No Man’s Valley – Time Travel

Two first’s here; first psych rock album I’ve reviewed, and first non metal album I’ve reviewed this year. And as it turns out, both of those factors breed success. No Man’s Valley’s Time Travel is an exquisite, psychedelic rock record that doesn’t let on to the band’s current amateur and unknown status. The production is absolutely fantastic, sounding like a majorly influential psych rock album from the 80s-90s, rather than some random bumfuck’s record in 2016. Almost every track is a hit, but I especially have to point out Killer The Bees as my favorite. That sarod (?) line is going to be stuck in my head for a while now.

The trouble is for as much as I like this, it’s hard to come up with shit to say about it, for various reasons. For one, you do have complete stinkers like The Wovles are Coming, which is the only track on here that doesn’t tack advantage of the psychedelic atmosphere that tinges the record, giving it the sound of someone warping through the time continuum. It’s generic stoner rock and isn’t memorable in any way, which would’ve be too bad if the album gave us more chances to have memorable moments. Time Travel is just around as short as this review is going to be, not even clocking in at 35 minutes. It feels more like an extended EP than a proper album, and that doesn’t really fit what is apparently a concept album. It’s like giving us the abridged version of a much longer story. You know those classics abridged books that were popular back in the late 90s? They looked just as thick as the original books, but that’s because the font was huge and every other page had a picture? And I mean I loved them when I was like 11, and at that age I’m like “wow these are great, I’m so good at reading for getting through these hard books!”, even though they’re like 200 pages and have 40 pages worth of words. I sort of feel like that here. Obviously with tracks such as Love or Axe Murder, this album isn’t kids friendly, but it feels like a shortened version of a much greater story that we’re all missing out on. Perhaps this album is just a feeler album that the band is putting out before doing something greater. This is their debut album, so who knows what they will do in the future. However it would’ve been nice to get at least 10 more minutes of the time travel blues.

But who am I kidding, this is still great. I’d much rather albums be too short than too long, every single time, and even if there are two stinkers (the finale, Goon, is massively disappointing for it’s length and has awful piano sections), 6 out of 8 is good, especially when 5 of those are fantastic. I’m don’t have a massive amount of experience in this kind of music, so my perspective is quite limited, I’ll be the first to admit that. But for what it’s worth, I enjoyed the fuck out of this, and would recommend this to anyone who wants a trip from a relatively underground source.


7.75/10

Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä ALBUM REVIEW

The easy way to review this would be to just say it’s too long and a bit boring. In the midst of massive amounts of schoolwork and life issues, that would be something I would love to do. But, I already haven’t done a review in a few days, and the last two weren’t even really solid reviews anyway. So I might as well give this thing a full go.

Yes, overall Värähtelijä is a bit too long, and a bit boring at times. But the issue is much more complex than that, because there are plenty of amazing moments in this album, and despite my so far superficial criticisms, I liked this album. I was immediately drawn in by the hypnotizing riffs that felt like a clock swaying back and forth across my eyes, drifting me into a state of unconsciousness. Then the keyboard organ flew into my sight, caressing my ears with a psychedelic flair. I felt like I was in some sort of 60s satanic ritual, perhaps part of one of Levay’s if he gave everyone acid. The atmosphere was incredible, however at this point I started to get a bit TOO mesmerized. To but bluntly, I was annoyed. Annoyed that that damn riff kept playing in the background. And here is where I came upon the main problem of this album. It’s just so damn monotonous.

Oranssi Pazuzu has a lot of great ideas here. Every track is based around an idea that on it’s own, could spawn a billion different variations, twists, and turns. However the only track that ever really goes into that is the 5th track, Vasemman käden hierarkia, and that’s because A. It’s the longest track in the album by far, clocking in at 17+ minutes, and B. it’s basically split into two separate sections, meaning there’s two real ideas going on here. The major problem with every track on Värähtelijä is that they ARE only based on one real idea, and never really change in timbre at all. I get that songs need a backbone, something to base all of the other ideas off of. But you can’t just go totally off backbone alone. If you’re going to make tracks that are this long, you need variety, simple as that. And while there certainly is a variety of different instruments and quirks, there color of the song stays consistent throughout the entire length of the track. It’s like how you can’t win a baseball game without getting past first base. You need to touch the other bases, then come home.

