Saturos3091 / Member

Forum Posts Following Followers
14938 68 80

Saturos3091 Blog

Finally...an update?

I moved my music review stuff over to a "formal" blog where I can say whatever the hell I want. You're welcome to come visit me over there anytime, but keep in mind it's still in it's fledgling stages and might not be suitable for all audiences.

Enjoy (or don't).

METAL REVIEW: California's Brand of Technical Death Metal

I bring to you more reviews! Once again I'm going through all these albums that I happened to buy/DL and I'm trying to give them all quality listens so that I can decide for myself what I like. What better way to force myself to give every album a chance than by writing reviews? Plus maybe you'll find a new band...:D

METAL REVIEW: California's Brand of Technical Death Metal

In this entry I'll review albums by some of California's most popular technical death metal bands. Enjoy (or just look at the scores and go find the album you think you'll like :P).

Review Scale
============
100: A Flawless album in my eyes and personal favorite throughout the years.
95-99: Must have and instant cIassic. You need to own this!
90-94: Awesome, unique, and probable cIassic. This album is a rarity.
85-89: Exceptional album that really stands out in the genre.
80-84: Great album that has some minor flaws.
75-79: Solid album. Some flaws.
70-74: Decent album. A fun listen but lacks what makes an album memorable.
60-69: Barely above average, but a start. Could be much better.
50-59: Mediocre. Generic and commonplace. Look for better music!
40-49: Devoid of any creativity. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
30-39: Bad. Not just boring. At most a glimmer of decency.
20-29: Disgusting. Actually a pain to listen to.
10-19: Terrible with no redeeming qualities. Doomed to suck.
1-9: Utter ****. Abomination set upon the ears.
0: One has to question why something this bad is allowed to exist.

=========

Band: Severed Savior
Album: Servile Insurrection (2008 )
Genre: Technical Death Metal

I'm a technical death metal fiend. I eat this **** up, whether it's from debut artists or from established masters of the subgenre. Severed Savior, just like every other band from California, is so ridiculously predictable by this point that it's going to be tough to even write about their most recent album without retracing what I said in other reviews.

Suffocation used to be the staple for brutal/technical death metal, and it's pretty easy to see their influence throughout Severed Savior's discography. However if you listened to Severed Savior's quite brutal (and also quite technical) album Brutality Is The Law, then you might be disappointed with what you hear on Servile Insurrection. Sweep-picking, brutal riffs, Suffocation-esque vocals, plenty of neo-cIassical solos, dissonance, and a few random jazz sections, what's not to like? It's missing some of that essential brutality. This seems to be the trend in most technical death and especially with Californian technical death metal.

That's not to say Servile Insurrection is lacking any quality moments. The intro track "Question" and "Inverted And Inserted" really bring the brutality. There's also an interesting transition about halfway through the album where the listener is treated to a 57 second instrumental track followed by a 50 second acoustic track. It's a welcome break from the fierceness of the previous tracks and sets the mood for the latter half of Servile Insurrection. "Acts Of Sedition" is Severed Savior at their fastest and "Spoils Of War" is Severed Savior at their catchiest. These last few tracks are memorable despite the album having that feel of "been there done that."

I should be giving this a more careful listen, but after a few spins I just don't hear what separates Severed Savior from the rest of the Californian tech death scene. Perhaps it's their brutality on the previous release, or perhaps it's the overbearing influence of their music on other artists, but whatever makes Severed Savior special sure as hell didn't make Servile Insurrection stand out in the slightest.

Score: 72%

-----------




Band: Deeds Of Flesh
Album: Crown Of Souls (2005)
Genre: Technical Death Metal

Deeds Of Flesh is essentially a slightly teched-up version of your average brutal death metal band with riffs that blend and meld together like an ever-flowing stream of ferocity. The biggest problem with their releases is that they all sound the same. Crown Of Souls is a minor exception. The album is the apex of Deeds Of Flesh' evolution. They continue their assault with the same pummeling drums, technical riffing, and with a few interesting twists here and there. These elements, although present on their previous releases, are at their most coherent and developed on Crown Of Souls

Deeds Of Flesh have been plodding along the trail of technical death metal for quite some time, leaving their own footprints for other bands to follow. However Deeds Of Flesh often like to retrace their own steps, and at first Crown Of Souls sounds like a much more fluid Reduced To Ashes, which wouldn't be too far off for a first impression. The production plays a big role in the feel of Crown Of Souls, with every instrument sounding very fluid as I mentioned earlier, giving it a different sound than it's predecessors. This new wall of sound has a much more coherent feel due to this, not to mention the riffs themselves tend to flow better than they did on Reduced To Ashes and Path Of The Weakening. Songs like "The Macabre Fetish," "Crimson Offering," "Caught Devouring," and the title track are the best examples of this feel, with some of the earlier tracks such as the first half of "Hammer-Forged Blade" and "Forced Attrition" sounding much more traditional by Deeds Of Flesh' standards. Even then, songs like "Hammer-Forged Blade" are memorable and fun to listen to. "The Macabre Fetish" is a personal favorite of mine. The crushing opening riff leading into the melodic middle section, both coming together for the conclusion of the track make it feel like a violent storm atop a mountain. It's both brutal and epic.

Once again like in most brutal death metal bands, the drumming and rhythm parts of Crown Of Souls are merely servicable. They don't stand out and they never did prior to this album, but they do a good job of conveying the sense of brutality that Deeds Of Flesh is known for. The same can be said for the vocals. Once again the guitar is the main focus of a technical death metal band, but this shouldn't surprise any listener. However, the better songwriting, structuring, and production on Crown Of Souls make it my favorite Deeds Of Flesh album yet.

Score: 85%

-----------

Band: Deeds Of Flesh
Album: Of What's To Come (2008 )
Genre: Technical Death Metal

Californian technical death metal has a pretty staple sound: it's fast, brutal, and a serious amount of wank This sort of death metal is starting to get really tiring, but it still has its moments. Of What's To Come is a prime example of this. Deeds Of Flesh employ the same aforementioned styIe that they're known for and helped popularize, and while Of What's To Come is pretty predictable, it's got some interesting ideas buried under it's sleek metallic skin.

The first thing any listener should notice is the squeaky-clean production. Some death metal fans aren't big on this mechanical, ultra-calculated and refined sound. For me it completely depends on the subject material and what the band was going for. If there's a degree of atmosphere in the music where such production techniques would fit, then I'm all for it. The biggest problem with it is that it lacks any and all aggression, and that is a problem on On Of What's To Come. It's really hit or miss with different tracks. This sound works quite well on tracks like "Virvum," "Century Of The Vital," "Harvest Temples," and "Eradication Pods" where you can feel the sky lighting up with the multicolored lights and weaponry of alien warships. However on some tracks this doesn't work at all and I feel like I'm actually listening to a bunch of computerized guitar noises. This is most noticable on "Dawn Of The Next" where the guitar manages to get downright annoying at times. The production and the concept album-****lyrics about space and humanity's place within a greater, much more destructive universe work well together (although one could argue that it has become quite cliché). Another thing to note is that the last song on the album, "Infecting Them With Falsehood" doesn't follow the concept at all and really doesn't serve as a good closing track.

The bass also does a great job of accompanying the guitar and vocals. It's audible on nearly every track (unlike in previous Deeds Of Flesh releases), and it's clearly not just trying to be a third guitar like it is in most metal bands. The high pitched basslines take away from the foundation that this album is seriously lacking, but really add to the "high-tech/post-apocalyptic space war" vibe that Of What's To Come has going for it. The drumming is also pretty run-of-the-mill with the generic death metal fills, blast beats, and double bass littered throughout. There's plenty of neo-cIassical solos to admire here, and although sometimes they delve into Necrophagist wankery, they fit some tracks quite well. The vocals are also, as with the drumming, completely average. Everything you'll hear has been done before, even by Deeds Of Flesh. I still can't stress enough that there's literally nothing unique here.

All in all this album is pretty standard. A bit above average thanks to the unique basslines and few tracks where the production works, but the weak rhythmic foundation on Of What's To Come really detracts from the overall sound. Those strengths and weaknesses place it firmly in the typical niche of Californian technical death metal and I don't think Deeds Of Flesh is going to deviate any time soon.

Score: 70%

-----------

Band: Arkaik
Album: Reflections Within Dissonance (2010)
Genre: Technical Death Metal

Another California technical death metal band? Great. There's a new one every day. Arkaik are pretty much every band that you've heard before, but they execute what has become cliché very well. Reflections Within Dissonance has a bit more aggression than the most recent efforts by Arkaik's peers and is ultimately more interesting because of it.

One way to describe Reflections Within Dissonance is to look at the album art and list what you see. A myriad of colors, skulls, dead trees, and other phenomena all thrown together in some sort of bizarre collage of destructive sonic force. The album starts with the title track and moves into "Paradigm," blasting the listener with wave after wave of violent sound. "Womb Of Perception" begins with a hyperfast riff and has a nice bassline set to it. After the eerie vocals (or is that a sample?) at the end of "The Divine Manifestation," it breaks into a roaring vocal section that starts the second half of the album. Despite some of the earlier songs running together, I found myself actually headbanging to the latter half of the album. Tracks like "Malignant Ignorance" which begins with a bunch of fills and the bass intro on "Elegy Of The Disillusioned" are a bit more fun than their sheer speed counterparts on the first half of the album.

