in english.

Above anything though, the album is just really fucking empty. Not like sonically, but musically. It’s a 49 minute album that seems to last 15. You start it up, realize nothing is going on, then before you know it you’re on the last track. A lot of that is because of the said production, but some of it is because the actual ritual atmosphere feels a bit forced. Now I realize that I shit on a lot of high budget acts for feeling “false”, or not super sincere. However I feel like it’s totally possible to both make something that is very well produced, while still feeling totally natural and not forced. A great example would be Panopticon. It’s obvious that that band has money and the means of producing well-polished material, but nothing feels like it’s trying too hard. Here, Rotting Christ distinctly sounds like an old band that’s trying really hard to experiment, but doesn’t quite know how.

I’m not even really sure if the experiment totally failed or not, because as I said before, I completely understand and follow what the band is trying to do. However while Rituals passes the test of execution, it passes with a C-, rather than with flying colors.


5/10

Battle Beast – Unholy Savior ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve been meaning to review this for a long time, ever since I started reviewing it’s seemed like an attractive album to review. It was popular, and it was a female fronted heavy metal band, something I’d never heard before. I also have a thing for well done heavy metal, and I always want to listen to more of it, but I didn’t have room for it on my backlog. Finally got to the point where I could add this album about a week ago, when I reset my backlog. One of my friends loves this band, so I was intrigued as to how it would be, considering his taste is not that great, mostly including really popular and entry level metal bands (not like metallica, but like Dimmu Borgir, Blind Guardian, Sabaton [so much Sabaton], stuff like that).

I will say that the female vocalist is not only different for a heavy metal bands, it work out very well for the most part. She does the soaring screams of heavy/power metal absolutely fantastically, almost to the point where I can’t tell that a women is singing. She also has a touch of roughness in her voice, so it doesn’t just sound girly even in the not so screaming sections. The problem comes in the soft sections. There aren’t many on this album, but on tracks like Sea of Dreams (which I’ll get to later in this review) the scratchiness of her voice just doesn’t sound right. Part of it is that there are certain things I except out ofa female voice depending on the situation. I have no background in heavy metal female vocals, so when she sings the real metallic parts, it’s a nice change of pace. But when I hear soft sections, I expect a soft female voice to soothe me. Her voice is not soft at all, and it challenges my preconceived notions of female vocals. Possible bias aside, it just doesn’t sound right to me. Actually, the entire track Sea of Dreams is awful, but again, that’ll come a bit later. Anyway, even when she does sing well, there isn’t a time in this entire album where I feel like a male voice wouldn’t be better. She doesn’t really add anything extra, she is just doing a really good replacement job. That’s all good for women’s rights and such, not so good for the music. It just seems like it’s a compromise to me, and that certainly detracts from the album.

One of the great things about heavy metal and power metal is the potential for awesome solo work. Death and black metal typically don’t have awesome melodies that legitimately sound epic, and don’t focus on how cool the epic whine of a guitar can be. The thing is that only works if you actually focus on melody. Battle Beast seems to just want to show off how fast they can finger tap. Most of the solos are essentially just scales and arpeggios played really fast, with the exception of the solo on Speed and Danger, which actually slows down a little bit and focuses on melody, and is consequentially the best solo on the album. And in general when this band actually does focus on guitar melody, good stuff follows. Unfortunately that’s not all the time.

Unholy Savior has some unholy use of symphonic and 80s styled synths in their music. The worst of it being on Sea of Dreams, and Touch in the Night, both the worst tracks in the album by far. The problem isn’t the fact that they add these elements, it’s how bad it sounds with them. They don’t utilize the symphonics enough to actually make a serious element to this album, it really just sounds like they’re adding for generic epicness effects, and it fails. The worst though is the 80s styled synths. Sea of Dreams literally sounds like a 1980s pop rock track, in every bad way imageinable. Start for the fact that you don’t actually hear a guitar until about 2 minutes in, and then the fact that it doesn’t even sound like a metal track until about 3:30, which is a result of a supposedly emotion climax gone horribly wrong. It really breaks the cheese meter in an awful way, which is made worse by the fact that it was absolutely not needed in this album. Actually they could’ve taken out about half the tracks on this work on it would’ve been made infinitely better. Touch in the Night is the other track that uses these kind of synths, to an arguably even worse degree. The intro to this track is just bad, like really fucking bad. Like, this sounds like it comes from 1983 bad. I don’t who thought bringing back 80s pop style was a good idea, but they need to quit being the music business in 2015. The rest of the song actually instrumentally actually isn’t as cringeworthy, and rather good. It’s more the extremely sensual subject matter that is a bit… uncomfortable. As you can tell by the title Touch in the Night, it’s rather predictably about sex. But not in the “I’m gonna fuck dat princess booty” way, but in the “super cheesy romantic novel which uses 56 euphemisms for the word vagina” way. It really doesn’t belong in a metal album, period. Call me sexist all you want, it just doesn’t fit. I don’t want to come off as someone who thinks metal is a dudes only genre, but if it’s going to be about a girls fantasy, it needs to still have that kind of edge you expect in a metal song. This just seems like it has no edge to it, which to me just doesn’t sound right.

The final thing I really want to mention is how utterly useless the 8th and 9th tracks are. The 8th track, The Black Swordsman, is actually an intro to 9th track, Hero’s Quest. That doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize that these tracks are 1:15 and 2:31 in length respectively. The fact that the intro is almost half as long as the track it’s introducing is one thing, but the fact that they are in total less tan 4 minutes long is another. What makes it even worse is that The Hero’s Quest is completely instrumental. It sounds like there’s going to be lyrics, but it never comes, it just kinda ends with a whimper. Not only is there 0 reason to separate these tracks, there’s 0 reason to include them in the first place. They are the definition of filler.

Actually there’s a lot of filler in this album, in that only about 5 of the tracks are good, 4 of which being the first 4 tracks on the album. 3 are mediocre, 2 are completely useless, and 2 are really bad. I also have confusion as to why the title track, Unholy Savior, is the second track on a 12 track album. Not only is it the longest track on here, it’s clearly the best and would make a fantastic conclusion. Overall, Unholy Savior is all over the place and has a lot of lot of bad wrapped around the good that there is to hear. I can’t really give it a below average score because there is some god here, but I’m certainly giving it the lowest 5 I can possibly give.


5/10