Seeing a review for this album appear in this site made me wonder, "I've reviewed all of my metal milestone bands, but can I review the metal albums of a rock band that would eventually shape my taste into 'true' metal, beyond this nu metal sh*t?" Answer: I CAN!! Linkin Park is probably the most successful 21st century rock band, yet metal fans call them "sellouts for kids". Some say they've expanded on the nu metal atrocity started by Korn and Limp Bizkit, others say they're a boy band with guitars. It's sad to see all this hate towards a super successful band. I might not enjoy this band as much as the metal bands I listen to now, but I won't take them for granted, that's for sure.
Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory (taken from their earlier band name) in October 2000, just a few months shy of what people think is technically the start of a new millennium (2001), and the technical new millennium started in a bang for this band. Excellent reviews and gigantic sales skyrocketed, hence making this a genuine well-sold platinum album. There may not be a big improvement in the popular music industry but Linkin Park's debut would remain one of the best-selling albums of nu metal and all time. Yep, there are 12 heavy industrial-infused nu metal tracks in this album produced by Don Gilmore. In fact, would you call nu metal "metal"?? It's cleaner and less edgy (in the music anyway)! Well whatever you want them to be called, Linkin Park have their best skills of heavy metal guitars, hip-hop rapping, and pop hooks.
It starts with...the rap rock hit "Papercut", where the rapping verses by Mike Shinoda make a perfect blend with the melodic vocal chorus by Chester Bennington (RIP). "One Step Closer" is their breakthrough single worth checking out for both metalheads and radio listeners. The riffing is both heavy and kid-friendly, the latter adjective maybe not the killer screaming bridge ("SHUT UP WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! SHUT UP!!"). This is metal for Sesame Street-level beginners and that song is probably the heaviest one allowed in karaoke (I know because I've been there). The low-toned loops in "With You" are performed by the Dust Brothers in a dynamic rap metal track with its gravitation center strikes your jaw off. "Points of Authority" sounds as if Bennington and Shinoda are each reading their own poetry written in a lyric sheet, acting as a lyrical exchange. That song is kinda killer though.
The emotional hit "Crawling" is where icy synths and bass crawl through the intro before getting mudded out by the guitar heaviness and Bennington's cries. The more industrial fans might compare the song to Nine Inch Nails. The lyrical subject matter deals with Bennington's teenage years of torture and meth addiction, and he's so upset about it that he needs help from the crowd when performing the song live. More of the band's skyrocketing hooks appear in "Runaway", where the primitive tune's melodies can probably get the song into alternative radio. The fairly appalling "By Myself" is a weak track that is a real example of nu metal's bad side. The hip-hop smash-hit "In the End" has piano performed prominently by Mike Shinoda as he raps along. I don't know if that's what made that song the most popular of the album, but it is what it is.
"A Place for My Head" continues the poetic lyrical exchange between Bennington and Shinoda. This is again used in "Forgotten" but more apparent with the vocal battle between the two vocalists in the pre-chorus. That song is probably another real example of nu metal tainting the second word of the genre's name. The two and a half minute experimental jungle track "Cure for The Itch" is another weak point of the album, but it's where turntablist Joe Hahn really shines. The perfect formula of the singles continue once more in the closing song "Pushing Me Away", which I still like since first listening 9 years ago. Oh how I wish that was a single...
What remains of this review is the conclusion, and that is this; Linkin Park's debut album is excellent, at least compared to what the heavier metalheads think. Surprisingly, the songs I like are perfect choices for all 4 singles and two promo singles, all that's missing is that final song. The only weak songs are the remaining 5. Seems as if my like for Linkin Park before switching to real metal has infected my mind. Sure it's mainstream, but I couldn't skip to where I am today without this band, right?! Thanks a ton, LP....
Favorites: "Papercut", "One Step Closer", "Crawling", "Runaway", "In the End", "Pushing Me Away"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Celtic Frost was one of the most diversely stylistic metal bands to start in the 80s. First was their black/death-influencing thrasher To Mega Therion, then they released the avant-garde Into the Pandemonium, followed by the glam-infected Cold Lake. They released a gothic-influenced thrash album Vanity/Nemesis before splitting up, and later reformed for one more extreme doom album Monotheist. Since I'm listening to Mega Therion to settle a DIS vs DAT debate, let's get right into the review!
Heading right to the point, To Mega Therion (The Great Beast) is actually one of the best 80s metal albums I've heard. I'm still not very tolerant to albums that old nor that obscenely extreme, but I can see why people consider this the most fascinating Celtic Frost album. However, there are some things to argue about...
The pompous intro "Innocence and Wrath" starts the album with a doom-ish march with background brass, specifically french horns. Perhaps that part of the inspiration for Therion, the band who got their name from this album. Then kicks off the sinister fast pace of "The Usurper". That song and its aforementioned intro very well beat other openings of albums like Into the Pandemonium. Next track "Jewel Throne" has chord patterns to reflect the balance of primal composition against riffs of thrash energy and muscular drum groove intensity. I'm sure there are many other great thrash examples throughout the decades that followed, but a true thrashy metalhead would bang their head and swing their fists to those interestingly brutal riffs. I'm not even a fan old-school dark thrash metal and I'm already doing that!
With a song title like "Dawn of Megiddo", you know how well Celtic Frost would attack. The song itself once again has the strange french horns. "Eternal Summer" continues the chord balance between primal and despair. "Circle of the Tyrants" pumps you up with apocalyptic heaviness. "(Beyond the) North Winds" needs a little time for you to really see its full potential as mid-tempo-ish piece that's absolutely underrated compared to Metallica. The upbeat ghost-like guitar leads in the bridge give the song its special scent that would inspire later extreme metal bands.
"Fainted Eyes" is an aggressive piece of heavy shock that works as a black metal prototype song, once again having its apocalyptic heaviness. "Tears in a Prophet's Dream" is an extravagant yet incomprehensible sound collage that wouldn't blow any minds. Finally we come to the gigantic closer "Necromantical Screams" complete with horns, timpani, and female vocals without neglecting the morbid heavy black thrash. OK, that has to be what inspired Therion!
Was this review convincing enough for anyone who hasn't listened to this 1985 classic to do so? Either way, you definitely don't wanna miss out on its highlights (see below) for their best extreme delivery. This important album needs more attention! Sadly, Celtic Frost would never reach the brilliance of this album ever again.... AAAARRRGGH!!!!
Favorites: "The Usurper", "Jewel Throne", "(Beyond the) North Winds", "Necromantical Screams"
Genres: Thrash Metal
In the dark vast near-Arctic tundra fields, feedback, doses of speed, a gloomy near-psychedelic aura, and ambient traces of post-rock and shoegaze are all mixed into a blizzard of flowing guitar melodies. And in the snowstorm is a beast whose growls are louder than the storm itself. His harrowing growls tell miserable tales of numbing feelings, dissolving love, and fading life. At one point, an ethereal clean voice floats in monotone atmosphere, telling his own tale of past and present life gone wrong. This young man's dreamy voice (Jonas Renkse) wants the beast to remember the happy past of innocence, but he's thrown out by the snowstorm, and the beast (Mikael Åkerfeldt) continues his harsh screams of the unhappy present of anguish. The present day is the Brave Murder Day!
I've tried listening to a few Katatonia songs in my happy melodic past a few years ago, but it was too dark and extreme for me at the time. Their early material is the obscene black-doom and their later albums are just depressing gothic rock/metal. I'm glad Brave Murder Day got recommended to me because this was in their in-between era of death-doom, which was common in the mid-90s for the Peaceville Three; Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost. Yeah, since I already enjoy those 3 bands, how am I not interested in Katatonia? However, something different about Katatonia at that time is, while the Peaceville Three played a romantic kind of atmospheric doom metal, this band has a raw hard-to-classify soundscape. And what makes it hard to classify is their change of style in each of their few albums. Like I said, Dance of December Souls is depressive black-doom, Brave Murder Day (this album) is death-doom, Discouraged Ones is gothic doom, and since Tonight's Decision, they play dark rock/metal. Normally, genre labels aren't totally necessary but I was making a point there. However, Brave Murder Day is so diverse than anyone can interpret the sound to be anything else, not just death-doom. The diverse music is distorted and dark, sometimes mellow, sometimes aggressive. Mikael Åkerfeldt does most of the lead vocals, growling in abrasive despair to tone down some melody. Jonas Renkse could no longer do any growls because of vocal issues, but he can still do clean singing, which occurs in only one soft song. Yes, there are acoustic passages instead of symphonic gothic metal keyboards and violins. Another uncommon element is the varying rhythms, some a little faster, some slow.
A great example of the slightly faster rhythm is the opening song "Brave", the longest and best song of the album. It starts with a mid-tempo drone-ish section then goes into a melodic doom section, then back again. 10 minutes really fly when you're having a fun yet depressive listen! "Murder" is slightly faster, more upbeat, and just half of the previous song's length. "Day" is a calm dreamy song sounding more like shoegaze. This is where Jonas Renkse uses his clean vocals, and it's the first time anyone has heard them! Even though they sound somewhat amateurish, they still fit well.
"Rainroom" continues the heavy mid-tempo fashion of the first two songs, this time with stronger old-school doom metal riffing and more notable growling vocals. "12" is a darker heavier song that is the closest resembling to the epic black-doom of Dance of December Souls. It's actually a re-recording of a song from that old era called "Black Erotica". I haven't heard the original version, but I assume the original is better for the more brutal metalheads.
The album ends strongly with "Endtime", the darkest heaviest song in the album. It's a little disturbing with strong growls and a haunting guitar riff. That song is definitely much darker than most other death-doom songs I've listened to, and it's more suitable for me in my unhappy present of anguish (NOT that my present is ever unhappy).
Brave Murder Day is, in a word, COLD. Like as cold as those near-Arctic tundra blizzard from earlier, to the point if you end up in that snowstorm, you would feel nothing but the freezing hypothermia in your body that's now in critical sickness. The freezing is an unpleasant sensation, but you would be numb to feel it and that would be much less pleasant. Your body is now empty, you have nothing left to feel, and all you can do is die in the storm. You see what I mean by that metaphor about that album being so dark? If you can't handle the cold darkness like I couldn't when I was younger, stay out of the storm. But if you enjoy all that melancholy, then please stay in. I knew I would have to listen to this album after getting interested in Paradise Lost. Who knows what other bands I might go down their dark paths in the future, like October Tide, Rapture, Swallow the Sun, Opeth, Agalloch... But for now, Katatonia had stirred up a death-doom classic!
Favorites: "Brave", "Murder", "12" (you didn't think I would say "Day", would you?)
Genres: Doom Metal
We interrupt my Horde Death Metal Modern Era challenge journey for a different nice polite review. So please sit down and watch me talk the WORST F***ING ALBUM TO EXIST IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!!!!
Much worse than My Dying Bride's "Heroin Chic", much worse than Between the Buried and Me's "The Man Land", much worse than Septicflesh's "Underworld" series... Exterminator's Total Extermination album is a real bag of sh*t that stinks far beyond worse than a skunk with B.O. sleeping in a Rafflesia flower (the largest and smelliest flower, can be found in my country, Malaysia) in a wasteland of garbage and sewage. That's how sucky this album is! I HATE IT!!!
And yes, I know... "Hate" is a strong word. But maybe I should use an even STRONGER word than "hate"!! This is a f***ed attempt to combine all the fast extreme metal genres (black, death, thrash, speed) into a messy stew that furthers proves the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth". Well those "cooks", more like "c*cks", are a bunch of a*****es who can go f*** c**ts with their d*cks!
And if you think I'm gonna hurt their precious little feelings if they find this review, well.... SCR*W THEIR FEELINGS!!! Just like what that serial killer Aileen said, they're an inhuman bunch of f***ing living b****rds and b****es and they got their a**es nuked in the end!
You know how people who don't appreciate metal think it's nothing but highly distorted noise, but that's not true at all? Well that's because they never listened to this d*****bag! The guitar "soloing" is indeed just sh*t that sounds like a chainsaw massacre in a violin orchestra concert. Would you even call that music!? WOULD YOU!?!
And don't even get me started on track 6, "Speed Metal". Fortunately, that crap-track isn't credited for helping pioneer the speed metal sound. It would've given speed metal a bad rap! That's a middle finger for speed metal that can p*ss speed metal fans off. F*** THAT SONG HARD!!!!
Not even the cover artwork can score some points for this garbage. It just looks like an execution happening in a dungeon with that racist Nazi symbol the swastika on the wall! And the drawing is weak as a motherf***er, I can draw so much better when I was in preschool, which by the way, was long before I can even draw. It's not artful, it's just AWFUL AS F*CK!!! The album even sounds like it was recorded in that dungeon, if not one of the so-called "metal warriors"' bedroom!
If you want a conclusion, fine then! This. Is. BULLSH*T!!!! This dirt-wipe of an album is not worth anyone's time, whether you're a metalhead or not! If for some reason, you have a copy of this album on vinyl, cassette, or CD in your old-school metal collection, I highly suggest you either stomp it into pieces, shoot it with a gun if you have one, pour gasoline on it and set it on fire, or throw into a junkyard garbage crusher Lord of the Rings style. As for anyone who has listened it to yet, DON'T F***ING BOTHER!!!!!
Final grade: F--- (triple minus) and an "F--- YOU!!!"
One more time, DO NOT GET THIS SH*TTY ALBUM. PERIOD!!
(heavy panting after all that rude fury, then switches back to polite mode)
And that concludes my nice polite review. Thank you for reading!
Genres: Black Metal Thrash Metal
A few people might think Vektor is a Voivod ripoff, but...BOY WERE THEY WRONG!! They just don't see how much of a difference this band makes! First off, the instruments really work well together with precise drumming, tight riffing, and bass with more than one note per bar. The instrumentation is really cool, but what's really amazing is the vocals by David DiSanto. Forget about his domestic violence present for a while and check out his vocal range that's beyond belief. His vocals are in the same kind of level as Destruction's Schmier, but his high soaring screams are near-impossible! I bet he does what Michael Jackson used to do, grabs his own b*lls hard.
The guitars are so unique and really stick out in this album. One unique thing that marks a different approach is the F-tuning (a half-step higher than standard E tuning). I think more bands should start tuning their guitars up to F or F# 6-string, or even C or C# 7-string. When they play a riff that sounds familiar (other than the higher tuning), suddenly a different never-before-heard riff smashes into your face, while keeping constantly high quality. What's also pleasant is, the solos are magically placed in fields where you would never expect. But in the parts where you do expect a solo, they are short and end up coming out anti-climatic. However, the guitarists are really skilled, and despite those solo setbacks, they can master them as super well as DragonForce.
The title opener is probably the best track of the album. They really balance the thrash and progressive styles perfectly without having to copy anything. "This song won't write itself," rushy people say, but it's as if that song did! "Oblivion" is another great song, but it gets a little dull. It's late-Emperor-esque intro is actually the "Spiral Galaxy" intro from their demo Demolition. After that, it's on to the actual old-school speed metal intro before the Destruction-like shrieking comes in. Also, the end is a bit rushy, another good reason why I prefer its Demolition version. "Destroying the Cosmos" is another song that was re-recorded from the Demolition demo, and while I like this one better than the demo version, it doesn't quite reach the standards of the other songs besides "Oblivion". However, that solo-riff combo throughout literally the last minute is one of the most epic song endings I've ever heard! Great strength in an otherwise "meh" song!
"Forests of Legend" is an absolute highlight and the first of three 10+ minute epics. It begins with an eerie acoustic intro that sounds like the progressive thrash "Bard's Song (In the Forest)", before the heaviness begins building up before crashing safely into early-Megadeth-style speedy thrash. After that, it's back to the eerie acoustic section before another glorious outro! "Hunger for Violence" is a Voivod-like composition, opening with strange symmetric chords before heading into Theory in Practice-like violent heaviness. "Deoxyribonucleic Acid" which is what "DNA" stands for, opens with a speedy version of an Iron Maiden riff before its scientific thrash ascension.
"Asteroid" is less technical and more rock-ish in the first few minutes, and while not quite reaching the climax, an incredible charge thunders in with solid bass, sounding like when Lemmy's bands Hawkwind and Motorhead collide and travel into the future. The second 10+ minute epic "Dark Nebula" is probably the least superior of the epic trio, but it's still great. It shows a bit more of a Pink Floyd influence than Voivod while keeping the technical thrash virtuosos. "Accelerating Universe" is the 13 minute true diverse crowning highlight, initially starting with Metallica hammering thrash, it gets more epic and heavier throughout, even developing an amazing psychedelic atmosphere in the halfway point, before building back up into a heavy speedy ending.
