Tag Archives: Music

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

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Razormaze – The True Speed of Steel [Review]

Razormaze has burst onto the New England metal scene with their first full-length release The True Speed of Steel, released by Hold True Recordings.

razormaze the true speed of steel

Thrash. Fucking. Metal. Those are the only three words you need to describe The True Speed of Steel. Regardless, I’ll give you some more insight.

From start to finish, this album rips open new assholes, bangs heads, and every other awesome metal cliché in the books. The album starts off on a really odd note, with a great bass groove – then shreds all over your face and moves onto some glorious riffage. The album traverses through anything and everything you have ever heard in a thrash metal song (from all corners of the thrash metal universe: teutonic, bay area, crossover, etc.). The album even has the wild west “showdown whistle” played on guitar in one of their songs (“Desperado”).

Thinking as has hard as I can, I cannot come up with a suitable comparison for Razormaze. They draw influence from early Metallica records, but are not nearly as long-winded in style. At times a Kreator influence is present, sometimes more of a Testament influence. I think, all-in-all, the closest relatable band to Razormaze would be Nuclear Assault – the problem is that Razormaze have only one album, and it is much better than any release Nuclear Assault ever put out.

Eight songs and 32.5 minutes after starting the The True Speed of Steel, I found myself at a loss for words. So much awesome had been pounded into my ears I knew not what to do, but listen again. Five times. This album is a perfect mix of shredding, great lyrics, gang vocals, riffage, and thrashing to quench the thirst of any metal fan, certainly anyone who considers themselves a thrash metal connoisseur.

A perfectly recorded, performed, and mastered album – this is an absolute must-have. It is amazing to think that this is the band’s first full-length (they only had one EP before this album). Barring any sort of huge catastrophe, this band really could make some waves. Needless to say, I am a “Slave to the maze.”

Track picks: “Slaughterotica” and “Slave to the Maze”

Overall score: 10/10 devil horns

GO BUY THIS ALBUM. I can assure you will not regret it.
(click the album art above, it will take you to the webstore)

Psyopus – Odd Senses [Review]

Odd Senses is the third full-length release from avant-garde/mathcore band PsyOpus, hailing from Rochester, NY. Odd Senses was released on February 17, 2009 on Metal Blade Records.

Psyopus Odd Senses

Psyopus. Holy hell. This band might be the craziest band I have ever listened to. Odd Senses is a very fitting album title. The lyrical and subject content on this album is very peculiar. Being somewhat familiar with Psyopus before hearing this album, I had a basic grasp of what I could expect but this album somehow still managed to chock me on my first listen through.

From the out of control time signatures and drumming to the incredible guitar licks to the strange and creepy voiceovers, this album can be a bit much at times. Then, without a moment’s notice there is a track like “A Murder To Child” – a nine minute jazz guitar and violin adventure with no lyrics, and is in a major key (something that is against the rest of the album’s sound). After that is an awesomely hilarious parody track in which, for two minutes it is one plain riff and they lyrics “One way ticket to hell” repeated over and over. For the remaining eighteen minutes of the track things just continue to get more off-the-wall and strange.

This might be the most technically impressive album I have heard in a long time, as well. Amidst all the craziness and non-sensical banter, there are some of the most well-written and performed bass, guitar and drum parts I have heard in a while. If I ever saw Chris Arp (the writer for everything on the album), aka “Arpmandude”, I would bow to him.

Odd Senses is really an album that is brilliant in the way that Primus is brilliant. Incredibly technical playing, lots of strange themes, and you never can be too sure what you’re getting into. Odd Senses is absolutely a must-hear. It really could scar you for life, and you will be sure to end the listen with a fried brain and a lot of confusion. The more listens you give this album the better it gets.

Track picks: “A Murder to Child” and “X and Y”

Overall score: 9/10 devil horns

Brutal Truth – Evolution Through Revolution [Review]

Evolution Through Revolution is the sixth album from legendary Grincore band Brutal Truth. It’s release date is April 14, 2009 on Relapse Records.

Brutal Truth Evolution Through Revolution

It takes something really special for a grindcore album to be a lot better than the other albums in the genre. Bands like The Tony Tapdance Extravaganza have figured it out with their last release, Danza II: The Electric Boogaloo. Brutal Truth, however, haven’t quite got the “it” factor on this record. It’s a very solid and pleasing grindcore record, and living up to their name, it is truthfully brutal.

For a grindcore album, Evolution Through Revolution is about as long as they come, clocking in at just over forty-one minutes. There is a ton of material on the album, but nothing that is really too interesting or different. This is both good and bad. For those who are simply looking for an all out brutal face-tearing riff and breakdown festival, this album is just that. There are no breaks, no breathers, almost nothing that steps out of the very little grindcore box. For such a long grindcore album, there should be a little more going on with it.

