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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Album Review: Revocation - Deathless

Album Score: A-

Revocation has come a long way for a band once touted as a one-trick pony. Guitar virtuoso David Davidson is clearly still the focal point of the quartet, but his and drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne’s time studying jazz at Boston’s Berklee College of Music gives the band a veritable arsenal of songwriting techniques to play with. No album in the band’s career covers such sonic territory as Deathless, and few in any genre so effortlessly integrate unconventional songwriting techniques as Revocation does here. Each album that Revocation has so far put out has had a slightly different identity – breakthrough effort Existence Is Futile was balls-to-the-wall deathrash, while Chaos of Forms saw more experimentation in both melodic composition (“Harlot” and “Fractal Entity”) and song form (the inexorable build of highlight “Conjuring the Cataclysm”). Last year’s self-titled smoothed things out a little, but arguably lacked a dynamite single. Fortunately, Deathless fixes that and then some, with a great mix of no-frills thrash and powerhouse cuts that encompass the best Revocation has to offer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Album Review: Rings of Saturn - Lugal Ki En


Album Score: B-
Rings of Saturn have been a pretty polarizing band throughout their early career. The group began as one of those dreaded internet phenomenon, with a single song that spread virally and landed them a record contract within months, and they’re probably as notorious for a speed-doctoring controversy as they are for their hyperkinetic deathcore. Of course, there was never any substantial evidence that Rings of Saturn cheated by recording their debut at half-tempo, and their live performances have dispelled the notion that they can’t play it anyway. Now on their third LP, Rings of Saturn are starting to find a comfortable niche between mainstream death metal and the experiments of Cynic and Between the Buried and Me. While their brand of “aliencore” isn’t totally novel – Wormed, for one, have landed their spaceship here a few times – it’s also curious enough to deserve a few listens from the adventurous metal head.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interview: At the Gates

At War With Reality drops October 28.
At the Gates is a metal band from Gothenberg, Sweden. It is largely credited, alongside In Flames and Dark Tranquility, with spearheading the melodic death metal movement of the late 1990's which would prove to be enormously influential on metal of the 21st century. The band's 1995 album Slaughter of the Soul has been hailed as a landmark for its stripped-down melodic attack and use of dual-guitar harmonies. At the Gates' members disbanded the next year, citing a desire to "go out on top" and pursue other musical endeavors. A 2007 tour proved enormously successful, culminating in a headlining performance at Wacken Festival in Germany, and led to further tours by the band. After nineteen years, At the Gates is finally ready to release its highly-anticipated followup to Slaughter of the Soul. The new record, At War With Reality, is set to be released worldwide this October.

Tomas Lindberg, singer for At the Gates since its inception, took some of his time to talk with MuzikDizcovery staff writer Alex Newton about the new record, life in At the Gates, and which new bands and albums he enjoys.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview: Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse is set to release its
thirteenth full-length album, A Skeletal
Domain,
 on September 16th.
Cannibal Corpse is a death metal band from New York. The quintet is known worldwide for macabre imagery, controversial lyrical content, and consistently top-notch death metal. Its albums Butchered at Birth and Tomb of the Mutilated have both sold over a million copies, while its latest albums Evisceration Plague (2009) and Torture (2012) reached #66 and #38 on the Billboard 200, respectively. Fresh off a tour of the United States and about to head to Australia and Japan, guitarist Rob Barrett lent us some time for some questions about the new album and life in the world's most infamous metal band.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Album Review: Unisonic - Light of Dawn


Album Score: B
Unisonic is a strange sort of reunion. Three of its five members are from Pink Cream 69, three have ties to Helloween, two have played in Krokus and Khymera, two more in Gamma Ray, and the last member in Asia and Gotthard. If that math doesn’t add up, it’s because these guys just seem to end up playing together no matter how many bands they join and leave. Still, singer Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen are head-and-shoulders above most anyone else in the German metal scene for their work in the aforementioned Helloween and Gamma Ray, and are likewise the focal point of Unisonic. Founded in 2009, the project released its eponymous debut in 2012 to generally positive – and often rave – reviews. Surprisingly, Unisonic’s bassist Dennis Ward emerged as its main songwriter, penning lyrics and/or music for the majority of the debut with occasional contributions from the rest of the band.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Album Review: Sorority Noise - Forgettable

Album Rating: A
When it comes to naming albums, Sorority Noise are either terrible at it, or geniuses with ironic statements. Forgettable is one of the most memorable albums of 2014 so far, and the new and upcoming band has made a large impression for their debut. Equal parts cathartic and sentimental, Forgettable treads the line between heart on sleeve and heart on the ground if you know what I'm saying.

