Monday, December 28, 2009

2009

BEST OF THE YEAR: 2009

I noticed several trends of importance in metal this year. For example, the lousy economy has decimated the local metal concert scene with L.A.’s venues closing left and right. Show attendance is way down and, undoubtedly, bands are suffering.

Four musical trends caught my eye. Orthodox black metal has now taken over as the most creative, dynamic aspect of the genre and has greatly elevated the art form. Second, USBM continues to diversify and has greatly separated itself from the European form. Third, old school death metal has roared back, seemingly out of nowhere, with a huge amount of high quality releases, and, fourth, the retro thrash movement continues to develop with the weeding out process of inferior bands well underway. In my opinion, aspects of these musical trends reflect a backlash of sorts against “all things core” and overtly technical death metal that lacks soul.

As for my noteworthy releases, I’ve decided to eschew a ranking system as that has now become pointless with so many good albums coming from wildly disparate genres. I do have a few albums that would definitely reside at, or near, the top, but I’ll forego any ranking system.

Roughly in order of release:

Cannibal Corpse- “Evisceration Plague”
Cannibal Corpse return with yet another solid album.

Vreid- “Milorg”
Vreid are probably the best of the black n’ roll outfits. Very catchy album.

Absu- Self titled
The criminally underrated Absu make a statement of intent.

Blut Aus Nord- “Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With The Stars”
A masterpiece of psychedelic black metal. Brutal and beautiful.

Tribulation- “The Horror”
A great OSDM album.

Cobalt- “Gin”
Cobalt are now a signature USBM band that personify diversity.

Mumakil- “Behold The Failure”
In a great year for grindcore, this was the best of the best.

Suidakra- “Crogacht”
This surprised me. Great pagan album.

Teitanblood- “Seven Chalices”
Sloppy, primitive black metal with a putrid sound.

Wolves In The Throne Room- “Black Cascade”
A lateral move for WITTR as they do no not attempt to top “Two Hunters”.

General Surgery- “Corpus In Extremis”
A legendary band returns with a proper full-length of Carcass worship.

Funeral Mist- “Maranatha”
The best orthodox black metal album of the year.

Funebrarum- “The Sleep Of Morbid Dreams”
OSDM with a crushing sound.

Horde Of Hel- “Blodskam”
Not many critics really liked this album, but I found this to be excellent.

Sunn O)))- “Monoliths And Dimensions”
A masterpiece of melodic drone.

Glorior Belli- “Meet Us At The Southern Sign”
Orthodox black metal with a number of surprising musical influences.

Kult Ov Azazel- “Destroying The Sacred”
Just a great, catchy, blackened thrash album.

Beherit- “Engram”
A deep production enhances the evil vibe.

Blood Red Throne- “Souls Of Damnation”
This is another OSDM band that can do no wrong.

Suffocation- “Blood Oath”
Slower paced, but with an unbelievable production. A huge amount of weight.

Hiems- “Worship Or Die”
Black metal with classic rock influences. An underrated band.

Asphyx- “Death… The Brutal Way”
The best OSDM release of the year.

Black Anvil- “Time Insults The Mind”
A melodic take on the first wave of 80s-era black metal.

Mr. Death- “Detached From Life”
This OSDM release really grew on me. Insanely catchy and heavy.

Dying Fetus- “Descend Into Depravity”
Easily Dying Fetus’ best album since “Destroy The Opposition”.

Secrets Of The Moon- “Privilegivm”
Moody and atmospheric with a crytal clear sound. Stunning.

Revocation- “Existence Is Futile”
Revocation instantly become contenders of the retro thrash throne.

Marduk- “Wormwood”
The reinvigorated Marduk join the ranks of orthodox black metal.

Handful Of Hate- “You Will Bleed”
Another catchy, fast black metal album.

Portal- “Swarth”
Mind bending evil.

Nile- “Those Whom The Gods Detest”
Nile reclaim the technical death metal throne. Album of the year?

Slayer- “World Painted Blood”
The raw sound helps this album sound fresh.

