Category Archives: Deathcore

Favorite Metal(ish) Albums Of 2012

‘Tis the season for year-end lists of what everyone and their dog thinks are the best albums of the past year, as well as the incredibly pretentious and elitist mindsets that come with them. I’m not going to pretend I know what’s best for anyone, but I do know that there are definitely albums I enjoyed much more than others, despite some critical flaws in some of them. My tastes can be a bit whacky at times, but I’m pretty sure that there are at least a few people out there who will be curious to know what my favorites are, so I will be sharing them.

But not here.

Instead, I’ll be doing a series of posts over at Under The Gun Review that will double as a countdown to when we’re free of the holiday hell that is the month of December.

Because they’re happening one at a time, I’ll be posting the list as it goes live day by day over at UTG in list form here.

#25: RIITTIIR by Enslaved (read it)
#24: Results by Murder Construct (read it)
#23: Awakened by As I Lay Dying (read it)
#22: Ex Lives by Every Time I Die (read it)
#21: Failed States by Propagandhi (read it)
#20: Eremita by Ihsahn (read it)
#19: Dead End Kings by Katatonia (read it)
#18: Les Voyages De L’Âme by Alcest (read it)
#17: Autotheism by The Faceless (read it)
#16: All Hail The Void by Enabler (read it)
#15: Legend by Witchcraft (read it)
#14: Death Is The Only Mortal by The Acacia Strain (read it)
#13: No Matter Where It Ends by Black Sheep Wall (read it)
#12: Book Burner by Pig Destroyer (read it)
#11: Parallax II: Future Sequence by Between The Buried And Me (read it)
#10: Monolith Of Inhumanity by Cattle Decapitation (read it)
#9: Incongruous by Beneath The Massacre (read it)
#8: All We Love We Leave Behind by Converge (read it)
#7: CVI by Royal Thunder (read it)
#6: Danza IIII: The Alpha – The Omega by The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza (read it)
#5: Hasta La Muerte by Xibalba (read it)
#4: A Flash Flood Of Color by Enter Shikari (read it)
#3: Yellow & Green by Baroness (read it)
#2: Koloss by Meshuggah (read it)
#1: L’Enfant Sauvage by Gojira (read it)

Advertisements

The Summoned – If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures [Review]

If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based extreme metallers The Summoned, and is currently unreleased (perhaps more news to come on that in the future).

The Summoned belong to the group of bands that play a style of music that borders itself along death metal and grindcore (but isn’t really deathcore). Clocking in at only 33 minutes, it’s a bit of a short album, but very dense in musical content. There are lots of really nice guitar licks, pace changes, etc. combined with Steve’s excessively brutal vocals. Deciding to not go the route of bands like Suffocation and Skinless, the vocals are not usually at the lowest of lows. Instead, the vocals mostly sound more like mid-range screams than growls–and they pack a ton of fury.

Easily the best part about If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the consistently high level of guitar work. While they aren’t constantly noodling, the riffs, licks and solos are always interesting. The somewhat atonal licks in “Anatomy Of A Bar Fight” show just how strong of a grasp this band has on quality guitar parts that stray from the path just a bit. You even get to hear that they have a good ear for melody and tasteful guitar playing on the track “The Flood” with some solid guitar solos dropped right in the middle of that track.

Most of the album is straight to sixth gear, outside of the very somber guitar interlude track “Space Was…” which only lasts for a minute and is followed by what could be the gnarliest track on the album “Space Is…” which is filled with mid-tempo blasts, pinch harmonics, and harmonized guitar licks.

From start to finish you get the feeling that If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is totally unrelenting. At every point where it feels like there’s a down moment it lulls you into a false sense of security until you get fully-harmonized riffs forced with fury down your throat. Backed up by an extremely tight rhythm section, the very few breakdowns on this album are neither boring or stereotypical, adding another dimension to an already outside of the box style.

As a debut record, there’s not a whole lot you can ask from a band who went the DIY route, except maybe for more of it. Certainly a very interesting listen, if there’s one thing you won’t be while listening to If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures it’s bored. It’s hard to say where exactly the band might go from this release, but more of the same would absolutely be welcomed.

