Some updates concerning the blog

Posted: August 5, 2012 by pacsack in Uncategorized

As you guys may already have noticed, a new writer/contributor has become a part of ThyMetalPenguin – Martin Sollien. He has already written one review (‘Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt’), and more reviews are already in progress.

However, this little update isn’t the only reason we’re writing this post; we have namely decided to expand our horizon a little bit. The main focus will still be on the metal-records, but non-metal-records will also be more frequent than it was meant to be to begin with. In addition to this, a few video game- and movie-reviews will pop up once in a while when there’s time for that.

Alexander Lange

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I remember a time where I didn’t listen to black metal at all. I couldn’t really figure out the genre and I thought it was too noisy, too lo-fi and with horrible vocals. A long time has passed since then. Some years back I started exploring new genres within metal music. Alongside i started getting the liking of black metal

Shining was my first experience with a black metal band that I actually liked. This was at the time when V. Halmstad was released, so you could say I arrived at the apex of their musicianship. V. Halmstad is one of my favorite albums all time and the main reason as to why this album appealed so much to me contrary other black metal-albums at that time is mostly unknown. It might be the more friendly production sound that Shining had opposed to more “true” black metal acts like Darkthrone, Mayhem and Taake.

In the latter years after V. Halmstad, Shining did release a couple of decent albums. Their newest EP is a rather big diversion from what we are used to as this EP is a compilation of covered songs from artists like Katatonia and Kent. Allthough this is new from the band, covered songs is not something we are unfamiliar with. Shining has in the past covered respectively Ohm from Seigmen, which turned out to be rather adequate.

Lots Of Girls Gonna Get Hurt as the name goes by is nicely produced in an instrumental perspective. That said, the songs covered on this EP are four rather quiet rock-songs. Shining doesn’t sound too comfortable playing music of this state. Especially Kvaforth’s vocals isn’t really fitting to this kind of music as he is best with gut-wrenchng and desperate screams with angry and almost death metal-like vocals.

The album opens with the Katatonia-cover For My Demons. As I said earlier the vocals don’t really fit, but if there is a band with clean vocals that Shining would be most fit covering, it is Katatonia. For My Demons is a rather gentle track with some build-up to a climax which isn’t too huge.

What all the songs have in common is the rather dark and low black metal-ish guitar tuning that you would recognize from previous Shining albums. This do make the EP sound like classic Shining although its sound is rather different from what we are used to.

This black metal-tuning is especially present in the song Kung Av Jidder, a cover from Imperiet. This song is rather repetitive in its nature, especially in the riffing. Much like some songs from Burzum, although not as lengthy.

Alltogether I find this album to be pretty boring. Instead of covering songs from some swedish rock-artists I would rather see a follow-up to VII. Född förlorare. It lacks the instrumental and vocal quality that has been present in previous work, and I’m really starting to miss the depressive lyrical themes and the desperate atmosphere which Shining previously has held so high. Instead we are served a dull EP covering artists which are uninteresting for the listener to hear Shining cover. It’s a shame, but let’s hope the next album will be more personal again.

Recommended track: For My Demons

4.5/10

Martin Sollien

Horseback – On The Eclipse

Posted: August 5, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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Horseback divides opinions. In the metal world, we have got a habit to take non-metal groups in our hands, and give them shelter. Bands like Swans, Tenhi and Horseback have always been reviewed in metal fanzines, despite the fact that they aren’t metal at all, and that is why the bigger part of the heavy-audience are stone-cold sceptics when it comes to a release by one of such bands (Swans may differ from the other two because of the heaviness of their industrial-infused noisepunk).

But I have long since discovered that the bands create wonderful music, despite the fact that they are not metal. Metal is really not the only well of quality these days, so if you just block out the thoughts regarding the lack of metalness, you might just enjoy something entirely new. Horseback have already released a record earlier this year, called “Half Blood”, that contained a couple of great songs, and some lesser ones too. The problem with Horseback has always been that, despite the ambient track’s swell of atmosphere and beauty, they ultimately achieve to bore you instead of entrancing you and winning you over. On The Eclipse, a vinyl-only release consisting of two songs, is wholesome a brother-release to “Half Blood”, with the sound and style being identical to the latter.

