Shortstacks – 3/3/2016

Only got two for you guys today, I’ll see if I can do more tomorrow. One of them was almost a full review, but I figured it was just a bit too short to warrant a spot. The batch today doesn’t really have any stinkers, just complete mediocrity, and one band that has potential, but hasn’t quite realized it yet. So without further adieu, here’s today’s Shortstacks.


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Mouth – Mouth

I feel like there’s a lot of potential for greatness here, but some things just hold them back. Mouth shows they have a fantastic knowledge of riffing in the first two tracks, but that doesn’t show up anywhere else on the album, offering instead of put out very droney, sludgy tracks. During those tracks they also demonstrate they can build an atmosphere, but especially on From Room / Communion of Her it just goes on way too long.

The shorter tracks are definitely the strengths here. They mostly consist of forward moving, muddying tracks that you can bob your head to, coupled with absolutely fantastic drum work. The drums really are the best aspect of this album. When used right, beyond having finesse, they move the pieces forward, to the point where every beat feels like one giant step, creating a driving force. However the guitars are more inconsistent. While yes, there are some pretty good riffs to behold here, the guitars mostly drone on one chord / “riff” (if you can really call it that). That can work in many circumstances, but in an album where half of its length is basically dedicated to those drones (over half actually), and the fact that in many cases they’re coupled with these softer vocals make the whole thing sound more lazy than atmospheric.

I enjoyed this, however I think the band has some growing up to do. This is only their debut, so I’m sure if they continue they’re grow into a fantastic sound. For now Mouth has potential, but is still largely an obviously amateur production.

6.25/10


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Typhus – Typhus

You know an album is gonna be good when one of their track titles spells fixation with two Xs. Basically just generic deathcore with djent shit thrown in so that the band can call it “progressive”. It’s got this pseudo Egyptian thing going on that I don’t really get, but it doesn’t matter because it’s never visible on the album for more than a few seconds at at time. Inoffensive, but not worth anyone’s time.

4/10

 

 

The Lion’s Daughter – Existence is Horror

I really wanted to like this, because really aggressive noisy sludge is a favorite of mine. However somehow, I leave listening to this completely unimpressed. It has some good riffage, the vocals are great, and the musical texture is exactly what I love, but I feel like this album just lacks so much personality. It feels like the band created this with the idea of mixing black metal and sludge, and then didn’t actually think of what else to put into the album. It’s like the entire purpose of this record is just for its genre mix, nothing more. It doesn’t help that this record is extremely short, meaning what value you do get from listening is not prolonged at all.

Existence is Horror, and also occasionally very bland and unmemorable. There’s a lot of good here, but none of that is expanded upon or added to anything. In the end, The Lion’s Daughter created a record that just goes in one ear and out the other, a passing experience in a lifetime of many others.


6.25/10

Anthrax – For All Kings ALBUM REVIEW

On initial reaction, it would seem like Anthrax managed to do the impossible and make a good album. In other news, hell froze over, North Korea remained their country “Happy Hugs and Chocolates Land”, and Chris-chan gained some self-awareness. And it’s really done by doing what they promised not to do in this album, by abandoning their thrash metal roots. Sure, it has elements of that in here, but for the most part, the album is full of heavy metal epics.

The music is mature, varied, and actually interesting to listen to. Breathing Lightning gave me CHILLS listening to it. Anthrax did that! Breathing is an uplifting, soaring, real POWER metal ballad. Not in the “lets sing merrily about Vikings and DnD” power metal, but in the way that it has power to give you positive energy and will. It’s an inspiring track and easily the best on the album, and the previous three aren’t slouches, being of similar inspiration levels.

And then track five hits and the album just… falls apart. Maybe that’s a little harsh, the rest of For All Kings isn’t bad. But it’s much more like their previous album, which was to be blunt, and steaming pile of concentrated misery, with some shit thrown in for flavor. They certainly upgraded their sound to a bit above tolerable, but nothing exceeds the level of “this isn’t that bad”. It was as if Anthrax spent months working on the first four tracks, and then realized “shit, we need to finish this album fast” and cashed it in for the next 30 minutes.

