Saturday, February 24, 2018

Full Length Review: WET BOX Vita In Aeternum (Independent)

Country of origin: Canada
Genre: Post punk, indie, grunge, existential dredge
Release Date: February 9, 2018
Wet Box from Canada is another example of how grunge should have headed instead of being repackaged by the mainstream industry. I get much more from listening to the first couple of songs on Vita In Aeternum than I did from what was considered grunge before it turned into pop-punk. This goes back to the late 1980s before MTV picked up on the genre and made it a trend and fashion statement. I have a tendency to run this point into the ground, but the fact is you can’t be upper middle class and underground without risking the rug pulled out from under you on several levels. Wet Box points out the world of difference between forthrightness and slumming. Or honesty and jumping on the latest bandwagon. Vita In Aeternum represents sidewalk walking as opposed to going to Starbucks for a latte, and the idea that a genuine ‘fuck off’ is preferable to contrived politeness. I borrowed the tag “existential dredge” from the band’s Bandcamp profile because it sounded good and besides, there might be more to the description than it having a nice ring. I’m thinking of the relationship between the cover artwork (designed by Catherine Hennigar) and the first song’s similarities to the Jaws soundtrack. Does this symbolize man’s predatory leanings, or something even deeper? I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide. But I can say the songs have menacing themes to them, especially in the lyrics and vocals, that make Hole sound tame in comparison. Vita In Aeternum is more for fans of Lydia Lunch and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks than 4 Non Blondes and The Cranberries. It may come as a surprise that vocalist Dawn Collins is into yoga, according to what I heard from Devin Joseph Meaney who passed the Bandcamp link to me. You can read about this at Darkside Yoga and Dawn Collins Yoga at Facebook. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Johnny
2. Prophet
3. Ditch
4. Master
5. Wet Box
6. Tide
7. Babies
8. On
9. Savasana

Friday, February 23, 2018

Full Length Review: SACRED LEATHER Ultimate Force (Cruz Del Sur Music)

Ultimate Force
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Heavy metal
Release date: February 23, 2018
I was sent ''Ultimate Force'' by Sacred Leather. I had a few links to choose from, but these guys stuck out as the band that I needed to review. I knew instantly after listening to this for thirty seconds that I was going to highly enjoy this. These guys sound like they are directly out of the early to mid-eighties! Wailing guitar solos and thrashing rhythms blaze against the backdrop of well-played bass, well done ''80's style'' vocals and tight drumming. All of these tracks are heavy, but the one that stuck out the most to me at first would have to be the track ''Dream Searcher.'' Although written like a ballad, they still maintain their heaviness and aggressive leads. My favorite track after listening to all of this would have to be the last track, ''The Lost Destructor/Priest of the Undoer.'' Nine minutes of pure throw-back awesomeness, I would suggest this one to any fans of the genre or any form of heavier music. I can honestly say that while listening to this I was taken back to the age of twelve to fifteen. In my early years I was given a plastic bag filled with old cassettes from my cousin. These tapes really helped to mold my musical interests for years to come, even though these days I put my own spin on things. Still, this really has taken me back, and anyone into this kind of stuff should really check this out. It is Stellar! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Ultimate Force
2. Watcher
3. Power Thrust
4. Dream Search
5. Master Is Calling
6. Prowling Sinner
7. The Lost Destructor / Priest Of The Undoer

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Full Length Review: NOVAREIGN Legends (M-Theory)

Country of origin: USA
Genre: Progressive power metal
Release date: February 16, 2018
Novareign! Stellar power metal. I can hardly describe this. Into the thunderous battlefields my brain charges. With mind burning cover art of warriors worthy of battle, this band roars into my ears with flashing guitar solos and shredding riffs worthy of Valhalla’s acceptance!. Although at some points the vocals can fall a little short, but the vocalist has the voice of a demigod, shrill and loud! I still find myself clawing for the next song. As I reach for my beer, tossing my head up and down this band brings a fresh kill into the room and I can’t help but dig in. So many try to slam a power metal album down, like a Nordic rune stone to be worshiped by the locals, all I can say is. This was worth my time. It should be worth yours .This new generation power metal deserves its chance at glory! It comes with an atmosphere. Acoustic guitar at some points can in my opinion call out a sadness, but then pull out courage. Something I could listen to in a dark time, but have it pull me out... help me find courage to face what comes ahead. Strength comes out of this. It empowers. I love this. Take a listen! -Patrick McGuigan

