Distorted reviews - 24/06/03.
Metallica - St. Anger (Vertigo)
Yeah, that's right, Metallica are back. METALLICA. And surprise, surprise they've brought a metal album with them (well the hint is in the name). After reinventing metal for the rest of the world in the early 1990s Metallica drifted off into their own little metalli-world. One where they released covers albums, played with orchestras, wrote country songs and toured clubs playing only covers, while a Metallica cover band opened for them every night. In other words, they drifted off into their own little mad world while the rest of us stood outside and hoped for the best. After the departure of Jason Newsted and James Hetfield's trip to rehab, things were really starting looking a bit funny. Then they unleash this monster on the world. This is the product of a band that is battling its inner demons and wining. Strangely enough, though, apart from losing their bassist, they seem to have lost two other things on their way back from Metalli-land. Their solos and their production. When I first put this on and listened for the kicking roar of 'Frantic' to erupt in my ears I was left disappointed. This does not sound like a finished album. It sounds like Metallica road-checking the songs before they go into the studio and record them. This is bootlegging gone haywire, where the bands songs are stolen straight off the four track. Oh wait, no, it's meant to sound like this? How much did Bob Rock get paid to record this? Give me a microphone, the inside of a corn flakes box and some sticky tape and I could pull off a better production job.
Enough about that though, let's get onto the album. First of all the songs are here and they're good. It's just that damn production that fucks things up. After this tour, if Metallica released a live album of all these songs, you'd hear a big collective sigh of relief all across the world as people wipe their brows and say, "here it is. This is the album they MEANT to release. There must have been a mix-up last time around." See, that's the thing, the songs are here and they are probably the strongest batch of songs Metallica have released in a long time. It's just it's hard to appreciate them fully when James Hetfield's voice grates and loses the note halfway through a word, or when you know the guitars are meant to kick in, but inside get lost because someone forgot to turn up the volume on the mixing desk. And it's especially hard to enjoy when the snare drum goes 'ping', over and over again. Still though with songs like 'Frantic', 'Invisible kid' and 'The Unnamed feeling' are proving the world at large that they are still relevant and that they can still write a riff that would bring down a tour block full of Slipknots. A strong album that shines through against all the odds. The tour for this album is going to be worth checking out just to hear these songs alone. Metallica are back and they're about to knock the world dead.
Deftones - Deftones (Maverick)
Even though it's not as catchy as "Around the fur" or as impacting as "White Pony", the new Deftones album is still a powerful, moving, startling and emotive collection of songs. What you need to do is take this album and listen to it ten times. Only then should you expect it to open up and reveal its secrets to you. "Deftones" is very like Radiohead's "OK Computer" in that it takes a long time for you to realise that it's a great album, but once you do, you'll never want to be without it. Hell, it'll take you about five listens before you even realise that it's a good album. The seductive assault of 'Hexagram' sets the scene for the rest of what's on display here. Whether it's the gentle swaying of 'Minerva', the bizarre, trippy, sleepy 'Lucky You' or the chugging riffage of 'Battle-axe' this is the Deftones on top form. Chino drags his words out over spaces you wouldn't imagine while Chi Cheng supports the band on his sturdy bass strings. Still one of the best bands out there, in a genre where they are the only players. Nobody can touch this band.
Marilyn Manson - The Golden Age of Grotesque (Nothing/Interscope)
Marilyn Manson has finally gone so far over the top that he's lost sight of all reality. Well, he must have had if he thinks that his fans are going to be happy with this album. "The Golden age of grotesque" is an attempt to revert back to a period of decadence and extremes. Pity for him that he's missed the mark by a long shot and instead created a ramshackle bunch of songs that are far from fear-inducing. Arragh, a man painted up to resemble Mickey Mouse and Papa Lazarou all at once, will my fragile mind ever recover? Probably.
