Category Archives: By Genre

Derelict Looking To Perpetuate Band Success

If you’ve been a longtime reader here at The Heaviest Matter of the Universe, you may recall a review I did for the band Derelict‘s Unspoken Words back in early 2009. Otherwise, let this serve as your first introduction to the band. It’s the first single they’ve released since Unspoken Words came out, and it’s called “Perpetuation.” Here, have a listen:

This song is typical Derelict riff-your-face-off fashion, and in this case, typical is a great thing. The song is going to be featured on a three song “demo” (really more of an EP) soon as the band is putting the finishing touches on their next full-length album. If you like what you heard above, go pickup a copy of Unspoken Words online through Year of the Sun Records or Relapse Records, or snag it from iTunes. Make sure you keep on the lookout for the upcoming EP!

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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

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

Greber Wants You To Eat Shit

In all of my time as a music blogger/listener/journalist/obsesser, I’ve never come across a band quite like Greber. Normally, a statement like this is taken with a negative connotation, but in this case it is the exact opposite. The brainchild of Marc Bourgon (of Fuck The Facts) and Steve Vargas (of The Great Sabatini), Greber are about as bare-bones as it gets in terms of a lineup. There are two men in the band–a drummer and a bassist–but they make a sonic force worthy of a full band.

Hometown Heroin is the band’s debut release, and a mighty one at that. Clocking in at just under twenty-three minutes, it’s hard to understand how the band managed to fit such a huge amount of content in. Hometown Heroin is certainly not your typical album in any way, and Greber wants this to be known from the very beginning of the album. Starting off with a nice bass harmonic intro, you get the full-on dropkick to the balls that the album soon becomes and understand that Greber are in no way messing around.

At times the album borders on a very doom metal sound, but never becomes grounded there. Once your ear is starting to settle on the slow and sludgy doom sound, the Jacob Bannon-esque powerful barks come back in and the bass and drums kick the intensity up a notch. Frenetic rhythm changes and chaotic barks juxtaposed with relaxed bass grooves make up a large portion of the album, but somehow given only a few small elements the album is never predicable at any moment. Listening through it, it plays more like an extended jam session of one song or idea, expanded into multiple movements.

The thought of “Man, I’d really like some guitar there” does not cross one’s mind at any point during the album. The sonic force and intensity between the drums, vocals, and guitar are more than enough. Any space found on the album is a welcomed rest from the ear, and helps to created a great contrast to really show how massive of a sound Greber has found.

Be sure to check out Greber on MySpace and catch them on tour when they’re near you, as I’m sure their live show would pummel you into the ground. The album is a recommended listen for people who want something along the lines of Black Sheep Wall or Admiral Angry.

As the one-sheet reminds us: “We all need to eat shit sometimes and this band is a reminder to everyone.” So get to feasting on some feces!

Mushroomhead – Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children [Review]

Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children is the seventh studio album from Ohioan nu metal troop Mushroomhead. Released on the behemoth Megaforce Records on September 28, 2010.

mushroomhead beautiful stories for ugly children

Back when I was a wee lad in middle school, I was what you might call a “fan” of Nu Metal, which included bands like Mushroomhead, Korn, etc. As my tastes grew from Nu Metal, Mushroomhead was one of the few bands I would still put on from time to time. “Solitaire Unraveling” remains one of the coolest songs to come out of the nu metal era. Other songs, such as “Bwomp,” also had their own unique charm (though, may have featured some cliché rap vocals courtesy of J Mann). Come 2010, and Mushroomhead seem to have misplaced their “creative” and “interesting” genes, and have come out with a record that’s almost entirely devoid of life.

There are glimpses of things that made Mushroomhead an interesting band littered about Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, but seemingly none of these ideas are explored to their full extent. Instead, these great ideas are pushed aside for the increasingly stale chug riffs and monotone shouts from Jeffrey Nothing. The swooning and creepy cadence in Jeffrey Nothing’s voice is all but gone. He certainly hits his notes, has decent power behind his voice, and has varied his vocal style a bit – all good things, but they don’t quite make up for the missing element from his older style.

The second element that’s really missing on Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children are guitar riffs and grooves. Even up through Savior Sorrow there was some solid guitar work from the Mushroomhead camp, at the very least, guitar work that could hold your attention. There’s a solo in “Your Demise” but it feels a bit forced and out of place. Right after that you get “Darker Days” which provides the first real look at a riff on the album – and it’s not a particularly promising one.

All in all, this album feels and sounds like a shell of what the band once was. While I often welcome evolution as a band, it’s hard to approve of it when it removes the most interesting parts of a band’s style. Die hard fans may still like this record, but for anyone with less than an obsessive love for the band should look elsewhere. It would be hard to believe that this album was worked on for the entire four years since Savior Sorrow was released.

Track picks: “Burn Bridges” and “Harvest the Garden”

Overall score: 3/10 guys in masks

Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels [Review]

Rhapsody of Fire are a band who have not missed a beat since releasing their first album back in 1997, and The Frozen Tears of Angels is no different. Released April 30, 2010 via Nuclear Blast, it is the band’s eighth full-length album.

Rhapsody the Frozen Tears of Angels

Rhapsody of Fire have had an incredibly consistent and productive career over the last thirteen years, even still The Frozen Tears of Angels is certainly their best release in a decade. Technically the third installment of the The Dark Secret Saga (which started with Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret, which still doesn’t make sense to me). This time however, the album is fueled more by riffs than big orchestral parts, something a lot different than their two previous albums. It also once again features the legendary Christopher Lee doing narration, a welcome addition to any epic power metal album.

Where this album shines, however, is in the production and mastering. All of the guitar tones are incredible, and mesh really well with the orchestral parts. Though the orchestral parts are heavily compressed sometimes, it never becomes overwhelmingly so. I strongly prefer the production on this album to Triumph or Agony, as having the 70-piece chorus/orchestra play such a prominent role in the mix took away from the “metal” aspect of the album. Triumph or Agony was sometimes overly cluttered, but on The Frozen Tears of Angels everything has ample space to breathe in the mix (you can even clearly hear the bass lines in most songs).

And the riffs, dear God the riffs. They are wonderful. The guitar work on this album is the best that Rhapsody of Fire has ever featured on an album. They’ve made a transition from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra styled guitars from their early albums to more of a pure speed metal style similar to that of Blind Guardian. This is known almost immediately by the fierce beginning of the song “Sea of Fate” – as well as other instances on the album. There isn’t a single bad guitar part of the album, every riff and solo is good and they all fit really well in the grand scheme of things. Even in the song “Labyrinth of Madness” where it’s just guitar wankery for the entire four minutes, it’s still a wonderful closing note for the album.

Track picks: “Reign of Terror” and “Crystal Moonlight”

Overall score: 9 out of 10 wizard staffs