The album concludes with a slower track that obviously must speed up halfway through (after all this is Californian tech death). There's an interesting bit halfway through where the song is reduced to mere drum and vocals with some intermittent chugging going on. Reflections Within Dissonance, unlike other similar albums, doesn't rely on neo-****cal solos when it comes to songwriting, which I feel is one of Arkaik's strongest points. After the hundredth hammer-on and sweep picking blast-a-thon I tend to get tired of such ventures. Although it blends together at times and sounds like just about every other technical death metal album from California, the way Reflections Within Dissonance is executed with such aggression really makes its appeal much more lasting.

Score: 80%

========

That's about it for this review entry. I've got another entry (Progressive Death Metal) lined up so hopefully that one's finished by the end of the week. There's some interesting new bands and it's pretty safe to say that Opeth has become one of the most widely influential bands of the 2000s decade.

Alright I'm out for now anyway. Later.

METAL REVIEW: The New Wave Of North American Melodic Death Metal (?)

With another big influx of albums (both physical and downloaded), I've decided to force myself to review each one to get (or not get :P) my money's worth and time's worth out of listening to each release. I'll probably post a new blog here every few days since I have about 100 albums to go through if not more, and some old ones I've been meaning to listen to more. I will be posting these reviews on Metal Archives as well with my account: ExNihilos. Hopefully these reviews help you find new metal artists to check out! :)

Now, onto the introduction for this segment...

METAL REVIEW: The New Wave Of North American Melodic Death Metal

I haven't really listened to melodic death metal in quite some time, and it's been even longer since I've been interested in it. I've pointed this out in a few threads so if you've seen me say that I've lost interest in the genre, it's pretty much the truth (as is everything I say, don't be doubting me :x). I got into extreme metal with melodic death/black artists as well as a few folk and a couple straight up death artists, and by now I'm just sick of it entirely. After seeing bands like The Absence rise in popularity here in the US however, I've decided to look into what's going on in the underground.

Here I review three North American melodic death metal bands. The scene prior to the last ten years was mostly dominated by Sweden, but with the rise in popularity of metalcore and deathcore (influenced by melodic death), naturally the number of melodic death metal practitioners would increase.

Review Scale
============
100: A Flawless album in my eyes and personal favorite throughout the years.
95-99: Must have and instant cIassic. You need to own this!
90-94: Awesome, unique, and probable cIassic. This album is a rarity.
85-89: Exceptional album that really stands out in the genre.
80-84: Great album that has some minor flaws.
75-79: Solid album. Some flaws.
70-74: Decent album. A fun listen but lacks what makes an album memorable.
60-69: Barely above average, but a start. Could be much better.
50-59: Mediocre. Generic and commonplace. Look for better music!
40-49: Devoid of any creativity. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
30-39: Bad. Not just boring. At most a glimmer of decency.
20-29: Disgusting. Actually a pain to listen to.
10-19: Terrible with no redeeming qualities. Doomed to suck.
1-9: Utter ****. Abomination set upon the ears.
0: One has to question why something this bad is allowed to exist.

============




Band: Archons
Album: The Consequences Of Silence (2008 )
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

To say that influence in metal is a one way street would be wrong. As melodic death metal has clearly shaped metalcore, metalcore is slowly starting to influence melodic death metal. Archons, a new melodic death metal act from Canada has clearly shown this with their 2008 debut, The Consequences Of Silence. Now I wouldn't say that's a bad thing entirely, because it's allowed for some welcome experimentation in the stagnant subgenre. However, when you hear the word "metalcore," it generally isn't a good thing, so how does it work with Archons? Not so well to my disappointment.

The album begins with a fairly standard intro track (creatively titled: "Intro") clocking in at about a minute thirty, which is basically a collage of riffs with some industrial overtones. The first few tracks of the album are undoubtedly the strongest, with "Plague Of Corruption" being my personal favorite. The song pretty much showcases everything Archons is about: midpaced, melodic riffs with plenty of hammer-ons, pinch-harmonics, acoustic segments, and a few interesting effects here and there. There's plenty of faster segments as well, with the beginnings of tracks like "Obsolete Life Form" and the closing track, "Delusional Beliefs" being some of the fastest on the album.The Consequences of Silence is standard melodic death metal with a bit of a unique flare. It's clearly composed by competent musicians since the album is technically sound.

Sadly, after the first four tracks (excluding the intro), the album really takes a dip in quality. The transitioning seems weak on some parts, as riffs don't really flow together and instead clash to create a rather jerking transition. The metalcore elements also show through on tracks "like Obsolete Life Form" and especially the later tracks where it gets tedious. The open chords on the mid-paced "Pulverizing Inner Thoughts" and the bothersome metalcore shouts and breakdowns of "The Fall Of A Dreamer" really irritate me to no end. The production is also crystal clear, which is both the album's saving grace and downfall. It makes the solos, effects, and the rare high-pitched bassline shine through, however it also makes The Consequences Of Silence sound really wimpy, which is a problem that a lot of melodic death metal bands have to deal with these days.

This album is pretty easy to put away after listening to it. In fact it's albums like The Consequences Of Silence that made me stop listening to melodic death metal in the first place. Archons is a jack-of-all-trades band that really try to do more than they're capable of, and that makes the whole album feel rather plain. The band takes what made melodic death metal so popular, and throws in some metalcore influence all while adding their own unique effects. Now if it was coherent and well-structured, and if they worked on developing the metalcore elements, then they might have themselves an above average release. Until then you're left with another predictable modern melodic death band that really doesn't do anything to distinguish themselves from the pack.

Score: 55%

--------------



Band: Martriden
Album: The Unsettling Dark (2008 )
Genre: Melodic Death/Black Metal

Generally I'm not a fan of melodic death metal anymore. About a year and a bit ago I was still somewhat interested in the subgenre and after reading some glowing reviews I couldn't help but check out Martriden's The Unsettling Dark. Martriden apparently became a minor underground phenomenon in the melodic death/black scene thanks to this release. It's pretty easy to see why after listening to this album. It's got all the good elements of the genre, but has zero creativity.

The first track is titled "Intro" and needless to say I'm getting pretty sick of titles with no thought put into them. You don't call the second track "Song Two." It's ****ing lazy. Anyway the song after the rather dull "Intro" is strong, and has a distinct dark tone to it. It really sets the mood for the rest of The Unsettling Dark."The Ascension" is probably my favorite song on the album (including both parts), and really has a soaring sort of feel to it. Something you'd hear from an early '90s era In Flames or At The Gates, but with a more epic feel to it. The rest of the tracks blend with highlights here and there, like the title track and "Seasons In Hell." In fact, none of the songs on The Unsettling Dark feel weak bar the worthless "Intro" track; hell even "Prelude" is better since it at least lets me know that the next song will be decent. The use of the keyboard really does add to the atmosphere of each song, and the way the guitars are mixed actually gives them some impact unlike similar releases. Unlike some other recent releases in the subgenre, this album bears no metalcore influence. The Unsettling Dark has plenty of blast beats and strong, somewhat sinister riffs. However when I listen to it I have a feeling I've heard it all before...

I would go as far to say Martriden is the prime representative of the new North American melodic death/black metal sound. The Unsettling Dark is a dark, catchy, interesting, and wholly unoriginal album. It feels like It's a great album that I've heard many times over, and most of the bands that play in this styIe are unoriginal as well. The last two tracks feature some interesting acoustic, cIassical guitar sections but it's all been done before and I've heard enough melodic death/black artists that have done similar things. Another complaint is the overabundance of instrumentals. Sure, I like a good instrumental track as much as the next person, but having "Intro," "Prelude," and the closing track "Immaculate Perception" all be instrumentals, it makes the album feel disjointed. If they worked out transitioning between tracks and added some original ideas, I think this band could really go somewhere in the future.

Score: 75%

-------------



Band: Martriden
Album: Encounter The Monolith (2010)
Genre: Melodic Death/Black Metal

And here we are with Martriden's 2010 release, Encounter The Monolith. I'm digging the abstract cover art. Album art with no logo is something I'm starting to become quite fond of since I've seen some great covers ruined by a sloppily thrown on logo. The "monoliths" also really stand out thanks to the limited use of colors. Anyway onto the music. A debut these days as strong as Martriden's previous is pretty rare in melodic death metal, and with most bands following the trend of perfecting their debut sound by the second album, it's a tough goal to live up to.

The first thing a listener looking at the tracklist might notice is the longer song lengths. Instead of 3-4 minute tracks, the tracks are between 6-9 minutes for the most part. This is an odd choice for any melodic death/black metal band, and I can't say it works out as well as I'd hoped. The first few tracks are pretty traditional Martriden, but everything feels much longer and drawn out, and with some questionable material added. It does flow better than their previous release, but I wouldn't say that the riffs really work together to create a great song. The length of some tracks on Encounter The Monolith makes some riffs feel almost tedious with the amount of repetitions. The vocals also seem to be lower in the mix, but the guitarwork is certainly more tight. There's also a noticeable amount of clarity to the instruments, yet they all sound much more aggressive. The band themselves described it as "their most brutal work," and I'd agree. It's certainly much thicker than The Unsettling Dark, which in my opinion is a good thing.

