Before I start today's post, I'd like to take a moment to note that Eli Wallach, who starred as Tuco in the movie from which this segment takes its name, recently passed away at the age of 98. He had a good long run, but I was nonetheless deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing.
On that somber note, let's take a look at three new albums.
After a few years of releasing EPs, this Finnish death metal outfit produced their full-length debut early this year. It's a dark, heavy, ugly slab of everything I like about death metal. Admittedly its churning riffs, monstrously guttural roars, and murky production are all ripped straight from the Incantation playbook to an arguably excessive degree. It all sounds great, though, so I don't mind at all. Besides, they throw in a few splashes of their own personality to keep it all from sounding like an outright clone. The ominous atmospheric intro, for example, sets the stage well while also separating them from their obvious core influence. I'm not going to sit and catalog the differences, though, because that's not really important. The music is what's important. And in terms of the music itself, it's ugly, it's evil, and it's awesome.
I hate Lacuna Coil, and I have for years. I've got friends who really like them, though, so I'm continually willing to give them new opportunities to sell themselves to me. This year's release is just another in a string of examples of why I hate this band. Setting aside the fact that I'm not even sure if this counts as metal at all anymore, the overwhelming feeling I had while listening to this was that it was basically just a really shitty version of Evanescence. I continue to think the band has almost entirely succeeded on the back of having a hot chick in the group (which always saddens me, because it's a superficial reason to like a band, and because with women already underrepresented in metal it sucks to see legitimately talented women swept under the rug while the hot chicks in crappy bands become the face of women in extreme music). That's an issue for another time, though. All that matters right now is that this album is weak, poppy, and annoying.
Speaking of hot chicks, Arch Enemy recently acquired Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist to replace the patron saint of female death metal vocalists, Angela Gossow. The big question on this album was whether White-Gluz could adequately fill those shoes, and to her credit she actually did reasonably well. I wouldn't go so far as to call her vocals great, but they were adequate. The trouble is that the same can be said for pretty much everything on this album. The entire band produced yet another in a series of perfectly listenable but essentially unremarkable melodeath albums. There were some compelling moments, some good leads and catchy riffs, and the vocals had plenty of energy. Overall, though, the album tended toward the mediocre and the forgettable.