Thrash Junkie
Vader - Black to the Blind (1997)
Oh look, it’s my penis and your mom; they’re discussing Vader! Let’s listen in:
THRASH JUNKIE’S PENIS: “Hey bitch, remember that one time Vader made something shitty?”
YOUR MOM (takes Thrash Junkie’s penis out of her gaping maw): “No.”
Well for once your mom is right because my penis was just being a dick (whut) and asked a trick question. Vader are one of those bands at the tip-top of the middle tier of metal groups: they don’t know quite how to be totally fucking amazing and indispensable but they sure as damn don’t know how to suck either. Find me a Vader album that isn’t either good or really good and I will find you a movie that I like that involves Ryan Gosling. Neither can be done.
So I figured I’d cover what is arguably the band’s highest point in their discography today: “BLACK TO THE FUCKEN BLIND, BITCH”. I’m sure the band will agree with me that that is actually the full, secret title.
Fucken love this album a lot. Of course I do. Vader knows just what Thrash Junkie wants. Tight-ass death metal riffs styled after messy thrash, insanely precise and memorable drumming, impeccable song structuring throughout, throaty Polish-tinged yells that perfectly bridge thrash and death vocal styles, and short, concise running times of both songs and the album as a whole. Giving me this album is like showing up to a middle-aged single white chick’s trailer with a box of Franzia and a Ryan Gosling DVD. It’s a direct hit.
So hello BTTB and your sexy, sexy riffage and never-flagging energy and songwriting. “Heading for Internal Darkness” kicks off with a drum fill and then one of those opening “RAAARRR!!”s that I love so much in 90’s Napalm Death and the like. Starting sections with “RARRR” and “UGH” works every. single. time. fuck. you. And Vader mainman Peter understands this. As well as other fantastic ways to do vocals in thrashy death metal. Well, just the one way I guess…he doesn’t have much of a range but with a voice this raw and intense he doesn’t need it. Killage throughout.
Drumming is fucken ace, as is the drum production. The kicks sound pummeling but not too thick and the snare isn’t overpowering or under-present. Doc serves up sexy thrashing, blasting, and grooving at exactly the right moments. There’s a mid-paced thrash break in “Fractal Light” that makes me destroy everything. Mid-paced skank beats are on my list of “Things I Unconditionally Adore” right next to the Rally’s Bacon Roadhouse burger and Hugh Jackman.
Guitars are nothing fucking mind-blowing but they have riffs riffs riffs. Great ones. Tremolo-picked ones à la Master. Chunky ones à la Kreator. Creepy but expansive ones à la Death. Main one of “Heading”, first fast one of “Carnal” (simple as it is), second one in “True Names”, every single one in the closing title track…these are the choicest of the choice but there’s others that will please your measly penis as well. I like the word “penis” quite a bit today.
“Carnal” is the best song in the penis world probably, with its infectious vocal-only verses that start out sounding mumbly and weird and you’re not sure if he’s gonna pull through them and redeem himself and then towards the end he raMPS UP HIS VOICE AND THEN JUST KILLS IT!!!! The song’s structure is tight, simple, and devastatingly effective.
As utterly satisfying as I find this kind of music, the album’s still not completely amazing. Towards the end of the middle of the disc (yes, the end of the middle), we get some tunes that are still technically excellent but don’t have the staying power of the best cuts. From “Beast Raping” through to “Distant Dream” we’re served up some very good tracks that don’t stick after they play. Totally fine, I still like ‘em a ton. I just probably would never throw one of them on at one of my strangely-poorly-attended?!?! death metal parties where I drink all alone and thrash around to bands such as this and wonder why no one else I invite ever shows up. Maybe I should invest in some broads to widen my parties’ appeal to the straight male audience. But then the chicks would just complain about the music ripping their bloody cunts apart and then do that thing where girls get drunk and then just cry. On second thought I hate bitches, fuck that I’ll party to Vader, Carcass, Decapitated, and Cryptopsy on my own then.
This is the type of album that’s nothing truly special and outstanding but always hits the spot for me. It’s like good cornbread and chili with a halfway decent beer. Pretty low-class and unpretentious if you wanna get technical, but it’s just my SHIT, you know? It’s just the kind of stuff I crave. And when it’s made this deliciously, precisely, and primal-ly, you fucken better bet I’m gonna eat up.
8.5/10: Tasty.
Listen to: “Carnal”

Vader - Black to the Blind (1997)

Oh look, it’s my penis and your mom; they’re discussing Vader! Let’s listen in:

THRASH JUNKIE’S PENIS: “Hey bitch, remember that one time Vader made something shitty?”

YOUR MOM (takes Thrash Junkie’s penis out of her gaping maw): “No.”

Well for once your mom is right because my penis was just being a dick (whut) and asked a trick question. Vader are one of those bands at the tip-top of the middle tier of metal groups: they don’t know quite how to be totally fucking amazing and indispensable but they sure as damn don’t know how to suck either. Find me a Vader album that isn’t either good or really good and I will find you a movie that I like that involves Ryan Gosling. Neither can be done.

So I figured I’d cover what is arguably the band’s highest point in their discography today: “BLACK TO THE FUCKEN BLIND, BITCH”. I’m sure the band will agree with me that that is actually the full, secret title.

Fucken love this album a lot. Of course I do. Vader knows just what Thrash Junkie wants. Tight-ass death metal riffs styled after messy thrash, insanely precise and memorable drumming, impeccable song structuring throughout, throaty Polish-tinged yells that perfectly bridge thrash and death vocal styles, and short, concise running times of both songs and the album as a whole. Giving me this album is like showing up to a middle-aged single white chick’s trailer with a box of Franzia and a Ryan Gosling DVD. It’s a direct hit.

So hello BTTB and your sexy, sexy riffage and never-flagging energy and songwriting. “Heading for Internal Darkness” kicks off with a drum fill and then one of those opening “RAAARRR!!”s that I love so much in 90’s Napalm Death and the like. Starting sections with “RARRR” and “UGH” works every. single. time. fuck. you. And Vader mainman Peter understands this. As well as other fantastic ways to do vocals in thrashy death metal. Well, just the one way I guess…he doesn’t have much of a range but with a voice this raw and intense he doesn’t need it. Killage throughout.

Drumming is fucken ace, as is the drum production. The kicks sound pummeling but not too thick and the snare isn’t overpowering or under-present. Doc serves up sexy thrashing, blasting, and grooving at exactly the right moments. There’s a mid-paced thrash break in “Fractal Light” that makes me destroy everything. Mid-paced skank beats are on my list of “Things I Unconditionally Adore” right next to the Rally’s Bacon Roadhouse burger and Hugh Jackman.

Guitars are nothing fucking mind-blowing but they have riffs riffs riffs. Great ones. Tremolo-picked ones à la Master. Chunky ones à la Kreator. Creepy but expansive ones à la Death. Main one of “Heading”, first fast one of “Carnal” (simple as it is), second one in “True Names”, every single one in the closing title track…these are the choicest of the choice but there’s others that will please your measly penis as well. I like the word “penis” quite a bit today.

“Carnal” is the best song in the penis world probably, with its infectious vocal-only verses that start out sounding mumbly and weird and you’re not sure if he’s gonna pull through them and redeem himself and then towards the end he raMPS UP HIS VOICE AND THEN JUST KILLS IT!!!! The song’s structure is tight, simple, and devastatingly effective.

As utterly satisfying as I find this kind of music, the album’s still not completely amazing. Towards the end of the middle of the disc (yes, the end of the middle), we get some tunes that are still technically excellent but don’t have the staying power of the best cuts. From “Beast Raping” through to “Distant Dream” we’re served up some very good tracks that don’t stick after they play. Totally fine, I still like ‘em a ton. I just probably would never throw one of them on at one of my strangely-poorly-attended?!?! death metal parties where I drink all alone and thrash around to bands such as this and wonder why no one else I invite ever shows up. Maybe I should invest in some broads to widen my parties’ appeal to the straight male audience. But then the chicks would just complain about the music ripping their bloody cunts apart and then do that thing where girls get drunk and then just cry. On second thought I hate bitches, fuck that I’ll party to Vader, Carcass, Decapitated, and Cryptopsy on my own then.

This is the type of album that’s nothing truly special and outstanding but always hits the spot for me. It’s like good cornbread and chili with a halfway decent beer. Pretty low-class and unpretentious if you wanna get technical, but it’s just my SHIT, you know? It’s just the kind of stuff I crave. And when it’s made this deliciously, precisely, and primal-ly, you fucken better bet I’m gonna eat up.

8.5/10: Tasty.