From a musical standpoint they still employ the same tactics as their previous album: plenty of harmonics, melodic riffs, a pounding double bass, and raspy or shrieked vocals. Tracks like "Discovery" and "The Three Metamorphoses" are pretty solid all around. There's a few more instrumental segments throughout the album to break up the "intensity," and no moronically titled tracks like "Intro" or "Prelude." A lot of the slower segments (IE: halfway through "Heywood R. Floyd") do feel drawn out as mentioned earlier. Some of the slower segments really end up feeling bland like those found in the closing track "Death And Transfiguration," which sounds like it was ripped straight from modern Opeth. However, they all most certainly fit aesthetically with the rest of the album. The repetitiveness of these parts is the only glaring issue on the whole of Encounter The Monolith.

I haven't given this album as much time to grow on me as I did with The Unsettling Dark which I perceived to be a fairly calculated album. Encounter The Monolith is much more experimental (although it never treads into progressive/avant-garde territory). So far I'm liking this release a bit more for that reason. Encounter The Monolith is essentially Martriden's way of saying that they're willing to find their niche sound despite not having succeeded with their debut. The more experimentation this band brings, the more hope I have for them finding a unique sound to set them apart from the droves of other, similar melodic death/black metal. Hopefully they continue down the path they seem to be treading.

Score: 79%

---------------



Band: Dark Faith
Album: Terrains Vagues (2007)
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Dark Faith is an interesting melodic death metal act from Florida, and so far I'm really impressed. Terrains Vagues is the best melodic death metal album I've heard in years. In fact I wish more bands would take influence from these guys. Their music has all the hook-laden melodies of melodic death metal, but with a rawness and aggression that a lot of other bands in the subgenre simply lack. In fact it's almost criminal how unknown these guys are given the quality of their music.

From the opener, "Suffering," you can instantly tell that these guys play raw, catchy death metal with a lot of melodic riffing and double bass. The tracks continue down this path, never letting up. "With Skeptics Grieving," "Norm Assimilation," and songs like the title track are all excellent. Even the Amorphis cover of "Drowned Maid" is well done and fun to listen to. The production is a very notable feature of this album. Although everything is audible, the very gritty guitar tone and tight snare might be a turn off to those who are used to listening to squeaky clean, ear-friendly melodic death metal.

The vocals on Terrains Vagues alternate between a loud shriek or rasp with some low growls mixed in. The variety is there and on some tracks like the aforementioned "Norm Assimilation," Peter Olen (vocalist) breaks into a some rhythmic sections. The solos are also pretty varied and often have that very traditional melodic death metal feel to them. The drumming is always tight and aggressive, the cymbals accenting the guitar perfectly. If I was told this album came from Finland in the early 1990's I wouldn't doubt it at all. The Amorphis cover track is a pretty good indicator of where this band gets their influence from.

Terrains Vagues isn't without flaws though, as songs like "Legacy" and the closing track, "Will To I" tend to be a bit slower and less entertaining. They do provide for a breather though. Something I noticed from multiple listens is that the production actually seems to be inconsistent across the album. "Tainted Blood," "Will To I," and "Legacy" all sounding much more subdued than the other songs on the album. After looking into their demos, I found that the way those tracks sound on Dark Faith's demos matches that of the tracks on the album, meaning that the production and mixing of those tracks is nearly the same as it was on the demo.

With a consistent production across the whole album, I think Dark Faith would've had a fantastic debut on their hands. Otherwise this album is merely a great release with some notable flaws. I highly recommend checking it out nonetheless. It's easily the most fun I've had listening to a melodic death metal band in a long time.

Score: 84%

==========

The new scene that's developing here in North America surrounding this stagnant genre is interesting. It's got some fresh ideas thanks to the overlap with mainstream genres like metalcore, yet you can definitely hear the Swedish roots. They might not surprass their original counterparts but they're definitely still trying and putting up a decent effort.

I hope you enjoyed that short review segment. As I said earlier I'm writing them for my own interest since it forces me to really give an album a chance (sometimes I cut my listening short if I don't like the first few tracks). Until next time...

I is Out (until I realize there's a hundred grammar and spelling errors and have to edit them one by one. :P)

2009: End Of The Year And New Beginnings

2009 was quite a year. I spent the last two months of the year applying to colleges and focusing on school work, playing bass, and video games. Now that school is essentially done, I can finally relax, and hopefully focus more on bass (which I do off and on). I've definitely gotten better, got speedy three and four finger picking down, and now just need to find some more songs to learn/find tabs for.

With gaming my last few months have been spent on the PC. I got a new GPU, a 5850, which runs everything quite nicely. I got Dragon Age: Origins for Christmas and after playing that to death, got the Dawn Of War Comple- BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!



I got really into the backstory, and spent a weekend finishing up Dawn Of War 1, Dawn Of War: Winter Assault, and Dawn Of War: Soulstorm. Dark Crusade I put on hold, since it's more or less Soulstorm with different balance due to less/different factions. Dawn Of War II isn't nearly as awesome as it's predecessors, and I can definitely see why they're considered some of the best 3D RTS to every grace the PC platform. They're deep, difficult to master, and have plenty of variety. Hell they're even well-balanced, although they don't exactly fit the fluff as well as they could (but hey, it's a video game).

I love how the series is so grandiose in both scope and in art direction, yet it retains that futuristic feel to it despite clearly having a medieval influence. It really captures the concept of a galactic/interdimensional conflict in a universe that's long past it's golden era. Hearing about the ancient races, their wars and extinctions, and all that good stuff...

With that said I also got Mass Effect 2. I prefer Dragon Age and The Witcher to it, since they feature deeper combat and a deeper/more original storyline respectively (unless you play the hardest difficulty, then The Witcher's combat is also way deeper), but I still really enjoyed it. It improved upon it's predecessor in nearly every way, although the blatantly obvious "good/bad" Bioware decisions and shoddy supporting character development are still present. It was an issue with ME1, and although it's less of an issue in 2, it still hasn't been addressed. Coming from Dawn Of War, it's pretty apparent where that ME2 also draws from a lot of archetypes. The whole concept of galactic "reapers" had been done before, almost exactly as Bioware executed the Reapers in the ME universe. Ironically this is blatantly obvious if you had played or know anything about Warhammer 40k or Dawn Of War. Not to say 40k is entirely original, since it borrows from much older SciFi and Fantasy literature as well, but the resemblance is striking. Spoilers for Mass Effect 2 up ahead (lots of backstory for 40k too)...

[spoiler]

Made of "living" metal, collective bodies of an ancient race millions of years old, and extremely powerful? Check. The Necrons waged intergalactic warfare that destroyed almost all advanced life in the galaxy as well due to their hatred for the Old Ones (Old Slann?) who were even older than the Necrontyr. However the Old Ones fought back with the aid of the younger races (Eldar in particular) and ultimately won, although the wars left their race dying and gave rise to Chaos later on. It's essentially the whole plot of Mass Effect: unite the galaxy to fight the greatest threat it'll probably ever face (arguably Chaos is greater for 40k). Not to mention the Geth view the Reapers simlarly to how the Necrons view the even more powerful C'tan star gods. The only difference between Necrons and Reapers is that the Necrons are deathless and immortal due to how they operate, and thus the Reapers would get their asses handed to them in a conflict. :P [/spoiler]

Now onto music: my top three albums of the year and a special feature. I didn't really enjoy 2009 as far as music goes. Very few great albums came out, and most of the year I spent listening to older albums that I had missed or were before my interest in metal had reached it's fruition. There were a few released in 2009 that stuck out though, and these are my favorites:

Drowning The Light - The Blood Of The Ancients


I've always been a fan of DSBM, but Drowning The Light (or Azgorh) has created something special with this album. It's not like his past releases with the old "bedroom black metal" sound, not in that the low-fi production isn't there, but in that the songs are more coherent and well-structured. It a more layered release and the songs ultimately bear more meaning because of it. Songs like Servants Of An Unholy Plague are actually fun to listen to. That said they still have a very thick, heavy atmosphere that most DSBM bands have, and it's very well executed. I haven't heard anything he's released this year other than this album (he releases like 5 albums a year), but from what I've heard of his albums, Azgorh keeps improving with each release.

Ulcerate - Everything Is Fire




The first track I heard from this album was "Caecus," and it was a poorly placed clip in the middle of the song that gave me all the wrong impressions. I downloaded the album (my CD copy is coming in the mail this week :D), and it blew me away. It is extremely atmospheric technical death metal with some very memorable riffs. On first listen it's quite chaotic and often feels disorienting, but eventually it grows on you and then it all makes sense. It's like an auditory river; the songs all flow perfectly and they all feel...right. I don't know how to describe that sound, but when an artist or someone captures the feel of life/existing this well it's quite easy to understand. Easily one of the most memorable technical death metal releases in the last few years...

