Tag Archives: awesome

The March – Unearth [Review]

The March is the fourth full-length release from Massachusetts metalcore band Unearth, their third release on Metal Blade records. The March is the first release with new drummer Derek Kerswill. The album was released October 14, 2008 official, but was leaked a few weeks prior to the release date.

Unearth The March

To be completely honest, I have been awaiting the drop if this album for a long time, and I had high hopes for it. VERY high hopes. Then I heard the first track of the album when it was added to the band’s myspace, and it was simply incredible. Now, I wish I could say the rest of the album is that ludicrous, but it’s not. Nor could it ever be. It’s simply that good. The rest of the album’s pretty good, too.

I’ll say this, it is their most metal release to date. They’ve moved closer yet to the metal scene with their latest release, only furthering the progress from III: In the Eyes of Fire (although, nothing is as metal as “Sanctity of Brothers” on this album). The biggest aid to this venture is what the new drummer adds. Overall, the sound of the drums, and the style of the rhythms, is more metal than hardcore. I think it suits the band, as Buz McGrath can write some pretty fantastic metal riffs (aforementioned “Sanctity of Brothers” is a good example).

As far as production goes, this album is your standard well done album. Nothing really sticks out as bad or good, and it serves it’s purpose. I did notice, however, that the bass is pretty much buried in most of the tracks, which I am personally indifferent about. I can’t say for sure how good the bass lines are on the album, but I will assume for now that is the reason that they are not too prominent in most places on the album.

Arguably the strongest attribute of this album is the songwriting and album composition. There is a lot of style in the construction of this album, and works well as a unit. The songs all run together seamlessly, but are clearly separate songs. The nature of the beast is the abrupt beginning and ending of almost every song, which is usually a no-no, but somehow these guys found a way to make the album move alright even when doing so. I feel that this could be attributed mostly to the abrupt nature of the music itself, even without all the breakdowns that Unearth used to feature on their albums (there are still a bunch, though).

The final thing I want to comment on are the guitar solos and harmonies. Though most people won’t pick up on this, the sweeps that start the album off are harmonized. That means? Yeah, you guessed it, two separate guitar parts. Then there’s the chugging behind it. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? The solos throughout this album really are fantastic, and tasteful at that. Contrary to popular practices, they’re not only tapping and sweeps at the fastest speeds the guitarist can play (don’t worry, though, Buz still melts some faces with some blisteringly fast shredding).

All in all, this album is a great listen, even though it falls off significantly after the first track. The guys from Unearth really brought everything to the table this time around, and now we get to enjoy the sonic feast they have prepared.

Track picks: “My Will Be Done”, “Letting Go” and “Cutsman”

Overall Score: 8 out of 10 devil horns

Gojira – The Way of All Flesh [Review]

The Way of All Flesh is the fourth full-length album from French band Gojira. Set to release October 13th in Europe, and October 14 in the United States. This is their second release on world-wide label Prosthetic Records, the third with French label Listenable.

Gojira the Way of All Flesh

First of all, I just want to say that this is a band that does not get the recognition it deserves. I really hope that this album will serve to change that.

The Way of All Flesh seems to have picked up right where From Mars to Sirius left off, almost literally (specifically note the guitar in the opening part of “Oroborus” and the end of “Global Warming”. This is most definitely a good thing, because From Mars to Sirius was one serious progressive death metal album. From their first album on, this band has gotten noticeably better. With From Mars to Sirius being one of my favorite albums as of late, I was very excited to put this one on.

In terms of the album’s structure, there are no problems. I would not say it is a strength either. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single does not appear in the first 3/4 of the album. It is in fact the third to last track, which is something I have not personally encountered very often. The single is an interesting choice, in my mind, however. It is very much unlike most of their music, whereas a lot of their other stuff was very quick-paced, and involved a lot of speed, half of “Vacuity” is slow, and pulsing – then moves to some familiar stuff – then changes to unfamiliar territory once again. A great track all in all, but a surprising choice and placement on the album.

The two main strengths of this album are it’s consistency and strength of the individual songs. Excluding “The Way of All Flesh”, “A Sight to Behold”, and “The Silver Cord” any of the tracks on this album would have made a solid single. The non-single-worthy tracks, however, are almost essential to the album itself. Each provides a fair change of pace, and a break of the monotony that Gojira can become.

