Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Brief Concert Blast: Wolves In The Throne Room and Tombs...

Bands: Wolves In The Throne Room and Tombs

Venue: The Troubadour, West Hollywood, California. March 27, 2009.

The Troubadour is a legendary club in West Hollywood where numerous acts across all genres of music have gotten their start over the years. The small venue also happens to be one of the few concert halls in the greater Los Angeles area that I haven’t been to at least once over the last few years, so I was looking forward to seeing the place for the imminent appearance of Wolves In The Throne Room.

The bill was actually headlined by post-metal giants Pelican along with Tombs hitting the stage first. Frankly, I was attending the show only to see WITTR as Pelican are not really my thing, and I had a very long week at work anyway. Tombs opened up and I must say that I’m not familiar with them. The trio’s music struck me as a mix of post-metal with the odd blackened touch or two, with a few blasts mixed in with the post-metal soundscapes. My reaction to Tombs was mixed as the band had a huge sound that crushed the small space of the Troubadour, but post-metal is not really my thing and it’s doubtful that I’ll seek out any Tombs releases (although I know that both Cosmo and Etan are highly impressed with this band).

Wolves In The Throne Room were up next after a short, 10-minute change over. Fresh off of the recently concluded SXSW Festival, WITTR were in excellent form on a darkened stage with fog effects. WITTR’s set consisted of just two songs, “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots” and “Ahrimanic Trance”, spaced out over a 35-minute period. At the conclusion, while distorted feedback is still present and the stage remains darkened, the band starts dismantling their stage without any sort of acknowledgment of the crowd and walks off. An excellent performance from WITTR as the band is finding the right mix of atmospheric touches for the live performance.

At this point, I bought my t-shirt and left. Once again, as always, special thanks to Dave Brenner!

The pictures...


Wolves In The Throne Room

The t-shirt haul (it's back)...

Video (WITTR)...

As a nice complement to WITTR's ecological themes, I hiked to Escondido Falls in rural Malibu the next morning...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shatter Your Skull!! Destruction/ Krisiun Concert Review!!

Bands: Destruction, Krisiun, and Mantic Ritual

Venue: The Key Club, West Hollywood, California.

Date: March 24, 2009

The spring concert season in Los Angeles is starting to heat up. A few weeks back, I let Deicide/ Vital Remains go by as that show occurred on Oscar night, and there’s no way that I’m going to drive into West Hollywood with all of that nonsense going on. So, I was greatly anticipating the imminent return of giants Destruction and Krisiun with a crushing tour to promote the masterful new releases from both bands. Rounding out the bill are new retro-thrash upstarts Mantic Ritual, with their debut full-length “Executioner” just recently released.

I skipped over three local acts to open the evening, alternately spending some time hitting the bar, browsing the merchandise, and people watching outside on Sunset Boulevard. Mantic Ritual were the first act of the evening that I paid attention to, and I must admit that I just recently panned the band’s debut full-length in a soon-to-be published review. Mantic Ritual were much better live as the band’s obviously good-natured enthusiasm for the genre shows with an overly gregarious front man in Dan Wetmore. Mantic Ritual’s set included a cover of “Black Metal”, which instantly won over the crowd, and was, ultimately, an entertaining display of Bay Area-style thrash metal. I’m nowhere near being sold on Mantic Ritual, but the band shows some promise.

Krisiun roared onto the stage next, delivering a blistering set drawing heavily from the band’s last two full-length masterpieces. Given that I’ve placed both “AssassiNation” and “Southern Storm” at, or very near, the top of a couple of my recent Top Ten lists, in my opinion, Krisiun are the best death metal band on the planet at the moment. The band can basically do no wrong in my book, but, unfortunately, the first couple of songs were marred by a poorly mixed guitar sound. Other than that, Krisiun delivered with a slew of recent classics, including the almighty “Refusal”. I would add that Krisiun absolutely deserve to headline their own tour in support of “Southern Storm”.