Anaal Nathrakh - In The Constellation Of The Black Widow



Well, it's Anaal Nathrakh. If my blatant AN fanboyism hasn't hit you in the face yet then just know that when it does, it will hit you like a cinder block sized chunk of metal being fired out of a gauss cannon. While not as good as "Hell Is Empty...," this album improves upon it at least one way. Everything seems to be mixed much more nicely, and the layout of the album keeps every song from being boring (the only AN album that was mostly boring was Domine, although Eschaton had it's dull moments). All in all it's a great release, and probably my favorite of the year.

Special Album Feature:

Deathspell Omega - Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice



Holy. ****ing. ****. Wow. Where to even begin? It's a tough one to write about since there's so much to write about. The album is 14 tracks of musical bliss, beginning with "First Prayer" and ending with "Malign Paradigm." The album has garnered itself a lot of attention and infamy since the lyrics are quite deep for black metal, and the riffs are very bizarre (often called "puzzle" riffs for some reason). The lyrical content deals with Satanism, traditional death/black metal fare, but not the "almighty goat sodomizer" that most metal makes Satan out to be. The album focuses on creating a scalding criticism of the problems caused by the Catholic church in (medieval->modern?) Europe. Although at first glance it may seem that the band treats this Satan like a deity as a way of mocking, reading between the lines (and if you know anything about the band themselves), their brand of "satanism" is far different than the traditional goat-worshipping pagan beliefs. In fact their "metaphysical satanism" (as fans/critics have labeled it) really has a lot more in line with the actual religion of Satanism, which makes it much more interesting than most other black metal. However, there's not much to go from in the album itself, since it's mostly just an intelligently crafted criticism/mockery of the church.

The album is laid out like a traditional/medieval Catholic mass. "First Prayer" leads into "Sola Fide I" and "Sola Fide II," which in the Catholic church are reaffirmations of faith and justification, or the purifying of sins. These lead into "Second Prayer," "Blessed Are Those Which Dye In The Lorde," and "Hétoïmasia." "Blessed..." is essentially the catholic equivalent of the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and ultimately starts the buildup to the communion. The songs follow up like prayers and songs in a mass, and then "Jubilate Deo (O Be Joyful In The Lord)" roars on with it's fast tempo and memorable chorus sections. In fact it's probably the only uplifting song on the album. The next song is where I consider the album to end: "Carnal Malefactor." This is the communion hymn, and it tells a rather interesting story with some very strange lyrics and immensely powerful riffs. The chorale that makes up half of the song is epic, and the whole song is fantastic. It's easily my favorite song on the album and probably my favorite black metal (can you even call the band black metal?) song ever. The next track is a fairly standard track for DsO and the "Malign Paradigm" is an instrumental outro. As a whole it's easily up there with my favorite albums of all time though. The whole idea is just executed so well, and the production, riffs, and styIe are all so memorable. Now if only I could get my hands on it...

-----------

And now it's a little over a month into 2010, and the year is coming on strong. I definitely like The Grotesquery's debut album (probably saw my topic in the metal union), and so far this year has been pretty good as far as school, social life, etc. have gone. Otherwise I can't think of much else to say...So I guess that's 'bout it for now. I'll edit out the grammar mistakes some other time (I'm sure there's many. There always are :P). Hopefully you enjoyed my reviews, and maybe even found a new band/artist because of them.

Later.

Tagged I Have Been...

And now it's time to think of 5 facts about myself that are at least somewhat interesting. That's going to be tough, especially because my mind will revert back to music and I've covered that pretty extensively.

1. I've added enough user-made content to TESIV: Oblivion to pretty much change the game entirely. From the gameplay to the graphics, pretty much everything is different. I'm an avid player and have over 1,400 hours total now...sad, I know. :P

2. I love RPGs, RTS, action games, and fighters. I am not a big fan of FPS at all. If I buy an FPS it's either because it's unique, has a decent story (rarity in FPS), or is uncompromisingly realistic.

3. I just finished applying to RPI (Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute) for Computer Science.

4. I played guitar for awhile, but I was horrible at it and learned mostly acoustic songs (never got lessons and was never motivated to teach myself; I'm lazy). I switched to bass when my friends and I had the idea to start a band and we needed a bassist. I really would love to have a similar sound to bands like Opeth, Ikuinen Kaamos, Mirrorthrone (at least aspects of it; vocals in particular), Agalloch, Ulver, Novembre, Nahemah, etc. but with a lot more brutality and technicality to it. Think Opeth meets Fleshgod Apocalypse, Anata, or Skinless.

5. I really can't think of anything. I'm going to have a hard time tagging people. That is all. :P

Long Time No Update (AKA: a million things music-related)

It's been a long time since I've done an update, but there's a reason for that. So much has happened since I last updated that it'd be impossible to cover it all in just one huge post. My music library has gone from around 1,500 songs to over 4,000, I've been on numerous vacations all over the eastern seaboard with friends and family, my senior year of high school has started, and I've applied to a college (and soon I'll apply to a few more).

Bought ArmA II, FEAR 2, Brutal Legend, and as of tomorrow Forza Motorsport 3. Enjoyed all of the games I bought, although my computer can't run Arma on too great of settings. I'll get 40-60fps on some missions and on others I'll get 15-20. It's quite irritating. Same thing happens with the online portion of the game, so I gave up on that until I (hopefully) get my upgrade in December. Hoping to get a 5870 since the damn thing is a monster...

Music-wise I got my bass, learned a few easier songs on it like In Flames' Artifact's Of The Black Rain and Marduk's Christraping Black Metal. Here it is (it's sexy 8)):



I'm really trying to get into the harder stuff like the music played by most technical metal artists. I know with the right amount of practice and time I can play most of their stuff. I can sweep consistently already (I fingerpick, so sweep picking was hard to pick up without resorting to the thumb), so that's not an issue, but the biggest trouble I'm having is finding quality tabs. Most (if not all) of the tabs are for guitar only, and the rare chance you'll find one for bass it'll probably be wrong due to the person's stupidity or the bass just being inaudible (depending on the mixing of the song). I'd love to find some Origin (check this cover out: Origin - Reciprocal; he sweeps with his thumb though) or maybe even Gorod or Immolation tabs so I can start practicing some harder music because I think it'll get me up to speed a lot faster and really improve my technique. If any of you music guys (or bassists) know any good songs to practice or any good places to find tabs, let me know!

My music library as I've said has expanded to pretty much all reaches of metal. I'll highlight a few albums that I got recently and thought were excellent (most of them are fairly well-known):

Rotting Christ - Sanctus Diavolos (2004; black metal/"dark" metal)


Rotting Christ's Sanctus Diavolos is a masterpiece of the black metal subgenre (some like to call it "dark" metal because it throws in loads of other influences from pretty much every subgenre out there). The album opens extremely strong with Thy Wings, Thy Horns, Thy Sin and Athanati Este. Suddenly the album transforms into something much more slow and atmospheric with tracks like You My Cross and Tyrannical. The thrashy riffs of Serve In Heaven spice things up while the jazzy Sanctimonious serves as a breather. The album concludes with a few faster songs and the title track, which is a very ambient track that still features elements of their other music. All in all one of my favorite albums ever. Absolutely fantastic.

Album Highlights:
Thy Wings, Thy Horns, Thy Sin *Favorite track
Athanati Este
Sanctimonious
Serve In Heaven
Sanctus Diavolos

Skinless - Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead (2009; brutal death metal)



A (relatively) recent and cIassic brutal death metal album. This album stuns with it's sheer ferocity yet surprises again with it's mid-tempo riffs and less than flashy styIe. Most bands in this genre take things to the level of a band like Hour Of Penance (another great band) where the tempo is crazy and it's something you won't be able to play in a life time of practice. However Skinless puts songwriting first, with extremely catchy riffs and a fantastic use of pitch-shifted gutturals.

Album Highlights:

Deviation Will Not Be Tolerated
Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead
Spoils Of The Sycophant *Favorite track
Execution Of Reason
Wicked World (Black Sabbath cover) - this is how you do covers folks, make them unique and still retain the atmosphere of the original!

Behemoth - Evangelion (2009; Death Metal)



Behemoth has long since lost their black metal roots. Demigod was the transitional album to death metal, and to say it didn't gain them a huge fanbase and commercial success would be wrong. It wasn't their best in the death metal period though, that's for sure. This album tops it, and the previous album, The Apostasy, with ease. Evangelion brings out the old atmospheric and ambient elements from their Blackened Death Metal era (Satanica -> Zos Kia Cultus), and keeps the ferocity at levels that surpass their previous works. The album is great as a whole and has many standout tracks...definitely worth checking out if you've found them to be boring since they turned into a regular death metal outfit.


Album Highlights:
Daimonos *Favorite track
Shemhamforash
He Who Breeds Pestilence *Favorite track; a tie.
Alas, The Lord Is Upon Me

Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk (1999; Black Metal)



The undisputed king of norsecore blasturbation, this album is essentially why you see the genre tag "brutal" being applied to black metal. It's fast, violent, and chaotic. It's Marduk's interpretation of what black metal should be: war, death, and chaos. The riffs cut through you like a thousand razorblades being fired at supersonic speeds, and the basslines are clearly audible and well written thanks to B.War's expertise. The drumming gets repetitive, but serves as a perfect backdrop for the music and vocals, which are Legion's best effort (ever). The trio of opening tracks makes this album memorable alone.