In related sports metaphors, you also can’t win a football without reaching the endzone, which every track on the album fails to do. There never is a conclusion to any of the tracks, or any kind of finality at all in this album. There’s always so much buildup that never goes anywhere, or ever reaches a climax, with the exception of on the middle of 5th track. Now you can argue that that’s intentional, forcing the listener to feel uneasy and unsafe. That’s fair, because this album absolutely succeeds in doing so. But it also leaves me feeling unsatisfied and at times, very annoyed. In particular, on the 6th track, Havuluu, there was a riff that is just incredulously repeated over and over and over again. It’s clearly an intentional act meant to cause this previously stated sense of uneasiness. But people have feelings and limitations, so no matter how much artistic merit something has, if I don’t want to hear it, it’s not going to work on me. I actually go so turned off by that track that the final song basically just went right over my head. Part of that was that I had already been listening to this for an hour, and the other was that the final track isn’t that memorable in the first place. It felt so damn neutral, like I was trapped in purgatory, without any of the horror that entails.

Now despite me taking a big old shit on this album, I’m actually going to give this a recommended seal. Because I can complain and nitpick like a douchebag all I want, it will never change that at its core, this album sounds really cool. Like, REALLY fucking cool. I can honestly say I’ve never heard any album remotely similar to this in terms of style and sound. While that alone isn’t a reason to love something, I feel like despite its flaws, Oranssi executes this unique blend of seemingly unrelated genres well enough to earn my overall enjoyment in listening.

As a story, Värähtelijä preforms poorly, reading like a dadaist novel made by someone who doesn’t actually know what dadaism is. There’s no real plotline, no real structure, and no real ending at all. It’s more like strange words on a page that seem to make sense together, but don’t form anything coherent as a whole. On top of that it seems like every chapter seems to repeat one word in particular way more than any of the other words for no real describable reason, other than to force a main theme. The story ends with a sentence that seems to belong in the middle of the book, leaving the reader confused and unsure of what they just read.

But as a soundtrack to a spooky underground art film, destined to be circulated throughout the gallows of the internet until it’s ultimately ruined my memes? I’d be down for that.


7.25/10

Dark Buddha Rising – Inversum ALBUM REVIEW

For the record, I’m a huge DBR fan. They’re one of the first metal bands I ever listened to, even before I really got into it. This goes back to high school, when I thought that the subgenres of metal were basically just labeled how hardcore they were, and me thinking Mayhem was some of the most evil shit I’ve ever heard. DBR was a good medium between super scary evil, and just dark enough to peak my interest. Eventually, when I stopped listening to music through youtube videos, I went through their whole discography to an ultimately pleasant outcome. Good stuff all around, nothing super elite. But I did discover one thing: DBR is one of those bands who in order to get the most out of their music, you need to listen to high. I’m not the kind of person who thinks that all music is better high, or that you need to smoke weed whenever listening to stoner doom. But there is a very clear difference in experiences of DBR music in the two states. Sober DBR is great to good music depending on the album, has nice climaxes, but doesn’t blow you away, especially if you’ve heard their music before. High DBR is a life-changing experience that transcends you to another realm, and might also cause you to create a war between the cheetos and the cherry tomatoes (which is kinda messy but very entertaining).

However I did review this sober, so I’ll be writing on that front. This was one of my most anticipated albums of this year, as I was hoping they would fix their problems of their last album, namely length and creativity. I’ll give them a 1.5/2 for this album. Length they certainly fixed, being at a very reasonable 47 minutes, compared to the over 70 minute time of their last album. Creativity is a bit of an issue. Inversum is split into two tracks, ESO and EXO. ESO sounds like a stereotypical DBR track, with all the same buildups, riffs, and samples that have been repeated in their previous albums multiple times. It sounds decent, but after so many albums of a similar sound, it starts to lose it’s luster. EXO by comparison, is a infinitely more interesting track. And strangely enough, this is because it shows that this band has a soft side. The opening to EXO is actually quite calm and atmospheric, something you don’t normally hear in this bad at all. Of course in the latter bit it builds up to the strong, dark, crushing climactic riff, but the buildup feels so much sweater here as there was actually some contrast. Turning up the volume from 60-100 isn’t going to create nearly as much of an impact as going from 20-100 after all.

