Tag Archives: badass

Iconoclast: Pt. 1 (The Final Resistance) – Heaven Shall Burn [Review]

Iconoclast is the fifth full-length studio album from German Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal band Heaven Shall Burn. The album was released on January 28/February 5, 2008 on Century Media.

Heaven Shall Burn the Iconoclast part 1 the Final Resistance

First off, I want to comment on how absolutely awesome this album art is. One of my favorite styles of album art, and looks sort of like the cover art for Roorback by Sepultura (though it’s a bit of a stretch). Awesome work, whomever you are. I’ll look in the liner notes eventually to actually check the artist’s name.

Anyway, on to the music. As an album, this one is in the top ten metal albums of 2008 for me, easy. As with many of the bands I review here, this was my first taste of the wonderful german musicians. From start to finish, this album blew me away. I immediately went out and purchased the rest of their albums. Well, went to Amazon.com anyway.

I’ll touch on the few things this band do wrong on this album first.

… Oh wait, I can’t really find anything. There are no actual “flaws” in this album. I’ve heard people complain about the “Static X-esque” dance part of “A Quest For Resistance” but I don’t see the upbeat rhythm a problem at all. I personally like it, and think it fits in quite well with the album.

Now, since there’s not really anything I can see that they did wrong with the album, there are some things that weren’t perfect, and there were a few things that were done impeccably.

The single best part of this album is the vocals. Marcus Bishchoff has found one of the coolest recorded vocals I have ever heard. A majority of the vocals on the album are recorded twice. Once with Marcus screaming in a high or low tone, and the other the opposite. The vocals sounds to visceral and dark. They can be spine-chilling at times. In the first vocal parts of “Endzeit” it is quite easy to tell that this is happening, and it works to perfection.

The next best part of the album are the lyrics. They are a bit cliché in subject matter, but are incredibly well written. Take this excerpt from “Joel”:

“A preacher in a palace, deriding Luther’s fight
jugglers rise to icons, fiddlers playing saints
selling hope and warship mammon
blindness, fear, delusion – their intrinity
as you have paid the price, welcome to paradise”

From song to song, this album delivers on all fronts. Each song as intense as the last (excluding the interlude toward the end of the album, “Equinox”), and never once do I get bored listening to this album. I don’t even skip the interlude when I listen to the album. Because of the way the album ends, on two separate instrumental tracks, the latter being more intense and unresolved, I always find myself wanting to listen to the album again. Now, many people might fins this as a problem, but I love the idea. It’s absolutely brilliant to end an album on a slightly unresolved note (hypothetically) to keep the listener’s attention. “Atonement” is filled with such build up, such power, and such dissonance it always leaves me wanting more, even though I an never unsatisfied. There have been very few albums that have truly brought out my inner music glutton, this being one of them.

So, this is a great album. Perfect? Of course not, don’t be silly and naive. This album has hooked me, however.

Track picks: “Endzeit” and “Joel” – “Atonement” gets an honorable mention.

Overall score: 10/10 devil horns

underOATH – Lost in the Sound of Separation [Review]

Lost in the Sound of Separation is the sixth full-length studio album from the Solid State/Tooth & Nail act Underoath (or underOATH, or UNDERØATH). THe album was released September 2, 2008 (Us/Canada/Japan). The lineup for the album is the same as their last two releases, Define the Great Line and They’re Only Chasing Safety. This is another band that also falls in the horribly mundane and vague category of Christian Metalcore. The band has also been considered to be a post-hardcore band. In my opinion, the band floats in the grey area between the two genres.

Underoath Lost in the Sound of Separation

As with a few other reviews I have written, this is the first album I really sat down and listened to by Underøath. I did eventually listen to them, but this was their first of their albums I had been exposed to.

Upon my first listen, the album is sonically one of the best I’ve ever heard. There is simply no way to compare with this album in terms of the sound output. Take away what the music is and whether you like it or not, the production values on this album are perfect. Period. This is al album to be listened to with a nice pair of headphones, and deserves something far better than poorly compressed .mp3 file as you would get from say, the iTunes Music Store? Get yourself a nice pair of headphones and listen to this on a good vinyl setup if possible. It really is an experience.

Anyway, on to the music itself. Although I had not heard any full albums by Underøath before, I have herd songs. I sort of knew what to expect, but I had sort of discounted this band (regrettably) as another crappy screamo band, but with a little extra heavy. I was sadly mistaken. This band is a gargantuan band in terms of their musical performance. Great lyrics, and vocals that make me feel. Few voices I have ever heard have really spurred real emotion in me. Throughout Lost in the Sound of Separation I felt sadness, anger, hope, empathy, and so many more emotions. The rhythms and guitar melodies are always fresh, exciting, and interesting. The drummer doesn’t seem overly talented from what I heard on this record, but he sure as hell gets the job done.

The songwriting on this album is flawless as well. It feels like a gapless album when listening to it (well, other than the break between “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures” and “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” – that’s pretty obvious). The album really isn’t gapless, however, that is just how well put together the album is. Of course, they had to put the one song on the album that people who don’t like brutally heavy and raw music could enjoy… *cough cough* “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” *cough cough* Although it’s a good song, I wish that Underøath could just get rid of the soft, melodic songs they just stick into the albums. I guess it worked on the other albums, but it feels out of place on this album. At least it is at the end, and does a decent job at bringing the album to a calm, along with the last song (“Desolate Earth: The End is Near”). In my personal opinion, I would have been personally 100% content if the album had ended at the last note of “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”.

The last thing I want to address is the album artwork. Now, is it just me, or does Underoath always have the best album artwork? I don’t have the slightest clue about what this album art is all about, but it’s awesome. There’s also no way to discount the album art for They’re Only Chasing Safety or Define the Great Line.

All in all, I absolutely love this album, and it is one that every fan of raw, heavy music should OWN. Yes, own as in BUY. If not only because the album is great, then buy it for the opportunity to get the “golden ticket” that allows free passage to every Underøath show form now until forever.

Track picks: “Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” and “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”

Overall score: 9.5/10 devil horns

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