Yes, like all Manson albums, "The Golden age…" has its moments, but they are becoming fewer with further in between. 'This is the new shit' opens proceedings nicely, before sliding into the nasty 'mOBSCENE'. This years 'Rock is dead'; a good driving rhythm pushes it forward into a huge chorus and a chanted mid-section that was lifted straight out of Faith No More's genius 'Be Aggressive'. Despite its ridiculous (but still kind of cool in a shitty kind of way) title, 'Ka-boom Ka-boom' is another powerful rock track. Nicely, almost toasted sounding, distorted guitars flesh out the sound. The chorus is a hole of dark noise. This is the sound that Manson was probably trying to achieve with the whole album, but instead he failed. This is a potential single and with its constant hit-hat rhythm and buzzing, fuzzed up bass line; it's very close to being traditional Marilyn Manson. A song to listen out for. The lyrics though are little childish and, at first, I had to wonder if Mr. Manson had lost his touch for writing deliciously, sarcasm and wit laden lyrics. Instead of the usual, he gave us this, the most straight-forward and blatant he has probably ever been since the "Portrait…" album. "I like a big car/'cause I'm a big star/I make a big rock and roll hits/I'd like to love you/but my heart is a sore". Come on. Then again, the song is an attack on stupid rock and pop stars. Maybe he's trying to ape them with his simplistic lyrics. Ahh. That must be it.
I mean, elsewhere in 'Spade' (shown as the shape on the playing cards) we get such beauties as "we bend our knees/at the altar of my ego/you drained my heart/and made a spade/but there's still traces of me in your veins" and later on "I'm a diamond that is tired/of all the faces I've acquired". It may be a poor album but it's almost worth picking up for the three songs listed above and 'Spade'. Almost.
What shouldn't be forgotten is that there is fifteen songs on this album. 'The better of two evils' is a very, very substandard song, that would never have made it onto the "Anti-Christ..." album, while on 'Slutgarden' the band is basically trying to out Marilyn Manson itself. The likes of '(s)aint', the title track, the horrible, horrible 'The bright young things' (a song that makes me want to vomit I hate it so much) and 'Use your fist and not your mouth' are all pathetic. Sad little songs that should never have been written, let alone committed to tape. Okay, so they were written, but they should have been written by a much lesser band. I can't see a lot of people being all that happy with this. The Manson boys would want to pull out a lot of stops if they want to retain their fan-base. I can see a lot of fickle people at the back of the room starting to look very bored all of a sudden and they want to go someplace else.
Therapy? - High Anxiety (Spitfire)
From the opening strains of 'Hey Satan - you rock', it's clear that Therapy? have done it again. Lean back, crack open a beer and let this wash over you. "High Anxiety" is the eighth album proper form the best thing ever to come out of Northern Ireland and it rocks like a proper motherfucker. It's got all the attitude of "Babyteeth", the charm of "Troublegum" and the sneering darkness of "Suicide pact - you first". Therapy? are back on form. 'Who knows' is a heady, punky bastard of a song that sways around drunk, pulling pictures off your walls and spitting on your floor. 'Stand in line', meanwhile, is a fuzzy overdriven charmer that opens out into a chorus that slaps one of those gigantic, stupid, happy grins on your face. Soon to be a live favourite? I think so. It's as if Therapy? have managed to suck out all that was great about "Troublegum" and crush it into three minutes and twenty seconds. First single, 'If it kills me' is T? at their best. Rocking, but held back enough to hit twice as hard when the chorus flies in. Andy's voice has improved so much as time has passed and the proof is right here. The addition of Neil Cooper on the drum stool is a stroke of genius too. His drumming is much closer to Fyfe Ewing's style than Graham Hopkins' was. It's all choppy, serrated patterns. Closing track 'Rust' is a riff-tastic romp in the park, a big finisher. So get your heads down and let those fingers fly. Therapy? are back in town.