Album Highlights:
Panzer Division Marduk
Baptism By Fire
Christraping Black Metal *Favorite track
Beast Of Prey
Blooddawn
Fist***ing God's Planet


Fleshgod Apocalypse - Oracles (2009; brutal technical death metal)



This album and band has gained a pretty big following since the release of this album. I found them back when I got into Hour Of Penance (since it's their other band), and I can safely say that they deserve it. This album features the same superb drumming from Mauro that you've come to expect, some very thick riffing, and crystal clear production. This coupled with the expertise of the other members creates what is essentially a much more melodic sounding Hour Of Penance. They even have the same extremely anti-religious lyrical content as HoP (ironic since they're from Rome :P). You can hear some scale playing here and there, but it never really goes into the realm of Necrophagist technical wankery (IE: their Epitaph album). One of my top listens for the first half of the summer.

Album Highlights:
In Honour Of Reason
Post-Enlightenment Executor
Requiem In Sj Minore *Favorite track
Embodied Deception
Retrieving My Carcass *Favorite track; I can't decide...again!

Hour Of Penance - The Vile Conception (2008; brutal technical death metal)



This album is basically the precursor to Fleshgod Apocalypse's Oracles. It's got a very similar sound, but is much more intense and less melodic. It's just as catchy, just as brutal if not more, and of course technical as usual.

Album Highlights:

Misconception
Hideously Conceived *Favorite Track
Drowned In The Abyss Of Ignorance
Absence Of Truth
Conjuration Sworn

Alcest - Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde
(2007; Black Metal/Shoegaze)


I'm not really sure what to say about this album. It's great, it's got emotion (mostly depressive), and I've also got to be in the mood to listen to it. It's like an Agalloch I can't listen to all the time. The entire album is worth it though, and I really regret not having gotten into Neige's music earlier. I don't know whether to call this one of my favorite albums or not. It's so great yet so dull at the same time. It's probably due to the fact the album feels like one continuous song rather than several unique ones (although it's pretty obvious where certain tracks begin and end). Perfect yet imperfect...strange case.

Album Highlights:
Whole album...

=====

And now onto the heavyweights...

Lantlôs - Lantlôs (2008; black metal)



Now this is an album by Neige that I can safely say is one of my recent favorites. It's got all of the melancholy that Alcest has, yet it has a lot more going on. It's got less of a reminiscent feel to it and more of a...disgusted feel to it. The whole album is very difficult to describe. The lyrics have to deal with modernity and the problems it's caused with humanity. An interesting topic in black metal.

Album Highlights:
Pretty much the whole album (a whopping five songs), although I'd definitely say the 1st track is the weakest. The 3rd track (Ruinen) is the best.

Ulver - Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler
(1995; black metal)



This album got me into Ulver, and even their later ambient material is enjoyable. This is also their most famous (in the metal scene anyway) album, and for good reason. The title means "journey through the mountains in five chapters," and it fits perfectly. The music is very nature-oriented, painting jagged and icy landscapes covered in forests and stone. It's a beautiful album perfectly accented by Garm's excellent voice. At first I wondered what all the fuss was about...then I actually gave them a listen and realized that I was stupid for not checking them out earlier.

Album Highlights
The whole album is near perfect. There's almost not a single flaw to be found in any of the tracks. If there was, I'd say it would be in the 2nd out of the five tracks.

Ikuinen Kaamos - The Forlorn (2006; Progressive Death Metal)



This band is one that really shouldn't be as obscure as they are. Their music followed a more black metal approach until their first album (they'd released demos for nine years straight). This is a Progressive Death/Black (Blackened Death?) Metal release of epic proportions. Easily one of the best in the genre, this is a concept dealing with a particular man's inner conflicts and psychological issues. Each of the album's five tracks are fairly long, totaling in around fifteen minutes each, and without a doubt they're all worth listening to all the way through. In fact, that's the only problem I have with this album. It's not an album I can listen to just a song of two from. I have to listen to the whole thing, which is great since I've listened to it so much. However sometimes I just don't feel like putting on an hour's worth of intensely melancholic progressive death/black metal, but when I do this is the album that comes to mind, and it's come to mind far more often than one would expect with that description; it's just that damn good.

Album Highlights:
Every track. Grace is my personal favorite, but they're all of sterling quality.

Mirrorthrone - Discography
(2003, 2006, 2008; Progressive Death/Black Metal with loads of Symphonic elements)



Where to begin? All three of these are awesome. Carriers Of Dust (middle) is my favorite album by Vlad. His vocals hit their lowest there and he really shows his versatility in instrumentation. Of Wind And Weeping (left) is very strong as well and easily competes with Carriers Of Dust. It's got a bit less keyboards (that's a good thing) and a bit more variety in the songwriting thanks to more tracks to experiment with (Carriers Of Dust has four tracks, the last of which is 22 minutes long). Gangrene, Vlad's latest, really shows that he can hit the higher ranges with his vocals, and nails the black metal feel on some tracks while the production remains almost too clean. The keyboards do get annoying on some tracks though. All in all they're three albums that if you're a progressive death/black/symphonic fan you don't want to miss.

Ironically I remembered Mirrorthrone after recalling a mention of the band in a thread over a year ago by who I believe was Blood-Scribe (RIP). Then a few months later I found out Vlad's track, So Frail, was going to be in Brutal Legend. I guess the publicity is deserved for such a talented one man project. After listening through his material, Mirrorthrone has easily become one of my favorite bands.

Album Highlights:
Just get all three albums already! :x

Anaal Nathrakh - In The Constellation Of The Black Widow
(2009; Black Metal/Grindcore)



I'm going to sum up this album by one of my favorite bands in just a few quick words:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

-----

There's some other artists that I've gotten into as well. The slam masters Abominable Putridity and Devourment being the extent of my foray into slam death metal (with Vomit The Soul being in there too, and a few other bands like Pathology being rare but enjoyable listens). For DSBM I've gotten into Nyktalgia, Silencer, Leviathan, Triste, and of course Drowning The Light. I've also acquired a metric ton of black metal. Otargos, Tsjuder, Tulus, Horna, Grenade (black/thrash), Galar (black/prog) etc. etc. I got even more technical death, like Gorod (fantastic band)...

You know what? Instead of making bigass updates almost exclusively catered towards music from now on, I'll just say to check out: www.last.fm/user/cipherix :P

Well, hopefully next update I won't overdo it as I usually do (BS and you know it; I bet I'll end up typing a thousand page entry chronicling my life). Hope you enjoyed my various music reviews and maybe found something new if you hadn't already discovered all of those bands or listened to those particular albums by them. I've only got one more release this year that I'm looking forward to, and that's Belphegor's new album! :D

I'll fix all the grammatical errors and spelling issues some other time.

Later.

Music, Music, and MUSIC! (oh, and Forza 2)

Well, after getting Forza 2 for what was essentially free at Gamestop (buy 2 get 1 free, friend bought 2 games and gave me Forza), I've been enjoying that so far. The AI and physics are sometimes really irritating though, but it's a fun game with lots of stuff to do. Now time to bid on a good car in the auction house...

Anyway there's a lot of music reviews coming. Because that's basically what I use this blog for: reviewing stuff not related to gaming (or in gaming's case, writing shorts). I think I've bought at least like 15 albums/EPs since I've last updated...let's see how many I can remember...

ALBUM OF THE UPDATE:

(because who knows how long it'll be until I update again?)

Indricothere - Self Titled (2007)

This album is dripping with dissonance and reeks of at least ten different genres, and that's by no means a bad thing. From the pounding yet melodic opener "II" (creative title, isn't it? :P) to the epic ending (and easily one of my favorite in the genre) track "III," you'll hear different forms or at least influences of metal from technical death, to thrash, black, drone, and progressive. The tracks are named after roman numerals, going in a scatterbrained order from "II" to "V." V is another pounding track that about halfway through goes into straight blasting similar to black metal, and follows up with a droning outro. Next comes "IV" a brilliant, softer track on the album with highly melodic and a very "floaty" sound that's tough to describe (it's great, that's all you need to know). "I" begins like a black metal song with groove drumming and some harmonics, with a thrash solo for a bridge, but mostly this song serves as a buildup for "III." III opens with a uniquely disonnant sound, much like a lot of the songs on the album, with technical riffing leading up to a breakdown littered with almost robotic guitars. A melodic and at one point synthesizer bridge kicks in leading to the brilliant pounding buildup to the faux ending. This "faux" ending sounds like a dissonant blast of technical riffing and drumming that the whole song had been building up towards, and then when it sounds like it's over, a pounding, fast march beat sets in from the drums. This, accompanied by the subtle keyboards leads up to the real ending which is essentially an ultra heavily distorted, dissonant soundwall similar to the non-dissonant soundwalls created by Sunn O))). It's an absolutely brilliant track and probably one of my favorites in ages. Colin Marston's solo project is a success.