I really think the next step in DBR’s evolution is to fiddle around with different dynamics throughout the ENTIRE song, rather than just building up. Maybe having multiple climaxes throughout the track, variations, or heck at least something other than the 3-4 riffs they play. Basically just some variety would be all they needed to be one of the best doom metal bands out there.

In short, if you’ve heard their last few albums, you’ve heard this album. I’d really only recommend this to those who are unfamiliar with this band, or someone who has some high quality weed sitting around their house. Otherwise, DBR certainly doesn’t drop the ball in the slightest, but they don’t really do anything they haven’t done before.


7/10

Domovoyd – Domovoyd ALBUM REVIEW

This had all the makings of an album I would love. Stoner Doom is my favorite genre. It had psychedelic influences that I love. The album had both progression and atmosphere to it. And also that is some sick cover art. And I really hate to give it a score like this, because concept wise it doesn’t deserve it. But sometimes it’s not really the big things that make an album not top tier, it’s just a bunch of somewhat little things that add up. That’s what happens in this album and it makes up one of the biggest “almost but not quite”s of this year.

First off I want to say that the intro track is absolutely amazing. Quite honestly had this been just the first track and it had been an ep, I would probably give this a 9. The start of it builds up tension perfectly with the violin and cello drones, along with the psychedelic wah-wahs of the guitar. Really what makes a lot of this so amazing is infact the trippy, psychedelic atmosphere of the track. It gives a pseudo 70s feel to it, albeit heavier overall. And just when it’s about to release that tension, it cock-blocks you and coolsdown. Another great part about this track is it’s ability to cooldown from the heat of the buildup so perfectly. Which then leads to a miniclimax, which continues the nature of the buildup but with the introduction of heavy, sludgy guitar tones. The problem comes when the vocals come in. Probably the single biggest flaw with this album is how unfitting the vocals are. I wouldn’t call them bad, as along they’re just plain mediocre, nothing special. But they never seem to fit in with the music no matter what style they do them in. At the first climax they seem just too nasally for the heavy tone of the track. After that there’s another cooldown, but this time with an increase in tempo that adds a nice change of pace. I also want to take this time to comment on how awesome the bass is on this album when it actually has a bit of focus to it. Really riff focused instead of just keeping counterpoint or letting you know what key the track is in, which is always a plus. I love bass when it’s done well, and have always been found of when bass gets either a solo, or isn’t just left to never be heard with the rest of the music. I really do think that’s one of the strengths of stoner doom, the ability to bring out the bass and give it a chance to shine. The final climax on the intro track comes close to the end, and keeping with the overall excellence of the entire song, delivers most of what you could hope for. I really wish the drums weren’t as loud however, they seem to drown out some of the rest of it, which is really unnecessary when you should be focusing on literally anything else. The vocals, once again, are also not up to part, as the far away sounding roughish vocals, while theoretically fitting in, don’t really seem right in context. Still though, it’s an amazing first track, and sets up high expectations for the rest of the album

Which isn’t really delivered. The entire first half of the second track is, to put it simply, lame. Nothing particularly goes on except for generic heaviness, and not really the bonecrushing kind, but the “yeah I guess that’s kinda heavy” kind. I will note that the solo on the latter end of the second track is fucking amazing. It plays along a harmonic minor, which is pretty standard for stoner doom, but with the extra added epicness you typically don’t see from this kind of music.

Third track is a spoken word ambient track that would normally fit perfectly in the middle of the album, and ambiance wise, it does. Except that once again, the vocals come to drag things down. Though really, this isn’t a vocal thing as much as just a talking thing. When you’re hearing someone ramble on about mystic shit to the tone of some psychedelic, otherworldly ambient music, you don’t want that voice to just sound like a completely normal Swedish dude. You want it to match what you’re talking about, you want it to sound mystic, wise, and from another world. Anything else just takes away from the immersion, which happens here. It’s a shame because it’s set up so well, that something so small really just drags down the track so much.

