Archive for Doom Metal

Album Review – Mares of Thrace “The Pilgrimage” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by Lightning Slim

335141  Any fans of Death From Above 1979, Rush or even Danko Jones know that we Canadians have so much angst in our souls that it only takes a couple of us to create a full-sized rock band. Mares of Thrace bear out this theory on The Pilgrimage, with only two young ladies on drums and baritone guitar making a hellish and compelling amount of noise.

Sonically, the album bears a good deal of resemblance to other prog/sludge acts like Baroness, with abrupt time changes, whisper-to-scream vocals and lyrical paeans to the uglier side of human nature (in the case of The Pilgrimage, the narrative framework is the story of David and Bathsheba).

Mares of Thrace will be ones to watch in the years ahead. Any band that can tour in a minivan and still have their own driver has the opportunity to cultivate a fanbase nationwide and beyond. 8 out of 10

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?

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The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?

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Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule

 

Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.

 

Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!

 

* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

Album Review – The Sword “Apocryphon” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Lightning Slim

TheSwordApocryphon  I often refer to The Sword as “Stoner metal so good you don’t have to be stoned for it”. Unfortunately, with the release of Apocryphon I may have to revise my opinion and reach for some chemical enhancement, as for the first time their output is merely mortal.

All the ingredients are present, but the mixture doesn’t seem to soar quite like before. Previous records have arrived via frothing steeds, the chariots of thunder gods and sleek starships, but Apocryphon sort of plods along, pedestrian in the literal sense. Single “Veil of Isis” has some swing to it but it’s no “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians”. Oddly enough for such a riff-based band, some of the more rollicking moments are on “Execrator” and the title track, where the band pull out the synthesizers and party like it’s 2112.

Still miles better than many records of this ilk, Apocryphon nevertheless falls a bit short of the heavy-rotation status of its predecessors. 6.5 out of 10

Deals & Steals: Viking Swords and Mixing Boards

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by Lightning Slim

lair-of-the-minotaur-album-204pg041310  Hey all, a big backlog of interesting finds from the past couple of months. All prices $US, Shipping about $15  altogether.

3 Inches of Blood – Battlecry Under a Winter Sun $5.59. Old school 3IOB is good times.

Dark Tranquillity – Haven $4.88. I’m trying to like it. Really. The riffs are there, but so is the baritone crooning. At least I didn’t turf it out the window like I did with Projector.

Lair of the Minotaur – Evil Power $4.19. This is currently one of my favourite things; a sludgy, fudgy Melvins-like fuzztone with an Entombed’s worth of aggression. Heavy, heavy shit.

Lonely Island – Turtleneck and Chain $9.99. The perfect thing for chilling and sippin’ on a lite beer.

Landmine Marathon – Sovereign Descent $5.99. Recent changes to the band can’t take away the power of this massive recording.

Imperative Reaction – Minus All $4.49. IR are that rare animal nowadays – traditional electro industrial.

Arch Enemy – Anthems of Rebellion $2.99. Their most ineffectual album to date, but the price was right.

Evanescence – The Open Door $6.99. File under stuff that I know is bad but listen to anyway. So terrible, so in my car all the time. I think it’s because Amy Lee’s voice reminds me of happy times chasing girls in college using Sarah McLachlan as bait.

And lastly, a record that reminds me of a fun concert story:

18368244;encoding=jpg;size=300;fallback=defaultImage  Hanzel und Gretyl – Uber Alles $2.00. I have a soft spot for these Fako-Fascisto Funsters. They played my area with Slick Idiot last year (during Oktoberfest, no less) and blew out the sound system in the club about 20 times in a row. The result was terrible, but I’ll never forget mock-dominatrix Vas Kallas turning to Kaiser von Loopy, completely dropping character, and honking in pure Brooklynese: “This is gonna be one of them nights, eh Rob?”

Thank you, Rob and Betty.

Thank you, Rob and Betty.

