Monthly Archives: February 2011

Deicide – To Hell With God [Review]

To Hell With God is the tenth release by Tampa-based death metal band Deicide, and was released February 15, 2011 as the band’s first release under Century Media records.

Known as one of the original, best, and most brutal death metal bands in the history of the genre, Deicide have never ceased to assault and please ears with each new release. In their history the band has seen little transformation or deviance from their relentless sound, though the lineup changes post-2004 when the Hoffman brothers ceased their guitar-playing duties with the band. To many cries of “not as good as before!” Deicide have still managed to put out another album that’s stands true to the genre they helped pioneer.

There is but one unescapable truth regarding To The Hell With God: while it falls directly in line with the post-2004 releases it lacks a certain leaded fury that was delivered when Deicide enlisted the Hoffman brothers. Unlike many accounts I’ve encountered, however, I think this is both a good and bad thing. Let’s start with why this sucks. Deicide were most certainly one of the heaviest and most brutal bands that seemed to get as close as possible to the “over the top” mark into the “silly” territory, and seemed to be masters of doing so, but they’re no longer quite as close to that mark, almost as if they’ve let off the throttle a bit.

Outweighing the negatives of being heavy to the brink of silliness is that the production is leaps and bounds better than the band had once featured on their albums. Glen Benton’s vocals are perhaps the best they’ve ever been and you can actually hear them in the mix–as you can each of the instruments in the band. There is nothing lost amidst the overwhelming heaviness of the album that Deicide occasionally fell prey to. With this more modern sound for the band also comes a more modern style of death metal than perhaps diehard Deicide fans are used to, but it’s closer to the classic Deicide than Till Death Do Us Part and The Stench Of Redemption.

Quite literally, the only “fault” of the album is that it’s not exactly like the Deicide of old, but I’m not complaining. To Hell With God is a great album, and it is fantastic to hear a classic band staying relevant by bringing their creativity and influence to the table in order to help reshape the genre in which they were of the first contributors to. Song after song, album after album, Deicide continue to show us why they’re a deserving candidate for the throne of death metal king.

Song picks: “Empowered By Blasphemy” and “How Can You Call Yourself A God”

Score: 9/10 Devil Horns

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Crowbar – Sever The Wicked Hand [Review]

Sever The Wicked Hand is the ninth album from New Orleans sludge metal legends Crowbar and was released on E1 Music February 14, 2011, the band’s first release in six years.

In the history of metal, there are only a few bands who can really be attributed with being pioneers and landmarks in their respective styles and Crowbar are just that. In the early ’90s Kirk Windtstein and company cemented themselves as the premier sludge metal band of the time. Even at their worst, they’re still as good as any band to ever make sludge metal (after all, the did help make the mold).

Sever The Wicked Hand is exactly in line with everything that you’ve come to know and love about Crowbar, except possibly a bit darker this time. Kirk’s concentrated and powerful vocal delivery over constant fuzzed-out guitar riffs. The flavor of this album is very slightly different than 2005’s Lifeblood of the Downtrodden; a slightly different sound is to be expected after six years and, aside from Kirk, a totally new lineup.

There’s not a lot of speed in this record, it’s as slow as ever. Many songs employ Kirk’s more sorrowful and semi-clean vocals with more slick (but still fuzzed-out) guitar licks. Don’t worry, for all of you that like the thick and thrashy chugged out riffs, they’re still there. In general, however, Sever The Wicked Hand is still an incredibly heavy album, just not in a modern headbanger sort of way. It’s a slow, marching, and deliberate heavy at most times that feels more like a classic Black Sabbath sort of heavy.

The most interesting part about this album, though, has nothing to do with the music or performance itself, but rather the production and mixing. It sounds totally unlike a vast majority of metal records nowadays, outside of maybe some of the more obscure black metal bands. It’s an incredibly heavy sound without having a ton of sound packed into the lower register, most of the meat of these tracks are on the mids and so you really get to hear the full effect of the fuzz. It almost sounds rough around the edges, but deliberately so. There aren’t any fancy bass drops to add extra emphasis on chord changes, it’s all natural kick.

As a whole, as I mentioned before, Sever The Wicked Hand is everything we’ve come to know and love about Crowbar, perhaps this time with a little extra sorrow embedded in its sound and lyrics.

Track picks: “Liquid Sky And Cold Black Breath” and “The Cemetery Angels”

Overall score: 9/10 Devil Horns

The Weekend Rant, Vol. 1

Everyone has at least one thing that pisses them off. Some people have a lot. I happen to be a part of that latter category. Many of the things that I choose to rage about have to do with music and its business. Time to vent and tell people why they’re all stupid.

YouTube has been a very valuable asset to me in discovering new bands, checking out music videos, etc. Though I prefer Vimeo, YouTube easily has the largest selection of videos on the ‘net. At this point in time, it seems like a majority of videos I watch have a top-rated comment that says something along the lines of this (which I took directly from a YouTube video):

“YOUTUBE IS PROMOTION, NOT OWNING.”

There are so many ways that this statement is both wrong and disillusioned, and it annoys the hell out of me. I don’t expect everyone to know every arm of what copyrights protect you against, but for those of you who would like to know, here they are in a simple and boiled-down version:

  1. The right to reproduce the copyrighted work
  2. The right to prepare derivative works based upon the work
  3. The right to distribute copies of the work to the public
  4. The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  5. The right to display the copyrighted work publicly

(to you IP law savvy people, I know there’s technically six if you count performing a sound recording, but for simplicity sake, I’m counting that with public performance)

By uploading a copyrighted video to YouTube you do not have the rights to, you are breaking four (almost five of these). If you bothered to count, that’s all of them. So yes, you are breaking the law by “promoting” videos on YouTube. So now that we’ve covered that it’s actually illegal, what are the other repercussions of this? Well, you’re enjoying copyrighted content for free. Enjoying this content for free means that the people who would normally be making money from this content aren’t anymore. This means artists, labels, publishers, the works.

Oh, you want to wave the fair use claim? Good luck, here’s what is covered by fair use, again in a simple and boiled-down way:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

This one is a bit more complex than the rights that copyright affords you, and is by no means black and white. It would take a lot to explain these things in detail, but the Fair Use Wikipedia article is very well written and covers the common misconceptions of fair use. In short, there is almost no way whatsoever for your argue of fair use to hold up in court if you uploaded a copyrighted work to YouTube. You can’t even have YouTube be your meat shield in this case because of the “safe harbor” law that prevents sites on the Internet, such as YouTube, who can’t (reasonably) be expected to patrol all their content for copyright infringements.

So please, people, stop complaining about needing to see an ad or two before your video. It’s allowing you to enjoy content for free (which you like) and allows for the content’s creators to make money from their content (meaning they can keep making it, which you like). If you’re still adamant about not having ads and such, suffer any/all of the following repercussions: poor quality content, videos being removed due to copyright infringement, or you end up needing to pay for certain content. Pick your poison.

The moral of this story: learn something about the stuff you complain about before you complain so you don’t look like a total asshat.

Happy Headbanging Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day: a time of both extreme love and extreme hate, depending on your situation. Me, I see Valentine’s day as another excuse to make playlists. This year I’ve come up with a pair of metal playlists, one of which is more suitable for you depending on whether you’ve got a Valentine or not. So, either grab your Valentine and headbang for love, or gorge on some delicious Valentine’s Day candy–either way, have a very metal day from me to you. Happy Valentine’s!

You can see the complete list of songs in each playlist over the Tastemakers Magazine blog where I originally posted. Alternatively, you can just go to the iTunes playlists I made:
Metal anti-Valentine’s Day
Metal Valentine’s Day