Friday, September 28, 2012

In The Spotlight: Philippines

The third entry in this series, where I talk briefly about three new releases from a country outside the metal mainstream. Today we look at the Philippines.


Genital Grinder formed as a death metal act some twenty years ago, but by the time they released their first album Damn Good earlier this year, they had morphed into a thrash band. The music gallops along, catchy and energetic, driven by meaty riffing. The vocals, though, have the feeling of somebody half out of breath from desperately trying to keep up with the music, but never quite managing to do so. Still, the overall product is entertaining.


Disastrous are a brutal death metal band, which my searches through the Metal Archives indicate is easily the biggest metal scene in the country. The music itself is really closer to straight old school death metal than to the modern brutal strains. Their vocals bring in the brutal aspect, with the standard indistinguishable guttural bellows. These vocals get a tad redundant in my opinion, and they are too loud in the mix. But on the up side, this band is quite good musically.


Vercelum are a depressive black metal band who released their new EP entitled A Decade of Depression back in February. I really like that these guys actually stay firmly within black metal, as many bands who stake claims in the depressive/ambient end of the black metal spectrum shed much of what makes them metal. Not so here, as the cold riffing and tortured howls are all still there. The music resides in a gloomy, mid-paced range which I find highly effective. This is easily my favorite of these releases.


That's it for this post. I may do one or two more in this series, but I'm not sure yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In The Spotlight: Israel

A fair number of metal fans are familiar with Melechesh and Orphaned Land, but beyond them the Israeli metal scene does not have a particularly big presence. There is, however, some good material coming from the area. In this second post of my "Spotlight" series, I'll talk briefly about three new releases from that country.


Soul Torture are a melodic death metal band who evidently formed in 2004, but they took until this year to release their debut EP, The Reign of War. The music is very full, with a six-man lineup that features both dual guitars and a keyboardist. The keys provide drama but not melodrama. Instead of leaning too heavily on that side of their sound the central focus is instead placed on the catchy, driving guitar riffs and scattered solos. The vocals are pretty standard fare for this style, though they are notable in that they maintain the hostile edge of melodeath's roots.


Geist are a low-fi black metal band who released Der Ungeist, their first full-length album, this year. Blistering guitar and the vocalist's psychotic howls and shrieks dominate this record. They are willing to slow down in places to create a little atmosphere, but it's the rabid highs that really shine. With nearly non-existant bass, harshly rattling drums, and a hazy wall of almost-too-low-fidelity white noise, the band creates a cold, hostile sound that one would expect from a much more northerly source.


Sonne Adam are a death/doom group who I think are the highlight of this post. They have been very active of late, releasing a full-length last year and two EPs this year before signing with Century Media to put out a compilation which went on sale just a few weeks ago. The group has simple but crushingly heavy guitar, and they feature some powerful death vocals. They are also willing to delve into quiet, gloomy, gothic atmospherics that really add a vital amount of depth to their material. The selected track is from their first EP of the year, The Sun is Dead.


That's it for the second installment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In The Spotlight: Peru

As an experiment, I've decided to do a series of micro-reviews. In each entry, I'll talk briefly about three new releases from a specific country outside the metal mainstream. As the title indicates, this first post will be on selections from Peru.


Reino Ermitaño are a doom group based out of Lima, Peru. Their fourth album, Veneración del Fuego, came out in April. The group clearly draws on Black Sabbath as a primary influence, but they take a fuzzier, more stoner-oriented turn. Heavy, groovy riffs and some excellent psychedelic leads drenched in distortion make up the body of the record. What really stood out to me the most, though, were the vocals. High but not flowery, strained and gritty around the edges, and with a strangely androgynous quality (the vocalist is a woman who sounds more like a high-pitched man) I found the singing to be absolutely captivating. On the whole, a very good record.


Avoidant, another Lima-based act, are a technical death metal band who formed in 2010 and have not yet produced a full-length album. This summer they self-released an EP, entitled Morphology, which is their debut recording barring a demo from last year. The group have a strong, driving sound with excellent instrumental skills and rabid vocals. In several places they actually opt to lay back a bit and take an almost "chill" approach, giving a welcome sense of ebb and flow all too rare in technical death metal. This isn't my favorite type of metal, but I enjoyed this all the same. The band is also promoting free downloads of the EP from here. With no price tag, it's worth checking out if you like technical death.


Yana Raymi are a tribal metal band hailing from Huancayo, Peru. After releasing a series of demos over the past seven years, this summer's Guerreros del Sol is their first full-length album. The use of native woodwinds provides the key folk influence in their music, apart from the lyrical focus on the ancient mythology of the region. The chugging guitar work kind of has a sparse, ultra-mellow death metal root to it in the body of a lot of the songs, but the music in general is pretty relaxed and open sounding with plenty of quieter passages. The vocals are sometimes clean, but they are primarily delivered in a weirdly hollow sounding growl. This isn't the meatiest record out there, but it's an interesting and relatively accessible piece of tribal metal.

And for all the nitpickers out there, I know 'tribal metal' is just an informal term for a type of folk metal, but I like the way it sounds as a name and I rarely get an excuse to use it, so I'm not going to pass up a good opportunity to say it a few times in a post.


So that's the first installment in the series. I don't know exactly how many of these I'll do, but I intend to put up at least a few more over the course of this week. Also, I have quite a few reviews coming up over the next few weeks on Full Metal Attorney which I will provide links to as they are posted.

Monday, September 24, 2012

For Cryptopsy Fans

If you're anything like me, you were shocked and horrified when Cryptopsy decided to squat down and drop the monstrous pile of crap that was The Unspoken King right on their fans' heads. After that, many metalheads simply wrote Cryptopsy off as one more name on the long list of extreme metal sellouts. Well it's been four years now, and earlier this month Cryptopsy released their second album with Matt McGachy on vocals.

This self-titled follow up to that dreadful metalcore abomination had the task of showing everybody whether the band had realized the extent of their misstep and wanted to make amends, or if they were happy to follow their new course. That's a dubious moment for a metal fan, since we all know on which side of the fence that ball usually lands.

Well, good news folks: your band is back. Despite the less than promising cover and the continued absence of Lord Worm, the Canadians have decided to return to death metal. And from what I've heard of it, the new record is actually pretty solid. Fans should count themselves lucky. Many of us never get our beloved bands back once they decide to chase after the big money.

Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity

Hailing from California, Cattle Decapitation are an adamantly pro-animal-rights death/grind band who have been steadily releasing material for the past decade. This spring, they released their fifth full-length, Monolith of Inhumanity.

After years spent building a cult following of vegans and environmentalists, Cattle Decapitation may have just broken through with one of the defining masterpieces of grind. In comparison with their rough previous works, this album is mature, diverse, and perfectly willing to take its time crafting atmosphere. The musicianship is razor sharp on all fronts. The guitar blasts out crunchy riffs psychotically when it has to, but it can also produce sparkling solos and mellow, gloomy passages. The drums are as fast and ferocious as anyone could ask for, providing a relentless energy which drives the record forward. The distorted bass goes wild just beneath the blistering guitar assault, fleshing out the sound perfectly. The vocals range from angry shouts and shrieks to demonic roars with equally stellar effect, and some eerie spoken portions crop up as well. Also, strewn throughout the record are these extremely gritty but not quite growled singing sections which present an unusual sound in a grind release and which really round out the gruesome vocal excellence on display.

What strikes me most about this album is that even though the band slows down in places and provides more distinction, progressive instrumentation, and atmosphere than the vast majority of grind or death/grind records out there, the end product is still unbelievably savage. The quiet passages and the shifts to slower tempos highlight the brutal ferocity of the rest of the record, giving you the same gut-wrenching anticipation as the long ascent at the beginning of a massive roller coaster. And like the coaster, there's a still moment at the top where you can feel yourself cresting the peak, then the wild rush of excitement as you careen downward into chaos.

I really can't recommend this album highly enough, which is saying something since I'm not the biggest grind fan in the world, and I've honestly always found this band slightly annoying in the past. But this is, put simply, the best death/grind album I've ever heard.

Grade: A
If you have even a passing interest in death/grind, get this album. It may well go down as the new high-water mark in that style.

Diabolical Sacrilege - To Dominate Their Psyche

Diabolical Sacrilege are a Minnesota-based death metal band. Though they've been around for a few years, this February saw the release of their first full-length, To Dominate Their Psyche, on the very small Antitheist Disseminations label. This was my first encounter with the band, whom I chanced upon while looking for metal albums that used Zdzisław Beksiński paintings for their covers.

At first, I really didn't care for this. The choppy, discordant guitar felt directionless and off-putting, the drumming was too low in the mix, the band had dropped even the pretense of employing a bassist, and I was less than thrilled with the vocals. To put it bluntly, I thought to myself "this is crap".

As I listened and got more of a feel for what the band was trying to do, though, I quickly found this growing on me. Sure the guitars were strange and unpleasant at times, but they were also played with a frantic energy and reckless abandon that really brought them to life. Sure they had no bassist, but how many death metal bands make much use of bass anyway? And sure, their vocalist sounded a bit too much like Nathan Explosion in some places, but he also sounded surprisingly similar to Karl Sanders in others. Also, the drumming really wasn't as quiet as it seemed at first, so I'm still trying to figure out the source of that initial reaction.

The band throws in some breakdowns that occasionally border on moshy, but they still sound like they belong in death metal rather than metalcore so they work just fine. Some wild guitar soloing crops up from time to time, the band shifts speeds and riffing approaches often enough to keep things interesting, and the balance of clarity and grit in the production is just right for this type of record.

Most importantly, I didn't get the immediate feeling that "clearly they're trying to sound like ______" upon listening to this album. The closest statement to that which I would make might be saying that they sound kind of like Nile with all the Egyptian stuff pulled out, but even that isn't a totally accurate claim. It's a nice trait, since so many new death metal releases just make you want to turn them off and pop in Like An Ever Flowing Stream or Left Hand Path or Effigy of the Forgotten or whatever other classic slab of brutality they're blatantly ripping off. This didn't make me feel that way. Of course some parts sounded awfully familiar, but that's pretty much unavoidable at this point in time. The important thing is that on the whole, the record wasn't built as a clone of some superior predecessor. It wasn't the greatest death metal I've ever heard, but at least it was worth listening to on its own merits.

Grade: B
Enjoyable death metal with some flaws, but with its own identity. I'm interested to see how the band builds on this in future releases.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage

Gojira, probably the most popular metal act to ever come out of France, are a death metal outfit best known for their environmental lyrics. Their fifth full-length album, L'Enfant Sauvage, came out this summer.

I should probably note, before going any further, that I've never been much of a Gojira fan. I'm not sure if it's about the music itself or it it's just residual bias from the fairly lackluster show they put on when I saw the band live, but  for whatever reason they have just never clicked for me. I think this may be the album that changes that.

The band is still largely playing their slightly dissonant, choppy brand of death metal here, but they added a good deal of melodeath influence on this record. I heard more than just a trace of old In Flames in many of these songs, most notably the title track. By staying within their own general style while pulling from the early days of the Gothenburg scene, Gojira have created an album that flows better, catches the listener up in its grooves, and is more generally appealing to my ear than their previous releases.

For those of you who liked Gojira the way they were, don't worry. This is still the same band. They still display excellent musicianship on all fronts, and enough of their core sound still exists for you to thoroughly  enjoy this album. The range on this record is also excellent. They go everywhere from straight heavy death metal to soft melodic passages. Not only does this keep the album fresh and interesting as it moves forward, but they do an excellent job of making each track distinct from its neighbors.

I honestly have nothing negative to say about this album. It grabbed and held my interest to a degree that few releases do, and the entire effort sounded vital and fresh. This will almost certainly find a place high on my list of the top releases for 2012.

Grade: A
Creative and exciting death metal with a splash of melody and a ton of variety.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Greek Gods of Metal

It seems like every time I turn around these days there is another Greek metal band releasing something awesome. At present, there are three Greek albums I've got on my mind. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to hear any of them in their entirety yet, but I've listened to a sample track or two off of each. That's been enough to get me excited about hearing the full records.


Kawir are a highly underrated black metal band who focus on Greek mythology. Their sound is a little slower, softer, and more dramatic than most black metal acts, putting them somewhere on the fringes of pagan metal. In any case, their previous release (2008's Ophiolatreia) was very good, and this month they came out with their new album, ΙΣΟΘΕΟΣ.


