Blog Archives

Album Review: Metal Resistance by BabyMetal

originalWhen BabyMetal popped up some years ago with that very Japanese video for Doki Doki Panic, I got a good kick out of the metal/Jpop hybrid dancing girl trio, watched it a few times, shared it on the Facebook, and then went back about my business of being a trve br00tl metalhead. I guess a lot of people liked that video as it caught on like wildfire and more crazy songs and videos ensued, even a full album. Thinking it was a pure gimmick with no heart like most ‘produced’ bands I passed on it.  Not that I don’t have a soft spot for the occasional bit of Jpop, I do play a fuckton of Japanese RPGs (tips hat to the Persona composers) and I do love me some Maximum the Hormone, it just seemed like something that would be forgettable when the image was taken away.

Last month the new single/video for ‘Karate’ was released and of course I checked it out without hesitation expecting to dig it and then be on my merry way.  What I didn’t expect was how much it would catch in my brain.  Between that slick groove metal riff, infectious chorus, and chilling outro I kept saying to myself that the people writing the music for these girls really do have some damn fine chops. So, I decided to take the dive and check out the new record, Metal Resistance, to see how well it held up with the image removed and the music holding its own.  And boy am I surprised at how much this record kept surprising me.

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Roundtable Review: A Tunnel to Eden by Alustrium

a1122127405_10Album: A Tunnel to Eden

Artist: Alustrium

Location: United States

Label: Self-Released

Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Release Date: July 24th, 2015

Songs: 11

Length: 1 hour 13 minutes

Studio Albums: An Absence of Clarity (2011)

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Album Review: High Country by The Sword

The Sword High Country Album CoverSome bands evolve, some metamorphose.   If you look at a butterfly you can still see the remnants of the shriveled caterpillar body still hanging around but for the most part the entirety is changed after a brief cocooning period.  Unlike evolution where the change takes place over a huge period of time and many key features are still kept in tact, metamorphosis yields something quite different from its original and the process of change is quite abrupt.  You could say a band like Opeth evolved into the prog rock powerhouse they are today slightly changing it up album after album.  And Clutch took metamorphosis path when they injected some gospel/blues rock into their sludge metal sound on their self-titled sophomore record (the cocoon phase) and then fully embraced it on their third album, The Elephant Riders, where the metal edge was heavily toned down but still had a glaring presence.  With both bands, if you listen to their latest in contrast with their earliest works, they are almost completely different bands but still maintain their cores.  Metamorphosis is, however, a much more pronounced change.  For their fifth full length album, High Country, The Sword have metamorphosed into something quite different from their sludgy doom metal beginnings.

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Album Review: Forgotten Horror – Aeon of the Shadow Goddess

R-6980387-1430907835-3119.jpegAlbum:  Aeon of the Shadow Goddess

Label:  Walpurgis Night MMXV

Release Date:  15 May 2015

Genre: Black Metal

Songs:  9

Length:  46 Minutes

Previous Album:  The Serpent Creation (2011)

Location:  Finland

It isn’t every day that I decide to sit down and willingly listen to music saturated with black metal blast beats or listen to music even slightly blackened by any signature black elements or anything relating to “black” and “metal” in the same sentence.   Even if it’s a little bit black metal it’s sort of like asking a strict vegetarian to try this all-beef burger because it’s so good and they’re sure to like it.   I’m not a vegetarian, but you get the picture.   Black metal and I tend to not get along well, though I have much respect for the genre.   It is intense and in most cases quite extreme.   What’s not to respect about that?  And, there are some blackened/near black/mostly black/partly black metal bands I do like, but they are usually the ones that most “true” black metal fans don’t like.  Anyway, before I decided to review Forgotten Horror, as you might have guessed bears its roots in black metal, I gave the album no less than 8-10 listens so I could be honest with my feelings.  Read the rest of this entry

Album Review: Transport Aerian – Darkblue

DarkblueLocation: Leuven, Belgium

Genre: RIO/Avant Progressive Rock

Release date: 1 May 2015

Label: Melodic Revolution Records

Previous releases: Blessed (2009), Charcoal (2010), Bleeding (2014), Live.Blood.Live (2014)

Tracks: 8

Length: 41 minutes

Recommended to: Fans of Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Storm Corrosion, Porcupine Tree, The 3rd And The Mortal

Mammal’s rating: 4.2 out of 5

The Transport Aerian project have done it again with an album of fascinating and engrossing music that sounds unlike anything recorded by anyone else. Once more the project have thrown away the artificial constraints that bind music to a particular genre or style.

