Tag Archives: all shall perish

It’s called a “live” show for a reason. Be alive.

Being the metalhead that I am, concert-going is a pretty steady habit of mine. I scour Last.fm, Ticketmaster, Facebook, MySpace, and many other destinations across the ‘net to make sure I can figure out all the acts coming to town that I must see. I’ve been to many bad shows, many mediocre shows, and a handful of great shows. In the metal world, you most likely won’t make it if your live show doesn’t hold up (unless you get lucky and are heavily backed by some powerful people in the genre). How do you do that, you ask? You play your fucking hearts out.

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza doing it right

Merely showing up and playing doesn’t cut it, though. Any idiot with half a brain can figure that out (and still somehow, bands manage to get this first step wrong). Aside from not showing up or forgetting how to play your own songs, this isn’t really that hard of a step. If you’re a small band, it’s pretty tough to be so bad that the half-drunk people scattered around the bar for your opening performance outwardly dislike you. Once you’ve shown up, proven that you can actually play the music you wrote and (hopefully) play on a regular basis, you’re halfway to have a decent show.

If you decide that you’re fine being lifeless statues on the stage, playing your music (rhythm guitar for Between the Buried and Me I’m calling you out) then leaving, that’s fine – you can just enjoy having people not care about you or your band. You play metal, for Christ’s sake, you shouldn’t be so damn boring while playing your music. That is unless you hate your own music, and in that case why are you playing it at all? Do everyone a favor and at least make it look like you’re not dead, and that you actually enjoy playing music.

How about playing the same songs in the same way every night? Well, since the people there might know and like them, that’s a pretty safe bet. Think outside the box with me here a second, what if you actually (dare I say), improvised? I know, it seems a bit strange to think about, and it requires plenty of trust and comfort level with your bandmates. Don’t you think you would have built that up through practice and living in a van with them while on tour? At the very least, switch up a solo or two, perhaps play a great cover song – give the fans something new and exciting. No one is ever going to leave your set saying “Oh my god! Did you see [guitarist] play that solo from [song with a solo] the same exact way he does on the album? IT WAS AMAZING.” unless you’re one of very few people/bands (The Faceless, Tosin Abasi, Paul Masvidal and All Shall Perish being a few of these).

razormaze at church

Razormaze bringing the fire

Some of the best sets I’ve ever seen have been entirely unorthodox, or special in some way. It’s really not that hard if you have a little creativity – which you should, being a musician and all. I can vividly remember seeing Razormaze at Great Scott in Allston, MA for the CD release of their debut album The True Speed of Steel being one of the greatest sets I’ve ever witnessed. The guys were full of energy and passion, and the entire crowd was stoked to see them. Toward the latter stages of their set, their rhythm guitarist’s (Alex Citrone) guitar ceased functioning, and without really skipping a beat the band continued their set with a cover of Mötorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” You may scoff at that, or think it’s silly, but the crowd (including myself) thought it was the greatest thing ever at the time.

Sometimes bands can actually not pull out any surprises, but just bring it so hard it doesn’t matter – that’s the case with bands like The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza,Irepress, Isis, and The Faceless. With these bands, crowd involvement is often key. The more intense and into it the crowd is the better the performance feels. For instance, when you have a constant stream of body surfers flowing towards the stage as you’re screaming through your most brutal verse as a band, it’s hard to not be completely stoked about everything around you (that was the case when I saw Danza).

So bands, put on the show of your lives every single night, the fans will definitely appreciate it. Fans, make it known that you want a good show!

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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

The Heaviest Matter of the Universe Awards 2008

So, I thought it might be cool if I came up with a bunch of superlatives for metal albums in ’08 to showcase more than just my top ten. So, for those who don’t know what a superlative is, you most likely had nothing to do with a high school yearbook. They’re like awards that you give to people in your class, like “class clown” or “best smile”, etc. These will be music/band related ones. I hope you enjoy!

Bests:
Vocals: Iconoclast – Heaven Shall Burn
Drumming: Planetary Duality – The Faceless
Shredding: Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Newcomer: Relentless – Brother Von Doom
Production: Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Lyrics: The Way of All Flesh – Gojira
Comeback: Traced in Air – Cynic
Style Change: Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Name (album): Lost in the Sound of Separation – Underoath
Name (band): This is Exile – Whitechapel
Album Art: Twilight of the Thunder God – Amon Amarth
Album opener: “My Will Be Done” from The March – Unearth

Worsts
Production: Death Magnetic – Metallica
Style change: Midheaven – The Human Abstract
Lyrics: Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Name (album): Love and Other Disasters – Sonic Syndicate
Name (band): Scream Aim Fire – Bullet for my Valentine
Album Art: The Incurable Tragedy – Into Eternity

Mosts
Overachieving (bad): Midheaven – The Human Abstract
Overachieving (good): We Are The Nightmare – Arsis
Controversial: All Hope is Gone – Slipknot
Brutal: This is Exile – Whitechapel
Shredding: Zero Order Phase – Jeff Loomis
Overrated: The Incurable Tragedy – Into Eternity
Disappointing: Overcome – All That Remains
Erratic: We Are The Nightmare – Arsis
Technical: obZen – Meshuggah
Surprising (bad): Overcome – All That Remains
Surprising (good): Dreamer – Haste the Day
Progressive: Traced in Air – Cyinc
Complete: Holographic Universe – Scar Symmetry

