Kurushimi – Kurushimi

You know that one scene in spongebob where Squidward goes to the hyper future where the universe is all white and there’s just lots of weird shit going on? Like it doesn’t really seem like hell, more like this abstract dimension he’s trapped in that’s seemingly mocking him for his behavior. Imagine being squidward here. You brag about your clarinet skills but everyone knows you’re ass at it, you’re an asshole to the more genuine person you know, and you have your head so far up your own butt you can smell your small intestine. And now through your own fuck ups, you’re stuck in a world that is the very extreme of all you stand for. One that seems like an ironic punishment straight out of dante’s inferno. Now imagine that, but there’s also a giant fucking demon chasing after you the entire time. That’s this album.


Helion Prime – Helion Prime ALBUM REVIEW

Holy mother of hell this is awesome. Picture this: female fronted power metal that is NOT over the top cheesy or cringeworthy in the slightest. Actually, let’s just put that as a female fronted power metal band that isn’t over the top at all. Hell we could simplify that to a power metal band that isn’t over the top, but it’s more impressive with a factor that’s often used as a detriment. When you think of female fronted power metal bands, you think of shit like Epica and Nightwish, shit that just goes above and beyond corsetcore. Not that those bands are inherently bad, but it’s certainly something you’re going to take with big old grain of “the people who listen to this probably masturbate to Harry Potter fanfiction” salt. In general, power metal bands with female vocals always have this feeling that while it sounds nice, a male voice would feel more natural. Helion Prime doesn’t give a fuck about that. They don’t care about any preconceived notions of what power metal should sounds and they do that in the best way possible: they accept all preconceived notions of what a power metal band should sounds like, and abide by them.

I know that sounds a bit confusing, so let me explain. One of the reasons women are not seen as much in metal is because of how masculine the genre is. Songs about gore, guts, satan, and drugs doesn’t sound like what a typical girl would foray into. And the community takes good measure to keep it that way, being sort of a no girls allowed club. That takes a step further with power metal. Power metal is stereotypically all about dragons, warriors, history, and lots of men doing manly things. It is the stereotypical metal for nerdy white men. Hell, Visigoth made an album literally about DnD last year. Power metal is the ultimate anti-girl vaccine. So naturally people tend to assume when an icky girl is involved in their just for men metal, it’s going to be subdued, lighter, and have cooties all over it. Going away from power metal for a second, it’s the reason people hate Myrkur so much, because she took something as dark, evil, and manly as black metal, and supposedly lightened it up.

Helion Prime doesn’t do that. This s/t is a concept album about fighting aliens in outer space. The vocals that had the potential to be so misused, not only are on par with what a male vocalist could do, it sounds BETTER. It gives the music a lighter, more upbeat quality, but not in a way that makes the story and tone of the album any less impactful. It doesn’t feel handicapped, it just feels different in a good way. I know I went on a lot about one aspect of the album, but I just wanted to hammer home how awesome I think it is that a band can break the gender barrier in a correct way: by not changing a damn thing of the genre to fit a more feminine style.

Onto other aspects here, the choruses are unbelievably catchy, especially on tracks like Life Finds a Way. There’s a sense that a lot of work was put in to every individual song to feel distinct and memorable. It doesn’t have the massive amount of gadgets and gizmos that all the other big production bands. There are no symphony orchestras, not folk instruments, no skits, nothing. It doesn’t do anything fancy, and comes out as feeling refreshingly natural. It just flows through so well, with every track feeling like a distinct moment in the story. Even though there is a moderate amount of chugging here, it feels more like a tool to establish rhythm rather than just filler (in about 95% of the cases, there are times where it slips into filler territory just a bit). The one negative thing I can really say here is the solo work ranges from pretty good to mediocre. I kept waiting for that one amazing solo to blow me away, and I kind of got it at Ocean of Time, but everything else just felt ok, nothing more.

Other than that, this is a fantastic work of power metal that besides breaking gender tropes, is also an amazing piece of music. Tumblr, if you’re looking for an album to actually show that women can do just as well as men in metal, please choose this one.


