Fallujah – Dreamless

In a twist of irony, Dreamless goes about to create a dream-like state, with spacey riffs, and electronic tracks, and makes an album whose entire premise has been done before, and done better. Fallujah has gone much more into the djent category, to the point where I would almost say this is more djent than tech death. Rarely do the guitars have that monstrous growl you find in death metal, mostly residing on a clean, gutteral, mechanical burps you find in djent. While there is plenty of technicality, I feel like any melodic composition is thrown out the window in favor of atmosphere, and by atmosphere I mean ambient chugging. It doesn’t feel like a tech death album, or at the very least, feels like a tech death album that went through the entire Nuclear Blastify process, instead of showing any kind of resistance. Any time you have that many guest artists for the vocals on a death metal album, you know something is not right. Dreamless feels like manufactured product, made specifically to be sold to the masses.

And that wouldn’t be so bad if the ideas on the album were at least somewhat coherent. Tracks like Adrenaline sound like the band picked what fucking ideas they thought of in the shower, and threw any that sounded good in the track, without thinking on whether it made a coherent song. And to be fair, in the most superficial level possible, it definitely “sounds good”. This is one of those albums that doesn’t really have a defining lovable aspect to it, or any reason for me to heavily praise it, but I’m sure if I listened to this as just background music for uh, idunno, whatever the fuck people who listened to the Black Dahlia Murder one time and then posted on facebook about how they’re ordering the satanic bible from amazon prime do for fun, I would probably very much enjoy it.

Dreamless lacks any sort of depth or replay value that’s required for a great album, but for a commercial product I can’t really fault it for having it’s, well, faults. It’s a pretty nice album. It’s the epitome of a band selling the fuck out, and basically represents a lot of what is wrong with commercial technical death metal. But it’s nice enough.


6/10

Haken – Affinity

Very rarely do I listen to an album more than twice when reviewing it. This is almost entirely due to the fact that I’m massively stubborn, and very rarely does my opinion of an album change after first listen. I can count on one hand the number of times it’s changed drastically (three). Affinity is an exception, however not quite to the point of me being able to say I loved my listening experience. Initially I was bored by the generic chord changes, cheesy atmosphere, and the overall sound of a dime a dozen prog album. I gave it a 3/10 and moved on. A month later however, here I am, giving it over double the score I would’ve given it at the time of initial review. Have I changed? Not really. I got a bit of an appreciation for “generic” chord progressions, but other than that I’ve mostly stayed the same. The one thing that has changed is that I didn’t go into it desperately wanting to hate it. Any album that is labeled a generic prog metal/rock is almost always an instant dislike for me, and considering Haken has been a poster boy for generic, over the top, and cheesy modern prog, I went into the album wanting to hate it, and that’s what I got. On second chance however, I have come to appreciate it for what it is, while still maintaining that it has some serious flaws.

The two biggest elements that have been added to Haken’s repertoire are heavy djent and electronic influences, though RateYourMusic apparently disagrees, because prog fanboys are retarded. While on the surface those aspects seem like not only typical sellout tropes for prog bands, but also should be a massive annoyance on the listener. And to a degree that’s right. On The Architect these elements are combined into an extremely long opus that’s full of variety, but none of it enjoyable or even remotely worth making a track that long for. I very much actually enjoyed tracks like 1985 and Earthrise, despite their over the top and corny as all fuck faux 80s aesthetic (hence the faux retro cover). And the djenty, off rhythmic aspects of The Endless Knot actually makes for a killer track to bob your head to. Hell, generally speaking I actually enjoyed most of the fake aesthetic and djent aspects of this album. Sans the weird brostep like drop on Endless Knot (which actually prevented it from being the best track on the album), even the electronic aspects were handled with some appropriate restraint. But The Architect just takes all of what Haken was doing right, dressed it up in a clown suite, strapped to a gigantic Garfield balloon, and sent it off in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with a sign attached reading “kill me”.

However overall, while I still can’t really recommend this as something I really like, I can see why people like it, and if anything present a precedent for me not to automatically shit on any modern prog that doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Because just because you didn’t change the shape of music, doesn’t mean you didn’t release an acceptable album, even if that’s the supposed purpose of your genre.


6.75/10

ERRA – Drift

Ok fine, I’ll stop playing league to post something, but only because I’m on tilt and don’t want to get demoted.

Imagine Periphery, except 10x more generic, with superficial technicality (because I guess they wanted credibility or something????), and a vocalist that somehow manages to be even more generic than the music the band produces itself. I actually amazed, normally when I go into a record thinking I’m going to like it, I have a hard time giving it a bad score. But fuck me sideways, these guys pulled it off. I guess the later half of the record is “better”, if I can really call it that, but that’s more to a testament to how mind mindbogglingly boring the first half is. If you have heard a progressive metalcore album, you have heard this album before. The djent aspects seem to be there just because apparently that’s a requirement if you’re going to have -core and progressive in your genre tags. The djenty riffs have no real rhyme or reason to them, sounding more like they’re just trying to give a vague sense of trendiness, than any sort of actual rhythm or structure any good djent band creates. To be honest I just looked at porn the entire second half of the album, because I figured I wouldn’t get through it any other way. But I couldn’t actually find anything good, so I basically just spent the time looking at shitty deviantart tier r34 drawings while listening to music I hated. So congrats ERRA, you made looking at porn a miserable experience. Now please chug somewhere else where nobody can hear you.