Song choices: “The Flood” and “Anatomy of a Bar Fight”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events [review]

Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events is the third full-length release from Tennessee-based The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, and was released on Black Market Activities on July 6, 2010.
TDTDE Danza III

It’s hard to imagine a band that goes by the name of The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza would make ordinary music. Luckily, TDTDE push the envelope. Straight out of the heart of Tennessee, the band has created a unique signature sound using grindcore grooves, deathcore breakdowns, face grinding guitar riffs and hokey song topics—all of which are in full force on Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

If you’ve heard any Danza songs from their last album, Danza II: Electric Boogaloo, you will experience a similarly visceral assault with Danza III. In addition to the chaotic writing on the album, the production and soundscape really brings the beast to life. Every single bass drum hit done by Mike Bradley feels like a kick to the chest, every snare shot sounds like a rifle, it’s tough to keep your heart rate low. Combine that with the shrill, angular guitar parts played by Josh Travis and the raucous bellows of Jessie Freeland, and you’ve captured the essence of rage and adrenaline in audio form.

The lyrics on the album are based on unfortunate events (whether political, social, personal or otherwise) and the musical mood of the album appropriately corresponds. TDTDE do not plead their case with Danza III, there is no pussy-footing about. Instead, they impose their will with such vehemence and force even the most iron-willed of people have no choice but to succumb. From song to song, the listener experiences an aural bludgeoning until finally, when the album has come to a close, the listener feels like they have truly been victim of some sort of unfortunate event. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza have truly transcended any box they could have been placed in, and created what will surely be one of the most chaotic and interesting listening experiences of 2010.

Track picks: “12.21.12” and “A Trail of Tears” (though truthfully, every track on this album is single-worthy)

Overall score: 10 out of 10 devil horns

If you’re looking to be a responsible music consumer and purchase the album, check it out at the Black Market Activities webstore or on iTunes.

Whitechapel – A New Era of Corruption [Review]

A New Era of Correuption is the latest release from Tennessean deathcore troop Whitechapel that was released on Metal Blade June 8, 2010.

Whitechapel A New Era of Corruption

I would be lying if I told you that this album featured anything that is completely new for Whitechapel. That being said, this album is still drastically different from the band’s two previous efforts. From the very beginning of the album, the feel and textures of the sound are much different than the all-too-familiar sound of The Somatic Defilement and This Is Exile. A New Era of Corruption finally sounds like the band is making use of the fact they have three guitarists, rather than having three people playing the same riff simultaneously in nearly every song. There are a lot of solid guitar harmonies throughout the album, something that wasn’t used much outside of breakdowns on This Is Exile.

The next huge step Whitechapel took for this album was switching up some of the songwriting and breakdowns they used. While not overly boring, This Is Exile didn’t have a lot of variation amongst songs, but A New Era of Corruption seems pretty fresh from song to song. In addition to the songs being a bit more varied, there are also a multitude of texture and mood changes – something else not found in previous efforts. No song demonstrates this better than “Reprogrammed to Hate,” a song that isn’t simply slams and guttural vocals.

I should make it very clear that I’m not stating that A New Era of Corruption is vastly different than This Is Exile, because it’s not. There are a few tweaks made to the Whitechapel formula, such as multiple guest vocals from The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Bennett, but all of the things found on This Is Exile and The Somatic Defilement are still ever-present.

The only real complaint I have about this album is that it seems to be separated between a couple really killer songs and some other filler material. The album can be somewhat boring on the songs that seem to be the more obvious examples in which the three Whitechapel guitarists get into minor second “chug chug” mode the most. The first few tracks on the album are easily the most boring, but the album comes alive at track four with “Reprogrammed to Hate” when we finally see what these guys can do.

If you liked Whitechapel before; or just want some heavy-as-hell beatdowns with some interesting guitar harmonies, tempo changes, and solos here and there; this might be an album for you. An album that showed glimpses of maturity and progression in the band’s sound, but one that shows they’ve still got a bit more refining and growing as a band to go.