The Body – No One Deserves Happiness ALBUM REVIEW

The Body has always been one of those bands that’s bordered on the edge of “is this actually metal?” at times. And that’s gotten them both acclaim and dissent from the metal community. Because the truth is the metal community doesn’t often take too kindly to massive experimentation of the non-metal variety in metal albums. Many see it as the invitation to the hipster community to love metal, of which as they do everything, will lead to the further degeneration and destruction of metal as a whole. And this isn’t totally wrong, we’ve already seen plenty of shitty pitchforkcore metal albums come out specifically because the general populace has grown more into the more extreme genres of metal. However, that doesn’t faze me when going into this record. Because I like weird shit. If you’ve followed my reviews for the short time that I’ve been doing them, you might’ve caught on that i love really strange and experimental metal, which often involves me giving “random bandcamp album #2324” a 10/10. This is because smaller bands typically do shit that no other large band would even think of doing, because of the risk of losing fans, which equals losing money. The Body isn’t exactly the largest band in the world, but they’re known, and they have quite a following. The difference being The Body has built their image on some of the coldest, hate induced music of any major band right now. No One Deserves Happiness is no different. The Body has created a masterpiece that speaks to everyone who has ever wished ill will on other people or themselves, and those who’s cynicism and pessimism has controlled them to the point of no return.

Even since people have actually started using the descriptors feature of RYM albums I’ve seen the tag “misanthropic” on pretty much any album that’s dark in the slightest. The tag is almost a joke at this point, one that always hypes me up but never delivers. So again, on this record I got the it’s page and sure enough, that tag is there, calling to me another massive let down. Except when I put this on, there was no letdown. This is some of the most anti-social music I’ve heard that wasn’t just noise. And it’s all done by the implementation of industrial sounds in combination with the droning heavy guitars. I think the evilness of machinery is quite underestimated among most music fans, especially those who love metal. One of the reasons black metal sounds so evil is because of the hollow and cold guitar tone associated with it. It sounds distant, cold, detached. However I feel like there’s still some human emotion attached to them, mostly in the fact that they actually play tonal notes. So no matter how black you make the guitar, there’s always going to be some sort of warmth involved. Machines don’t have that. They just have pure, cold, noise. There is no warmth of human flesh attached to those sounds, no familiar imperfections or touch. It’s just noise. But that can be said of any electronic album, why does it work so well here?

It’s because of the combination BETWEEN both the warmth and the cold. In combination with the bleeps and bloops we have warm, down to earth guitars. We have soothing, soft female vocals that almost seem to be sarcasm at times, and at others beckoning those who reject humanity to come back to the comfort of man. We have distant, fuzzy screams, as if a response to the vocals, yelling “NO, let me suffer in peace!” We have a distant and quiet production, which I initially criticized, but came to realize made everything else even more detached. The amazing part of No One Deserves Happiness is that even things I would normally see as imperfections are done so well in context that I see them as strengths. There are tracks where we do see some actual melancholy tonality, something that you would take for granted on basically any other record. Normally I would look at that and think “wow that really doesn’t fit in context of what I’ve heard so far”. But god dammit it works here. Specifically on The Fall and the Guilt, we have a track with pianos and violins, combined with angelic female vocals, contrasted with the guttural, doomy guitars and noisy background fuzz. It shouldn’t work but it fits perfectly because The Body restrains themselves from going too all in on either aspect. There’s just enough of each one to work, no more, no loss.

Which is why this album is one of the best records this year. Because everything fits together perfectly. Not only does it accomplish its goal to almost perfection, but it goes beyond that, giving the listener a true misanthropic experience that I haven’t seen in a long time. I know this is isn’t going to get high ratings from most people, but I urge anyone who can give weird music a chance to let this masterpiece explain to them why humans are pure fucking garbage.


