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%

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Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Details

Produced by Thorla and Seelye. Mastered by David Torrey at DRT Masteringart. Released on Retribute Records, 2004.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Ryan Burgy—Vocals
  • Chris Chiera—Guitar
  • Paul Bartholet—Bass
  • Brad Thorla—Drums

Tracks

  1. It’s Fun To Be The Bad Guy
  2. Taller Buckets Hold More
  3. The Getaway
  4. The God Out Of Reach
  5. Killing People Is Easy
  6. No Other Path To Pursue
  7. An Ode To Myself
  8. Don’t Slow Me Down
  9. Thiboderux
  10. Holy Bottle

Review

Sofa King Killer were a sludge metal band from Akron in Ohio. According to Wikipedia,

Sofa King Killer’s (abbreviated as SKK) vision was to create a hybrid band of different genres including doom metal, sludge metal, rock and roll and punk rock. The band was known for guitar riffs inspired by Black Sabbath, drums of the Melvins and the vocals of Eyehategod.

If this album is anything to judge them on—and there’s not much more in their back-catalogue, so it will have to do—they’ve done a pretty good job realising their vision.

I imagine this would be a great album to listen to on a long train journey, sitting staring out of the window. The pace of the songs stays pretty consistent, the audible landscape varies little, slowing down here and there, but on the whole bouncing its way through one dirty riff after another.

This is the kind of album that I can listen to on repeat, the kind of album I can listen to and enjoy but which doesn’t distract me for getting on with other pieces of work. This would be great music for writing to, or coding to.

Chiera’s guitars are heavy and loose, tuned down and distorted; Bartholet’s bass guitar rumbles along the bottom occasionally shining through when given the space; Thorla’s drums hold it all together, plenty of cymbal crashes, with the snare tick-tocking to keep the beat; while over the top Burgy’s vocals are throaty and hoarse. It’s tight and loose all the same time. With each song I found my head nodding as I bounced along to the groove.

Conclusion

No surprise but I found this album really enjoyable. Sludge metal has been one of my delightful finds in this project: the average score that I’ve given a sludge metal album is 81%.

It’s a shame that Sofa King Killer split in 2009. I’d liked to have heard more from them. I’ll just have to track down their debut album Stout-Soaked Songs (2000) and see how it compares.

Review score: 90%

Bonus

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Details

Thanks to At War With False Noise and Paul of Suma. Released in 2007.

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Ubersloth—Vocals, guitar, drums, electric organ
  • Uberneecie—Vocals
  • Derek Erdman—Guitar, vocals, noises
  • Mr Bearbomb—Guitar, vocals, electric organ
  • Picnic table—Guitar, vocals
  • Sam Pitts—Bass, vocals
  • Dan Pitts—Piano
  • Wedge—Drums, vocals, percussion

Tracks

  1. 1
  2. the wooleybear looked at you?
  3. 3
  4. stak ’em up
  5. 5
  6. a night at the park
  7. 7
  8. i farted
  9. 9
  10. derek’s song
  11. 11
  12. at the laundromat (you can have fun)
  13. 13
  14. your record collection
  15. 15
  16. pika flower shop
  17. 17
  18. b. bob
  19. 19
  20. wrestling quiz
  21. 21
  22. ufo zombies
  23. 23
  24. political song
  25. 25
  26. lagoons

Review

There is something about this album of random snippets and samples, integrated with sludgy, stoner-style punk tracks that is wonderfully affirming. In a world obsessed with global celebrity, there is an honesty and a fragility about this collection that I really warm to. It reminds me in so many ways of something raw like Nirvana’s debut album Bleach.

The thirteen samples —the suitably odd tracks — which appear to be lifted mostly from films and TV have no common theme, but they do a nice job of connecting one song to the next. I did wonder if they would get annoying but listen after listen I quite enjoyed their randomness.