The fact that each song on the album is quite distinct is what separates it from From Mars to Sirius, which could really be the only real difference (aside from the obvious fact that the songs are not exactly the same). On From Mars to Sirius all of the songs sort of blended together after a few listens, whereas this is not the case on The Way of All Flesh.

On a more technical note, the production quality of this album is absolutely perfect. The mixes range quite differently at times, sometimes being guitar heavy such as the track “The Art of Dying” but are also very balance at times, such as the track “Esoteric Surgery”. The one thing I noticed that I really like, though some others may dislike, is the volume of the snare drum and toms. I liked the fact that they were fairly loud in the mix for almost the entire album. They have such a bright, crisp sound that adds a lot to the songs that have such a dark sound. The best example I noticed of this is in the track “Yama’s Messengers” where each snare hit is very clear and obvious in the mix, bringing attention from the constant grind of the guitar and bass drum parts.

With a fresh batch of brutal songs, Gojira has put together a very strong fourth release, and in my opinion their best to date (inches out From Mars to Sirius by a nose). While staying in-character and using slow triplets and grinding guitar sections, they have added a few small dimensions to the mix that only help make the listener appreciate the things that make up what Gojira are known for. Where the band goes from here in unknown to me, but I can almost say for certain that it will be good.

Overall score: 9/10 devil horns

Into Eternity – The Incurable Tragedy [Review]

The Incurable Tragedy is the fifth studio release from Canadian Progressive/Power/Melodic death metal band Into Eternity. The release dates are: August 20 in Europe and September 2 in the US/Canada.

Into Eternity the Incurable Tragedy

At 38 minutes and 52 seconds, being 12 songs long, one could not call this a long album by any stretch of the imagination (granted, it still beats punk and grindcore albums in length). The thing is, this album doesn’t need to feel longer. It has so much going on within it, 39 minutes is plenty.

First off, I want to discuss that this is another one of those “theme albums” that you have heard so much about. I must admit, I have a soft spot for theme albums, but I am always quite skeptical. Most theme albums turn out to be boing, cheesy, cliche, etc. There are but few theme albums that turn out great [Leviathan by Mastodon is a shining example of this, themed after Moby Dick]. Into Eternity’s newest album really is none of these. It is tough to think of a metal album as a theme album if it’s theme is death, disease, etc. as this album’s theme is supposed to be. Quoting an interview with blabbermouth.net, “The incurable Tragedy was inspired by the deaths of [Tim] Roth’s two best friends, brothers who succumbed to cancer within two months of one another.” While I am not trying to take away anything from the fact that this indeed is a theme album, it would really not be too far-fetched to say that this deals with pretty normal subject matter for the genre they are in.

The second thing to address, and easily the most noticeable, is the incredible musicianship on this album. As always, Into Eternity delivers on all fronts as far as performance goes. All those long years (about 11 years now) of constant touring has really paid off in this department for the band. Each performance only gets better. Roth’s guitar work is above and beyond, and the vocals, as always, are enormous. Arguably the best vocals in the business are found in Into Eternity’s music (check out Stu Block’s wail, and tell me it doesn’t blow you away – you won’t, unless you’re lying of course). The new addition to the overwhelming musicianship are the interludes found on this album that were in very short supply on previous efforts, these interludes being the “Incurable Tragedy” series. THese are very ballad-like songs that follow the same general melody, then the weepy guitar chimes in, followed by the big vocals. These interludes are the emotion that this album needs to keep the “theme” in tact. Overall, the instrumentation is over the top and out of control in most cases. They tug on the reigns here and there just a little to keep the whole thing from just plain running away from them.

The biggest weakness of this album is quite easily it’s lack of originality. As I have discussed in previous reviews, this can be a double-edged sword. It helps some bands while it hurts others [sellout v. classic, losing fame v. evolving/improving]. In this case, it hurts the album a little bit, because the sound that Into Eternity has always had is not very cohesive, and changed pace quite often, with the pieces of each song jutting out. Trying to put together anything with this band is like having only square blocks to put into only round holes. Because they have so many influences, and play in so many styles, it gets to be a little much at times, and the dramatic and fast switch of styles and sound certainly adds to the fact. I happen to enjoy what it is they do, but it is a point in which deserves heavy criticism and notice. It is very much a love/hate point of discussion.

