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%

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Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open the Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Details

Produced by Mark Daghorn, Karl Groom, and Open The Skies. Engineered by Mark Daghorn and Karl Groom. Recorded at Red House Farm and Thin Ice Studios. Mixed by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. Mastered by Dave Aston at The Digital Audio Co.

Band

  • Josh McKeown—Vocals
  • Steve Lumley—Guitar and vocals
  • Kieran  Brannigan—Guitar and vocals
  • Jamie Willis—Bass
  • Chris Velissarides—Drums

Tracks

  1. Intro
  2. A silent decade
  3. Fear has no voice
  4. Keiko’s last smile
  5. He spoke of success
  6. Interlude
  7. Silhouettes on street corners
  8. Change
  9. So season two
  10. Just for you
  11. Yours faithfully
  12. We could have had it all
  13. A second from insanity
  14. Reduced and charming

Review

Open The Skies sounds to me to be very much in the post-nu-metal, post-emo “screamo” or metalcore genre. They seem to have a foot in both hardcore punk and metal. In the early 80s a similar fusion took bands in the direction of thrash, these days it seems to lead them into the realms of metalcore.

After an initial twenty seconds or so of sound effects this album blasts into life with a terrific pounding riff, a tremendous over-driven guitar tone, and a nice melody. After that sadly the album peaks a few songs in and, with a few exceptions, the album sees itself out with a collection of homogeneous, screamo-by-numbers tracks.

“A silent decade” (track 2) pretty much contains everything that could be really great about this album. It has power, it has delicacy, it has the riffs, it has dynamics, it has a fusion of clean and screamed vocals. “Fear has no voice” (track 3) follows a similar winning recipe. The highlight for me in this song is the stop/start bouncing passage where the band sings as a chorus.

The trouble with much of this album is so much of it sounds the same. For example, listen to “So season two” (track 9) and then jump to almost anywhere in “Keiko’s last smile” (track 4) and it sounds as though you are on exactly the same song. Which is, of course, a credit to the guitar tuning, the recording engineering and mixing, but it doesn’t really make for a particularly interesting album.

And it’s not just those two songs. You can quite easily jump between tracks and you begin to see the whole album as modular. It’s like a box of audio LEGO pieces that can be interchanged between sets.

“Interlude” (track 6) is a rather beautiful short song that breaks the homogeneity. But after that break it’s back to the recipe.

Another break to the advertised programme is “Yours faithfully” (track 11) which is an acoustic song that reminds me in equal parts of early Manic Street Preachers and Soul Asylum.

Curiously, the closing track “Reduced and charming” (track 14)  seems to be more in keeping with the first couple of tracks than the filler in the middle, including an all-band-singing-in-chorus section.

Conclusion

Despite its very promising opening this album suffers primarily from a lack of ideas. I think this album could have benefited greatly from being significantly shorter, compiling the best ideas into few songs and focussing on those.

As it is most of this album sounds like the same song sung with eight sets of lyrics. If I feel compelled to listen to this album again I may simply create my own EP from the six remaining songs that hold some interest for me.

I believe that this is Open The Skies’ debut album. As debuts go it is certainly promising. The musicianship and song-writing are certainly strong, in my opinion the music could just benefit from a few more ideas and variety.

Review score: 60%

Noma / Rejectamenta—Noma / Rejectamenta (2009)

Noma / Rejectamenta—Noma / Rejectamenta (2009)

Noma / Rejectamenta—Noma / Rejectamenta (2009)

Details

Released on At War With False Noise Records, 2009. Limited to 500 copies.

Bands

  • Tracks one and two, all sounds and dictaphonics by John Cromar
  • Track three, all sounds by Adam Cresser

Tracks

  1. Friede in den gedanken (13:30)
  2. Amusia (22:37)
  3. SSilence (33:10)

Review

More experimental, ambient drone.

The packaging is curious. It comes with, what the record label refers to as “reverse art”, so the front cover is on the back, and vice versa.