4/10

Orbit Culture – Rasen

It’s pretty much impossible to make melo death, groove metal, and a touch of djent to come together into an outstanding work of music. But bless their hearts these guys try. The odds are so stacked against them that they don’t succeed in making this album anything more than listenable, but I’m giving them some bonus points for effort. For free on bandcamp cancer metal, this is pretty dang good.


6.25/10

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.


cover

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


Cover

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

 

 

After the Burial – Dig Deep ALBUM REVIEW

Someone send help, I like the new After the Burial record. And not just like, I fucking love this thing. Why? Because the riffs are fucking amazing that’s why. Dig Deep legitimately bats 1.000 in terms of riffs. I was actually fucking amazed that they didn’t slip up once, every riff this band attempts is great. I want to especially talk about the first three tracks, which in terms of pure hardcore djent, are just about perfection. Collapse is up there with Akroasis in terms of tracks this year that I replayed numerous times. I mean just holy fuck that opening riff. Such a powerful way to start the album, sucking you in to a world of riffage unseen from any other djent album this year.

It gets a little bit shakier when they try to be more melodic. Not because they do it poorly, quite the opposite in fact, but because it feels like much more of something I’ve heard before. One of the things that immediately sucked me into this album was that it felt like hardcore, minimal tonality djent album that wasn’t a Meshuggah clone. That’s done basically never, at least not done well. So while 4 out of the 9 tracks are more of the traditional djenty variety, the other 5 are more ingrained the melodic metalcore variety, with djent riffs scattered throughout. While I do prefer the group of 4 to the group of 5, no track on here is a disappointment, delivering great melodic and riffage goodness every time (with the possible exception of the last track, that’s the only one that maybe dips below an 8/10).

However despite how consistent the tracks are, there are two things that prevent me from going into the 9/10 territory. For one, the album has a bit of a one dimensional nature, lacking any sort of special extras that are needed to elevate an album to higher territory. Like I said, it has riffs, it has melody, but nothing else really supplementing it, not even really completing the triumvirate with any sort of atmosphere. Which leads me to my last criticism, that the album is really in an need of a final 7-8 minute “master track” to tie everything together. Right now it feels like a really well decorated christmas tree, but without the gold star or angel on top. It’s missing that extra 10% to cap everything off, where it pulls out all the stops and all the bands energy to deliver the best they have to offer. The 39 minute run time is just not quite enough for how good the music contained in it is.

Yeah I’m gonna get some looks for giving this a good score, but I like what I like, and to this, Dig Deep is a fucking awesome piece of music that deserve to be looked at as one of the top -core records of the last few years.

And yes, the air horn is awful. I don’t care, the album still rocks.


8.75/10

Textures – Phenotype ALBUM REVIEW

I’m just going to get it out of the way, I fucking hate Textures. Like, a lot. I see them as the band that single-handedly ruined djent and gave it to all of the scenecore bands to fuck up. Not only that, but even at their absolute best, they were a shitty Meshuggah clone, never original outside of coming up with the brilliant idea of adding metalcore to djent music. This trend continues with Phenotype, to absolutely no one’s surprise.

If you’ve ever heard a popular djent record in the last 4-5 years, you’ll know what this sounds like. High production value, forced as hell “harsh” bits to sound edgy, followed by dime a dozen clean vocals, with various other random shit thrown in so they can label it as prog. The cleans really are the worst aspect of this album. Every time I hear the vocalist open his mouth I just picture a man with the most punchable face imaginable, like that one guy with a nose ring that’s always playing shitty nirvana covers, with his expensive acoustic guitar his parents got him for barely having a 3.0 the first semester of his freshman year, outside a local coffee shop. Surprisingly, the music actually doesn’t sound that pretentious. In fact it’s the exact opposite, everything here is super safe and full of shit to pander to the populace. Not that there is literally nothing here worth listening (Illuminate the Trail is actually a pretty dang good track), but for every one thing this album does well, it does a fuckload more things very mediocre, even in the case of Zman, an entire track dedicated to emotional and cheesy piano that fits nowhere in the album, they do shit that’s so bad it makes me want to throw up.

Textures’ newest record is like a high budget action flick, with every stereotype you would expect. Except there isn’t any action. Instead of seeing giant robots fighting, you’re watching giant robots contemplating philosophy at a 9th grade level, pandering to those who don’t actually know anything about philosophy itself. For the average person, it’s an enlightening experience. For people who actually likes metal, it’s a complete waste of time.


3.5/10

Wanzwa – Wanzwa IV ALBUM REVIEW

Well I did it, I actually listened to this entire fucking album. And afterwards, all I can say is that I wasted 80 minutes. Is the musicianship here good, I guess. Are there some good ideas in here, at some points, yes. But therein lies the problem. Nothing about this album is necessarily bad, but you get 80 minutes of only ok material. No breaks either, it’s just straight djenty guitar playing for almost an hour and a half.  My ears legitimately had to be popped after listening to this, and I actually felt tired because of it, with no reward to compensate.

I normally really like instrumental progressive albums that have ideas that flow and evolve to tell a sort of story. I didn’t feel like I listened to a novel however, it felt more like I had just read 400 page, very dense math textbook, cover to cover, the difference being I didn’t learn anything useful. And I can only imagine that these guys really thought they were creating a spectacular epic with this album. I feel like this is the instrumental equivalent to ESC’s lyrics, full of undeserved pretension and superiority complex. They think the music they’re making is so quirky and cool but it’s really just dull and has been done better by many other bands.

Also is that fucking Jerry Messing with googly eyes on the cover? Because I can’t not see that. I’d like to imagine it is, simply because I imagine those are the kind of people that create music like this.


4/10