Sunday, June 21, 2009

Impiety "Terroreign: Apocalyptic Armageddon Command"

Singapore's Impiety return with a full-length follow up to their recent "Dominator" EP (Pulverised Records). Entitled "Terroreign: Apocalyptic Armageddon Command" and released on Agonia Records, this is the first full-length to feature yet another lineup in founding member Shyaithan's ever revolving door of lineup changes. Now notably featuring Tremor from Abhorrence on drums (whatever happened to them?), Impiety pretty much stick with the tried and true formula of rather sloppily played, over the top, blast away, blackened death metal, regardless of who is supporting Shyaithan.

All of it is done reasonably well on "Terroreign...", with one blast after another fired at the listener. Add to the chaos Shyaithan's obvious enthusiasm for his art form with leather and bullet belts galore, and I can't help but begin to compare Impiety to Dodsferd, another project loaded with infectious enthusiasm.

At any rate, there aren't any surprises to be had on "Terroreign...", and if you're familiar with Impiety, you will have good reason to stick around for this one. My honored colleague Crin was also suitably impressed with "Terroreign...", and you can read his, ahem, enthusiastic review here.

Impiety MySpace (Official)

Agonia Records


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obituary "Darkest Day"

Here's another review of an album already covered at Live 4 Metal, but one that's found its way onto my doorstep, as well. This time around, the album is the latest from Floridian giants Obituary.

Obituary- Darkest Day

(Candlelight Records)

It’s an Obituary album! What do you expect, some sort of a change or a departure? Well, that’s an honest question, given the mediocrity of “Bloodline”, the recent project from the Tardy Brothers. Thankfully, though, “Darkest Day” is yet another solid album since the band’s reformation with now Ralph Santolla firmly entrenched within the band and Allen West long gone.

The usual hallmarks of a solid Obituary album are present. Well written, catchy riffs, crushing heaviness beefed up by the usual production signatures from the band, the right amount of variation in speed, and so on. Is “Darkest Day” the best Obituary album? No, but it’s certainly not the worst, either, and is probably on par with “Xecutioner’s Return”.

Given these facts, if any fault can be found here (other than the fact that Obituary never really progress in any manner, even with the addition of Santolla), it would be the fact that the two original songs included on the “Left To Die” EP are present here, as well. However, the album is thirteen tracks long and never gets boring, so this is a minor quibble at best.

Other than that, what else is there to say? Anyone who’s been into Obituary since the beginning will continue to stick around, and newer fans can always start with “Darkest Day” and work their way through the band’s entire discography. Will “Darkest Day” end up on anyone’s Top Ten List? Not a chance, but that’s not really the point anymore. You’ll still enjoy it, nonetheless. You can read Chris Davison's review here.

Obituary Official

Candlelight Records USA

Candlelight Records UK

For some bizarre reason, the Redondo Pier right down the hill from me is having a metal show at a local bar (the bars around here studiously avoid anything remotely connected to metal)...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Skull Dives Into the Ashes of What Remains of Blackened Fest...

By now, everyone knows that Blackened Fest, the monstrous tour featuring Mayhem that had been plagued by problems from the start (Marduk), fell apart in Denver a few days back. If you're interested, you can read various accounts of what transpired here and here. Undoubtedly, all sorts of finger pointing between bands, booking agencies, promoters and so on, has been going on. Ultimately, though, music is a business. We, as fans, are consumers of a product and bands that monkey around with their customer base and take us for granted do so at their own peril, regardless of status (GM? Chrysler? Good riddance).

As D.R.I. put it...

Give My Taxes Back

At any rate, Mayhem decided to honor their committments as headliner for the remaining shows after everyone else dropped off the tour. Stories immediately started to circulate that Nachtmystium, Lair of the Minotaur, and Yakuza had jumped on board to open for Mayhem for the band's appearance at the House of Blues in Chicago. Yes, as you can guess, Skull was immediately much more enthused about this show than with the original lineup of decidely non-black metal bands. So, the questions for Skull to answer for us are:

1) Did Mayhem even show up?
2) Did Mayhem have any merch for sale?
3) Would Nachtmystium et al honor their pledge to appear as support?