Chthe’ilist – Le dernier crépuscule ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve always heard these death metal albums that people describe as “cosmic” or “otherwordly” or of evoking some sort of science fiction motiff, and I’ve never really got it on any of those albums I tried. Le dernier crepuscule is the first album in which I actually GOT it. One which actually felt otherworldly and strange, as if from another planet. One which houses creatures from distant universes, intent of destroying all of mankind. And it all starts with those riffs.

God damn those fucking riffs. Sure, you could state the obvious and call them atonal, but that tells a mere fraction of the story. Atonal riffs is a staple of death metal. What makes these so special is how mechanical and alien like they are. They’re played jagged and almost robotic like, which just enough mathiness to it to feel jarring. But there’s this strange element of them that feel somewhat organic. Perhaps it’s the production, but I don’t get the feeling that I’m listening to robo riffs like in djent, but more riffs done by highly intelligent life from a distant galaxy/dimension. That this is music that is beyond our understanding, but not so much so that it feels divine. As if with enough evolution, we can come to understand this music. It’s alien, but not unfathomable.

Speaking of alien, how about those vocals huh? Yeah yeah, I know everyone is gonna comment about how they’re Nespithe 2.0, but I don’t quite see it that way. Nespithe’s vocals felt more like a demon from hell unleashing hymns of damnation and hatred onto the listening. These feel more creature like, again as if not from this world. Though I guess that depends on if you count hell as “part of this world”. But I really don’t think they’re what makes this album so special, despite the fact that they are unquestionably going to get the most attention.

What makes this album so special is its atmosphere. From samples of void creature noises, to the chaotic storm of noise that ends to album, to the fucking amazingly appropriate and strange seinfield bass on Voices From Beneath the Well (how they pulled that off I really don’t know), to slow, downtune of the guitars to end that same track, to the sporadic choir segments that travel from track to track, there are so many unique individuals moments and aspects of this album that bring together an atmosphere that’s both alien and palpable that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I haven’t even gotten to the solos, oh my god the solos. Technically proficient while also being dissonant, yet strangely pleasing to listen to, you could not have asked for a more perfect way to flesh out the main riffs of the track than what Chthe’ilist does.

A truly horrifyingly good album, Le dernier is a testament to how appropriate use of dissonance can create an entirely new kind of sound, unseen since Nespithe and Obscura. And it’s arguably better than both of those too.
EDIT: HOLY SHIT THEY PUT THIS REVIEW ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE. Major props to this band! And wow, I had no idea those monster “samples” were actual human vocals. That just makes this so much more awesome.


Mutant – Pleiades ALBUM REVIEW

Holy mother of fuck, where did these guys come from and why haven’t I heard of them before? Normally if I’m giving an obscure and unknown band a really high score it’s because despite its low production value, it does something incredibly unique and spectacular that I can ignore, or in the best case, embrace the fact that it’s not professionally made. This is not the case of Pleiades. No, despite being an almost completely unknown band (at least here in the states), Mutant crafted not only an album that sounds big budget and well produced, but takes the now stale and dying genre of thrash metal to a whole new level I haven’t seen this century. And yes, that includes Vektor.

Before even attempting to listen to this album, you need to let go of all expectations of what thrash metal is supposed to sound like. Or better yet, don’t and be totally blown away like I was. Because this isn’t a revival album. This isn’t trying to bring back the glory days of thrash. No, this is Two Thousand and fucking Sixteen. It’s time for a new style for a new era.

The vocals? They’re so harsh they border on death metal at times. Which is fitting because the guitars are so downtuned there are times where it legit sounds like tech death. This is aggressive and angry as fuck thrash metal, so much so I have no shame in admitting that I head banged copiously and flailed around my dorm room like a retard on ecstasy. Makes me wonder what kind of image would come up if Google Earth happened to be taking pictures right by my window at that time, just in time to see a skinny guy in an Ahab shirt apparently having either the happiest or angriest seizure ever experienced.