Mencea are a progressive death metal band who released their second album, Pyrophoric, back in March. I really like their vocals, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the full album at some point.


Nordor are a group who sound something like Septicflesh doing straight death metal, or at least that's how they strike me. They've actually been around since 1989, but after a scattering of demos they stopped recording for a long time. This summer's Erga Omnes is their second full-length album.

Trails of Sorrow

My review of the new Trails of Sorrow album is up on Full Metal Attorney now. You can find it here.

Metal Artists

One of the great things about metal is that it has some of the most wonderful, intricate, and spectacular cover artwork of any music on the planet. Of course there is a lot of crap out there too, but that only highlights how great the best cover art really is. As the architects of metal's image, there are some individuals who have really perfected their craft and have become established fixtures as important to the metal community as many of the bands themselves. In this post I'll rank the ones who I think are the top 5, because I like making lists. I've picked out 5 album covers by each artist, so if you want to see more samples of their work you can follow the numbered (but not ranked) links below each entry.

Okay, here we go!


#5. Spiros Antoniou
As a member of Septicflesh, he's had a role in both music and artwork in the metal world. He incorporates a lot of photography into his artwork and design, and he produces a style that, while not my absolute favorite, can look pretty bad ass and has clearly been a big part of modern metal imagery.

More covers: 1 2 3 4


#4. Derek Riggs
A notable figure in the power/progressive metal scene, as well as the NWOBHM, Riggs is best known for creating Eddie. And while he has done other artwork, the pile of Iron Maiden covers to his name are his biggest contribution to metal imagery.

More covers: 1 2 3 4


#3. Michael Whelan
Actually better established as a fantasy and sci-fi illustrator, he has nonetheless done several great metal album covers too (most notably for Obituary and Sepultura). Sadly, while his best is as good as anybody's, he hasn't done as much work in the metal world as any of the other artists on this list.

More covers: 1 2 3 4


#2. Dan Seagrave
The top two really stand head and shoulders above the rest, and people's agreement with me here will largely depend on whether they prefer the imagery for death metal or black metal. Seagrave, who is known for his highly detailed work, is the king of death metal album art. Just slapping one of his paintings on an album's cover automatically makes the release 25% more brutal.

More covers: 1 2 3 4


#1. Kristian Wåhlin
Often operating under the name Necrolord, Sweden's Kristian Wåhlin is the world's premier black metal cover artist. His work is not confined to that sub-genre, though, as he has done notable work for bands ranging from death and thrash to prog and power metal. He's even done some Christian metal album covers.  Wåhlin is responsible for many of the most fantastic album covers the metal world has ever seen, including my personal pick for the greatest metal album cover of all time (pictured). It was really hard to limit this to 5 pieces like I did for the rest of the artists on this list, but after some time and effort I managed it. He really is, in my opinion at least, the greatest artist in metal.

More covers: 1 2 3 4

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Next Few Days

After a brief surge of output, over the past several days I've fallen silent. Don't worry, I'm not going back into hibernation. I was out of town this weekend, and I've had some catching up to do on things I would have been doing had I been here.

Anyway, over the next few days I've got a couple reviews to do for Full Metal Attorney, so I'll post links to those when they get posted. Then I'll get back to posting here, and I've already got some stuff lined out to review so by the end of the week I should have the first of those up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Metal Fans: A Field Guide

I've devised a sort of field guide to help you identify what kind of person you're dealing with as pertains to the topic of metal, and to help you navigate music conversations that may arise with said individuals. I've broken down specific classes into larger groups, based on how much or how little they are likely to know about metal.

And before you ask, all these "catchphrases" I used are in fact based very closely on things I've heard myself on several different occasions.

Metal Knowledge: None

Name: The Evangelist
Catchphrase: "Heavy metal [or "rock and roll" in extreme cases] is the devil's music!"
Favorite Bands: Bill Gaither, J.D. Sumner and The Stamps, anybody over 60 years old who frequently appears on the Grand Ole Opry.
Favorite Activities: Going to church, eating at Bob Evans, telling people that they are going to hell.
Metal Bio: This is likely a person who has virtually no exposure to metal at all. Their pastor may have shown them a short video about Mötley Crüe, and the remainder of their metal knowledge is extrapolated from that and contrasted against Bible verses. I know it sounds like I'm picking on religious people here, but the fact is this particular type behavior rarely occurs outside of fundamentalist Christian circles. At least, that's the case here in the USA.
What To Do: Never engage The Evangelist in a discussion about music. You cannot and will not change his mind about anything, so it's a waste of your time.

Name: The Naysayer
Catchphrase: "I hate metal, it's just a bunch of stupid screaming"
Favorite Bands: Depending on setting, usually some form of pop, rap, or country.
Favorite Activities: Telling you that your music sucks and that you are stupid for liking it.
Metal Bio: They've heard about 3 or 4 metal songs in their life, and those didn't appeal to them. Now they have decided to categorically dismiss an entire genre of music and its followers as being stupid and pointless. If you were thinking that such behavior sounds pretty self-important, you'd be right.
What To Do: Plug in your headphones and walk away.

Metal Knowledge: Extremely Low

Name: The 99 Percent
Catchphrase: "Oh, you know, I like pretty much everything."
Favorite Bands: Katy Perry, Nickelback, and The Eagles
Favorite Activities: Pretending to be open minded and to have a vast amount of experience with music when they actually know virtually nothing about the subject because they only listen to what gets played on popular radio stations.
Metal Bio: Like the name implies, this can be almost anybody. The vast majority of people, when asked what music they like, will give this response. What they actually mean is that they have no real opinions about music, so whatever happens to be on the radio at this moment is their favorite song. The same principle often applies to their favorite movies, their favorite books, and to most aspects of their life in general. There is a reason why it seems like everybody is into [insert super popular new thing here], and that reason is that The 99 Percent all are. In the course of all these fun new trends, an occasional tidbit of metal will burble up, so usually these people have at least heard a few Metallica songs or something.
What To Do: Just behave normally, since these people are far too common to avoid. It's probably not worth starting a deep discussion about music unless you really care what 94.1 The Rock has been playing this week.

