Transcending Bizarre?—The Serpent’s Manifolds (2008)

Transcending Bizarre?—The Serpent’s Manifolds (2008)

Transcending Bizarre?—The Serpent’s Manifolds (2008)

Details

Co-produced by Transcending Bizarre? Guitars and bass recorded at Alright Studio. Vocals, violins and flute recorded at Underground Sound Studio. Mixed and mastered at Underground Sound Studio, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Encyclopedia Metallum | Twitter

Band

  • Kotzak—Vocals
  • Haris—Guitars and drum programming
  • Dim—Guitars and bass
  • S.A. Akis (RIP 2010)—Drum programming and samples

Tracks

  1. Dat rosa mel apibus (intro)
  2. Irreversible
  3. Cosmic zero equation
  4. The serpent’s manifolds
  5. Dimension hell
  6. Cell
  7. Writhing coils of construction
  8. The music of the spheres
  9. The navelless one
  10. Infinite

Review

Transcending Bizarre? are, according to the metal archives, an avant-garde/post-black metal band from Greece. When I think of avant-garde metal, I think of the likes of Voivod, Celtic Frost, Diabolical Masquerade, Opera IX, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. This is less avant garde and more like how symphonic black metal ought to sound.

“Cell” (track 6), for instance, is perfect symphonic metal, reminiscent of when Metallica performed with the San Francisco Philharmonic for their S&M album. This doesn’t sound like disposable keyboard-padding to fill the gaps of a blast-beat frenzy, this is a metal band collaborating with an orchestra and choir together creating a soundscape that is magnificent in its ambition.

But it’s good! It’s powerfully good.

The highlight of the album for me, besides “Cell”, is “The music of the spheres” (track 8) which captures the same mad genius that has infected Devin Townsend in recent years. It is heavy, it is epic, and in places is utterly bonkers. I love it.

The album closes with “Infinite” (track 10), which contrary to the title lasts 9′ 14″ – the longest track on the album. It opens with something akin to one of those lullaby albums where metal songs are interpreted in the style of cot mobiles, before morphing into a full, symphonic black metal explosion of riffs and phrases. Then about three minutes in it quietens to an orchestral, pastoral soundscape and builds again, morphing and twisting with emotional guitar solos, until about two-thirds of the way through the track the ‘anger’ and metal return. And then part way through a riff pattern it ends.

Conclusion

From the cover alone, I wasn’t expecting much from this album. But boy! did it surprise me. This is how symphonic metal should sound. In places it follows the traditional symphonic metal patterns, but for the most part it goes off-piste and takes us on a dangerous and exciting exploration of what else is possible when you mix such different genres of music.

While this isn’t, for me, as clinically beautiful an album as say Diabolical Masquerade—Death’s Design: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007), it’s still a highly impressive album,

Review score: 97%

Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Details

Produced by Man of the Hour and Mike Brown. Engineered by Mike Brown. Recorded at Seagate Studios, Dundee in April 2006. Mastered by Jeff Waters at Watersound Studios.

Band

  • Tommy Concrete—Vocals and lycanthropic enemy of the cyborgs, second guitar solo of “Spores of the black unicorn”
  • Stevie Power—Lead guitar, reefers and backing vocals on “I only give a shit…”
  • Matt Justice—Lead guitar and steel
  • Soo C Diamond—Bass, bongs, bombs, bucky and erm… bumming (?!)
  • Bud—Drums and vocals on “The troll king”

Tracks

  1. The whirlpools of Hades
  2. I only give a shit…
  3. Destroy the machines of slaughter
  4. Werewolf lover
  5. Red nails
  6. The hideous mummified corpse
  7. The final battle
  8. We’ll show you the way to the wolves
  9. Stealing from the dealer
  10. Spores of the black unicorn
  11. Fang bearing brother
  12. Beware of the gnomes

Review

The difficult second album. That familiar psychological barrier that grips many a band following a successful first opus doesn’t appear to have phased Man of the Hour in the slightest. Like Iron Maiden before them album number two appears to be even more focused, even strong than their debut.