Krallice- “Dimensional Bleedthrough”
Diversity in USBM, an exciting band to watch.

Next, here are other well regarded albums that I just really haven’t gotten around to:

Heaven And Hell- “The Devil You Know”

God Dethroned- “Passiondale”

Katharsis- “Fourth Reich”

Megadeth- “Endgame”

The Ruins Of Beverast- “Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite”

Foscor- “Groans To The Guilty”

Impetuous Ritual- “Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial…”

Disappointments:

1349- “Revelations Of The Black Flame”
Disjointed, and falls flat. There are some interesting moments, but too few.

Gorgoroth- “Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt”
An album that’s just too clean for its own good.

Best gig that I attended: Kreator/ Exodus/ Belphegor/ Warbringer at the HOB Sunset Strip on May 2nd.

Gig that I regret missing: MDF 2009.

Here’s to a better 2010 for us all. Cheers!

Incoming…



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Interview with Dan Hinds

The following is an interview with Dan Hinds, editor and publisher of The Plague. The Plague originally was published as a print fanzine in the days before the Internet (yes, I remember those days well). I had a chance to ask Dan about the old days, before everything moved online. Here’s a look back at those days from someone heavily involved in the scene.



1) Describe the early history of The Plague. What made you decide to start publishing a ‘zine?

Since I grew up in a small town in Oregon, my main source of info about metal was through magazines like Metal Forces, Metal Rendezvous and Kerrang!, but also the more underground ‘zines like Metal Madness, Powerline, Heavy Heroes and Metal Mania. Since I had taken some journalism courses in high school and had already started writing album reviews for the school paper, it was a natural enough idea to start a ‘zine. Once I moved to Eugene, Oregon, and started college, my brother, cousin and best friend got together and we put together the first issue in the summer of 1988, and it just snowballed from there. I guess the heart of it was just my total love for the music and wanting to be a part of the scene and actually talk to some of these artists that had so inspired me growing up.

2) What were some of the challenges that you faced when publishing a print version of the ‘zine?

It was a constant struggle, believe me. This was back in the early days of desktop publishing and we used some little program on an Amiga with a dot-matrix printer, so the quality wasn’t exactly stellar for the first couple years. Also, although the four of us involved in The Plague were all pretty good writers, we are all terrible salesmen. We did manage to bring in some ad money with each issue, but I think we probably lost money on most of the issues. It was really a labor of love, though it would have been nice if we had been able to find someone with a little more business sense to help take it to the next level.



3) How much of a financial burden was the ‘zine?

Since it was distributed as a free ‘zine from issue #7 onward, we had to rely on ad sales to help pay the printing costs. As I said above, that didn’t always keep us in the black, but the costs were also offset by all the promos and concert passes that we got so it never really felt like too much of a burden.

4) What was your circulation, and where was the ‘zine available?

We did get the distribution up to about 5,000 by the end, distributed mainly at record and music stores all over the Northwest (well, mainly Eugene, Portland, and Seattle, but we did hit some smaller cities like Salem and Corvallis, too).

5) Do you still have any print copies?

I have personal copies of each issue and there are still some stacks of some of the later issues in storage as well.



6) Were you involved with the underground tape trading community?

Yes but only to a limited extent. I had pen-pals in Canada, Brazil, Norway, England and Japan that I would trade with, mainly demos. I know a lot of traders were more into the bootleg live shows but that didn’t really interest me as much, I was more interested in finding out about new bands and helping introduce others to the same. I remember getting a lot of really good thrash from Japan back in the late 80s, which was my main interest at the time.

7) What other publishers of ‘zines did you correspond with?

Whew… it’s been such a long time; it’s kind of hard to remember. I did trade a few letters with Scott Heller from Metal Madness back in like 1986, before The Plague even started. That was actually one of the things that inspired me early on. Also, I used to correspond with the guys behind Blitzkrieg, Amplified Assault, Dark Awakening, Metal Glory, The Wild Rag and M.E.A.T. My brother who also worked on The Plague used to be in touch with KJ Doughton and Ron Quintana from Metal Mania down in the Bay Area. I’m sure there were others, too - it was a cool time. This was all pre-Internet and yet it almost seemed easier in some ways to hook into the underground because you would run across someone’s name and address and write to them and they usually were happy to write back.