Listen to: “Carnal”

Venom - Senile Decay
29 plays

fuckyeah-nwobhm:

Venom: “Senile Decay” (track from the 1985 collection From Hell to the Unknown, not on any other single, EP, or LP)

For as many times as Venom material has been repackaged, collected, and compiled, this track did not appear again (it seems) until the 2005 collection MMV (and that’s a shame because it’s a real kicker).

submitted by rugbern

yeaaahhHHHHHHH!!!!!!

strappingyounglil:

thrashjunkie:

Strapping Young Lad - Alien (2005)
Alien is a heady brew, to be sure; if you wanna take that phrase literally then I’d call the album an Imperial IPA with a shit-ton of hops and an ABV of like 12%. Strapping Young Lad were a lot of things when they were together (with Devin Townsend at the helm, you’re gonna have variety), but only on this album were they so DIFFICULT. The first few listens are just too overwhelming to make any impression. Previous albums were often chaotic on the surface but the songwriting was essentially clear, lucid, and kinetic. Alien is impossibly dense, oddball, and gargantuan; at first it felt like I couldn’t even fit it into my ears. The composition isn’t as “accessible” as before, and there’s constantly just layers and layers and layers of madness. The album’s title is extremely apt; I keep imagining that if the huge space-cloud-intelligent-being-probe thing from Star Trek: The Motion Picture decided to make an extreme metal album, it’d sound somewhat like this.
Take the skittering, strange, bizarrely structured “Skeksis”. The guitars are tuned down to G, often making the guitar work a gut-churning, murky sludge. But most of the entire first two minutes builds entirely out of muted-string pluckety stuff, with the verse only coming in after that extended intro. Rarely on the album and even more rarely on this particular song does the band really just break out a recognizable groove, choosing instead to constantly invent their own weird new versions of standard metal textures and FORCING them to groove (this is usually the work of Gene Hoglan, more on him later of course). The last minute of the song is a STUPIDLY heavy and almost annoyingly catchy behemoth, but it’s not what you expect at all when I say that or refer to it as a breakdown. There’s never a cliché at work, but once you listen to the work many times and get used to the odd flow of the music, it can become incredibly satisfying. And Devin of course doesn’t lose his sensibility for when to insert a hook so catchy it dominates your brain for days at a time; the “I control” verses of this tune are pure platinum.
The sweeping chorus of “Love?” is similarly impossible to stop hum/scream/sing/moaning to oneself for long periods of time. I wanna smack every pussy little metalcore band and make them listen to Strapping all the time. “Listen fartfags, this band has melodic choruses that aren’t gay and whiney, out-of-control screaming that isn’t weak as fuck, and angsty fuck-you lyrics that are truly fearsome. Why can’t you not suck at these things and everything else you do?! Fucking twinks, get out of my genre plz.” The melodic vocals all over the album are breathtaking as always for Devin; the second “We’re the only ones” bridge of “Zen” makes my heart so glad that such heavy beauty exists in the universe somewhere. And there’s a full-on CHOIR of double-tracked Devs and probably other people too during the massive universe-filling second half of “Thalamus”, reminiscent of the band’s earlier “Spirituality” but blown out of all proportion into a numbingly blissful sea of sludge and ethereal voices. And then there’s “Two Weeks”, one of the most bizarre parts of the album because it’s so contrasting. It’s a yearning, gorgeous Floyd/late-Beatles pastoral piece with echoing acoustic guitars and crooned vocals all afloat in outer space. It fits in beautifully with the more “extreme” material because it’s just as extreme in its own way, and makes for a perfect break from the utter chaos and crazy all around it.
And if you want fucking crazy, Strapping show you how to be crazy in “Shitstorm”. This song is a total teeming maelstrom of fuck-you. Literally. There’s a heaving breakdown part when a chorus of Devins yells “FUCK…FUCK!” that is the absolute embodiment of that word. Every time I think “FUCK” that little bit plays in my head.
Somewhat unfortunately, all this mad-scientist shit doesn’t always pay off for the listener in such spades. “Shine” is one of the most inert tracks in the Strapping catalogue, being just as over-the-top and weird as the rest of this record but without the hooks and addictiveness. “Possessions” is a fun carnival of weirdness for a few listens (that groove in the middle is so infectious) but it becomes tiring much faster than the great tracks on here, being more repetitive and conventional. And though production-wise this album is a marvel most of the time, there’s these bass drops at important points (like “We Ride” 0:37) that are so pants-shittingly cavernous that they eat up all the frequencies above them and make the sound fluctuate annoyingly. They often take away impact from moments they’re trying to highlight.
So as for individual performances, Devin is, as mentioned, impeccable vocally. The man has such an ARSENAL, and everything he does sounds beautiful. There’s a lot of less-rhythmic screaming and talking on this album that on say, City, adding to the impenetrable feel of some parts because it’s not as catchy and in-the-grid musically. Still, the “What the FUCK was THAT?!…I know I have my issues…” thing in “We Ride” is a highlight of that track and all the froth-at-the-mouth out-of-time raving in “Shitstorm” works perfectly. Whatever delivery style Devin attempts, he pulls off magnificently.
And nobody needs to tell you how good Gene Goddamn Hoglan is, but this album is one of his most accomplished performances. Of course his beats are tightly and expertly performed, but it’s WHAT the beats are that makes this thing stand out in his massive catalogue. He rarely opts for any kind of conventional pounding of the beat on this monster, instead concocting eclectic patterns of off-kilter snare beating, lumpish double-bass spurts, and cymbals in unexpected places. Especially during the aforementioned “Skeksis”, not once does he do what you’re expecting; even during the breakdown at the end the snare cracks along with the syncopated riff while a little burst of bass drums marks each beat, and the cymbals never seem to fall on a downbeat. It’s a constant display of drumming prowess, sure, but it’s an even more impressive display of drumming INTELLIGENCE.
The quasi-black metal feel that began to pop up on songs such as “Last Minute” from the self-titled album is in full force at some points on this album; in intro-opener “Imperial” (especially after “Now! Is the time!”) the wash of keyboards and dark, dense tonality sounds a hell of a lot like symphonic BM such as Emperor, and there’s a few other swarming tremolo-picked parts in other tracks that certainly recall the genre too.
I think the main reason this album feels so strange to me among the Strapping catalogue is that it’s not as forward-moving. The songs on City especially earn their bread and butter by sheer momentum. Every part of a song was the best part of the song. They positively HURTLED. But on Alien, the tunes are these great lumbering beats, so huge and glorious in proportion they seem to stand still in awe of themselves. Even the blistering uber-thrash of “We Ride” feels more like a monolith than a train speeding off the rails.
So sure, maybe only the album-closing musique concrete piece is actually CALLED “Info Dump”, but that title could just as well apply to the whole album (by the way, I like “Info Dump”; electronic music on pop-derived albums is often so misunderstood, and this piece definitely fits the album. That climactic part at shortly after nine minutes in where the swarm converges and the soundscape swallows the entire universe might just be the actual Brown Note). Alien feels like a constant barrage of strange information, feelings, unresolved questions, and undirected rage. There’s some catharsis and validation at the end, with “Thalamus” and “Zen” offering bliss and unsteady peace with the chaos of the world and the mind, but it’s not a resolution and it’s not the end of the road. It’s not a perfect album and it’s not Strapping’s best work, but it’s worth many a listen and there’s definitely a lot to “Love?”
8.5/10: “I can’t even EAT…and I can’t even fuckin’ PISS!!”
Listen to: “Skeksis”

This.should be a 10 out of 10

Well while there are a few songs on this album that approach perfection, I explained that there are songs that don’t do anything for me.  And I love “City” way more.  I gave that one 9.5 if it helps.  Thanks for reading!

strappingyounglil:

thrashjunkie:

Strapping Young Lad - Alien (2005)

Alien is a heady brew, to be sure; if you wanna take that phrase literally then I’d call the album an Imperial IPA with a shit-ton of hops and an ABV of like 12%. Strapping Young Lad were a lot of things when they were together (with Devin Townsend at the helm, you’re gonna have variety), but only on this album were they so DIFFICULT. The first few listens are just too overwhelming to make any impression. Previous albums were often chaotic on the surface but the songwriting was essentially clear, lucid, and kinetic. Alien is impossibly dense, oddball, and gargantuan; at first it felt like I couldn’t even fit it into my ears. The composition isn’t as “accessible” as before, and there’s constantly just layers and layers and layers of madness. The album’s title is extremely apt; I keep imagining that if the huge space-cloud-intelligent-being-probe thing from Star Trek: The Motion Picture decided to make an extreme metal album, it’d sound somewhat like this.

Take the skittering, strange, bizarrely structured “Skeksis”. The guitars are tuned down to G, often making the guitar work a gut-churning, murky sludge. But most of the entire first two minutes builds entirely out of muted-string pluckety stuff, with the verse only coming in after that extended intro. Rarely on the album and even more rarely on this particular song does the band really just break out a recognizable groove, choosing instead to constantly invent their own weird new versions of standard metal textures and FORCING them to groove (this is usually the work of Gene Hoglan, more on him later of course). The last minute of the song is a STUPIDLY heavy and almost annoyingly catchy behemoth, but it’s not what you expect at all when I say that or refer to it as a breakdown. There’s never a cliché at work, but once you listen to the work many times and get used to the odd flow of the music, it can become incredibly satisfying. And Devin of course doesn’t lose his sensibility for when to insert a hook so catchy it dominates your brain for days at a time; the “I control” verses of this tune are pure platinum.