The Abandoned Hearts Club - The initial confessions of… (Independent release - e-mail the band)
The Abandoned Hearts Club are the masters of controlled chaos, but only just. At any moment, it could all fall apart. The songs are continuously on the brink of no return. This is a walk through a mind filled with distorted mirrors, broken glass and candyfloss. "The initial confessions of…" is a glimpse into the head of a psychopath where everything is wrong, where reality is all twisted, in this place where smiles are vacant and dead. TAHC should be a character in a Batman book, most likely one who's been locked up in Arkham Asylum for a very long time. They've already got the names: Frankie Fuckface, Sunny Suicide, Kenny Kutthroat, Shitty Pete, Terry Titfuck and Billy Curtis. They are the bastard child of Mike Patton, Slipknot and The Dillinger Escape Plan, so deformed and deranged it has to be put away forever. This is everything music should aim to be - rasping vocals and pulverising drums; gut-wrenching guitars and bowel-splitting bass lines and odd, nausea-inducing keyboard blips. TAHC are a band you have to hear. You love them, you just don't know it yet. Recommendations don't come much better than this.
Fear Factory - Hatefiles (Roadrunner)
In their heyday, LA's Fear Factory were a force to be reckoned with. Their blend of extreme music, bizarre time signatures, Burton C Bell's strong vocals and their soon-to-become trademarked use of technology shook up all around them and made people sit up and take notice. 'Terminator 2' was the film; they were the soundtrack, the music of a post-technological apocalypse. So, it is with a heavy heart then that I must write that "Hatefiles" is an unfitting epitaph. Drawing together a collection of remixes, demos and some new tracks. it just doesn't do justice to the memory of this band. Ironically, the last song FF ever completed as a quartet, 'Terminate', is one of their strongest. Opening with a trademarked salvo of drums and off time riffing (like 'Shock') it settles into a forceful, bass heavy verse. The chorus is pockmarked by machine gun drumming and given air by Burton's spacious vocals. Further more, it contains the line "the future is wide open and it's on my side", but also the prophetic "I sever ties of man and machine". Interesting. The rest of the album, a whopping 18 tracks in total, is made up mostly of extreme remixes (from the band's gabber days, circa "Remanufacture") and alternative mixes of the classics 'Resurrection', 'Bodyhammer', 'Cars' and 'Zero Signal'. Since it's a compilation, it lacks the flow of a proper album and it really one for the completists amongst you out there. As for the rest of you, go dust off your copy of "Demanufacture", it's time to remind yourself what Fear Factory were really about.
Millhous - It's hard to say goodbye in punk rock (Infect)
Shudder. This sounds like a bar fight inside a beer keg, falling off the back of a monster truck. No it's not pretty, to look at or listen to. Fast, high speed distorted three-chord punk songs. Shouted vocals. Did someone sneak a Zeke CD into my stereo when I wasn't looking? No wait, it's just Millhous, a self-professed bad-ass punk rock band from Seattle. Millhous are a million miles away from The Simpsons character they may or may not have taken their name from. They are not blue of hair (surprisingly considering they're a punk band), shy or possessing of many homosexual tendencies. Make up your own mind after that. All I'll say is that, like the bar fight in the beer keg, sometimes you get a good punch in, but generally you end up beaten, bloodied and battered. Which is not a good thing.
Society 1 - Exit through fear (Earache)
I first heard of Society 1 when I came across their song "Nothing" on an Earache sampler CD, a song that was unlike a lot of other Earache-type bands. I was impressed by it's blend of industrial stomp and ragged metal, and in the context of this album, it's the standout track. After a while, though, Society 1's all too similar romp through fields previously ploughed by Marilyn Manson becomes a little bit too much. There's little variation in the pace or style as the album progresses, but that doesn't mean that it's all bad either. Granted it's not a trend-setting album (it's more of a trend-follower). It's not howling at the gates, attempting to break down barriers, but it's not a throwaway either. Younger metal fans looking to touch their toes into new, slightly murkier water could really use this as a stepping stone into the intriguing and musically rewarding world of White Zombie, NIN and Ministry. Oh yeah, and the band also features porn baron extraordinaire, Matt Zane (of 'Backstage Sluts' fame), on vocals. Who saw that one coming?