Name: The Fogey
Catchphrase: "I miss the [60s/70s/80s/90s] when we had real music."
Favorite Bands: The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, or Pearl Jam depending on the decade they named.
Favorite Activities: Reminiscing about how everything in the entire world was better when they were 20 years old, and pointing out to anybody younger than them how inferior new stuff is. Naturally they ignore the fact that people their parents' age are saying the same things to them, because, you know, their  15 minutes in the sun really were the peak of human civilization.
Metal Bio: There's a little hope here that the speaker may be an old metalhead who was really into Judas Priest back in the day. Often they were not, but it's hard to say until they actually start naming the bands that defined their youth.
What To Do: If you like newer metal, just shrug and move on. If you like older metal, wait and see what bands they start talking about (and make no mistake, they WILL start dropping names with minimal prompting) before you make up your mind whether to stay or go.

Metal Knowledge: Low

Name: The Scourge
Catchphrase: "I'm, like, totally the biggest metalhead I know."
Favorite Bands: Shinedown, Godsmack, and (for some reason) Dying Fetus
Favorite Activities: Claiming to be a massive metal fan and name-dropping Dying Fetus to make you think they're for real before pulling the old bait-and-switch, sucking you into a conversation about *ahem* other music.
Metal Bio: The Scourge has actually encountered a couple of real metal bands, and that is what makes them so dangerous in the wild. You let your typical guard down and open up for a real conversation about metal, only to be punched in the kidneys by a fistful of hard rock. Admittedly this stage is almost a requirement for transition into a true metalhead, but relatively few ever complete that transformation.
What To Do: Be very careful to have them define "metal" for you before committing to a music discussion. From there make a decision of whether or not this is a selection you can work with, and engage or flee accordingly. If you accidentally get drawn in before realizing it's a trap, I'd suggest nodding politely and changing the subject as quickly as possible (unless you're the type to just punch somebody and run away, because technically that works too). To all the guys out there looking for a metal girlfriend, be extra wary, because these individuals are frequently female.

Name: The Crybaby
Catchphrase: "I really like metal and screamo bands. They know what it's like to be misunderstood."
Favorite Bands: Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium, Atreyu, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold
Favorite Activities: Applying black makeup, listening to shitty music about how mean people are, and whining about how hard his middle-class suburban life is (which of course his parents just don't understand).
Metal Bio: For some, teen angst pulls in a dark direction. Fortunately, before those individuals can get to anywhere genuinely dark or dangerous, they are caught by the fuzzy societal safety net woven by Tim Burton, Hot Topic, and Victory Records. Since this net tends to reside in relatively close proximity to the metal world, there will naturally be some bleed-through around the edges, exposing these individuals to some bits and pieces of appropriately marketed metal. This net keeps them safe, but because they believe that they've really plumbed the depths of human suffering, it also makes them pretty obnoxious.
What To Do: Step 1, control your impulse to vomit. Step 2, fight off the urge to hit them in the face and tell them to stop being a whiney little bitch. Step 3, quickly make your way to the mall exit.

Name: The Meathead
Catchphrase: "Yeah, metal is awesome. I'm just into anything that's heavy, it gets me pumped and makes me want to kick somebody's ass!"
Favorite Bands: All That Remains, Bury Your Dead, and anything commonly played at UFC events.
Favorite Activities: Working out, wearing tight shirts, smashing beer cans on their foreheads, talking about how tough they are, and trying to impress college girls with their machismo.
Metal Bio: These guys like to look tough, act tough, and talk tough. So naturally they can't go around bragging about how they can bench 250 lbs. and how they have a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, only to get in the car and crank up an Air Supply cd. They need music as tough and aggressive as they are, so they often turn to the testosterone-laden world of -core bands. This plants them firmly on the fringes of the "real" metal world, and it prompts them to want to talk about their tough and awesome bands with you.
What To Do: Just try to extract yourself from the "this guy is an idiot but he wants to talk to me about music" situation as delicately as possible. Remember, it's very important to him to prove that he's a badass, so unless you also spend 10 hours a week in the gym, try not to get too confrontational.

Metal Knowledge: Average

Name: The YouTuber
Catchphrase: "This is real music, not stupid Justin Bieber crap."
Favorite Bands: Amon Amarth, Skeletonwitch, and a disconcertingly high number of other bands you enjoy.
Favorite Activities: Watching metal videos on YouTube, asserting his own awesomeness by pointing out that said videos are much better than Justin Bieber, and assuming that anybody who dislikes their bands of choice or who finds them annoying just needs to go back to their Katy Perry videos.
Metal Bio: The YouTuber typically seems to know a reasonable amount about metal music, and often has pretty good taste. His annoying behavior, though, makes you wish he didn't. After all, if he liked something else instead, maybe you wouldn't have to encounter his inane comments 50 times a day. This type of metal fan is usually only found online. The same strain of self-satisfaction can sometimes be detected when he is away from his computer, but it is only in the anonymity of the internet that he feels truly free to be his obnoxious self, free from consequences.
What To Do: If you encounter them online, it's usually best to just ignore them. If you can tell quite clearly that a person you meet in real life is one of these individuals, feel free to tell them to shut the hell up about Justin Bieber already. We get it, he's crappy and you hate him, now move on. Since The YouTuber is a cowardly creature by nature, there is little danger of a serious conflict if you do this, and perhaps you will scare some reasonable behavior into this otherwise perfectly fine metalhead. Alternatively, if you can just steer clear of his closeted Biebersexuality (what else could cause this kind of obsession with a singer he doesn't even like?) then you can have a perfectly good conversation about bands you both enjoy, and you may even come away with a worthwhile suggestion or two to check out when you get home.

Name: The Taxonomist
Catchphrase: "That's not black metal you dumbass. That's technical ambient progressive
avant-garde symphonic gothic dark metal."
Favorite Bands: Emperor, Arcturus, Bathory, Dissection (for some reason these guys really seem to go for specially-labeled niches of black metal).
Favorite Activities: Breaking down metal into an absurd pile of arbitrary sub-sub-sub-genres, and lashing out at anybody who does not stick to his strict rules for classification.
Metal Bio: This is somebody whose interest in metal often seems to be based on feeling intelligent rather than on really enjoying the music. Of course there are constant debates in the metal world about how many sub-genres is too many, and this guy falls at the extreme high end of the spectrum. Oddly, though he may spend a great deal of time correcting other people, this activity is often a mask with which he can hide the holes in his own metal knowledge. Still, a pretty reasonable amount of familiarity is needed to engage in this activity.
What To Do: After cracking through the initial shell of arrogance (during which process he will likely make a concerted effort to make you feel intellectually inferior), you can engage in any number of spirited debates about metal bands with him. Many of these will center around what label to give a band and why, but they can still be interesting and you may find yourself learning something in the process.