Both experimental artists Noma (John Comar) and Rejectamenta (Adam Cresser) hail from Glasgow

The record label described Noma’s contributions to this split release thus:

He takes on two tracks here, the first is a slowly-building tone-fest. Very ambient, and hauntingly beautiful…bascially what Noma does best. Next track “Amusia” is a little atypical of what most people will expect. Imposing thuds are interjected by what sounds like some form of screeching metallic machine being thrown down some stairs, electronic blasts. Surreal, bizarre, unpredictable….very Noma.

Rejectamenta’s solitary track represents only his second ever release. The track here “SSilence” is a follow up to “SServant”. This is clearly not a silent track. It is, to quote the press release, 33 minutes of a “total overload of a billion circuit-bent instruments all melded together into one massive orchestral binary cacophany”

 

Conclusion

There is something intriguing about these sounds. But I’m not sure I’d choose to listen to this terribly often. But it is quite grand, like a soundscape.

Review score: 60%

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Unabomber—Potemkin (Less is more) (2004)

Details

Produced and arranged by Unabomber. Recorded in Estudio Ultramarinos, Costa Brava by Santi Garcia. Mixed by Unabomber and Santi Garcia. Released on Voliac Rock Productions, 2004.

Band

  • Mossen Robert Beltran—Vocals
  • Abraham Martinez—Guitars
  • Gaspar Alloza—Bass
  • Iban Galindo—Drums

Tracks

  1. Dreaming
  2. Poetry isn’t just stuff that rimes
  3. The ballad of the angry brigade
  4. Comrades
  5. Evidence (I see violence)
  6. Panzerkreuzer potemkin
  7. Less is more (The night I saw Brutal Truth)
  8. Sclan
  9. Anthem of the outsiders
  10. Your karma sucks
  11. The Swedish prisoner
  12. No blood, no know (bonus)

Review

There seems to be a lack of real clarity about this band and album. According to one website I read, Unabomber hail from Andorra, while another claims they are from the Catalonia region of Spain (which to be fair borders Andorra). One site claims that they are a grindcore band, another: hardcore.

There is something really enjoyable about this album, which strikes me as definitely more hardcore than grindcore. This is more Henry Rollins than Napalm Death.

It’s definitely not the greatest album in the world (imagine if it was, though! Awesome! I got it for free.) It’s not the greatest example of musical art. But dang! there’s an energy to it. These guys were clearly having fun.

I’ve listened to it at least two or three times over the last 24 hours and while it is a little too shout-y in places for my liking there are some fun musical ideas, and pleasant riffs.

Conclusion

Ultimately this is pretty disposable rock, but it’s fun while it lasts.

It’s like, this isn’t the friend you take to your gran’s 90th birthday party, this is the mate you take to Donnington Park for Download, who sees you through a heavy night and makes sure you get home safely but not before he’s drawn on your face in permanent marker.

Review score: 60%

Jezebel—Forbidden Fruit (2003)

Jezebel—Forbidden Fruit (2003)

Jezebel—Forbidden Fruit (2003)

Details

Produced by Ralph Cardall. Released on 26 August 2003 on the Triple Silence label.

All songs by Eileen Daly except “Snow”, “Heroin”, “Kiss kiss”which were co-written with Nigel Wingrove, and “Decadence”, “Lecter and Bundy” and “Rock Chick” which were co-written with Tom Callaghan, and “Brute of Cute” which was co-written with Marvin Frost.

Eileen Daly on Facebook

Band

  • Eileen Daly — Vocals
  • [No information on other band members]

Tracks

  1. Intro
  2. Queen of darkness
  3. Kiss kiss
  4. Brute of cute
  5. Rock chick
  6. Garden of love
  7. Snow
  8. Heroin
  9. Plastic surgery
  10. Lecter and Bundy
  11. Decadence

Review

I had never heard, or heard of, Jezebel before (other than the Queen of Israel who features in the Hebrew bible, 1 Kings 16:31). The band was formed by (adult) actress and singer Eileen Daly who has apparently appeared on The X-Factor and Big Brother. But as I watch neither…

The sleeve notes claim ten tracks, my CD player claims 11. And sure enough, the album opens with a short, unnamed track which I’ve called “Intro”. That really didn’t endear me to the album before I’d even listened to it, as I had to edit the track names twice on my PC. (Oh the hardship!)