8) What made you decide to fold the print version of the ‘zine?

Everyone had kind of moved off to do their own things, including out of town in some cases. This was in 1994 when the metal scene was at something of a low and it just became very difficult for me to hold it together myself. The prospect of doing all the paste-up on my own was daunting to say the least. Of course, I probably would have carried on anyway but it was also at that time that I got a decent Internet connection at home so in the summer of 1995 I simply moved The Plague online where it continues still.

9) Describe the early versions of your online version of the ‘zine.

It was pretty basic as you would expect. I think the only graphics we had at the time were the main page logo, the band logos and some kind of background image. Plus, I had to double the linked images with plain text links as this was back when not everyone had graphics-enabled browsers. Also, the coverage was less focused. During the last couple of years of the print ‘zine, we started adding more alternative and industrial bands and that carried over into the online version, esp. the industrial/Goth angle. So, there would still be metal bands like Cemetary and Paradise Lost but also more electronic outfits like Collide, Luxt and Front Line Assembly. As much as I still love the industrial stuff, I decided several years back that it would make more sense to focus The Plague solely on METAL.

10) Why did you eventually put the ‘zine on hiatus?

That happened in 2005 and it was mainly down to just lack of time. I was writing full-time for Outburn magazine at that time, which obviously reached a lot more people, plus I was pretty much the only one really contributing to The Plague any longer, so it just made sense to put it on the shelf.

11) What has motivated you to resurrect the ‘zine?

Well, I was beginning to feel a little uninspired with my writing for Outburn. I was somewhat limited in the bands I was able to cover, as the focus of the magazine had moved more toward the trendy metalcore/screamo/alternative type bands and my tastes are far more traditional. It was a difficult decision to quit because they had always treated me incredibly well and writing for Outburn had given me the opportunity to talk to artists as diverse as Foetus, HIM, The Cult and Dethklok. But eventually I had to make a change as the format of the reviews and the target readers made it feel like I was writing the same review over and over after a while and it just wasn’t inspiring. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to restart The Plague at first but after thinking about it and talking to a couple of people, it seemed like a good plan and it has been going great so far.

12) What can we expect from The Plague in the future?

The plan is to update the site once per month, hopefully with at least one or two interviews and a couple dozen reviews each time, but we’ll see. Having an actual professional writer on board to help out (thanks Dave!) is definitely helping to get things done on time, as well as making The Plague more diverse and interesting for the readers. The focus of The Plague is fully back on metal, with an emphasis on power, black, death and thrash metal, as well as all the traditional stuff that’s going on, both old and new. There is a vague plan to give the site a makeover and bring the look into the 21st century, but as usual, there is never enough time so I’m not sure when that will happen. There is also another Plague-related project that I’m working on but don’t want to give out any details until it is more concrete and, again, there is just never enough time! Regardless, 2010 looks to be an exciting year for The Plague and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Thanks for the interview, Dan!

The Plague

Friday, December 25, 2009

I note the following...



Isaac Newton, born December 25th, 1642 (Julian calendar). The publication of Principia in 1687 unified motion near the Earth's surface and planetary motion. The crucial amount of 1/20 of an inch (Feynman Lectures on Physics) set the stage for the ascendance of modern science and the age of reason. Religion and the occult have been cast aside in the study of the universe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dismember "Under Blood Red Skies" DVD Review



Dismember- Under Blood Red Skies DVD

(Regain Records)

Here’s a rare look at a DVD for me as, I have to admit, band DVDs are just not really my thing (live albums don't do anything for me, either, for the same reasons; I'd just rather go see the band). At any rate, the DVD in question is “Under Blood Red Skies” from Swedish death metal veterans Dismember. A two-disc DVD featuring some great cover art from Erik Danielsson and a full color booklet with tons of photos, “Under Blood Red Skies” is the second official DVD release from these long running genre founders.