Clutch - Live at the Googolplex (Megaforce)
I've said it before and I'm saying it again now, in my book anyway live albums are a bad idea. They just don't deliver on the grand scale of things. Yeah, you can stand in your bedroom, eyes closed tight and imagine that you're there but no, that's not just going to happen is it? There are exceptions of course. Look no further than Muse's "Hullabaloo" collection or last year's fantastic "And all that could have been" by NIN. Clutch, it has to be said, are a great live band, but this album just doesn't do them justice. It attempts to capture the spirit and fever they bring to their live shows, but what they've got can't be bottled. It's great to hear Neil Fallon's raw, throaty vocals played like this over and over (especially on 'Immortal' and 'Careful with that mic…'), but it's nothing when you can't open your eyes and see him up on stage, stomping around all crazy eyes and sweating. The same goes for the drumming. When you look up you want to see, not just hear, Jean-Paul reducing his kit to splinters. The fault here lies not on Clutch's part and this is a fine testament to a great live band, I just think that a DVD would have been better. At least then the fans would be able to see what they're missing. If you have yet to discover Clutch then this is not the place to start.
Linkin Park - Meteroa (Warner Bros)
The highly anticipated follow up to Linkin Park's billion selling debut is here and it's not all that different to its predecessor. "Meteroa" sticks strictly to the formula that worked so perfectly for the band on "Hybrid Theory". There's nothing new here. It's already vintage Linkin Park. 'Don't stay' is built around a chunky guitar riff, and you realise that everything is catchy. Every song has at least four or five hooks in it to pull you in. This is pop music with a slightly rocky exterior. 'Hit the floor' is classic/standard nu-metal, depending on your point of view. A rock riff juxtaposed with hip-hop raps and scratches and beats. Once again, the chorus dominates. As before, Chester's vocals are the band's centre piece, especially on the lulling, hypnotic 'Easier to run'. 'From the inside' opens like Massive Attack's 'Teardrop', before a slow, rocking guitar line is introduced and then retires into a nostalgic verse with calculated vocal interplay. The chorus couldn't get any bigger if it tried and screams "Linkin Park", as loud as the other twelve songs here. The heavily sampled 'Faint' is probably the best song here. Screeching strings ring and float alongside Mike Shinoda's raps. For the chorus, Chester bursts in alongside a powerful, high speed guitar line and big rock drumming. He sings "Don't turn your back on me/ I won't be ignored" and that's a guarantee with this album. They've been built up for the big fall down, but they're going to fight to be heard. With songs like 'Faint', 'Somewhere I belong' and 'Don't stay', it's easy to see how hugely popular they've become and they intend to stay that way.
"Meteora" is a great album in the same way that "Hybrid Theory" was a great album. But nothing's changed and like "Hybrid..." it has its fault. The most glaring one is that after listening to it too many times, it drones. You'll get sick of it. It's not an album you could listen to all the time, all day every day. What I'm saying is that they may be huge, but LP are not Metallica, Faith No More or Therapy? As far as pop rock goes, LP are the kings and you can't take that away from them. No-one does this better than they do. They'll have their detractors and no, it's not going to sell as many copies as "Hybrid…" but that doesn't mean it's a failure. Linkin park are pop rock band and a great one at that. When fashions change; when black and baggy is no longer fashionable; when the majority of their fans desert them; when "Linkin Park? They're so old, who likes them anymore?" becomes the phrase on every teenager's lips, at least they can say that, at the back of it all, they had good songs.