Black Future is an almost flawless work of progressive thrash metal art, despite a couple weak points. But those weak points are really tiny flaws and they don't bring down this 5-star rating. With this album, Vektor has reached for the progressive thrash metal stars!
Favorites: Black Future, Forests of Legend, Hunger for Violence, Accelerating Universe
Genres: Progressive Metal Thrash Metal
I know this band is mostly NOT in one of my 3 clans (my clans are Horde, Infinite, and Revolution), and some of you would ask, "Are you changing your taste or something?" NO! Can't I enjoy another band of a different metal genre without being asked that kind of question? Fortunately, Tiamat used to be a death metal band. However, it's more of the regular death metal like a few other pioneering Swedish death metal albums such as Left Hand Path by Entombed, Like An Ever Flowing Stream by Dismember, Into The Grave by Grave, and Dark Recollections by Carnage. But this album also has elements of doom metal and the genre that would later be symphonic black metal. Once again, I like death metal, but not the controversial regular death metal, but similar to At the Gates, the lyrics aren't too gory or offensive, and the regular death metal sound would only be for this album, a little less common in the second album, and the small last bit of it in the third album. Those are good exceptions to my death metal rule. Then as those albums go on, the band starts adding gothic elements until eventually they're in a totally different gothic metal/rock style that they kept from then on, with a few extreme throwbacks. Also, this is probably one of the oldest metal albums in my collection. I'm not a metal oldies fan, I'm more in the newer modern kind of metal. The farthest I can go is about 1990, which is the year this album came out. I'm just letting you know so you wouldn't expect me to listen to some of those metal OG's like Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Death, Atheist, Bathory, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Sepultura, Godflesh, Ministry, etc.
While taking some elements from the blackened death metal sound of their earlier incarnation Treblinka (which I'm glad they haven't kept that hideous name. I would say no offense, but vocalist/guitarist Johan Edlund agrees), Sumerian Cry is mostly just true death metal, and the only album like that in the Tiamat discography. There's much less melody and more gloom and violence.
The intro, "Sumerian Cry Part 1" is just a keyboard-orchestral version (one of the symphonic hints) of the main melody in "Crawling in Vomit", the band's very first song back in the dark older times of their blackened death metal incarnation Treblinka. Then in comes the first real song, "In the Shrines of the Kingly Dead" which is basically perfect old-school Swedish death metal with a great riff and good gravelly growling vocals. "The Malicious Paradise" is one of many songs in this album to have some swift blast beat drumming.
"Necrophagious Shadows" is a more mid-paced doom track with old-school black metal elements that might've inspired the earlier black metal Samael albums. "Apotheosis of Morbidity" has some weird riffs but the rest of the song once again has up-tempo blast beats.
"Nocturnal Funeral" is just fast-tempo blackened death metal, and the most violent track of the bunch, along with some strange soloing from both classic and electric guitar. "Altar Flame" once again continues the violent riff-wrath. Same with "Evilized", but the violence ends up pausing for an awesome fun part in the middle, that might throw off some pure death metal listeners. First there is some goofy xylophone that might've been played in a nursery, then in comes a proggy jazz bass or is it a stoner-like clean guitar? I dunno... Then the chaos comes back with some searing soloing. "Where the Serpents Ever Dwell/Sumerian Cry Part 2" is another doom-influenced track that foreshadows the style of the band's next few albums. All versions except the original include the hypnotic bonus track, "The Sign of the Pentagram".
Not a lot of songs stand out here, but this is still a solid debut. Here, the band points out more on the darker side of music, rather than the chorus or refrain. This is an album where all songs are equally good and taken in the album's entire form. A dark death metal monument before slowly becoming the gothic metal/rock group they are today....
Highlights: In the Shrines of the Kingly Dead, Nocturnal Funeral, Where the Serpents Ever Dwell/Sumerian Cry Part 2
Genres: Death Metal
Back in 2005, Between the Buried and Me did not seem to get along with fans of singular metal genres. It was too progressive for metalcore fans and too core for progressive listeners. About 9 members left the band before the two founders, keyboardist/vocalist Tommy Rogers and guitarist Paul Waggoner added guitarist Dustie Waring, bassist Dan Briggs and drummer Blake Richardson , and the line-up stayed together ever since. BTBAM now has a chemistry that would propel to higher fame and become of the greatest 21st century metal acts. With that new line-up, the band showed new potential heights in Alaska, an album that jumped into bigger success than The Silent Circus, though not quite reaching their ultimate breakthrough.
This all changed in 2007 when the band started experimenting on a rock opera which would open a catastrophic challenge of everything BTBAM fans would know. Instead of releasing singles, the band released music videos for each of the 8 songs with clips from old films, all of which were deleted after 24 hours (though someone later recovered and uploaded all those videos in a full album music video, but that also ended up getting deleted recently). When the album came out in September that year, it was finally time to plunge down the wormhole of Colors. Behold the ultimate Horde/Infinite/Revolution masterpiece of glory!
"Foam Born (A) The Backtrack" opens the album/suite with 70s-piano, before guitar/keyboard textures come in, getting more furious and darker, lead up to the point where it explodes into melodic black/death inspired by Emperor. "(B) The Decade of Statues" continues the aggression with death metal riffing. Sure some moments like at the start of the last minute of that part would make you think "What the f***?!?", but you would still be able to enjoy the rest of the album. "Informal Gluttony" starts with an almost 2-minute Middle Eastern/tribal opening that sounds like Sepultura performing the soundtrack to an Indiana Jones adventure. Then after a bit of Necrophagist/Napalm Death-inspired chaos with Rogers' guttural vocals, there's a softer chorus with his serene clean vocals where he channels his inner Paul McCartney/Thom Yorke. The song ends with more tribal drumming and jungle noises before kicking off the next track.
For the first time ever, BTBAM begins making some over 10-minute epics (a key part of progressive rock/metal), starting with "Sun of Nothing". It begins with 3 minutes of flawless savagery balanced out with atmospheric melody. However, another "WT*?!" moment is the weird comedic piano vamp that interrupts the action and sounds like Mr. Bungle contributing a song to Disneyland ride, but that's fine.. Then it transitions to a crushing breakdown and some gorgeous neo-classical soloing. The strange work has paid off! Soon the song continues into a beautiful extensive melodic section that shows the band travelling to the lands of The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Then it escalates to an epic melodic high climax towards the end before seguing into the next track. If you think "Sun of Nothing" has everything the band has offered, get a load of the next track "Ants of the Sky". After a thrash start, it then switches to a beautiful melody that sounds like the band's own rendition of Pachelbel's Canon in D. Then some intense carnival organ rolls in that would work well as a soundtrack to a circus showdown. More Hammond-driven psychedelic hard rock comes in before the death-growling thrash metal crashes through again. After all that, there's a slow tear-jerking melodic section before heading down to more Pink Floyd-like space rock with smooth jazz soloing. And finally, there a country hoedown with a background bar brawl (seriously, what???), before the beautiful return of the band's Canon-inspired melody.
Then we head into a smooth seamless segue to "Prequel to the Sequel", starting with a Star Fox-inspired riff before speeding through more chaos. Past the 5-minute mark is a strange experimental section with some polka/cabaret, then Adam Fisher (from Fear Before) steps in, screaming his lungs out and engaging in a vicious vocal showdown with Tommy Rogers driving the vocals to massive hyper-drive, uncomfortably screaming "COMFORT!!!" several times. Then the track ends in a sweet melody with Rogers' clean vocals. Before the grand finale, there's an interlude, "Viridian" that shows the best of Briggs' bass. This instrumental interlude really tops off the solo in the Pink Floyd song "Comfortably Numb". And now it's time for the glorious final epic, "White Walls", one of the most intense and epic progressive metal suites I've heard in my life. It has a lot of the band's heavy potential with Rogers' screaming having some lashing emotion. Then after the 5-minute mark, the softer progressive tendencies appear once more for a couple minutes. After singing clean vocals one last time here, he begins yelling "We will be remembered for this!", followed by a towering breakdown as he screams, "WHITE WALLS!!" 4 times. The last few minutes is so majestic, with the band unleashing all of their power before closing the album with a piano outro.
Creatively, Between the Buried and Me has made a progressive metal journey as impressive as other albums like Mastodon's Leviathan and Dream Theater's Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory. Colors is the album where the band truly discovers themselves after subtle hints from previous albums. BTBAM now has a clear portrait in the progressive hall of fame with Colors, one of the greatest and most important metal works of the 21st century. BTBAM forever!
Favorites: Sun of Nothing, Ants of the Sky, Prequel to the Sequel, White Walls
Genres: Metalcore Progressive Metal
So... 5 tracks in under 40 minutes. I guess this can kinda be considered an EP, being only half as long as A Dawn to Fear. It looks as if The Raging River was created as the then-unknown third nearly 40-minute disc for A Dawn to Fear, but and it certainly sounds that way too. This EP can be considered both a perfect post-sludge continuation to A Dawn of Fear and a look-back at their magnum opus Somewhere Along the Highway. Even the order of songs is kinda similar while staying new!
"Three Bridges" starts experimental, but then it builds up to epic post-sludge Cult of Luna fans want. The twists and turns that combine heaviness and emotion just continues rolling. "What I Leave Behind" fills your heart with pain and despair in sludgy destruction.
"Inside of a Dream" is a short pretty ballad with nice ambience. Mark Lanegan, known as a former member of Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age does great soft clean vocals. "I Remember" is another epic-sounding song with better riffs and amazing vocals. The finale epic "Wave After Wave" does exactly what the title says; hit you with wave after wave of massive flowing transcendence. An epic climax of weaving instrumentation fills up the last few minutes, keeping up the band's lucky album-ending streak.
All in all, Cult of Luna have released another perfect energetic release. You can play A Dawn to Fear and The Raging River back-to-back, or listen to the EP on its own, whichever seems better for each fan. Feel the rage!
Favorites: "Three Bridges", "I Remember", "Wave After Wave"
Genres: Sludge Metal Post-Metal
I've seen all I need to see, I've heard all I've need to heard, but this album...is not what I needed. So why am I here? Oh yeah, to complete my journey through February's featured releases before I take a break from reviewing.
For one thing, I don't think this album is even metal despite the band's experimental-sludge roots. This is more electronic and far less guitars, and one outside review referred to this album as "death industrial and power electronics". Anyone seeing that kind of description and expecting industrial death metal and electronic power metal would not get what they expected or wanted.
Yes, all this album is just electro-industrial drone, but there's still a bit of metal in one of the songs, "The City is Shelled" with its heavy riffing. That one could work as part of the Invader Zim soundtrack, much better and doomier than that so-called "Doom Song".
And yes, the background shrieking is annoying and sounds tortured in a way that's torturing me. The atmosphere helps get the heavy darkness flow but it still doesn't help make the slow agony more tolerable. Honestly, at this point, I just don't want my ears bleeding from this piercing drone noise. I think it's great that I'm gonna be taking a break from reviewing after this because then my eardrums can rest and heal from this dissonant damage. I've seen and heard enough....
Favorites (only one): "The City is Shelled"
Genres: Drone Metal
ACK!!! This is another example of non-melodic metalcore being mixed with grindcore, death metal's Horde sibling! You know what elements grindcore has: songs are mostly around two minutes long or shorter, and filled with the noise of heavily distorted guitars, bass in max-overdrive, high-speed drums, and wide-range growls/screams. Those elements really do make a beehive that could hit me with hundreds of bee stings, with only two songs being over 4 minutes long. Besides being too hardcore for my mostly melodic mind, the title has really triggered me, Drink Bleach Live Forever. IS THAT A F***ING JOKE?!?! People think bleach makes you live forever or cure autism. WRONG!! I have autism, which by the way, is more than a disorder, it's a way of life! And don't you know drinking bleach can cause you to, I don't know, DIE?!? So please, STOP IT, OK?!
"Headless" starts the chaos in a somewhat tolerable level, the extreme insanity is more killer than repulsive, unlike what comes next... "Mothra: the Biggest Moth of All" brings to mind the Godflesh song "Mothra", except this is as dangerous as that moth monster. "The One-Eyed Clown Car" can really scare children, both the title and song.
"150 Degrees in the Shade" sears all the way through but in a way that sets fire to my ears. I could feel my eardrums melting! "Bio-Feedback" continues the torturous chaos again with tons of heaviness and feedback but it's mixed with a few small softer wacky moments that puts them in the same decent level as The Dillinger Escape Plan. "Heatstroke" is a song that almost gave me a stroke just from listening to it. I gotta get out of there before I suffer DEATH BY CORE!!!
I'll say it again, I'M NOT INTO THE INTENSE GRIND-METALCORE!! The intensity is strange and can make your ears implode, and I'm sure autistic people would be offended by the title. Maybe the songs would fit well together as a 16-minute suite. This album is better listened by fans of grindcore and non-melodic metalcore. Enjoy the bee stings....
Favorites: "Headless", "Bio-Feedback"
Genres: Grindcore Metalcore
Riot (V) has always powered up their riff machinery, with its velocity inspiring the development of speed metal. It is quite common to view Thundersteel as the older brother of Judas Priest's Painkiller in the kick-A aggression family. It brings complexity to their own genre that would inspire thrash's development. Thundersteel is the half-tank half-robot warrior standing tall to face enemy ground, while Painkiller is the aluminum knight riding a flying dragon motorcycle and taking to enemy skies.
1988 was a year when metal was emphasized on image, so Riot would be known more as a relative to those glam b****rds Motley Crue. However, their music is way related to Judas Priest. Tony Moore's high banshee-like vocals is what keeps the tank-robot warrior at berserk aggression with a gun powerful enough to blast off heads of enemies, leaving the survivors frightened. Mark Reale, the longest-standing member of the band until his 2012 passing (RIP), uses his guitar to power up the weapon to be used like a boss. Bobby Jarzombek's drumming charges up the robot's life power. Don Van Stavern keeps the tank wheels turning with his wicked bass.
This metal battle from one of the metal gods begins with the h*lla fast title track, which places the band as a friendly rival to Judas Priest. Same with the memorable "Fight or Fall". The Deep Purple-rivaling "Sign of the Crimson Storm" has monstrous riffs and melodic screams that are a true sign of heavy metal.
"Flight of the Warrior" continues the band's fight-and-flight attitude with memorable choruses, amazing leads, and fast riffs that sound close to speed metal. "On Wings of Eagles" sounds like what Metallica could've done in the earlier days of Kill 'Em All, but with better production. Continuing at warp-speed is "Johnny's Back", a fun anthem of rebellion that would have you running from this Johnny dude, whoever he is.
The heavy power ballad "Bloodstreets" would inspire some of Manowar's ballads and shows that there's a soft heart within the warrior's steel body. Then here are the last two speedy highlights, starting with "Run for Your Life", a crushing higher-tempo track with great guitar leads and a true charming chorus, changing the vocals back and forth from low to high, inspired by Dio at that time. "Buried Alive (The Tell Tale Heart)" is a progressive epic that would inspire some longer songs by Crimson Glory. An odd intro with clean somber guitar is followed by brilliant soloing that Mark Reale could do with both hands (as talented as Tony Iommi). After that mind-blowing 3-minute intro, there a slow evil-ish groove influenced by the NWOBHM of Iron Maiden and Angel Witch. Amazing epic!
In conclusion, this masterpiece is a turning point in metal history that deserves a whole lot of listening. Fans of melodic speed/power metal should get tight jeans to wear and cover their a***s, and go on a journey for that album. Fans of traditional heavy metal should get the album to keep their metalhead reputation of glory. Fans of thrash would enjoy the attitude. And you'll definitely love this if you're a fan of bands like Judas Priest, Manowar, and Iron Maiden. The power of heavy metal is alive, thanks to the fully-charged tank-robot warrior whose name is.... THUNDERSTEEL!!
Favorites: "Thundersteel", "Fight or Fall", "Flight of the Warrior", "Run for Your Life", "Buried Alive (The Tell Tale Heart)"
Genres: Heavy Metal
This album I've chosen as my next one to review because of both continuing to revisit bands from before my metal interest completely and to practice reviewing a heavy metal album before another one that is Riot's Thundersteel. I'm surprised that of all the Metallica albums I could've reviewed, the one I picked was one of their more controversial albums Reload! Eh, that's OK, I had quite a...history with one of the songs here.
This kind of controversy started with its slightly older recorded twin Load, due to a very different direction. Reload contains songs that were recorded in the Load sessions, but end up having their own album. However, it sounds like an album on its own because unlike its bluesy brother, Reload has more of a classic hard rock-inspired sound.