The first disc is really the main reason to go out and grab this DVD, as Dismember roar through a fifteen song set at the 2008 Party San Festival, held in Germany. Shot from tons of camera angles and featuring crystal clear sound, Dismember put on a monstrous performance full of energy and dynamics. Also welcome are plenty of shots of the crowd with plenty of pits opening up and windmills in evidence throughout. Certainly, the high energy performance puts Dismember near the top of my “must see” list (if they ever get a chance to play L.A.).

The second disc has the usual bonus features typical of DVD releases from bands. Hijinks from the road that do nothing but convince me that most of these guys are bored shitless while out on tour are the main focus, but there are a couple of interesting moments featuring guests from various other bands dropping by to say hello. I also found a short series of shots from various cities and landscapes from around the world to be the most visually interesting aspect as you get the impression that Dismember are well traveled, indeed. Rounding out the second disc is some footage shot from a few other concerts from Dismember’s latest touring cycles, and with varying degrees of quality.

Overall, “Under Blood Red Skies” features a monstrous concert performance, and is worth the price of purchase for that alone. As for the DVD's bonus features, take ‘em or leave ‘em.

Links

Dismember Official MySpace

Regain Records

Also, here's my recently published review of "Black Devotion" by Inferno.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

About.com Review

Here's my first review to be published at About.com.



Aosoth- Ashes of Angels

Just announced...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joining the staff of another site...



I'm pleased to report that I've joined the heavy metal writing staff at About.com. About.com's heavy metal section is edited by Chad Bowar, a longtime industry insider with years of experience. I'll be joining his writing staff as a contributor of reviews, show reviews, and the occasional interview or two. Thanks for the invite, Chad!

I will still continue to contribute to The Plague, as well as the new version of Live 4 Metal when Steve decides to resurrect the 'zine in March of next year.

Two items have caught my eye, as well as that of much of the 'zine community. The first is a recent NY Times article about the recent academic symposium on black metal that took place in New York a few weeks back. Numerous blogs and 'zines mentioned the symposium, but I'd like to add my take on academia's examination of black metal, as many apparently have taken issue with the focus recently placed upon the art form.

Simply put, in the end, it just doesn't matter.

Almost certainly, pop culture will briefly play with black metal aesthetics (as has already occurred), pseudointellectuals and other denizens of the ivory tower intelligentsia will debate the intracacies of Xasthur's lyrical and thematic content, and, undoubtedly, a mention or two of the surrounding attention will appear in mainstream media outlets more so than has already occurred. To those of us which the art matters most, however, the artists will remain true to the art form as it evolves, and we'll be able to easily spot any pretenders to the throne. In the end, the hoopla will fade, and the hipsters, whether they be pop culture poseurs or persons of grandiose self-importance, will soon find their attentions diverted elsewhere.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Manegarm- Nattväsen



(Regain Records)

Manegarm are pagan/ Viking metal veterans with more than a few albums under their collective belts. “Nattväsen” is the Swedish band’s sixth full-length, and is released on Regain Records.

Just about everything that you would expect from a veteran band is present on “Nattväsen”; that is, stellar musicianship, production, songwriting, and so on. Although these necessary qualities are present in great amounts, I did find the album to be somewhat typical and not particularly original. My main problem with pagan metal, particularly that which lacks a hard edge, is that all of the songs sound very similar and have an annoying, somewhat “happy” bounce (Korpiklaani is the prototype). Better bands lean towards a harder edge, most notably Moonsorrow (a fantastic band regardless of genre) and, to a lesser extent, Ensiferum. Manegarm fall in between the “bounce” of Korpiklaani and the harsher edge of Moonsorrow. Although suffering from the same quality of “sameness” and incorporating a certain amount of bounce to the music, Manegarm do retain a hard enough edge to attain my interest. In addition, although typical of the genre, Manegarm do mix it up a bit with a range of songs at different tempos. Fast blasts are mixed together with slower tracks, as well as some near acoustical songs incorporating clean vocals in Swedish (presumably). A few traditional instruments make the requisite appearances, as would be expected. The result is a solid album in the pagan/ Viking genre, worthy of the attention of genre fans.