Track Picks:

“End of Flesh” and “A Prayer of Mockery”

Score:

6/10 devil horns

Anomia – ESM [Review]

ESM is the latest record from Hold True Recordings band Anomia. The album was released on July 10, 2009 – in memory of their late friend, Eric Stephen Mitchell.

anomia ESM album cover

Not often does a record that could have the -core tag applied to it provide much of a “WOW” factor for me, but the boys in Anomia are far from the tried-and-true metalcore kids floating around the scene today. The album stars off the album with the standard crescendo-laden riffage as their opening track. One riff and a lead line for just shy of two minutes. On the first listen, I was almost bored with the record at this point. Then comes song two, “UVR” – at no point could I ever imagined the shift that would occur at this juncture. My excitement for the rest of the album was increased ten-fold upon hearing the first ten seconds of “UVR” when the clean guitar groove gave way to a chaotic and heavy guitar riff, and moved onto the first breakdown of the record. Very much like a PsyOpus record, it is hard to say what is coming or what just happened at any particular juncture on the album. Clocking in at ten tracks and a total of 36 minutes even, it would be hard to expect much more.

The production on this album is messy at best. Everything is mixed WAY too heavy and low, so it gets very muddy when there are the heavier breaks on the album. For those who like crystal-clean production like you would find on an All Shall Perish or Faceless record, steer clear of this one. For those who like something a bit more raw, the mastering quality on this album might actually enhance the experience.

The best part of the album without a doubt is the versatile guitar parts. Everything from breakdowns to clean grooves to pinch harmonics to angular riffing, this album has it all. Never doe the the guitar sound cheesy, over-done, or out of place. The guitar is always on-point, and sounds absolutely appropriate. The licks and breakdowns on the record are undeniably catchy, and the guitar tones deviate from the norm all throughout the record. Unlike many bands these days, the guitarists in Anomia make full use of the spectrum that are guitar tones.

All in all the album is a refreshing take on the generic world of -core genres these days, and excites me for whatever else these dudes have coming down the pipe. Definitely worth a listen. Seemingly unrefined, I think this album would have been a lot better if better recorded and mastered.

Track picks: “M51A” and “It”

Overall score: 7/10 spin kicks

Winds of Plague – Decimate the Weak [Review]

Decimate the Weak is the second full-length album by Century Media band Winds of Plague, their first with Century Media.

Decimate The Weak Winds of Plague album art

For the first time in a long time, I am confused by the contents of a metal album. When I first put on Decimate the Weak I expected to hear a pretty much straight-up symphonic black metal album, then out of nowhere they drop an unaccounted-for breakdown in the middle of a great metal song. Now, this would have not been a huge problem for me if it only really occurred once or twice, but it seems to be a reoccurring theme. I will give the guys a small amount of credit for being “original” and doing their own thing, but at some point should you not take a step back and think, ‘What the hell did we just create?’

There are moments of sheer metal brilliance, and moments filled with brutal breakdowns, but these two things never seem to have a happy marriage. It seems to be a strained coexistence that is, at times, painful for the listener. It is quite clear that Winds of Plague are influenced by a wide variety of bands, from Dimmu Borgir to something along the lines of As Blood Runs Black. It comes to no surprise to me that Century Media would pick these guys up, since they seem to like bands that stretch the boundaries some (see also: Zonaria, The Agonist).

The major problem with the album is that it is simply too short for the bands sound to manifest itself in your brain. With only 10 songs coming in at around 37 minutes (with an intro track of 1:17) it is tough to really gain any momentum when you are clearly influenced by two completely different styles of metal. Toward the end of the album you can finally start to get the sound that they were trying for, but missed the mark through most of the album. Beyond that, most of the lyrics are simply not very strong. The most wildly uninspiring of their lyrics are the more dethcore styled, where they recite things such as “You wanna see us fail? Not today mother fucker!” or “Fuck you! Get the fuck out! My face will be the last thing you see.”