Name: The Metal Fan
Catchphrase: "Hey, nice shirt. I saw them in Toronto last year."
Favorite Bands: Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, Cannibal Corpse, and one band you'll be embarrassed to admit you've never actually heard.
Favorite Activities: Listening to metal, watching horror movies, going to concerts, sharing music with like-minded individuals.
Metal Bio: This is the ideal "normal" metalhead. Yes, they are out there, and in reality they are fairly common in the metal world. Often they know and like many bands that are more extreme than their favorites, but they're comfortable enough to just like what they like without worrying too much about their metal street cred. Music stores and metal shows are usually the best places to meet these people, since they spend plenty of time at those locations. They often wear metal shirts, and if you do the same then often conversations will begin with some variation of the above catchphrase.
What To Do: Just have a natural, normal conversation about the music you both like, and enjoy the opportunity to have a give and take in terms of potentially interesting bands. Also, many of these people will often listen to some non-metal music too, so don't be afraid to ask.

Metal Knowledge: High

Name: The Facesmasher
Catchphrase: "Me and my friends from school have a brutal death metal band. We're called [Insert Nineteen Syllables That Describe Chopping You Up And Eating Your Guts]."
Favorite Bands: Suffocation, Devourment, Abominable Putridity, and Gutteral Secrete
Favorite Activities: Going to death metal shows, playing death metal with his friends, being br00tal, and hating weaker forms of metal.
Metal Bio: Often somebody who got into extreme metal at a relatively young age, by the time he reaches highschool, The Facesmasher has grown bored with run-of-the-mill heaviness and now constantly delves deeper into the most brutal death metal he can find. Brutal, you may have noticed, is a pretty popular word with this crowd. While his current musical obsession may seem pretty narrow, he has plumbed the depths in his chosen field to an extent that few ever do.
What To Do: If you like death metal, engage and enjoy. If not, you'll probably run out of things to say pretty fast, so just keep that in mind.

Name: The Metal Hipster
Catchphrase: "I don't listen to death metal, it's too mainstream."
Favorite Bands: Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, Alcest, Sunn O))), and several bands you've never heard of and will forget the names of 5 minutes later.
Favorite Activities: Discussing philosophy and politics while half drunk on PBR, wearing non-prescription black-rimmed glasses and tight jeans, trying to seem smarter than they are by talking about obscure bands you don't give a crap about, and being "ironic" in the vaguest possible sense of the word.
Metal Bio: Make no mistake, as douchey and obnoxious as these tools are, they do know their stuff. In fact, the extensive time and effort they've put into researching extremely obscure ambient black metal and drone bands gives them much more extensive knowledge than you in that area, which is one of the ways they justify their sense of self-importance. Metal fandom is purely an intellectual fad for them, though, so don't expect much passion or an appreciation for the attitude and energy represented by, say, thrash metal.
What To Do: Unless you have a high tolerance for self-satisfied pseudo-intellectualism, I'd suggest avoiding anything beyond the most minimal interaction with these guys. If, however, you are interested in learning about the area of their musical expertise and are not averse to doing a little ego stroking, they can be a bountiful source of information on the topic.

Name: The Gatekeeper
Catchphrase: "Yeah, sure. I can recommend some good metal bands for you to listen to."
Favorite Bands: A few you like (so you know you can trust him) and a bunch you've never heard of (so you know you can learn from him).
Favorite Activities: Listening to metal, searching for new music, shepherding new recruits into metal.
Metal Bio: The Gatekeeper has been listening to metal for a long time, and he is an extremely valuable companion on your own metal journey. Ideally this is what The Metal Fan will become if he spends long enough actively expanding his metal knowledge. Years of growing and learning about the genre and all its nooks and crannies have equipped The Gatekeeper to help new metalheads find their way into his world, and he is only too happy to oblige. Some people find their way deep into metal on their own but most require such a guide. Also, keep in mind that The Gatekeeper can and will continue to learn over time, meaning that many who fall into this category are at different levels of expertise or specialize more in certain areas.
What To Do: Talk to him, talk about what you like, be honest about what you don't know, and ask for help finding other bands that you'll likely enjoy. Chances are, he can give you a lot of material to work with if you just ask.

Metal Knowledge: Way Higher Than You 

Name: The Master
Catchphrase: "Sorry, I don't think I listen to the right kind of music to help you."
Favorite Bands: A bunch of stuff you don't know and wouldn't like.
Favorite Activities: Learning about metal
Metal Bio: The Master is a bit of an odd classification, because it functions relative to you rather than the other way around. Typically, this is somebody who would fall into the Gatekeeper category, but who sees in you so little knowledge or genuine interest in becoming a real Metal Fan that he believes there is no reason to make the effort. A good example would be if you are a Meathead who asks for music suggestions, and it is obvious to him that the range of your interest in metal will not expand beyond your current sphere.
What To Do: There's not really much you can do. If you hear this phrase, it basically means that he sees you as a lost cause and he is declining to engage with you.

Anything obvious I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Волчий Острог - Багряный Восход Возрождения

[SPECIAL NOTE: The name of this post gives the band and album title in their original Russian forms. For purposes of convenience, however, I will hereafter refer to both the band and the album by the transliterations given on Metal Archives. In the case of the band, this is the spelling "Volchii Ostrog" which has an English translation of "Wolf Prison", but I'll use the non-English version. Metal Archives does not, however, give the album title in a transliterated but non-translated form. I will therefore use the English translated version of the title, which is "Crimson Sunrise of the Renaissance".]

Volchii Ostrog are a Russian pagan/death metal band who flirt with melodeath and even progressive metal a bit. The band released their full-length debut Crimson Sunrise of the Renaissance early this year with the Grailight Productions label (which is a very good source for metal from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine).