4) Did Skull fall asleep in his car before the show?

So, without further delay, here's Skull's review...

Date: 6/11/09

Bands: Mayhem, Yakuza, ?, and ?

Venue: HOB, Chicago

"I heard the news yesterday that the Blackenedfest had disintegrated and that Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation, and Withered were no longer on the bill. This fact, on top of knowing that Marduk still hadn’t even reached the U.S., left me wondering how tonight’s show would be pulled off. As far as I knew, Lair of the Minotaur was still on tap and that Nachtmystium and Yakuza had been added to the bill. I was looking forward to seeing Lair of the Minotaur and was totally stoked to see Nachmystium. I have not seen them since the release of "Assassins..." and was dying to see that awesome new material translated into a live setting. I was curious though if Blake Judd’s leg had healed enough since they had to bail on the spring tour with The Haunted because of his accident. Either way, I was looking forward to the show because my old friend Pat (Editor: 15 years plus, Dude) is in town and would be joining me.

I picked up Pat and we headed to HOB and the smoldering ash remains of Blackenedfest. I wasn’t actually sure when the show would start since the lineup had changed, but, luckily, we got there about 15 minutes before the show started. I snatched up a Mayhem shirt (Editor: OK, that's answered), and then Pat and I sat in the bar area, ordered a drink, and were thoroughly confused as to what happened next.
The show opened with trio playing mediocre doom. Who were they? The Hell if I knew. They never bothered identifying themselves. The 30-minute set wasn’t all that great but I had definitely seen worse. After the set, there were mumblings from the crowd and someone even addressed everyone in the bar area and asked if anyone knew who had just played. No one replied.

I hit the bathroom and noticed that the buzz in there was about who the Hell had just played and which bands had now been added to the bill. I returned to the table and the second band started up. They were a 5 piece with John Belushi on vocals and a lady playing a violin to boot. I’m all for folk instruments being used in metal when used appropriately, but in this instance it was purely a gimmick. The singer mentioned their name a couple times but I couldn’t understand him. I did hear him say that they were from Aurora (asphinctersayswhat?)...

...and that they were playing a show at some dive in town. This was obviously the biggest gig they had ever played. Too bad they sucked rocks and probably played for free in exchange for the exposure.

After another quick changeover the curtain rose to the sight of a long haired dude wetting a reed on a saxophone. Oh God, what now? This must be Chicago’s Yakuza. The quartet played a set of mild to heavy jazzcore incorporating not just a saxophone, but what looked to be an oboe or a clarinet as well. The lead singer switched back and forth between these wind instruments from song to song. I know these guys have had some critical acclaim but I just wasn’t impressed and was now getting somewhat annoyed. I took comfort in the fact that Lair of the Minotaur and Nachtmystium still had their sets ahead.

During the break I ordered us some food thinking we would be there for a while yet. The lights dimmed, the curtain rose, and I was shocked to see Mayhem appear through the fog and rip into their set. As much as I had looked forward to seeing them, I couldn’t help my initial disappointment at the absence of two of my favorite local bands from the bill. After all, it was fucking eight o’clock and the headliner was taking the stage already? I had so looked forward to Nachtmystium. Mayhem were great and seemed unaffected (even unaware) of the shambles their tour had become. I guess this is called professionalism. Atilla’s voice was as raw and throaty as ever and, except for the fact that we couldn’t see Hellhammer behind his kit at all, the guys really put on a great show. The crowd went wild, quickly forgetting about the wool that had just been pulled over their eyes. The headbanging was fierce and pits opened up intermittently. I am not a fan of stage props unless used properly and felt Attila’s swinging and playing with a noose during the set was unnecessary, but was amused when he sang into the ear of the severed pig’s head on stage. It was very King Diamond-ish. All in all, their set was killer and I left pretty satisfied with them. But, I was utterly disgusted by how things had shaped up and how the show was haphazardly thrown together; losing the two support bands that would’ve really saved the day...

Special thanks to my twin sister Mary for giving me tickets to this show for my birthday."