Track list:
1. Call On The Storm
2. Mace Of A Fist
3. Beyond The Cold
4. Heavy Heart
5. Skyline
6. To Wander The Stars
7. The Builder
8. Black As The Dead Of Night
9. Legends

Full Length Review: SUFFERING 11 (Independent)

Country of origin: UK
Genre: Black/doom metal
Suffering’s interview has been available for reading here since January. As I sought information about their debut album, Sturmgeist Forniator Insultus mostly preferred it to be a mystery until its official release. The date is still unannounced but I was sent an advance stream with a complete track list and cover art (designed by Enchanted Woodland). One thing Insultus did reveal about 11 is, it was produced, mixed and mastered by contacts from other bands (Luke Bowers of Opium Lord and Greg Chandler of Esoteric). As such it comes across as a truly independent by-musicians-for-fans effort listeners should be able to relate to. The production is simultaneously raw and clean, balancing chaos with order, old school with new school. It’s not so raw that everything sounds like a blur, and the musicianship is easy to assimilate. Regarding the band’s doom metal elements, the dirges written into the material have a grandiose quality, reminding me of old Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. I heard hints of Slayer and Dark Angel with 90s black metal in several other songs. Listening overall is like experiencing a forbidden ritual devised and filmed for a horror film of the Hammer variety for the sudden mood changes between tracks. A more apt comparison may be John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness which I watched for recreation recently. That movie didn’t do well financially, but it did present ideas about Lovecraftian fantasy merging with the real world in a modern context. In some ways I received the same impression from 11 and the manner in which it was presented. Only while the movie beclouded the lines between fiction and reality, Suffering create their own reality and make the line clear. The element of fantasy here is apparent from the beginning. The first track Shanshu is preceded by an introduction like a Laveyan satanic ritual, building tension and leading you to anticipate the moment when it finally kicks in. Upon doing so it reveals scalding, mind-shredding blackness with a few well-placed dissonant chords and percussion that is extremely primal. The turn it takes from that track to Diary Of A Street Walker has a profound effect, going from searing rage to the deepest despondency. You get more variance in moods with The Eternal Dance, Deviant Women Of The Barren Plains, and especially the epic Rebirth Through Cursed Dirt. 11 is theatrical and ceremonious without laying it on too thick; Suffering make use of their resources and experience as musicians to spawn something with familiar influences and enough innovation to be recognizable on its own. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Shanshu
2. Releasing The Eleven
3. Diary Of A Street Walker
4. The Eternal Dance
5. Conjuration Through Black Horns
6. Deviant Women Of The Barren Plains
7. The Cult Of Lilim
8. Rebirth Through Cursed Dirt

Monday, February 19, 2018

Promotional Video Review: STEEL PANTHER Death To All But Metal

Death To All But Metal
From the full length Balls Out released on Universal Republic Records January 1, 2011
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Glam metal
Video release date: June 16, 2009
When I randomly found this video posted at a friend’s Facebook profile, what made me interested was the song title. The first time I heard of the band was seeing their appearance at Comedy Central’s roast of Gene Simmons a few years ago. Now I don’t normally listen to this style of music but I got more of a kick out of watching it than I expected. If you like parody-based heavy metal bands like Bad News, Tenacious D and the immortal Spinal Tap this is right up your alley so to speak. What’s more, the parody angle is presented with the crude locker room humor of the Mentors, which people still find entertaining in that non-PC way. Steel Panther started as Metal Shop in 2000 and to date have released five full albums (Hole Patrol in 2003, Feel the Steel in 2009, Balls Out in 2011, All You Can Eat in 2014, Lower the Bar in 2017) and a handful of videos. Again this is not my usual cup of tea but I couldn’t help but laugh while listening to the lyrics and watching the antics in the classroom setting chosen for the video. It hearkens to the likes of Twisted Sister’s I Wanna Rock with a dash of Troma Entertainment added for good measure. I’ve made a lot of comparisons here (though I forgot to mention Kevin Smith) but they should give you an idea of what you’ll see. There is also an appearance by actress/comedienne Sarah Silverman as the school principal who falls under the band’s spell and get freaky. I find her a hottie so seeing her was a pleasant surprise. What I liked most of all was the Metallica reference written into the song and the band hilariously trashing corporate pop icons Goo Goo Dolls, Enimem, Dr. Dre, Papa Roach, Blink 182, Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, 50 Cent and Kanye West, and the labels that pushed them to mass popularity. I would recommend this and a live video I found of the band’s Hellfest 2017 appearance. -Dave Wolff