But the kicker? That’s not all this album does. I’d say it’s barely over half actually. What separates his album over all other modern thrash is that it ISN’T just a headbanger, it ISN’T just aggressive, and it ISN’T a copycat album. You want to know what modern thrash sounds like? How about adding dark/tribal ambient sections to your music? I mean what better way to set up the mood for an album about the Mayan Apocalypse than setting the mood with dark, sinister synths, closing and beginning certain tracks as if warning as to what is to come.

You want modern thrash? How about tritones as your main chord. There are multiple sections in this album that show off these old school djenty / othodox black metal like tritone chords that I’ve never heard in a thrash album before. Now, it’s true that lots of old school thrash bands use tritones, but the way these two bands utilize them is entirely different. Thrash bands typically utilize the tritone found in a blues scale. So like they’re E a few times then hold a Bb, before descending back to E with A and G. So the scale would be E, G, A, Bb, Cb, D, E. A pretty common scale it lots of old rock, metal, and well uh, blues of course. However Mutant doesn’t do that. On Road to Xigbalba, the main chord of the track is A, Bb, E. Now, that sounds similar to a blues scale, because you played E to Bb, it would be a blues scale tritone. But not here, because the actual focus of the tritone is A and Bb. The scale ends up being A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A. Do you know what that fucking scale is? THAT’S FUCKING A PHRYGIAN. WHO THE FUCK WRITES A THRASH SONG IN A, FUCKING PHRYGIAN? Classical musicians don’t even write music in that mode because it’s so archaic. It’s absolute madman level of crazy… but it fucking works. And it’s not even the only time they use atonal chords.

Oh but I’m sorry, that’s not enough cool shit? How about jazz chords as well. Actually you know what would be really cool in a thrash album? A song that begins as a full on dark ambient track, transitions perfectly into a jazz prog track, and then transition again IN ABSOLUTE PERFECTION into an aggressive, melodic, proggy thrash track with an amazing mix of clean and harsh vocals. You want that? Of course you fucking do, and it’s on this god damn album on Children of the River, which I would say is the best track on the album, but I don’t even think I can decide that without feeling like I’m leaving another track out.

This album is absolutely everything thrash could be that it isn’t right now. It has all that I could want, but never have. In essence, this is the future of trash metal. If only people could actually give this a listen.


Mestis – Polysemy ALBUM REVIEW

Remember Animals as Leaders? Remember how so many people complained that they relied on an excessive amount of notes, and were just a pure wank band? Well imagine all of that minimized, and played in an almost trip-hop format. What do I mean by that? I mean every song is structured literally like a trip-hop beat. You got a grief intro, then the introduction of an idea, repeat it a few times, expand on it, and then repeat back to the main theme. It doesn’t sound to different from a traditional song the way I’m explaining it, but trust me, listen to the album and it’ll make sense.

So how does this work? Like pure fucking magic. Mestis took everything good about Animals as Leaders and then corrected all of their flaws. Too many notes, it’s too technical! Bam, got down to the bare bones without taking off all the meat. It jumps around there’s too many ideas! Bam, simplified it to one main idea per song. Djent sucks, this isn’t trve Norwegian NS raw blackened death crust avant-doom slam-hop! Well fuck you, that black robe and skull cod piece is probably protecting your tiny wiener from shriveling in the sunlight. Point is, this took an already fantastic band, and made them better in every single way.

I initially thought of this as simply a great record, mostly as fun background music. I imagine listening to this while walking down a Florida beach at sunset, feeling the waves softly crash against my feet. However I couldn’t help but notice as I was listening to this that I was enjoying this record a lot more than what my original proposed score (around 8.75) would indicate. Like, REALLY enjoying this. I started to realize that I was grinning cheek to cheek from listening, and that all my anxieties and worries I had for today had simply vanished. I was transported to another world. A world of pure tranquility and joy. And I got that same feeling in me. That same feeling I get when I feel like a record is an AOTY candidate. A record that should go on my pantheon of great records. I spent a lot of timing thinking about these feelings, debating with myself whether an album with what I would consider relatively little depth (the record is below 40 minutes and every song is less than 5 minutes long) could reach this pinnacle. But I realized this doesn’t need depth. If this record were 55 minutes and had some 10 minute behemoths on it, it would lose so much of its appeal. It would lose impact, and it wouldn’t make me feel so god damn happy listening to this. I’ve determined this album is in fact my AOTY so far, due to one simple fact: I simply haven’t enjoyed listening to an album more than this in years. And what is music but a vehicle for enjoyment?


