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%

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2008)

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2005)

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2008)

Details

Written, performed and produced by Serial Obsession. Engineed and co-produced by Rob Fillmore. Recorded at Mercy Sound Studios, New York, NY.

Website | Facebook

Band

  • Shawn—Vocals and guitar
  • Suozzi—Guitars
  • Jason—Bass
  • T.Motts—Drums

Tracks

  1. Here we come
  2. Let’s go
  3. Surrender
  4. Grey
  5. Say goodbye
  6. Pushing the stone

Review

It’s really not that often that I don’t particularly enjoy a rock album, but unfortunately that’s what I’m faced with here.

With only six tracks and clocking in at a little over 21 minutes, this EP includes five mid-paced songs and one slower, ballad-esque track (“Surrender”).

It’s not just one thing that puts me off this album, it’s a combination of things from the repetitive riffs (between songs as much is within songs) and song-writing, guitar tone (a very harsh, saw-blade tone), the lyrics, the vocals (rather Doors-like), and the production.

The ballad-like “Surrender” (track 3) is probably the most listenable track for me on this release but even then I can’t quite bring myself to say that it’s my favourite.

Conclusion

This isn’t a bad EP per se. It’s just not my cup of tea (or rather it is, since I don’t drink tea). I just found it rather uninspiring, a bit ‘acidic’ in places and so rather unpalatable. Sorry guys: it’s not you, it’s me.

Review score: 40%

Half Makeshift—Omen (2008)

Half Makeshift—Omen (2008)

Half Makeshift—Omen (2008)

Details

All instrumentalisation, recording, mixing and artwork by Nathan Michael. Mastered by James Plotkin. Thank you Nicholas, Chris, James, Marc, Adam, Jess and Earth. Released on Profound Lore Records, 2008.

Band

  • Nathan Michael—Everything

Tracks

  1. Omen I (15′ 27″)
  2. Omen II (12′ 12″)
  3. Omen III (11′ 01″)
  4. Omen IV (12′ 11″)

Review

This is a curious album. It is only four tracks long, but it still lasts over 50 minutes. The album packaging is quite surreal. It looks like a collage, drawing together retro images from, I guess, the 1950s or 1960s, alongside photographs and illustrations of human anatomy, and chess diagrams. And then there is next to no text on the packaging—nothing to do with the album, anyway. Anything that I’ve gleaned about the album or composer I’ve had to find elsewhere.

I tried to listen to the album at first in the car, but I couldn’t hear much above the rumble from the road.

Omen appears to be one piece of music, separated into four parts, sitting somewhere on the experimental / ambient / drone spectrum.

I’ve been searching for a word to sum it up, and I can’t get far beyond “devastating”. There’s a deep melancholia to the music, as it densely flows from one cinematic soundscape to the next. At times I felt as though I was drifting aimlessly on an ocean, beneath a heavy grey sky. It’s definitely not a piece of music to put on to cheer yourself up to.

And yet… having listened to it once and having come out the other end feeling utterly miserable, I just went back and started it again. And again. And I’m now on my fourth listen today. There is something mysteriously human about it; there is something about it that makes it oddly soothing and comforting while paradoxically making you also feel on edge. It’s like sitting down in your comfy fleece trackies and jumper, clutching a mug of hot chocolate to watch The Blair Witch Project.

The music itself is a mixture of guitar (clean and distorted), bass, drums, keyboards/piano, and various sounds, frequencies, waves and bursts of static. Passages are played backwards, and throughout there is a deep drone. Some passages flow, others like those in “Omen III” lurch adding to the jarring. It is simple but uneasy.

Conclusion

Half Makeshift appears to have been the project of Nathan Michael, who stopped recording music convinced that the world would end on 21 May 2011 (the birthday of Great King Rat, for any Queen fans out there; and the birthday of my grannie and her twin sister, for any members of my family out there). Omen then was his last recording: a requiem for the human race. If I’d known than before I might have kept this as the final album to review.

Like much modern choral music, this is a love-it or hate-it kind of album. I’m veering towards the love-it end of that particular spectrum, but I guess I’d need to be in the mood to listen to it. It’s just that mood will likely be depressed.