9.25/10

Other featured albums:

Necrophagist - Onset of Putrefaction (1999)

Despite the hate Necrophagist gets (mostly for the newer album "Epitaph;" it's the cool thing to do, kids take note), Onset of Putrefaction remains one of the most famous technical death metal albums of the last 10 years. From the 1:52 minute opener "Foul Body Autopsy," you can instantly tell that Muhammed Suicmez is an incredibly talented musician (he wrote and performed all of the music on this album by himself). Well, to keep it brief, the entire album doesn't relent. It's incredibly technical, fast, and songs like "Culinary Hyperversity" and "Fermented Offal Discharge" are incredible. Some people excuse this album for being "soulless" (although usually that's a criticism directed at Epitaph, and the entire genre of technical metal (death/prog/etc.) for that matter).

Those people are full of ****. :)

9.0/10

Damnit, I'm writing too much again. I'm never gonna finish at this rate.

Porcupine Tree - In Absentia (2002)

Absolutely brilliant! This is the album that made me love Porcupine Tree, although I actually bought Deadwing first (I got this one shortly afterwards). A concept album with a great story, detailing the love of a serial killer (it's very open to interpretation, but that's generally the plotline most people agree on), this album is a prime display of emotions. "Blackest Eyes" kicks off the album, and the beautiful "Trains" follows. "The Sound of Muzak" is a strong and ever so true criticism of the music industry as a whole, and still manages to fit into the album. After the track ".3," the album shifts to a much darker atmospher, in accordance with the storyline. It's an album that shouldn't be as much described as it should be listened to, and I think I'm going to do that just now. :)

9.0/10

SHORTS (with random pics thrown in; album pics are below the title; EPs are reviewed as EPs)

Bloodbath - Nightmares Made Flesh
(9.25/10; just as good as TFM, and Resurrection for that matter. EAAAAAAATEEEEEEEEEEN!! The last great "headbanger," not windmilling, song is on this album)



Bloodbath - Resurrection Through Carnage
(9.25/10; the first album from the traditional death metal swedish supergroup, and it's a great one. Akerfeldt's vocals are the standout of this album)

Bloodbath - Breeding Death EP (8.75/10; what the hell, these guys can't disappoint. Such a consistent group)



Novembre - The Blue (9.0/10; I got Agalloch vibes listening to this stunning doom metal outfit from northern Italy for the first time, and that's a very, very good thing. Clean vocals need some work though)

Vader - This is the War EP
(9.0/10; The thrash solos and the ultra quick blasting make this short ride a sweet one as well)

Ikuinen Kaamos - Closure EP
(8.75/10; great progressive death metal and EP)

Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
(8.75/10; I love concept albums! :D, another fantastic one by psychedelic/progressive rock Porcupine Tree)

Enslaved - Vertebrae
(8.5/10; getting more progressive every day, seriously. Hopefully they retain their black metal roots, they seem to be doing so just fine now)

Cynic - Traced in Air
(8.5/10; the vocals took awhile to get used to, but this almost cyberpunk-meets-progressive is quite unique and fun to listen to)



Xasthur - Defective Epitaph
(8.25/10; Depressive/Suicidal black metal with some of the most intense atmospheres anywhere, but his older stuff is better)

Behold...the Arctopus - Skullgrid
(8.25/10; more technical/progressive metal music from Colin Marston, this time with bandmates)



Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
(8.25/10; powerful, and shows that the 28 year old band still has a lot left in them)

Disillusion - Gloria (7.75/10; Decent progressive metal, but I'd much rather have Back to Times of Splendor, their other album which from what I own of it is fantastic)

Demilich - Nespithe (7.75/10; why aren't these guys still around? Their vocals need some work, but for early '90s techdeath this is good stuff!)



Wolfbrigade - Comalive (7.25/10; solid crust punk, nothing wrong here, nothing great here either)

Malignant Tumour - Dawn of a New Age (6.25/10; fairly obscure, average quality grindcore from the Czech Republic. Doesn't stand out, but with some work could be fantastic)

Balaclava - Creativity EP (5.0/10; uninspired crust punk/post punk from the Czech Republic, just an EP though and it is tolerable. Some of their LP stuff is much worse from what I've heard :?)

Well, that's it for now. Just felt like writing another set of music reviews based on what I had bought recently. Hope you enjoyed that list of various albums and my worthless opinions on them (and maybe I found a new band for you to listen to?)!

The Death of Metal: A Rant on Elitism

I love coming up with these titles that make it seem like I have something important to say. :lol: Instead this is just a straight up rant.

Anyway so I recently joined Metal-Archives (an excellent website for metal fans), and I have to say that the community made me delete every album in my collection, wanted list, and the review I had half finished. Why? Because everyone on the site who isn't a raging elitist is looked down upon. Now I'm pretty elitist myself sometimes, but seriously these people take it to the next level by completely ostracizing members based on their subgenre preferences. Oftentimes these are the same people who write reviews on every "mainstream" metal band (which is pretty much every metal band you've ever heard of) and give them a 5-10% and say that the album was absolutely garbage and isn't worth listening to (meanwhile giving bands like for example Lidskjalv, a fairly obscure BM project that had a demo in 1995 a review of 90% saying "best album ever, true metal"). If they wanted to impress me, they'd have listened to far more bands and have more developed and varied tastes, allowing them to distinguish what is good from each subgenre rather than distinguishing their preference for a single subgenre and only that subgenre. However, that's not the case. Of course I'm exaggerating a bit here, but one visit to their forums can easily show you the argumentative and elitist nature of some of the members. Topics derail quickly and oftentimes lead to random flamewars with little to no substance, or if there is any it's not related to the topic.

Metal is a diverse genre. As long as there is human emotion and instruments to play on, there will be metal or at least something like it. It's not like the genre is going to just die out. If there was, for some reason, a way that it would (not counting the destruction of the planet or something like that :P), it'd be due to the rabid and elitist fanbase completely seperating themselves and their music from the genre (luckily metal is too big for this to actually happen).

I tend to listen to what I think sounds good. Whether or not it's "mainstream" (such an oxymoron for metal) matters very little to me. Sometimes due to song structure and musicianship I'll prefer a less "mainstream" act over a mainstream one, but for the most part it doesn't phase me to listen to a supposedly mainstream band like Behemoth or Opeth, both of which are excellent and incredibly talented groups.

Well, I'm still going to stay around the Metal-Archives forums, and use the site to find new bands and information. Really if there's anything I can deal without though, it's the idiocy of the "elite," the people who aren't so elite as they are close-minded. This goes for those who look back on the early albums, the "golden" days, and claim that those were the best albums and always will be. Sure, they might be great, but most bands (at least any band that improves, and if they don't then why are you still listening to them? Reminds me of Metallica fans who complain about the new albums despite their mediocrity, yet still buy the next one knowing what to expect) have surpassed their earlier work with a newer album that is better in at least a few aspects. If not them, then a band in the same genre has probably surpassed their earlier work in several areas, and if you don't think so, you probably haven't looked hard enough or listened long enough.

I guess I'll just have to ignore these two groups of people for the most part, although they always tend to ram their opinions down the throats of others. It's one thing to disagree and state your viewpoint, but it's another to say "NO YOU MUST THINK THIS WAY," which is remarkably similar to the religious fanatics that they condemn.

I think that Sothis, a symphonic/melodic black metal band from California had a great and very similar statement on this very point. Don't care for them that much though. :P

Mega-Update March 2009!

Hello. It's been quite some time since I've posted a blog entry. I'm active as ever though, and instead of bore you with many game, movie, and CD reviews as usual, I'm just going to focus on one game and throw out some scores and a line or two for the others (except for specials like Album of the year). Hopefully this one won't be that big.

EDIT: It's longer than I expected. :?

CDs:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2008:

Bloodbath: The Fathomless Mastery

Now the most played album on my Ipod (my old 20GB 3rd generation broke awhile ago :(), this is one of the most well-executed straight up death metal albums I've ever listened to. From the blasting opener 'At the Behest of Their Death' to the sing-along chorus of 'Mock the Cross,' this album delivers on all fronts. 'Process of Disillumination,' a personal favorite of mine due to the unique refrain and pounding verses, throws the album into traditional death metal gear after the opening track. Songs like 'Slaughtering the Will to Live' bring out the Morbid Angel vibes and the choruses of 'Treasonous' and 'Iesous' (two great tracks side-by-side) get stuck in your head rather easily as the black metal-esque lyrics "Constant suffering/Heaving breath/Cross hangs twisted round his neck" come roaring over the speakers. Perhaps the weakest track on the album, 'Drink from the Cup of Heresy,' is still decent although it throws itself in the fret-fondling category. Devouring the Feeble is more of the same, which is by no means a bad thing. The pounding Earthrot and excellent outro of Hades Rising are memorable and quite refreshing for an album that never relents. The album closes with 'Wretched Human Mirror,' a song that ends with sound-bites from I am Legend "Everybody...Everybody...in the whole world, that you and I have ever known...is dead." Katatonia's drummer is great at producing this kind of music. His skills are quite apparent early on, but he doesn't limit himself to just blasting. Mikael's voice is as great as ever, generally sticking to his deeper range this time around. The guitars are well-tuned and the production value is excellent all the way through. However, this album isn't the most "accessible" either (this is metal; accessibility is for the radio). After several listens you finally 'get' the album, and it all flows so nicely (violently?) together, making it my favorite album released in 2008.