Because of this style, it is really tough to create a very cohesive album with your less-than-cohesive songs. Think of it in the way that grindcore is. Grindcore is typically all songs built section by section, with no real chorus or repeated sections, just stacking riffs and breakdowns end to end until it is a series of stuff that the band thinks sounds good. In a less extreme way, that is what Into Eternity’s sound is like. Because of this, the first couple of listens are sort of tough until you get used to what is going on, but then it quickly grows on you. The first instance in which I heard Into Eternity, I simply had no words to describe what I had just experience, none good nor bad – I was utterly speechless and confounded, sonically and aurally assaulted. THe more I listened, though, the more I love it.

All in all, the album is great at what it is good at, and awful at what it is not good at – typical over-the-top album style.

Track picks: “Diagnosis Terminal” and “Prelude to Woe”

Overall Score: 5/10 devil horns

I suggest you give it a listen just to experience the pure sonic power and diversity that this album brings to the table. Overall, it’s nothing spectacular, but does provide moments of excellence. It’s worth a listen for the absolutely bonkers melodic vocals, but little else.

Twilight of the Thunder God – Amon Amarth [Review]

Twilight of the Thunder God is the seventh studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal giants Amon Amarth (I like to categorize them as the ever-popular Viking Metal genre). The set release date is September 30 here in North America, but is released in Sweden/Finland first on September 17.

Amon Amarth Twilight of the Thunder God

First off, I want to tell you that when I saw the album artwork, it kicked my ass. Then, when I got around to listening to the album it kicked my ass even harder.

The first track on the album, the title track, sets the pace wonderfully. It’s the same Amon Amarth riff we’ve heard a thousand times now, but it gets better every time. The drums are in full form, lots of pounding, driving rhythms – perfect for headbanging and hair-flailing. My neck still sort of hurts from rocking out too this song too hard. The thing is, the album does not get any worse from here on out. Most albums around these days (or what seems like it anyway) usually start off strong, then the tracks get a little weaker toward then end [e.g. All That Remains’ The Fall of Ideals – I loved the album, but the second half was lacking in comparison to the opening six tracks]. This album brutalizes you from start to finish. When it’s not brutalizing you, it’s making you feel like you want to wage war with something, or conquer some far off land – inspiring you for the next moment when it kicks in your face some more.

So, when hearing this album, the thought ‘Wow, this is just like every other Amon Amarth album!’ might very well pop into your head. Well, no one can fault you for that. They really haven’t changed their game for a long time, but why the hell would they need to? When you are this awesome, there is no point in changing. Instead, they took the Motörhead, AC/DC, etc. approach and just got really ridiculously good at what they do, and I think them for that. Each album of their last few releases has been better every time.

As far as the album production goes, it falls right in line with With Oden on Our Side, having a very unique, deep sound without being too muddy (slightly deeper this time around, though, and lsightly less booming/bass heavy). It is a little “distant” sounding, but I am almost positive it was meant that way. It gives a great feel to the album. Nothing is mixed to take command over anything, it’s not overly bass-heavy, or light and fluffy. The drums sound especially good on this album. By now, I think it would be fair to say that they really own their own sound, one in which provides great timbre to set the mood for the lyrics along with the pounding music that lies under the vocals. It is always an amazing feat to have as much going on in the same general tone range without having anything become buried.

After a few listens through, the only thing I can find about this album that is not near-perfect would be the fact that is does not stray too far at all from the Amon Amarth “thing”. Not a problem, but not a strength. People will argue either way, and I am pulling for an “Objection your honor, irrelevant” plea. No one would dare criticize the aforementioned bands for not changing their model, why point the finger at Amon Amarth? No one really praises the aforementioned bands for not changing, other than the “stayed true to their roots” ideal, which is neither here nor there.

An interesting fact about this album is that it is the first to feature guest musicians. The tracks “Twilight of the Thunder God”, “Guardians of Asgaard” and “Live For the Kill” all feature guest musicians. Before doing a small amount of research, I found out about the first two, since they are not very obvious. When I heard “Live For the Kill” however, I really assumed it was Apocalyptica, since they pretty much are the guest musicians for most metal tracks featuring cellos. It is a damn good thing, too. Those boys in Apocalyptica know their way around a cello, and in quite stellar metal fashion as well.

All in all, Twilight of the Thunder God is not much different than anything Amon Amarth has ever done, sans working with guest musicians, but it is simply better. Like an artisan honing their craft, they will only get better with time and practice.

Track picks: “Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags” and “Live for the Kill”

Overall score: 10/10 devil Horns