The first few songs are ones I don't think would make good highlights, except the first song "Fuel". This opening track is one of the best of the album, the fastest and heaviest of the bunch, before the album's hard rock downfall... "The Memory Remains" sounded great when I first heard it on the radio over 8 years ago, and I gave it a few listens since then, but now? That song's already starting to bore me, probably because it's a few times TOO F***ING MANY!! The melodic moaning by Marianne Faithfull is really annoying me now. I guess while there are some songs out there I like for historical value, one of them would have its appeal worn out so quickly. "Devil's Dance" is a groove track that is too repetitive. That one was played live in 1995 before it even made it to this album. "Unforgiven II" is a ballad known as part of the band's "Unforgiven" trilogy. It was also covered by my YouTube pen pal as one of his last videos before his indefinite hiatus. Unfortunately, there's nothing special about it. It's just classic hard rock, and did I mention it's A F***ING BALLAD!? Sorry, dude...
It's not until "Better Than You" when the album goes much better than those previous 3 tracks. This one is so d*mn good with a great chorus and excellent false ending. The vocals are in great aggression. "Slither" follows with nice midpaced riffing. "Carpe Diem Baby" is as great of a highlight as those previous two tracks, but in a more elaborate level. Seize the day!! "Bad Seed" is faster in the drums and bass and tuned down to drop D-flat, I believe. "Where the Wild Things Are" is good but not better enough, due to the structure being too intricate and complex for their standards.
"Prince Charming" is a total winner, having the best riffing in the entire album. Unfortunately, a couple more fillers come starting with "Low Man's Lyric". It's very repetitive, the violins are useless, and the lyrics are some of their lowest. "Attitude" is really bad, the worst of the album, despite heavy aggression. Please skip that one. "Fixxxer", however, is the perfect ending, with catchy riffs, and interesting bridge, and one of the best solos here. Sadly it can't reach the greatness of their signature song "Master of Puppets".
So in the end, Reload is a solid classic hard rock/metal album that is slightly good but of course never at the heights of their thrashier material. If you're into this album's kind of sound and its companion Load, then you'll surely like Reload. But if you prefer to go for all-out thrash, you've come to the right band but the wrong album....
Favorites: "Fuel", "Better than You", "Slither", "Carpe Diem Baby", "Prince Charming", "Fixxxer"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Who knew a collection of unreleased tracks throughout a band's history can be so illuminating of the band's sound? That's the case for The Lost Children, Disturbed first compilation album, containing B-sides from the era of their first 5 albums!
Disturbed is a band that stands out from the rest of the 21st century alt-metal pack because of their sense of danger and diversity. The band faces their risks head-on with pounding metal craft as a result guaranteed to fill arenas. The Lost Children has made their history much clearer, also doing the same with the far memories of me and my brother listening to this band and others of the genre.
Hell's gates are opened with the beginning track "Hell" with guitarist Dan Donegan performing inventive background electronics. This masterful mix that is integrated is a trademark blend for the band, rolling along with the deadly drumming of Mike Wengren and bouncing bass from John Moyer. David Draiman sings his ravaging hooks and intense roars that highlight the chorus ("Burning now I bring you Hell"). "A Welcome Burden" (from the Dracula 2000 soundtrack) is a real punisher, though the verses sound reggae-ish. "This Moment" is a killer song from the Transformers movie soundtrack and end credits, possibly inspiring the heaviness of In This Moment. "Mine" is the true highlight for the compilation. After a bit of slow piano, the starts building up in darkness and samples before a death-ish march into the violent yet melodic mind of Draiman.
"Old Friend" has eerie synth harmonics performed by Donegan, along with vicious vocals in one of the best choruses by the band. The hauntingly hypnotic "Monster" eventually leads in to Donegan's fast and furious soloing. "Run" will have you running through the song's madness. "Leave It Alone" is a weak song to be left alone.
"Two Worlds" has their signature formula that would inspire a bit of Trivium's Vengeance Falls, an album Draiman produced. For the song "God of the Mind", what a haunting coincidence that I'm reviewing a song from the film Valentine on Valentine's Day! A good song I don't mind, but once again those reggae-ish verses are there. "Sickened" has dark melody. "Parasite" is pretty awesome, one of the best here!
"Dehumanized" is the only B-side from their second album Believe, with inhuman riffing harmonic rampage. The previously unreleased "3" was released to benefit the West Memphis Three, who were guilty of murder and condemned with no evidence. Well that's it for the original songs, all that's left is a couple solid covers (far better than that U2 cover as a hidden track in Asylum), starting with "Midlife Crisis", originally by Faith No More, adding a metallic edge to the original sound that they're imitating. "Living After Midnight" is a f***ing cool rendition of a Judas Priest song, beginning with the drum intro of "Painkiller", though it would be great if they covered that song too.
The Lost Children is a compilation, but should be considered an actual studio album because many of the B-sides kick a** and shows the band's power that they already had since The Sickness. Though some songs could've been done better....
Favorites: "Hell", "This Moment", "Mine", "Old Friend", "Monster", "Two Worlds", "Parasite", "Living After Midnight"
Genres: Alternative Metal
It wasn't just Linkin Park that my brother and I were listening to in our alt-metal phase back then, another one of those bands is Chicago rock band Disturbed! OOH-WAH-AH-AH-AH!! With recognizable growls like that, along with bass and drums more powerful than a dozen kicks in the b*lls, they managed to headline more tours than any band would ever dream of doing. Asylum was released in 2010, but did they end up going experimental like Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns released that year?! NOPE!!
Disturbed's sound is a harshly rapid move into the pure darker rock/metal side with content mostly consisted of heartbreak and society's downfall. They've covered this style in 5 consecutive albums, far more than Linkin Park did in their first two. That's where some things get problematic...
Don't expect the first track "Remnants" to be a short nu metal track like Linkin Park's "One Step Closer". This opener is really just a weak disappointing instrumental. Sure they can be capable of showing their instrumentation, but this intro just doesn't work here, despite its rock inspirations. It's just pale filler, the weakest link of the album besides what would occur in the end. Fortunately, the title track has the alt-metal instrumentation to expect from the band, the true starting song of the album! David Draiman's first words here are a passionate shout of "Release me!" I actually like this song much more now than when I listening to the band 9 years ago, probably because the heaviness I can definitely tolerate much more. The hook is worth repeated listens; "And the loneliness is killing me!" A hard-hitting radio single! “The Infection” is another favorite song in this album. It really flashbacks to the early 2000s of their album Believe and Linkin Park's Meteora, worth many spins. It's more forgiving, and the instrumentation harkens to the Meteora song "Figure.09", only with no rapping and instead powerful singing and guitar shredding to have you headbanging along. Classic alt-metal with an emotional edge! “Warrior” is stuck in an unlikable loop for me. It tries to revive the 2000 rap/nu metal aspect of The Sickness and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory, but this trying attempt of resurrection ends up in miserable failure. However, that song has a fast pace and a warlike feel. The album's first single "Another Way to Die" is also stuck in the middle for a Disturbed track. It sounds more like a PSA against global warming fitting for the oil spill in Mexico at that time, and basically a straight-up outtake from Ten Thousand Fists.
Back to the (he)art of headbanging, "Never Again" has lyrical concepts such as the Israel-Iran conflict and the Holocaust from World War II. The political commentary is much better than that of the previous track, and the verse has some of the most inspired lyrics, though the chorus needs some fixing. The middle track of the album should've been another perfect track, but "The Animal" sounds too much like it should've been part of the Twilight Eclipse soundtrack, which by the way, is filled with just alt-rock singles. That chorus is just so cr*ppy. "Crucified" does nothing to regain the band's strength and just drifts on with nothing to do. While I feel bad for Draiman's pain and loss of relationship in the lyrics, the track is so slow and long for alt-metal and just an uninspired disappointment. "Serpentine" immediately takes me back to the bad-a** action, starting with opening riffing reminding some of Sevendust at that time. Pounding drums and heavy guitars continue inducing headbanging. The only small problem is the uninspired lyrics, specifically the opening verse that sounds like Draiman wrote it in his teens as an angsty men. The grand instrumentation makes up for that.
Almost breaking my focus is a baby crying at the start of "My Child", but the song itself starts with viciously emotional instrumentation in this song with the darkest essence of the album. The emotional lyrics cover the true story of Draiman's girlfriend's accidental pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. The track ends with a heart monitor on flatline (another album to add to my "Heartkiller" list). The most chillingly psychological song here! "Sacrifice" has one of the best solos of alt-metal lasting 30 seconds. Something I've been waiting for throughout the album that never disappoints, though the rest does. "Innocence" is a true headbanger to end the main part of the album. Drilling beats and haunting vocals end the main album with heaviness instead of a ballad. Well unless you count the hidden track after one and a half minutes of silence which is a cover of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". F*** that cover, it's too weak and pointless to review! I won't go into the live versions of "Down with the Sickness" or "Stricken" either. They're awesome classic songs by the band but I wanna save my comments for the original songs if I get to the albums they're in, like in a compilation album or something, but for now that would be the B-side collection The Lost Children.
5 albums on, Disturbed continue their sound that is perfected in some songs, with this album going deeper into hard rock. The instrumentation is what keeps them stable. The humor of the band's earlier albums is gone, replaced with more serious songs of death, darkness, and depression, which is good for this album and Indestructible, but often comes out as uninspired. Not even most of this album's singles could have the originality they need. Still, Asylum is a great album with memorable riffs and lyrics. Another chapter for Disturbed's saga that could've had a little more true greatness....
Favorites: "Asylum", "The Infection", "Never Again", "Serpentine", "My Child", "Sacrifice", "Innocence"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Linkin Park was a band with elements of many genres combined into one back then. Turntable scratching, heavy yet simple riffing, big bass bursts, metalcore screaming, and fast meaningful rapping are all combined into their modern popular style of nu metal. They released their breakthrough debut Hybrid Theory, and they continued what they had in their greater second effort Meteora! This album is in some ways a sequel to Hybrid Theory. Just like that debut, Meteora is around 37 minutes long with 12 songs (this album has an intro that doesn't count), each at a length range from two and a half minutes to slightly over three and a half. However, each song continuously blends into one another, much more than their debut. You might be annoyed if you just wanna hear one song, but it's great because it sounds like a concept album to me.
Basically, they're on the opposite side from System of a Down when it comes to alt-metal creativity. They're still in their own box, lacking any bridges extended with soloing. The band members can be so modest, not showing off their playing abilities. The stronger points are the good drumming and, of course, the vocals. Mike Shinoda continues his incredible poetic rapping and also put the songs together well as co-producer, while Chester Bennington has great singing range (RIP, my great dude). This album is pretty great, slightly better than Hybrid Theory while still not pushing the envelope a lot, and I'm almost completely over my pre-real-metal days of this band.
The "Foreword" is a short unnecessary intro, but a neat start. "Don't Stay" is the real opening song with great heaviness. This is another song where Brad Delson tunes down to drop B tuning (also used in the debut's "With You" and "Runaway", I think), instead of the usual E-flat/drop D-flat (to appear later), and it's great! Chester does an awesome mix of singing and screaming. The scratching is awesome as well. "Somewhere I Belong" is more melodic with incredible emotion. There's powerful guitar along with great vocals alternating between rapping and singing. The lyrics are a bit forced and unable to flow well, but the song is still awesome. "Lying From You" has the best guitar riffing here with greatly intense sound. However, Mike's rapping seems to spike in tone which is annoying. So are the otherwise cool bass bombs. "Hit the Floor" is also annoying in the vocals, but Chester's smooth singing in the last line of the chorus is greatly performed. The guitars explode but never beyond its simple point. A low point in this album...
However, "Easier To Run" has slower drama. Chester sings in beautiful peace, and the same can be said for Mike's rapping. The guitars have nice flow. The drum beat is interestingly single yet having some complexity. Everything is put together without being forced. "Faint" is a sudden change of mood that can get you pumping and jumping. The drums are faster with nice guitar layers, though not reaching its strong point until the bridge. Great single! "Figure .09" begins with interesting turntabling and tapping, and the guitars stay solid. Mike's rapping starts smoothing in the verses until the intense bridge with Chester screaming. Pretty good! "Breaking the Habit" is a step towards their later material, with the vocals being only Chester's singing with more emotion, along with digital effects. Excellent single, but not enough to make the high-quality half.
"From the Inside" is not the most popular song of the album, but my absolute favorite here. This song takes on a heavier side of rock, as Chester sings smoothly in the verses (along with Mike's rapping), gets coherently stronger in the chorus, and finally reaching the repetitive yet good brutal bridge (in the same level as the "SHUT UP!!" bridge from "One Step Closer". The guitar is not really the best, but everything else makes up for it. "Nobody's Listening" is a different departure from their earlier material. It opens with a strange Eastern flute loop and programmed beat. The lyrics are great, though the song is too experimental for my interest. Speaking of experimentation, "Session" is a two-minute digital-sounding interlude with nice piano and scratching from Joe Hahn. It's this album's "Cure for the Itch"! "Numb" is the second-best song saved for last, and probably their most successful song ever! The song can be found anywhere in the public, and even my friends from the outside world like it. Chester does melodic singing throughout the verses and chorus while getting rough in the bridge. The piano is awesome. The guitar sounds weak, but I don't care. "Numb" is Linkin Park's ultimate anthem!
All in all, Meteora is a slightly better effort by the ultra-popular Linkin Park, thanks to powerful guitar, strong lyrics, great vocals, and NOT the limited uniformity. Once again I enjoy all 5 singles along with 3 other songs. The only weak songs are the promo single "Lying From You" and the remaining 3 songs (4 with the "Foreword"). Sadly, all albums after would not have as much heaviness as this album and Hybrid Theory. If you love Hybrid Theory, you can't miss Meteora. Might not sound the best, but it's worth it....
Favorites: "Don't Stay", "Somewhere I Belong", "Easier to Run", "Faint", "From the Inside", "Numb"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Justin Broadrick is very underrated in the metal scene. He's one of the contributing inventors of 3 different genres; grindcore, industrial metal, and post-metal. How did he contribute to those genre inventions, you may ask? Well for grindcore, he played guitar for grindcore pioneers Napalm Death for a few demos, one of those demos becoming side A of their debut Scum. After leaving that band, he began experimenting with music that was atypical for metal at that time. He wanted to create something out of the genres and bands he loved, including the hardcore of Discharge, the crust of Doom, the anarcho-punk of Crass, the industrial of Throbbing Gristle, the noise of Swans, and the post-punk of Killing Joke. This mix became prominent in his project Head of David, the first ever band of both industrial metal and post-metal! At the same time, Justin has his own project going on with G.C. Green and Paul Neville. Originally named Fall of Because after a Killing Joke song, the name was later changed to Godflesh.
It's a little cliché for the very first release of a project to be self-titled, but that doesn't matter. The Godflesh EP was groundbreaking at that time for setting up a new genre that's slower and gloomier than even doom metal. Justin Broadrick was inspired by the cold bleak atmosphere of his home town Birmingham, similar to the city's most famous band Black Sabbath, but Godflesh went far ahead with their influences. In the 70s and 80s, almost every metal band had set up an entryway for new genres to be formed. Besides Black Sabbath, the hard rock of Deep Purple would inspire the heavy metal of Judas Priest who would inspire the NWOBHM/speed metal of Raven, Iron Maiden, and Accept that would inspire the thrash metal of Metallica and Slayer that would inspire death metal, grindcore, and black metal, thus forming the extreme metal umbrella together with the slow doom metal of Candlemass who would inspire Godflesh to reverse those standards. Godflesh focuses on the heavy groove dissonance of industrial/noise masters at its bleakest. No electronic-dance sh*t, just the heaviness of dissonant bass and downtuned guitar. How else can you define industrial metal?
Think about this further in the opening "Avalanche Master Song" which has lyrics of strong hate and a pondering bass groove as its main role unlike other metal bands accompanied by guitar feedback and a programmed marching rhythm. That f***ing groove has practically invented groove metal, inspiring Pantera to drop their glam act, Sepultura to add more groove to their thrash, and the alt-noise-metal band Helmet to be formed. Then we head to the hardcore-sounding "Veins". Then the doomy "Godhead" shows the band in creepy filthy gloomy sludgy agony. They've surpassed Black Sabbath by many miles and would break ground for new subgenres to come in the 90s with more focus on heaviness and groove, instead of speed and melody that's completely absent here.
Next track "Spinebender" focuses on creative beats and dissonance that might bring discomfort to anyone including classic metalheads. Once again, "Weak Flesh" shows Broadrick's Discharge-like hardcore roots with a more "p*ssed" faster pace while having the atypical vibe. Wait a minute... "Godhead", "Weak Flesh"... That's it! That's how they got their name, to mix sludgy doom and hardcore in an industrial sound. Glad they aren't named "Weakhead", lol. "Ice Nerveshatter" has hip-hop beats that actually sound excellent. Hip-hop was like the Voldemort of metal at that time, but Godflesh killed that taboo and showed us that mix isn't that bad in their first 5 full albums.
