Epilogue

And that… is that. 195 CDs and 195 reviews over 52 months.

Here they all are, in one place. Plus a few other bits and pieces: bonus albums and album previews that I kindly received because of this project, plus a few photos of all the CDs together.

195 metal CDs (and more)

195 metal CDs (and more)

Just looking at some of those album covers takes me back to when I listened to them, or struggled to find the words to describe them.

It’s been a journey. It has been a welcome focus, particularly during the last year as my marriage has come to an end, and I have moved out of home and into my new flat and new responsibilities as a University halls of residence warden, alongside my daytime responsibilities as the web architect at the University of St Andrews.

One of the joys of this project has been discovering new music, bands and albums that I had never heard of.

A friend of mine, Ava, asked me this evening online which albums have been my favourites, the one that I play again and again. Looking at the list of scores, I gave 17 albums full marks: 100%.

Of those a few stand out most:

Diabolical Masquerade—Death’s Design: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007) is perhaps the overall winner of this project. It’s the go-to album when I need to listen to something heavy, but epic. It’s the movie soundtrack that never was.

Godflesh—Streetcleaner (1989) is an album that I owned already (and I even bought the t-shirt!). This is one of the best albums ever for coding to.

Krysthla—A War Of Souls And Desires (2015) is an album that I was sent to review because of my favourable review of their previous band Gutworm. If this had been part of the original 195 (though some kind of freak time-travel glitch, I guess, what with it being released three years after I started the project) then I expect this would by my ultimate number one album.

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Master (2008) is an album that I have a fondness for. It’s the first album I listened to, on my drive back from Cupar with my treasure trove of compact discs. It’s a brutal album, though, relentless and grand.

Russian Circles—Station (2008) is another album that I return to again and again. It reminds me of Shutter (Scotland), an amazing instrumental Inverness band that had a friend of mine on guitar.

What next?

And so… on with the rest of my life, I guess. Or maybe not. This review site has led to a number of bands sending me forthcoming albums to review.

Up next we have VirvumIlluminance (2016) and Not Above EvilAlways darkest before (2016) to review. And after that eleven CDs that I acquired from a friend of mine, William, in Glasgow: albums by At the Gates, Battle of Mice, Dark Tranquillity, Diamond Head, Fields of the Nephilim, Isis, Jesu, and Obituary.

I’d like to review your album

If you fancy sending me an album to review I would be more than happy to prioritise your album over my busy schedule.

If you want to contact me I’m on Twitter @garethjms or email me gareth@garethjmsaunders.co.uk,

Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Details

Recorded and mixed at Sound Suite Studio from May to June 1998. Produced by Atle Wiig, Knut Naesje and Jo Arlid Toennessen. Engineered by Terje Refsnes. Mixed by Terje Refsnes and Twin Obsenity. Mastered at DMS, Marl, Germany.

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Atle Wiig—Vocals and guitars
  • Jo Arlid Toennessen—Bass
  • Knut Naesje—Drums

Guest musicians

  • Mona Undheim Skottene—Keyboards and vocals
  • Alexander Twiss—Guitars

Tracks

  1. In glorious strife
  2. The usurper’s throne
  3. For blood, honour and soil
  4. Upon the morning field
  5. The wanderer
  6. Riders of the Imperial guard
  7. The thrice-damned legions
  8. The 11th hour
  9. Lain to rest by the sword

Review

Well, here it is… four and a quarter years after I began this project I’m staring at the cover of the final CD: For Blood, Honour and Soil the second of three albums by Norwegian black/pagan/death metallers Twin Obscenity.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this album isn’t your usual black metal release. It’s strangely melodic, and has echoes of Celtic Frost’s early work, with avante garde flourishes and female vocals weaving in and out of the riffs and solos. The guitars are strummed quickly, the drums beat and crash at a m, and the bass rumbles beneath it all. The album is dark but grand, melodic but atonal in places (there are a few solos like this), and keyboards gentle tinkle a haunting melody.

Melodic black metal isn’t really my thing, so to me this isn’t a great album, but it is played with passion and conviction. I can see why someone might really enjoy this.

Conclusion

I had hoped for an outstanding album to be my last review of this collection of CDs. But I guess you can’t have everything (I mean, where would you put it!—Steven Wright). If I was played my albums on random and this one came on then I certainly wouldn’t skip it, I’m just not certain that I’d go hunt it out.

