Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Details

Produced by Greg Chandler and Gutwork. Engineered by Greg Chandler.  Recorded at Priory Recording Studios, Birmingham. Mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering Studios. Released on Anticulture Records, 2004.

Encyclopaedia Metallum

Band

  • Neil Hudson—Vocals
  • Lee Mason—Guitar
  • Noel Davis—Guitar
  • Carl Davis—Bass
  • Wayne Minney—Drums

Tracks

  1. What you are
  2. Loveless
  3. Below within
  4. Obscure devotion
  5. Saturate in sadness
  6. Sick inside
  7. Blind from truth
  8. Incineration
  9. Twisted
  10. Reborn

Review

It’s a shame that this now-defunct, UK-based death metal/metalcore band  only released two full-length albums (the second being 2007’s Disfigured Narcissus) in their 11 years together. This, their debut, certainly showed promise.

Everything from composition to production comes together nicely to create a solid, extreme metal album. The only thing that’s hard to stomach is the band’s name: Gutworm.

The vocals are gruff, but—as far as near-shouty vocals can—they blend well with the percussion. The guitars and drums complement one another nicely. With lots. Of. Stops and. Starts. Just the way I. Like it.

The band reminds me of Gorefest’s final album Rise to Ruin (2007) in places: it has the same bass-y feel and modern death metal sound. And in my book of metal, that’s a good thing. A very good thing indeed.

Conclusion

A short and sweet review, not least because I’ve got a million and one things to do this week. But this has been an easy album to listen to. File under easy listening? Perhaps not, but it’s great to hear a solid UK metal band. It’s just such a shame they split.

Review score: 80%

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Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Endorphins—Where Evil Lies (2006)

Details

Recorded at Chemical Sound Studios in Toronto, Canada in July 2005. Produced by Ian Blurton. Engineered by Rudy Rempel and James Heiderbrecht with Dean Marino. Edited by Chuck Carvalho. Mixed by Church Carvalho and Michael Amaral.

Released on Urgent Music Records, 2006.

http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Endorphins/6649

Band

  • Michael Amaral—Vocals and guitar
  • Mike Antunes—Guitar
  • Rob Amaral—Bass
  • Patrick Santos—Drums

Tracks

  1. Flux
  2. Welcome to my Hell
  3. And God sent suffering
  4. Diagram
  5. Haunting them
  6. 26 hours
  7. The rise and fall of Lord Hades
  8. Ex
  9. Taste of blood
  10. Living in the shadows

Review

Endorphins was a thrash/groove metal band from Toronto, Canada who split up in 2008, thirteen years after being formed, with one EP and this their first and last full-length album under their metal-studded belts.

You know they say you should never judge a book by its cover? I’m going to be honest and say that I judged this album by its and didn’t expect to like it. I’m not usually so critical about covers but I really didn’t like this one: the colours, the image, the font, even the band name. (I keep thinking it has something to do with dolphins.) Did I get out of bed the wrong side this morning?!

Biologically, endorphins (endogenous morphines) are brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that are released during stress and pain to reduce our perception of pain and create feelings of euphoria; they act in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine (which metabolises as morphine in the body).

So… which is it to be: pain or euphoria?

Well, as a gentle smack in the face to my design snobbery, it’s really not bad at all. I was pleasantly surprised. The production is solid, the four-piece are well balanced in the mix, the guitars have a full, meaty crunch with plenty of bass dialled in. The vocalist Michael Amaral has a throaty scream, but it’s controlled (like Lamb of God’s D. Randall Blythe) is it’s not just indiscriminate shouting.

Very often when I listen to a band I’ll think, “Oh, this is Godflesh meets Entombed with a sprinkling of Death” or something similar, to give me a ballpark of where it fits in the wide world of rock n’ roll. I’ve struggled to be so specific with this album. It definitely has elements of old school thrash (as well as new old-school thrash outfits like Evile) but with nu-metal and punk elements thrown in for good measure.

The open tracks “Flux” and “Welcome to my Hell” are fast-paced, get-your-blood pumping songs that really make an impact. The latter even features female vocals (courtesy of Jennifer McInnis) which brings an almost ethereal, European dynamic to it.

I’m really impressed with the songwriting on this album. The riffs are different enough to keep things interesting, and the songs are short enough to keep my attention. It’s such a shame that Endorphins split. I’d really like to have heard where this progressed to: the difficult second album.