Although not wholly original, those of you that enjoy pagan metal, but shy away from the “bounce”, may find much to enjoy in “Nattväsen”. Recommended.

Links

Regain Records

Manegarm Official MySpace



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beer with a Metal Label VI! And Some Bullshit of an Unbelievable Caliber!





Here’s a wonderful Belgian Tripel Ale from Left Coast Brewery called “Asylum”! Once again, we have some great label art that is sort of metal; however, Left Coast really should add the word “Arkham” to the title for all of you Lovecraft geeks (Batman stole the name, by the way).

Tasting notes include a huge amount of wheat with hints of sweet citrus and honey. Very nice! As usual, you can find the brew at Whole Foods in 750ml bottles.

And now for something completely different. Click here to see. What the Hell is this?! Well, it turns out that those insidious Christians have, in a rather sneaky fashion, found a way to increase traffic to their espousing of absolute bullshit. It turns out that any reference in a URL to “blogpot.com” leads you to this garbage. A reader with an eagle eye spotted this in my link to Metal Mark’s blog, Heavy Metal Time Machine. Sorry, Mark, the typographical error has since been corrected.

I imagine that the readers of this fine blog (sarcastic snort inserted here) are not going to be easily swayed into the flock of sheep by this mindless drivel, but, then again, you never know. After all, the Christians have shown themselves to be most effective at brainwashing for around 2000 years. Be careful out there!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Geïst "Galeere"



Geïst- Galeere

(Lupus Lounge/ Prophecy)

Viking metal isn’t really the correct thematic description of Germany’s Geïst, but the music certainly fits. Geïst, meaning “spirit”, are a German sextet using a black metal base to explore the abyssal depths of the ocean as a thematic muse. The music, however, sounds a bit like a cross between Moonsorrow, although not as bombastic, and a few moments of ambience and psychedelia. Back it all up with vocals in German that really sound like Angelripper from the very early days of the storied EP, and Geïst have found a unique take on black metal.

For the most part, much of “Galeere”, Geïst’s third full-length, sounds like “Verisäkeet”-era Moonsorrow with a rough, yet melodic, sound, but the different lyrical themes and elements separate Geïst from Moonsorrow. In addition, unlike many Viking bands, Geïst eschew any use of folk instruments. The songs are well written with plenty of blasts, catchy riffs (some approaching an epic, majestic tone), moments of melody with a few guitar solos eerily similar to David Gilmour’s classic work, thereby garnering a comparison to psychedelia, and a variety of tempos. The production is a bit on the rough side, as would be necessary, but I found the strange moments of ambience to be very effective. Ambience is in the form of a few deep harmonics with definite nods to nautical depths that give one a sense of drowning. Although fleeting, these moments, interspersed as a few interludes, are quite good and somewhat unique.

“Galeere” is easily going to appeal to those of you with a taste for epic Viking metal, but who still prefer a rough, black metal base. “Galeere” is highly recommended.

Links

Lupus Lounge MySpace

Geïst Official MySpace





Soon (I can do without the hipster clothing sponsor, though)...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Candlelight Records Year End Roundup: Part II

I ended up idly downloading three more albums from Candlelight. Here’s a brief look at each.



First up is the fourth full-length from Brazil’s Claustrofobia entitled “I See Red”. A rather long, 14-song affair clocking in at 52 minutes or so, “I See Red” has competent musicianship and a thick production, but the album is generally uninspired modern thrash/ crossover with mediocre songwriting. The songs are all very similar and you’ll find yourself getting bored rapidly. Frankly, I’d be surprised if you can get through the entire 52 minutes in one sitting. My suggestion would be to trim the album by at least a half hour, and add some more dynamics to the music.



