Tag Archives: Review

Evisceration Plague – Cannibal Corpse [review]

Evisceration Plague is the eleventh studio album from Buffalo (New York) natives Cannibal Corpse. The album release date is February 3, 2009 on Metal Blade records.

Cannibal Corpse Evisceration Plague

Having been a fan of Cannibal Corpse for a long time now, I was EXTREMELY satisfied with their last release, Kill. Alex Webster has been quoted as saying “In Cannibal Corpse, our goal has always been to try and make each new album we record our heaviest. That goal was a bit more challenging this time since we were extremely satisfied with our last album Kill, but we knew that by working with producer Erik Rutan at Mana Recording Studios again, we would be able to start at that same level of heaviness and take it even further. Now that we can hear the finished product, I would say we’ve been able to achieve this goal, and I think our fans will agree. ‘Evisceration Plague’ has the best guitar sound we’ve ever recorded, and the entire band has never played with more precision and power. We can’t wait until you all get a chance to hear the album in early 2009, because we think you’ll be as happy with it as we are.”[1]

Now, I can’t say that he’s entirely right, but this album is definitely close to on par with Kill. It has the same crushing riffs that Cannibal Corpse always employ, and they have simply more finely tuned the sound for this album.

Straight from the first crushing track of the album, “Priests of Sodom”, this album is overpowering. It’s an all-out aural assault, really. This is not to say, however, that it is difficult to listen to. This album is simply made to sound huge. More big and loud than you can imagine. 10,000 marshall stacks loud. The greatest part about the production is the mere fact that no clipping occurs, all of the instruments are balanced, and it is not tiring to pick out each band member in the mix – until you get to the mini guitar solos. The small guitar solos featured on the album are somewhat buried. It appears that burying guitar solos a slight amount in the mix is becoming slightly more prevalent in the heavier, more brutal, styles of death metal (this includes, of course: Deathcore, Brutal Death, etc.). In terms of the “guitar sound” Alex mentioned, it’s true. The guitar sound on the album is fantastic. The rhythm guitar is absolutely crushing, and the lead guitar is crunchy, and sounds great in the shredding moments of the album.

In both Evisceration Plague and Kill the lyrical content has been a bit different than the lyrical content that Cannibal Corpse once had. It is easiest to see this by simply looking at the titles of their songs and albums. In their last two efforts, Cannibal Corpse have used less “Gore Obsessed” (sorry, could not help it) themes are less graphic. Still as brutal, but a little more serious.

Overall, Evisceration Plague is a good album – not great. It is a typically good release from Cannibal Corpse, almost their best to date. There was nothing overly awe-inspiring about the album, but is one hell of a listen.

Track picks: “Skewered from Ear to Eye”, “Unnatural”, and “Priests of Sodom” (it was hard to choose only three)

Overall Score: 8/10 Devil Horns

[1] CANNIBAL CORPSE: New Album Title, Track Listing Revealed – Nov. 3, 2008

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

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.

Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone [Review]

All Hope Is Gone is the fifth studio from Des Moines, Iowa band Slipknot. Release date is August 26, 2008 in North America.

Slipknot All Hope Is Gone

“It’s going to rip your face off,” Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor tells Billboard.com with confidence. “I don’t think the world will be ready for this album.”

With confidence, I must say, he’s right. This is by far their most brutal album to date, and easily their most metal. They’re beginning to differentiate themselves from the rest of the dying “Nu Metal” breed.

One thing that seems to turn most metalheads off of Slipknot is their lack of: blast beats, blistering guitar work, and constant/extended double bass drum machine gun riffs. Well, guess what, guys, they’re here. Slipknot show off their technical skill and mettle with this album far more than ever before (excluding the masterpiece Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat with the original lineup). Overall, the music has not changed in overall sound, it’s as brutal as ever, but they’ve added more “musical” elements. When I heard the first guitar solo on this album I was shocked to say the least. Slipknot with some fancy-pants guitar work? Hell, I never thought I would hear it, but it works, and works well.

There are people that would say that Joey Jordison is the best percussionist around. While this is obviously not true [see: Thomas Haake, Morgan Ågren, Neil Peart, etc.] he at least puts up a fantastic showing compared to previous efforts. More pounding on the kick drums, more polyrhythms, and some brutal breakdowns. He’s got a ways to go until he can show us he really is of the best, but still incredibly talented none-the-less. A fresh take with the new cymbal usage (not only Jordison, but the Fehn and Crahan as well) certainly does not help with the new and improved percussion section.

The songwriting hasn’t changed at all really from Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). The lyrics have become slightly more mature, but not a whole lot. It is still dealing with very similar issues as in previous albums, but are now phrased in a more global, aware, mature manner. Aside from the new additions to their repertoire (the aforementioned guitar solos and drum work) the album sounds an awfully lot like Iowa with glimpses of things they used in their self titled release.

From song to song the mood swings quite dramatically. Ranging from brutal and angry to optimistic, it is far more open than anything Slipknot has done. Some examples of some outside-the-box thinking compared to the Slipknot of old would be the chorus to both “Wherein Lies Continue” and “Psychosocial”, both having very optimistic, positive sounds and messages, even while being imbedded in some of the most brutal stuff that Slipknot has ever produced.