The sweeping chorus of “Love?” is similarly impossible to stop hum/scream/sing/moaning to oneself for long periods of time. I wanna smack every pussy little metalcore band and make them listen to Strapping all the time. “Listen fartfags, this band has melodic choruses that aren’t gay and whiney, out-of-control screaming that isn’t weak as fuck, and angsty fuck-you lyrics that are truly fearsome. Why can’t you not suck at these things and everything else you do?! Fucking twinks, get out of my genre plz.” The melodic vocals all over the album are breathtaking as always for Devin; the second “We’re the only ones” bridge of “Zen” makes my heart so glad that such heavy beauty exists in the universe somewhere. And there’s a full-on CHOIR of double-tracked Devs and probably other people too during the massive universe-filling second half of “Thalamus”, reminiscent of the band’s earlier “Spirituality” but blown out of all proportion into a numbingly blissful sea of sludge and ethereal voices. And then there’s “Two Weeks”, one of the most bizarre parts of the album because it’s so contrasting. It’s a yearning, gorgeous Floyd/late-Beatles pastoral piece with echoing acoustic guitars and crooned vocals all afloat in outer space. It fits in beautifully with the more “extreme” material because it’s just as extreme in its own way, and makes for a perfect break from the utter chaos and crazy all around it.

And if you want fucking crazy, Strapping show you how to be crazy in “Shitstorm”. This song is a total teeming maelstrom of fuck-you. Literally. There’s a heaving breakdown part when a chorus of Devins yells “FUCK…FUCK!” that is the absolute embodiment of that word. Every time I think “FUCK” that little bit plays in my head.

Somewhat unfortunately, all this mad-scientist shit doesn’t always pay off for the listener in such spades. “Shine” is one of the most inert tracks in the Strapping catalogue, being just as over-the-top and weird as the rest of this record but without the hooks and addictiveness. “Possessions” is a fun carnival of weirdness for a few listens (that groove in the middle is so infectious) but it becomes tiring much faster than the great tracks on here, being more repetitive and conventional. And though production-wise this album is a marvel most of the time, there’s these bass drops at important points (like “We Ride” 0:37) that are so pants-shittingly cavernous that they eat up all the frequencies above them and make the sound fluctuate annoyingly. They often take away impact from moments they’re trying to highlight.

So as for individual performances, Devin is, as mentioned, impeccable vocally. The man has such an ARSENAL, and everything he does sounds beautiful. There’s a lot of less-rhythmic screaming and talking on this album that on say, City, adding to the impenetrable feel of some parts because it’s not as catchy and in-the-grid musically. Still, the “What the FUCK was THAT?!…I know I have my issues…” thing in “We Ride” is a highlight of that track and all the froth-at-the-mouth out-of-time raving in “Shitstorm” works perfectly. Whatever delivery style Devin attempts, he pulls off magnificently.

And nobody needs to tell you how good Gene Goddamn Hoglan is, but this album is one of his most accomplished performances. Of course his beats are tightly and expertly performed, but it’s WHAT the beats are that makes this thing stand out in his massive catalogue. He rarely opts for any kind of conventional pounding of the beat on this monster, instead concocting eclectic patterns of off-kilter snare beating, lumpish double-bass spurts, and cymbals in unexpected places. Especially during the aforementioned “Skeksis”, not once does he do what you’re expecting; even during the breakdown at the end the snare cracks along with the syncopated riff while a little burst of bass drums marks each beat, and the cymbals never seem to fall on a downbeat. It’s a constant display of drumming prowess, sure, but it’s an even more impressive display of drumming INTELLIGENCE.

The quasi-black metal feel that began to pop up on songs such as “Last Minute” from the self-titled album is in full force at some points on this album; in intro-opener “Imperial” (especially after “Now! Is the time!”) the wash of keyboards and dark, dense tonality sounds a hell of a lot like symphonic BM such as Emperor, and there’s a few other swarming tremolo-picked parts in other tracks that certainly recall the genre too.

I think the main reason this album feels so strange to me among the Strapping catalogue is that it’s not as forward-moving. The songs on City especially earn their bread and butter by sheer momentum. Every part of a song was the best part of the song. They positively HURTLED. But on Alien, the tunes are these great lumbering beats, so huge and glorious in proportion they seem to stand still in awe of themselves. Even the blistering uber-thrash of “We Ride” feels more like a monolith than a train speeding off the rails.

So sure, maybe only the album-closing musique concrete piece is actually CALLED “Info Dump”, but that title could just as well apply to the whole album (by the way, I like “Info Dump”; electronic music on pop-derived albums is often so misunderstood, and this piece definitely fits the album. That climactic part at shortly after nine minutes in where the swarm converges and the soundscape swallows the entire universe might just be the actual Brown Note). Alien feels like a constant barrage of strange information, feelings, unresolved questions, and undirected rage. There’s some catharsis and validation at the end, with “Thalamus” and “Zen” offering bliss and unsteady peace with the chaos of the world and the mind, but it’s not a resolution and it’s not the end of the road. It’s not a perfect album and it’s not Strapping’s best work, but it’s worth many a listen and there’s definitely a lot to “Love?”

8.5/10: “I can’t even EAT…and I can’t even fuckin’ PISS!!”

Listen to: “Skeksis”

This.should be a 10 out of 10

Well while there are a few songs on this album that approach perfection, I explained that there are songs that don’t do anything for me.  And I love “City” way more.  I gave that one 9.5 if it helps.  Thanks for reading!

Strapping Young Lad - Alien (2005)
Alien is a heady brew, to be sure; if you wanna take that phrase literally then I’d call the album an Imperial IPA with a shit-ton of hops and an ABV of like 12%. Strapping Young Lad were a lot of things when they were together (with Devin Townsend at the helm, you’re gonna have variety), but only on this album were they so DIFFICULT. The first few listens are just too overwhelming to make any impression. Previous albums were often chaotic on the surface but the songwriting was essentially clear, lucid, and kinetic. Alien is impossibly dense, oddball, and gargantuan; at first it felt like I couldn’t even fit it into my ears. The composition isn’t as “accessible” as before, and there’s constantly just layers and layers and layers of madness. The album’s title is extremely apt; I keep imagining that if the huge space-cloud-intelligent-being-probe thing from Star Trek: The Motion Picture decided to make an extreme metal album, it’d sound somewhat like this.
Take the skittering, strange, bizarrely structured “Skeksis”. The guitars are tuned down to G, often making the guitar work a gut-churning, murky sludge. But most of the entire first two minutes builds entirely out of muted-string pluckety stuff, with the verse only coming in after that extended intro. Rarely on the album and even more rarely on this particular song does the band really just break out a recognizable groove, choosing instead to constantly invent their own weird new versions of standard metal textures and FORCING them to groove (this is usually the work of Gene Hoglan, more on him later of course). The last minute of the song is a STUPIDLY heavy and almost annoyingly catchy behemoth, but it’s not what you expect at all when I say that or refer to it as a breakdown. There’s never a cliché at work, but once you listen to the work many times and get used to the odd flow of the music, it can become incredibly satisfying. And Devin of course doesn’t lose his sensibility for when to insert a hook so catchy it dominates your brain for days at a time; the “I control” verses of this tune are pure platinum.
The sweeping chorus of “Love?” is similarly impossible to stop hum/scream/sing/moaning to oneself for long periods of time. I wanna smack every pussy little metalcore band and make them listen to Strapping all the time. “Listen fartfags, this band has melodic choruses that aren’t gay and whiney, out-of-control screaming that isn’t weak as fuck, and angsty fuck-you lyrics that are truly fearsome. Why can’t you not suck at these things and everything else you do?! Fucking twinks, get out of my genre plz.” The melodic vocals all over the album are breathtaking as always for Devin; the second “We’re the only ones” bridge of “Zen” makes my heart so glad that such heavy beauty exists in the universe somewhere. And there’s a full-on CHOIR of double-tracked Devs and probably other people too during the massive universe-filling second half of “Thalamus”, reminiscent of the band’s earlier “Spirituality” but blown out of all proportion into a numbingly blissful sea of sludge and ethereal voices. And then there’s “Two Weeks”, one of the most bizarre parts of the album because it’s so contrasting. It’s a yearning, gorgeous Floyd/late-Beatles pastoral piece with echoing acoustic guitars and crooned vocals all afloat in outer space. It fits in beautifully with the more “extreme” material because it’s just as extreme in its own way, and makes for a perfect break from the utter chaos and crazy all around it.
And if you want fucking crazy, Strapping show you how to be crazy in “Shitstorm”. This song is a total teeming maelstrom of fuck-you. Literally. There’s a heaving breakdown part when a chorus of Devins yells “FUCK…FUCK!” that is the absolute embodiment of that word. Every time I think “FUCK” that little bit plays in my head.
Somewhat unfortunately, all this mad-scientist shit doesn’t always pay off for the listener in such spades. “Shine” is one of the most inert tracks in the Strapping catalogue, being just as over-the-top and weird as the rest of this record but without the hooks and addictiveness. “Possessions” is a fun carnival of weirdness for a few listens (that groove in the middle is so infectious) but it becomes tiring much faster than the great tracks on here, being more repetitive and conventional. And though production-wise this album is a marvel most of the time, there’s these bass drops at important points (like “We Ride” 0:37) that are so pants-shittingly cavernous that they eat up all the frequencies above them and make the sound fluctuate annoyingly. They often take away impact from moments they’re trying to highlight.
So as for individual performances, Devin is, as mentioned, impeccable vocally. The man has such an ARSENAL, and everything he does sounds beautiful. There’s a lot of less-rhythmic screaming and talking on this album that on say, City, adding to the impenetrable feel of some parts because it’s not as catchy and in-the-grid musically. Still, the “What the FUCK was THAT?!…I know I have my issues…” thing in “We Ride” is a highlight of that track and all the froth-at-the-mouth out-of-time raving in “Shitstorm” works perfectly. Whatever delivery style Devin attempts, he pulls off magnificently.
And nobody needs to tell you how good Gene Goddamn Hoglan is, but this album is one of his most accomplished performances. Of course his beats are tightly and expertly performed, but it’s WHAT the beats are that makes this thing stand out in his massive catalogue. He rarely opts for any kind of conventional pounding of the beat on this monster, instead concocting eclectic patterns of off-kilter snare beating, lumpish double-bass spurts, and cymbals in unexpected places. Especially during the aforementioned “Skeksis”, not once does he do what you’re expecting; even during the breakdown at the end the snare cracks along with the syncopated riff while a little burst of bass drums marks each beat, and the cymbals never seem to fall on a downbeat. It’s a constant display of drumming prowess, sure, but it’s an even more impressive display of drumming INTELLIGENCE.
The quasi-black metal feel that began to pop up on songs such as “Last Minute” from the self-titled album is in full force at some points on this album; in intro-opener “Imperial” (especially after “Now! Is the time!”) the wash of keyboards and dark, dense tonality sounds a hell of a lot like symphonic BM such as Emperor, and there’s a few other swarming tremolo-picked parts in other tracks that certainly recall the genre too.
I think the main reason this album feels so strange to me among the Strapping catalogue is that it’s not as forward-moving. The songs on City especially earn their bread and butter by sheer momentum. Every part of a song was the best part of the song. They positively HURTLED. But on Alien, the tunes are these great lumbering beats, so huge and glorious in proportion they seem to stand still in awe of themselves. Even the blistering uber-thrash of “We Ride” feels more like a monolith than a train speeding off the rails.
So sure, maybe only the album-closing musique concrete piece is actually CALLED “Info Dump”, but that title could just as well apply to the whole album (by the way, I like “Info Dump”; electronic music on pop-derived albums is often so misunderstood, and this piece definitely fits the album. That climactic part at shortly after nine minutes in where the swarm converges and the soundscape swallows the entire universe might just be the actual Brown Note). Alien feels like a constant barrage of strange information, feelings, unresolved questions, and undirected rage. There’s some catharsis and validation at the end, with “Thalamus” and “Zen” offering bliss and unsteady peace with the chaos of the world and the mind, but it’s not a resolution and it’s not the end of the road. It’s not a perfect album and it’s not Strapping’s best work, but it’s worth many a listen and there’s definitely a lot to “Love?”
8.5/10: “I can’t even EAT…and I can’t even fuckin’ PISS!!”
Listen to: “Skeksis”