Being that they are still a young band, and this is only their first major release, this band could do great things if they can get a hold on the sound they are looking for. Clearly creative and skilled musicians, once they get the reigns on the beast that is their sound, they might have something great.

Track picks: “Anthems of the Apocalypse” and “Legions”

Overall score: 6/10 devil horns

On a side note: It pains me to say this, but the album art for this album is awful. I love Samurai. Why did you have to have such a stupid album art depicting a Samurai?

All Shall Perish – Awaken The Dreamers [Review]

Awaken The Dreamers is the third studio release from All Shall Perish, a Deathcore band on Nuclear Blast records, hailing from Oakland, CA. The album’s release date was September 16, 2008.

All Shall Perish Awaken The Dreams

I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this album. The two previous All Shall Perish albums, Hate.Malice.Revenge and The Price of Existence, were straight up deathcore albums. I went to their myspace to check out the new tracks a while ago, and these were not ordinary deathcore tracks. They felt like a mix between All Shall Perish, Necrophagist, and Between The Buried and Me. There were some crazy riffs, a few crazy bass and guitar fills, and a whole bunch of other stuff that did not play a large part in their previous efforts. Upon listening to the whole album, only then did I realize that All Shall Perish really are trying to redefine their sound an image, and break down some walls – with force.

The first track on the album is a prefect example of what I am referring to. “When Life Meant More…” is backed to the brim and overflowing with new intensity that sounds very similar to that of Necrophagist or Between the Buried and Me. The technical shredding happens while the heavy parts lie underneath, and the song does not lose touch with what it’s supposed to be – brutal. It’s still got all the staggering rhythms and growling vocals, with little extra kick.

From there, the song becomes increasingly varied, some ranging more towards the old All Shall Perish, and some that stray away from the mold even further. The next song on the album, “Black Gold Reign” moves from the BTBAM and Necrophagist sort of sound to a more As I Lay Dying and In Flames sound. At about 1:50 in, there is even a power metal wail, which REALLY caught me off guard, but seemed very necessary. There is even an airy interlude for a few seconds, which would have never happened on other All Shall Perish albums.

But, enough comparison. This album really delivers in it’s own way. As much as certain parts of the album sound like someone else, it’s never enough to really give it much thought. Combing a huge amount of styles, they bring it all together in a neat little package. Quite little, at that: the album is only 36 minutes long.

The album does not pass as though it is only 36 minutes long, however. There are so many different things that happen throughout the album that it feels like it should exceed 50 minutes. The songs fit so perfectly together, and seem very lengthy at times toward the end of the album when the more airy drawn-out sections become more prevalent, and Story/Orem get into solo mode. All in all, this album is filled with very tastefully technical musicianship, something that really is under-appreciated in many cases. The sweeps, the weeping solos, the shredding, the chugging, it’s all used tastefully in almost all cases. On the opening track, there is a very significant amount of shredding, but is is lower in volume than the rhythm guitar, which is almost unheard of.

The vocals are also very well done on this album. They’re a good as ever and about the same as always; a couple instances where Hermida switches it up a bit when he adds in the power wail (and sometimes goes other directions with it) adds a small amount more dynamic than before. Also, Hermida’s enunciation is completely flawless. There are too many instances where a vocalist will forego enunciation for a lower or faster growl, but Hermida is completely uncompromising. The same goes for the bass and the drums – nothing new or overly exciting, aside from the fact that the production quality has been improved on these for this album (this is not to say they are not impressing, they just haven’t changed from the last two All Shall Perish Albums).

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to give this album for a score, and I really still rest undecided about it. Part of me wants to give this album a 9.5/10, but something seems wrong about that, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Track picks: “When Life Meant More” and “Awaken The Dreamers”

Overall score: 9.5/10 devil horns
Since I can’t think of any good reason not to give it this score other than the length of the album, I’ll go with my gut feeling. I strongly considered a ten, but with it’s “Colors” by BTBAM nature, it simply does not live up to that, which is a ten in my book.