Satan – Atom by Atom ALBUM REVIEW

Often regarded as a cult favorite, Satan is a relatively obscure heavy metal band that arose out of the NWOBHM period that never quite caught up steam with the general populace at the time (as well as being the answer to the question “is there a metal band that’s literally just named Satan”). While their most famous album Court in the Act has recently gotten more fame as the news of it’s greatness spread throughout the internet, they have still remained relatively unknown compared to many other Heavy Metal giants of the time. It doesn’t help that they don’t exactly have a consistent release schedule, the gap between their 3rd and fourth album being 15 years. However what they lack in consistent timing, they make up for in consistent quality. Satan has produced great album after great album, and Atom by Atom by just be the best of them all.

I’m going to start this off by making one of the strangest comparisons I think you make make between metal albums. Atom by Atom reminds me a lot of the Animals as Leaders debut. I know, that sounds insane, but bear with mere here. One of the things that makes the Animals as Leaders debut one of my favorite albums of all time is it’s evolution and progression of a theme throughout a track. It’ll take one idea and through logic and natural progression, evolve the track into a final product. Sometimes you end up right back where you started, other times you end up in an entirely different place. Most tracks on Atom employ the former, however you have examples of the latter, such as on the track In Contempt, which ends in an entirely different key as it began. But again, most of the songs on this album go full circle. They take a theme, and then explore that theme, while occasionally repeating it at appropriate times. To use In Contempt as an example again, there is a staccato arpeggio to begin the track, working as a bit of a warm-up for the main meat of the piece. The track goes on and right before the conclusion you hear that same apreggio, bringing the track to a fitting conclusion full circle, until as I mentioned before, it just says fuck you and ends in an entirely different realm (not a bad thing I’ll say). However what’s magic about all of this is that this repetition of a theme doesn’t feel tacked on or forced. It doesn’t sound like they drew 60% of a circle, and then drew a diagonal line to enclose it and call it complete. It feels like it just naturally evolves out of what came previously. As if that same theme just happened to be appropriate for that moment, just as it was at the beginning of the song. Of course, in comparing these two albums, it’s pretty obvious that Satan does this with about 1/4th of the notes as Animals as Leaders, but the general principal is still there. Every track has a beginning, and every track has a conclusion, with everything in between connecting the two.

Speaking of circles and conclusions, my absolute favorite track on the album has to be the last track, The Fall of Persephone. It feels funnily enough, like it’s the logical conclusion to the album. While unlike the individual tracks being a circle, as the album as a whole feels more like a collection of songs rather than on coherent slow of them, The Fall ties in all of the tricks the individual tracks use into one epic track. While this isn’t your stereotypical 10 minute behemoth to end the album, the 6:50 run-time is far and away the longest track on the album. From again reusing multiple themes, using solos that both act as a break and a transition to the next segment, and utilizing slight tempo changes to give it that progressive edge that’s a bit reminiscent of later Iron Maiden. The track feels like the final confrontation of a hero’s journey, a battle in which you must use all that you had learned in order to face the demo that awaits. This is all metaphorical of course. The Fall is anything but a final boss, rather it’s about the downfall of the queen of the underworld. However regardless of lyrical content, it acts as a fitting conclusion to a record full of that’s full of them.

Satan has much matured it’s sound since the days of old, and in my eyes that’s for the better. This feels like a record made by those who have grown a lot since their absence and have now created a sound that takes the good elements of their old work, while still improving on what they have made before. Atom by Atom is classic, yet with a modern twist, and safe, yet with a bit of a bite. The soaring scream at the very moment the album begins ushers in a soon to be 2015 classic, transcending, in my opinion, Court in the Act on it’s way to being the heavy metal album of the year.