The thirteen songs are varied in style, though all feel loose and laid back but all very different, for example, “the wooleybear looked at you?” (track 2) reminds me of something punky like Black Flag. “stak ’em up” (track 4) is a bit bluesy. “derek’s song” (track 10) has a very Primus feel to it: repetitive and a little atonal and whiny.  “at the laundromat (you can have fun)” (track 12) is a riff on the chord progression A-F♯-G. “ufo zombies” (track 22) reminds me of The Misfits, not necessarily in style but vibe and attitude.

Conclusion

I really rather like this album. It is odd and quirky and unique and interesting. I would definitely choose to listen to this again.

Review score: 85%

 

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%

Jello Biafra—High Priest of Harmful Matter: Tales from the Trial (1989)

Jello Biafra—High Priest of Harmful Matter: Tales from the Trial (1989)

Jello Biafra—High Priest of Harmful Matter: Tales from the Trial (1989)

Details

Produced by Biafra. Edited by John Cuniberti at Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco. Recorded live on one of those DAT machines that certain wanna-be vice presidents want to ban at Bogart’s, Long Beach, California on 14 December 1988. Engineer: Adrian DeMichele. House sound: Joe Simon.

“Love American Death Squad Style” originally released on the Alternative Tentacles compilation LP Oops! wrong stereotype. Recorded live at the Ritz, New York, 7 April 1988.

Tracks

  1. Intro—Love American death squad style
  2. Talk on censorship
  3. Tales from the trial

Review

In 1986 I was just beginning to seriously get into rock and metal music. Queen—A Kind of Magic came out that year, Metallica—Master of Puppets, Slayer—Reign in Blood. That was a good year. But I also remember in the music press at the time, in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, worrying reports of a right-wing Christian group called PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) from the US, headed up by future vice-president Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore. PMRC’s goal was to increase parental control over the access of children to music regarded as violent, sexual or drug-related. It was PMRC that are responsible for the introduction of the ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on the albums.

Parental advisory explicit content

Parental advisory explicit content

I remember discussions at our Scripture Union group at high school about why certain music genres were dangerous, about the dangers of backmasked messages. Rock, punk, metal, rap, were all at the top of those lists. And, of course, those were the genres that my friends and I preferred. I didn’t buy any of their arguments (I actually found Tipper Gore’s name more frightening than any of the music!). I continued to listen to metal. And look how I turned out! And the kind of blog I started.

Meanwhile in the US, Jello Biafra, lead singer of the Californian punk rock band the Dead Kennedy’s was arrested and taken to trial for obscenity over the artwork of their album Frankechrist (1985) which featured a poster of Penis Landscape by Swiss artist HR Giger. The trial in 1987 almost bankrupted Alternative Tentacles Records, and resulted in a hung (not hanged!) jury: seven against five in favour of acquittal.

High Priest of Harmful Matter: Tales From the Trial is the second spoken word album by Jello Biafra himself. It’s a double CD released, the first disc Biafra focuses on censorship in the US (1. “Intro—Love American death squad style”, and 2. “Talk on censorship”); on the second he describes his own experience of the events that led to the 1987 obscenity trial.

Having been aware of some of these issues at the time as a teenager, I found this a fascinating recording. Biafra is a great performer, a great communicator. At times a public speaker and lecturer, at times almost a beat poet. It’s fascinating hearing about this from the inside.

Conclusion

I’m not a great supporter of censorship. I’m in favour of people thinking for themselves, being responsible for their own decisions.

I’m not sure how often I will listen to this spoken word album, but I’ll definitely keep it for my kids to listen to. Once they’ve grown out of Chuggington and Charlie and Lola audiobooks.

Review score: As this isn’t a music album I’m not going to give it a score.