Full Length Review: THE CRUCIFIER Voices In My Head (Punishment 18 Records)

Voices In My Head
Country of origin: Greece
Genre: Thrash metal
Release date: September 5, 2017
Nostalgia hit me instantly when I listened to The Crucifier. 36 minutes of new wave old school thrash! It brought back the feeling I got when I was a kid. Sitting in my room kicking out legends of thrash on my tape player. Voices In My Head packs a punch with their heavy rhythm riffs and fast paced shredding guitar. Hearing something like this in 2017 was a fresh wake-up call telling me there is hope! Personally I’ll be looking forward to hearing more from these maniacs of new wave thrash. Voices In My Head speaks for itself! -Patrick McGuigan.

Track list
1. Within Insanity
2. Open Your Eyes
3. Problems
4. Happy Face Man
5. Forgive And Don't Forget
6. Born To Be A Slave
7. Imaginary God
8. Fake Truth
9. Voices In My Head

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Trailer Review: THE ALLINS (Toolbox Film/Beat Film)

Official trailer 2017
Movie directed by Sami Saif
Produced by Toolbox Film in association with Beat Film
I wonder if the same people who refer to GG Allin as a legend today hated him, feared him and trashed him in the press while he was alive. Favorable reviews of him were few and far between when I started buying his albums in 1988 and ’89. When I interviewed Merle Allin (GG’s brother and Murder Junkies bassist) he said people feel less threatened by him after his fatal overdose in 1993 and know they can make money off him. This is an issue that goes back to the 70s with Malcolm McLaren’s Cash from Chaos scheme. Is punk about the money or making a statement about society, or spreading information you don’t read about in national newspapers (like The Shadow and Maximum Rock N Roll)? With GG Allin you got the feeling that nothing is sacred. As he stated on Jerry Springer: “Rock and roll is not about what you look like, who you hang out with, how much money you make, what kind of car you drive. Rock and roll is the fury from within you. Rock and roll is revenge, rock and roll is your enemy, and I am your enemy.” GG represented rebellion for rebellion’s sake, as clichéd as that sounds. So to present an unbiased view of his life and career without exploiting his memory you’d have to find the right director. From watching the trailer of The Allins I gather the documentary is presented from the point of view of Merle and GG”s mother Arleta Allin who opens up and makes a real effort to show a side of GG the fans and the media did not see. As Arleta had a close personal relationship with Kevin (as he was known offstage) she makes it clear early in the trailer she didn’t like fans and/or bandwagon jumpers coming to her New Hampshire hometown and desecrate his headstone. Merle didn’t care for it either; we see him approaching a guilty party and smacking him with an acoustic guitar. The trailer hints at the contrast between life as GG Alin and life as Kevin Allin which I would like to see more of when viewing the documentary. The last film I watched about GG that I liked was Todd Phillips’ Hated which touched on his youth and upbringing; this one may well be more intimate and personal when it comes to depicting his family life and the earliest years of his musical career with his first band Malpractice. I may wait until it comes out on DVD but it’s something I’m looking forward to seeing. -Dave Wolff

Seven-inch Review: ARMS RACE The Beast (La Vida Es Un Mus Discos - UK/Painkiller Records - USA)