Strapping Young Lad - Alien (2005)

Alien is a heady brew, to be sure; if you wanna take that phrase literally then I’d call the album an Imperial IPA with a shit-ton of hops and an ABV of like 12%. Strapping Young Lad were a lot of things when they were together (with Devin Townsend at the helm, you’re gonna have variety), but only on this album were they so DIFFICULT. The first few listens are just too overwhelming to make any impression. Previous albums were often chaotic on the surface but the songwriting was essentially clear, lucid, and kinetic. Alien is impossibly dense, oddball, and gargantuan; at first it felt like I couldn’t even fit it into my ears. The composition isn’t as “accessible” as before, and there’s constantly just layers and layers and layers of madness. The album’s title is extremely apt; I keep imagining that if the huge space-cloud-intelligent-being-probe thing from Star Trek: The Motion Picture decided to make an extreme metal album, it’d sound somewhat like this.

Take the skittering, strange, bizarrely structured “Skeksis”. The guitars are tuned down to G, often making the guitar work a gut-churning, murky sludge. But most of the entire first two minutes builds entirely out of muted-string pluckety stuff, with the verse only coming in after that extended intro. Rarely on the album and even more rarely on this particular song does the band really just break out a recognizable groove, choosing instead to constantly invent their own weird new versions of standard metal textures and FORCING them to groove (this is usually the work of Gene Hoglan, more on him later of course). The last minute of the song is a STUPIDLY heavy and almost annoyingly catchy behemoth, but it’s not what you expect at all when I say that or refer to it as a breakdown. There’s never a cliché at work, but once you listen to the work many times and get used to the odd flow of the music, it can become incredibly satisfying. And Devin of course doesn’t lose his sensibility for when to insert a hook so catchy it dominates your brain for days at a time; the “I control” verses of this tune are pure platinum.

The sweeping chorus of “Love?” is similarly impossible to stop hum/scream/sing/moaning to oneself for long periods of time. I wanna smack every pussy little metalcore band and make them listen to Strapping all the time. “Listen fartfags, this band has melodic choruses that aren’t gay and whiney, out-of-control screaming that isn’t weak as fuck, and angsty fuck-you lyrics that are truly fearsome. Why can’t you not suck at these things and everything else you do?! Fucking twinks, get out of my genre plz.” The melodic vocals all over the album are breathtaking as always for Devin; the second “We’re the only ones” bridge of “Zen” makes my heart so glad that such heavy beauty exists in the universe somewhere. And there’s a full-on CHOIR of double-tracked Devs and probably other people too during the massive universe-filling second half of “Thalamus”, reminiscent of the band’s earlier “Spirituality” but blown out of all proportion into a numbingly blissful sea of sludge and ethereal voices. And then there’s “Two Weeks”, one of the most bizarre parts of the album because it’s so contrasting. It’s a yearning, gorgeous Floyd/late-Beatles pastoral piece with echoing acoustic guitars and crooned vocals all afloat in outer space. It fits in beautifully with the more “extreme” material because it’s just as extreme in its own way, and makes for a perfect break from the utter chaos and crazy all around it.

And if you want fucking crazy, Strapping show you how to be crazy in “Shitstorm”. This song is a total teeming maelstrom of fuck-you. Literally. There’s a heaving breakdown part when a chorus of Devins yells “FUCK…FUCK!” that is the absolute embodiment of that word. Every time I think “FUCK” that little bit plays in my head.

Somewhat unfortunately, all this mad-scientist shit doesn’t always pay off for the listener in such spades. “Shine” is one of the most inert tracks in the Strapping catalogue, being just as over-the-top and weird as the rest of this record but without the hooks and addictiveness. “Possessions” is a fun carnival of weirdness for a few listens (that groove in the middle is so infectious) but it becomes tiring much faster than the great tracks on here, being more repetitive and conventional. And though production-wise this album is a marvel most of the time, there’s these bass drops at important points (like “We Ride” 0:37) that are so pants-shittingly cavernous that they eat up all the frequencies above them and make the sound fluctuate annoyingly. They often take away impact from moments they’re trying to highlight.

So as for individual performances, Devin is, as mentioned, impeccable vocally. The man has such an ARSENAL, and everything he does sounds beautiful. There’s a lot of less-rhythmic screaming and talking on this album that on say, City, adding to the impenetrable feel of some parts because it’s not as catchy and in-the-grid musically. Still, the “What the FUCK was THAT?!…I know I have my issues…” thing in “We Ride” is a highlight of that track and all the froth-at-the-mouth out-of-time raving in “Shitstorm” works perfectly. Whatever delivery style Devin attempts, he pulls off magnificently.

And nobody needs to tell you how good Gene Goddamn Hoglan is, but this album is one of his most accomplished performances. Of course his beats are tightly and expertly performed, but it’s WHAT the beats are that makes this thing stand out in his massive catalogue. He rarely opts for any kind of conventional pounding of the beat on this monster, instead concocting eclectic patterns of off-kilter snare beating, lumpish double-bass spurts, and cymbals in unexpected places. Especially during the aforementioned “Skeksis”, not once does he do what you’re expecting; even during the breakdown at the end the snare cracks along with the syncopated riff while a little burst of bass drums marks each beat, and the cymbals never seem to fall on a downbeat. It’s a constant display of drumming prowess, sure, but it’s an even more impressive display of drumming INTELLIGENCE.

The quasi-black metal feel that began to pop up on songs such as “Last Minute” from the self-titled album is in full force at some points on this album; in intro-opener “Imperial” (especially after “Now! Is the time!”) the wash of keyboards and dark, dense tonality sounds a hell of a lot like symphonic BM such as Emperor, and there’s a few other swarming tremolo-picked parts in other tracks that certainly recall the genre too.

I think the main reason this album feels so strange to me among the Strapping catalogue is that it’s not as forward-moving. The songs on City especially earn their bread and butter by sheer momentum. Every part of a song was the best part of the song. They positively HURTLED. But on Alien, the tunes are these great lumbering beats, so huge and glorious in proportion they seem to stand still in awe of themselves. Even the blistering uber-thrash of “We Ride” feels more like a monolith than a train speeding off the rails.

So sure, maybe only the album-closing musique concrete piece is actually CALLED “Info Dump”, but that title could just as well apply to the whole album (by the way, I like “Info Dump”; electronic music on pop-derived albums is often so misunderstood, and this piece definitely fits the album. That climactic part at shortly after nine minutes in where the swarm converges and the soundscape swallows the entire universe might just be the actual Brown Note). Alien feels like a constant barrage of strange information, feelings, unresolved questions, and undirected rage. There’s some catharsis and validation at the end, with “Thalamus” and “Zen” offering bliss and unsteady peace with the chaos of the world and the mind, but it’s not a resolution and it’s not the end of the road. It’s not a perfect album and it’s not Strapping’s best work, but it’s worth many a listen and there’s definitely a lot to “Love?”