Review score: 80%

 

 

December’s Cold Winter—Ablaze All Shrines (2008)

December's Cold Winter—Ablaze All Shrines (2008)

December’s Cold Winter—Ablaze All Shrines (2008)

Details

Recorded, engineered, mixed and produced by Max Gutierrez at Cavan Studios, Heredis, Costa Rica from May to October 2008. Mastered by Esteban Rojas at Cisma Productions, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Released on Envenomed label in 2008.

www.decemberscoldwinter.com

Band

  • Alfredo Guzman—Vocals
  • Isak Arroyo—Guitars
  • Max Gutierrez—Guitars
  • Esteban Gonzalez—Bass guitar
  • Allan Chaves—Drums

Tracks

  1. Envenomed cult
  2. Your sordid pride
  3. Ablaze all shrines
  4. Black garden’s sculptures
  5. Manipulating human emotions
  6. Kings of lie
  7. Consequences

Review

This is the Costa Rican band’s second full-length album as December’s Cold Winter; the following year they changed their name to Advent of Bedlam.

Uh-oh! This album starts with a strange recording of a group of people reciting the Lord’s Prayer, which then disappears into a wall of noise and the kind of mildly-melodic death metal gurgle that was popular back in early nineties. Welcome to track number one, “Envenomed cult”. As a Christian, it’s never really a good sign if an album opens with a recording of Christian worship. You just know what’s coming next. Or at least you would if you could understand the guttural vocals. Thank the Lord for the lyrics in the CD inset booklet; or at least thank someone, I’m not sure the Lord gets much praise on this album. It’s the same old boring taunts, labelling Christians as mindless, deluded liars. Yawn!

I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t really connect with this album from the start. Not because of its anti-Christian position, there are actually quite a few bands whose music I do really like (Ancient VVisdom, Morbid Angel, Dead Congregation). The music just left me as cold as a… you know.

I’ve listened to the album twice through now, and like a few other albums on this project it became background noise. I’ve heard it all before: metronomic drums, melodic riffs, throaty vocals. The seven songs could all quite easily be editing into one Meshuggah-challenging epic song. Epic in the sense of going on for a long time. Disappointing really.

Conclusion

Perhaps I may have warmed to this album had I listened to it more often. But I doubt it. This may be the shortest review I’ve rolled out yet, but it’s by far not the worst score. This was for me generic, off-the-shelf death metal by numbers. But it was still nicer background music than some of the other offerings here. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but like the album it could have been worse.

Review score: 60%

Gob Squad—Watch the Cripple Dance (2008)

Gob Squad—Watch the Cripple Dance (2008)

Gob Squad—Watch the Cripple Dance (2008)

Details

Mixed and produced by Jacob Bredahl at Smart in Hard Studio. Mastered by Ziggy at Zigsound. Words and music by Gob Squad. Album concept and album by Anders Ladegaard.

Band

Remarkably, the album doesn’t list the band members. How punk is that! One website lists them as:

  • Thomas Bredahl—Guitar and vocals
  • Anders Albrektsen —Guitar and vocals
  • Jimmy Nedergaard — Bass
  • Soeren Jensen — Drums

Another as: Thomas, Stauning, Terp, Sogge. Who knows?! Their website isn’t available either.

Tracks

  1. Unconscious souls
  2. The tyranny in good intents
  3. Stop pretending
  4. The white flag help up high
  5. The reason…
  6. Same old street
  7. Stand up and fight
  8. Vacuum of my own
  9. Time to be
  10. Reflection of youth
  11. Watch the cripple dance

Review

When the first track on this album from modern Danish punksters Gob Squad bounced out of my speakers my initial fears about this album were put to rest. Well, for the first 3′ 24″ at least.

‘Unconscious souls’, that opening track, is a tremendous song, and one of my favourite tracks from this project. It has a fantastic guitar hook that bounces along throughout the entire track, taking everything and everyone. The song carries a catchy melody, it has dynamics and movement, and the vocals are sung (not shouted). The perfect pop-rock song.