Just over half way through the pace changes and “26 hours” (track 6) opens with what sounds like an FM radio, before a rolling clean riff and drum pattern fades in and we’re treated to something more atmospheric, more experimental. It’s more rock than metal but I really like it. It reminds me of Inverness, instrumental prog band Shutter meets Pantera’s cover of “Planet caravan”.

Interlude over. Back to the face-ripping metal. The album plays out pretty much as it began: interesting riffs, foot-to-the-floor thrashing.

Except that—and this is my first major criticism of this album—”26 hours” has a profound impact on the album. It changes the pace and feel. It’s like being gently lulled into a state of relaxation only to have a bucket of ice-cold water poured onto you as you lounge on the sofa! If anything, “26 hours” is an album closer.

Placing that track at 6/10 makes this album feel too long. And it’s not: it’s only 12 seconds shy of 45 minutes. It would even fit on one side of a C90 cassette, that’s how old school it is!

I had a similar experience with Mastodon—The Hunter (2011) when I argued that track 3 “Blasteroid” was in the wrong place. It’s funny how your perception of how balanced an album is can be thrown by even just one track.

Conclusion

I’m sorry Endorphins split, they certainly showed spirit, courage and promise. I guess that 13 years was maybe long enough for them to keep plugging away with ‘only’ an EP and a LP to show for it. But then, you never know what their goals and ambitions were.

Whatever the truth, their legacy is a solid metal album (with a rather dodgy cover).

Review score: 70%

Raging Speedhorn—Before The Sea Was Built (2007)

Raging Speedhorn—Before The Sea Was Built (2007)

Raging Speedhorn—Before The Sea Was Built (2007)

Details

Recorded at Foel Studio, Llanfair Caereinon, North Wales during two weeks in April 2007. Mastered by Russ Russell at Loud as Feck Studios a few days later. Engineered and edited by Charlie Dorman. Assisted by Chris Fielding. Produced and mixed by Larry Hibbitt.

Released on 7 September 2007 on SPV Records.

Tracks

  1. Everything changes
  2. Before the sea was built
  3. Dignity stripper
  4. Mishima
  5. Last comet from nothingness
  6. Born to twist the knife
  7. Who will guard the guards?
  8. Too drunk to give a fuck
  9. Sound of waves
  10. Jump ship

Review

My two-and-a-half year old twin boys Reuben and Joshua were sitting on my desk last week when Reuben picked up a CD case. “What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s a CD,” I replied.

“What’s a CD?” asked his twin brother.

“It’s got music on it,” I explained.

“What music?” Reuben enquired.

“It’s by a band called Raging Speedhorn.”

“I LOVE Raging Speedhorn,” exclaimed Reuben.

“Me too,” chimed Joshua

Reuben again, “Raging Speedhorn is my favourite. Is it your favourite too?”

“Erm… no,” I began, “In fact, I’ve not listened to it yet. I need to listen to it and then review it for my 195 metal CDs blog.”

Obviously feeling that he’d not got his point across emphatically enough, Joshua repeated, “I like Raging Speedhorn.”

“Good,” I said,”I’ll bear that in mind when I’m reviewing it.”

An astute pair, I’d say. Having listened to them for the best part of two weeks now, I think I can confidently say “I like Raging Speedhorn” too.

The album builds quietly and steadily. Opening track “Everything Changes” kicks off with a really pretty strummed chord progression. Guitar, bass and drums until about 90 seconds in the guitars die away and then… drums, drums, and the vocals kick in.

It wasn’t until I’d listened to the track a couple of times that I looked up Wikipedia to find more about Raging Speedhorn. I had one question: how many vocalists do they have?!

And sure enough: two. That explains the almost conversational feel to some of their tracks. Like question and answer; preces and response.

It’s so good to hear such quality British metal, and from a band that doesn’t feel that it needs to restrict itself to a conventional four or five piece set-up. It’s odd because since I was eight years old I’ve sung in choirs. Small church choirs, larger regional choirs, and for eight years the National Youth Choir of Great Britain which numbered at times up to 140 singers. Odd then that I should consider it unusual that this band has more than one!

A shame that they are no more, however, having split in 2008.

I thought that the vocals would annoy me as I’m not really into that hardcore-inspired ‘shouting’ style of vocals. But somehow with the quality of this music and with two vocalists it just works. I could listen to it all day.

