Saturday, April 04, 2015
Grindcore greats Pig Destroyer recently detonated at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip (you can read my official review here). In tow were crossover/ crust/ powerviolence bands Nails, Despise You, and ACxDC. Although the undercard was a bit off of the beaten path for me, Pig Destroyer as headliners were not to be missed. Here are a few pictures.
The t-shirt haul...
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Visigoth The Revenant King
By: Chris Davison
Of all of the places I expected the none-more-true heavy metal of Visigoth to hail from, I wouldn’t have put a bet on it being Salt Lake City. Now, as an Englishman who has never visited our former colony to the west, I confess that all I know about the state of Utah has been informed by old westerns and a sketchy knowledge of Mormonism. At least for the benefits of our readers, my interest in all things heavy metal is a little more informed!
Presented among this album, (and great title, guys – took me right back to my adolescent Dungeons and Dragons years in a good way) are nine hymns to all things pure heavy metal. I have seen this album described as power metal elsewhere – a mistake, to my ears, as The Revenant King really doesn’t have much in common with the German heavyweight bands that dominate the genre, save for an interest in the fantastic and an unashamed love of the guitar solo. Visigoth, in my opinion, have much more in common with the likes of Grand Magus, channelling the spirit of heavy metal circa 1980-1982, but with modern punch, tight musicianship and superb production. From time to time, I was also reminded of Doomsword, but with a mid-tempo delivery.
It’s hard to know who to pin the acclaim on for producing such an infectious album, to be honest. Sure, it would be tempting to reward Jake Rogers for his powerful, yet still gritty clean voice which lends a certain powerful edge to the music without ever becoming illegible. Likewise, the twin guitar attack of Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana, while being informed by the work of the classic heavy metal outfits, always has enough chutzpah to avoid being some kind of retro curio. Instead, the twin axes produce some truly memorably melodies, as with “Dungeon Master,” or, indeed, in grinding out a stomping, earth-shattering sound on “Mammoth Rider.” Matt Brotherton (bass) and the mysteriously named Mikey T (drums) – (presumably no relation to the “Mr” of the same surname) bring the goods in the rhythm section, evoking a powerful low end grunt that can occasionally be lost in other modern true metal releases.
An excellent album then – with clear, punchy production and one that doesn’t outlast the entertainment it can bring. The Revenant King is the kind of album that has taken the best of the past, and combined it with the best of the present. This comes highly recommended for anyone with a taste for classy, blue-collar, swords and sorcery inflected true heavy metal.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Night Demon Curse Of The Damned
By: Chris Davison
Well, I have agonised over this. I’ve had a couple of true metal albums to review of late, and I am quite a fan of the genre, to be honest. If I could commune with the teenage me, the younger version would be quite disgusted to find his fatter, albeit more charming and better educated, 40 year old self listening to true metal. You see, I was a thrasher, and I used to turn my nose up at the likes of Saxon, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, and Judas Priest. You live and you learn!
Curse Of The Damned is an album that I wish I could like more. There are lots of ingredients to admire – accomplished musicianship, boatloads of enthusiasm, and some cracking riffs peppered here and there (“The Howling Man,” for example, is a riff salad, drenched in a memorable melody dressing), and a great, full sound for a three piece band. At first I wondered if the vocals of Jarvis Leatherby strayed a little too closely to those of Sean Harris (Diamond Head), or if it was that many of the songs sounded as if they could have been released on legendary NWOBHM label Neat Records sampler albums.
I think the issue is that this is an album that has some cracking songs on it, but that – curiously – they all sound a little dated. I recognise that this is a dangerous area to go into when reviewing a true metal album, being as it is a genre that has stricter genre rules than, say, the avant-garde jazz chasers of the post-black metal world. This also sounds like a ridiculous argument to be making of a band like Night Demon. My point is this: by sticking too closely to the blueprint set by their forebears, they’ve actually ended up drowning out their individuality somewhat.
All of that being said, though, Curse Of The Damned isn’t a bad album by any means. The songs are well played and carefully written, and the production has a notable mid-range clarity that really allows the guitar licks to ring out. The aforementioned “The Howling Man” is a minor classic, and is destined to get the crowds’ heads-a-shaking at gigs. Sadly, the rest is a little too derivative of the most average of NWOBHM moments to make much of an impact on this old carcass.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
I've finally managed to get out to see a couple of concerts, both being major tours. First, a couple of weeks ago, I caught the Through Space And Grind Tour with Napalm Death and Voivod (Exhumed and Iron Reagan rounded out the under card; I skipped Black Crown Initiate) at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, and just last week I caught Enslaved, Yob, and Ecstatic Vision at the El Rey Theater, one of my favorite venues in Los Angeles. Both concerts were excellent, and you can read my official accounts of each here and here, respectively, at Heavy Metal at About.com.
Here are a few pictures from each; I didn't record any video at either show, though.
Napalm Death (Barney Greenway won't sit still, and Erik Burke was filling in for an absent Mitch Harris)
Multiple t-shirt hauls...
I finally managed to get a copy of "Worlds Away"!
First, a "shortie" at Heavy Metal at About.com...
Full length reviews of some major releases...
Enslaved In Times