Speaking of full albums, the 1990 reissue extends the EP into kind of a full album with two long remixes from the Streetcleaner album, "Wounds" and "Streetcleaner 2". Both of those remixes show some of Broadrick's hip-hop roots that were scornful from metalheads at that time, along with his influences from Swans in a different perspective of devastated reality. You can also hear a bit of the solid vocal aggression to be delivered in the Streetcleaner album, more aggressive than the EP where the music has spoken.
Godflesh, both the band and their self-titled EP, was a new beginning for metal. Initially, it wasn't strongly received and still in the underground, but it marked a revolutionary path setting to Streetcleaner that would change metal history forever. This masterpiece of an EP and Head of David back then were a taste of the industrial metal future!
Favorites: "Avalanche Master Song", "Godhead", "Weak Flesh", "Ice Nerveshatter"
Genres: Industrial Metal
What's this? A Russian-singing Finnish doom band?? This is something I haven't even thought existed until a recent recommendation! Sure this idea might seem a bit weird but it evolved into an entire concept with the members using Lopashnikov guitars (made out of shotguns) and basses with only one string, along with gas masks from soviet riots sold as their own merch. This soviet fury has only just started with their debut which some might see this band KYPCK (pronounced Kursk) as deserving of being a best-selling though they haven't gotten to that level of super-popularity (yet). Now just a little note before we go further; I know nothing about the Soviet Union and I'm not related to the union in any way. I'm just a metalhead in his 20s from a different land reviewing an entirely different album. So I'll try to interest both Soviet and non-Soviet audiences with some things that might please one but not the other, so take some of the reference I'm gonna make with a grain of salt or pepper. Like I said, KYPCK is a Finnish band with their concept being centered around the USSR, giving the union a bit of outer spotlight. How astounding does that sound?! While mostly associative in the music, Erkki Seppänen does impressive vocals (with a funny accent) and lyrics (with a few syntax mistakes) that sometimes also follow the theme and showcase his vast Russian knowledge after working in the Finnish embassy there. He has even added details of Russian folklore and quotes from well-known Russian poet Lermontov. This unusual presentation and lyrics have also been influenced fellow Russian bands like hard rockers Gorky Park for a full-on Russian rock/metal experience.
The lyrics still maintain the expected doom drama but in a simple down-to-earth twist suiting the concept; the hard pain and emotion is carried over to the Russians under the reign of Stalin, never portrayed insultingly. Sadly, even they're good at their Russian, they're apparently not that great at their English with the translations, besides those syntax mistakes, being too bleak, literal, and losing quite a bit of emotional impact in the content. I could listen to this album without the English lyrics and be able to get in some good imagination. Yes, it's sad when a foreign-sung album doesn't have as much as power in the English lyrics, but it's still perfect, so yeah... Cherno (Black) is hard to fully describe stylistically. When Daniel recommended this to me, he said it's "for fans of Type O Negative, Crowbar & Triptykon." He might be right there with the raspy vocal melodies, but for my ears, I would replace Triptykon with the Finnish melodic gothic/doom of Charon and Swallow the Sun and the slower ballads of post-Overcome All That Remains, mixed with Black Sabbath-inspired sludge to please fans of that kind of style with frantic melody and groove for a bit of accessibility. KYPCK offers a perfectly armored heavy formula that is simple yet effective. While following the usual mundane verse-chorus structure, all parts in each song are given an important effect for attention thereby sounding fantastic and climatic and twisted events and traditions into something fresh and not reanimated.
"Gidrolokator" (Depth Finder) is the intro where I find the depth foreshadowed for the incoming album. Then the heavy doom rolls in with a bit of Russian folk in "Rozhdestvo v Murmanske" (Christmas in Murmansk). The standout "Predatel" (Traitor) can definitely been seen as a doom hero, not a doom traitor. The clean passages in "1917" are OK but they feel kinda misplaced. Still doesn't put any dents in the album's perfection though.
"Chernaya Dyra" (The Black Hole) is a heavy doomy highlight never sounding forced, unlike the guy having to play Russian roulette in the ending sound sample. With that said, "Stalingrad" is a killer single. While not as much of a standout as the previous track, it's definitely a song to imagine. Basically, it is set in a time where even a slight suggestion against Stalin could get someone sentenced to death, and anyone who reports said offender can get rewarded, so with neighbors and even family members getting each other putting into a death sentenced made things unsafe. The person whose perspective tells the tale was reported by his son to the authorities. Try picturing the lyrics you've read in your mind and listen to the song from the beginning door knocks to the "black marus (boots)" march of the chorus, and finally the nocturnal clean verses. Pretty vivid, huh? "Ne Prosti" (Do Not Forgive) is filled with gothic doom that might've inspired Paradise Lost to move back to their similar sound a year later.
"Ocherednye" (The Usual) is anything but usual. It's a severely brutal doom highlight! "Odin Den iz Zhizni Yegora Kuznetsova" (One Day in the Life of Yegor Kuznetsov) is the most problematic of the bunch. While fans of Black Sabbath's material from 50 years ago might appreciate the influence, the slightly more upbeat vibe of the song is out of place for the second-to-last song of the album and breaks the mood they've worked so hard on. This has caused my rating percentage for this album to be 96%. "Demon" makes up for that as a grand building closer of tragedy and drama, leading up to the ending of stifled cries over a faint hum.
You still got your hand of doom? Place your handprint on this CD and give it a listen for a sound that some listeners call the "Russian-Finnish Crowbar". It's so memorable, enjoyable, and can be listened to on the daily. Even with its flaws, almost every moment is well-composed enough to overpower those defects. Yeah, Soviet doom!!
Favorites: "Predatel" (Traitor), "Chernaya Dyra" (The Black Hole), "Ne Prosti" (Do Not Forgive), "Ocherednye" (The Usual), "Demon"
Genres: Doom Metal
I have armed and readied myself for another battle through one of the most evil sinister genres in the music realm, black metal! Unleashing an awe-striking onslaught assault, Enslaved's debut Vikingligr Veldi (Viking Empire) is a 50-minute offering of 5 epics, all 11 minutes each except one that is 6 minutes long (simple math). This album is definitely not for everyone, instead for anyone (like myself) who likes intense epic chronicles or Viking/black metal fans (which I'm not). The pieces are placed together in a spectacular debut! The tempo and riffs don't change a lot, which means sections might stay the same for an insanely long time without losing ambient atmosphere. The album still has fury wilder and heavier then even Burzum, with unrestrained aggression. The long compositions are never boring, end properly, and leave you hungry for more.
Brilliant songwriting (all in different Scandinavian languages), great production, and inspiring musicianship blend together perfectly. There's an overpowering wall of sound that is unbelievable for high-school/college-age trio at that time. Also at the top of the game is the production staff including Enslaved themselves, Pytten, Padde (Old Funeral), and Davide Bertolini. As a result, the production shines loud and clear, except for the vocals that are muffled but still having aggression coming from the depths of Hell. This is what 90s black metal production should be instead of just annoying reverb with buzzing guitars and no bass.
"Lifandi Liv Undir Hamri" (Living Life Under the Hammer) is a long beginning of these black metal Vikings' journey. It goes fast with aggressive moments worth headbanging, while having slow breaks with harmonic bass. "Vetrarnótt" (Winternight) picks up melody from buzzsaw guitars, speeding through the typical black metal blasting. It would be OK if it wasn't outside my non-satanic comfort zone.
There are the usual black metal tremolo guitars, drums, bass, and vocals in "Midgards Eldar" (Fires of Midgard), but it took 3 minutes to build up the instrumentation during an intro filled with acoustic and epic synths before unleashing the chaos.
Taking fast speed through wild display is "Heimdallr", the sole 6 minute track of the album and the angriest cut, re-recorded from the "Yggdrasill" demo. An instant classic for fans of black metal! The classy instrumental closer "Norvegr" (Norway), named after the band's homeland, showcases what the band could do without using any vocals. You might just call it the "Viking black metal Crusade"!
Vikingligr Veldi needs enough attention for appreciation. Pretty much every song has high skill, passion, and timeless atmosphere. If you can't decipher the Scandinavian-language lyrics, that's fine. There's always lyrics sites and a rare special edition booklet. Though I'm not too crazy for Viking/black metal, this is one of the best of that genre!
Favorites: "Lifandi Liv Undir Hamri", "Midgards Eldar", "Heimdallr"
Genres: Black Metal
The Chronicles of Eden Part 2 is the second compilation album by Edenbridge (first of course being The Chronicles of Eden). Throughout these two discs, you'll find many different songs from their previous 5 albums falling into a few categories; successful singles, stunning epics, and rare acoustic bonus tracks, all filled with great dynamic discoveries for any symphonic power metal fan new to this band, or for metalheads who moved away from the genre but want to rediscover (such as myself). This album totally plays out like an epic musical/movie/book story which I'll write as I write this review. Let's dive into the epicness, shall we?
The story begins with the band's notable track "Higher", and that's the perfect start to the compilation because it's absolutely suitable for when you want a little taste before going further, a fast (but not speedy) track with addictive melody! This song works as the theme to this entire story as I introduce you all to the main character, Shiantara the Princess of the Tauerngold kingdom, who has dreamt of becoming a warrior throughout her 23-year age but everyone thinks that's "too dangerous for a princess".
The next track is the folky dance number "On the Other Side", a festive song before the operatic melancholy that would appear throughout the album, with its acoustic-metallic mix punch. This perfectly fits for the story's medieval setting, specifically right now when a festive dance is happening outside the castle. However, Shiantara stayed in her room just imagining what it would be like to travel to the other side of the land as a warrior. Then there's the heavy riffing and epic symphonics in the song "Shiantara". Sabine Edelsbacher sings her gorgeous melodic vocals, fitting nicely with the speedy verses and stellar chorus. A slight Middle-Eastern atmosphere appears in the verses, reminding me of Kamelot's "Nights of Arabia". Of course we can't forget the incredible skill of Lanvall, especially in the melodic guitar soloing. Here I'll tell you more about Shiantara. She has enjoyed being a princess throughout her time of reign, yet this year she felt tired of the princess life and wanted to become something cooler like a warrior. "Alight A New Tomorrow" is a fantastic song with an impressive chorus and motivational message. Shiantara felt like she wanted to "alight a new tomorrow" by showing the kingdom what a warrior she could be. "Until the End of Time" is a ballad that is apparently a rework of a song by Lanvall and Sabine's acoustic project Voiciano. Starting with acoustic guitar and piano, Sabine sings a great powerful duet with guest vocalist Erik Mårtensson. The electric guitar gives the song extra power. Shiantara decides to join the dance but it's already over. Everyone has left except for one person, a man her age named Erik. They share a slow dance and began developing feelings.
The song "Shadowplay" opens with hard rock-ish guitar riffing similar to Threshold at that time. This is so good because it's the first full song of the first album of the band's second era where the guitars and keyboards are backed up by orchestration. The next morning, her royal family host a shadowplay for the citizens of the kingdom to watch (including Shiantara who is tired of seeing the play every year but had to watch). The shadowplay is about a dragon that roams in the mountain of Diamir, who could only come out of its cave during a solar eclipse because its scales were sensitive to the sun and it doesn't have great night vision. Warriors keep trying to reach the mountain but they kept getting killed by either the dragon or the monsters in the pathways. Shiantara isn't bored anymore, she is inspired to become the warrior she wanted to be!
The epic "The Greatest Gift of All" is so engaging that it feels like 12 minutes have gone by quick, from the melodic guitar intro to the acoustic verses with heavenly vocals, then the grand chorus, and finally, bridges of orchestral drama and heavy action. Lanvall's melodic guitars and Sabine's serene vocals are a match made in metal heaven. So epic! That night, Shiantara's parents (the king and queen) notice her desire to become a warrior, so they gave her one of the king's old swords as a gift for whenever "the time comes". She's extremely grateful about receiving what she thinks is "the greatest gift of all". Then the acoustic title-track of their latest album Dynamind comes, as an "Easter Version", whatever that means. Either way, that track seems pointless to me, but a good addition to the story. Shiantara's father tells her that she may not be ready to become a warrior and slay the mountain dragon, but it takes someone with a real "Dynamind" to attempt such a quest.
"Brothers of Diamir" is a slower paced song that stays beautiful without heading into ballad territory. The next day, the king hears the news that the knight army he has sent for the journey to slay the dragon of Diamir were killed one by one by the monsters in the pathways and the dragon itself, most of whom perished in the Paramount. I don't why the song "Paramount" has the acoustic version in the first disc, but the original is not until the second. Never mind, I'll talk about the original song when we get there. In the meantime, enjoy this not-as-powerful acoustic version. Shiantara's father explains to her a tale of the Paramount, a dangerous side-mountain with so many dangerous monsters that even the strongest knight could be killed, unless they have a real "Dynamind".
Another slow-paced ballad is "Tauerngold", which picks up some speed and darkness in the bridge. Shiantara head in different paths all over the kingdom of Tauerngold to alert people of a special meeting to take place in the royal castle. As Shiantara wanders around the kingdom, she explores different parts of Tauerngold she hadn't before.
The title track of The Bonding is a 15-minute epic, the longest song Edenbridge has ever made, along with being one of their most complex and dynamic. Erik Mårtensson does some singing in the verses as well. However, the 4-minute softer bridge seems too stretched in length and meandering and it makes the more interesting two-minute finale far from reach. That epic would be more epic without that soft section. Once a great amount of the kingdom's population is in the royal castle for a bonding meeting, the king announces that even though it's tough and dangerous to journey through the Paramount and Diamir, it would take a mighty army to make great process and their leader has to be someone with a real "Dynamind", then when announcing who the one with the "Dynamind", he points the Shiantara. She's the Dynamind! Everyone including Shiantara was shocked. They all thought she wasn't ready, but could she actually be those chosen one? Then the king summons his next army of knights for Shiantara to lead into the journey. The secondary leader of the battalion takes off his helmet to bow to the king, and Shiantara was shocked to recognize who that guy is. It's Erik, the young man she danced with the other night and built a crush on! After a moment of hesitation, Shiantara decided she was up for the quest to become a warrior and travel with her new army to slay the mountain dragon. Everyone agreed that it's her time to save the kingdom before the next solar eclipse, and "the time is now!" End of Act 1...
Opening the second disc, "Live and Let Go" mixes highly catchy tendencies with the usual metal heaviness to remind some of Xandria, but with more complex rhythms and a progressive guitar solo both influenced from Dream Theater. Shiantara, Erik, and their knight army ride on their horses, departing from the kingdom and starting their journey, wish everyone in the kingdom wishing them the best of luck.
Another one of the best songs is "Mystic River", a mystical symphonic power metal hit that at one point takes a break for a beautiful dreamy soundscape before unleashing searing guitar soloing. The knights have parked their horses in a horse pen next to a small pier on the Mystic River. They climb aboard a ship and sail over the river.
The softer acoustic/orchestral tracks continue with the "MyEarthDream Suite (For Guitar and Orchestra)", which again isn't so interesting but adds to the story. As some of the knights sail the ship, a few others decide to entertain the group with a bit of lute and violin playing.
The drumming continues its standard fare in the catchy Nightwish-like hit single "The Moment is Now". Suddenly, evil sea monsters attack the ship, and the knights fight them with some of the repeatedly chanting "The moment is now!" A couple knights (NOT Shiantara and Erik) were injured but still living. Once the sea monsters were defeated, they continued sailing the river.
There's a bit of a heavier gothic character in "Skyline's End" while keeping the symphonic/folk tendencies. The knights finally reach the end of the river, get off the ship, and start wandering the land path.
"The Memory Hunter" continues the dashes of Dream Theater with dense rhythms and spacey keyboards. The knights meet the Memory Hunter, a wizard that guards one part of the land path, takes memories from people, and decides whether or not to keep or erase those memories. Shiantara explains that she and the knights are on the way to slay a dragon and save their kingdom, but as it turns out, The Memory Hunter is actually a follower of the dragon. With that, he starts attacking the knights. He is magically invincible and impervious to the knights' attacks and he wipes many knights' memories. Right when Shiantara was about to get hit by his spell, Erik dives in and takes the hit.