The next two tracks continue to bring down my initially high rating, because essentially, they’re filler. They don’t progress the album like the other tracks do, and nothing of note happens in them. They probably could’ve been cut out from the album entirely and nothing would’ve changed. Actually no, something would’ve changed, the album would be better. The 59 minute runtime feels more and more unnecessary as the album goes on, and it ends up being one of it’s major faults. But I had hope. The last track was actually longer than the amazing first track, and I expected it to really save the album and bring it up to an 8 so that I could put this on the Obscure Metal 2015 chart I’m making.

Only to be really disappointed. It starts off well, very similar to the first track, if more calm and less tension building. There’s the return of the violin and cello, which I really wish they would’ve used more of in this album, as it’s a really unique feature that adds something totally different than what other stoner doom bands have done, not to mention sounding awesome. But then it just sits there for about 7 minutes. I kept waiting for the tension to be resolved, only to be met with more nothing. And I understand prolonging the resolution so that when you do hear it it’s much more satisfying, but there comes a point where it no longer is building tension, it’s just boring the listener. Even when it does finally come it just isn’t as satisfying as the first track’s is. I can’t really explain why, but something about it doesn’t resonate with me as much. I think maybe part of why that is is because it just withdraws all the psychedelic influences that were used throughout the album. Though really looking back on it, the only really psychedelic tracks were the first and 3rd track, which seems strange when the bands lets on that psychedelic influences are supposed to be a major part of this. I mean, how can you look at the cover, listen to the first track, and not think you’re on an acid trip? And once again, the vocals just aren’t up to par. Just about everything about this track is complete disappointment and empty buildup, which is such a shame because I was really counting on that to be able to give this album a really high score.

Domovoyd would’ve been improved so much by just being instrumental aside from the spoken word. The vocals do nothing but this album, as do the sections where it goes way too much on the heavy and not enough of the psychedelic. I honestly think the reason this isn’t in the 6 realm is just how strong the first track is, along with how much potential I see in this band. This very easily could’ve been a really fantastic album, but again there are just too many things that are a bit off, and a confusion of identity and tendencies to be too sludgy for me to consider this one of the top albums of the year.


6.5/10

Luciferian Light Orchestra – Luciferian Light Orchestra ALBUM REVIEW


You guys ever listen to 70s classic rock and think “I really wonder what this would sound like if it was done by now middle aged goth kids trying to relive the years where they didn’t need arthritis medication? Also I really want them to mention satan more, I feel that there’s a lack of devil worship in this Rolling Stones song.”? Well you’re in luck, because Christofer Johnsson, from the symphonic power metal band Therion, has created just the band for you! You see, Johnsson has been writing a bunch of songs for years that he’s felt were too retro and too edgy for Therion, and in 2014 formed a band with a so far unknown group of people to make these songs an actuality. A power metal frontman making 70s rock songs about satan? What could possibly go wrong?!

The common answer to a self asked question like that is usually “absolutely everything”, but I’m actually going to let the review answer that question rater than just type it straight out. How else am I supposed to get to over 1000 words? This review isn’t going to really be about the actually music, at least as far as notes and technical skill are concerned, because that isn’t really the issue here. What really needs to be talked about is everything around that, the vocals, lyrics, and the overall image the band projects, and in what way. Do they succeed in creating the atmosphere and image they want to create? I think pretty much anyone can guess what I’m going to say based on what I’ve written so far, but I’m an asshole who likes to waste your time, so I’ll explain it in the least brief way possible.