8.5/10: “I can’t even EAT…and I can’t even fuckin’ PISS!!”

Listen to: “Skeksis”

The Famine - The Raven and the Reaping (2008)

Further proving that there ARE good Christian actual-metal bands that are good shit, and people on both sides are just retarded sheep and refuse to find them for themselves. The faggy nu-kids stick to their August Bums Red and Bring Me the Whore-izon because they have never heard good music and apparently have no desire to, and the tr00 metalheads keep hating on Christian metal bands on principle because of those very bands (which is closer to a valid point in all honesty) but also don’t take the time to find the decent shit.
So I guess me and my open mind (and, of course, equally open anus-hole) lucked out when at my local hipster campus record store I stumbled upon a stretch of the “used CDs” section in which someone had apparently unloaded their “quite good Christian metal” collection in shame. I didn’t even know of any of the bands or their affiliation; the cover art and names of Zao, No Innocent Victim, Antestor, and The Famine looked cool and upon sampling the tracks, what I was hearing was solid, non-faggy early metalcore, dirty and raging crust punk, average but frosty-enough black metal, and tight-ass modern death metal, respectively. They were all cheaper than what a usual night with me face-down ass-up goes for and it was around the time I found myself needing some totally new blood in my always-daunting “listen-to list”. I snapped ‘em up.
When I discovered the lyrical content of these discs I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little put off. But since I’m not closed-minded dickhole I quickly got over it. Cheesy, poorly-formed lyrics about Jesus being heterosexual and fun are really no worse or more distracting than cheesy, poorly-formed lyrics about Satan being 666 and enemies will fall before me and war is bloodshed bullet bodies all around me, AMIRITE? But yeah, Christian lyrics are just as much a fantasy to me as anything by Mastodon so fuck it. Our subject today, The Famine, aren’t over-proselytizing anyway, there’s only one song with an overtly Jesusy tone anyway. And their music is killin it! I’m glad I’ve heard it.
The band on this album (I’ve never heard a note of their other stuff) play a mix of death metal and metalcore (NO WAIT COME BACK I SWEAR IT’S GOOD) that mercifully never crosses the line into deathcore or emo choruses. It’s like a mix of Decapitated and Pantera (even moreso than the last couple Decapitated albums have started to sound Panterish) with a pinch of the aforementioned Zao. It’s a totally groovin’ mix, the songwriting is often ace, and the performances all around are very nice, especially the drumming and possibly excluding the vocals.
The first four tracks are especially satisfying, blasting out right away with a confident, driving, cohesive, memorable sound. No song here reaches the four-minute mark, and the album as a whole is just over half an hour. PERFECT! I love short songs and short albums, if they need to be that way. Adds to the punch and replay value. And with songs this well-written, there’d be plenty of both even if there was more running time.
“Scar the Earth” and “Consume Devour Repeat” are the most standout tracks, both total killers with catchy but brutal guitar work and equally memorable vocal patterns and lines. I’m not an unequivocal fan of the vocal style; it’s a Zao-ish metalcore snarl but it’s aggressive if not particularly heavy. Never actively annoying, and he delivers some catchy stuff so I won’t bitch too much. Drumming is on point throughout the album, peppering tight but not quite mechanical blast beats into the simpler, heavier stuff. I think the guitarist played the bass for the tracking of the album; doesn’t matter, can’t discern at all.
Anyway, there’s a strobey breakdown halfway through “Consume” that’s the highlight of the album, great song. “The South Will Rise” is the most overtly Pantera-like track here, it would have been the most death-metal track on “Great Southern Trendkill” but it would have fit, and Anselmo would sound great delivering these vocals. “Death Threat” has a catchy but generic chorus and is still a solid tune. “Killing for Sport” is a less-than-a-minute diatribe but it’s not suddenly grindcore; mostly more of the same dissonant groovage, just focused to a sharper point.
After this stellar first half though, the album drops off a bit. The rest of the songs are still good and objectively as nicely composed and performed, but they’re lacking that spark that makes me love the first portion of the record. “Ascend” is the only song that features overtly Christian lyrics, and yeah they’re a little annoying. “It’s been so long since I said Your name/I will return to You, run to Your embrace”…not a superfan. The music is fine though, great Pantera-style breakdown.
The last three tracks in particular are nothing incredibly memorable. Fine stuff, I like it while I’m listening to it but none of the parts stick with me after that. “A” for effort and execution. The Famine have given me two great tracks, four good ones, and five average ones. Thanks, The Famine!
8/10: Worth your time. Nice artwork on this one too.
Listen to: “Consume Devour Repeat”

The Famine - The Raven and the Reaping (2008)

Further proving that there ARE good Christian actual-metal bands that are good shit, and people on both sides are just retarded sheep and refuse to find them for themselves. The faggy nu-kids stick to their August Bums Red and Bring Me the Whore-izon because they have never heard good music and apparently have no desire to, and the tr00 metalheads keep hating on Christian metal bands on principle because of those very bands (which is closer to a valid point in all honesty) but also don’t take the time to find the decent shit.

So I guess me and my open mind (and, of course, equally open anus-hole) lucked out when at my local hipster campus record store I stumbled upon a stretch of the “used CDs” section in which someone had apparently unloaded their “quite good Christian metal” collection in shame. I didn’t even know of any of the bands or their affiliation; the cover art and names of Zao, No Innocent Victim, Antestor, and The Famine looked cool and upon sampling the tracks, what I was hearing was solid, non-faggy early metalcore, dirty and raging crust punk, average but frosty-enough black metal, and tight-ass modern death metal, respectively. They were all cheaper than what a usual night with me face-down ass-up goes for and it was around the time I found myself needing some totally new blood in my always-daunting “listen-to list”. I snapped ‘em up.

When I discovered the lyrical content of these discs I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little put off. But since I’m not closed-minded dickhole I quickly got over it. Cheesy, poorly-formed lyrics about Jesus being heterosexual and fun are really no worse or more distracting than cheesy, poorly-formed lyrics about Satan being 666 and enemies will fall before me and war is bloodshed bullet bodies all around me, AMIRITE? But yeah, Christian lyrics are just as much a fantasy to me as anything by Mastodon so fuck it. Our subject today, The Famine, aren’t over-proselytizing anyway, there’s only one song with an overtly Jesusy tone anyway. And their music is killin it! I’m glad I’ve heard it.

The band on this album (I’ve never heard a note of their other stuff) play a mix of death metal and metalcore (NO WAIT COME BACK I SWEAR IT’S GOOD) that mercifully never crosses the line into deathcore or emo choruses. It’s like a mix of Decapitated and Pantera (even moreso than the last couple Decapitated albums have started to sound Panterish) with a pinch of the aforementioned Zao. It’s a totally groovin’ mix, the songwriting is often ace, and the performances all around are very nice, especially the drumming and possibly excluding the vocals.

The first four tracks are especially satisfying, blasting out right away with a confident, driving, cohesive, memorable sound. No song here reaches the four-minute mark, and the album as a whole is just over half an hour. PERFECT! I love short songs and short albums, if they need to be that way. Adds to the punch and replay value. And with songs this well-written, there’d be plenty of both even if there was more running time.

“Scar the Earth” and “Consume Devour Repeat” are the most standout tracks, both total killers with catchy but brutal guitar work and equally memorable vocal patterns and lines. I’m not an unequivocal fan of the vocal style; it’s a Zao-ish metalcore snarl but it’s aggressive if not particularly heavy. Never actively annoying, and he delivers some catchy stuff so I won’t bitch too much. Drumming is on point throughout the album, peppering tight but not quite mechanical blast beats into the simpler, heavier stuff. I think the guitarist played the bass for the tracking of the album; doesn’t matter, can’t discern at all.

Anyway, there’s a strobey breakdown halfway through “Consume” that’s the highlight of the album, great song. “The South Will Rise” is the most overtly Pantera-like track here, it would have been the most death-metal track on “Great Southern Trendkill” but it would have fit, and Anselmo would sound great delivering these vocals. “Death Threat” has a catchy but generic chorus and is still a solid tune. “Killing for Sport” is a less-than-a-minute diatribe but it’s not suddenly grindcore; mostly more of the same dissonant groovage, just focused to a sharper point.

After this stellar first half though, the album drops off a bit. The rest of the songs are still good and objectively as nicely composed and performed, but they’re lacking that spark that makes me love the first portion of the record. “Ascend” is the only song that features overtly Christian lyrics, and yeah they’re a little annoying. “It’s been so long since I said Your name/I will return to You, run to Your embrace”…not a superfan. The music is fine though, great Pantera-style breakdown.

The last three tracks in particular are nothing incredibly memorable. Fine stuff, I like it while I’m listening to it but none of the parts stick with me after that. “A” for effort and execution. The Famine have given me two great tracks, four good ones, and five average ones. Thanks, The Famine!

8/10: Worth your time. Nice artwork on this one too.