9.25/10.
It'll be up there with my other favorite albums. :)

Havoc Unit - h.IV+: 8.5 (Excellent industrial Black Metal from the folks behind ...And Oceans)
Bloodbath - Unblessing the Purity (EP): 9.0 (reviewed as an EP; Great teaser for The Fathomless Mastery)
Gojira - The Way of All Flesh: 8.5 (Enjoyable and unique progressive metal from France; impresses again)
Heaven Shall Burn - Iconoclast Part I, The Final Resistance: 8.0 (Ex-Deathcore act Heaven Shall Burn release perhaps their strongest album yet)
Kalmah - For the Revolution: 8.5 (More of the same, different tunes, modified voice, all of it's enjoyable whether or not you've heard their other stuff)
Meshuggah - Obzen: 8.0 (Their best since Chaosphere)
Necrophagist - Epitaph: 8.5 (Late to the party, I know. Muhammed Suicmez makes this album worth listening to)

Several others that I forget.. Also became fans of the bands: Xasthur, Enslaved, Ihsahn, In Mourning, Equilibrium, Belphegor, Ayreon, and several others.

Movies:


Clerks 2 (2006): 9.0 (Great all around comedy.)
Clerks 1 (1994) :
8.0 (production issues, but what did I expect from a budget movie? Hilarious nonetheless.)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001): 8.0 (many lols when in the right mood.)
Watchmen (2009):
8.5 (Great movie, excellent use of sty1e and stayed relatively close to the GN.)
Death Race (2008 ):
5.0 (Mediocre, but somewhat entertaining.)
Feast 3 - The Happy Ending (2009): LOL (cannot review due to it being so stupid(ly hilarious)).

There were definately more, I just forgot them. Again.

Games:

STALKER: Clear Skies: 8.0 (technical issues galore, a massive improvement over vanilla STALKER though; refreshing and up there with the best FPS this gen.)
Dead Space: 9.0 (If only it had better survival elements, it'd be an excellent survival-horror. It's what an action-horror should strive to be though. Not like the half-baked RE series (4&5).)
Medieval 2: Total War: 8.5 (Way too deep. Not a bad thing if you've got the time for it.)
Hellgate: London: 7.0 (Only because I bought it for 6$ :P)
Last Remnant: 8.0 (Great game, but I'm stuck. Technical issues and a lame main character are notable issues.)

Mad World

IGN Review (A review I mostly agree with; also shows a large range of the things that you can do)

The Issue with the GS review:

Well, other than it being written by Kevin V. (the guy who gave Assassin's Creed a 9.0 :lol: ), the text is inconsistent with the score. He essentially says the game is excellent, but too short Sure the game's short, which is where most of his complaints from all critics came from, but to say that a beat-em up should be much longer would over-amplify the repetitiveness of the game (something this game doesn't have a problem with at first due to the variety of items, weapons, kills, abilities, etc.; however on a second playthrough it can get tedious at times) and the entire genre for that matter. Plus, just upping the difficulty will make the game last at least 15 hours, and there's enough unlockable content to play through again.

Ironically, he also gave a much higher score to No More Heroes (9.0), another short beat-em up with a weaker story and less variety.

ANYWAY...
Okay, instead of come out with a review, I'm going to state my opinion and analyze the (great; especially for an action/beat-em up) story.

SPOILERS!

The entire story, at least from what I gathered of it, is an extended analogy of our modern day society (hence the name: Mad World). As you progress, you find that there is more to the gameshow (DeathWatch) than you originally expected. The Deathwatchers are funded secretly by a corporation backed by government employees. This corporation bio-engineered the mass virus that they used to infect the isolated (due to the destruction of all roads out, disabling of cell phones, helicopters, etc.) populace of the island, forcing them to comply with the game so they would receive a vaccine. Jack is a mysterious contestant with serious skills that was brought into the contest and sponsored by Lord Gesser. However his contract with Gessner fell through due to Jack's actions, and he was further sponsored by an enigmatic and rather knowledgeable "Agent XIII." Of course, since Jack breaks off contact with DeathWatch HQ early on, they are consistently running around trying to find out what he's been up to (since even though there's hundreds of cameras all over the city, they can't watch everything). They run a DNA test on jack, finding out that he's the reigning champion of the DeathWatch held in 2001, which explains why he's able to rise in rank/kill so quickly. Jack progresses, twists occur, etc. etc. The final conversations between Agent XIII, Jack, and Leonardo are the parts that really exemplify this point, however.

The political/philosophical references begin when your government support girl (I already forgot her name) tells you that the corporation is an affiliate of the Socialist party, who was hit hard in the last election. Their financial troubles led them to back a company that bio-engineered the virus, and holds the only vaccine. DeathWatch serves as a proving ground for the disease, and if it succeeds they could infect a mass population with it and administer the vaccine for a hefty sum of money. Despite the ideals of the socialists (closer equality, help for the weak, etc.), they're still money hungry just like everyone else in the government and various corporations, blurring the line between pro-government and pro-business groups. This is much the case with today's society, no matter what idealogy you hold, greed is the backing motivation. Jack knew something like this was up, and after speaking with Agent XIII, learns that there's more to this than just money. DeathWatch has always been called upon to solve blood disputes, which there has yet to be one in this year's installation. As Jack meets up with the leader of the Deathwatchers (who run the games, and is also a tool), he is saved by Leonardo's bullet (which kills the leader). Jack kills the leaders minions and confronts Leonardo, who is the son of the CEO of the company that created the virus. Jack is is disgusted with how his father would kill millions for monetary gain to support a cause (the socialist party) which would ultimately do the same thing again. Leonardo was a priveleged son, but he believed that the games were the most fun and spectacular thing he had ever witnessed. Ultimately leading Jack to call the world "mad" since people like his father would kill millions for money, and people like Leonardo would kill millions for sport. An extremist example, but perfectly fitting. Of course then he just throws Leonardo off of a building (like anyone would do; the kid is annoying as hell and looks like Leon from RE4).

END SPOILERS.

I thought it was pretty good anyway. Over-analyzed the whole thing a bit, but still I believe that was the main point. It was written by a FF writer. :)

Score: 9.0/10.

With that I'm done reviewing/writing about pointless subjects and delving too deeply into games that were meant for quick entertainment. Maybe I'll write another blog in like, 5 months.

And With that, the Summer Dies...[another big update]

I haven't updated this thing in awhile, so I thought I'd treat you to (another) huge blog entry. A lot has happened since I've been gone. I've been to the beach, gone places, played games, found new music, hung out with friends, seen movies, and my girlfriend came back from Europe after being gone for 8 weeks, so this update will be quite large. Anyway, I'll start with movies. By the way, there may be spoilers in every part of this blog, so don't read the sections about things you haven't experienced.

Movies

Alright So I've seen quite a few movies in the time I've been gone, most of them were old, such as Rambo: First blood, Predator 1 (saw the whole thing this time), American History X, Batman Begins (mediocrity at it's finest) but most notably: The Dark Knight.

Now onto the review portion (I'll break down my other reviews with a sentence or two, this is my featured movie for the summer). Most people have seen it, many said it's great, and there's now a site up calling for people to see it again to boost NA sales beyond Titanic. The fanbase is...rabid.

The movie opens with a well-planned bank heist orchestrated by the Joker himself, using a schoolbus to escape. The movie develops in fairly standard fashion from here, revealing the cast and giving us brief glimpses at their personalities. The Joker (played by Heath Ledger) is clearly did the best job out of the 3 major main characters. His pencil-trick introduction was fantastic, Heath Ledger captured the insanity of the Joker extremely well. Christian Bale, who plays Batman does an alright job as well, decently delivering his lines as Bruce and being the rich playboy sty1e character that he was in the first movie, Batman Begins. When he becomes Batman, his voice instantly becomes harsher and more grating, and is sometimes irritating to listen to. A minor nuisance, nonetheless. Maggie Gylenhaal plays Rachel Dawes, another main character who eventually meets her demise at the end of one of the Joker's schemes. This leads to the creation of Two-Face, who is the hospitalized and gambling-absolution crazed Harvey Dent (played by Aaron Eckhart). All of the actors in general gave a decent, if not subpar performance. Heath is the only really notable actor, although Aaron Eckhart performed his role fairly well.

The plot has to deal with Bruce Wayne's realization of his "other half," the relationship between Harvey Dent and Rachel, and the crazed Joker's plans to cause political dissent in the city of Gotham. A decent setup with a moderate amount of action. Of course this is a PG-13 film, so the action is fairly unbelievable and toned down in many parts (not to mention the cinematography during some of the action scenes was weak). However still a very solid job, and the ending is given away when Bruce begins his monologue, which sums up the movie perfectly. A few plotholes litter the movie but are generally excusable, such as the Joker's ending (he was left hanging and laughing). To summarize the movie is essentially a bunch of small events interwoven by the characters that drive the story, and it's executed fairly well. It is absolutely worth seeing.

A very solid 8.0/10. (If I didn't rate in .5's I'd probably say 8.3-8.4, you round down).

Other movies (that I generally try to rate given the timeframe they were made):
Rambo: First blood -- 8.0 (Solid action film with a realistic ending, better than 4)
Predator -- 8.0 (Solid action film, few flaws)
American History X -- 7.0 (a few notable story flaws in a story-based movie)
Batman Begins -- 6.0 (Nothing notable about this movie, move along)

Music

I've bought quite a few albums since I've updated this blog, so here you go! More reviews (fun, I know :P).