The first track, “On The Eclipse” is a track written in the style of the really great tracks on Half Blood. Minimalist chords and melodies overlap each other atop a simple beat, while black shrieks linger in the background, gargled up from the throat of multi-instrumentalist, Jenks Miller. The combo of said elements often create a distressful atmosphere, at the same time being quite smooth and relaxed. Jenk’s croaky howls drawing a thread to the weather-weary vocals of Enslaved’s Grutle Kjellson, adding the mentioned distress to the track’s blueprint. The track switch between two layered parts, before crossing into a stripped down groove accompanied by a simple guitar solo. It’s a fine song, but it doesn’t achieve the same quality of the greater tracks on this year’s other full-length by the artist.

On the b-side sits the ambient track, “Broken Orb”. It is by the ambient tracks a Horseback release succeeds or fail, as Half Blood unfortunately proved to be a grating CD due to its three ambient-tracks. But as “Broken Orb”s calm of ethereal notes enter, the hopes are high for a turn of events. The track drones along by a light pace, trying to hypnotize its listener by keeping the key elements the same throughout, only changing up the key-section once in a while. The mood flows nicely enough for a while, but then a strange surge of patternless drumbeat enters, breaking the flow. It is no big deal, but it is still not apparent what the drums were supposed to add to the song.

Even though there is not much wrong about the record, I get the feeling that the songs were cut off Half Blood because they weren’t of equal quality to the songs already featuring on the album. The soundscape and atmosphere is appealing enough by itself, but this is not something game-changing, or even great. The Horseback unit will continue to divide opinions, fans of the artist will enjoy this immensely, and anti-fanboys will find nothing to change their mind on this release. But it is worth a couple of spins if you are interested, and it is worth another go whenever Miller returns with his next voyage.

Recommended tracks: On The Eclipse, Broken Orb (there is just two songs for christ’s sake)

6.5/ 10.0

Fredrik Schjerve

Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage

Posted: August 4, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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Is there really any other band right now that has experienced such a stratospheric rise to prominence that Gojira has? Add another detail; that has risen to success, and deserved it wholeheartedly? I think such a band would be hard to find, cause in todays world of music, new trends arrive and cease by the blink of an eye, and a steadfast band like Gojira is indeed a rare entity to come across.

After one magnificent album (Terra Incognita), a lacklustre one (The Link), and two classics (From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh), Gojira was left in a rather uncomfortable situation. How do one follow such stellar outputs like FMTS and TWOAF? It seems like gojira has made a stable conclusion, concerning the positive reviews L’enfant Sauvage has garnered all over the musical network. But as the dust and anticipation has settled, and the record have sunk its way into my cerebral core, I am left with a disturbing thought. L’enfant is in many ways, gruefully disappointing.

I know that most people certainly do not follow that statement, but I know that there is a lot of people who does too. Gojira and their progressive take on death metal has always made a steady bit of progress during their career, but on this record, it seems like they have reached the end of that philosophy. The signature Gojira-sound has been altered slightly, but apart from some added bombast, it sounds processed.

The record is so unmistakably Gojira that I start to wonder if there is a danger of getting… say, too much Gojira. The record is basically littered with the standard harmonic “whale”-sweeps and natural harmonics that after the first couple of songs, you really don’t want to hear a single harmonic again. To put it straight, it feels like: whenever Gojira runs out of ideas, they utilize a few harmonics and whale-sweeps. Reference point: the outro of “Liquid Fire”.

The record starts out with a couple of rollercoaster-rides. “Explosia”, “L’enfant Sauvage”, “The Axe” and “Liquid Fire” have all got their moments of glory, but also their moments of shame. The title track sports a new-found, grand soundscape inducted in the admirable verses and bridges of the song, but also puts forth a fast-paced section painstakingly alike earlier Gojira-material towards the end. “The Axe”s simplistic assaultery and wonderful chorus achieve a certain facepalm-factor when the clean guitar, which actually fits rather well, moderates in a useless way by moving the last note a half step up half of the time. Its just one of the little things that makes you really awry. Same problem about “Liquid Fire”, the magnificent verse and anthemical midsection falters due to a bluster of harmonic abuse.