Listen to: “Consume Devour Repeat”

bearsboozebass:

Favorite black metal album

bearsboozebass:

Favorite black metal album

bearsboozebass:

I bought this album on the strength of the breathtaking artwork but it’s a very nice album too.  Perfect for a grey snowy day like today.  It’s like if a chestier-voiced James Hetfield fronted an epic black metal band.  

bearsboozebass:

I bought this album on the strength of the breathtaking artwork but it’s a very nice album too.  Perfect for a grey snowy day like today.  It’s like if a chestier-voiced James Hetfield fronted an epic black metal band.  

Atheist - Piece of Time (1989)
Splitting genre hairs changes the quality and my opinion of music not at all, so I don’t often do it in my reviews. But here I gotta speak up. Of course Atheist changed the face of death metal forever, and on their sophomore album “Unquestionable Presence” were FAR ahead of their time in incorporating death metal and free jazz elements. But this here fine debut is hardly death metal at all to my ears. It’s thrash. It’s a weird, nutzo kind of thrash that actually rarely thrashes in the traditional sense of double-picked-E-string, snare-on-the-upbeat, but the tonal language is entirely within that world. This sounds like if early Testament had been inclined to think particularly outside the box rhythmically and arrangement-wise. The standard-tuned guitars, the clear tonal center of E most of the time, the wailing solos that are a cross between Hanneman and Hammett (how Rand Burkey played a normal guitar upside-down, with the low strings on the bottom, boggles my brain the more I think about it, especially with his lightning solo work here), the lighter lyrical style and fast, high-pitched spitting in the vocals…sure, at this point in the late ‘80s extreme thrash and the new death metal were essentially the same thing, but for all intents and purposes today, this music lands firmly in the former category for me.
This is in no way, shape, or form a complaint; I am Thrash Junkie after all, and this is very well-done stuff in that vein, merely a bone I wanted to pick based on my expectations. When I got all of Atheist’s stuff expecting the weirdest, sickest early death metal and instead this album greeted my ears with the weirdest, sickest early thrash, it threw me for a loop for a little bit. Maybe if someone reading this hasn’t heard this album yet, my long-ass disclaimer will give them a better idea of what they’re gonna get.
And what you’re gonna get is primo prog-metal with scrappy spirit and somewhat sloppy execution. This is the kind of metal I live for: it sounds dangerous, energetic, sweaty, confident, and ambitious. I miss those days where talent and passion shone through odd productions, and hard-working bands with all untrained members were creating new, exciting sounds all the time. And I wasn’t even alive for those halcyon years. FUCK.
These pieces are full of catchy riffs, off-kilter stop-start transitions, and wildly shifting tempos (the latter perhaps unintentionally at times…). It’s interesting to read the sweet liner notes in the Relapse reissue and learn which songs of these were written first and later (some of these tunes had hung around through at least three demos). You can clearly see the band’s evolution even in this short set if you put the tracks in chronological order. “On They Slay” especially is a pretty immature composition, but charming and fun nonetheless. The structure never delivers on its great first minute or so, and the lyrics are standard early Slayer worship. By the likes of the title track and “No Truth”, however, the hurtling changes the songs go through are much more consistently entertaining and the lyrics are very thoughtful (along the lines of what Chuck Schuldiner would start penning a few years after this release), though clearly still written by green teenagers. I always chuckle (in a good way) at “We’re ATHEIST, as you can see!” in “No Truth”. That’s not the only spot where I’m reminded strongly of Metallica’s debut album; when Kelly Shaefer breaks out a few lines of cleaner singing he’s a dead ringer for teeneage Hetfield.
The band apparently wrote a lot of the songs around Roger Patterson’s bass lines. See the beginning of “I Deny” for a great example. Patterson plays a Testament-ish riff a few times by himself and then the guitars enter, and you keep expecting them to do the traditional thing and double the riff, but they never do; they hover eerily over the bass and drums cooking up a storm in the background. It’s a tremendous shame Roger was killed in a bus accident before the next album was recorded, he was clearly one of the best bass talents this early in extreme metal, and on this disc he can always be heard rumbling and bubbling away in the back, dancing around the riffs in ways that aren’t always readily apparent.
Every song has something to recommend it even if they’re not all enthralling throughout, but standouts include “Beyond”’s great opening riff and infectious fast-talking verses, the breakdown of “I Deny” that sounds not unlike what Meshuggah would be doing soon, though without the drums keeping a heavier backbeat (also points for the preceding “IT’S GOD’S WAY, SAYS YOUR HORRID WIIIIIIFE”), and the jaw-dropping opening salvo of “No Truth” that frustratingly never delivers, going into a full stop just when you were hoping the buildup would finally pay off, but instead a new riff is introduced by a lone guitar and it sounds like a completely different song. A great song, sure, but not the one the first intro promised.
Whatever genre you wanna call this thing, you gotta admire it for helping to birth the entire technical side of metal, and, along with the ensuing album, opening the door for stranger, less primitive song structures. I may not think this still counts as death metal, but I know for sure that a lot of my favorite death metal bands were inspired greatly by this and “Presence”. Doesn’t hurt that it’s a really fun listen.
7/10: If you always wished Kill ‘Em All was more rhythmically complex and had harsher vocals, you are in for a treat.
Listen to: “I Deny”

Atheist - Piece of Time (1989)

Splitting genre hairs changes the quality and my opinion of music not at all, so I don’t often do it in my reviews. But here I gotta speak up. Of course Atheist changed the face of death metal forever, and on their sophomore album “Unquestionable Presence” were FAR ahead of their time in incorporating death metal and free jazz elements. But this here fine debut is hardly death metal at all to my ears. It’s thrash. It’s a weird, nutzo kind of thrash that actually rarely thrashes in the traditional sense of double-picked-E-string, snare-on-the-upbeat, but the tonal language is entirely within that world. This sounds like if early Testament had been inclined to think particularly outside the box rhythmically and arrangement-wise. The standard-tuned guitars, the clear tonal center of E most of the time, the wailing solos that are a cross between Hanneman and Hammett (how Rand Burkey played a normal guitar upside-down, with the low strings on the bottom, boggles my brain the more I think about it, especially with his lightning solo work here), the lighter lyrical style and fast, high-pitched spitting in the vocals…sure, at this point in the late ‘80s extreme thrash and the new death metal were essentially the same thing, but for all intents and purposes today, this music lands firmly in the former category for me.

This is in no way, shape, or form a complaint; I am Thrash Junkie after all, and this is very well-done stuff in that vein, merely a bone I wanted to pick based on my expectations. When I got all of Atheist’s stuff expecting the weirdest, sickest early death metal and instead this album greeted my ears with the weirdest, sickest early thrash, it threw me for a loop for a little bit. Maybe if someone reading this hasn’t heard this album yet, my long-ass disclaimer will give them a better idea of what they’re gonna get.

And what you’re gonna get is primo prog-metal with scrappy spirit and somewhat sloppy execution. This is the kind of metal I live for: it sounds dangerous, energetic, sweaty, confident, and ambitious. I miss those days where talent and passion shone through odd productions, and hard-working bands with all untrained members were creating new, exciting sounds all the time. And I wasn’t even alive for those halcyon years. FUCK.

These pieces are full of catchy riffs, off-kilter stop-start transitions, and wildly shifting tempos (the latter perhaps unintentionally at times…). It’s interesting to read the sweet liner notes in the Relapse reissue and learn which songs of these were written first and later (some of these tunes had hung around through at least three demos). You can clearly see the band’s evolution even in this short set if you put the tracks in chronological order. “On They Slay” especially is a pretty immature composition, but charming and fun nonetheless. The structure never delivers on its great first minute or so, and the lyrics are standard early Slayer worship. By the likes of the title track and “No Truth”, however, the hurtling changes the songs go through are much more consistently entertaining and the lyrics are very thoughtful (along the lines of what Chuck Schuldiner would start penning a few years after this release), though clearly still written by green teenagers. I always chuckle (in a good way) at “We’re ATHEIST, as you can see!” in “No Truth”. That’s not the only spot where I’m reminded strongly of Metallica’s debut album; when Kelly Shaefer breaks out a few lines of cleaner singing he’s a dead ringer for teeneage Hetfield.

The band apparently wrote a lot of the songs around Roger Patterson’s bass lines. See the beginning of “I Deny” for a great example. Patterson plays a Testament-ish riff a few times by himself and then the guitars enter, and you keep expecting them to do the traditional thing and double the riff, but they never do; they hover eerily over the bass and drums cooking up a storm in the background. It’s a tremendous shame Roger was killed in a bus accident before the next album was recorded, he was clearly one of the best bass talents this early in extreme metal, and on this disc he can always be heard rumbling and bubbling away in the back, dancing around the riffs in ways that aren’t always readily apparent.

Every song has something to recommend it even if they’re not all enthralling throughout, but standouts include “Beyond”’s great opening riff and infectious fast-talking verses, the breakdown of “I Deny” that sounds not unlike what Meshuggah would be doing soon, though without the drums keeping a heavier backbeat (also points for the preceding “IT’S GOD’S WAY, SAYS YOUR HORRID WIIIIIIFE”), and the jaw-dropping opening salvo of “No Truth” that frustratingly never delivers, going into a full stop just when you were hoping the buildup would finally pay off, but instead a new riff is introduced by a lone guitar and it sounds like a completely different song. A great song, sure, but not the one the first intro promised.

