New: <code> – The Rattle of Black Teeth

Posted in New, Tracks on June 30th, 2009 by Alex

I’m not generally a big fan of Black Metal, in the same way that I’m not a fan of rattling a Quality Street tin full of pebbles next to my ear. However, lately a few bands have been creeping into my into my unwilling conciousness. These seem to be of a slightly less traditional Black Metal form and of a more progressive ilk (for example Enslaved’s Monumension and bits and peices of Anaal Nathrakh).

This track by ‘Avant Garde’ black metallers <code> really stands out. Haunting vocal harmonies wash over eerie guitars punctuated by agressive black metal noise. This is not just your average black metal creepy posturing – there’s real songwriting ability here. These guys seem to treat black metal as a playground in the same way that Opeth do with death. I’m not really familar with their back catalogue (although the track The Cotton Optic is also excellent), but if this is anything to go by, they are going to be very popular indeed.

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Avoid: Five Finger Death Punch

Posted in Avoid, New on June 15th, 2009 by Alex


A bunch of never-had-beens (two from some irrelevant incarnation of the mighty W.A.S.P) formed a band and thought it appropriate to call themselves Five Finger Death Punch – clearly a name chosen from Cringeworthy Band Names For Dummies. The founder member is a bloke named Zoltan Bathory which is obviously not his real name, and if he thinks that using the word ‘bathory‘ will endear him to the snobbish Black Metal fraternity then he’s got another thing coming.

Having heard some Nu-Metal in the 90′s they have set about pretending they hadn’t and have re-created Nu-Metal, which didn’t need doing. There’s some Nu-Goth influence here, and guitar solos (how very modern!) but mainly just posturing, pop-metal nonsense.

Over produced, over styled, over the hill.

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One to watch: Xerath

Posted in New, Watchlist on June 4th, 2009 by Alex

British progressive metal upstarts Xerath aren’t so much adding something new to the scene, but merely mashing it up in a very entertaining way. Combining the metronomic brutality of Meshuggah with orchestral ambience. It’s a compelling mix, and one which conjures Faith No More at times, although it’s still more Decapitated than Dimmu Borgir.

Their debut album I is out now.

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Valient Thorr: Intfinite Lives

Posted in New on June 1st, 2009 by Alex
Valient Thorr

Some hairy men

How cool is it when you find a band that’s like all your favourite stuff mixed up into one tasty package? I remember someone saying that about ill-fated aussie Nirvana-meets-the-Beatles rockers The Vines. They were wrong. But they did have some good tunes (Get Free is wall nutting fun).

No-one ever told me that Valient Thorr were like all my favourite stuff mixed up (more likely they would tell me that my beard is going gray, or perhaps that I have pizza where my brain should be) but perhaps they should have done, as listening to Immortalizer makes me go all mid 80’s. It’s  a rather fashionable mix of mosh-baiting thrash, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Stoner. Delightful. They guys should be the biggest band in the world right?

Unfortunately, they just can’t maintain heady mix for the whole album which tends to feel like a AC/DC covers band on speed at a full listen.

Never the less, it’s unselfconsciously stupid (more Exodus than Steel Panther) and a whole lot of fun.

Infinite Lives is kicks off like Megadeth if the lightened up, then descends into Stoner anarchy.

They’re supporting Mastodon in London next week, which will be much like Bon Jovi opening for Radiohead.

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New: Devin Townsend Project – Heaven Send

Posted in New on May 31st, 2009 by Alex

Devin Townsend Project

Devin Townsend Project

Devin Townsend continues to confound. Somewhat predictably, his new album KI is nothing like anything he’s ever done before. Part of a 4 album cycle, all due this year, Ki is the mellow one. The albums will get heavy (Strapping Young Lad style one would assume) before going all quiet again. Well that’s nice.

Devin sobered up and apparently has got all growed up too. He also shaved is trademark hair off (this is truly a sad turn of events). Time will tell if this is a good thing, but Ki is an impressive start to this new venture.

Heaven Send is the schizophrenic center piece. A mesmerizing prog-rock epic, reminiscent of Porcupine Tree with a bit of Nine Inch Nails thrown in for good measure. The driving female sung mantra really gets the head nodding. This is certainly my favourite Townsend recording since Synchestra. Nice one Dev!

Heaven Send – Devin Townsend Project

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