After the 57 seconds vocal scrapbook that is the opening track, “Queen of darkness” bursts into life with a heavy electronic/guitar riff. Daly’s vocals are mostly spoken which did make me wonder if this was more of a vanity project than anything genuinely musical but the rest of the album put those doubts to rest.

The album does have a dark, gothic feel to it but wrapped within an electronica and pop-metal shell. It immediately made me think of a fusion of Crowforce, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode and Efua Baker. What a combination!

Daly’s vocals do develop beyond the opening track’s multi-tracked spoken offering. In tracks like “Brute of Cute” she aims for a sensual delivery (think Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr President”). While in “Rock Chick” and “Heroin” her vocals are more like Skin from Skunk Anansie: a little more ballsy and rocky. And then of course there are buckets of Kate Bush influence in this album, not least the album cover.

Conclusion

This isn’t a bad album as such. It’s melodic, the songs are well written. It’s gothic pop. It’s transient. It’s throwaway. But while it lasts it’s also quite fun.

My kids think that the CD cover looks “freaky”. This afternoon they hid it at the bottom of a pile of CDs on my desk. They stuck the CD for Immortal Sense Call it anything at the top. My middle boy said, “It says call it anything… so I’ve called it Bob.”

Review score: 60%

Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

 Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

Immortal Dominion—Awakening: The Revelation (2005)

Details

Recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio, Denver, Colorado, USA. Released on Fist Music, 2005.

Band

  • Ray Smith—Lead vocals and guitars
  • Brian Villers—Guitars and vocals
  • Gabe Romero—Bass
  • Ben Huntwork—Drums and vocals

Tracks

  1. Punishment
  2. Will to survive
  3. Eat your flesh
  4. Sold my soul
  5. World
  6. Something to change
  7. Fear free
  8. Not good
  9. Awakening
  10. Christian witchcraft
  11. Blasphemy
  12. Untouchable
  13. Shallows in the Vatican darkness
  14. The other side of pain

Review

Perhaps I should have planned a break over the summer. But I didn’t and if I still want to hit my target of finishing this project on 7 November 2016, I’m going to have to fit in four reviews this week! Enough grumbling…!

Immediately, I quite like the mix. The guitar tone is quite ‘scooped’ and more fuzzy than crisp or warm distortion which makes it feel more hardcore than death or thrash. Smith’s vocals also have a hardcore edge, when he’s not growling.

There’s a definite Slayer-inspired guitar solo at the chaotic end to “Punishment” (track 1).

The opening bass riff on “Will to survive” (track 2) is quite fun and again leaning more towards punk or hardcore… if you completely disregard Danny Lilker’s opening to Game Over (1986) by Nuclear Assault.

Is the 100 mph “Eat your flesh” (track 3) a cover? It sounds like another band.

“Sold my soul” (track 4) has a splendid swing to it, a laid back groove that turns on a dime and jolts itself into a staccato hardcore riff. There’s even some melody. This is my favourite song so far.

“World” (track 5) is the second track to open with a sample. It then bursts into a twiddling guitar flourish before burying itself in an almost grindcore cacophony.

Track 6. “Something to change”. More samples: growling animals. Then, ironically, much of the same riff-wise. More samples: “we’re all going to die some day”, and half-shouted vocals.

More samples in track 7 (“Fear free”). And I’m afraid, more of the same.

“Not good” (track 8) is a Ramones-y melodic anthem with (literally) screaming vocals. It is actually rather good.

The title track, “Awakening” (track 9) morphs between thrash and soft rock before finally settling on the kind of rhythm you can easily get into trying to shake ketchup from a bottle. And then… yip, there it is: the hardcore-inspired middle eight… or sixteen.

The contradictory “Christian witchcraft” (track 10) is predictably dark. But it doesn’t take long for the hardcore ingredients to reveal themselves through the black/death metal shell.