Well, there you have it. Somewhat of a travesty, I would argue (anyone know, or care, who the openers were?). Personally, I have my doubts as to whether Marduk will fulfill their pledge to make up the lost dates, but I may be wrong. Skull's t-shirt haul for the show was the same as mine from my attendance, but he did send me a Krallice shirt from his attendance at that show awhile back...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Brief Blast: Dead Man's Hand "The Combination"

Here's a brief review of an album already covered at Live 4 Metal, but one that has dropped into my lap, as well. Dead Man's Hand, from Norway, will undoubtedly evoke comparisons to Motorhead, given that the band name's is a famous lyric. At any rate, that's where the comparisons to Motorhead end, as Dead Man's Hand are a good, seamless hyrbid of Bay Area thrash with a touch of mid-paced Swedish death metal. Mostly, the formula works well, resulting in some infectiously catchy songs that do have a degree of staying power on the band's debut full-length, "The Combination", on Agonia Records.

A few moments of variation and melody are thrown in, as well as a few dirges evocative of Black Sabbath-inspired doom. By and large, however, Dead Man's Hand are at their best when you find yourself snapping your neck along with their thrash metal styled gallop. You can read my esteemed colleague Chris Davison's review here.

Dead Man's Hand MySpace (Official)

Agonia Records

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Blackened Fest!

Blackened Fest

Bands: Mayhem, Marduk (scheduled), Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation, Withered

Venue: House of Blues, Sunset Strip

Location: West Hollywood, California

Date: June 2, 2009

Just about everyone was surprised when the legendary Mayhem were able to acquire work visas for a tour of the United States (probably no one was surprised when Marduk were having trouble obtaining visas). Naturally, I had to get a ticket for the Blackened Fest’s date at the HOB on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, regardless of Marduk’s fate. A chance to see the founding fathers, if you will, of Norwegian black metal was not to be passed up. Rounding out the bill were the decidedly non-black metal bands of Cephalic Carnage, Withered, and Cattle Decapitation (not again).

I wasn’t able to arrive in time for Withered. In fact, I’m not even sure that they played, as the bartenders’ band schedule had them crossed off the list (as well as Marduk, who may not even play any dates on this tour from some of the rumors beginning to float around). At any rate, regarding Withered, their merchandise was on sale in a small corner of the venue, but I didn’t bother asking anyone about the band’s status that evening.

Cattle Decapitation were up first and I can’t really begin to describe how boring this band has become. A couple of lineup changes are taking their toll on the band’s creative output, and, although “The Harvest Floor” has been well received, Cattle Decapitation show no sign of improvement in a live setting. I spent their short set, marred by poor sound as usual, propped up against the bar.

Colorado’s very own hydrogrind superstars Cephalic Carnage, a band that seamlessly manages to mix stoner metal with all out, mind melting grindcore, hit the stage next. Frankly, these guys kick ass in a live setting and, although I haven’t paid too much attention to them since “Anomalies”, they were firing on all cylinders as the somewhat subdued crowd really warmed to them with an energetic pit opening up. A great set, complete with masks at the end, as the crowd was now primed for the appearance of Mayhem.

The curtain opens to reveal Mayhem’s stage set complete with animal skins, skulls, banners, heads on pikes, the whole nine yards. The band astride the smoke filled stage to reveal Attila Csihar in hideous corpsepaint, and Hellhammer’s kit adorned with animal imagery. The band opens up and the packed to capacity crowd goes absolutely apeshit. Mayhem fire through one classic after another covering the band’s full 25 year discography, and, only towards the end of the show, does Attila begin to address the crowd with thanks. Attila’s performance really makes the band’s live setting really mesmerize the audience, as his horror persona really dominates the stage. After a long set, Mayhem finishes with “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” and departs. Even after a couple of days, the performance is still soaking in. I look forward to Marduk making up the lost dates from this tour...

The pictures!

Cephalic Carnage


The t-shirt haul (front and back)...

The video...

Cephalic Carnage (with masks)

Mayhem (intro first)

On the horizon...

Skull's birthday wish to me...