Charger - confessions of a man (mad enough to live amongst beasts) (Peaceville)
For many, especially those who have seen them live, Charger has become a by-word for extreme heaviness, with a groove. Heaviness here doesn't mean how fast or how well you can play, it means how deep and low. Charger are a ferocious assault on the senses. "Confessions..." opens with a wash of feedback that becomes ravaged distortion and ends with a droning hum of feedback, the sort that sounds like an overturned tractor burning slowly. Ripping, shredding. In between, Charger batter and bruise you. They throw shrapnel riddled riffs your way and scream at you, daring you to come back for more. The brilliantly titled 'A ventilation system for cooling poultry' is a horror movie with legs. Listening to this, all I can picture is Charger, delirious with fever, rolling around on the floor of the studio, trying to exorcise their demons. Eight songs, just under one hour of the most glorious noise you are going to hear. The harmony of discords. Charger may not be trying to bring order from chaos, but when you've got a song as intense as 'God made us in the image of his ass', you don't need to be.
Various - Name your poison Vol.1 (Infect)
Isn't this nice? Those kind people at Infect Records have put together a sampler CD so you can "sample" the talent that they keep on their roster. You've got two tracks each from Lopez, Weaksauce, Quick to Blame, Millhous and Cookie. My advice is only pick this up if you're a fan of dirty, balls to the wall, rock 'n' roll. The kind where people don't wash and all the men have beards - Nashville Pussy I'm looking in your direction. First of all, skip the two Millhous songs and jump onto Cookie. Their track 'Mr President' sounds like a female-fronted The Offspring, pre-"Smash". Listen to one verse and the chorus, then skip ahead. Lopez, are like a dirtier Therapy? circa "Shameless", but that still isn't enough to save them. Weaksauce have the most hardcore tinge to their sound. They're brash and, while they're not overly original, at least they can kept my attention for more than a few seconds. It's left then to Quick to Blame to round everything off with their two tracks and they do so in style. 'Last call' is almost like Killswitch Engage, but without the more aggressive vocals. Spitfire drumming and a low end rumble that could knock out teeth is what this band are about. Closing track 'Quick to blame' is punk playing Slayer. All in under a minute. Not worth picking up for two songs, but Quick to Blame should be worth checking out if what's presented here is anything to go by.
Seven Witches - Passage to the other side (Noise/Sanctuary)
Oh the joys of dodgy metal. A slowly building, drum pattern heralds the opening of the new Seven Witches album and then it's here. Like Iron Maiden in new clothes, this is the sort of metal I thought I'd never hear again. The screech of 'Dance with the dead' is enough to make me want to get out a pair of old faded denims, throw on a sleeveless denim jacket with patches and logos all over the back and grow a mullet. Yes, it's old school metal. Seven Witches are completely detached from reality. They must be to still be making music like this, but then why should everyone follow trends. Track three "Johnny" is as old school as you can get, with a great running chorus, driven forward by a steady bass line. Pushing, pushing onwards. This is just fantastic. It should be so cheesy and terrible and cringe worthy, but, in fact, it's great. Almost endearing if I can use that word in a metal review. Seven Witches will probably hate me if they ever read this review, because I'm so sure want to be taken seriously, but deep down they must know that they're going to be treated like a curiosity. The CD you pull out at a party when everyone's pissed and you can all throw devil horns about the place to. Somebody please, give them an award.
Slave Zero - The Defiant Stand (independent release - email the band)
Kilkenny-based band, Slave Zero, are here to shake things up a bit with their debut album. A storming mix of metal styles, it kicks open with 'Once was human', a powerful statement of intent. Quick fire drumming and a brash sliding riff, it blasts off a short solo almost straight away - Slave Zero's way of showing that they're not here to follow trends. Growled vocals are set in stark contrast to guitar lines that both crunch and flow. 'When science turns to hope' is a thrashy number, fuelled by rage and falling alongside Slayer and Sepultura in terms of ferocity. At times, it threatens to sound generic, but then, at just under the three minute mark, it breaks into a clean tone section. Slave Zero are not thinking along the same lines as everybody else, that much is evident. The thrash and blast is set in stark contrast with this brooding, despairing passage before blowing out into a solo that Kirk Hammet would be proud of. Throw in with that some fine production and a blistering cover of 'Zombie Ritual' by Death and I think you've got a fair idea where Slave Zero are coming from and hoping to go. A definite name to watch on the Irish metal scene.