The album is not very cohesive, but it works. For most albums, when it is not very cohesive it becomes a listening challenge. With All Hope Is Gone there is enough interest from song to song to keep you listening, and the jump from song to song can be fairly abrupt (building a lot of tension), which works with the feeling of the album. Towards the end of the album, you get the soft, ballad-like tune “Snuff” which is this album’s equivalent of “Vermillion Pt. 2” in my opinion. Following that track is “All Hope Is Gone”, which is a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall metal song. It pounds your face in beginning to end, and is a great final track for the album.

All in all, I really enjoyed the album, being a big fan of Slipknot before and felt that they would do well with more solos and machine-gun drumming. Admittedly, the album is not spectacular. It’s good, but not great. Any Slipknot fan of old should really dig it, and they will most likely gain a few new fans from it.

Track picks:
“All Hope Is Gone”
“Gematria (The Killing Name)”
“Sulfur”

Overall score = 7.5/10 devil horns

[EDIT]:

Throwdown – Venom & Tears [Review]

Venom & Tears is the fifth full-length release from California metal band Throwdown. The album was released August 7, 2007.

Throwndown Venom and Tears

Funny story about the album artwork, when they released the CD, all the booklets had two small holes punched where you see the bite marks on the girl’s neck. In fact, every other page in the booklet has a picture with bite marks, each of which lines up with the holes. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but it’s fresh, and I for one happen to like it.

Now, onto the actual album. I am very hesitant to say this, but when people say this album sounds like something from Pantera, they’re right. It’s take straight out of Dimebag, Phil, and the gang’s playbook. Obviously, it’ not as good as most of the Pantera stuff that people know, but it is better than their old, lesser known stuff.

The album begins with the first single from the album, “Holy Roller” wish starts of with a fast, brutal thrash guitar part, something straight out of the 80’s, then you hear the first glimpse of the “Pantera sound” from the guys. The vocals are spot on for a Phil Anselmo vocal track. sans the incredible wailing that Phil could once do (sadly, he is now incapable of such awesomeness). The problem I have with the track, though, is the TERRIBLE mastering that was done to it. Directly from the CD it has avery muddy, bass-heavy sound.The one song that seemed to be the exception of poor mixing, however, was “I, Suicide”. It was still very bass-heavy, but not muddy. The highs from the symbols were very crisp, unlike all the other songs, as was the vocals. It was quite refreshing, pairing that with the fun use of stereo on the track. During the chorus, the lyrics are “I, suicide” and each word is on a different channel (and track, for added effect). VERY cool.

Anyway, the mixing seemed to be a pretty consistent problem throughout the album, although it was at it’s worst during “Holy Roller”. The latter half of the album has considerably better mastering, but it is still quite bad compared to anything reasonable. The other qualities of the sound are pretty good, though. The guitar and vocals especially. The timbres work very well together, and sound very brutal and brash – just right for a thrash metal album.

The songwriting on this album is quite, shall I say, formulaic? There are no songs that really deviate from they typical thrash metal song style: raw riffage, pounding rhythms, growling verses, powerful choruses, and some solos here and there when appropriate. This is not a problem, however. True thrash metal albums these days a few and far between.

To be honest, I really didn’t want to like this album. It sounded like crap from the beginning, and just pissed me off. Then a thought occurred ‘Wow, this album really did it’s job.’ It’s fast, it’s angry, it’s brutal, it’s balls to the wall, it’s in your face, it’s [insert metal cliché here], etc. I was once told something that is very much in effect for this album: “The closer something comes to perfection, the more glaringly obvious it’s imperfections become.” I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s true. There are so many things that this album does right, it’s really obvious where it went wrong.

Track picks: “Holy Roller” and “Godspeed”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

Iced Earth – The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part II [Review]

Set to come out on September 5, The Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part II is the tenth studio album from Iced Earth, this one being the second in the “Something Wicked” series (it’s the second and final installment).

Iced Earth Crucible of Man

Anyway, I listened to the CD through once, and felt incredibly indifferent about it. I feel that mostly this is because the first album I had heard from Iced Earth was Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1, and the vocals on that album were gargantuan, for lack of a better word describing the incredible size of the vocals on that album. Granted, the vocals on Crucible of Man are not bad by any means, they simply do not live up to Framing Armageddon with Tim Owens (they now have ex-vocalist Matt Barlow back on board for this album) [See example: “Crucify the King”]. On a second listen, I noticed all the other areas in which the album had been altered from part 1.

In true power metal fashion, this album has balls. Sometimes they’re to the wall, and sometimes they’re nowhere to be found, but you know they’re there. [See example: “Gift or a Curse”] This is your typical power metal ballad type song, one with no fancy pounding rhythms or big vocals, but still manages to have some pretty big cohones for being a ballad (granted, I can’t see it’s balls, but they’ve got to be around here somewhere!).

The lyrics are as well typical power metal lyrics: absurd, epic, and phantasmal. The subject of all the lyrics are of grandiose adventures, oppression of a people that doesn’t exist, and of course, lots of conquering. This in conjunction with the fact that the album flows from end to end quite well, even though you can tell that each song is a separate song works very well for a theme album. In the ‘theme’ aspect, this album is near-perfect.

All in all, the musical performance is far superior in Crucible of Man than it has ever been. The guitar work, the drum work, and the new bassist all put in a very solid performance. Not too much, but still over the top. Not boring, but serene at times. The ebb and flow of music really works, which is all brought in by the aforementioned Matt Barlow vocals. It may be a typical album in nature, but is executed in very good fashion.

Track picks: “Harbinger of Fate” and “Divide and Devour”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns