Sometimes a disc just crosses your desk that shocks you a bit and that happened this past week with the new record from the reunited Guano Apes. This German group never really had a heck of a lot of success in the U.S., though they were pretty big in their homeland as well as a few other places. They released three albums between 1997 and 2003 that were a combo of alt. metal and nu-metal, a sound that never really grabbed me. Then they broke up in 2004. But the group has since reunited and put out a new album called Bel Air (badass’ness: 11/11) which was released in April oversees and does seem to now be out in the U.S. through The End records.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t excited to listen to the disc at all but my lord am I glad I did. Thankfully there are no remnants of nu metal anywhere on the disc. In fact, they’ve stripped back almost all the metal tones and make more of an alt-rock album. The closest thing that comes to metal is “All I Wanna Do” and even that’s a little to poppy to be considered as such. Instead you get some flat out awesome riffs, that are radio ready but not cheesy in any way. That track as well as the two lead songs, “Sunday Lover” and “Oh What A Night” are both ridiculously catchy – more so than anything I’ve ever heard from Guano Apes before. In fact the whole album is filled with blistering hooks and fantastic choruses that provide the ability to both rock out and sing along.
There’s been some great metal releases this year, but I’ve yet to hear that perfect rock disc until now. There is virtually nothing wrong with Bel Air – just a flat out masterpiece of a rock record that is completely irresistible. Run to pick this one up.
Moving over to death metal for a quick minute, I’ve learned something over the past few years of reviewing new music; to be a good Swedish death metal band, you don’t have to be innovative. You simply have to follow the accepted formula and put out something worth headbanging to. That was a painful revelation for me as I’m very big on pushing genres forward. While I came to grips with this a few months back, it wasn’t until I heard the new Demonical record that I was able to put this into practice. Cyclone Empire released their third album – Death Infernal (badass’ness: 11/11) earlier in the year but the megalith that is Metal Blade is about to release it in the U.S. If I stuck by my original thoughts and wanted something different then I would have hated this record out of principal. But I couldn’t. How in the world could I hate the most perfect Swedish death metal record I’ve heard in years? Buzz-saws. Check. Grunts. Check. Groove after groove after groove. Check. Crucifixion on the cover art. Check. I mean, Death Infernal is straight out of Swedish Death Metal For Dummies. Yet, Demonical bring it better and harder than any death metal group I’ve heard in a long time. If you like the overall genre, then there is simply no way to hate this record. In fact, give it a few years and I wouldn’t be shocked to hear it mentioned as one of the top Swedish death metal records of all time.
And now back to the complete opposite end of the spectrum with the debut release from 40 Watt Sun. The Inside Room (badass’ness: 11/11) has pretty much the same life as Demonical, released earlier this year on Cyclone Empire but now coming out in the U.S. on Metal Blade. While this may be the debut for this doom band, fans of the genre will recognize singer/guitarist Patrick Walker and drummer Christian Leitch from the beloved Warning. Warning’s Watching From A Distance is one of the greatest and absolutely moving pieces of doom metal ever made. Lyrically Warning was all about despair and hopeless relationships. That was 2006 though. This is 2011 when Walker now sings about relationships having hope. Both bands have a similar style, though 40 Watt Sun’s brand of funeral doom is played with a sunnier feel – or at least as sunny as funeral doom can be. The riffs in the five long songs are fuzzy, atmospheric and yet filled with subtle melody. But it’s Walker’s vocals that made Warning and make 40 Watt Sun. One of the best voices in the genre, he could be singing in any language or making up words and yet you still couldn’t help but be moved simply by the tone in his voice. It’s like he sits in front of the microphone and says “here I am, take me in.” The Inside Room is one of the most open and honest sounding records I’ve heard in a long time, one that will have you mesmerized, wiping a tear from your eye (you got something in it, we know). The Inside Room is completely amazing and might I even say, better than anything Warning put out. Tell the world!
“Open My Eyes”
Monday morning someone pissed me off at work so I decided to go blast the new LP from All Pigs Must Die. God Is War (badass’ness: 9/11) makes me feel better about myself. I’m not the type of guy that gets angry, listens to angry music and then goes out and causes mayhem. The music is what helps me bring the tension back down somehow, no matter how fierce it is. And God Is War is fucking fierce. Coming out on August 16th on Southern Lord, this four piece from Massachusetts create breakneck death fueled hardcore. The sounds coming from this album are simply amazing. It’s got the hardcore feel, the energy of d-beat and throws in a little Swedish death metal now and again. Every now and then they slow it down simply to build it back up even harder a few seconds later. And these guys really seem to hate humanity as a whole. “Third World Genocide,” “Sadistic Vindicator, “Extinction Is Ours.” These aren’t puppy dog tails here. God Is War is a tremendous energy release from a band with simply a ton of promise.
No less face melting but in a totally different way is the new LP from Brainoil titled Death Of This Dry Season (badass’ness: 9/11). This one is coming out on August 2nd on the always quality 20 Buck Spin label. This bay area band hasn’t released an album since 2003 but this was well worth the wait. They are mainly a sludge filled doom band, though they bring faster riffs and more power than most of their peers. They also throw an element of crust into the mix which is combined perfectly in a song like “Crimson Shadows.” I don’t know if it’s simply a coincedence, but 20 Buck Spin releases never seem to drag. For the most part, they get to the point, then get the fuck out of dodge. Death Of This Dry Season is no different. The album is seven blistering tracks, the longest being five minutes long, which of course is crazy short for a sludge group. Because of the quick pace none of the monstrous riffs overstay their welcome and you finish the disc begging for more.