While interlude “The Wild Healer” proves a neat treat, there are both really good songs, and really bad songs on the album too, evening the score out further. “Planned Obsolescence”s simple intro is justified by the genius drum-fueled rampage following the verse, and there is really just a dash of Gojira-magic veiling the song in quality. Same can be said about the unique and gripping “Born In Winter”, its lofty, tapped riff-sequences coming across as inventive and blistering. But then we’ve got the downers. The horribly naive “Mouth Of Kala”, showcasing THE most average intro riff I have witnessed in a long time, and “The Gift Of Guilt”, being submissively under the standards of the mighty mammoth-group Gojira.

But looking backwards in the end, it really isn’t a bad record. Its not a “transcendental manual to understand life and the universe” as Metal Hammer UK tried to proclaim, yet, it is not a terrible album by any means. The downsides to the record are slightly weighed up for by the good material, and the CD ends up being a good CD by itself, but a solid let down considering it’s written by Gojira. I just hope that this pattern is a repeat of the event of “The Link”, which was a lacking release followed by a stone-cold classic. It is not unrealistic by any means, so we await in excitement, waiting for the story to unfold. The best of luck to you, merry frenchmen.

Recommended tracks: Planned Obsolescence, Born In Winter

                  7.0/ 10.0

                  Fredrik Schjerve

A second opinion by a guest contributor :

The leap from underground to elite is no easy task, yet Gojira’s attempt on french revolution is well adjusted. It was already in the cards since the release of “From Mars to Sirius”, we could already then get the feel that something majestic was on the way.

With L’Enfant Sauvage Gojira seems to get the attention they deserve. They have adapted a more mainstream appeal, as have they made their instrumental complexity more edible for the regular listener. Allthough it’s a rock solid record I can’t help but getting a feel that something is missing. It might be the hypnotic guitar riffing that was on “The Way of All Flesh”, or the progressive tendencies which were a lot more notable on the previous albums. “L’Enfant Sauvage” is a well-produced and well-written record, but unfortunately it does seem to lack a bit of the Gojira-esque atmosphere that were so much appreciated on the previous albums.

                7.0/ 10.0

                    Martin Sollien

Ihsahn – Eremita

Posted: August 4, 2012 by pacsack in Reviews
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After Ihsahn started up with his solo project, his music has just become more and more experimental and unique. However, while his two first solo-albums was based on a tricky twist of progressive extreme metal, it was ‘After’ from 2010 which really brought his music up unto a whole new level. Saxophone-melodies and riffs played on 8 string-guitars was just some of the elements which made it hard to even compare it to something else we had heard before.

Now his fourth album – ‘Eremita’ – has finally arrived. While elements of the unique and avant-garde-ish style of ‘After’ is maintained, elements from his earlier works is more essential than last time. On the opening-track ‘Arrival’ this is noticable already; a catchy progression of chords as the main riff and a melodic chorus sung by Leprous-vocalist Einar Solberg builds the main-fundament of the song, while the pre-chorus and bridge hails from the desolated and minimalistic atmospheres of ‘After’. Further out on the record most people will certainly notice there’s a bit of everything from what Ihsahn has made the last years; while the crazy verse from ‘The Paranoid’ immediately reminded me of ‘After’s ‘A Grave Inversed’, the verse riff on ‘Something Out There’ brings back memories from Emperor-songs like ‘Thus Spake the Nightspirit’ and ‘Ye Entrancemperium’, and so on.

