Posts Tagged ‘metal’

There aren’t that many bands which had a so solid and successful debut-record like Periphery had back in 2010. The refined rythm-finesse of Meshuggah and SikTh met the sophisticated guitar-melodies of Dream Theater; the djent-phenomenon was born, and with bands like TesseracT and Textures they introduced the world to what many considered the next big thing. Still, many people, including myself, worried about that the potential already was at its peak, and that there wasn’t that much left to impress the world with.

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Therefore, ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal’ has since its announcement been a record I’ve been looking forward to – both in negative and positive ways. Is the surprisingly high levels of originality and variation maintained? And how have they handled their position in a genre many consider as dying? Unfortunately, this record disappointed me more than I worried it could. Instead of a bit more unoriginal continuation of the first record, we’ve got a mediocre one where the well-functioning elements of Meshuggah’s and DT’s music is left behind in favor of more elements from genres like mathcore and metalcore. And lots of electronica. Yes, you read that right: Electronica is actually a pretty prominent element of the music.

Anyway, the record actually opens pretty well with the “accomodating” electronic sounds and guitars accompanied by the safe and slow rythm on ‘Muramasa’. However, the less pleasant elements of the record already starts to show on ‘Have a Blast’, where a rather uninspired guitar melody is followed by a pretty chaotic song-structure with fast-paced verses, a sudden breakdown and a bridge with clichè-filled vocal lines. Unfortunately these negative aspects speaks for a lot of the albums material; the structure on songs like ‘Ji’ and the last track ‘Masamune’ feels a bit weird and poorly thought out in the end. While this usually works out in for example Opeth’s music, Periphery’s fast-paced outfit makes it hard to make it work here, even though it did in the few cases on their last album.

The main problem here is the lack of the excellent professionality, refined complexity and variation of their last record, where the band showed they had full control over what they did. Periphery II is more reminiscent to a band who doesn’t really know what they want; while many songs is a total mess due to their variation, few songs actually stick out from the rest, and it seems like they’re trying too hard to be as original and mindblowing as possible.

The main reason for this is the vocals. While vocalist Spencer Sotelo’s range still is pretty stunning and the voice itself is well enough, it’s utilized in a rather bad way. Most of the time it feels extremely exaggerated, with cheesy clean vocal-lines reminding me of pop-punk, in addition to some really unappropriate growling sections with several vocal-layers up on eachother. It’s not that Spencer necessarily is a bad singer, but wether he actually fits as the singer of this band is discussable. Along with some weird mathcore-ish passages, and the already mentioned song-structures he namely makes big parts this record a little more chaotic than it should be.

While there’s pretty much disappointing stuff on this album, there are still some highlights worth to be mentioned. For example; the drumming of Matt Halpern keeps him in his position as one of the best modern metal-drummers out there, and – of course – the guitar magnificence especially main guitarist Misha Mansoor has been recognized for earlier, makes up for some pretty good moments here. The riffs on ‘Scarlet’ (where the vocals actually works pretty well too) is nothing else than entertaining to listen to. The intro-riffs on songs like ‘Ragnarok’, ‘Luck As A Constant’ and ‘MAKE TOTAL DESTROY’ however, makes up a pretty good first-impression of the songs with cool atmospheres and rythm-patterns, in addition some damn cool tapping.

Then we have come to the rather weird and unpredictable element of the record: the electronic stuff, which have emerged out of guitarist Jake Bowen’s interests. These things usually show up in the end of the songs; some feels imposted and inconsistent, while others – like the ambient outro of ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy!’ – has the originality and potential I’m looking for. Unfortunately, instead of giving parts like these post-rock-ish things time to shine a little more, the pretty uninteresting and boring track ‘Epoch’ – which first and foremost brings back memories from the pause-menu music on a rally-game I played in the third grade – has become the little interlude of the record. However, the song where these elements draws up the quality along with some damn cool bass-fills, is the soothing track ‘Erised’, which remains as one of my favorites.

But ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal’ still is a very disappointing record, which I first and foremost will remember for the many times I just tried to understand why some websites gave it a 9.0-score. I will never understand those people who think this is a leap forward from their last record; for me this is an almost frightening setback where lots of the original ideas just have disappeared in favor of the more uncertain and chaotic aspects of the band. Due to some highlights and bright spots this isn’t a bad record, but from a band like Periphery I expected lots of the things that I didn’t get in the end. A shame, because the band still has lots of potential.

5.0/10.0

Recommened tracks: Scarlet, Erised

Alexander Lange

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

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