Whatever genre you wanna call this thing, you gotta admire it for helping to birth the entire technical side of metal, and, along with the ensuing album, opening the door for stranger, less primitive song structures. I may not think this still counts as death metal, but I know for sure that a lot of my favorite death metal bands were inspired greatly by this and “Presence”. Doesn’t hurt that it’s a really fun listen.

7/10: If you always wished Kill ‘Em All was more rhythmically complex and had harsher vocals, you are in for a treat.

Listen to: “I Deny”

Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy (2012)
I haven’t listened to “The Unspoken King”. I will eventually. But right now I have more pressing matters. I’ll probably hate it like nearly everybody else does. Oh well. Since Jon Levasseur had left the band for that album (after presumably writing most if not all of “Once Was Not”) and having an all-new vocalist following the departure of my personal hero Lord Worm, even with Flo still on drummage and Eric still on bassage I doubt it’s much of a Cryptopsy record except in name anyway.
BUT HOORAY LEVASSEUR CAME BACK, just in time to save the band from utter abysmal abandonment from their fans. Now Eric is gone from the bass spot, though they now have someone just as good if less distinctive. Still got Wacktard on vocals, but eh can’t win ‘em all. And now, as I’d expect, with the Levasseur-Mounier duo back in business, Cryptopsy sounds like Cryptopsy again, and they’re killing it.
You can NOT fucking argue with the first few songs on this album. “Two-Pound Torch” and “Shag Harbour’s Visitors” are as vicious, lacerating, kinetic, crazy, and smart as anything else the band has EVER done. Songwriting is impeccable and mind-shreddingly dense as always, the drum tracks on their own would be a pretty good album, the riffs sound like incredibly sharp knives that slide through your guts like butter…god I love it when Cryptopsy is ON. “Torch” centers around an electrocuting, nasty little hook and a quick melodeath riff that reminds me a hell of a lot of “None So Vile”’s similar neoclassical moments. And “Visitors” is a masterpiece of gripping tech-death. Few bands can play death metal this all-over-the-map and dense with ideas and notes and make it as riveting as prime Cryptopsy. There’s a moment in this song where the band comes to a halt and Mounier snaps off a tiny little cymbal fill and then all of a sudden they turn it all the way up maximum intensity and it scrambles your insides and makes you blink. This is the work of musicians who can play anything they can think of, but know exactly how to arrange what they think of for maximum impact.
“Red-Skinned Scapegoat” isn’t as perfect as the first two tracks but it’s wonderful as well. There’s an irresistible frantically-headbang moment after a sweet bass fill that recalls my beloved Langlois’s finer moments in the band. This is the longest track on the album by nearly a minute, and it does begin to lose steam and momentum towards the end, but the free-jazz interlude is a great moment and a lot of fun.
To my disappointment, though, that’s as good as the album ever gets. Each of the ensuing tracks is slightly less than the one before. They’re still impeccably played, highly creative, and largely of the same mold as the first three steamrollers, but the album gets less and less memorable the longer it goes. Thankfully the whole thing’s only 35 minutes, which is just about right for an album in my opinion, and especially one as jam-packed as this beast. None of the stuff on here is bad, but if this album was an EP consisting of the last five tracks I’d be quite underwhelmed. There just aren’t as many “moments” in them. “Damned Draft Dodgers” has a sarcastic elevator-music break that gooses my interest in it for a few seconds, and “Ominous” hits a brick wall halfway through and falls face-first into a terrifying slow dirge, but overall the lack of standout moments and the less fascinating way they’re strung together make the rest of the album definitely a letdown.
I don’t need to tell you about the drumming on here. Go read my other Cryptopsy reviews. Flo Mounier is the real drumming deal.
I will tell you about the vocals though. Apparently new frontface Matt McGachy was recruited for the previous record from a shite metalcore band and, from what I’ve heard, thought it would be cute to do some shite metalcore shite all over “Unspoken King”. Here he realizes absolutely fucking nobody wanted that in their Cryptopsy and sticks to a death metal growl. Unfortunately it’s a pretty weak, breathy, hollow-sounding growl at that. It sounds like a string of harshly whispered vowel sounds turned up as loud as possible and laid on top of death metal. It’s no fun to listen to and is though not truly awful, does reduce the personality of the album quite a bit.
Since the guy writes all the lyrics too, when I cuddled up in my bed with the CD booklet for my customary lyrics-read-along listen, I was fully prepared for anus spew. But I actually kinda dug them. Just reading the lyrics out loud wouldn’t sound like metal lyrics at all most of the time. They’re like strangely detached free-verse poetry about weird or grisly events throughout Canadian history. A different approach from the short, declamatory phrasing you usually hear, and the word choice is often interesting and offbeat as well. Cryptopsy works best with a unique lyrical approach (thanks, Lord Worm, luv u bb) and I do appreciate the one taken here. “Shag Harbour’s Visitors” and “Ominous” stick out in my mind as lyric sets I really liked.
Even though I don’t know “Unspoken King” and am not in a great hurry to make its acquaintance, I’m so glad Levasseur returned to the band (apparently he’s fucked off AGAIN after recording this album or something?!) and wrote a real Cryptopsy record that we can all agree is damn good, if clearly front-loaded. And to be fair, just about any album would seem front-loaded if you put the first three tracks of “Cryptopsy” at the beginning of them. Those songs are total monsters.
8.5/10: They got back to business for a bit, but apparently the future is unclear yet again.
Listen to: “Shag Harbour’s Visitors”

Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy (2012)

I haven’t listened to “The Unspoken King”. I will eventually. But right now I have more pressing matters. I’ll probably hate it like nearly everybody else does. Oh well. Since Jon Levasseur had left the band for that album (after presumably writing most if not all of “Once Was Not”) and having an all-new vocalist following the departure of my personal hero Lord Worm, even with Flo still on drummage and Eric still on bassage I doubt it’s much of a Cryptopsy record except in name anyway.

BUT HOORAY LEVASSEUR CAME BACK, just in time to save the band from utter abysmal abandonment from their fans. Now Eric is gone from the bass spot, though they now have someone just as good if less distinctive. Still got Wacktard on vocals, but eh can’t win ‘em all. And now, as I’d expect, with the Levasseur-Mounier duo back in business, Cryptopsy sounds like Cryptopsy again, and they’re killing it.

You can NOT fucking argue with the first few songs on this album. “Two-Pound Torch” and “Shag Harbour’s Visitors” are as vicious, lacerating, kinetic, crazy, and smart as anything else the band has EVER done. Songwriting is impeccable and mind-shreddingly dense as always, the drum tracks on their own would be a pretty good album, the riffs sound like incredibly sharp knives that slide through your guts like butter…god I love it when Cryptopsy is ON. “Torch” centers around an electrocuting, nasty little hook and a quick melodeath riff that reminds me a hell of a lot of “None So Vile”’s similar neoclassical moments. And “Visitors” is a masterpiece of gripping tech-death. Few bands can play death metal this all-over-the-map and dense with ideas and notes and make it as riveting as prime Cryptopsy. There’s a moment in this song where the band comes to a halt and Mounier snaps off a tiny little cymbal fill and then all of a sudden they turn it all the way up maximum intensity and it scrambles your insides and makes you blink. This is the work of musicians who can play anything they can think of, but know exactly how to arrange what they think of for maximum impact.

“Red-Skinned Scapegoat” isn’t as perfect as the first two tracks but it’s wonderful as well. There’s an irresistible frantically-headbang moment after a sweet bass fill that recalls my beloved Langlois’s finer moments in the band. This is the longest track on the album by nearly a minute, and it does begin to lose steam and momentum towards the end, but the free-jazz interlude is a great moment and a lot of fun.

To my disappointment, though, that’s as good as the album ever gets. Each of the ensuing tracks is slightly less than the one before. They’re still impeccably played, highly creative, and largely of the same mold as the first three steamrollers, but the album gets less and less memorable the longer it goes. Thankfully the whole thing’s only 35 minutes, which is just about right for an album in my opinion, and especially one as jam-packed as this beast. None of the stuff on here is bad, but if this album was an EP consisting of the last five tracks I’d be quite underwhelmed. There just aren’t as many “moments” in them. “Damned Draft Dodgers” has a sarcastic elevator-music break that gooses my interest in it for a few seconds, and “Ominous” hits a brick wall halfway through and falls face-first into a terrifying slow dirge, but overall the lack of standout moments and the less fascinating way they’re strung together make the rest of the album definitely a letdown.

I don’t need to tell you about the drumming on here. Go read my other Cryptopsy reviews. Flo Mounier is the real drumming deal.

I will tell you about the vocals though. Apparently new frontface Matt McGachy was recruited for the previous record from a shite metalcore band and, from what I’ve heard, thought it would be cute to do some shite metalcore shite all over “Unspoken King”. Here he realizes absolutely fucking nobody wanted that in their Cryptopsy and sticks to a death metal growl. Unfortunately it’s a pretty weak, breathy, hollow-sounding growl at that. It sounds like a string of harshly whispered vowel sounds turned up as loud as possible and laid on top of death metal. It’s no fun to listen to and is though not truly awful, does reduce the personality of the album quite a bit.