For outing number two Man of the Hour seem to have embraced their doom roots with a bit more vigour but also taken things a little gothic. There is more than a little Danzig in there. Particularly on tracks like the title track “Destroy the machines of slaughter” (track 3) which could have been lifted from pretty much any of the Evil Elvis’s post-millennium albums.

This is a strong album. While Skull Orchard (2004) was good, it did feel a times like Man of the Hour were really pushing things to the limit in terms of tongue-in-cheek homages to the genre. But like a pupil who has been coasting through class and has suddenly become aware of their potential, here they’ve knuckled down and delivered the album of their lives.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. The lyrics are still pure metal nonsense. Take “Red nails” (track 5), a track inspired by a story by Robert E Howard.

Axes. Sledgehammers. Conan the destroyer.

Red nails! Red nails! Red nails!

And the album cover and booklet aren’t great. The artwork has no continuity, there’s an annoying variety of often illegible fonts superimposed over confused photographs.

Conclusion

But do you know what? None of that matters. because the music is great! It’s uplifting. It’s heavy. It’s melodic. It’s delivered with passion and self-belief.

This is a Scottish band that I can be proud of. The only thing is… where are you? Your hour may have come and gone… but what an hour!

And who can argue with a band whose final recorded track is called “Beware of the gnomes”?

Review score: 97%

Rammstein—Liebe is für alle da (2009)

Rammstein—2009—Liebe is für alle da

Rammstein—2009—Liebe is für alle da

Details

Produced by Jacob Hellner with Rammstein. Engineered by Ulf Kruckenberg and Florian Ammon. Mixed by Stefan Glaumann at Toytown Studios, Stockholm. Assistant engineered by Tom van Heesch. Mastered by Erik Broheden and Henrik Jonsson at Masters of Audio, Stockholm. Recorded at Sonoma Mountain Studio Estate, CA. Assistang engineering by Michael Scully and Scott Church. Drums recorded at Henson Studio B, Los Angeles, CA. Assistant engineering by Nico Essig.

www.rammstein.de

Band

  • Till Lindemann—lead vocals
  • Richard Z. Kruspe—lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul H. Landers—rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Oliver “Ollie” Riedel—bass guitar
  • Christian “Flake” Lorenz—keyboards
  • Christoph “Doom” Schneider—drums

Tracks

  1. Rammlied (Rammsong)
  2. Ich tu dir weh (I hurt you)
  3. Waidmanns heil (Huntsman’s salute)
  4. Haifisch (Shark)
  5. B******** (Bückstabü, a made up word which means “Whatever you want”)
  6. Frühling in Paris (Springtime In Paris)
  7. Wiener blut (Viennese blood)
  8. Pussy
  9. Liebe ist für alle da (Love is for everyone)
  10. Mehr (More)
  11. Roter sand (Red sand)
  12. Führe mich” (Lead me) — bonus track
  13. Donaukinder (Children of the Danube) — bonus track
  14. Halt (Stop) — bonus track
  15. Roter sand (Orchester version) (Red Sand (Orchestral version)) — bonus track
  16. Liese (it’s a female first name) — bonus track

Review

Thanks to a chest infection I’m running a week behind schedule. I’d better get this review written now because a couple of days ago I downloaded the new Mastodon album (Once More ‘Round the Sun) and nothing else is getting airplay at Saunders HQ just now while that slab of rock settles in. My first Rammstein LP of this project Mutter (2001) scored a mighty 98%. How will this one fare?

It’s an odd thing, already being a fan of Rammstein I spun this disc a good few months ago on an evening that I was looking for something different to listen to. A cheeky wee listen-ahead I thought, and… well, I was thoroughly disappointed to be honest. However, listening to the CD almost non-stop for the last two weeks I now find myself wondering what I was listening to back then. Did I have different ears? What was I listening to it on? Was I just having a bad evening? Because this album rocks!