Disappointment does not even begin to describe my feelings towards this. I was actually a bit hyped to be that one guy who gave Anthrax a 9/10. It would’ve been cool for a band often forgotten, despite how well known they are, who others constantly dismiss even amongst their success, revitalize to create their strongest album almost 40 years after first started up. Of course, seeing as how they decided that quality really isn’t important enough to make an entire album of it, this was not meant to be. So once again, despite Anthrax showing that they are indeed capable of good music, Anthrax ironically “mails” it in, giving some hope, but nothing more than enough to hype up the “next time” for their next album.


6.25/10

Deafheaven – New Bermuda ALBUM REVIEW


As with any Deafheaven release, there are only two camps that are viable on the internet: those that think the release is the greatest thing since the caveman said “Hey, you can put it in the butt too!”, or those that think it’s the worst album of the year, and likely will lead to a second holocaust (which is mostly said by people who think the first one didn’t happen). New Bermuda is a really easy album to polarize. It’s got all the soft and fuzzy “hipster” elements of shoegaze, combined with the overly dramatic and cheesy post-rock chord progressions, and then just enough black metal aspects to give it an edge. And it’s really the black metal part that makes this album so hateable, because “trve” metalheads see a band that turns their walk in the middle of central park at 2am, into one taking place in the middle of the day with plenty of families around. Except they added just enough shady drug dealers to try fit in with the night crowd. It’s easy to see why many would call this patronizing and insulting, especially in the wake of the whole “starbucks metal” trend.

There was plenty of hope that New Bermuda would be a new beginning for Deafheaven, as many heard the singles and said that they were taking themselves much more as a black metal band this time rather than some sort of hipster agglomeration. And to a point, this is true. Unlike SUNBATHER, there are points in this album where it is disputable, 100% atmo black. No question. No gaze, no post-rock, just atmo-black. However those moments are relatively brief and seem very much tacked on. It feels like a very trying attempt to get cred with the metal in-crowd, rather than being seen as a controversial outsider. Which is confusing, because the rest of the album has almost no black metal in it at all. It feels like at times it just switches back and forth instead of being a coherent fusion.

The worst part is it’s not even necessary, as New Bermuda is so much better when there isn’t any black metal involved. Sure it has the typical amount of post-rock and blackgaze cheese, but there are enough interesting tidbits intermixed with that to make those aspects definitely worth listening to. Be it some jazzy chords, a very hawaiian guitar tone, some interesting samples, or various other things New Bermuda has to offer, there’s always a tease to the fact that Deafheaven has the potential to create something quite interesting and great. Unfortunately, this album is mostly tease without any fulfillment. There are so many great chords that go nowhere it’s heartbreaking. While the sample of rain coming down at a nice atmospheric touch, the sample of what seems to be some sort of announcement about future use of the George Washington Bridge is either way over my head, or makes absolutely no sense as to why it’s there in context with the music.

Despite having that one weird sample, Come Back is absolutely the best track on the album, mostly because it has the least amount of black metal in it. It feels much more prog rock and post-rock than anything else on the album, and even includes some heavy metal riffing, which came to a surprise to me. Of course at points it delves into watered-down blackgaze nonsene, but the rest of it I would even call somewhat groovy.

Deafheaven needs to stop trying to be a black metal band, because it’s clearly something they aren’t capable of executing well. Especially since there is so much potential to be a great, more progressive post-rock band. However despite all my criticisms, I actually don’t think this is a bad record at all. I’d even go as far as to say it’s pretty good actually. However as a whole, it’s a bunch of missed potential that’s the result of a band trying to appease a crowd it never will, doing something it’s not good at.


6.25/10

Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution ALBUM REVIEW

Fun album. That’s really all I can think of it as. It has the 80s thrash vibe to it, but it’s in a area where it’s corny enough to be silly, but serious enough to take itself a bit too seriously. I’ve always viewed thrash as something that should aim to be crazy and out there, letting your primal instincts take over and to just let go. This takes itself just seriously enough to where i can’t quite smile while listening to it, but I can definitely headbang at certain parts, which is always good. Ultimately this is a good album, but not quite something that energizes me as much as it should. I will say that the last track (which is also the title track) is pretty damn cool, and really brings some “epicness” to and album mostly consisting of short songs.


6.25/10