Review score: 70%

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Details

Recorded in January 2004 at Trax East. Engineered and mixed by Eric Rachel. Produced by Eric Rachel and Twelve Tribes. Additional engineering by Eric Kvortek. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Adam Jackson—Vocals
  • Kevin Schindel—Guitar and vocals
  • Andrew Corpus—Guitar
  • Matt Tackett—Bass
  • Shane Shook—Drums

Tracks

  1. Post replica
  2. Baboon music
  3. Translation of fixes
  4. Venus complex
  5. Backburner
  6. Chroma
  7. The train bridge
  8. Godshaped war
  9. Luma
  10. Flight of the pathogen

Review

Twelve Tribes were a metalcore band from Dayton, Ohio. The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004) was their second album, and third release after 2000’s Instruments EP.

Their sound is very much metalcore (metal fused with hardcore punk) with more than a handful of other influences thrown in for good measure, not least of all Rage Against  the Machine.

The album opens with “Post repulica” (track 1) a twisting riff that soon opens up to a metalcore shout-fest. This is the thing that I really can’t connect with easily in metalcore: the incessant shouting. But it’s not that I can’t stand shouting in music, it’s this particular style of shouting.

But the riffs are good. “Baboon music” (track 2) has a storming riff: fat and bouncing. But by track 3, “Translation of fixes”, I’m beginning to wonder if Twelve Tribes are simply recycling the same riff again and again.

Track 4, “Venus complex”. Nope: different riff. Plus some exotic scales.

The rest of the album is in a similar vein. Fairly generic metalcore riffs with the kind of screamed vocals that I just don’t connect with. “Godshaped war” (track 8) feels like the mirror reflection of “Venus complex”; Penultimate track “Luma” (track 9) is perhaps the most melodic on the album, and turns out to be my favourite.

Conclusion

With my appreciation of good ole new wave of American  heavy metal and hardcore, you would think that metalcore would be right up my street. So would I, but oddly it’s not.

Sadly, then, this album didn’t really resonate with me. Sorry guys, I tried and wanted to enjoy it more than I did.

Review score: 60%

Turrigenous—A Slight Amplification EP (2008)

Turrigenous—A Slight Amplification EP (2008)

Turrigenous—A Slight Amplification EP (2008)

Details

Produced by Chris Fasulo and Greg Giordano. Mastered by Will Quinnell at Sterling Sound.

Encyclopedia Metallum | WebsiteBandcamp | Twitter

Band

  • Greg Giordano—Vocals and guitars
  • John Vullo—Guitars
  • Mike Murray—Bass
  • Mark “The Sorcerer” Dara—Drums

Other musicians

  • (Ch)arles Midwinter—Spoken word on “A slight amplification” (track 1)

Tracks

  1. A slight amplification
  2. Emptiness, darkness, acceptance
  3. War inside

Review

Turrigenous are a progressive thrash band from Long Island, New York: think Annihilator meets Dream Theater. A Slight Amplification is their fourth release, their first EP (18 minutes long) following three full-length albums.

The song writing and arrangements are good, the playing is flawless, and the production is clear.

The title track “A slight amplification” (track 1) opens with a bit of widdliness but soon develops into mature thrash song, with more than a few nods of the hat to Megadeth, not least the spoken part about four minutes in.

“Emptiness, darkness, acceptance” (track 2), the longest of the three tracks on the disc, begins quietly and ponderously. It bubbles and bounces before bursting into life. It stops and starts, it soars and dips. In the words of my son Joshua (7) it is “good”.

The EP closes with “War inside” (track 3) which opens with a very spacious and uncharacteristic ‘chug-chug’ riff. It is the only song of the three that introduces any growling death vocals; this track in particular could have benefited from more of them. The solo about halfway through breaks up the song nicely and takes the listener on a bit of a progressive jaunt, even if it is a bit too formulaic.

Conclusion

All in all, this is decent release. I didn’t end with a burning desire to listen to the rest of their back catalogue, but I would probably listen to this again, and may grow to like it more. It didn’t set my ears on fire, but it didn’t offend them, either.

Review score: 70%

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Details

Recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballow at Godcity Studios, Witchcity from 2 to 12 January 2008. Mastered by Alan Douches at Westwestside in New Windsor, NY on 22 January 2008. Released by Level-Plane Records on 15 April 2008.

Bandcamp

Band

  • Nat Coghlan—Vocals and guitar
  • Garrison Nein—Vocals and bass
  • Brad Wallace—Guitar
  • James Moller—Drums

Tracks

  1. Morning sickness
  2. The price of gasoline
  3. Brass bones
  4. Diet of worms
  5. Pillar of salt
  6. The ghost hand
  7. Harvest
  8. Letter of resignation
  9. Celluloid rats
  10. Irreversible
  11. Teratogen

Review

This appears to be the one and only release from New Hampshire hardcore/grunge band Transistor Transistor.

New Hampshire, New Hampshire, so good they named it twice.

Having been mostly reviewing symphonic and avant-garde  black metal bands for the last few weeks this requires a little change of gear. But having established quite firmly a few months back that it no longer takes me by surprise every time I listen to a hardcore album and discover that I like it, it shouldn’t take a detective to hear that this album gets the thumbs up from me, too.

