Church of Misery – And Then There Were None

If this album were a cereal it would be one of those store brand ones you find at safeway that lists all the vitamins it has and how their oats taste great but you know that when you put milk in it it’s going end up a mush of blandness and regret. At least it’s good for you.


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.


Deströyer 666 – Wildfire ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve played this through many, many times, and no matter how many times I go through it, I can’t get into it. It was really a journey for me to find out exactly what was the matter. And it turns out it’s something I’m sure most of you wouldn’t have though it was: it’s not extreme enough. I feel like I expected this to be a huge maelstrom of black thrashing, like a wild wolf savagely devouring its prey. Instead I get clean fucking vocals and parts that border on melodic black metal? What is this?

The production is so completely clean and professional that I can’t get into the aesthetic they’re trying to pull off. It’d be like if some 6’2″ blond haired, blue eyed handsome guy in a suit went up and started talking to me about how he just did a bunch of sacrificial murders in the name of satan and then ate the bodies. I mean I would probably believe him because let’s face it, if a guy actually walked up to you out of nowhere and started talking about the murders he committed, he’s probably delusional enough to be telling the truth, but the aesthetic wouldn’t be there (which is by far the most important aspect of a murder confession).

Aside from that, nothing on Wildfire at all stands out to me. Every track just sort of came and passed, wandering around the Tasmanian wasteland like I’m sure Deströyer 666 does when looking for creative sparks. The only tracks on the album that made any impact on me at all was Wildfire, Hounds at Ya Back, and Tamam Shud, all for very different reasons. Wildfire was the only track on the album that I liked, though I feel it’s only because the chorus of “WILDFIRE! WILDFIRE!” actually sounded pretty damn badass. The guitar tone was very early 80s black metal like, which coupled with the abrasive shouting of the title gave a really awesome look into what the band is trying to accomplish in this record: retro black thrash with a modern twist. I feel like the entire rest of the album feels like there’s much more modern twist than retro black thrash, which makes the whole message seem a bit disingenuous. Hounds at Ya Back is noticed for the entirely opposite reason, in that the chorus there sounds almost more like a harsh Sabaton than anything else, which just totally takes me out of the track, which had previously had a completely black metal vocal delivery.

That’s actually a major reason why I have such trouble appreciating this album. I feel like the black and the thrash never fully coexist for an entire track. It’s more like they’re switching back and forth, sometimes multiple times in one go. It never feels cohesive, almost like they’re competing for power rather than working together. It’s disjointing and confusing, but not as confusing as the entirety of the last track that left an impression.

Tamam Shud just shouldn’t be on here, period. It’s almost melodic black metal with clean vocals, on an album of which neither of those things should be present. I’ve talked about how I like it when albums have a final longer track that ties everything together, putting the band’s best effort forward. This is not an album that should have that. If anything, I would’ve been perfectly ok with Hounds at Ya Back being that track, despite the fact that I didn’t think it was great. Here we have this mid pace “epic” (I guess?) to finish an album that’s supposed to be fast and furious, in and out, coming and going faster than a virgin with a porn star. It just doesn’t fit anything else on here, which is ironically fitting considering the entire album feels like it just shouldn’t be here. Wildfire just doesn’t feel like the album it should be at all.

So yeah, I panned this. You can say I have shit taste for liking After the Burial and not thinking this is that great, that’s fine. That’s why opinions are great, because they vary from person to person, and nobody’s are exactly the same. Although it would’ve been at least kind of nice is Deströyer 666 had the same opinion as to what their music should sound like that I did.


Winterage – The Harmonic Passage ALBUM REVIEW

I feel like I have to give at least some kudos to any band that uses actual symphonic instruments instead of midis. Or at the very least, uses extremely high quality midis so that I can’t even tell they’re midis. It’s even better when the actual instrumentation and use of these actual instruments is very well done. Symphonic metal is a genre full of so much absolute garbage, in that so many bands try to imitate the classical music sound, but contain absolutely none of the substance. I’ll give this band a 1 1/2 on a scale of 0-2 in accomplishing either of those things.

