Acid Witch, Stoned (Hells Headbangers)
A two member doom outfit consisting of Shagrat and Dave (oh, scary) these dudes bring heaviness and evil from the opening note. Their menacing dark doom sound is punctuated by a dark almost death metal growl.  A bit of  spookiness comes from the central theme of witchcraft but also a nice use of an organ to add a halloween-ish feel (easy to say when a track is called “Trick or Treat”).

It’s not all serious as a tongue-in-cheek track like “Metal Movie Marijuana Massacre Meltdown” with a verse like “Seen these movies so many times / turn off the volume because I know all the lines / so fucking high just let the stereo play / but only if it’s Lizzy Borden or Fastway” are kind of funny.But it’s rollicking monstrous riffs like in “Thundering Hooves” that really make the album. It’s probably even better if you are what the title says but even if you haven’t smoked some bud first but just the evil sound of this should be enough to get you through the night.

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Inquisition, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrososm (Hells Headbangers)
Finally, I get to talk about the Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrososm.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  Well, actually I have no fucking clue what that means and somehow I don’t care either.  What I do care about is the sound on the disc and those sounds are damn good.

If you give this one a listen I’m sure you’d be a little surprised I like it so much. I don’t need to understand lyrics for the most part but I can’t stand vocals that are simply over-the-top and kind of silly and the voice on this is kind of odd. Inquisition has a sound rooted in black metal and end up sounding quite a bit different than their peers because they use only guitar, drums and voice.  The music has a dark, guttural feel to it while often times I feel like there’s some kind of punk influence as well.  Dagon’s vocals sort of sound like he has a frog in his throat or you know like when you take your hand and you physically vibrate your vocal chords to get that fun warbly sound of them?  Normally I would consider this simply ludicrous but they simply work brilliantly with this sound.

I can’t stop listening to “Desolate Funeral Chant” which I can close my eyes and lose myself in the darkness before they speed it up with a fucking menacing riff.  “Crepuscular Battle Hymn” is a true headbanger and the album ends with one of the best riffs on the disc in “Across the Abyss Ancient Horns Bray.”  Ominous Doctrines is a masterpiece that shouldn’t be ignored. It becomes the second record to be placed on my early best of 2011 list.

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Buckethead, Untitled (TDRS Music)
Another Buckethead record, you don’t say? Released in December with a limited edition cover with artwork completed by the man himself, right now this is known simply as Happy Holidays from Buckethead.  In February it will be released with permanent artwork as well as track names (of which this version has none).

The longest song on this 13-track disc is 4:57 with most hovering around the three minute mark, which is a rare thing for Buckethead. Also a rare thing, something this damn rockin’ and accessible for the masses.  This is his 30th solo album and amazingly one of his best works.  There’s two sides to Buckethead – the one that needs to experiment and the shredder – with results often getting blurred in the mix, but this one of those times where the guitarist in him shines through.  This disc is pure rock and metal with furious soloing and amazingly catchy riffs.  The experimentation is very minimal on this album simply letting him shine as a soloist.  I have no idea who plays with him on this record, though it sounds like a full band.  All those details should be revealed with the regular edition. Either way, this is the second album of the post and third of the young year to be placed on my best of 2011 list.  Without a doubt, this is one of the best albums of his career and a great introduction to Buckethead if you’ve never heard his music before.

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Black Witchery, Inferno of Sacred Destruction (Hells Headbangers)
Grave Desecrator, Insult (Hells Headbangers)
Lately anything “blackened” has really been interesting me. blackened thrash, blackened punk, blackened folk and blackened death much like Black Witchery bring to the table. The bare bones traditional black metal doesn’t usually interest me as I’d much rather hear someone push that genre into realms that haven’t been reached before. By crossing the streams with another genre of metal it opens up the possibilties that something new and/or great will come out of the sound.

What I do seem to hear in all of these group than blend the blackness in, is an element of punk chaos that’s impossible not to get excited for. Now Inferno of Sacred Destruction is primarily a death metal record but with crunchy black metal riffs and vocals that fall somewhere between the two genres you get something that you can headbang and throw fists to at the same time. And just like punk, the songs on the album are short with a few barely hitting the two minute mark. That may also be the only drawback to the album as songs fade out quickly and awkwardly before they feel complete. But overall, it’s a brutal and chaotic record that’s definitely worth your time.

I include Grave Desecrator in with Black Witchery because I’d be pretty much writing the same review for Insult as I did the previous disc. There are moments like the title track that are a bit more melodic than anything Black Witchery put forth and that’s fine too. The “blackgrind” tag is being put to this record but it’s really blackened death.  If you like one of these albums you should like the other as well.

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About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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