Riff Sammiches: 5 Multi-Riff Masterpieces

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

Welcome to the first segment in my new “Lists” category. Lists are a tried-and-true method for bloggers to put up some content when they’re a little lean on material. People also like ’em because they’re so flexible and generate discussion. After all, everyone has their own personal lists and they love to compare. I’m hoping y’all are no exception, so here we go:
We’re all here because we love a good guitar riff, and there are many ways to put them together and make songs. Some artists are stingy or minimalists, and keep their riffs sparse within the tune. Others are total riff factories and splash them about liberally. Here are five tunes made better by generous helpings of guitar goodness. And yes, of course there are more out there, probably by Tool and Machine Head, but I did want to keep things under the 9-minute mark:

5. Bolt Thrower – “Contact – Wait Out”. Featuring an unloved and unfairly judged one-off vocal performance from Dave Ingram, Honour – Valour – Pride starts off with a track featuring an entry riff, a mid-song change-up at around 3:20 and an exit riff that eventually blends with the entry. Superb.

4. Arch Enemy – “Enemy Within”. Another album starter, this time built on one of the best intros in the genre and the big debut of Angela Gossow. I always have to listen to this track twice because as beautiful as the solo section is, the rhythm guitar work underneath it is just as interesting.

3. Iron Maiden – “Powerslave” C’mon, where do you think Arch Enemy got the idea? Sure, we all know the big title riff, but the middle section has enough spare six-string in it write at least three more songs. Those were the days, no?

2. Overkill – “Gasoline Dream”. No strangers to riff largesse, Overkill often close out their records with something even more big and epic. Sometime it has to do with their Overkill-themed masterwork, sometimes not. “Gasoline Dream” is one of the stand-alones, filled with speed changes, multiple ideas and a Sabbath-influenced acoustic ending.

1. Black Sabbath – “Symptom of the Universe”. Did someone mention Sabbath? Mad drum fills! Super-stoned bouncy-bass outro! Cybernetic unicorns! Containing something for literally everyone, “Symptom” is like seven songs in one; none of which make sense and all of which are great.

Classic Album Review – Godflesh “Selfless” 1994

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Selfless occupies a sweet spot between Godflesh’s sludge industrial and drum ‘n bass periods, and it contains an embarrassment of riches. “Xnoybis” sounds like a child’s pot-and-pan marching band as interpreted by construction machinery, “Crush My Soul” is as infectious as it is twitchy, and “Anything is Mine” is still a perennial contender for Heaviest Riff Ever Made. Don’t believe me? Here it is:

All this is capped off with “Go Spread Your Wings”, a mammoth dirge of terrifying empty landscapes containing nothing but a Hitchcockian level of dread.

It’s obvious what charms this album had for a younger me, what with its bottomless pit of nihilism and whalloping sound, but it wasn’t until very recently that I figured out the secret at the dark heart of Selfless: It’s a stoner rock record.

Sure, it’s what stoner rock would sound like if Stanley Kubrick got hold of it. The guitars hold no fuzzy warmth, only loose-stringed snarl, but the riff-based construction and reliance on trance-like repetition are tried and tested weapons of the druggy doom set. And I think that’s the real magic of what Selfless did for us back in 1994, it showed us a new way to be heavy. Heavy didn’t have to be bombastic, it could also bleak, or trippy, or even uplifting (Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh project Jesu leans even further in this direction, creating almost worshipful sounds from the same instrumentation).

Selfless is truly a special record. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen, and if you come across the accompanying EP Merciless, so much the better. It is also a work of genius, but for me pride of place must go to Selfless for making an album-length statement of earth-shattering heaviness. 10 out of 10

Album Review – Amorphis “The Beginning of Times” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on July 29, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  Finland’s Amorphis have been on a Kalevala-inspired roll of late, with albums packed with epic power-pop inspired by the rich images of life and death within the national epic. This year’s outing The Beginning of Times is a bit more solidly conceptual, focusing mainly on (duh) the creation myth and the world’s first hero-figure Vainamoinen. 

It’s a quieter, more self-contained listen than Eclipse, Silent Waters or Skyforger, yet contains many of the elements that have made this phase of Amorphis’ career so successful. Singles “You I Need” and “Mermaid”, while no “Silver Bride”, still manage to show the band’s mastery of the verse-chorus-verse structure that confounds many a technical metal band with its deceptive simplicity. “Mermaid” also contains some timely and tasteful female vocals produced by Marco Hietala, who knows a thing or two about these things.

Solid work from the melodic Finns, The Beginning of Times only misses the podium due to the long shadows of its predecessors. 8 out of 10

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