Next up is a much better album in “Insurrection Rising”, the debut full-length from the U.K.’s Savage Messiah. A nice hybrid of Megadeth, Exodus, and other Bay Area giants, Savage Messiah feature very well written songs with plenty of melody and crunch. Bursts of speed, mid-paced tempos, good musicianship, and a thick, fat production mark Savage Messiah as another good, young band making a name for themselves in retro thrash. An excellent debut, and I expect that “Insurrection rising” will garner Savage Messiah some well deserved attention.



Lastly, “Harbouring Hate” is the debut full-length by Norway’s Forgery. Playing a semi-melodic version of mid to late ‘90s thrash metal, you’ll definitely hear influences from Pantera and Machine Head in Forgery’s delivery. Although the production is fine and the musicianship is adequate, the songwriting is pretty mediocre and “Harbouring Hate” is rather pedestrian and forgettable.

Of the five albums briefly described in these two Candlelight postings, I can definitely recommend Savage Messiah and, to a lesser extent, Viatrophy for your listening pleasure.

Links

Claustrofobia Official MySpace

Savage Messiah Official MySpace

Forgery Official MySpace

Candlelight Records UK

Candlelight Records USA

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Plague Begins Publishing...



I've recently begun contributing to The Plague, a long defunct 'zine recently resurrected by the publisher, Daniel Hinds. We plan to publish content on a monthly basis, and our first issue together was published yesterday (December 6th). Here's a brief listing of the reviews that I've contributed (with links)...



Azaghal "Teraphim"



Black Breath "Razor To Oblivion"



Deiphago "Filipino Antichrist"



Faust "From Glory To Infinity"



Gorgoroth "Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt"



Invasive Command "Ride... Invade... Kill... Conquer... "



Temple of Baal "Lightslaying Rituals"

In the current issue, you can also find re-prints of my reviews of Marduk "Wormwood", Secrets of the Moon "Privilegivm", and Whiplash "Unborn Again"...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Marduk, Nachtmystium, Black Anvil, and Merrimack in Concert! Black Metal Supremacy!



Bands: Marduk, Nachtmystium, Black Anvil, and Merrimack

Venue: Royal Hall (a.k.a. The Iron Room); Los Angeles, California

Date: December 4th, 2009

The black metal tour of the year finally plowed through Los Angeles last night. The promoter, Church of the 8th Day, was forced to scramble to find a viable venue for the imminent arrival of the U.S. Plague Tour after L.A.’s metal scene continues to have troubles with established clubs. The future of the Key Club is up in the air, forcing COT8D (who did a fantastic job under trying circumstances, the effort is appreciated) to move the tour to the Royal Hall, also known as the Iron Room.

Located in industrial wasteland Los Angeles on a scrap metal yard, the Royal Hall features two stages on opposite sides of a large room, permitting a full bill of bands rotating on the two stages. Unfortunately, the room’s acoustical properties are not the most conducive to metal (the irony is not lost on me), forcing me to wander around periodically searching for the best sound. Over the course of the evening, fully eleven bands would play, but I was only interested in four of those bands. I eschewed a number of opening acts (and skipped many others over the rest of the night) and arrived just in time for Merrimack, the first of four black metal giants to astride the stage this evening.

“Grey Rigorism”, Merrimack’s latest full-length, is a fine example of complicated, almost cerebral, black metal, although the album is a bit too polished for its own good. Nevertheless, how often does an obscure French black metal band make it to the U.S? You better believe that I made sure to arrive on time for this performance. I thought that Merrimack were excellent with fine musicianship and energy, although I was disappointed in the crowd’s muted response. Although there were a few upraised horns and a few people doing windmills, it became readily apparent that most of the increasingly fickle L.A. crowd was unfamiliar with Merrimack. The crowd’s disinterest was also obvious to the band as vocalist Jan Desaegher flicked off the crowd in disgust as Merrimack left the stage. Wake up, L.A! Merrimack are a great band that deserve your attention!