It’s been a surreal week. Half of it spent in bed, listening to the album via earphones on my smartphone; the other half listening to the same album at work on my Sennheiser’s. Or rather half-listening to conversations in English in one ear and lyrics in German in the other. And I don’t understand German.

Liebe is für alle da opens with something modern and choral—but altogether too fleeting. It’s quickly replaced with something new, German and hard and altogether Rammstein.

There is nothing particularly new about this album: massive riffs, booming Teutonic vocals, industrial grooves. It’s more of the same, and the same is great. You only have to close your eyes an imagine at which points the shooting pillars of fire will explode when they play these songs live.

And then there is their sense of humour. “Waidmanns heil” opens with a huntsman style horn. Is there a video for this? I can imagine Rammstein on horseback, dressed in red jackets hunting the huntsmen themselves. “B********” opens with a particularly Ministry-style guitar riff, which is fun.

And then there is “Pussy”, one of Rammstein’s few songs sung with English lyrics. I appreciate that it’s tongue-in-cheek, that it fits with the theme of “love is for all” but I still find it disappointing. If not entirely out of character, which I can forgive them for. But still, Rammstein can do much better than this.

“Frühling in Paris”, for example. The song mixes German and French lyrics which are awkward, endearing, sweet, disturbing, beautiful:

In a dress made of light she came up to me
I know like it was today*
I was so young
Feeling awkward
But still I never regretted it

She shouted words into my face
The tongue bristled with lust
It was only her language I didn’t understand
I didn’t regret it

More of that please.

The version I inherited was the two disc edition which includes four bonus tracks plus an orchestral version of “Roter sand”. (This isn’t the deluxe box set, by the way, which included six sex toys, handcuffs and lubricant!)

Conclusion

Having experienced rather a false start to this album, I’m delighted that the love that the album title suggested might be for all included me. And in turn I’ve loved it back.

Review score: 97%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KwfeF2JNIg]

Seven7—Under Eye (2011)

Seven7—Under Eye (2011)

Seven7—Under Eye (2011)

Details

Drums recorded, played, engineered by Pete Riley at Tindrum Studio in December 2010. Bass, guitars and vocals recorded at MGP Studio, Guildford in January and February 2011. Mixed by Nick Kacal in March 2011. Mastered by Rupert Christie in April 2011. Produced by Nicholas Meier. Co-produced by Arran McSporran. Music written by Nicholas Meier; lyrics written by Dave Brown.

Band

  • Dave Brown: Vocals
  • Arran McSporran: Fretless bass
  • Nicolas Meier: Electric and acoustic guitars, oud and baglama
  • Peter Riley: Drums and percussion

Tracks

  1. The Ice Man
  2. Boy drowns girl
  3. Three days
  4. Run
  5. Blood stains
  6. You can have it
  7. Wannabe
  8. Forgive
  9. Under eye

Review

From the moment that the opening riff of this Seven7‘s second full-length album bludgeoned my ears I was immediately hopeful that I’d like this band. I wasn’t disappointed, and on the basis of this fine platter I’m really eager to listen to their first album Try Something Different.

So many of the tracks I could imagine as TV theme tunes — that’s not a great recommendation, is it? What I mean, I think, is that they are solid tunes. There is something anthemic, inspiring and grand about this album. Not bad for a collection of songs mostly about death.

The music is dark but melodic, heavy but accessible, progressive but thrashy, brutal but intricate. It’s like a strange cross between, at times, Pantera or Metallica with Steve Vai and Marty Friedman, particularly on the Japanese-influenced “You can have it”.

And who can argue with a band that lifts the theme from Tchaikovsky’s “The Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” and effortlessly turns it into an enormous riff-laden metal epic?

CONCLUSION

From start to finish this is, using the words of novelist Dave Eggers, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Every time I’ve listened to this album I’ve finished it with an enormous smile on my face. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

This is an album that I am genuinely excited about. It is so very much a welcome addition to my wall of CDs. I urge you to listen to them. The album is on Spotify, check it out.

Review score: 97%

Video