Sadly, though the album gradually goes down from there. Track two, ‘The Tyranny of good intents’ almost carries an element of the same riff as its predecessor. Track three ‘Stop pretending’ has a disco feel and kind of lost me when the shouting began. The next track ‘The white flag held up high’ begins with pounding drums that put me in mind of early Adam and the Ants.

By this point, however, it’s all become rather punk-by-numbers. The songs morph from one to the next and begin to sound a little same-y, and for me this style of half-shouted vocals just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I find myself returning again and again to track one and wondering what could have been.

Conclusion

I haven’t come across many albums like this, where really I like just one song. But I’m happy with that, to be honest. Artists are free to do what they want, to carve their own path, to play what they like. I respect that. I love their first track, the rest to my ears is mostly disposable.

For that reason I will need to mark the review score fairly low. But, Gob Squad for that first track I thank you. So you get a score that’s the same as my favourite number. That’s got to count for something.

My review score: 45%

Video

The video of my favourite track from the whole album ‘ Unconscious souls’ by Gob Squad.

Desolatevoid—No sign of better times (2008)

Desolatevoid—No sign of better times (2008)

Desolatevoid—No sign of better times (2008)

Details

Recorded and mastered by Jamie Hansen. Mixed by Jamie Hansen and the band. Album recorded May—September 2008. This album is dedicated to Patrick Sova and the memory of Nate Martin. Released on Crimes Against Humanity Records.

Band

  • Tim Smith: Drums
  • Andy Howard: Vocals
  • Stolp: Guitar
  • Brent K: Guitar
  • Nick Carroll: Bass
  • Patrick Sova: Spiritual adviser

Tracks

  1. Isolation embrace
  2. Crimes against my sanity
  3. Cuts, bruises, and an empty wallet
  4. Wreckage of yesterday
  5. Way past wits end
  6. Fucked and furious
  7. Amongst the scattered pills
  8. Days of old

Review

When it comes to metal I’m a “glass is half full” kind of guy. I always want to like what I’m listening to, particularly if it’s from a band that I’ve never heard before or from a genre that I’m not familiar. I’m always willing to be surprised, willing to be amazed, willing to hear something new and interesting.

I’m also a guitarist myself, and a singer, and I’ve written a handful of songs, so I have an appreciation of the skill required to play in a band, and to be creative. While I may have judged bands (of any genre) very harshly in my early days of listening to music, I remember a moment when I was about 15 or 16 when I realised that band X wasn’t “utterly crap” but that rather the music simply didn’t connect with or move me.

That’s what I experienced with this album by Wisconsin-based band Desolatevoid. There are some good riffs, a few moments that made me think, “Oh! I really like that” but they were so fleetingly short that I was left feeling rather more disappointed than apathetic. Deep down it seems to me there is a good album in there waiting to get out.

“Cuts, bruises, and an empty wallet”, for example, has some really nice doom riffs but they are played too fast. These in turn are then sandwiched between some cheeky punk-esque riffs that, to my ears, ruin the song. It’s like dropping a sample of “Barbie World” into “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

“Wreckage of yesterday” has a great arpeggioed opening that reminded me British thrash band Xentrix that then descends into, to quote my mum, a lot of noise and shouting.

“Way past wits end” reminds me of New York hardcore band Sick of It All. For about a minute, before again the riff gives way to a wall of double-time kick drums and a coughing guitars.

With a little more imagination these songs could have been really interesting and gone interesting places, but they all seem to end up as the kind of generic thrash songs that I used to get slagged off liking for by my peers at school: three chords played as furiously as possible on the most over-driven  guitar available.

Ironically, the song that I enjoyed the most, “Fucked and furious” begins with a dull riff played on a horrible fuzz guitar sound before suddenly kicking in with possibly the best riff on the whole album.

Conclusion

It would be too easy to conclude this review with something like: I can sum up this album with two words, the first begins with ‘d’, the second has four letters. Desolatevoid: disappointinglyshit.

But that would be unfair. There are some good moments in this album’s 30 minutes and 36 seconds, but for me they are too far apart to get excited about it. It feels more like a demo in places and songs, to my ears, simply don’t sound complete enough. Which is a real shame because I wanted to like this album. The band are tight, the guitars sound great, the vocal are solid (if you are into that death grunt sound), it’s just the songs that let them down.

Review score: 52%

Video

Taken from their first album Self medicated psycho therapy as I couldn’t find anything on YouTube from this album, and the live-recorded tracks had terribly distorted audio.

Burmese/Cadaver Eyes — Split EP (2008)

Burmese / Cadaver Eyes — Split EP (2008)

Burmese / Cadaver Eyes — Split EP (2008)

Details

Burmese: Recorded and mixed by Burmese 2007. Hosted by Brian Turner / Cadaver Eyes: Recorded and mixed by Diane Farris at WFMU, 2007. / Released on Heart and Crossbone Records, January 2008.

Bands

Burmese

  • Mike – bass, vocals
  • Mike – bass, vocals
  • Mark – drums
  • Tissue – vocals

Cadaver Eyes

  • Eran ‘Zax’ Sachs – no-input-mixer
  • David Opp – drums, vocals

Tracks

  1. War vs women (Burmese)
  2. Hard cell  (Burmese)
  3. Your job  (Burmese)
  4. 10,000 knights in Bagdad  (Burmese)
  5. Execution procedure # three (Cadaver Eyes)
  6. Grow to hate / Officer arrest man (Cadaver Eyes)
  7. No blood no cum  (Burmese)
  8. Dip in blood  (Burmese)
  9. Coys who just cried  (Burmese)
  10. Only the good die  (Burmese)
  11. The white supremacy (Cadaver Eyes)
  12. Chocolate soldier disintegrates (Cadaver Eyes)
  13. Railway to death  (Burmese)
  14. Bible  (Burmese)
  15. Cut across  (Burmese)
  16. Ba yom yom / Sweet home Alabama (Cadaver Eyes)

Review

Let’s just get this out of the way right at the start: if you’re into the kind of album that has a lot of nice tunes and melodies then this sure ain’t the one for you. This is the kind of freaky-sounds album that you put on at night to completely weird-out your loved ones… or cut short a dinner party. It’s the kind of album that you file under easy listening when you’re feeling particularly ironic.

Burmese hail from San Francisco. And that wasn’t a typo above: there are two bassists, both called Mike. Two bass guitars, no electric guitars, drums and singer.

Cadaver Eyes are an Israeli band: drums and “no-input-mixer” (which as far as I can tell involves connecting the input of a mixing console to the output and then manipulating the resulting feedback).

Most ‘split’ albums I’ve got are neatly divided down the middle: half the tracks from band A, then half the tracks from band B. It’s actually rather in keeping with the music on this release that it’s not so neat. Burmese offer 11 tracks (1-4, 7-10, 13-15); Cadaver Eyes fills in the gaps (5-6, 11-12 and 16).

The music reminds me of a lot of experimental metal that I used to listen to back in the late 80s / early 90s, mostly on badly recorded C90 cassettes which have long gone now. It’s mostly a combination of percussion, screams and various noises, sirens, feedback, and what sounds like the hum you get from earth loops.

In places it sounds like it’s been recorded in a place of torture, with reverb offering an element of depth and distance. The rest of the album sounds like a grindcore band being slowly turned through a meat grinder.

The album closes with Cadaver Eyes’ beautiful cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd track ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Of course, I say ‘beautiful’ when I actually mean utterly unrecognisable. This is how I imagine Skynyrd would play it if they were smacked off their heads on hallucinogenic medication and locked in a cage with a drum kit and a badly wired amplifier. And a couple of rabid wolves.

Conclusion

It’s not comfortable listening, but it is fascinating. This is like the audio equivalent of staring at a really abstract piece of modern art. It certainly offers more questions than answers.

But that perhaps is the attraction that this album offers me. It’s not throwaway pop music; it’s not metal-by-numbers; it is strangely compelling. I hear something new every time I listen to it. And I expect that I’ll listen to it again.

Review score: 60%

Bonus

Here is Cadaver Eyes’ rendition of Sweet Home Alabama.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X25JDDxHUjQ]