The album opens with a recognizable sound of instruments playing the standard concert favorite “tuning”. And I won’t lie, it sounds god awful. I know what tuning sounds like, and this was an extra special kind of bad. Tuning should never sound like a dying animal unless it’s at a middle school band concert. Fortunately the very next time they play it sounds infinitely better, I would even venture to say good. Really one of the major things to comment on this album is how well they execute the symphonic instruments. Sure, it sounds like glorified movie music, but that’s pretty much every single symphonic bands idea of classical, so I’ll somewhat excuse that. It’s the fact that it’s not shit that’s more important. The rest of the album is a mixture of symphonic metal and folk metal (duh) tracks, mostly leaning on the folk side. One track I did find particularly enjoyable was the ninth track “La Grotta Di Cristallo”, in which the main focus is maritime, coastal canadian (even though they were probably aiming for Irish) folk music. It’s really well done, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call it authentic, it’s about as good as it gets for an imitation. The final track concludes the album with an approximately 9 minute track that heavily quotes Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. It’s both a nice tribute, and a bit of a tacky cover (it really could’ve done without ending with a music box playing the melody as the song fades away). In all honesty, this is a good attempt to create symphonic metal that doesn’t make me want to hurt people when I hear it.

But I am not so easily appeased. Here’s a hint: if you’re going to make a 70 minute album, make each song count. Otherwise it’ll just all sound like filler and you’ll get a totally uninterested listener who loses track of where they are in the album and doesn’t even really care at that point. My mind tended to wander as I listened to this, and I never got fully engrossed in this album. A lot of the songs sounded like filler, even if they weren’t necessarily meant to be. Typically when all else fails, that’s when the vocalist comes to salvage the day, right? Wrong, very much wrong. While I definitely can appreciate the extremely high pitched soaring roars of the voice, that doesn’t particularly matter when your english sounds awkward. That’s why I typically like it when bands from other countries sing in their native tongue, because it sounds so much more natural, even if I can’t understand the lyrics.

The Harmonic Passage is a good attempt at symphonic metal that succeeds more than it fails, which is a lot more than I can say for other bands of that genre. At the very least, this was much more riff based music, which is always a plus in power metal. But ultimately it has many of the same faults that other bands of the type have, and coupled with the extremely long length with not enough substance, make this hard to view this work as anything other than just above-average.


Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve always personally thought Blind Guardian was an overrated band. Not a bad band, but they certainly did not live up to their extremely high ratings. Part of that is I feel like every album tries way too hard to be epic, like it’s some profound adventure or something. The problem is it really isn’t. Nothing about Blind Guardian is really epic in any way, except for maybe the fantasy movie tier string section. Epic is Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. That’s a power metal-esque album that has progression and great solos, like an actual adventures. Blind Guardian’s form of progression seems to be through songs that are different (but not that much so), but don’t really connect to each other, at least musically (I wasn’t really focusing on the lyrics, as power metal lyrics are not typically wondrous). This album specifically abuses the harmonic minor as if it’s a profound statement, but really it’s just one shoelace on a shoe, you can’t make an album with that. In short, there’s really nothing spectacular about this, it’s pretty good, nothing groundbreaking, but as always, Blind Guardian fans will come in droves and rant about how epic is it that a band is using an orchestra in the most superficial manner possible. Nothing has changed in the almost 30 years of this bands existence, and probably never will change.


Dynfari – Vegferð tímans ALBUM REVIEW

Post-rock influenced anything has the potential to sound massively cheesy and generic, and this isn’t really that different. The main style of the album mostly doesn’t change, and is mostly just screaming over alt-metal-like chord progressions. What saves it from total mediocrity is that the last three tracks, Vegferd I-III, are actually really great, especially the first two, which is really the only point in the album where something different happens. But mostly this album is just going for your feels, like any post-rock, and you end up thinking “yeah, this is nice I guess, but I’ve already heard this before”. However I still would rate this album as above average, as it doesn’t really do anything particularly wrong other than not being very different.