"Remember Me" (not to be confused with the song from the Pixar movie Coco) is another great example of mixing symphonic elements with metal and atmospheric keyboards that are never overused. The piano melody sounds really cool! Erik's last words to Shiantara before losing consciousness and memories was "Remember me, warrior princess..." She uses her sword to slice through a tree causing it to fall on the Memory Hunter, trapping him. "Inward Passage" is an interesting segue, but not that much. Shiantara and the remaining knights continue their journey through the dangerous Paramount. The original heavy "Paramount" adds variation to the tempo and the vocal styles of Sabine and the background choir. Various monsters in this hellish hill forest starting attacking the group. Shiantara manage to slay all the monsters, but only after they've already killed all the other knights. The acoustic version of "Higher" is basically similar to slow nightclub piano music, a bit like Nightwish's "Slow Love Slow". This song can be an acoustic reprise to the theme of the story, as Shiantara takes a small rest at the edge of the hill forest wondering if she could continue the journey by herself. Ultimately, she decides that after coming this far, she wasn't gonna give up. So she continued.
"Into a Sea of Souls" continues the usual symphonic power metal greatness, but once again in ballad territory. Shiantara has reached the Sea of Souls. She uses the wood from trees in the forest that were chopped down to make her own small boat and sail the sea. "Bon Voyage Vagabond" continues the sensation of enjoyable escapism. While sailing, Shiantara notices another boat in the distance, she sails towards the other boat, and surprisingly it's Erik! He explains that the Memory Hunter is actually Erik's father! After the Memory Hunter got trapped by that sliced down tree, Erik sliced the tree into another half, setting free the Memory Hunter, who restored Erik's memories and made a deal that Erik would stop Shiantara from reaching Diamir. Shiantara calls Erik a "traitorous vagabond", and with a swift swipe of her sword, she chops Erik's boat in half between his feet, causing him to do the splits and sink down the water, unable to swim up because of his heavy armor. Shiantara felt kinda bad letting Erik drown, but she ain't gonna help a traitor. "Eternity" is the last interlude before the final epic. Shiantara continues sailing the peaceful sea which took a few days to reach the mountain island.
The title track for MyEarthDream is so epic and fitting for the story that I'm gonna describe as I wrap up the story. First, let me just say that track is overall a h*ll of an epic! It kicks off with a killer rhythm intro with symphonic elements, like a more epic Dream Theater's Train of Thought, showcasing the heavier progressive side of Edenbridge in the vocals, choruses, and awesome drums. As those verses and choruses go on, Shiantara, having finally arrived on the mountain island of Diamir, starts climbing the 8km-tall mountain, slaying monsters that get in her way. During Lanvall's masterful classical section and a heavy bridge, Shiantara reaches the cave entrance near the high tip of the mountain and starts climbing down the stairway into the cave. After the guitar soloing finishes and another heavier chaotic bridge begins, Shiantara finally reaches the lair of the dragon of Diamir. She has a bit of a confrontational conversation with the dragon that talks in monstrous growling (performed by bassist Frank Bindig in the growls). She asks why the dragon wants to destroy the kingdom, and he says so he could rule his own land but couldn't because of his sun-sensitive scales and poor night vision, hence why he's waiting for the next solar eclipse. Shiantara and the dragon engage in an epic battle. She couldn't hit the dragon with her sword because of the hard scales, and the dragon shot a fireball hitting her dominant arm. During the final chorus, despite the burning pain, she manages to slice through the cave walls causing the cave to collapse. She manages to convince the dragon to escape the cave if he didn't want to get crushed. The dragon leaves the collapsing cave with Shiantara riding him but forgot about the sun. He growls in pain as his scales start shedding off him and he begins descending. As soon as Shiantara and the dragon are reach the ground, she slices through the dragon's now bare neck, chopping his head off, killing him. She jumps off the dead dragon and carries his head before fainting from exhaustion and pain. This killer epic ends with a final piano outro with the last of Sabine's vocals. Two weeks later, Shiantara wakes up in her bed back in her room of the Tauerngold castle with her parents by her side. They tell her she finally did it, she slayed the dragon and saved Tauerngold, with the king holding the dragon's head as proof. They tell her she can join in the celebration but after a little sleep and drink of water. The king says, "Enjoy your sleep, warrior princess," and that's what she does, with a smile, having achieved her victory. THE END!!
Whew! That was a long story, fitting well as the soundtrack for this incredible epic metal compilation. If you could only afford 6 albums, I suggest buying the excellent Shine, the epic Grand Design, the underrated Aphelion, the amazing duo of Sunrise in Eden and Arcana, and finally this compilation for the best of the latest 5. Now that this second Edenbridge era, what's next in their 3rd era? Probably more ambitious ways to add to their epic sound, maybe also tune down to 6-string D tuning/7-string A tuning. I don't know. Any symphonic power metal fans here like I used to be, enjoy this compilation and its unofficial accompanying story I just made!
Favorites (one per album for each disc): "Higher", "Shadowplay", "The Greatest Gift of All", "Tauerngold", "The Bonding", "Live and Let Go", "Mystic River", "The Moment is Now", "Bon Voyage Vagabond", "MyEarthDream"
Genres: Symphonic Metal
I was once a champion of power metal, but that never went on eternally. Would I return with a potential classic of epic metal (US power/heavy metal)? Would this album live to my epic metal expectations, despite the nudity in the artwork (two barbarian babes near a throne of skulls each wearing nothing but a metal loincloth)? We shall find out...
This album is slightly better than pretty much the only other 2020 Guardians album I've listened to, Nightwish's Human Nature, in every aspect, including the sound, riffs, vocals, and confidence. Sadly, no symphonic orchestra, but thankfully, no orchestra-only tracks! Vocalist Jason Tarpey really lets loose a lot of vocal diversity, which is a boost of benefit for the band and other Guardians bands.
As great as it sounds, "A Face in the Glare" isn't that impressive. I was expecting the opening track to be stronger. However, the title track is excellent, updating the epic metal sound further. "Skullseeker" is another solid effort.
Then we have the breathtaking "War at the Edge of the End", a re-recording of a demo song. The song proves how well Eternal Champion stands out with Tarpey's lyrics and concept that could build worlds at strong points, such as the bad-a** verses. "Coward's Keep" is phenomenal in a way where it respects other bands by not showing off while still sounding cool. "Worms of the Earth" has powerful complex riffing bringing forward great influences from bands like Manilla Road and Sanctuary, all in passion and love to continue US power metal reign all over Earth.
"The Godblade" fits well as a great synth interlude before the album's grand finale. And finally, we come to the album's last and best song, "Banners of Arhai", a slow doomy ballad building up to an emotional ending that sounds it could've been tied to the beginning, hence coming full circle. That song was probably an epic way to make up for 2020 lacking good power metal in the time of an invading virus.
Eternal Champion has made an album that might surely hit many "best of metal" lists and most likely be the best US power metal album of 2020. But I don't quite feel up listening to more of that band because I've been trying to move out of power metal for a long time. Or am I? We'll see after I cross the Edenbridge (hint at a later review)....
Favorites: "Ravening Iron", "War at the Edge of the End", "Coward's Keep", "Banners of Arhai"
Genres: Heavy Metal
Until just recently, I never really had the appeal for industrial metal. I thought it was an overrated mainstream metal genre like alt-metal, with the invasion of bands like Ministry and Rammstein. Now I can see where its heavier background lies, when I was pulled into listening to Strapping Young Lad during my run through Devin Townsend's discography. This band has started my quest to dig into industrial metal's heavier background for bands like Fear Factory and the genre's true pioneers, Godflesh!
But for now, I'm gonna review the Strapping Young Lad albums, starting with this one Alien (the rest would be after I finished reviewing the Devin Townsend albums). Alien is the follow-up to their self-titled comeback album and, unlike other bands' fourth albums, is of higher quality instead of lower. Their extreme industrial metal is punishing!
Kicking off the CD with a bang is the fantastic crushing intro "Imperial". The song features the humans within this machine; drummer Gene Hoglan, guitarist Jed Simon, bassist Byron Stroud, and Devin Townsend who also plays guitars while screaming with a bit of clean vocals. Great start! Following this is the brutal "Skesis" where you can hear Gene's amazing drumming that might've inspired the more metal side of Protest the Hero. The drumming is filled with punishment, no remorse. Finally, the vocals kick in that are amazing as always, along with fast riffs and neat keyboards all over. The song that many people have heard the most is surprisingly the one with swearing in the title and the lyrics, "S***storm". Devin Townsend sounds absolutely p*ssed and determined to stab your eardrums (already done by the music in a way I like). The entirely shouted vocals threaten you with crazy lyrics. The song is fast with good riffs and fantastic keyboards. The choirs diversify this amazing song. Can this album get better?! Yes, with "Love?" This is an absolutely emotional composition of punishing heaviness. Devy's great vocals range from screaming to clean. The guitar, bass, and keyboards are amazing with fantastic lyrics. The best song of this album! Though I'm sure there's at least one or two song by the band that's better...
"Shine" is another song that prevent the quality from going down, crushing you into Hell with riff heaviness and drum insanity. The song keeps you busy and in attention with Devin's maniacal screaming. Once again, the choir in the second half keeps the interesting level high. There's more relentless chaos to come... "We Ride" is a fast riff ride, driving through the well-written lyrics in high gear. Something that makes this song unique for Strapping Young Lad is the amount of soloing, well-performed for listeners' ears. "Possessions" is another major highlight for this album. The lyrics might be corny for other bands, but they fit well with the band's great riffing and crushing drumming. What's fantastic is the choir being more prominently used. The choir isn't underused or overused but just right.
"Two Weeks" is where the album starts... SLOWING DOWN?!? YES!!! BUT FOR ALARM?! NO!! It's Pink Floyd-like well-written slowness! Still there isn't a break in atmosphere, adding to the album's greatness in mellow relaxing form with emotion. The only people who can't deal with this song are either strictly heavy metalheads or anyone wanting to hear the song go 200bpm like All That Remains in their song "Two Weeks" or DragonForce. "Thalamus" returns to the heaviness, and while it sometimes drones on, it's still good. Its diverse effect keeps the album interesting. The last track in real song form is "Zen", bringing back the speed that was missing in the previous two tracks. The great riffing and drumming is impossible to forget. The absolute final track "Info Dump" is a controversial track worth liking or hating. It's a 12-minute ambient track, but it doesn't affect the perfection at all. If you're patient enough to stick around, you would find that there's more than just feedback, instead being a feedback experiment. It's so cool yet scary! It sounds like the feedback has its own beat. Then the feedback stops then comes back differently, getting louder and more distorted. This is SYL's "Elastic"!!
First Strapping Young Lad (and Sphere) album I've reviewed and already I think this is the best of their tenure! It has heavy anger and emotional power. Alien is probably my new best of 2005. No matter the craziness, you must hear this!
Favorites: "Skesis", "Love?", "Shine", "Possessions", "Zen"
Genres: Industrial Metal
Empath is a progressive metal magnum opus that marks the return of the solo Devin Townsend moniker. This album has surpassed Strapping Young Lad's Alien as the best Devin Townsend mindshare. Darkness, humor, comfort, and beauty, are in more creative blend than before. You might think his mind deserves heavy empathy, because believe me, it's a frightening yet beautiful experience I can't forget!
The album is mainly a progressive rock/metal album with skillful music. While the guests include Devin's longtime friends and collaborators, new faces appears including... CHAD KROEGER!!! From NICKELBACK!! The band many metalheads hate the most!! There also transitions through consciousness that only deep listeners can understand.
A choir can be heard straight from the soft intro track "Castaway", and they sure know how to let out their emotion. The second track and first full song "Genesis" continues the emotion with intense metal before taking a break in favor an acoustic soundscape of kittens chasing seagulls. "Spirits Will Collide" sounds reminiscent of the Devin Townsend Band and Project. Same with "Evermore" with a heavy groove vibe in the instrumentation similar to the melodic side of Strapping Young Lad.
"Sprite" burst into excellent old-school prog-rock modal melody. The most metal track here is "Hear Me" with insane drumming by "66Samus" Paulicelli. The guest vocalists in this song are Anneke van Giersbergen and CHAD KROEGER (who can barely be heard). "Why?" is a Disney-ish orchestral ballad twisted by Devin's melodic screaming.
"Borderlands" is an 11-minute epic with some of the most organic moments ever made by Devin. But before this next even bigger epic, comes the short orchestral interlude "Requiem". That big epic is the 23-minute epic "Singularity"!! It is the longest track Devin Townsend has ever made (30 seconds longer than "Arc" from The Hummer), but some CD editions split it into 6 parts: the soft ballad/intro "Adrift", "I Am I" that sounds like a more progressive take on the band I Am I (ZP Theart's band after leaving DragonForce), "There Be Monsters" that returns to the monstrous heaviness of SYL, "Curious Gods" filled with curious progressive wonders, "Silicon Scientists" having scientific guitar work, and "Here Comes the Sun!", the uplifting finale with an awesome brief solo by Steve Vai, the guitarist Devin worked with on Steve's Sex & Religion release that marked the beginning of Devin's career, thus coming full circle (don't worry, there'll be an upcoming album called The Puzzle). Devin's ultimate epic!!
Despite the extreme metal being discarded for the most part, Empath is a bombastic dynamic album for such listeners to have a great time listening to. The album contains everything in Devin's career and then some, having the potential to rise more than those 70s prog rock classics, and even prog metal albums. Not even Opeth's albums can surpass this one as the greatest prog metal album ever released. Devin appeals to the hearts of many prog lovers like me, and hopefully you too. ENJOY!!!
Favorites: "Genesis", "Sprite", "Hear Me", "Borderlands", "Singularity" (complete suite)
Genres: Progressive Metal
You might think I've heard of Devin Townsend as long ago as the era Star Wars was set in and that was what inspired me to dig many great metal musicians, but the truth is, sure I've heard of him, but I've listen to great musicians long ago without ever paying attention to Devin's music. I've only became interested Devin Townsend just this month, and I could finally see the hype! After all that intense reviewing, here I am reviewing his second-latest album, Transcendence, the last album of the Devin Townsend Project, and the true heavy part of the project (after Deconstruction, Epicloud, and Z²). The music sounds like Devin's mid-solo-era prog metal, and even though there's nothing too special, it's still well-made. His classic prog-metal has been made bigger and more conceptual. The album is not as extreme or virtuous as his heavier material, and the vocals and lyrics aren't as their potential best, but this album has certainly never gone down in flames.
The music has the typical progressive metal characteristics like complexity and rhythm structure, but it never has any twists. The keyboards are emphasized for brighter atmosphere. The vocals have good expression but don't stand out. Devin seems to have prioritized his guitar playing over his vocals. Fortunately, Anneke van Giersbergen continues running part of the vocal factory with her beautiful additions on a regular basis. Of course, her vocals don't entirely steal the show, but they make many moments have big impacts. The guitars have heavy crunch and massive power. You can also absorb the slow clean-paced sections. While Devin can do some big shredding, he mostly aims for vibes that aren't melancholic or mysterious. It's all just simple rocky prog metal vibes. He chills out and keeps his ideas simple, writing and playing for music's sake, something most bands don't do. Artists can either be good but also too complex and philosophical for your unprepared brain, or bad but in a cr*ppy way of simplicity that has no meaning. Devin in right in the good middle, staying simple while not too complex or extreme in a way to please all his listeners.
"Truth" (re-recorded from Infinity) proves that with Devin transcending into calmer territory in a more decently epic way than the volatility of the original version. Then instead of leading into a poppy song, it leads to the epic storm that is "Stormbending", the best example of the album's central catchy progressive idea. In fact, it's one of the best of the album! That song summarizes all that I mentioned and some of the more pleasant moments of other Project albums, signifying this album ending the project yet hinting at a new beginning for Devin. This also hints at the similar vibe the later songs would have, blending in for nice standout elements. "Failure" is not a failure, though it can get a little challenging with its complexity.
"Secret Sciences" has nice grooves. "Higher" continues the challenging complexity at higher ground in an almost 10-minute epic, and I mean higher power than some of the other songs in this album.
"Stars" is one of the catchiest songs of the album. Same with the title track, which could've easily been the beginning song for this album. "Offer Your Light" is probably the ultimate standout for this album. The faster speed, keyboards, and Anneke's sweet vocals give the song a power metal feel. "From the Heart" is a soft heartwarming song. The cover of the song "Transdermal Celebration" by Ween (who are best known for their Spongebob soundtrack contributions) is a decent end to this album and the Project.
What we have here is Transcendence, a beautiful progressive metal album with an elegant amount of female vocals. It doesn't strike you with complex evolution, but it can quickly you to enjoy it. Devin is a wise maniac with impressive originality. He's very likeable and not egotistic. While his music might not be for obnoxious teens who care more about rebellion than anything else, or snobs from a higher society, his progressive metal deserves some recognition in the modern society we live in. There are no standards to be set, just simply impressive original music to enjoy!