Agalloch - Ashes Against the Grain (2006)
Genre: Disputable; Doom, Folk, Black, Progressive metal.

I'm not sure I need to do a review for this album. When I bought it (a few days after I finished by previous blogpost, ironically) after one listen I knew I was hearing something different, and altogether special. Clearly the best album I've ever listened to, from the monolithic intro of "Limbs" to the crushing sadness of "Fire Above, Ice Below" (personal favorite) to the apostasy of the three-part 19 minute epic "Our Fortress Is Burning", this album is a masterpiece. The melodic sophomore song, "Falling Snow" is a fan-favorite and easily the most traditional out of every song on the album. The short instrumental track "This White Mountain on which You Will Die" perfectly leads into "Fire Above, Ice Below." If you have any musical sensibilities, then you will definately want to check out this album. Absolutely beautiful.

10/10. :o :D

Agalloch - The Mantle (2002)
Genre: Disputable; Doom, Folk, Black, Progressive metal (mostly acoustic).

Another very memorable album, this one focuses more on the acoustic and natural sounds. The 17-minute opener (of course, including intro song), "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion" is stunning and easily the most instantly memorable track on the album. The album progresses from there and in The Lodge Haughm uses a deer skull as a percussion instrument, which adds a unique sound to the instrumental track. The album essentially ends with "...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth," which harkens back to the two and a half minute intro song "A Celebration for the Death of Man" which brings the album full circle, leading up to a very sad and lonely song aptly named "A Desolation Song" for the closing. The acoustic guitarwork is great, although I personally prefer the electric guitars of their earlier work and Ashes Against the Grain.

9.0/10. :)



Opeth- Still Life (1999, 2008 Remastered)
Genre: Progressive Death Metal.

Easily their most technical work, and one of my favorite (if not my favorite) album by them, I've had half the album for over a year now so I don't really feel like giving it a proper review, but it's absolutely stunning. The remastered version doesn't seem to be much better (that's hard to do), but it fixes some small quirks with the original. I find it to be Opeth's best concept album, including My Arms, Your Hearse and Ghost Reveries (all but Isolation Song were concepts). Very, very solid album with a great story. The ending feels a bit weaker than it could've been.

9.75/10.
:D



Anaal Nathrakh - Hell is Empty, and All the Devils are Here (2007)
Genre: Blackened Death, Black with (real) Grindcore elements. Vocal/Drum-based.

There has never been an album so misanthropic. This album is extreme, fast, and powerful-it's a return to the Codex Necro with modern sensibilities. The album opens with "Der Holle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen" (for those who don't know German, that means "the vengeance of hell is burning in my heart," strange for a UK band anyway). The sweeping, almost operatic choruses are remniscient of Eschaton. "Virus Bomb" brings back the catchy choruses, while "The Final Absolution" and "Lama Sabacthani"'s choruses tend to take a more black-metal lyrical approach, "Until the World Stops Turning" is a great misanthropic speed-ballad that draws from the duo's earlier work on Domine Non Es Dignus. This track leads into "Genetic Noose," which is apparently inspired by Napalm Death's Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore approach (and features guest members). "Sanction Extremis (kill them all)" is probably my favorite song on the album, with it's epic chorus and wide-variety of vocals used. The drums remain beating throughout pretty much every song here, consistent blastbeats and many other rhythmic genre standards pervade each song (drum-machine, since they do not have a drummer). The ending track "Castigation and Betrayal" is nothing more than pure hatred in song form, it's hard to believe such a song came from two ordinary looking people. It's easily the most extreme song I've heard in ages, maybe even the most extreme song. A very short album in all though, and that's it's biggest flaw. The Grindcore elements really got the better of this one with songs shorter than 3 minutes, but it's still a twisted and memorable amalgamation of their previous work, for the time it lasts anyway.

9.5/10. :D


Shortened Review(s):

Opeth- Morningrise (1996)

Another great Opeth album, this one is harder to grasp initially (I don't think I've gotten it yet) but opens and ends quite well. The fan favorite "Black Rose Immortal" is their longest song (20.5 minutes), and has a great outro. Another great album.

8.5/10. :)

Note: Watershed with the two bonus tracks on the LE is a 9.0, easily. :D

Another band I definately need to hear more from is Ahab, German "Nautical" Funeral Doom. Ad now for the moment you've all been waiting for (well should've been, this is ****ing Gamespot for crying out loud. :P).

Games:

As everyone here already knows, the summer is the dry-season for gaming. Very few notable games come out, or if they are notable they're niche and not very popular. I haven't played much since NG, but I was recently (okay, 2 months ago) addicted to...

Warcraft III - The Frozen Throne


Defense of the Ancients screenshot.

Of course, I generally played online. The Singleplayer portion of the game didn't strike me as unique or interesing right off the bat so I went with some friends to try out the numerous custom-game types online. DotA is easily the most popular, with two large bases and three set paths for the CPU spawned allies to travel and fight on, this custom game can lead to some epic team-based battles (none of which I have seen, other than in videos since I'm a newb and play with bots). A lot of fun if you're good, it was fairly fun to try out various heroes even though we had no idea what we were doing. Primarily we played Castle Defence (Fans 7.7, or an LotR variant which get boring), and Footmen Frenzy 5.4 (Footies!), although occasionally other versions (they're up to 14 I believe). Large-scale arena battles populate every Footman Frenzy game (or Footman Wars if you want to go old-school).

A general Footmen Frenzy map.

With randomized heroes and different strategies for each one, you'll need teamwork to win any Footman Frenzy game (or you can hope your opponents DC or are absolutely terrible :lol:). Anyway a very fun game type. WC3 offers plenty of variety with random game modes like Uther Party (Mario Party ripoff), and joke games like Do Not Talk. It's given me some memorable RTS experiences, even though all I played (for the most part) was the multiplayer.

9.0/10.

I wanted to make this game the feature on the last blog entry, and I guess the feature for this one will be...it's length? :?

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl


Mutated humans (Snorks) crawling down a hall in good ol' Laboratory X16.

An absolutely stunning FPS experience easily rivaling last year's best (The Darkness, Crysis). This game is easily more atmospheric and immersive than Bioshock, and with the Oblivion Lost mod itmakes STALKER what it originally should've been like. The graphics are superb due to the dynamic (realistic) lighting, the sound is realistic and frightening, and the survival elements are excellently well done. The horror elements will also make you jump a few times, especially if playing late at night.


Do you want that to pop up in your face? Damn things can go invisible like Predators.

The setting is superb, the twisted version of the real-life Chernobyl Zone is great. Of course the game is based around the 1979 movie, STALKER, which I have yet to see. The free-roaming elements aren't as well fleshed out unless you get the OL mod, which makes the entire game traversible from the getgo, making it feel more like a survival-FPS version of Oblivion. The biggest weakness is the story. I'll forgive it for being an FPS, but the whole game feels so surreal it's almost hard to find it believable, which can ultimately tear you from the immersion the atmosphere seems to give you. There's numerous parts where the grammar is poor as well (due to it being poorly translated from Russian and Ukrainian). The multiple endings and user-created mods give the game more longevity. The community is quite dedicated and if the initial Clear Skies impressions, screen shots, and reviews are anything to go by, it'll be like the original STALKER with OL installed; an instant win for PC gamers. :)

9.5/10.

Soul Calibur IV


Sophitia beating on Astaroth, who would've thought?

Fighting games! Finally they're making a comeback this year and next. Soul Calibur IV is the beginning of the Fighting game reclamation, and it isn't a slouch either. The characters are well designed (although Astaroth and Nightmare's new looks are iffy, they have their old looks) and balanced if you discount the Apprentice (Starkiller) and Yoda in the 360 version (which is the one I play), both of which are rather cheap (moreso Yoda, Apprentice may be Bottom Tier). The online is generally smooth, and it's a new addition to the series. The animation is silk-smooth and the Tower of Lost Souls is an improvement over the previous' games "feature" modes.


Cervantes posing, just because he's cooler than you.

The game is essentially comprised of a bunch of small changes from the previous series' entries and a huge graphical overhaul. The character creation is a lot of fun, and the storymode is far more solid than the old "arcade" only mode of previous games (1 & II). The online community is generally a bunch of button mashers and input lag can really decide a match for good players, and sadly many of the kids who play online really wouldn't be doing as well as they are were it not for input lag (which is always apparent, especially for wireless consoles). Hilde feels like a weaker addition to the series, but has a different/unique weapon(s) so she's special, and the characters from the other games have more or less retained their movesets, bar those that were broken like Yung Seong. Maxi is still the button-masher's favorite low tier character. All in all it's a solid fighting game and hopefully there'll be many more to come!

9.0/10.

----

With that big update, summer ends (officially in a week and a few days). Sadly this summer feels like it's just getting started with all the things that have been going on recently...:( I guess the big update this time was just...a large amount of reviews. Oh well, I hope it was interesting enough to hold your attention.

I'm sure there are some huge glaring grammatical errors up there somewhere. I'll find them and edit them out eventually.

  • 19 results
  • 1
  • 2