In truth, this really is one of the most brutal records I have ever heard, but with that being said, it gets boring fast. It sounds very chaotic, but it is pretty systematic from song to song (as much as a grindcore album can be, anyway). In the end, I enjoyed the album, and recommend it to fans of the genre, but would not really recommend it to anyone else. If you’re looking to check out Brutal Truth, one of their first two records would be a much better idea. Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses is their first and best album, but their second album, Need to Control finishes a close second.

Track picks: “Detached”, “Semi-Automatic Carnation” and “Sugardaddy”

Overall Score: 7/10 devil horns

Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side [Retrospective]

Number 48 on Metal Storm’s Top 100 Albums, number 19 on RateYourMusic’s top albums of 1995, and one of the best power/speed/heavy metal releases for all time. That’s right, you guessed it (or maybe not), Imaginations from the Other Side by Blind Guardian.

blind guardian imaginations from the other side

Every legendary metal band from years past have one album that seems to epitomize and embody that band entirely. Perhaps the most prominent example of this would be Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. For Blind Guardian, Imaginations from the Other Side is undoubtably the album that epitomizes them.

In a year in which the Gothenburg sound was bursting on the scene and seemingly taking over, Blind Guardian (along with Iced Earth and Gamma Ray) delivered their greatest albums. For Iced Earth and Gamma Ray, it’s more debatable, but Imaginations from the Other Side really is Blind Guardian’s magnum opus. Hansi Kürsch delivers his best performance of his career on this album (even including his work in Demons and Wizards). The lyrics are incredible, and take the listener on a grand adventure. Beyond that, he pushes the boundary to the extreme with his vocal power and presence. The heat on his voice throughout this album is simply incredible. André Olbrich is on his game in this effort as well. While he may not be the fastest or best guitarist around, his creativity and writing for the guitar parts is on par with the best in metal – ever. Somehow André found a way to stay true to what power metal guitars were supposed to sound like, but still write something that was not like everything else out there. His solos on the album are absolutely perfect. They are not simply sweeping, blistering solos. They have feeling and emotion, which all guitar solos ideally should have.

Now that I’ve established that the album was near perfect in terms of writing, I want to comment on the production of the album. With such a huge vocalist in power metal, it’s a feat to have everyone in check, and no one getting snubbed for the spotlight. Power metal is somewhat notorious for this, allowing the vocalist to overshadow everyone during the more powerful vocal parts – this only happens where appropriate (and written) for the vocalist to be overshadowing everyone. Aside from the balance of the different elements on this album, the sound of the “choir” (the gang vocals) is the best I have ever heard for a power metal album I have ever heard.

From top to bottom, this album is a masterpiece. It capitalizes on every element necessary for a power metal album, and then some. Full of big vocals, fast guitars, pounding drums, and an epic story line – this is easily one of the most quintessential metal albums of all time.

Track picks: Don’t be a fool. On an album this good, every track needs to be listened to. I will say, though, that the two singles from the album were “Imaginations from the Other Side” and “Bright Eyes”

Overall score: 11/10 Devil horns

Queensrÿche – American Soldier [Review]

American Soldier is the tenth (yes, tenth) full-length release from the US prog metal band Queensrÿche. The album’s set release date is March 31, 2009 on Rhino Entertainment.

This album might be the most bland and boring album I have ever reviewed. This is the first album in recent memory that it took me multiple tries to simply listen through it. It simply did not draw my attention. Before I had even heard the album, though, this is aout what I expected. After the letdown that was Operation: Mindcrime II, and the fact that this album is a concept album themed about American soldiers (go figure), I was ready for a thrill ride of suck. To my surprise, however, there was no suck to be had, nor is there any good to be had. There’s simply nothing.

Queensrÿche seem to have wandered far off their unbeaten path from the days of the original Operation: Mindcrime and found their way on to the highway that is modern-day cock rock (with added wailing vocals). Queensrÿche, in my mind, was a purely progressive metal band. Over the years, they have not really lived up to this, it is even more clear now. The most progressive element on this album is the use of a saxophone for about four seconds to round out one of the solos on the album.

It’s always hard to come up with anything to really write about an album with no real notoriety. I can deal with an album that doesn’t being anything new to the table, but when you use old and tired material with no passion or excitement, it makes for an extremely boring listen. Almost unbearable at times. I’m sure there are people out there who will love this, people who will hate it, but I can find any basis for either emotion.

Track picks: “Man Down!” and “Hundred Mile Stare”

Overall Score: 5/10 devil horns