The Beast
Country of origin: UK
Genre: Hardcore punk
Release Date: February 8, 2018
I have a day completely to my elf and the first thing I do is listen to this 7'' sent to me. This is not that bubble gum stuff you hear on the radio, this is real hardcore punk. Deep aggressive vocals assault your ears in a good way, yelled over sometimes fast and always deep and violent guitar riffs. The bass is low and chugging, the drums perfectly keeping organized chaos on time. Available on vinyl and a cheap download, I highly suggest checking these guys out, as this is some seriously talented stuff. This release was really short, so I do plan on looking into these guys more in the future. I need more of this, as today has really brought on a desire to listen to more punk rock. ''The Beast'' by ARMS RACE is a catchy little blast of hardcore and I'm glad that it was sent in my direction. It makes me want to look into the band more. Good job, guys. This was a fun time. If you can afford a vinyl, by all means order one. If not, give this a download. It all helps in the end. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Zealot
2. 24 Hours
3. The Beast
4. Distort Britannia

Friday, February 16, 2018

EP Review: CRYOSTASIUM Starbound (Satanath Records/Grimm Distribution)

Release Date: October 16, 2017
Format: Jewel case, Vinyl-style CD, 500 copies, 4-page booklet
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Psychedelic/dark ambient black metal
I throw on the ''Starbound'' EP by the band Cryostasium, and what I hear is what I consider to be really talented musicianship. This EP is almost entirely instrumental, which is odd for me. Still, I would without a doubt check out more from this one man band of Cody Maillet in the future. The drums switch from loud and on time to being a back drop for relentless atmospheric carnage. Aside from your standard black-metal riffs, the best way to describe the guitar work on this release is ''spooky'' or ''eerie''. There is something completely alien about this release, but it works perfectly with the sound Maillet is going with. Nearing the end of this release, I feel as if I am about to be abducted by satanic aliens on a quest for sustenance. My flesh and blood would nourish their voracious appetites... along with the flesh and blood of the entire human race. Usually my favorite part of a release involves the music, but for this piece what strikes me the most is the cover art. I really enjoy the style used, and if this had not been sent to me, I probably would have checked it out on my own anyway if I came across it. Atmospheric mastery from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, this release is available through SATANATH RECORDS (Russia) and GRIMM DISTRIBUTION (Belarus). Listen to this release, or else Maillet might send to you an aquatic monstrosity, its teeth and terrible jaws sent to consume your entire waking existence. This is great black-metal and I will for sure listen to this again. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Starbound
2. Magnetic
3. Melancholera
4. The Eye
5. Adventurine

This review can also be read at The Dev Man Express. -DW

Sunday, February 11, 2018

EP Review: DARK ARCHIVE Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon (Inverse Records)

Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon
Release Date: January 31, 2018
Country of origin: Finland
Genre: Black metal
It is before 5 pm on a Sunday and I was sent ''Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon,'' a new release from the Finnish black-metal band DARK ARCHIVE. Released January 31st 2018 on INVERSE RECORDS, this piece quickly assaults my ears with morbid satanic revelry. Featuring five tracks, this release is what I consider to be the ''perfect'' length EP. Not too long, not too short... just perfection. My ears are telling me that the drum tracks are produced by a machine, but I could be wrong. If these beats are created by a man sitting at a drum set, then I can honestly say that he is probably a cyborg and the human race is probably going to end soon via cyborg takeover. As you can guess by now, the drum tracks are phenomenal and they are well adjusted to the songs. The guitars are bleak, yet they have extreme drive, pushing along with the drums to create a diabolical atmosphere. Vocally, you have your standard black-metal rasps and demonic vocalizations, but they are done well with an obvious tinge of finesse. On a final note, I will also mention that within the morbid darkness there is also beautiful acoustics and piano work, a nice touch amid the constant shrieks and blasphemy. As far as black-metal goes, this release is entirely on par. I suggest you pour a glass of fine red wine, adorn your most expensive suit and head to the loneliness of your bedroom where you can bathe in black-metal and your own mild narcissism. I give this release a 9.9/10, only taking the 0.1 off the top because the band did not mention whether their drummer is a person or not. (I kid, I kid. This is great. 10/10) -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Cultivate our blood in Aeon
2. Closure of Empyrean delirium
3. Godfear Eradication
4. Unohda ei ikinä
5. Essence of Death