Conclusion

For me the stand-out tracks are the opener “Everything Changes” and track #7 “Who will guard the guards” which slows things down a bit and has a wonderful, twisting guitar riff.

Review score: 75%

Bonus

“Who will guard the guards” live at Glasgow Barfly 18 December 2006.

Chaos Blood—Fragments of a Shattered Skull (2007)

Chaos Blood—Fragments Of A Shattered Skull (2007)

Chaos Blood—Fragments Of A Shattered Skull (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and produced by Mark Mynett at Mynetaur Studios. Drums and vocals recorded by Pete Miles at Forge Hill. Mastered by John Blamire at Digital Audio Co. Released on Siege of Amida Records on 25 June 2007.

Tracks

  1. Bossanova Massacre
  2. Morbid Creation
  3. Raised By Wolves
  4. Shibiddy Bop
  5. Fragments Of A Shattered Skull
  6. Compulsive Urge
  7. Cranial Manouevre
  8. Hillbilly Acid Test
  9. Levitation Technique
  10. Redundant

Review

There are some albums that you just get into immediately; something about them just resonates with you. Others take a bit more work before you finally ‘get’ what it’s all about. Sometimes it’s just about putting in the hours and listening to it again and again, other times it’s about listening to the tracks out of order—which is what I needed to do for Mastodon’s last album— or simply listening to the album in a different context (listening in the car or on an MP3 player rather than a stereo).

It was while listening to this album one night in bed on my phone that it finally made a little more sense to me. Maybe this is a good lesson that I need to listen to each album on this project at least once out loud on my PC’s speakers and once on headphones before I make a judgement.

This is the first and only full-length album from now-disbanded Hampshire death metal/grindcore (deathcore?) unit Chaos Blood and it’s not a bad release, to be honest.

The album has some good riffs, breakdowns, and decent growling death-metal vocals that aren’t too monotonous. That said, the whole album does sound rather same-y. One song often blends into the next with little variation. A brutal onslaught of distorted guitars and drums interspersed with moments of genuine interest.

One exception is track three, “Raised by Wolves” which slows things down, kicking things off with a lamentful, descending riff for 30 seconds before unleashing a wall of noise that then morphs into a start-stop bouncing riff around 58 seconds in. It’s interesting, it’s even rather fun.

Another favourite is the title track, “Fragments of a Shattered Skull” which has a nice melodic guitar break about a minute into its 4:39 length which then twists into an almost acoustic jam, reminiscent of one of Soulfly’s self-titled offerings, before finishing off in the realms of Iron Maiden.

“Cranial Manouevre”, track 7, kicks off with an un-metal drum pattern and bass riff that reminds me a little of industrial band Circle of Dust. Around 54 seconds in Chaos Blood return to their roots with a bit of a deathcore rant. Throughout the rest of the song there are moments where they hint at taking another direction, but these turn out to be short breathers before continuing with the relentless, machine gun riffs.

The penultimate track “Levitation Technique” feels a bit more like a traditional death metal song with some imaginative solos around a third of the way in, and an opening riff that repeats a various points throughout the track. The second half of the song slows down into an almost industrial beat and then all of a sudden at 2 minutes 40 seconds the machine dies and the track ends. Brilliant!

In terms of lyrics… I have no idea! But on an album like this I always treat the vocals as another percussive instrument.

Conclusion

I must have listened to this album about ten times by now and I quite like it. Whether that’s just because I’ve been worn down by the barrage of blast beats or because I genuinely like it, I’m still not entirely sure.

It’s a shame that Chaos Blood split up after only one album. I’d have liked to have heard where they went next. They do the grindcore/deathcore thing very competently, but at times the playing-at-220-bpm parts feels like padding. For me, the real interest in this album lies in those moments when you can hear the band’s personalities and influences shining through: the slowed down parts, the stop-start riffs, the death metal solos, the bouncing riffs, and melodies.

Individually, a lot of the tracks are very good. But together, I still don’t quite understand the statement that is being made. I still haven’t fully experienced the journey. As an exercise, it would be interesting to reorder the tracks and see what a difference it makes. I suspect that this is much better album in the ‘wrong’ order.

Review score: 70%

Bonus

I couldn’t find any of the tracks I mentioned above on YouTube, here’s the only one I could find as part of a compilation.