Gilla Bruja - 6 Fingered Jesus (Retribute)
Coming across like a less well-manned Slipknot or a Raging Speedhorn with mud-filled speakers, the UK's Gilla Bruja are hard not to like. At times, the riffs can become slightly repetitive, but, overall, it's a good noise to have resounding in your head. The unbelievable 'A season to wither' is one huge, fuck off riff repeated to infinity with a killer, head-banging drum beat pushing it far beyond driven. It crashes all over the place, then runs straight back into the guitar line, full force. 'Where low life grows' has one of those great spinning riffs that gets most pits flailing madly. If it wasn't for the tortured animal noises squealing in the background, 'The door' could be Raging Speedhorn. It bears all the trademarks of the Corby noiseniks - the deep vocal and the high vocal in counterpoint, a pulsating drum beat, a driving bass line and guitars so sharp you could shave with them. The crushing outro is awash with killer drumming before the flapping bass of 'Blood ties to whiskey' kicks in. It's also where the repetition starts to seep through. That said, though, it doesn't take away from "6 fingered…" that much. Some of the riffs are similar sounding, but they're still great dirt encrusted slabs of aggressive metal. The gruff torn-throat singing matches the music perfectly. It's growled yes, but it's never annoying or OTT. Believe me, if you're a fan of the aforementioned RSH or Eyehategod, then this is just what you need. It's fucked up, loud, dirty metal.
Shortie - Worthless Smiles (Earache)
So many EMO bands, so little patience. They're springing up all over the States, spreading that irritatingly warm and fuzzy feeling wherever they go. Shortie, and it's unfortunate how often we have to say this, are no exception. Once again, there's nothing exactly wrong with their teenage emoting and fuzzy guitars. It's just I've kinda had enough. How do American kids ever deal with their own problems when they're so busy listening to other people's? "Worthless smiles" may not be getting the industry push that Finch's debut is, but it could easily stand in for that album. Or any number of others for that matter. My advice is to hold your dollars, European or otherwise, for the Deftones' new album. At least then you're getting powerful, mature emotion and creative instrumentation instead of the redundant musings of a band that would struggle to accurately cover a Lostprophets song. The only difference here is the pained heavy breathing at the end of every vocal phrase. Sorta makes me wish I was alive in the seventies.
Maple Cross - Next Chapter (Verikauha)
At first I wasn't too sure, but Maple Cross are starting to grow on me. I like their clean modern take on traditional metal. And it's not emo. This is delicately produced stuff. Every single note and strike is crisp and clear like the sun's reflection in a puddle. It all holds together and bounces along in a fairly malevolent way, whilst remaining thoroughly entertaining. Riffs are sharp and swift, drums are driving and relentless - just like it should be. Singer Marco's vocals sound like Rob Halford with a sore throat, so no complaints there either. The only real criticism I have is that the album has a little too much of that just-washed freshness. It almost sounds like it was programmed rather than played. I would have preferred it a bit less cooked but that's just my personal taste. So yeah, spend your money on Maple Cross, by all means. Hell, buy two copies, we need those taxes to pay for war.
The Drones - Here come the lies (Spooky)
There's nothing quite like a nice weird record. It's good for the mind, even better for the skin and it kills all known germs fast. The Drones are plenty weird. Dizzyingly bizarre music is married to oddly warbled vocals in the strangest union since Dennis Rodman wedded himself all those years ago. Actually I'm not sure that ever happened, but it doesn't really matter. You get the idea. I can imagine gleefully listening to this album the next time I go grave-robbing. It would also make a perfect accompaniment for one of those epic battles Batman and the Joker have in those abandoned carnivals. I'm pretty sure it sounds great live, especially if the band play while riding rocking horses dressed in sailor suits. The only place this album sounds bad is in the comfort of your own home. There's just something wrong with listening to music this wild and unkempt while sitting in a faded floral armchair. Try playing Twister while dressed as a bear and hanging from the ceiling by your feet. Then you might just get it. Em, could someone cut me down please?
