Crucifyre, Infernal Earthly Divine (Pulverized)
A new band playing old-school Swedish death metal? You don’t say? Swedish death metal is so damn played out at this point that listening to this disc was not at the top of my priority list. However, maybe the fact that these guys haven’t had the time yet to fall into the same patterns as dozens of other bands playing this style is the reason I dig this as much as I do.
Crucifyre no doubt bring the Swedish chainsaw grind like all of the bands they probably look up to. At the same time, they strip it down to the bare bones to create a sound similar to Bathory or early Celtic Frost and yet it’s also pretty fresh sounding. It might sound funny but the moment I figured out I wasn’t listening to just any other deathmetal record was the minute or so intro of “Hellish Sacrifice” with a choir of ladies chanting. Then that was followed by a riff that was right out of the viking metal playbook and I was hooked.
“Majestical/Sadistical” is 2:34 of brutal speed metal and “Hail Satan” maybe even mixes in a stoner riff or two with an unintentional moment of humor with the lyrics “Fuck you / Hail Satan / Fuck You and the horse you road in on.” Maybe it’s not thatfunny but you don’t hear that horse you rode in on line in too many metal songs. The rest offers blistering riffs and lots of moments where you can tell these guys want to remain true to their roots but bring something new to the table.
Coming out on January 17th in the US, this is truly the first record of 2011 that you need to listen to and the first one to get put on the fresh “Best of” list for the new year.
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Enthroned, Pentagrammaton (Regain)
Look, there are going to be plenty of black metal fans out there that love this like no other because Enthroned have been nothing if not consistent over their 15+ years of making albums. And a lot of people have already formulated their opinion on Pentagrammaton as it came out oversees at the beginning of 2010 and only made its way to the US in December. The thing is though, that I truly believe that as metal fans we have to ask for more than what Enthroned brings to the table.
What they have going for them are some complex and compelling lyrics to their brand of occultism. “Our blood sang out with glorious glee as Leviathan trounced waves / surrounding circles dusted with glow / chromed ice melting with astral flow” (“Ornament of Grace”) are lyrics you just don’t hear very often. But what they don’t have going for them is the fact that outside of the lyrics, everything else is completely unoriginal.
Every time Nornagest growls, the blastbeatsare present and the blistering black metal is in full force . When he doesn’t sing, the band tends to move towards more melodic passages. Together, it’s a decent mix, but if you really separate them out there’s nothing special about either side of this, especially the speedy black metal riffs. The title track sticks out like a sore thumb to me as just noise withgrowls. I feel like I’ve heard the same track from Enthroned and 100 other bands before. How many fucking black metal albums is the world supposed to be dealt that contain such generic drivel? Maybe Enthroned can get by on the fact that they have made a good name for themselves in the world of black metal and feel they can put anything they want out. But Christ, challenge us a little with something that pushes even just one boundary.
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Grave, Burial Ground (Regain)
Unfortunately, now is my time to talk out my ass. Just like Enthroned, Grave bring absolutely nothing new to the table at all. With each album they painstakingly recreate the old school Swedish death metal sound with precision. However, there is still something about Burial Ground that is worth listening to.
I like black and death metal about the same at this point in my life, so this isn’t to say I simply dig death metal better and that’s why this “same” is better than the “same” listed one album above this. Grave is just simply more tuneful and more interesting as a whole if we’re comparing the two groups. There’s certainly no part of me that is blown away by this album but I never want to shut it off either. There’s really not a whole lot more to say than that. It’s traditional Swedish death metal, which you either already love or already hate. Sometimes it can be just that simple.
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The Meads of Asphodel, The Murder of Jesus the Jew (Candlelight)
If The Meads of Asphodel weren’t so damn unique, you probably wouldn’t see this review here. As I was listening to the record on my iPodtwo friends of mine got kind of offended by the title of the album and although I debated whether to post it or not, in the end it was worth a paragraph or two to explain the record.
The Meads of Asphodel are a group that are based in black metal, but they push the boundaries of the genre just about as far as they can go without leaving the evil confines of it. They add pop, crust punk, horns and more to create a different and entertaining sound.
The Murder of Jesus the Jewis actually a musical about, well…c’mon that should be obvious now. There are spoken intros on a lot of songs as scene setters which lead into some wildly amusing songs. “Apocalypse of Lazarus” has to be the most interesting as at times it sounds like a metal version of the Killers, other times just simply a full on bongo assault and I swear I hear a little “Forever Young” from Alphaville in there. “Stiller of Tempests” has a full on folk breakdown smack dab in the middle of the track, while “Man from Kerioth” is a very English sounding punk tune. And even if I had hated the album it was worth taking a chance on just because of the title of the final track, “A Canticle for the Lost Amputees of Aelia Capitolina Who Have Been Trampled Under the Iron Shod Hooves of Salivating Hell Rams and Impaled on the Shimmering Tusks of Salvation Within the Abandoned Tabernacle of a Bronze Age Yyth.” I think I may get a tattoo of a salivating hell ram.
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Disiplin, Radikale Randgruppe (ATMF)
Here’s another record that probably would have never made it to writing had it not been so unique sounding, though it had nothing to do with the title of the disc.
I frequently use the “wall of sound” phrase when speaking about some of the louder, in-your-face type metal albums but with Radikale Randgruppe, unless we’re talking the Great Wall of China here, this is more of a blanket of sound. See, the unique part of this album is this industrial metal sheet of noise that lays over the top of every moment on this disc. It’s sort of like the snow that came down in New York and New England around Christmas, layer on top of layer of crippling white powder. Or like when the wind chill is -4 degrees out and you need a blanket just to keep your blanket warm. Or even quite possibly the sound of being directly in the fires of a burning hell. No matter how I want to label it, I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything like this before, nor do I really understand the purpose of the noise blanket but maybe that’s not important (or maybe it’s the most important thing. Clearly I haven’t figured that out yet).
What is important I think, is what’s underneath. I originally thought nothing was under the blanket. I listened to it in my car the first time and that’s totally not the way to do this. Even at the loudest possible volume I could stand, all I heard was industrial sheet metal in my head. You need a good set of headphones for this one to hear the grim black metal, the growling vocals, the industrial programming and the dub that’s beneath the surface on this disc. All of this is extremely bleak and completely buried in the mix (and I picture that’s the way it was intended to be) but it’s a fascinating listen if you can really pay close attention. I would love to hear what the disc sounds like if you take the top layer off and present just the tones underneath. I have the feeling it would be a very listenable album (which also may defeat the point of this disc). As it is though, it’s a blisteringly massive noise fest that has plenty of rewards if it’s given the chance, however it took me about four listens to really enjoy it (and I still don’t really understand it) and I just don’t know how many people will spend enough time with it to truly “get it.”