The first thing that stood out to me about this debut was the contrast between the vocal style and the music style. Luciferian Light Orchestra (I’m just going to call them LLO from now on, I’m not typing that out each time) is by no means the first band to do something like this, however that doesn’t mean the other bands that do this are successful. Contrast between music and vocal style is really easy to mess up, because what often happens is you give the listener conflicting messages on how you’re supposed to feel. On the one hand, we have this hard blues rock playing, and on the other hand, we have these soft female vocals. The vocals evoke this mystical temptress, luring you into the sinful joy of satan. On the other hand, we have the music your dad listens to when he tries to dance with your mom, attempting to rekindle the feeling they felt when they first met at the biker bar in ’74. The problem is they don’t realize you’ve actually entered the room, and you did in-fact witness that assgrab, making an extremely awkward situation for everyone when they see you. Now imagine that same situation, except your parents are actually all dressed in black, wearing crosses, and proclaiming satan while appearing to drink blood from a wine glass (it’s actually tomato juice, blood has too much salt for your mom’s diet). And yes, you still see the assgrab. That’s pretty much what this album is like, it’s awkward.

Of course being fronted by a power metal man, there’s going to be a bit of goofiness in it. I mean the entire atmosphere of the album is a little goofy, that’s pretty much guaranteed to happen when you combine Led Zeppelin with diet-satanism. But it goes a step further in including stuff that would be silly on any album. There’s these whispered, raspy vocals that are used on occasion, sort of sounding like a wimpy attempt at atmo-black vocals, combined with what the bad guy sounds like in a typical rock opera. Again, power metal background, it’s to be expected, it’s still bad. On the completely other side of the spectrum, they also use this booming, semi-operatic, imitation Gregorian chant voice at seemingly random times throughout the album. The good news is that it’s most used during the two songs that are mostly doom metal. The bad news is any other time it’s used. It’s not really the concept that’s bad, as much as the execution. I feel like I’m listening to some sort of amateur viking metal album every time it comes on. I really feel like a deeper, male voice (or at least a harsher, more hardcore punkish female voice) would’ve suited this album much better than the style they choose. But I also feel that once you pick a vocal style, you can’t just go to a different one whenever you feel like, especially when it’s so drastically different. Otherwise it creates not only disorganization, but a sense that the artist has no clue what the fuck their doing. Remember, randomness in music is always bad, unless it’s intentional.

Beyond vocal styles, the actual content of the vocals are pretty cringe-worty as well. They read like someone put a bunch of occult sounding words (satan, blood, sabbath, devil, sin, etc.) into a hat, drew them, stuck them to the tip of a bunch of darts, taped a sheet of the lyrics onto the wall with the nouns blanked out, and then threw the darts at those blanks, calling them the lyrics. Kinda like a frat party version of mad libs, except if everyone were drunk someone would probably get hospitalized for an eye injury. So basically just like a frat party version of mad libs. They don’t really seem to say anything significant, and are at times nonsensical. An except from Eater of Souls, reads

“Shadow scales, hissing noise
deepest down below
No return from darkness
Eater of all souls.”

It reads like a collection of phrases vaguely related to the topic rather than actual lyrics. Black metal can get away with this, because nobody can hear, nor do they actually care about the lyrics. LLO puts the lyrics at center stage, making them very audible and clear. Think of it this way, if you’re going to get naked on camera, you better hope you have nice penis. LLO has a 4 inch, hairy dick that for some reason they thought would look good with a prince albert. I think my favorite part of that excerpt is “hissing noise”. Like someone on the band thought that writing something in TV closed captioning language would make a good lyric.

As another small thing, LLO is going for a retro theme, yet decided on an extremely clean and modern production. It makes the album sound much more like a cheap imitation of 70s rock than the real thing. It creates this uncanny valley effect, where it sounds neither modern nor retro, and overall quite tacky. Of course, that isn’t saying that much, considering you could point to just about anything about this album and call it tacky.