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The record starts out very well, with the already mentioned ‘Arrival’, followed by the three tracks that in my opinion are the very best on this record. With lots of energy, amazing song-structure and epic chorus-sections ‘The Paranoid’ stands out as the technical marvel on the record, and the dual vocals from Ihsahn and his buddy Devin Townsend makes ‘Introspection’ dangerously addictive. ‘The Eagle and the Snake’ however, is the progressive masterpiece of the record with its wide diversity; an amazing utilization of Jørgen Munkeby’s saxophone is accompanied by both the screeching and crooning vocals of Ihsahn, in addition to a solo by Jeff Loomis.

With a frequently used saxophone and a upside-down image of Friedrich Nietzche himself, many will think that ‘Eremita’ is a very ambitious album. It certainly is, but unfortunately it’s a little too ambitious for its own good, and it’s one of the main reasons the album is somehow stagnating on its second half. For example, while the verses on ‘Catharsis’ have a cool tune, they’re unnecessarily long, and after hearing it a few times the urge for just jumping to the awesome chorus grew bigger and bigger.

After the pretty cool ‘Something Out There’ we have come to what I like to call the rather dissapointing trinity of the album, which is the three last songs of the album. The orchestral interlude ‘Grief’ just feels extremely boring, imposed and unnecessary, and feels first and foremost like an extension of the first 11 seconds of ‘Nymphetamine’ by Cradle of Filth. And that does’t really fit in here. ‘The Grave’, however, is just a song i don’t get. An intro verse with an almost ridicously dramatic atmosphere, is followed by a very long kind of free-jazz section with angry vocals in the background. The saxophone-playing and the drum fills which characterize this part are amazing, but it’s simply not utilized good enough, and it ends up being a potentially amazing song instead of an amazing song.

In the end, we have ‘Departure’: a seven minute long song which at least should have been a couple of minutes longer. The variation is namely huge, so huge that it becomes to much in the end. Mighty horns in the beginning, hectic black metal-verses, a jazzy section, a calm bridge characterized by the beautiful voice of Ihsahn’s wife, an epic outro, and so on; while the song in fact is pretty amazing itself, it probably sound like a much longer song from what I have been writing, and it should be. And it’s these things that prevents ‘Eremita’ from being such a good record ‘After’ was. It seems like Ihsahn wants to do a bit more than what he is capable of, but while these last paragraphs indicates a mediocre score, the album is still pretty amazing in its entirety. The songwriting itself is impressive, the material is stunningly original, and Ihsahn proceeds to maintain a place up there with composers like Devin Townsend and Fredrik Thordendal.

8.0/10

Recommened tracks: The Paranoid, Introspection, The Eagle and the Snake

Baroness – Yellow & Green

Posted: August 3, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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In the last couple of months, this particular album has received so much negative responses on the net that it is starting to look like the previously widely accepted band Baroness is entering a phase of instant-Bring Me The Horizon-syndrome. The cries and loud screeches of internet-hate are probably not a big surprise, as that situation largely tends to happen whenever a band makes a shift from metal to experimental indie. But as the baroness-business makes it ways to other territories, we can only conclude with the fact that Baroness indeed is it’s own monster, and that it is mainly up to the band themselves what they want to do with their sound. Weep all you want, fellow metal fans, but Baroness have left us, seemingly for good.

                 On the other side, they have not left great music behind. They have taken it in their arms, and brought it into another realm, which might sound worse than the double album really is, the realm of indie and southern rock. There are so many different styles of musical writing on this platter, that it comes across like a giant mess through the first listens, but really just add a nice variation a double LP need when you enter your fourth plough-through. The punchy single, “Take My Bones Away”, with the albums nearly sole heavy riff and powerful vocal lines, the sneaky indie groove of “Little Thing”, the Franz Ferdinand worship titled “Sea Lungs”, and even a folk verse/ atmospheric piece, “Twinkler”. This CD is as diverse as Devin Townsends back catalogue (ok, not entirely), and the shifts in styles are really justified by the quality of the material.