At 14 tracks and 62 minutes, this is a whopper of an album. And as easy as it is for a record to get boring at that length, this release totally avoids that problem. Instead, the band shifts pace, aggression level, and style often enough to keep the material constantly fresh and interesting. I've noticed a tendency for many Russian folk/pagan metal bands to avoid being tied to the conventions of typical European groups in those same sub-genres, and this is true of Volchii Ostrog too. There is a huge range from mellow to intense on this record, with sounds ranging from up-the-gut death metal to soft jazzy beauty. Many of the tracks on this album have a surprisingly modern sound with little or no pretense of maintaining ye olde historical illusions. Much of the melodic death metal in their style and riffing tends to sound firmly rooted in the now, but this modernized trend is never so clearly displayed as when the band goes into sparkling progressive guitar solos a la Dream Theater. Further, the relaxing bass work on slower tracks adds to the newness of the feel.

Of course there are still strong traces of more traditional folk/pagan metal in the band's sound as well. The riffing strays into bouncy, folksy territory on a number of tracks, and the keyboard work and tidbits of spoken narration add to the atmosphere.

I really like the vocals on this album. They are mostly powerful harsh growls, and the vocalist's high-low range is excellent. Also, they sound clearly articulated enough that I'm confident I could understand virtually everything he was saying if I spoke Russian. I find that particular quality extremely appealing. In addition, the female guest vocals that crop up on the title track are stunningly beautiful, and that's coming from somebody who almost universally hates clean female singing in metal.

While there are several fantastic tracks on this album, but if I were to lodge one complaint, it would be that these songs don't always fit together as cohesively as they could. That factor prevents this album from being truly great, and it also makes it hard to really sum the record up effectively with a single sample track. This is still a highly worthwhile listen, though.

Grade: A-
Excellent, interesting, and diverse pagan death metal from Russia.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


What do you do when the same label (Relapse Records in this case) puts out two albums in the same sub-genre on the same day, and you happen to hear both of them as soon as they're released? Naturally you put them side by side and decide which is better. Obviously neither record has really had a chance to sink in yet, so today instead of a full review of either I've decided to do a heads-up comparison. It's time to let these two do battle!
Hooded Menace                                             Serpentine Path
Album: Effigies of Evil                                  Album: Serpentine Path
death/doom metal                                          death/doom metal
From: Joensuu, Finland                                  From: New York/Jersey 

Hooded Menace have been around for a few years, and this is their third album. All the band members have been involved in other small projects as well, so these guys are pretty well seasoned. Serpentine Path are a brand new band releasing their full-length debut, but their lineup is essentially Unearthly Trance with two additional musicians. One of those musicians is Tim Bagshaw, the original Electric Wizard bassist, and the other is Stephen Flam of Winter.

Stylistically, these bands reside on different points in the death/doom spectrum. Hooded Menace are clearly more rooted in death metal, with a sound somewhat reminiscent of Autopsy. Serpentine Path, on the other hand, are more of a doom band with death growls for vocals. Hooded Menace have a medium slow pace, good energy, medium range death vocals, some interesting and creative guitar work, sharp drumming, and a tendency to use sound samples from old horror movies to add atmosphere. Serpentine Path move at a sluggish crawl, have really beefy riffs, guttural vocals, cavernous drumming, and crushingly heavy bass.

So which is better? Well I suppose that depends on what you're looking for. To put it simply: if you like some doom in your death you'll probably prefer Hooded Menace, but if you like some death in your doom then Serpentine Path is for you. Both these records are very strong, and I will probably continue to listen to both of them in the future.

With all that being said, I do have a winner picked. The deep, monolithic crush of Serpentine Path really gets it done for me on a level that the other does not. They get the nod, then, and Hooded Menace will have to settle for being a worthy opponent to the champ.


It's hard to believe it's been 11 years. Last night I spent a long time reflecting on just how much life in America has changed since then, and after a while I gave up even trying to list all the major differences. It really did mark the end of an era and the start of a new one in a way that no other event in recent history has.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes

The Finnish band Ensiferum are, in my opinion, one of the three strongest Viking metal bands still active in the world (alongside Moonsorrow and Månegarm). They have four very good albums already out, and they released their fifth full-length just a couple weeks ago. They also happen to be one of my favorite bands.

Which leads me to the bad part of this post. I hate writing negative reviews about bands I like, but I'm afraid I may have to do a bit of that today. While the band's typical formula of catchy folk-based tunes blended with some sweeping Viking epics is still basically intact here, the overall effort falls somewhat short of expectations. The band does a solid job on the slow, "epic" tracks, with some very pleasant folk interludes and effective (though possibly excessive) use of baritone chants. That side of things isn't the problem. The problem is that Ensiferum's strongest suit has never been the slower end of their music. Other bands do the sweeping sagas better, but Ensiferum are masters of balancing those tracks out with punchy, exciting, ridiculously catchy songs to keep the album's energy levels high. Here, though, the usual enthusiasm seems somewhat lacking. The riffs are occasionally catchy, though not to the levels of many previous albums. More importantly, the band members just sound a little . . . well . . . bored. They sound like a group that is tired of doing what they're doing. Perhaps that's why the bonus closer Bamboleo, which is essentially meant to be a joke, actually sounds more interesting and energetic than most of the main album.

Now I'm not writing these guys off by any means, and this album isn't a total waste. In fact, it's not really  even a bad record. There are some good moments, and some of the songs (like the title track) are pretty enjoyable. The music is well composed, the style is the same as they've successfully employed for years, and all the musicians know their jobs and do them well. The bass actually makes a more noticeable appearance here than on any of their other albums, and the folk portions of the record are as good as any the band has ever produced. The energy level just isn't there for most of the record, though, making this clearly the weakest entry in their otherwise very strong catalog. I have high hopes for the future, since the band hasn't made any catastrophic sellout moves or anything, so I'm confident they can still crank out some very good material. But before they can do that, I think they need to find their passion again.

Grade: C+ or B- (it's right on the line).
This is acceptable, by-the-numbers Viking metal by a good band who know what they're doing, but I can't recommend it over any of their previous albums.

Wintersun News

I just saw that the long-long-long awaited Wintersun album "Time I" has been listed on Metal Archives with an official release date of Oct. 12, 2012 (Oct. 13 in North America). I guess this announcement was made a couple months ago, but today was the first I can recall hearing of it. Admittedly I've recently been a bit out of if in terms of metal news, so I guess I'm just lucky I heard about it at all.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if this release will sink or swim. After the monumental acclaim heaped on their debut eight years ago, Wintersun's follow up has been delayed so many times with so many stories about its impossibly complex mix and its perfectionist approach that at this point the project has become something of an extreme metal unicorn. Now, with so many promises made, if the album is anything short of the year's best release it will almost certainly face widespread derision. Personally I'm expecting a good album, which will frankly be a disappointment to many of the band's long-suffering fans. Good or bad, though, this is a pretty big deal in the metal world.