As well as the usual hardcore elements, there is more than a dollop of Bob Mould-inspired alternative/post-punk rock infused in this particular recipe of high energy, shouty-vocaled hard rock.

A few highlights: The cheeky riff in “Brass bones” (track 3).

  • The opening riff from “Diet of worms” (track 4) with its slightly acidic phrasing and the full-on chorus. I could probably listen to that all day, to be honest.
  • “Pillar of salt” (track 5) is a pounding, plodding behemoth – like the hardcore equivalent of Metallica’s “Sad but true”.
  • The complete change of pace in the dirgeful “The ghost hand” (track 6).
  • “Harvest” (track 7). All of it. It is epic, uncomfortable, melancholic, angry, relentless and strangely beautiful.
  • “Tertogen” (track 11) is a wonderful closer that draws this collection to a fine conclusion.

Conclusion

There are not many albums that make me smile involuntarily while listening to them on first listen, but this was definitely one. This is inventive, creative, exploratory and downright exciting. It’s not perfect but I fully expect it to grow on me and with me.

Review score: 96%

Traces—Reflections of a Forlorn Sun EP (2009)

Traces—Reflections of a Forlorn Sun (2009)

Traces—Reflections of a Forlorn Sun (2009)

Details

Mixed and mastered by Josh Middleton at Shredroom Studios and James Scrivener at Theale Studios. Released on Siege of Amida Records.

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Phil Wilson—Vocals
  • Dave James—Guitars (lead)
  • Dan—Bass
  • James Scrivener—Keyboards
  • Sam Greenland—Drums

Tracks

  1. To engulf all creed
  2. In the wake of what has perished
  3. Wreathed in flame
  4. The last cycle of light (instrumental)
  5. Reflections of a forlorn sun

Review

Despite enjoying a fair amount of classical music and, well actual symphonies, it came as a bit of a surprise to discover a few years back that I’m not overly keen on symphonic black metal. Black metal: yes, mostly. Symphonic just gets a bit pretentiously over-dramatic for my liking.

But this is really not bad, from homegrown UK metallers Traces, who later changed their name to Saturnian before splitting in 2014.

The EP is quite progressive in places and stops and starts with James Scrivener’s symphonic keyboards weaving silk-like aural tapestries between the blast-beats and surgically-precise guitars. Track 3, “Wreathed in flame”, is probably my favourite track but then it’s probably also the closest to a fairly pure black metal track on the disc.

“The last cycle of light” (track 4) is a very short and gentle piece that acts as a prelude to the title track “Reflections of a forlorn sun”. The vocals are gutteral and bounce from riff to riff until it morphs into a rather sweet melodic passage with something akin to recitative, lyrics spoken in time to the music.

Conclusion

As Traces’ only offering this is a pretty strong one, and that they were a British band is absolutely to be celebrated. I liked the vocals, I liked the guitars and drums, I really liked many of the black metal elements… but no matter how good they may have been, they still didn’t win me over to the symphonic wing of black metal. Sorry, guys!

Review score: 75%

Toxic Holocaust—An Overdose of Death… (2008)

Toxic Holocaust—An Overdose of Death… (2008)

Toxic Holocaust—An Overdose of Death… (2008)

Details

Recorded 11 to 20 May 2008 by Jack Endino at the Soundhouse, Seattle, WA. Released on Relapse Records.

Encyclopedia Metallum  | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Band

  • Joel Grind—Vocals, guitar and bass
  • Donny Paycheck—Drums

Tracks

  1. Wild dogs
  2. Nuke the cross
  3. Endless armageddon
  4. Future shock
  5. War game
  6. In the name of science
  7. March from hell
  8. Gravelord
  9. War is hell
  10. The lord of the wasteland
  11. Feedback, blood, and distortion
  12. Death from above
  13. City of a million graves

Review

And the award for metal band logo that looks most like some kind of geometric shape jigsaw goes to… Toxic Holocaust, multi-instrumentalist Joel Grind’s speed/thrash/black metal outfit.

This is one of those albums that when I heard the first song my heart sank a little. Opening track “Wild dogs” isn’t entirely representative of the whole album. It has a bit of a raw, punk feel which contorts about halfway through into a fairly palatable early thrash-style riff.

But the rest of the album improves greatly. It has quite an old school thrash vibe to it, in the same way that Evile does. The more the album progressed the more I really began to get into it… riff after riff, twist after twist, classic 80s-style thrash with modern production.

Conclusion

If anything, in opinion this album could have done with a little editing, fewer tracks perhaps, to deliver a more consistent and focused album. As it is, it’s a pretty decent thrash album.

Review score: 88%