Favorites: "Truth", "Stormbending", "Higher", "Transcendence", "Offer Your Light"
Genres: Progressive Metal
This is not good. I prefer Ghost slightly over this country cr*p, despite a few songs being decent. I'll never be in the mood for this. F*** the Casualties! I want Devin's metal back!!
There's probably no musician in this world as hard-working as Devin Townsend. He does a lot of perpetual touring while writing and recording killer albums like this double collection Z², both his 17th and 18th albums (not including Strapping Young Lad) in 18 years, and his most ambitious project (within a Project) yet, released only a half-year after the horrid country Casualties of Cool.
This double release actually consists of two different albums; Sky Blue, continuing the epic upbeat sound of the previous Project album Epicloud, and Dark Matters, both musically and conceptually a sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient, continuing the saga of a coffee-demanding alien. The glorious universal choir consists of hundreds of fans participating in both albums. Anneke Van Giersbergen also appeared in both albums, but only in the lead in Sky Blue and part of the choir in Dark Matters. Both albums are good and together making a solid collection, but as a heavier metalhead, I like Dark Matters slightly more, yet both albums have a few moments of disappointment.
Like I said, Sky Blue is the continuation of the huge epic sound of Epicloud, but the pop elements are more emphasized. Poppy guitars, synth melodies, and beautiful vocals make this a pop rock album as opposed to its epic extreme progressive metal counterpart.
Opener "Rejoice" bounces into action with catchy riff hooks and melodic vocals, all in upbeat joy while Devin screams the song title. Even with heavy upbeat riffing, the song still sounds poppy. The album still gets the opener it deserves though. However, "Fallout" is 10 times more bombastic with catchy guitar sugar, the sweet powerful voice of Anneke, the more operatic vocals of Devin, and the universal choir to top it all off. Melodic synths, punchy drums, and warm bass are all combined with the bombastic sound wall built by Devin. "Midnight Sun" is where everything calms down for Devin's soft singing over sweet synths and riffs that are still heavy, all in a more relaxed wall of sound. Anneke and the universal choir are softer as well. This is basically a return to the more ambient progressive side of Devin with epic emotional guitar soloing, greatly picking it all up from Ghost and Epicloud. "A New Reign" focuses on a moody soundscape with spacey synths and vocals, mystical guitar leads, and powerful riffs. Anneke hits a few notes so ridiculously high, probably higher than Devin, proving herself a great addition once again. "Universal Flame" kicks the bombastic level much higher than the earlier songs, with a fantastic intro and the catchiest pop verse with Devin and Anneke in a beautiful duet. The guitar solo is also one of the cleanest uplifting solos he has ever done. With all that and the synths, choirs, and heavy riffs, this song is so epically bombastic, you just gotta hear it!
"Warrior" is more vocal-centric with Anneke once again singing beautiful verses while leading the universal choir in what may be the heaviest song to be considered gospel. The title track of the album is more of a soft electronic-dance track continuing Devin's willing experimentation. Electronic beats and melodies surround soft vocals before a dance-rock chorus where the first half with Devin singing is based on Usher's "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love", and the other half shows Anneke's velvety voice. "Silent Militia" keeps up the heavy electronic cheesiness, sounding similar to a dance-metal cover of what would happen if will.i.am did a cover of Dead or Alive's "Spin Me Round Like a Record". So cheesy yet entertaining, those previous two songs!
"Rain City" is an attempt to recreate the glory of Ocean Machine. Sadly, it's overlong and flow-disruptive. "Forever" is also dull, lacking any good ideas. "Before We Die" picks up the pieces as an upbeat rocker with the universal choir rising over catchy riffs and melodic guitar. It's a great ending song that can pass on as a epic finale, except the last few minutes are just ambience. The choir comes back for the outro "The Ones We Love" which is once again dull.
Despite a few disappointing tracks, mainly in the second half, Sky Blue is a really good album where Devin experiments with mixing heaviness with dance/pop elements and vocals varying between himself, Anneke, and the universal choir. Calm before the storm that is...
Dark Matters! Once again, this heavier album is the sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient, continuing Devin's saga of Ziltoid, a coffee-obsessed alien overlord. Dark Matters keeps up the humor and great music of the fist Ziltoid album, and probably would've been perfect if it wasn't for the concept being more focused on than the actual songwriting. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the humorous concept; Still on the quest for Earth's greatest coffee, Ziltoid takes one of the children of Warrior Princess Blattaria, and is facing off against the War Princess, creating another World War filled with ridiculous fun sound effects. Sadly, the narrative is more dominant than the music, thereby less coherent.
Devin's own vocals in the title track of the double-collection have been dominated by the universal choir that also overpowers the guitar which itself creates unmemorable riffs. In fact, "From Sleep Awake" continues that problem, but fortunately, both the narrative and the music are interesting enough to keep me awake. However, the interesting part of the riffing does not come until midway through "Ziltoidian Empire". Next track "War Princess" has repetitive lyrics, but the riffs vary between spacey and punchy.
One of the two greatest standouts of this album is "Deathray" with Devin's great shouting vocals in this epic track, along with a great chorus, catchy riffs, and silly fun sounds. "March of the Poozers" is one of the greatest blends of epic, extreme, and humorous, in a Samael-inspired industrial extreme metal death march. "Wandering Eye" seems to wander a bit, but still OK. The 8-minute "Earth" is a really good spacey epic with an ambient psychedelic guitar intro with the universal choir used at closer to its best, along with pounding riffs and drilling drums. This bombastic space-epic shows Devin's songwriting perfectly alongside the Peter and the Wolf-inspired conceptual idea.
"Ziltoid Goes Home" is a melodeath/Soilwork-inspired song that can be listened to individually while keeping the story forward. "Through the Wormhole" gets close to completing the story as a dialogue track that I won't spoil here. Continuing the bombastic sound wall once more, "Dimension Z" unleashes the universal choir the last time, performed in the absolute best glory of the entire double-collection. Of course, the Ziltoid story ain't over. Will it continue in a future album? Probably...
Overall, Dark Matters is not without its weak points, yet it flows much better than other albums. Not to mention the good endearing humor! Disappointingly, it's not as great as most other Devin Townsend albums with half of the songs not standing out. The album is still a good unique fun one to listen to and can please fans of heavier music and fun humor. Dark Matters is not for everyone, that's what matters....
In conclusion to this review, Z² is a slight letdown to previous albums, especially Epicloud and Ziltoid the Omniscient, yet those two albums, the good Sky Blue and the fun Dark Matters are enjoyable despite some flaws. It's not the most winning double-album, but it's great for any Devin Townsend fan!
Sky Blue - 75%, Dark Matters - 77%
Favorites: "Rejoice", "Fallout", "Midnight Sun", "Universal Flame", "Sky Blue", "Before We Die", "Ziltoidian Empire", "Deathray", "March of the Poozers", "Earth", "Ziltoid Goes Home", "Dimension Z"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Epicloud has confirmed the extension of the otherwise 4-part Devin Townsend Project, being the project's 5th release and his 15th overall solo release. However, I think this is the second part of the true heavy Project (after Destruction, before Z² and Transcendence). It's amazing that during his long prolific career, Devin has never slowed down or lost quality in his heavy albums. In Epicloud, Devin continues his diverse songwriting by adding a bit of everything from his previous Project albums; the rock'n'roll of Ki, the pop-ish style of Addicted, the grand heavy chaos of Deconstruction, and the new-age of Ghost. Another different idea was adding a gospel choir that's never out of place.
However, this album might not exactly be your cup of tea of coffee or whichever hot drink you like. This is basically an experiment that broadens horizons much further than before, and apparently it has worked really well. Restoring the Addicted lineup, this album has Devin on guitar and vocals, female vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen, bassist Brian Waddell, and Dave Young on guitars and keyboards. The band has performed the music greatly, including Anneke's sweet vocals.
"Effervescent!" is the 44-second choir-sung intro. Then, "True North" starts the music in spectacular grandeur. "Lucky Animals" is a straight-up mix of pop and metal, that's can't be taken seriously but worth a fun listen. "Liberation" twists the conventional rock/pop structure. "Where We Belong" is a slow ballad ending in a huge climax.
Another good usage of heavier sections is evident in "Save Our Now" that's actually based on a Pendulum song structure. That song is a mid-tempo jam with vocals by Devin and Anneke, the latter sounding clearer than the former, along with a gentle riff building into a soulful chorus. "Kingdom", originally from Physicist, has been made into an epic re-recording for this album! However, instead of transitioning to a fast death song, what follows is a slow love song, "Divine" with nothing but Devin's vocals, ambient guitar, and minimalistic expression. "Grace" starts in a similar fashion, this time with Anneke's vocals, like a reply message from the girlfriend. Then suddenly, a heavy rhythm and electric riff comes in, and vocals from Devin, Anneke, and the choir all layer over one another. After revisiting the opening passage, the song ends in a grand climax.
"More!" is a heavy rocker that would make you want more! "Lessons" is a short instrumental reminiscent of Devin's earlier solo and Band material. "Hold On" is another slow ballad ending in a huge climax. "Angel" repeats the "Effervescent!" verse at the end as a reprise, but I don't think they should've done that. Oh well...
Devin Townsend continues cooking up his songwriting skills including winning dishes. If any you feel skeptical about Devin Townsend's poppier side based on one single, I would suggest give Epicloud a chance to find out that the album isn't that bad. However, timing is everything, people! This album can be used in less demanding actions like working out, driving, or just kicking back. But a close listen is a more rewarding experience with all you really need to digest. This is a nice balanced album with elements of all 4 previous Devin Townsend Project albums mixed together in a way of certainty. He sure knows what he's doing. Neither longtime fans nor newcomers would ever get disappointed. His Strapping Young Lad material may be gone, and his heaviness is miles away, but Epicloud is indeed and epic and loud!
Favorites: "True North", "Where We Belong", "Kingdom", "Grace", "More!", "Hold On"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Even at the worst of times, there's no way to deny how prolific and inspired Devin Townsend is. Before the Devin Townsend Project, he was in a few other side projects, and before the release of this album Ghost and its epic extreme counterpart Destruction, he had already made a dozen albums (not including the Strapping Young Lad albums), some with odd incomprehensible concepts that are still enjoyable and have their own destination, though not entirely agreeable. He has tackled more genres that any other songwriter, far beyond SYL, and that's not easy for anyone else to do. It's all about the energy of songwriter/musician producer Devin Townsend!
Ghost is one of his most unique projects, yet this album unique in a somewhat bad way, being much different than most other albums. The heavy dynamic people have known about Devin has been replaced with something light and clean. It's not totally a problem, I don't mind a little bit of atmosphere, but I prefer the heavier elements. Ambience is good when mixing it with the heavier stuff, but being ambient in its entirety is just off-kilter. This new age-inspired music can be used for meditation and yoga, yet can get a bit annoyingly boring if listened to freely. Of course, this is different from the ambient soundscape albums Devlab and The Hummer. Think Kenny G and Enya influences mixed with the older folk rock of Nick Drake, the post-rock of Explosions in the Sky, and pieces of (dare I say it?) dream pop.
While I'm not a total fan of this new-age album, some songs work here like the ethereal "Fly". The 11-minute "Feather" is more drawn-out but doesn't fall from grace. Devin's resonant performance are in an ethereal floating mix with the female vocals. The wind instruments and acoustics sound more exotic and soulful. The stellar clear production never gets exaggerated and is more touching than any other work. The atmospheric title track is shorter but too long for a pop-ish song. "Blackberry" has country-style banjo.
Despite only a few songs being good, and the rest being lull and dull, Ghost is no big deal to complain too much about. I just prefer excess punctuated by energy. Though those 4 songs share fair moments, only certain listeners and settings would see the appeal. It's surprising how Devin's fanbase stays the same in every different album, yet they don't mix well with mainstream success. However, almost a decade and a half after Ocean Machine that has his poppy moments, Devin has maintained those elements while staying sober and bipolar, and his creativity rolls on....
Favorites (only songs that I at least slightly like): "Fly", "Feather", "Ghost", "Blackberry"
You ever think years from now, in the later part of this century, people are gonna look back at albums dating back to the 2000s and 2010s and realize how much outlandish yet great appeal would carry over to their future children? This album Deconstruction is an experimental evolution of an album to remember!
We could finally see again what an extremely talented musician Townsend is. The production is inspiring and the music is ridiculously awesome! The experimental writing stays steady and catchy. The hooks are far more unique than the ones in Addicted or any other album in the world for that matter. An array of vocalists (as many as in Ayreon's albums) help sing the satirical yet meaningful lyrics for a bombastic nature taking this wonderful offering to where no other album has gone before...
Picking up right where Addicted left off to start this one, "Praise the Lowered" begins as an atmospheric electronic song that gets heavier as it goes on. Sung by Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom), this tune is thought-provoking and beautiful before evolving into maniacal heaviness. Then it transitions into "Stand", a heavier almost 10-minute epic! There's way more than just a few riffs, and so many influences in one song. The choirs are interesting, and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) does some killer background growls (his absolute last before Opeth went prog-rock). The last 2 minutes are not to be missed, bringing back a bit of Ocean Machine before a heavy ending.
Next track "Juular" (I assume a misspelling of "Jugular") brings back to mind the whimsicalness of Infinity and Addicted. The chorus has a bit of chaotic black metal with vocals by Ihsahn (Emperor). Then it heads to "Planet of the Apes", one of the best of the album! There's a bit of jazziness before having some anthem-rhythm, along with amazing vocals by Tommy Giles Rogers (Between the Buried and Me) (both cleans and growls). Sometime after the 3 and a half minute mark, there's a catchy yet extreme Meshuggah-like part. Then over the 5 and a half minute mark begins a section hearkening classic lighter Townsend with humorous lyrics mentioned that thing that turned "bone" in a verb. Then Tommy does some more of his wicked growling in awesome heaviness surrounding the "Jesus/Jihad" part. After the 7 and a half minute mark is some infectious speedy prog metal. Finally, it ends with a sick guitar solo over electronic experimentation. Then "Sumeria" bursts into symphonic melodic black/death similar to Septicflesh, but the vocals are barbaric choirs by Joe Duplantier of Gojira that make that part sound like his band. The rest of the song is the usual extreme progressive metal with Duplantier's growls. However, the catchy chorus sounds closer to bubblegum pop, especially the end with melodic singing by Paul Masvidal (Cynic).
"The Mighty Masturbator" has a strange title, but it so long and so epic that it needs its own paragraph to describe it all in detail. Many of the influences and lyrics used by Townsend since the very beginning, and he really shows off his vocals here. After a calm intro, the song goes off in different directions and styles. So many of them in fact that it's hard to describe them all. I'm just gonna say it's a unique mix of orchestral electro-industrial progressive metal, or in other words, Ziltoidian metal. Man, this guy's so d*mn creative! The screams of Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) later come in, and even though that is exciting, they're actually just OK. The song has an epic buildup towards the end then fades into a Ziltoid-hosted carnival with some funny lyrical sh*t.
"Pandemic" is a stomping song that reminds me of the pandemic we're all currently stuck in. I like the operatic vocals by Floor Jansen (ex-After Forever, Nightwish), but they barely work here. Near the beginning is like an ultra-heavy twist on Ki. The catchy chorus has some discordance. The title track has a hilarious intro, filled with commentary complete with farts, and it made me hungry for a cheeseburger. The rest of the song is absolute insanity, far beyond what Strapping Young Lad could've done. Appearing in this song is Oderus Urungus (Gwar) (who died of a heroin overdose 3 years later, RIP) and not-so-serious guitar soloing by Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah) to keep up the humorous treats served with a main course of a cheeseburger, a side-order of mispronounced happiness, and a drink consisting of a jar of farts. The last two minutes are about what Devin Townsend is about with his tear-jerking vocals to prove his inspiring diverse vocal talent. "Poltergeist", the only solo-sung Devin Townsend song here, starts cool and tough like Strapping Young Lad with a crippling ending to this masterpiece album. Unless you include the bonus track "Ho Krll" that can be the story's true ending.
if you want your soul to disappear up your a** into a dimension that would twist you more than the Gordian Knot 5 billion lightyears away, Deconstruction would be that kind of album. I have nothing else to say about it except.... Next-gen extreme Ayreon!!
Favorites: "Stand", "Planet of the Apes", "Sumeria", "The Mighty Masturbator", "Pandemic"
Genres: Avant-Garde Metal Progressive Metal
Devin Townsend really knows how to not play by the conventional music rules. His music knowledge and capabilities make him more unique and boundary-breaking than most other musicians. Having returned from his recording break and already ended Strapping Young Lad, the Canadian maestro came back with Ki, the first album of a new "Project" that was originally conceived as just 4 albums. He shaved off his "skullet", went sober, and recorded soft ambient prog while keeping his desire to break restrictions.