Since the guy writes all the lyrics too, when I cuddled up in my bed with the CD booklet for my customary lyrics-read-along listen, I was fully prepared for anus spew. But I actually kinda dug them. Just reading the lyrics out loud wouldn’t sound like metal lyrics at all most of the time. They’re like strangely detached free-verse poetry about weird or grisly events throughout Canadian history. A different approach from the short, declamatory phrasing you usually hear, and the word choice is often interesting and offbeat as well. Cryptopsy works best with a unique lyrical approach (thanks, Lord Worm, luv u bb) and I do appreciate the one taken here. “Shag Harbour’s Visitors” and “Ominous” stick out in my mind as lyric sets I really liked.

Even though I don’t know “Unspoken King” and am not in a great hurry to make its acquaintance, I’m so glad Levasseur returned to the band (apparently he’s fucked off AGAIN after recording this album or something?!) and wrote a real Cryptopsy record that we can all agree is damn good, if clearly front-loaded. And to be fair, just about any album would seem front-loaded if you put the first three tracks of “Cryptopsy” at the beginning of them. Those songs are total monsters.

8.5/10: They got back to business for a bit, but apparently the future is unclear yet again.

Listen to: “Shag Harbour’s Visitors”

Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)
THIS IS THRASH JUNKIE’S 50th REVIEW, MOTHERFUCKERS!!! And we’re going back to an indisputable classic of the genre and getting nice ‘n’ old-school before I get all heavy and deathy on your asses again.
After two poppy, boring misfires, back in ’90 Judas Priest ripped out one more true classic album before Halford split and then came back and still nobody really cared. That classic is “Painkiller”, and it’s riffier, tougher, and more epic than Priest had ever been before. And most likely ever will be again.
I can’t imagine how bold this must have sounded at the time, especially since after the last couple records it would have been hard to expect something this killer from the band, but they put it all on the line IMMEDIATELY, slamming down one of the most iconic metal tracks of all time right at the beginning. “Painkiller” is one of THE metal songs. I don’t need to describe this song to you. If I do, then please fuck off of my metal blog and don’t come back until you’re not a poser anymore. The only thing I could POSSIBLY complain about in this song is the really goofy “r”-rolling Halford does throughout. You’re singing in modern English. Why.
I will say that the tougher sound of the band is also made apparent from the first seconds, with the new drummer Scott Travis throwing down a double-bass-filled intro and following through on that ferocious promise throughout the album. His more liberal use of the constant bass drums brings the Priest sound closer to a near-thrash intensity than ever before, and surely this more-aggressive yet more-melodic approach to classic metal highly influenced what would come to be known as power metal.
Unfortunately, while laying it all on the line with a gem like the title track makes for a spectacular opening, it flaws the album structurally. All of the ensuing tracks are good, and a few are great, but none touch the level of classic that the first track does. This problem is made clear right away with the decision to follow the first burst of glory with easily the weakest track on display here: “Hell Patrol”. There’s nothing really wrong with this song, and most heavy metal songs would have a rough time of it directly following “Painkiller” in a tracklisting, but “Patrol” is considerably lighter fare than the rest of the ripping tracks. The rhythm guitar work is middling triplet-y galloping rifflessness, and even though cheesy lyrics are the bread and butter of this style, there’s really no excuse for “vapo-rape-ize you…paratamize you”. At least the first one is kind of a play on “vaporize” and “rape” I assume, but what the hell is “paratamize”? It gets a giggle instead of a horn-flash.
“All Guns Blazing” is a step up despite still being among the lower echelon of song quality here. Slightly annoying vocal-only lead-in, but then the riff comes in sounding like “Aftershock” by Anthrax and we’re back on track. Not a fantastic song, but it grooves along with insistent double-bass during the solo section and a nice half-time insertion right after it.
“Leather Rebel” is much more like it, with sexy fleet-footed dancing by Travis during the verses, choruses, AND solos, and what a chorus that is to boot. “Metal Meltdown” is even better, a really irresistible cheeseball anthem. There’s an honest-to-God BREAKDOWN before the last chorus, and the closing buildup of “Me…tal…melt…down” cannot be denied with the demonic growl layered behind it.
The next two tracks are alright too, better than the first pair of weaker tracks but nothing delightful. The album closes in truly epic fashion though, with the majestic kinda-heavy, kinda-ballad “Touch of Evil” and uber-catchy “One Shot at Glory”. The band make the smart decision to save the keyboard action for “Touch”, and it’s employed perfectly, adding just the ominous undertone the song needs along with enhancing the riffs with equally important fills and lines. “Glory” is my personal second-favorite song on the album, and I can’t fully explain why, I just really dig it. Really well-orchestrated middle section in this one, and the final falsetto statement of the title after the last chorus is a standout moment on the album.
The production is the standard early-90’s reverb-fest that I so detest, especially the corny-sounding drums and very annoying vocal echo stuff. But it gives it that somewhat pleasantly dated feel, almost like it’s a decade older than it is, and sounds right at home among Priest’s earlier classics.
This doesn’t fucking need a wrap-up. It’s “Painkiller”. You like it.
8/10: For the record, I definitely think Tipton wins the solo-trophy on this one. And in general.
Listen to: You know and love the title track of course, so “One Shot at Glory”.

Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)

THIS IS THRASH JUNKIE’S 50th REVIEW, MOTHERFUCKERS!!! And we’re going back to an indisputable classic of the genre and getting nice ‘n’ old-school before I get all heavy and deathy on your asses again.

After two poppy, boring misfires, back in ’90 Judas Priest ripped out one more true classic album before Halford split and then came back and still nobody really cared. That classic is “Painkiller”, and it’s riffier, tougher, and more epic than Priest had ever been before. And most likely ever will be again.

I can’t imagine how bold this must have sounded at the time, especially since after the last couple records it would have been hard to expect something this killer from the band, but they put it all on the line IMMEDIATELY, slamming down one of the most iconic metal tracks of all time right at the beginning. “Painkiller” is one of THE metal songs. I don’t need to describe this song to you. If I do, then please fuck off of my metal blog and don’t come back until you’re not a poser anymore. The only thing I could POSSIBLY complain about in this song is the really goofy “r”-rolling Halford does throughout. You’re singing in modern English. Why.

I will say that the tougher sound of the band is also made apparent from the first seconds, with the new drummer Scott Travis throwing down a double-bass-filled intro and following through on that ferocious promise throughout the album. His more liberal use of the constant bass drums brings the Priest sound closer to a near-thrash intensity than ever before, and surely this more-aggressive yet more-melodic approach to classic metal highly influenced what would come to be known as power metal.

Unfortunately, while laying it all on the line with a gem like the title track makes for a spectacular opening, it flaws the album structurally. All of the ensuing tracks are good, and a few are great, but none touch the level of classic that the first track does. This problem is made clear right away with the decision to follow the first burst of glory with easily the weakest track on display here: “Hell Patrol”. There’s nothing really wrong with this song, and most heavy metal songs would have a rough time of it directly following “Painkiller” in a tracklisting, but “Patrol” is considerably lighter fare than the rest of the ripping tracks. The rhythm guitar work is middling triplet-y galloping rifflessness, and even though cheesy lyrics are the bread and butter of this style, there’s really no excuse for “vapo-rape-ize you…paratamize you”. At least the first one is kind of a play on “vaporize” and “rape” I assume, but what the hell is “paratamize”? It gets a giggle instead of a horn-flash.

“All Guns Blazing” is a step up despite still being among the lower echelon of song quality here. Slightly annoying vocal-only lead-in, but then the riff comes in sounding like “Aftershock” by Anthrax and we’re back on track. Not a fantastic song, but it grooves along with insistent double-bass during the solo section and a nice half-time insertion right after it.

“Leather Rebel” is much more like it, with sexy fleet-footed dancing by Travis during the verses, choruses, AND solos, and what a chorus that is to boot. “Metal Meltdown” is even better, a really irresistible cheeseball anthem. There’s an honest-to-God BREAKDOWN before the last chorus, and the closing buildup of “Me…tal…melt…down” cannot be denied with the demonic growl layered behind it.

The next two tracks are alright too, better than the first pair of weaker tracks but nothing delightful. The album closes in truly epic fashion though, with the majestic kinda-heavy, kinda-ballad “Touch of Evil” and uber-catchy “One Shot at Glory”. The band make the smart decision to save the keyboard action for “Touch”, and it’s employed perfectly, adding just the ominous undertone the song needs along with enhancing the riffs with equally important fills and lines. “Glory” is my personal second-favorite song on the album, and I can’t fully explain why, I just really dig it. Really well-orchestrated middle section in this one, and the final falsetto statement of the title after the last chorus is a standout moment on the album.

The production is the standard early-90’s reverb-fest that I so detest, especially the corny-sounding drums and very annoying vocal echo stuff. But it gives it that somewhat pleasantly dated feel, almost like it’s a decade older than it is, and sounds right at home among Priest’s earlier classics.

This doesn’t fucking need a wrap-up. It’s “Painkiller”. You like it.

8/10: For the record, I definitely think Tipton wins the solo-trophy on this one. And in general.

Listen to: You know and love the title track of course, so “One Shot at Glory”.