Thursday, December 25, 2008

Review: Black September/ Thou- Thrive & Decay (Split)



Black September/ Thou- Thrive & Decay (Split)

(Self released)

Here’s a quick look at a two song, self-released split from Black September and Thou. First up is “Under The Rising” from Black September, a sludge driven and mid-paced outfit from Chicago, Illinois. Upon listening to the track, the obvious comparisons to Black September would be a collision between Outlaw Order (the up tempo version of Eyehategod) and Soilent Green with a blackened death metal influence present, as well. Also noteworthy are the vocals from Jen Pickett, although the fact that the vocals are from a woman are not noticeable. A good song and it is worth noting that Black September have an EP under their collective belts, but are unsigned and have yet to issue a debut full-length. Certainly, the exposure that Black September garner with this split with Thou, an established band, should result in a signing. I look forward to their debut full-length.

Rounding out the split is “Smoke Pigs” from Thou, another sludge laden act from Louisiana that have already issued a debut full-length. That album, “Peasant”, was issued on the always anxiety inducing Autopsy Kitchen Records, and I gave the album a generally positive review awhile back. “Smoke Pigs” is a bit more up tempo than the tracks presented on “Peasant”, and sounds even closer to Outlaw Order/ Eyehategod than Black September.

Both of the bands on this split are promising, and I look forward to future releases from each. I urge you to check out audio samples from each at their respective band pages below.

Black September MySpace (Official)

Thou MySpace (Official)

I also note the following, once again...

Born December 25th, 1642 (Julian Calendar)...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sword, Machine Head, and... some other band...



Bands: Metallica, Machine Head, and The Sword

Venue: Los Angeles Forum

Date: December 18th, 2008

Many of you will, no doubt, be surprised to hear that I managed to convince myself that Metallica are worth paying some attention to once again. In fact, I went so far as to attend the recent Metallica concert held at the Forum on December 18th, the second of two shows. I told myself that my real intention was to see The Sword, one of the better melodic stoner metal acts to appear on the scene since Monster Magnet (some of you may be even more surprised to hear that I have a soft spot in my heart for well done, melodic stoner metal), but I was also anticipating my first Metallica show in over 20 years.

At any rate, I made damn sure to get to the Forum in time to see The Sword, starting right on the dot at 7pm. In front of a sparse crowd and on a stage centered in the arena, The Sword were awesome with tight musicianship, crystal clear sound, and an excellent range of mostly instrumental songs culled from “Gods of the Earth”. They played an excellent half hour set and didn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd as I ended up berating the typical "Metallica-is-the-heaviest-band-in-the-world" knuckleheads around me to pay attention to some great metal. Morons.

Machine Head were next, replacing Lamb of God who were unceremoniously booted off the bill for the two L.A. shows for some unfathomable reason. Machine Head flat out sucked. They should promptly fire whoever was working their mixing board as the sound was a muddled mess throughout their entire set. Granted, the L.A. Forum is a cavernous arena not well suited to metal, but there’s no excuse for the garbage that was delivered tonight. Except for the double bass, you couldn’t hear the drums, the bass was non-existent, and Rob Flynn’s voice was also buried in a wall of guitar sound that was mixed way too low. From a veteran band on the second night of two shows in the same arena, this was absolutely pathetic.

Metallica delivered the goods for a mammoth, two and a half hour set. Good sound, a good stage show, and well-executed showmanship accompanied a better than expected set list that studiously avoided their string of three atrocious albums (take a wild guess). Highlights included “The Four Horsemen”, “Ride the Lightning”, “Fight Fire With Fire”, “One”, and, strangely enough, “Breadfan”. Five new tracks from “Death Magnetic” were included, and were pulled off very well and mixed in nicely with the aforementioned classics. There were a few moments that dragged over such a long set, as I cannot stand any of the material from “Metallica” and the band did get a bit sloppy during “Master of Puppets” (shades of ’86, eh, Skull?). The closer was “Seek And Destroy”, played with the house lights on as logoed beach balls dropped out of the ceiling onto the crowd below. The crowd, somewhat exhausted at this point, was revived as people enthusiastically booted the copious beach balls all over the arena.

Overall, I had a good time at a good performance. I won’t go as far as to say that Metallica are “back” in some manner, but there were hints of the greatness of years past. Incidentally, Metallica have enough money; I bought a t-shirt from The Sword, instead.

Here's the garbage.

The pics...

The Sword



Machine Head



Metallica







The video (audio REALLY lousy)...

The Sword



Metallica (One)



Metallica (Seek And Destroy with beach balls)



The t-shirt haul...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Metal Weekend...

Cosmo Lee was recently in town, and we hit up a few metal related activities. We decided to check out the True Norwegian Black Metal photo exhibit being held at Zune L.A. late one Friday afternoon. Zune L.A. is a Microsoft- related gallery of sorts that moonlights as a music club. The Peter Beste exhibit was confined to a small space with about 30 or so of the photographs on display. Unfortunately, very little text accompanied the exhibit, other than the already published preface by Johan Kugelberg. The photographs speak for themselves, however, perhaps more so in this unrelated, incongruous space, and the exhibit is definitely worth seeing during the limited engagement. L.A. Weekly did an extensive cover story of the exhibit a few weeks back. A few shots...









We also briefly checked out Exmortus and Rise at the Knitting Factory later that weekend. Although I was greatly impressed by Exmortus' debut full-length "In Hatred's Flame", their performance was sloppy and seemingly riddled with errors. Rise are a totally generic symphonic black metal band with virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Ugh. A few shots...

Exmortus...



Rise...



Exmortus...