This album is kinda difficult and pointless for a heavier metalhead like me to listen. However, what's interesting the selection of non-heavy musicians Devin hired for this album. Duris Maxwell, the then-62-years-old drummer of classic artists and bands like Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane, performed excellent smooth drumming. Bassist Jean Savoie injected background melody to help emphasize Devin's guitar chords and riffs. And keyboardist Dave Young, who had been part of Devin's bands, gives the album more intriguing atmosphere. Sadly, this doesn't help this metal-less record and kinda slips down in a slope.
The only part of the album I really like are the middle 4, starting with "Heaven's End". The delightful vocals of Che Dorval give the song a Lacuna Coil vibe vocally, especially when together with the rougher vocal side of Devin. He lets go of some of the h*ll he had been through during hiatus. "Ain't Never Gonna Win" has a free jazz groove. That kind of style is more dominant in "Winter", but it's Devin's beautiful guitar playing that shines for bright ambience. His bluesy acoustic soloing is performed in professional grace. "Trainfire" is much different than anything Devin has ever done, sounding more like Elvis in both the instrumentation and the vocals. It's like he's trying to prove that Elvis is still alive (sadly not true). It's good to try to bring back the king!
Despite those 4 positive songs and an interesting band lineup, the quality and lack of metal ultimately mark the album an unfortunate experience. The only people who might love it are ambient/pop/rock listeners and long-time Devin fans who wanna continue hearing unique music from that great genius. However, metalheads and new fans at the time won't find any speed or anything rule-breaking. Not a lot of touring or music videos were around to support the album. Honestly, I think the real metal part of this project is 4 albums, but it's all albums except Ki, Addicted, and Ghost. You can dig up a few good-quality songs from Ki, but you won't find anything classic to blow your mind....
Favorites (only songs I like): "Heaven's End", "Ain't Never Gonna Win", "Winter", "Trainfire"
In just one year, one of my new favorite musicians Devin Townsend released two albums that marked the beginning of the Devin Townsend Project. However, while they both were somewhat pleasant, they alienated his fanbase. Of course I have nothing against Ki, and definitely nothing against this album, Addicted. Well sure, this second album of the project his more familiar trademark sound dating back to Ocean Machine and the more melodic side of Strapping Young Lad, but he has added a twist...
This album can be described more as alt-dance-metal as opposed to the usual progressive metal. There's heavier emphasis on catchy hooks, melodies, and dance elements that is kind of the album's double-edge sword. Surprisingly, the album works well played as a whole, and can be fun to listen to. It's a soundtrack to a party as fun as Attila!
However, many of the songs don't seem that appealing to me, but the ones that do include the powerful crushing "Supercrush!" That one introduces ex-The Gathering singer Anneke van Giersbergen into Devin's material, well complimenting Devin's melody-craft with her soft beauty and otherwise putrid pop choruses. Her rendition of "Hyperdrive!" (originally from the Ziltoid album) is absolutely stunning. So is the chorus of "Numbered!" She doesn't appear in the epic "Awake!!", but that's still a great song all the same.
Another album done in his "Project", Devin Townsend has shown his genuine music knowledge, though only a few songs here are super great. After the intelligent yet dull ambience of Ki and the tunes of Addicted that mix alt-metal with dance-pop, the next album would be the real heavy start of his project, one that your ears will never forget....
Favorites (only songs I like): "Supercrush!", "Hyperdrive!", "Numbered!", "Awake!!"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Devlab was very strange with its ambient noise sound. That album was metaphorical journey of sounds disconnected from all music. With an album like that, it might not be possible to create another journey even after that mixed reaction, right? Logically, this album, The Hummer learns from some mistakes but it has still caused a bit of trouble. Oh the ambient strangeness! Where do I begin?
The actual soundscape has been found to be less metaphorical and more transcendent. You can just sit down and listen to something that was detached from your life and not attached until now, but it's a whole other different level that you just aren't used to.
Trying my best to review as much as I can from this album, the title track is a rough start, yet hinting at some of the deeper aspects. "Arc" is a 23-minute track of otherworldly ambience that is surprisingly not as boring as most of the other tracks. The deep "Consciousness Causes Collapse" does its job of permeating a dark message via soft flute in the intro, but it doesn't help peak my interest any higher. "Equation" is the shortest of this album and the only other song I can stand. It makes me think of the heavenly spheres of space in universal grandeur, yet pulling me back into the reality that's unmatched from my imagination.
I'm just gonna end the track analysis there, but I'll still say my conclusion. The Hummer is another strange ambient trip of mental substance. It is an album where almost the entirety of it is dissociated from the music. The Hummer is a perceptual challenge to the music industry that can be weaved into different ideas for the true nature and point of this record. Yet I still don't understand. I can live without it and find the beauty of actual music. That's still quite a leap for both the artist and the listener to make....
Favorites (only songs that I at least slightly like): "Arc", "Equation"
3 years is quite a long time gap between a band's first two albums. After the first Devin Townsend Band album Accelerated Evolution was released in 2003, he toured through that year in support that album and the third Strapping Young Lad album. Not want to stagnate his recording activity, he released the bizarre ambient/drone album Devlab in 2004, the monstrous Strapping Young Lad album Alien in 2005, and that band's final album The New Black in 2006. But before the latter is one more album under the name The Devin Townsend Band, the masterpiece Synchestra!
I've forgiven him for that Devlab album after those two Strapping Young Lad albums, and the perfection continues with Synchestra, which I f***ing love. It's the best album of The Devin Townsend Band and continues the strong balance between his solo material and the vicious industrial metal of Strapping Young Lad. Those albums mentioned above can't overthrow this album's brilliant reign. And if Devin can do relentless swearing in most of his albums, I can in this review too! (censored of course)
The 3 opening songs flow perfectly as a suite, starting with the two intros, "Let It Roll" and "Hypergeek". These two songs are short but they hint at every trick in the book Devin would later throw to us, and they're so g****mn overwhelmingly strong in both the light and heavy instrumentation. Unbelievable!! The triumphant "Triumph" ("ONE WORD, COLLECTIVE! MANKIND, CONNECTED!!) has a brief backyard country midsection that works beyond. Don't even claim otherwise! "Babysong" is another winner that works through sing-along melodies like a power ballad lullaby. Its midsection is also interesting when the song starts swinging furious rhythm. The light interlude "Vampolka" consists of a melodic polka tune with guitar, organ, and f***ing jaunty tuba. That's quite a leadup to "Vampira", the 6th song of the album that has nearly as much darkness as Moonspell's darker material, but carried through Devin's signature heavy side of metal rage, aggressive riffing, muscular drumming, and f***ing intense howling.
The much lighter "Mental Tan" is a good intermission before the rest of the album. It's not really that tiring, that interlude actually gives a sense fluidity and movement in unified nature before the next song. A great unity fitting with Devin's lyrical themes of becoming one! The more deliberate and thoughtfully paced second half of the album begins with the slightly dull third suite, starting with the two-track 14-minute slightly draggy segment of "Gaia" and "Pixillate". Filling up the place is the melodic effect usage of "Gaia" sounding closer to new wave. "Pixillate" starts with an intro that might remind some of early Sleep in the tonal sense instead of compositional. The synthesizer sounds more similar to a kazoo that has been pitched down that keeps going until kicking in the chorus again. This tune stretches out the nature and stomping pace into almost a dirge. The rest of the album's nature would have a more jubilant contrast, and if you're wondering how I sequenced the album, please wait! We got a few songs left. "Judgement" nearly picks up where the previous track left off, continuing the mournful dirge tone. Starting the second half of the song is great snare-kick marching with deep melody from the bass and piano. Then further near the end, the guitar chimes over ride cymbal whacks. A strong breathtaking moment!
"A Simple Lullaby" works as another intermission but this time as a full long heavy song in which the sequence is all over the place. The baby needs to start having his good sleep even when it's just "Sunset", which is a pleasant interlude before the grand finale... "Notes from Africa" is another change of pace to close the main album with bass chunks in the front. The song has primary modal fashion especially, where the guitar keeps trying to escape that high note but gets dragged back there. The chorus has crazier chord changes, while the song keeps its effective loop to that central note. The song also has a bit of synth tone ready to be followed into radio territory. Then the song ends with sounds of flowing water and animals in Africa where you become one with over-ground nature. Hidden track "Sunshine and Happiness" shuffles through upbeat blues with piano and riffing inspired by the classic hard rock of AC/DC. It's h*lla cheesy, but it works as tour through rock and roll's 60 years before this album that, instead of confusing you in irony, leaves you grinning in f***ing glee.
OK, so here's the sequence of suites for all songs in this album: Suite A - Introduction (tracks 1-3), Suite B - Refinement (track 4-6), Intermission A - Tension ("Mental Tan"), Suite C - Reflection (tracks 8-10), Intermission B - Reaffirmation ("A Simple Lullaby"), Suite D - Valediction (tracks 12-14). An honestly triumphant masterpiece of greatness!
Favorites: "Triumph", "Babysong", "Vampira", "Pixillate", "Judgement", "Notes from Africa", "Sunshine and Happiness"
Genres: Progressive Metal
In the midst of Devin Townsend's journey so far, what came to his mind was the idea of making an album radically different from his other albums. He felt like unleashing his inner madness in a new peculiar way. A strange idea like this may be constructed to try an experiment and find out the caused reaction. Some might like it, others might hate it. And me? Devlab is what I think is a strange challenging delay to the ideal sound that we're used to, and I don't really like the album so much, but I still have my trust.
Now I understand Devin's idea to make his noisescape, but I didn't think it would be literal and non-metal, unlike his unknown first project Noisescapes. One small step into Devlab, and you'll understand its strangeness. It's all just sound, and it would be difficult to review songs that are just...sound. So we'll go with the best songs I could review...
There's the first track, an intro of pure madness. It's just too weird for me to describe. Just hear it for yourself if you really want! Then there's the techno-ish track #8, which isn't too bad but hard to construct its ideal imagery. The one track that I can tolerate is the ambient 10-minute track 9. It's so pleasant yet still meaningless! What is the meaning?? While this song has one of two points of creating Devlab, which is the ambience, it seems to be missing the other goal, meaning. This ideal meaning does exist, but it's hard for us to find to prove its existence. I guess there is a meaning behind all this, right? Right??? Something worth mental thinking...
I'm sorry but I can't go any further in this review. This album is so weird and strange. It's barely even good. Devlab is quite a daring dive for Devin Townsend to take into ambient territory, with results that might seem good or just isn't. It's a hard struggle to overcome. However, it's quite poetic behind the discomfort. Would I recommend this? Sure, but only for ambient listeners who wanna get lost in the abnormal void. Despite this work's strangeness, it does lead a path to finding meanings of music and life....
Favorites (only songs that I at least slightly like): "Track 1", "Track 8", "Track 9"
2002 marked the return of Strapping Young Lad after their 4-year hiatus, but Devin Townsend wanted more than just that band's heaviness. He wanted to start his own band that would connect the line between that band and his progressive solo material. My like for his music all started with that indirect recommendation for me to listen to Terria. Though that wasn't my first time listening to an album from Devy (first being that Ziltoid album), it was love at first listen! That album filled me with joy, and I decided to get the rest of his historical discography. I'm stunned that I've only started listening to Devy's music this month instead of like 6 years ago, but hey, better late than never!
Just like Terria, which was the album before this, the first album as "The Devin Townsend Band", Accelerated Evolution is all about compact depth and amazing atmosphere. Progressive metal newcomers might have to listen to this 10 times to catch up. Sure there are influences from arena rock and pop, but while there are lighter moments, this CD is top-notch progressive metal from Devin Townsend, the extraordinary genius that can do almost no wrong.
The terrific opening track "Depth Charge" starts soft for a few seconds then ascends into heaviness speeding from afar to exploding right near you. The vocals and lyrics are phenomenal that promise an amazing album like this one already is, blending in with the instrumentation. This is as heavy and intense as Strapping Young Lad, binding both sides of his material. "Storm" is actually calmer after that storming opening track. Here you would find lighter moments while still having amazing layered depth, along with emotional vocal cries. "Random Analysis" shines with the mighty genius mind of Devin Townsend right from the start. The progressiveness is crazy smart that would take you on a trip through complex daze. The lyrics can be read casually, yet their meaning is filled with deep insanity.
"Deadhead" is named after that Godflesh song, but Devin's song is more awesome! You can just loop the introduction like in an interrogation and still think it's worth the cost. The depressive lyrics fit well with the impressive music. "Suicide" is catchy yet cold and dark, full of emotional depression. It could be dangerous to listen to this song with no preparation, but you're already deep into this album so you can't turn back. Once we reach the song's outro, everything calms down and segues into the next song that sees less insanity and more genius. "Traveller" is catchy in a lighter upbeat good-vibes way. Near the end, Devy sounds like he's about to cry, and so was I in that emotional part.
"Away" is another long song, but almost completely instrumental. It's so beautiful even with barely any vocals. One of the best! "Sunday Afternoon" is not bad at all, but it sounds like something's a miss. I mean, it is a good song but not as brilliant as other tracks. Probably because it sounds like a heavy sequel to Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning". Finally, "Slow Me Down" closes the album with beautiful romance. The guitar stands out far more than the barely audible bass. That song is light in a very charming way.
Accelerated Evolution is recommendation for any fan of music in general. The album is so original and smart. With that, we shall once again hail Devin Townsend as one of the smarted, most talented musicians of all time!
Favorites: "Depth Charge", "Random Analysis", "Deadhead", "Away", "Slow Me Down"
Genres: Progressive Metal
This is no lie; Physicist is Devin Townsend's "black sheep" album. It's too Strapping Young Lad-like for fans of his solo material and vice-versa. Physicist is pretty much stuck in the middle, trying to sound like both bands at the same time. D*mn sad, man!! They should've listened closely to what a fantastic album this is!
The most notable thing about this album is its intense speed. Gone is the half-mellow half-epic prog-metal of Ocean Machine and Infinity, and its place is short fast catchy pieces of incredible intensity. If people think Devin's goal of uniting the heaviness of Strapping Young Lad with the poppy prog of his solo material was his worst idea, let me tell you, it's one of his best! His smashing goal of unity has been successfully achieved!!
The crushing opening track "Namaste" immediately sets the stage for the drilling bass and drums, the latter by the fantastic Gene Hoglan, along with vocals that range from screaming to emotional, similar to Strapping Young Lad, and surprisingly catchy synth layers. What a great opener for this album! Continuing that trend is "Victim", opening with a great beat and awesome synths. After speeding through the verses comes a great chorus ("I'm ready to go!"). "Material" is a true standout for this album with strong verses and another one of Devin's best choruses ("These are the days, let them roll!"), before ending with fantastic multitracked vocals similar to Queen. Some of the most fun metal I've heard! "Kingdom" is longer than most other songs, with better verses than the chorus, along with fabulous drum kicks and great vocal lines.
This album would've been perfect if not for two letdowns in the middle, starting with "Death", which itself is basically crazy industrial deathgrind. I prefer hearing that song in a Strapping Young Lad album, maybe a separate SYL single, thank you very much! "Devoid" is slightly better but still out of place. It's way too short for a song that epic with lyric-less vocals. Those two ultra-heavy songs should've been put in the beginning, similar to Gaza's I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die, instead of the f***ing middle like Ocean Machine! Putting them in the middle just breaks up the flow and takes down the quality of this otherwise perfect record.
"The Complex" is indeed complex, a more varied song than the rest of the album. A fantastic track with another awesome chorus! "Irish Maiden" is so strange and catchy, the opening riffs really standing out, reminding some a bit of Iron Maiden, the band the song title has parodied. Those drums and bass in that part stick out as well. "Jupiter" isn't as great as the previous two tracks, but the melodies and lyrics are still awesome. Though not as awesome as this final incredible standout...
"Planet Rain" is absolutely one of the best ever songs by Devin Townsend. Breaking out of the pop-ish sound of Infinity and the fastness of Physicist, this song returns to the emotional power of Ocean Machine in this long incredible epic. The riffs and drums are great, but the vocals are some of the best Devin has done. This song should've been put into a separate album/EP! The awesome vocals are more relaxed while having intense background screams in the fantastic chorus. Soon it reaches the emotional climax of both this song and the album, where Devin yells with raging passion over a guitar-drum storm. Then it's back to the opening riff again until it fades into sounds of rain and Devin's softly singing the last lines. Why am I still describing this piece of metal gold?! You have to hear it for yourself! Probably my third-favorite song by Devin Townsend (behind "Earth Day" and "The Death of Music")!!! The hidden track "Forgotten" is a bizarre remake of the Infinity's "Bad Devil" that also shouldn't have been part of this album.