Leasts
Surprising (bad): A Sense of Purpose – In Flames
Surprising (good): Motörizer – Motörhead
Technical: Torn – Evergrey
Shredding: This is Exile – Whitechapel
Controversial: Watershed – Opeth
Progressive: Motörizer – Motörhead
Complete: Torn – Evergrey

Miscellaneous
Album of the year: Traced in Air – Cyinc
Single of the year: “Vacuity” from The Way of All Flesh – Gojira
Riff of the year: at about 1:10 of “Servants to the Night” from We Are the Nightmare – Arsis
Guitar solo of the year: at about 1:23 of “Awaken the Dreamers” from Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Interlude of the year: “Memories of a Glass Sanctuary” from Awaken the Dreamers – All Shall Perish
Fastest: Ultra Beatdown – DragonForce
Biggest wannabe: Shogun – Trivium

So, yeah, that’s what I have come up with. Let me know how you feel! Got some you think I should add or change? I’d love to hear the criticism.

The Heaviest Matter of 2008

So, before I list them, I just want to say that this is my personal list of what I liked them most in 2008 for metal. Sure, there will be things on here that you think shouldn’t be, and some missing. Give me a break. I can’t listen to everything, and this is my list. If you don’t like it, go make your own damn list.

So, here’s how it will work. I’ll count down from ten to one, giving a few words about each selection, and my favorite track from the album. Then I’ll give the release date and label of the band.

10. Relentless by Brother Von Doom released September 23, 2008 (Deathcote)

Brother Von Doom Relentless

These guys are easily my favorite newcomers onto the scene this year. This album rips from start to finish, blow after blow, filled with blistering and brutal guitar work abound. Track pick: “Eater of Days”

9. Zero Order Phase by Jeff Loomis released September 30, 2008 (Century Media)

Jeff Loomis Zero Order Phase

One of the only pure instrumental albums I can listen to for hours on end, and the only one that is metal. Though this album quite prominently showcases Mr. Loomis’s guitar prowess, it’s never overwhelming – quite a feat in my book. Track pick: “Race Against Disaster”

8. Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth released September 30, 2008 (US) (Metal Blade)

Amon Amarth Twilight of the Thunder God

This album is quite easily the pinnacle of Amon Amarth’s work for me. It exudes the very essence of metal and vikings from start to finish, and has what I consider to be the best album artwork of the year. Track pick: “Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags”

7. Watershed by Opeth released June 30, 2008 (US) (Roadrunner)

Opeth Watershed

I don’t think I really need to say more than this: It’s Opeth. For those who don’t know, listen to them. You’ll get it. This isn’t their best work, in my opinion, but it’s close. Track pick: “Heir Apparent”

6. Awaken the Dreamers by All Shall Perish released September 5, 2008 (Nuclear Blast)

All Shall Perish Awaken The Dreams

This is the third release from ASP, and their least brutal. Technically, I think it is their most complete album to date, and edges out The Price of Existence by a very small margin. Chris Storey shreds many a face on this album, and is quite worth checking out if you like deathcore with a TON of crazy guitar work. Track pick: “Awaken the Dreamers”

5. obZen by Meshuggah released March 7, 2008 (Nuclear Blast)

Meshuggah Obzen

Best metal drummer out there: Thomas Haake. It’s quite apparent what he can do on this album. A culmination of older and newer Meshuggah. This is by far the most rhythmically complex album of the year, and has been pulled off nearly flawlessly. Track pick: “Bleed”

4. We Are The Nightmare by Arsis released April 15, 2008 (Nuclear Blast)

Arsis We Are the Nightmare

This is the epitome of what technical death metal should be. They rip through all sorts of styles on this album; flawlessly, might I add. This band keeps getting better and better it seems. Track pick: “Servants to the Night”

3. Iconoclast: Pt. 1 (The Final Resistance) by Heaven Shall Burn released February 5, 2008 (Century Media)

Heaven Shall Burn the Iconoclast part 1 the Resistance

This album is pure intensity. The vocals are demonic and spine-chilling. Could be a contender for best production in metal for 2008. Track pick: “Endzeit”

2. The Way of All Flesh by Gojira released October 14, 2008 (Listenable/Prosthetic)

Gojira the Way of All Flesh

Breaking onto the scene this year, the fourth album by Gojira is a MONSTER. They have a pretty unique sound and style, one that drags you in and stomps onto your head until the album’s over. Then you come back for more. Track pick: “Toxic Garbage Island”

1. Traced in Air by Cynic released November 25, 2008 (Season of Mist)

Cynic Traced In Air

Now, I’m sure a ton of people will agree with my decision to drop this beast at #1, but this album is incredible. It is less brutal and intense as the rest of the albums on the list, but is ground-breaking. Unique vocals, wonderful instrumental work. This album reminds me a lot of Rush and Pink Floyd, but with a few extra dashes of metal blended into the mix. Track pick: “Integral Birth”

So there it is. My list of top metal in 2008. Let me know what you think!

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.