Tenochtitlan - Сотворение Мира

Tenochtitlan is a collaborative tribal metal project between a number of prolific Russian musicians, most notably Lefthander and Senmuth. This, their fourth full-length album, was officially released in July of this year. I had a pretty good idea what to expect going into this, since I have been following both this band and some of the other material by the musicians involved for the past couple of years.

For those of you to whom the term "tribal metal" is mysterious, it's an informal designation which refers to folk metal rooted in Native American folk music, traditions, and themes.

Tenochtitlan, like much of the material from the pseudo-scene of which it is a part, is highly experimental and very electronic sounding. It features heavy use of synthesized instrumentation and electronic sampling. The result is less organic than the more primitive tribal metal which emerges from South and Central America, but the compositions are much more complex than is typical within this relatively small niche, too.

The root metal structure of the music is built on chugging, bass-heavy guitar work which is usually fairly slow paced. The drumming is typically slow, booming, and spacious. Often, soft ambient patches are scattered throughout portions of the relatively lengthy songs. The sounds of numerous traditional instruments are woven into the richly textured tracks, with the hauntingly melodious pan pipes being especially noteworthy.

The vocals fall into a wide range of styles, from artificially distorted shouting to guttural death growls to clean chanting and wailing. Three different members contribute to the vocal work, so the variety has obvious roots. It works very well within the context of this material, since the music frequently changes pace and requires adaptive vocal accompaniment.

If you're not familiar with this band or anything by the associated musicians, it's hard to provide a good point of reference to anything similar within the metal world. If you like to expand your horizons, though, I strongly recommend giving this a whirl.

Grade: B+
A unique blend of Native American themes, electronic experimentation, and isolated Russian musicianship.

Giant of the Mountain - Valley of the Rogue

Giant of the Mountain are a progressive death metal outfit hailing from Plano, Texas. Metal Archives calls them "technical death metal", but I'm going to go ahead and disagree with that label. They are currently a trio, but the bassist is a brand new addition. At the time of recording this, their newest full-length which came out just last month, they were a husband and wife duo with no additional members. This is their third album, but it was the first I'd heard of them.

I should begin by pointing out that the "full-length" label is pretty generous, given that this record consists entirely of a single 19-minute track. From what I can see, their previous full-length albums have been more conventionally structured, and only their 2010 EP is this short.

With that covered, on to the music itself. As you would expect, the flow that comes with a solid track throughout the album makes this a very cohesive work. It's also very interestingly composed, with the clearly audible and surprisingly active bass standing out as the real highlight of the record. The bass ranges from jazzy noodling to odd progressive riffs, providing a truly unique footing for this album among death metal releases. The other instruments, however, are not quite as interesting. The guitar riffs change up and they often seek new directions, but in an effort to be dynamic and creative they sometimes just come across as a bit aimless. There are moments where they really click, but unfortunately those tend to be somewhat fleeting. The drum work is fast in all the right places and seems to be generally pretty solid, but it's a little too low in the mix, which makes it difficult to follow in some places. Nonetheless the drumming provides a solid backbone, and aside from that slight balance issue the production on the album is fine, though not especially noteworthy.

The vocals are somewhat higher and thinner in tone than most death growls, and occasionally they even work their way up to borderline shrieking. There is a little touch of clean vocal work too, but not enough to feel intrusive. Personally I am a little conflicted about the vocals. On the one hand they are less dense than a more conventional growl, which is good because this band's style requires more room for the instrumentation to breathe. On the other hand, the tone of his voice honestly kind of grates on my nerves. This makes the vocals well-attuned to the needs of the music, but it also makes it hard for me to like them.

What I will say is that the uniqueness of this record has piqued my curiosity, and I may well find myself exploring their other material in the near future. However, the brevity of the album. combined with my distaste for the vocals and the hit-and-miss nature of the guitar work. prevents me from regarding this as highly as I would otherwise.

Grade: B-
Definitely interesting and worth checking out, but also notably flawed in some respects.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Song Memory Associations

I know we all have those songs which always put us in a certain time and place when we hear them. Other songs always make us think of certain things like people or foods. Well because I just listened to one such song which I hadn't heard in a while, I have this phenomenon on my mind at the moment. Therefore, I have concluded that I should write a post about some of those songs and what they make me think about when I hear them.


Happy? -by- Mudvayne

This one is easy to place why I think of it. Back when MySpace was a thing that human beings used to communicate, I made a profile on that site. Like most people, I decided it was important for anybody looking at my page to be forced to listen to music of my choice. This music video was the first such item I put on my page, so now every time I hear the song I picture the video and remember sitting at a friend's house creating my MySpace page.


I am the Highway -by- Audioslave

One of my all-time favorite songs. For the past few years I've found that every time I hear this I remember riding along in the back-left seat of my mom's Explorer with my head against the window. Rain was coming down in torrents outside, and I was listening to this song.


Rocket Ride -by- Edguy

Here is the song that is responsible for me writing this post. Every single time I hear this song, I spend the entire time thinking of The Brave Little Toaster. I never heard this song while watching the movie, or near the same time as far as I can recall. I think it's that the vocals in the chorus make me think of the weird song in the back room of the junk store from the movie, but I'm not really sure.


Shallow Bay -by- Breaking Benjamin

When I was first starting to find my way into newer music, Breaking Benjamin were a huge part of the process. I had never really listened to anything with even remotely explicit lyrics, though, so the chorus of this song was something I didn't feel comfortable playing around my parents or younger siblings. As such, it was a go-to song on my headphones or when out with friends, and now when I hear it I always remember a specific time riding around in Las Vegas with my best friends, looking for Chinese food and playing this song on the stereo.


Stack o' Lee Blues -by- Mississippi John Hurt

Another one of my all-time favorite songs, this track is remarkable for two reasons. One is that I can remember with absolute clarity the first time I heard it, and the other is that unlike most songs which have to work their way into my favorites over time, I fell in love with this song immediately. Consequently, every time I hear it now I remember the first time my dad played it for me, and I remember thinking as I heard it "this is now one of my favorite songs" which is something I have never done so abruptly at any point before or since.