Lopez - Lopez (Infect)
Lopez sound like a knife fight in the back room of a Mexican bar. They're nasty, sweaty and dirty and they'll get you too if you get in their way. Grubby riffs follow stinking basslines until you wonder if Lopez sleep outside cheap off-licences to be first in the queue when they open or whether they wash themselves in barbeque sauce. Songs like 'White trash tough guy' and 'Alcoholic' sound as attractive and out of control as a landslide at a landfill. Dealing with such socio-economically responsible topics as rocking, getting drunk and not being able to spell, this would make a tremendous soundtrack for a cat-fight at a trailer park. You've gotta write about what you know, and Lopez clearly understand fast living debauchery as well as the Queen understands waving. Listen to it while you can, it doesn't sound like these guys are going to be around for long. They're in serious danger of burning themselves out and that's if they don't get dropped. Give generously now; it's for a good cause.
Cocknoose - White Trash Messiahs (Cargo)
Unless you've ever lived in a trailer you're not going to get this. Its angry, hopeless, blind and it fucking loves it. In short, it's a dangerous motherfucker of an album. Song after song about being tough and having a beard and being related to everyone in a five-mile radius - do not mess with Cocknoose. Not even they know what they're capable of. They have more attitude than an American Football team and more finely-tuned instincts than Spiderman. The only thing they lack is talent. You won't notice though - you'll be too busy clawing in the bloody sawdust for your lost eyeball or trying to staple your fingernails back on. You'll never hear Cocknoose play with an orchestra. They can barely play with their own instruments. Having said that, there's something filthily pure and concentrated about what they spew into your ears. This may be the most viscose brand of rock on the shelves at the moment. Not everyone will be able to handle it. Although listening to Cocknoose comes with some serious side effects, such as mass hair growth on your back and shoulders, it's worth doing at least once. Just to see if you like it.
Katatonia - Viva Emptiness (Peaceville)
Katatonia just may be the finest band on the Peaceville books, and that's saying a lot. There are very few metal bands today that can match their enterprising and emotional approach to song writing. "Viva Emptiness" is their strongest work to date. It's a truly dense and claustrophobic album overflowing with longing and desperation. Vocalist Jonas Renske's voice is perfect for these songs of paranoia and redemption. He stamps his authority on each number with drifting melodies and ingenious phrasings. Daniel Liljekvis's drumming is equally inventive, combining different styles with tremendous grace. Then there are the guitars. They soar, they shred, they crash. They do everything the songs need them to and then just that extra bit more. Individual talent and interpretation aside, numbers such as 'Ghost of the sun' and 'Burn the remembrance' are masterpieces of arrangement. There is not a wasted second or sound and the entire album flows beautifully. It's dark stuff, but eerily uplifting all the same. God knows where they go from here. If he does I hope he lets the rest of us in on it.
Abbadon Incarnate - Nadir (Sentinel)
It's good to see that, in a world of Opeths and Emperors, some extreme metal bands still want to sound like a pack of dogs chewing on a concrete wall. It's even more reassuring to know that Abaddon Incarnate are prepared to piss on the rubble. This album is pure brutality, twenty-four short heart attacks that leave the listener drained and confused, if not bloody and broken. There is nowhere to hide. It has all the subtlety of a cruise missile. The record might even be a little overloaded, both in terms of quantity and volume. In these terms "Nadir" just about remains listenable. Whether the band would take that as a compliment or a rejection is debatable. There's not really much more to say. Abbadon Incarnate have served up a real face-ripping, bowel-whipping monstrosity of an album that is probably just right for those loitering at the fringes of the extreme metal scene. This is the kind of music that warthogs would listen to if they had money.