                The double LP is split up in two different parts, the Yellow album, and the Green one. They are both accompanied by their own, separate intro-tracks, which both are indicators on just how great Baroness’ stylistic change has been. The Yellow theme is just a piece of meandering, serene melodies and silent harmonies, and really shows that even dead-simple songs can have their quality when Baroness writes them. The following songs are stock full of sparkling sonic adventures and catchy melodies, even the feat of crafty dynamics is possessed by the band, which they often use to underline a certain melody. Examples on dynamic truckloads are found in the third song, “March To The Sea”, the chorus of which sports an anthemic vocal shout, and swirling Mastodon-inspired guitarnotes. The sprawling salute of harmonies that occur during the bridge brings the song to a new level, before it ends on the surf-like bass the song initially began with.

               Highlights of the first side contain the two longer songs, “Eula” and “Back Where I Belong”. The former spray out a streak of the albums best chord progressions, the mood shifting with every change of chords, and thereafter flow into a very Queen-ish solo. It should be noted that only the first half of the song is worthy of the Highlight title, the second half wandering into anonymous parts, and thereby ending with little fanfare. “Eula” fares better, with its stark vocal lines, and Baroness signature-dynamics.

              Then follows the Green theme and another set of songs. The Green theme is ultimately the better theme, the quality brought forth by a memorable melody, and the victorious march of wah-guitars. The Green album is by far the most experimental one, and is really the the most interesting one of the dual records. “Board Up The House” is a streak of great ideas and positive vibes, and is followed by the beautiful riff-sequence of “Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)”. Afterwards follows one of the albums missteps, the pondering balladry of “Foolsong”. There is really so much to talk about on this record that I must try to hinder myself from deriving the review of quality by explaining every piece of music there is, but you get the point, This record contains so much of everything that most bands will never achieve that rate of exploration throughout their whole career.

              Unfortunately, there is to be found a strange downside to this album. It seems to me like most of the songs start of with great parts and excellent stylistic control, but run out of the creative flow some place throughout the end. “Take My Bones Away”s momentum is drastically hindered by its creators choice to moderate the guitars on the last chorus, which is also done on the last chorus of “Cocainium”. Its a disturbing and ill-fitting thing to do when the refrains are so well constructed to begin with. It also can’t be helped that, though everything is fresh and interesting, the attention span of the regular musical fanatic will start to burst about halfway into the Green album. Then take the couple of sub-par songs, “Foolsong” and “Collapse”, and it’s no perfect record.

               Still I consider this double LP a great feat from a respected band, whose stylistic change should be well justified by the time they release their next album of rock-infused indie (unless they are going to take a 180 degree turn again). This record is not for everyone, and the majority of metalheads will only shake their head in disapproval by bewildering tunes such as “Psalms Alive”. But guys, ever since the shift from dirty sludge to controlled heavy rock on the Red Album, to the shift from heavy rock to souther twang on the Blue Record, Baroness has been strolling this way ever since the beginning. Take it or leave it, for the open-minded listener, Yellow & Green can prove an exhilarating listen bound the be replayed during the next couple of years. Roll on Baroness, I will be waiting for the Purple Cassette to be written.

8.0 / 10

Fredrik Schjerve




Enter Metal Penguin

Posted: August 2, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Features
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Hey guys, and welcome to the first post of the new reviewers site, ThyMetal Penguin at WordPress.com. Fredrik Schjerve (that’s me) and Alexander Fossen Lange will try to write quality reviews of quality and non-quality records that mainly sticks to the genre-tag of heavy metal, but it might happen that we find the urge to write a couple of non-metal reviews once in a while. the records will always be closely related to the metal universe, so don’t fear a full length review of the newest chart-topper by Lana del Rey or Kanye West. Hope some of you stay along for the ride, and hopefully, whoever comes across this site may feel free to recommend us to your neighbouring metalheads (if there is anything to recommend, that is). first review will hopefully surface tomorrow, and it is by a metal band-gone-non-metal, so that might be interesting for some of you more open-minded buggers out there. A last notice for the visitors; always keep in mind that I and Alex are two relatively open minded guys ourselves, so don’t be surprised to see a couple of non-meat and potatoes metal releases getting a great score. Stay put, we will emerge.

Fredrik Schjerve