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Album Review: The Grand Astoria – The Mighty Few

LBE-TGALocation: St. Petersburg, Russia

Genre: Jazz-infused progressive psychedelic stoner rock

Release date: 18 May 2015

Label: Independent

Previous full-length releases: “The Grand Astoria” aka “I” (2009); “II” (2010); “Omnipresence” (2011); “Punkadelia Supreme” (2013); “Who’s in Charge?” (2014); “The Process of Weeding Out” (2014); “La Belle Epoque” (2014)

Tracks: 2

Length: 50 minutes

Recommended to: Everyone who enjoys stoner or sludge metal, psychedelic rock, experimental progressive rock and/or avant-garde jazz

Mammal’s rating: 5 out of 5

Damn! Here’s another album to which I can award only 5 out of 5. Expect to see “The Mighty Few” elbowing other magnificent albums vigorously for my top ranking of 2015. At just 7 euros on Bandcamp, this masterpiece is an absolute steal. Get it now if you want to give your brain a dozen types of eargasms.

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Roundtable Review: The Sun Explodes – The Calm, The Storm EP

TCTS ArtworkLabel:  Self-released

Release Date:  May 18th 2015

Songs:  5

Length: 23 minutes

Genre:  Creative progressive rock

Studio Albums: Emergence 2012, We Build Mountains 2013

Location:  Carlisle, UK

For fans of: Circa Survive, Children of Nova, Dream Theater, Tesseract

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Album Review: Ascendia – The Lion and the Jester

AscendiaTheLionAndTheJesterLocation: Toronto, Canada

Genre: Progressive symphonic power metal

Release date: 21 December 2014

Label: Independent

Previous releases: This is their debut album

Tracks: 12

Length: 58 minutes

Recommended to: Fans of Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot, Circus Maximus, Arena, Uriah Heep, Whitesnake and other quality, melodious metal and rock.

Mammal’s rating: 4 out of 5

I invented the genre label in the album info at the top of this post. I had to. Ascendia doesn’t slot into any single category. That is intentional by the band. They’ve been building their own, unique combination of styles and influences. In their case you might say, “One band fits all.” In my opinion they’d do damn well at any rock festival, prog festival or metal fest. Their appeal should span across a wide range of tastes.

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Album Review: Cambion – Virus (Extended Edition)

Cambion Virus ArtworkLocation: Exeter, Devonshire, England

Genre: Technical Progressive Metal

Release date: 20 April 2015

Label: Independent

Previous EP releases: City of Ember (2010), Last Rites (2011), Virus (2012)

Tracks: 8

Length: 38 minutes

Recommended to: Fans of Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Gojira and other creators of adventurous experimental metal

Mammal’s rating: 4.5 out of 5

When you listen to bands like Cambion, it’s easy to understand how they hold their fans in such thrall. It’s surprising that they haven’t been swooped up by a big metal label.  Cambion will be new to many prog metal fans, but once they’ve heard this band, it should soar high up in their estimation.

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Album Review: Graveward by Sigh

a4227779154_10Italy is known for many things: Food, culture, food, friendly people, food, women, food, wine, food, fashion, food, beautiful seas and landscapes, and food.  If you happen to be a fan of cinema, Italy also has got you covered there, especially if you happen to be a fan of the horror genre.  From Dario Argento and Joe D’Amato to Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava you could almost say that gore and suspense were practically invented on the Big Boot.  Italy is also home of two of the most controversial horror/suspense flicks ever made (Cannibal Holocaust and Salò: 120 Days of Sodom, neither are safe for life).  If you have ever seen the Fulci classic Zombi (or known as Zombi 2 and Zombie Flesh Eaters in some places, same movie, it’s confusing, roll with it) you no doubt remember one of the finest scenes in horror movie history, Zombie vs. Shark in a battle to the death.  What makes that scene so special goes beyond its ridiculousness and it’s shot straight-faced.  It creates this unique dynamic of art house, horror, and comedy that modern Zomedy directors could only wish to achieve.  With this particular approach to horror/suspense it’s always amazed me that metal bands rarely channel this particular sect of horror, especially given its massive influence on the genre that maybe too many metal bands take their inspiration from.  Enter Japan’s Sigh, a band that has not even once followed anything close to ‘normal’ or ‘conventional’, and their new record Graveward.

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