“Blasphemy” (track 11) opens with a rather fun (?!) and sour-sounding descending riff which reappears throughout the song. More random Slayer-inspired guitar solos mid-track.

“Untouchable” (track 12) begins with a jolting guitar riff. There are some definite black metal influences in there, which are welcome at this point in the proceedings.

“Shadows in the Vatican darkness” (track 13) opens with another melodic, punky riff before reverting to hardcore-by-numbers.

“The other side of pain” (track 14) closes the album with a clean and pretty guitar pattern and slighty off-key sung vocals. Or at least it would if it wasn’t repeatedly interrupted by someone shouting and playing their heavily distorted and fuzzy guitar over the top of it!

Conclusion

All in all, this isn’t a bad record. There are some really nice musical ideas but that saying, “If I’d had more time then I would have written less” seems to apply here. It simply feels like too long an album for too few new ideas.

That said, if you like your metal straddling the divide between hardcore and death metal then perhaps you ought to check out Immortal Dominion.

I’m not sure this is an album I would seek out to listen to, but if it came on randomly I wouldn’t race to switch it off.

Review score: 60%

Hantaoma—Malombra (2005)

Hantaoma—Malombra (2005)

Hantaoma—Malombra (2005)

Details

Recorded in Spring 2005 at Abellion Studio and Winterized Studio. Mixed and mastered at Winterized Studio by Thomas and Lafforgue. Released on Holy Records, May 2005.

Encyclopaedia Metallum | Facebook

Band

  • Arixon—Vocals
  • Roques—Vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, fiddle, bouzouki, mandolin
  • Lafforgue—Vocals, electric guitars, shawm, bombarde, flutes, bagpipes
  • Deinos—Bass
  • Thomas—Drums

Tracks

  1. Vent Follet 04:29
  2. Malombra 04:03
  3. Hantaoma 04:22
  4. Maluros 04:36
  5. La Ronda dels Mòrts 06:38
  6. Para lo Lop 04:13
  7. Cançon dels Segaires 04:06
  8. Negra Sason 04:14
  9. A la Montanha 02:19
  10. Flama 07:32

Review

So, this past week I’ve learned that Hantaoma is Gascon for ‘ghost’, and is actually pronounced fantauma, and that Gascon itself is a dialect of Occitan, a Romance language that is spoken predominantly in Gascony and Béarn in southwest France. School lesson over, back to the metal…

Having listened to this album a good number of times over the last week I still can’t quite decide whether I like it or not. My interest in folk metal has for a long time started and stopped at Skyclad,—particularly the first album which is simply folk-thrash genius—and to be honest has not gone much beyond that. I have a few The Clan Destined tracks (Martin Walkyier’s band after Skyclad) and, of course, Splinterskin but nothing more. And it’s not that I don’t like folk music per se, I have plenty of folk-related music (Richard Thompson, Jethro Tull, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Hedningarna), it’s just … *shrugs*

There are moments on this album  that I do appreciate, but as I write this I now realise that I’m on track seven already and I can’t quite remember what’s happened  so far. A bit like when you’re driving and you suddenly realise that you can’t remember the last five miles.

There are so good, solid metal riffs such as during opener “Vent Follet” and “Hanaoma” (track 3) but about half way the traditional folk instruments kick in and that’s where I start to screw up my face a little. It’s not that it doesn’t go well with the music… it’s just *shrugs* at times it has a tendency of sounding like something from Fiddler on the Roof.

Ironically, my favourite track on the album is an acoustic one, and possibly the one that sounds most like a folk song. “Negra Sason” (track 8) has quite a rumbling Russian feel. Or as my son Isaac (4) put it, “that sounds like when the [The Hobbit movie] dwarves are throwing the things”.

Conclusion

And so, having listened through once again I’m still in two minds about the album. It’s definitely not something that I would switch off if it came on but I’m not sure I’d go in search of it unless asked.

That said, that may well be a possibility give that my son Joshua (6) has just told me that he gives the album a full 10/10. His younger brother and I (despite the dwarves throwing things) give it a (still respectable) six.

Review score: 60%