Physicist has accomplished Devin's mission for fast heavy power outside of Strapping Young Lad. I like it in the same level as Infinity, but not as much as my two favorites in the solo era, Ocean Machine and Terria. I recommend this album for the more hardcore/heavy Devin fans. Get this album then get blown away by the planet-shaking chaos!
Favorites: "Namaste", "Material", "Kingdom", "The Complex", "Planet Rain"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Before 1998, Devin Townsend helped out the legendary guitarist Steve Vai with an album supply of vocals, created two albums with Strapping Young Lad, followed by two more albums, each from a one-time project... But could he make his own solo album? Yes he could!
Following the remarkable Ocean Machine album, Infinity is the first solo album released under his real name from this epic progressive metal genius. While his other band. Strapping Young Lad (who just entered hiatus at the time) is basically intense prog-tinged industrial metal aggression, his solo music has more texture and variation. If you're expecting swift pounding, you can get some from the monstrously talented fellow Strapping Young Lad drummer Gene Hoglan, which is one boost from Ocean Machine.
Kicking off the album is "Truth", an epic instrumental overture with building tension until the end when a synth-string tone jumps over a cymbal, which might have people think of Yanni gone f***ing a**. Then the first real song "Christeen" begins, keeping up the "classical-poppy second track" trademark from Ocean Machine. The chorus sounds a little cheesy where the only other repeated lyric is "That's all I ask of you", a little too much like that Phantom of the Opera song. Fortunately, the nice intense bridge is a good lead-in to the final chorus. "Bad Devil" is a f***ing amazing pickup from the previous track with punchy riffing, unlike the diffused tone of other songs, plus some wicked horror synths like in one of those Scooby-Doo chase scenes. The shuffling swing rhythm, jazz bass, and rockabilly trombone in the bridge make the song a killer highlight.
Falling back into the straight camp is "War", with its overlong intro. However, that song has a stomping groove. Same with "Soul-Driven Cadillac", which has solid modal suspension and has foreshadowed the more experimental rest of the album. "Ants" is a short song that can whack your b*lls out with wacky experimentation sounding like Dream Theater gone middle-eastern folk. "Wild Colonial Boy" continues balancing straight-on metal with distinct non-metal experiment. There's a catchy polka section with rising vocal melodies, a great soundtrack for walking on a high tightrope in a circus of melodic drama. That kind of feature is a winner!
Then we have the final two tracks (not including the bonus track), starting with "Life is All Dynamics", one of the best songs in the album with Devin's intense vocal dynamics. You would want to put this song on in full blast and holler along to the song (LIFE! IS!! ALL!!! DYNAMICS!!!!) while stomping like a d*mn dinosaur all over your mother's plant garden (if you get grounded, it's your own fault). Then it transitions to the original closer "Unity" builds classic tension as a soft classy ending. You've had enough prancing around like a Hevisaurus and needed to chill with rich mellow tones, all in closing triumph. After one minute of silence is "Noisy Pink Bubbles", which might be a tribute to the similar-named comedic album by Helloween. On one section, there's childish chorus vocals sounding too much like that musical Annie, and on another, there's clean guitar. The Inside Out reissue has 3 bonus tracks; 2 acoustic versions of songs from the Ocean Machine album, and a demo that might've been recorded in that album's sessions.
Compared to Ocean Machine, Infinity has a broader sound range, but a shorter running time that's missing the three 10-minute epics the previous album had. I still prefer Ocean Machine, but Infinity edges out Devin Townsend's journey from trivial oblivion closer to becoming one of the most outstanding creative musicians in all of metal!
Favorites: "Truth", "Bad Devil", "Soul-Driven Cadillac", "Wild Colonial Boy", "Life is All Dynamics"
Genres: Progressive Metal
"Oh earth, what changes hast thou seen?" You'll find out when you listen to this album that has put an eternal change to music at the time of its release, but Devin Townsend didn't initially win as much commercial fame as in his previous album's story of Punky Bruster transforming from the deathly Cryptic Coroner (which kinda stirs up my own conspiracy theory of tech-thrashers Coroner's 1996 breakup). Both his solo music and Strapping Young Lad push further my metal taste expansion beyond belief!
Ocean Machine: Biotech is Devin Townsend's first solo album (not counting his Punky Bruster album), but it might be confusing for new fans of his music. The sound, melody, structure, and feel are much different than anything else, even other post-/progressive metal artists, except maybe The Ocean who might've been inspired by the album's theme being the ocean and the intensity and power being as deep as The Ocean, the theme descending darker like the music. This album should be handled with open-minded care. Listening to this is as deep and endless as the ocean. You have to absorb it all for the full joy of swimming in the seas of sound.
After that 20-second poem fragment, the album starts straight into the melodic rocking majesty of "Seventh Wave". Then "Life" is a wonderful song about life in this world with artistic expression that is important for the #1 album this is. Next up is "Night", an upbeat song with great vocals, good melodies, and one of the best catchy choruses. "Hide Nowhere" is slower, but it has surprising rhymes and another perfectly catchy chorus. The shorter "Sister" splashes sea waves by the seashore (I think I invented a new tongue-twister). That track portraits the ocean at 3PM. Then "3AM" shows the ocean at that exact time in a calm soothing interlude. In fact, both of those shorter tracks are calm and soothing, compared to what comes next...
I'm not saying "Voices in the Fan" is heavy. I mean it is back to the upbeat part of the album, but more relaxed than the first 4 songs. However, it signifies the darker, more epic part of the journey, which you can hear from the choirs at the end that are still wonderfully peaceful. They lead to the next track, "Greetings", beginning with a guitar soloing intro, showing Devin's brilliant music approach. A prologue to the long epic trilogy of the album, "Regulator" shows the ocean crashing with violent waves of heavy riffing and vocals close to screaming. Chaotic yet beautiful! Devin's unique "sing-screaming" is one of his best vocal styles, and his vocal performance shines there.
The long epic trilogy begins with "Funeral" with strange lyrics that regular Devin Townsend listeners have gotten used to. It starts calm but the soothing majesty slowly builds deeper. The liquid around you flows in beautiful calm majesty that's worth listening to. Then the song fades out into majestic waves of keyboards. For the next track, why is the most complex beautiful majestic epic the one with the title being a swear word!? Either way, "B****rd" shows the ocean at that same night, but this time a heavy hailstorm starts pouring down on you, and you could only count on the ocean to shelter you while in the darkness of hopeless despair. Once the storm reaches its heaviest peak, it stops and the icy hail in water dissolves. Then you literally feel the heavy waves crash down on you for the last few minutes of the song in majestic destructive beauty. You keep screaming for help but the waves keep hitting you. You end up drowning in the cruel ocean, and you and the music die.
"The Death of Music" is probably the most unbelievable progressive piece ever, probably of any music, a powerful brooding dark epic like no other! Your soul ends up in heaven, watching from the high clouds the ocean absorbing the body you left behind and sinks it down to where nobody on Earth could see it. It's mostly electronic with simple beats, dark keyboards, and atmospheric depth. The layers of sound build as Devin sings about "death becoming musical" in emotional despair. Soon you see the waves crashing again, this time causing the world to fall apart. After the climax fades out, there's one more track left, the epilogue, "Things Beyond Things", with beautiful melody and single-chord atmosphere to end this peaceful atmosphere. The very end snaps you back into reality with a horrific scream that would make some think "WT*!?!"
To answer that poetic question once more, Ocean Machine has changed a lot in music forever, and I wish I could've been there for its initial release that took the music world by storm. So what are you waiting for? Get this album and listen to this drowning simulation that would make you appreciate the genius named Devin Townsend!
Favorites: "Night", "Hide Nowhere", "Voices in the Fan", "Regulator", "B****rd", "The Death of Music"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Normally I never plan on listening to any metal solo artists because I seem to have more appeal to full-group bands, and solo artists are usually mostly found in other genres besides metal, like...radio pop!! The other Devin Townsend album I've reviewed, Ziltoid the Omniscient, was good but other than that "solo artist" issue, it was far too comedic. Now we're at Terria...which is another one of the best albums created! It's perfectly heavy while being so soothingly atmospheric. Great for a relaxing drive!
This is an album every listener must get, both progressive and open-minded audiences! You can't go your entire lifetime without listening to at least one song from this masterpiece. I could end this review right there, but nope, I don't wanna skip the exciting part (for me anyway), the music!
The first track is "Olives", a slow atmospheric intro with the voice of a robot waiter offering a martini and a olive. No thanks for the martini, but I do like an olive! "Mountain" is track #2 and the first real song. Devin starts singing his clean vocals. He would also do massive growling over heavy guitar and keyboards. An atmospheric medium-paced and medium-length song (6 and a half minutes)! "Earth Day" is a big highlight with intense volume. The guitar and vocals are awesome here! If I was good at guitar, I would find a tab for this and jam on to these walls of sound. A definite album highlight and probably the best of his career, though it's just ONE of the best songs in metal general.
"Deep Peace" is another album highlight, just meters close to beating the previous track as the best song of the album. The song starts with an acoustic intro with dolphin noises. Devin's vocals fit perfectly! The classical-ish instrumental arpeggio is awesomely fun. Another great highlight! "Canada" is another fun and easy song with a good country-like riff. It's a cool song with funny lyrics ("It's beef!!") and perfect atmosphere. Oh Canada! "Down and Under" is an OK interlude with soft guitar and nature sounds.
"The Fluke" is never a fluke, instead an awesome song, starting with cool guitar and other instruments kicking in. Devin's vocals continue to reign supreme with awesome delivery. The ending could be shortened though, it has too much ambient noise. Either way, still awesome, still a perfect album! "Nobody's Here" is another slow song with emotional feeling. A great song with a guitar solo that's not too shabby. "Tiny Tears" is another awesome song, the most emotional! I love both this one and Godflesh's "Tiny Tears". Townsend's song is more unique and personal. Almost as perfect as the first two highlights!! The last track is the awesome "Stagnant". The song never stagnates, sounding happy with cool lyrics and cool riffs. It sounds rock yet stays metal. I gotta show those last 3 songs to my friend whom she likes this uplifting classic kind of rock!
So that marks the end of the actual album, but there are two more "epilogue" tracks, starting with the bonus track "Universal". A cool funny acoustic riff plays, then the song itself has an upbeat happy feel with astonishing vocals for a universal brew. The hidden track "Humble" is a boring pointless track, but why should we include it as part of the album?! It's a hidden outro that you shouldn't let affect the album, like the outro for Between the Buried and Me's Alaska! Just remove it, and the album would be perfect.
So yeah, not including that pointless outro, Terria is a wonderful album and has now been made one of my favorite albums ever. If you wanna start your journey with Devin Townsend's music, this is where you gotta start. Highly recommended!
Favorites: "Earth Day", "Deep Peace", "The Fluke", "Tiny Tears", "Stagnant"
Genres: Progressive Metal
Thanks to Daniel, I now have the final remaining piece of the post-sludge elemental star, Rosetta! If you wanna know what this album, The Galilean Satellites is about, the nearly blank booklet explains it all in one sentence... "These songs are about a space man."
If you wanna know more than just a simple sentence, just press play and you'll find yourself as an astronaut eternally stranded in space with no other surrounding lifeforce. The Galilean Satellites contains two discs; one filled with monolithic dirges of spacey post-sludge not for the faint-hearted, and the other filled with desperate ambient tracks of strange beauty. And when you time both discs to play at the same time, they fit like a glove! A bit like Neurosis' Times of Grace and its ambient counterpart.
Disc 1 begins this space-doom venture with "Départe" (Departure), starting clean on the guitar and keyboards. Then the buildup comes, warning you that the space adventure is gonna be life-risking. Then the vocals of Michael Armine crashing in with the crushing music of both chaos and grace. "Europa" continues the helplessly great framework.
"Absent" sees you travelling through a space dimension, and midway through, the guitars do a bit of soloing. The vocals are mostly ambient until Armine does some screams in the last-minute climax. "Itinerant" is a 16-minute epic that's mostly piano-based. It's great, but the epic I prefer is "Au Pays Natal" (The Homeland), 13 and a half minutes of the best isolated post-sludge madness ever heard!
Disc 2 is the ambient counterpart where the space-man has already died from lack of food, water, and air as if floating through the infinite universe alone. Both that scenario and the ambient sound sculpture can be enough to give you agoraphobia, which fortunately I don't have. This creepy reverb can give you feelings of loss, and it's a nice effect that would be nice if you're in the mood for that. It's interesting how I, a heavier metalheads who's not usually into ambient music, feel more immersed by this disc than the first. It's an aural adventure well-crafted!
Whether one of the two discs or both at the same time, the listener has to be absolutely determined. Clearly, it wasn't made easy with all tracks going over 8 minutes, but it sure looks like it was. The Galilean Satellites is no easy task. If you're driving while listening to the album on your radio, it's not for a small errand trip, it's for a cross-state road trip made epic. But it's better to listen to the album at home on your computer or MP3 player if you really want a perfect post-sludge trip out of reality!
Favorites: "Europa", "Absent", "Au Pays Natal", the complete Disc 2
Genres: Sludge Metal Post-Metal
Before I ever found this site, I didn't know jack-squat-and-pop about industrial metal and The Sphere. All I knew was a bit of Rammstein and one song from Ministry, and I only heard of Godflesh when people say that's the first band to truly be industrial metal. Now with all these DIS vs. DAT debates going on in The Sphere, I get to try a few industrial metal albums like a cooking show judge. The lyrics still attack politics, but this album is in the Reagan era and is inspired by the "Just Say No to Drugs" campaign.
The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste has left a different impression in my young mind compared to the other album I've reviewed. Back then, electronic madness and guitar aggression were an innovative combo. This album is tied with Godflesh's Streetcleaner as the spawn of industrial, though Godflesh's debut gets more credit.
"Thieves" starts with a hyper guitar riff over a dance beat, then the verse has Al Jourgensen's distorted screams of "THIEVES AND LIARS!! MURDERERS!!! HYPOCRITES AND B****RDS!!!!" Then the chorus stops for a stretched guitar chord until one more scream of "THIEVES!!! LIARS!!!" Then the drums go full-on thrash, but they should used real drums instead of programming. I'm guessing they couldn't find any drummers going that fast. After an ambient intro, "Burning Inside" kicks in a propulsive beat and repetitive guitar to keep you awake. This pounding tune is helped out by the vocals. When I wrote this review after waking up this morning, this song fired me up way more than coffee! "Never Believe" is another industrial machine, this time Chris Connelly on lead vocals for deranged ambient assembly. This is still worth headbanging until your head falls off!
"Cannibal Song" has some laid-back saxophone without ever going mellow. The disturbing vibe is helped out by Chris Connelly doing lead vocals one more time. "Breathe" returns to the Jourgensen-sung madness of the first two tracks, this time deliberately more intense! It takes your detached head and slam-dunks it back between your d*mn shoulders, caused by driving drums and vocals repeatedly telling you to "BREATHE!!! ...YOU F***ER!!" Then the song tears your head off again like a fish in the kitchen. One of the best here! "So What" is more than a 8-minute song, it's an anthem with harmonic guitars and catchy bass as Jourgensen declares, "So what!? it's your own problem to learn to live with. Destroy us! Or make us saints!! WE DON'T CARE!!! IT'S NOT OUR FAULT THAT WE WERE BORN TOO LATE!!!!" This song of the generation's apathy will get you screaming/singing along to an anthem that's unlike any other.
If "Test" was a test on a different style, they failed that one. It's just a weak rap track with uninspired verses and none of Jourgensen's screaming. WHY IS THERE ALWAYS SOMETHING HIP-HOP!?! Fortunately, "Faith Collapsing" is the second anthem of this album with great bass, tribal-ish drums, and the only lyrics besides all those weird soundbites and samples is a repeating chant of "FAITH COLLAPSING!!!!!" Another weak track "Dream Song" which is an awful way to close the album. I'm not even gonna describe it, another than the narration sounding like a wet dream. They should've taken out that sh*tty track and "Test", leaving "Faith Collapsing" as the 7th and last song.
The Mind is a...revolution starter for a different metal genre that is industrial metal, alongside Godflesh's Streetcleaner, to inspire bands like Fear Factory and Rammstein. I suppose I could one day listen to its developing predecessor, but for this album, this is for industrial metal fans who want their head tossed around. Otherwise, look out!
Favorites: "Thieves", "Burning Inside", "Breathe", "So What", "Faith Collapsing"
Genres: Industrial Metal