Ultimatum—Lex Metalis (2009)

Ultimatum—Lex Metalis (2009)

Ultimatum—Lex Metalis (2009)

Details

Executive producer: Matthew B. Hunt. Produced by Ysidro Garcia and Ultimatum. Recording engineer: Ysidro Garcia. Recorded at Sight 16 Studios. Cover artwork: Scott Waters. Live photos: Kristian Thompson. Lex Metalis was released on Retroactive Records on 21 July 2009.

www.ultimatum.net

Band

  • Scott Waters—Vocals
  • Robert Gutierrez—Guitars
  • Rob Whitlock—Bass
  • Alan Tuma—Drums

Tracks

  1. Ton of bricks (Metal Church)
  2. Locked in chains (The Moshketeers)
  3. Sin after sin (Twister Sister)
  4. Creeping death (Metallica)
  5. Denim & leather (Saxon)
  6. Gut wrench (Mortification)
  7. Moto psycho (Megadeth)
  8. Metal health (Quiet Riot)
  9. Steeler (Judas Priest)
  10. Iron fist (Motörhead)
  11. Can’t get out (Vengeance Rising)
  12. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden)
  13. Powersurge (Overkill)

Review

As much as I love most genres of metal, I’ve never really connected with the whole ‘denim and leather’ stereotype immortalised by Saxon. In fact, to be honest, I’ve never really connected with Saxon, either. I was always on the Iron Maiden side of that particular divide.

So let us sit back and count the number of examples of metal clichés this album manages to pack in at first glance:

  1. The name: Ultimatum.(It’s kind of Latin-y.)
  2. The font: pointy, with the first and last letters trying to mirror one another like the Metallica logo.
  3. The album title: Lex Metalis. (More Latin.)
  4. The album cover: a metal-head resplendent in leather jacket and denim jeans, bullet belts and spiked wristbands, with fists covered in blood.
  5. Booklet features images of the band in concert: long, sweaty hair, black t-shirts, metal poses, pointy guitars.
  6. An album of cover tunes.
  7. Erm…
  8. That’s it. Probably.

It wouldn’t be unfair to surmise that I didn’t have very high hopes for this covers album from the New Mexico band. It features songs that were at partially chosen by fan suggestions on the band’s discussion board, and some are pretty ambitious considering the legendary status that many of these bands have.

Broadly-speaking it would appear to me there are three kinds of cover tunes. The first is where the band respectfully plays the song as close to the original as is possible, with note-for-note solos (think Metallica’s cover of the Diamond Head classic ‘Am I evil?’). The second is where the band or artist takes inspiration from a song but makes it their own (think Rolf Harris’s version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, or Grey DeLisle’s (the voice of Daphne from Scooby Doo) cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian rhapsody’. The third is a middle ground between the two. Sometimes it works (Anthrax’s cover of ‘It’s late’ by Queen is a beautiful tribute to another amazing band), while at other times it clearly doesn’t (Mendeed’s cover of ‘The thing that should not be’ by Metallica is to my ears painful).

As the liner notes point out, however, regardless of anything else covers albums should at the end of the day be “plain fun”. This album falls clearly in the first category and ticks the box marked F.U.N. Ultimatum can clearly play and they have a healthy respect for these songs by many of their favourite bands.

The album opener ‘Ton of bricks’ (by Metal Church) sets the tone for the rest of the recording, and introduces the uninitiated to Scott Waters’ vocals. He has a particular gruff style of singing, somewhere the growl-side of John Bush, that takes a little getting used to. He’s not bad as such, it’s just he’s not David Wayne (Metal Church) or Lemmy (Motörhead) or James Hetfield (Metallica), and as I know these songs so well it took a little getting used to. But once I had I began to really enjoy listening to this album.

Highlights for me obviously included ‘Ton of bricks’, ‘Creeping death’ (Metallica), ‘Iron fist’ (Motörhead), and ‘Wrathchild’ (Iron Maiden). But those were the songs that I already knew and loved, part of the whole point of a covers album is surely also to introduce fans to songs and bands that they might not already be familiar with. I’m not sure it teased me enough to make me race to Amazon or iTunes to buy up the back catalogues of Twister Sister, Saxon or Mortification but it certainly made me a little more curious about hearing more.