When I Was Your Age -by- "Weird Al" Yankovic

This is a song that always makes me think of a particular person. I think we all know one of those older men who likes to tell stories about how ridiculously hard their life was back when they were young. In my case the individual in question (a family friend) was also the type who would go on about his various exploits at great length, crafting a life which Gulliver, Forrest Gump, and John Rambo all rolled into one would still fall short of even if they each lived to be 200 years old. Obviously, that person is who this song reminds me of.


No Woman, No Cry (Live) -by- Bob Marley

There was a period of time about 7-8 years ago when I listened to Bob Marley's compilation Legend pretty much non-stop. I still love that record, I still love this song, and I still play it periodically. It's tied strongly enough to that place in time, though, that I always think of our old back yard, pulling weeds while playing this on my Walkman. Later, my dad told me this song always reminds him of me, and now I also remember him saying that whenever I play this song.


 Cry My Name -by- Bloodbath

This one, which I may have mentioned before, always brings me back to the first time I moved out "on my own". I was living in an apartment in Las Vegas with my best friend, his older sister, and her two daughters. When I bought this record I began playing it a ton, and I'd even put it on to fall asleep to pretty regularly. As such, it always makes me remember laying in bed at night in that apartment. The same basic statement could actually be made about the entire album, but this song is one of the strongest in its association for some reason.


Mic Check -by- Rage Against the Machine

Several years ago, I rolled my car over with all three of my siblings inside with me. This was on the stereo at the time, and the last thing I can remember hearing was the chorus for this song before the thought "did I just kill us all?" started running through my head while I watched the ground coming toward the windshield in slow motion. It is not a pleasant memory, and since hearing anything by them always calls it back to my mind, I almost never listen to Rage Against the Machine any more.


Way to end on a bright note, eh?

There are plenty of other songs that bring me back to certain places or that remind me of certain things, but this collection features most of the prominent examples that have really specific associations for me. You'll probably notice the lack of metal songs, but that is mostly because the metal songs I've liked for long enough to bring me to a certain time or place all tend toward the same general time and the same basic places, so repeating dozens of trivial variations on that theme would be almost as boring for me as it would be for you.

I will say, though, that several songs always bring back strong specific memories of hearing them live in concert. For one reason or another, these songs really made a memorably good or bad impression live. Some of the most notable songs of this variety are: Simple Man by Shinedown, Take This Life by In Flames, The Jester Race by In Flames, The Pursuit of Vikings by Amon Amarth, Cry of the Black Birds by Amon Amarth, Blind by Korn, When Darkness Falls by Killswitch Engage, Pellonpekko by Korpiklaani, Hail to the Hammer by Týr, Pour que tu m'aimes encore by Celine Dion, and Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce.

See what I mean about how boring it would get? I'll stop now.

Azarok - X

Azarok is the one-man black/folk metal project of E. Hereticius. Some listeners may also be acquainted with his work as the sole member of the newer funeral doom band Funerius. This, Azarok's second full-length after a long series of demos, was released about a month ago.

I mentioned the artist's work in funeral doom, because I think it's relevant to the nature of this record. The entire album consists of a single, 41 minute title track (their full-length debut last year took the same approach). As one might expect, this song is very unhurried in its nature and composition. There are long slow passages with background forest sounds, flutes, chants, acoustic guitar, hand percussion, assorted other instrumentation, and generally a good deal of folk-based flavor. The record starts and finishes with that type of material, and it is interspersed throughout the remainder of the album at varied intervals.

Within the heart of the record, moderately paced black metal takes control, though as I said it is periodically broken up by softer passages. During these heavier stretches, some keyboards crop up behind the guitar riffs and the folk elements are still occasionally sprinkled in, but the primary emphasis is placed firmly on the guitar work. Rather than walls of thin, blistering tremolo riffs, the guitar is surprisingly groove-oriented. A black metal tone is still clearly present, but a slower, slightly more bass-heavy sound pervades. In some places this means a galloping Viking charge sound, while in other places the riffs are just solid mid-paced grooves. Some soaring, almost prog-metal work even crops up here and there, with an unexpected but quite welcome solo making an appearance around the 26-minute mark. Throughout all these different phases, the sound is stunningly catchy and really draws the listener in as the music feels actively propelled forward. The drums aid enormously in this process, as they conform very tightly to the direction of the guitar, changing pace and approach as needed. They serve to drive the music forward in some passages, while in others they take a back seat and give the other instruments space. The overall approach is very dynamic, and given that the same man put them down it really isn't surprising how well they mesh with the rest of the instrumentation.

Probably the least remarkable aspect of this record is the vocal work, and even that is really quite good. E.Hereticius displays a wide selection of vocal techniques, ranging from soft clean chants to raspy shrieks to distorted roars, always adapting to the music. The sole reason why I would put the vocals on the lowest rung is that they are not especially prominent within the composition, and because the rest of the music is so engaging that the vocals are simply eclipsed. On a final note, the production falls into a very nice range. It's fuzzy and gritty without deteriorating into a hazy wall of static. This, naturally, has a very positive effect on the overall character of the record.

Grade: A
I didn't go into this record with any particular expectations, but as of right now I'd put it solidly in contention for my favorite metal album of 2012.

Azarok - X

[10/3/2012 Note: While I still regard this as a surprisingly good release, I should note that after giving it more time to sink in, I would give it a slightly lower grade were I to rewrite this review today.]

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kvlt of Hiob Review

My review of the debut by Kvlt of Hiob is now up on Full Metal Attorney. You can read it here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I have been less active than I'd like (read: totally inactive) for the past couple weeks. I had to make the move back down to my apartment in Athens (Ohio, not Greece), I had my first week of classes, and I've had a string of problems to deal with since getting back here. Many, though not all, of those problems have been computer related. As such, I've just been too busy to really post anything of much value. I did finish another FMA guest review yesterday, which I'll link whenever it gets posted. Otherwise, though, I've got nothing music-wise to offer at the moment. Hopefully things will settle in a bit and I'll be able to get back to putting up some new reviews within the next week or so, as my list of albums to write about has begun piling up for a while.