So far I have only mentioned relatively small details about this album, and while the devil is in the details (which I’m sure is also a future LLO lyric, it has the word devil in it after all), in the big picture, this album still is flawed. The main issue I take with this is mostly in my own inhibitions, particularly in my inability to know whether this album is serious or not. Another uncanny valley on a much larger scale, it’s goofy enough to question it’s sincerity, but not nearly goofy enough to turn that questioning into serious doubt. The single best word I can describe this album with is probably “edgy”, however as we all know in the metal world, edgy is a prerequisite. The difference here is in it’s musical tone. Just like how whenever people talk they have a certain tone to their voice (sarcastic, angry, happy, etc.), so does music. The conflict is that the subject matter is quite dark and potentially serious, however the way it is presented is in a very not dark or serious way. The problem is that it doesn’t crossover into either enough. To reference a scale I made up just now, musical tone is broken up into 3 basic groups: Serious – Non Serious – Parody. This is neither serious nor non serious, nor does it float in an in-between. Instead it floats back and forth between the two, without ever being in either. So I don’t know whether to appreciate it’s light hearted take on a serious subject manner, or to take it’s message at face value. And it doesn’t ever go into the parody realm, until you actually take a real deep look at a 33 minute album with 31 ratings on RYM that was limited to 1000 copies, but only a loser with no life would do that. And even then, there’s no indication whether any of it’s goofiness was intentional or not.

It’s all around an album with a truly confusing message, which makes it so hard to judge. I can’t really rate this as low as I want to, because while I do think that all the things I’ve mentioned are bad, the surface level sound of this album is actually pretty ok. Part of that is because I don’t know that much about 70s blues rock, so I can’t really judge their playing or musicality, and another is because there are times where if you ignore the lyrics and vocals, this album sounds pretty groovy. As far as I can tell these are good musicians, which again, makes me wonder if this album is a serious or non serious album. I’m leaning towards serious, which means the rating is going to have to suffer.

If you just scrolled down to see the rating and don’t feel like reading all of this text, you’re in luck, because all you have to do is look at this picture of the band and you’ll understand everything I wrote without ever having to read it.
http://www.metal-archives….photo.jpg?4157


4.25/10

Artificial Tide – 40:37 ALBUM REVIEW


This is a question I pose to everyone who has never taken any kind of drug before; have you ever wondered what it’s like? To trip balls really hard and just be lost in time and space? To have that feeling that you’re outside of your own mind? Well good news, now you don’t have to take any kind of narcotic or illegal substance to feel that, you just have to listen to this album! And I know, pretty much any psychedelic band tries to go for that feeling, and it’s an overused comment on those kind of bands that it makes you feel like you’re on a drug trip. But this band takes it a step further by essentially eliminating basic song structure.

Typically when you have a song, there’s a melody, a consistent sense of rhythm, a beginning, middle, end, that kind of stuff. This doesn’t really have that at all. It’s not a runthrough album where all the tracks just kinda merge into one, but none of the tracks are really what I would call songs and more what I would call experiences. It’s sort of like each track is just creating a feeling rather than trying to do anything specific musically. I would call it very similar to what the impressionists did, the tracks just kinda sit there, going along for the ride, changing when they feel like it instead of when the song demands they do. That’s really the biggest part of this album, everything just seems to be done because the artist felt like it. Typically I mean that as an insult because it shows that the artist has no idea what they’re doing, but in this case the artist perfectly knows what they’re doing, they’re just so good that they’re able to do what they feel like and have it sound good.

If there’s one flaw with this album, it’s that it wanders too much at times. It’s easy to get lost in the soniscapes of crazy ambient guitar noises, and vocals that are instrument than actual vocals. So easy that that’s precisely what happens, you. Without any kind of obvious structure, it’s harder to pay attention to the album as slowly your mind wanders more and more, so that you’re listen to the first track one moment, and the next it’s already midway through the third track and it seems like it’s been 3 minutes, but it’s really been about 15. I can definitely understand that that’s probably at least part of the point of the album, but at the same time it’s still a bit of a problem. I want to make it clear, it’s not as if there’s no tonality or any kind of musical melody in this whatsoever, it’s just not nearly a prominent as the pure psychedelic insanity that happens.

One minor detail I like is the title, which in an apparent tribute to John Cage, is just how long the album is (well, technically it’s 40:25, but shhhhh). It really leaves a lot of room for interpretation on what you want this album to be about, and goes well with the free nature of the album. Even the cover is basically just distorted nonsense. This band is just going to play whatever it feels like. The music is a canvas. However you want to interpret it, is up to you.


8/10