After a long change over, Destruction hit the stage with a gigantic sound. After the first song or two, Schmier informs the huge crowd that the show was being recorded for a live album. Naturally, this encourages some of the morons to complement their stage diving by jostling some of the microphones on stage, knocking them out of commission. Needless to say, the irritation of both Schmier and Mike was noticeable as I would now be very surprised if this show actually makes it to an official release. Regardless of how pissed the band members may have been, Destruction are serious professionals and continue to deliver a gigantic set of over an hour with a scattering of songs throughout the discography, including songs from “D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.” and “Release From Agony”. The usual classics were present and, surprisingly, “Bestial Invasion” was one of the first songs played. Finally, it was all over and I limped home at about 1 AM in order to rest up for Wolves In The Throne Room on Friday night at the legendary Troubadour…

Special thanks to Dave Brenner!

Here's what Cosmo euphemistiscally refers to as "art"...

The pictures...

Mantic Ritual



I hate to say it, but I refrained from buying a t-shirt.


Mantic Ritual



Next up...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Review: Idols Are Dead "Mean"...

Here's a brief review of "Mean" by Idols Are Dead...

Idols Are Dead are an Italian five-piece playing traditional heavy metal with hints of borderline thrash that seem to fall somewhere in between the jock rock flirtations of the “Black” album-era Metallica, and the heavier version of Motley Crue. In short, Idols Are Dead sound as if they’re from Southern California at the time when the fault lines between pop metal and thrash metal were becoming slightly blurred as some noted thrash metal bands toned down their sound. Through it all, Idols Are Dead are trying to play on both sides of the line.

The debut full-length from Idols Are Dead, entitled “Mean” and released on Scarlet Records, largely succeeds in this endeavor, although this sort of thing is most definitely not my genre of choice. At times coming off like a slightly angrier version of “Dr. Feelgood”-era Motley Crue (what little experience I have with Motley Crue post- “Shout At The Devil”, anyway) colliding with hints of Metallica, Megadeth, and even Anthrax, Idols Are Dead generally employ a mid-paced crunch combined with relatively simple, rock oriented riffs with plenty of melody and soloing (Bob Rock oriented rock might be an apt description). A few speedier moments do make an appearance, resulting in a song or two with a thrash metal gallop.

Considering my own choice of genres and my description of Idols Are Dead, you’d immediately think that I would dismiss “Mean” out of hand. Strangely enough, however, I actually found myself enjoying this release, periodically tapping along as I found some of the tracks to be quite infectious, and even nostalgic to some degree, as I rarely listen to albums from this genre. That said, though, I probably won’t exactly go out of my way to track down any future releases from Idols Are Dead, but I found “Mean” to be reasonably amusing harmless entertainment.

You can read Robert Beeton's review from Live 4 Metal here.

Scarlet Records

Idols Are Dead MySpace (Official)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Two Short Blasts...

Here are two short reviews of albums recently covered by other writers at Live 4 Metal. I also received promo copies of these albums, so here’s my take on each of them.

First up is “Hels Vite”, the latest full-length from Swedish Viking act Thyrfing. “Hels Vite” is the six full-length from this long running act and is released on Regain Records. What’s immediately apparent with “Hels Vite” is that Thyrfing have toned down the heavy handed punch of “Farsotstider”, their previous full-length, and have added considerably more melody and introspection. For the most part, the change in direction works quite well as a number of the songs have an epic feel that benefits from the melodies and the incorporation of some clean vocals. Not as rough as Moonsorrow or Kampfar, but with a considerably darker tone than, say, Korpiklaani, Thyrfing have delivered another excellent album. My editor, Steve Green, was all over this one with his glowing praise for “Hels Vite”, as well. You can read his review here.

Thyrfing MySpace (Official)

Regain Records

Switching gears entirely, the next album up for review is “Bloodline” from Candlelight Records, the side project initiated by the Tardy Brothers from long running Floridian death metal giants Obituary. The Tardy Brothers have enlisted Ralph Santolla and an original guitarist from Obituary’s days as Executioner, Jerry Tidwell, to make up the guitars, as well loads of other friends from over the years to contribute to the project. The result is a lightened up version of Obituary combined with a great deal of traditional elements from heavy metal, most notably a considerable influence from Iron Maiden; at least, that’s what comes to mind.

Unfortunately, though, “Bloodline” just doesn’t really grab me as the obvious Obituary influences come across as second rate recycled riffs. “Bloodline” isn’t intended to sound like Obituary, but still ends up that way, nonetheless. The album is at it’s most interesting, however, with the more melodic passages taken from NWOBHM influences. Fellow scribe Chris Davison was considerably more enamored with “Bloodline”, and you can read his review here.

Tardy Brothers

Candlelight Records