Conclusion

A pleasantly deceptive album. There are so many things stacked against it being a success in my book, but against the odds this is a fun album that makes me curious about hearing Ultimatum’s own body of work now.

Review score: 70%

Video

Probably my favourite cover from this album: Creeping Death by Metallica.

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Details

Recorded at Volume Studios in Chicago by Sanford Parker, October 2007. Mixed by Sanford Parker and Steven Rathbone. Mastered by Scott Hull. Music and lyrics by Rathbone. Produced by Lair of the Minotaur. Executive production by Sanford Parker.

Band

  • Donald James Barraca—Bass
  • Steven Rathbone—Guitar, vocals and synth
  • Chris Wozniak—Drums

Tracks

  1. Horde of undead vengeance
  2. War metal battle master
  3. When the ice giants slayed all
  4. Slaughter the bestial legion
  5. Black viper barbarian clan
  6. Assassins of the cursed mist
  7. Doomtrooper
  8. Hades unleashed

Review

This is actually the very first album I listened on this project. Having just bundled four carrier bags of CDs into the back of my car I grabbed one at random to listen to on my drive home. And this was it. And I was impressed.

Having listened to the album for the best part of a week I have to say that I am still impressed. There is no pretence about this album. This is heavy music with clear influences from the likes of early Metallica, Slayer, and Death, as well as elements of doom and sludge metal. It’s a good mix.

Throughout the album, the guitars sound amazing. Some bands dial in a harsh, thin distortion often from effects pedals or digital effects, but these guitars sound like they are simply screaming through not much more than an over-driven amplifier: not too warm, but with just the right amount of crunch.

The album opens with feedback before warming up with a few crashing chords as it builds the tempo into the ‘Horde of Undead Vengeance’.

Track two, the title track ‘War Metal Battle Master’ has more than a tip of the hat to Ride the Lightning (1984) era Metallica, including a riff at 1’00’ that had me singing in the car, quite involuntarily:

Do unto others as they’ve done to you
But what the hell is this world coming to?

from ‘Fight fire with fire’.

Next up, ‘When the ice giants slayed all’ has more than a little feel of being a Slayer track, as the song title hints at. Not just the thrashing power chords but the dual, squealing riffs too that punctuate the middle of the song.

Even at three tracks in, with so many respectful nods of the head to these thrash titans this album doesn’t feel ripped off, there is an integrity to the music, in the tradition of everything is a remix. This album is like a melting pot of the best elements of the thrash genre. And I like what has been formed from that combination. I like it a lot.

I’d really be doing the album a massive disservice too if I didn’t mention the song titles. How ‘metal’ are these?! I know I’ve listed them above, but let’s just appreciate them once again:

  • Horde of undead vengeance
  • War metal battle master
  • When the ice giants slayed all
  • Slaughter the bestial legion
  • Black viper barbarian clan
  • Assassins of the cursed mist
  • Doomtrooper
  • Hades unleashed

How much more metal could this be? And the answer is… none. None more metal. It’s like the results from a perfect metal song title generator.

Track seven ‘Doomtrooper’ has a quite a different feel to much of the rest of the album. It opens with an atmospheric, almost Arabian feel—with horns (literal and metaphoric)—before handing over to a pounding, doom-laden riff and the deepest, gruffest vocals of the album, like a slowed-down Morbid Angel.

The album closes with a mournful riff that opens ‘Hades unleashed’ which quickly morphs into something that could easily have been on Slayer’s Hell Awaits (1985) album

Conclusion

I really like this album. So much so that I didn’t want to have write this review as it would mean I needed to move on to the next album. And I know what’s coming up, and on my first few listens of that I really didn’t like it. Please make it stop. Please me have to listen to this album for another week.

Of course, I will. This is going to be on my MP3 player for quite a while to come. Brilliant! Thank you Lair of the Minotaur.

Review score: 100%

Video

WARNING! Utterly ridiculous video for a thrashing masterpiece resplendent with lots of fake blood, an imitation eye, and erm… naked, lesbian, vampire cannibals!?