Next on my list were Black Anvil. The New York trio’s debut full-length, “Time Insults The Mind”, is in my queue of albums to review, and I was very much looking forwards to my first exposure to the band. Playing an old school version of black metal heavily reliant upon Celtic Frost and Motörhead, Black Anvil feature a huge percussion from drummer Raeph Glicken and delivered a great set. Closing with a killer cover of “Dethroned Emperor”, Black Anvil earned a portion of the evening’s t-shirt haul. All of a sudden, Black Anvil’s album moves up to the top of my priority list.

After spending some time near the barbecue and the beer for a few of the in between bands, I moved up front and center for Nachtmystium. A fantastic live band, Nachtmystium focused on their latest releases, including a rendition of “Hellish Overdose” from “Doomsday Derelicts”. Closing with their usual cover of GG Allin’s “I Kill Everything That I Fuck”, Nachtmystium brought down the house with a killer set.

Marduk haven’t played the U.S. in about eight years. In addition, both “Wormwood” and “Maranatha” by Funeral Mist (Mortuus’ alter ego) will both reside at, or very near, the top of this year’s “best of” list. Taking the stage at 1AM, Marduk delivered the goods (giving me a reason to increase my t-shirt haul) with a great deal of energy and presence, but the all out blasts suffered somewhat from the venue’s poor acoustics. An altercation in the crowd at the end of the set forced security to move in with pepper spray, and that pretty much signaled the end of the evening. I finally limped home at 2:30AM…

My camera has been fixed. Here’s the junk…

Pictures...

Merrimack




Black Anvil




Nachtmystium




Marduk




The crowd...



Video

Merrimack





Black Anvil



Nachtmystium





Marduk







The t-shirt haul...




As is always the case, it was good to see Cosmo and Etan in attendance. The Eternal Roadie was there. I would’ve been shocked otherwise.

Special thanks to Dave and Liz Brenner!

A six week break from shows now ensues.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Candlelight Records Year End Round Up: Part I

Candlelight Records has a roster loaded with heavy hitters. In addition, very top tier releases have appeared from the label this year, including albums from Blut Aus Nord (more than likely my number one album for the year), Glorior Belli, and others. However, like any big name label in metal, Candlelight has snatched up many lesser-known acts and has released a number of albums from these bands as the year comes to a close. The quality of these albums greatly varies, so here’s a brief look at each (those that I’ve downloaded, anyway), split over a couple of postings.



First up is the debut, self-titled full-length from England’s Viatrophy. Viatrophy play a highly processed, impeccably produced mix of industrial- tinged, techno oriented Swedish death/ thrash and metalcore. Although terribly overproduced, I was somewhat surprised to like this release as the musicianship is good and the songs are reasonably catchy, if not terribly memorable. For the most part, the album is a sort of techno version of Swedish death/ thrash with elements of “Demanufacture”-era Fear Factory tossed in for variety. The metalcore influences creep in with an alternating pattern of rough and high-pitched vocals and are easily the worst aspect of Viatrophy. Somewhat unusually, a few post-metal influences make an appearance late in the album, almost as if Viatrophy are flirting with other musical forms after most casual listeners will have gotten their fill and will have moved on to something else. In short, Viatrophy are at their best when they’re just shredding away, and are worth a listen for that reason.



Next up is yet another album from a long forgotten thrash metal band from yesteryear giving it another go. Defiance, part of the legendary Bay Area scene, were minor players back in the day in a scene loaded with legends. Also, Defiance were late to appear on the scene, and managed to release three full-lengths between 1989 and 1992. Afterwards, band members drifted in and out of a few other bands over the years, and have now come back together to release “The Prophecy”. Frankly, there’s nothing all that special about “The Prophecy”, a competent at best release treading well-worn ground (i.e. Testament) with an updated, modern sound. As would be expected, there are a few catchy songs and riffs sprinkled throughout “The Prophecy”, but compared to some supremely talented bands, both new and old, in the current thrash revival, Defiance are merely adequate and “The Prophecy” is probably best suited for the completists...

Links

Candlelight Records

Candlelight Records USA

Viatrophy Official MySpace

Defiance Official MySpace