Sorority Noise play a style of music that falls into the quirky alt-rock genre that is becoming hazy with categorization. It's a blend of garage rock, with poppy hooks laden with sing-a-long choruses. Vocals are doubled with group lines aching to be screamed among with. The self deprecating "Mediocre At Best" is covered with angst and tongue-in-cheek self-hatred, and you can't help but smile and sing along, even with lines like "Nobody likes me. That's what I tell myself." Backboned by guitar chords that echo Pinkerton-era Weezer, the song stands out as a perfect representation of what Sorority Noise is.

Pinkerton comparisons don't stop there. The main theme of a strong personal examination is also present, without ever becoming cheesy or sappy. The guitars and drums never try to outshine the lyrics, and act more as a thickening agent to the vocals, to create a very well mixed final product. Forgettable is emotional and raw, and at moments very tender and sentimental. The lyrics are honest and open, and while they get personal, it never feels forced for attention.

Melodies reign supreme on Forgettable. Songs will work themselves into your head for days, as choruses and verse will replay as you hum along. The half-pace of "Blond Hair, Black Lungs," the honest verses of "Still Shrill," and even the simple bass line that opens the album ("Rory Shield") all stick out as glue-like ear-wormers.

Forgettable builds and maintains a certain level of energy throughout but does go out on a bit of a whimper instead of a bang. While I always enjoy a quiet moment on albums, for a record as powerful as this, it seems like a waste to end with two slower songs. This is of course just a small complaint when the entire album is so great, and those two slower songs that close the album are still enjoyable.

Various bands come to mind, and can be cited as influence for Sorority Noise; the short song structure of Joyce Manor, the quirky lyrics and guitars of The Front Bottoms, even the straight-forward rock of older Tigers Jaw. But the difference is that Sorority Noise does all of these better, and never feels like a cheap knock-off. They are their own contained unit and while influences are present, they never outshine what the band is trying to be. In their debut album, the band has created an amazing voice for themselves and that itself is truly rare these days.


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Track list:

1. Rory Shield
2. Mediocre At Best
3. Dirty Ickes
4. Nick Kwas Christmas Party
5. Queen Anne's Lace
6. Still Shrill
7. Blonde Hair, Black Lungs
8. Smooth Jazz
9. Smoke

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Album Review: Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

Album Rating: A+
Caution: Belligerent, chaotic metalcore ahead. Every copy of Every Time I Die's new album From Parts Unknown should come stickered with that warning right on the front. After releasing Ex-Lives back in 2012 to rave reviews, the Buffalo five-piece is back with a bloodthirsty vengeance. Is it Every Time I Die's best record? Probably. Is it heavy? Oh, definitely. Do you need to hear it? Absolutely, right now.

Every Time I Die have been around for practically forever. Roughly 15 years in the making and seven albums deep, you would imagine the band's sound would soften or slow down into a commercial soup of drivel rock, but that's not the case here. Kurt Ballou of Converge was enlisted as the producer and the band went to work creating an album that rivals their gritty back catalog in every way. The result is a 30 minute onslaught of screeching chords, deep chugs, winding chord progressions and a sweeping sense of civil unrest. It's chunkier, faster, and meaner than Ex-Lives, so as Samuel L. Jackson once famously said, "Hold on to your butts."

Riffs drive back to the good ol' days of Gutter Phenomenon ( "Overstayer") and occasionally carry a song all the way without any kind of technical clout ("El Dorado)." At times, music blurs the heavy and the melodic with that all-important bluesy hardcore jangle ("Decaying With The Boys") and early 2000's metalcore with Hot Damn! breakdowns ("If There Is Room To Move, Things Move.") "Old Light" is a rough tumbleweed headbanger featuring the slick and warm voice of Brian Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, and it's a good change of pace from the speedy, technical tunes ("All Structures Are Unstable,", "Thirst.")

Things get downright spooky with "Moor," the most different and weird song on the album. The haunting, chinking piano intro looms as Buckley's vocals wail like a lost soul. When the song kicks in, it will envelop your room in a mass of sludge so thick you'll be stuck for days.

One listen is all it takes to appreciate the fantastic musicianship that holds From Parts Unknown together. Guitarists Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley tap, slide and riff out a collage of parts into beautiful, tempo-shifting songs. Stephen Micciche puts the bass to good work, and Ballou's mixing makes sure every thump and bump is out there and audible. Most notable is drummer Ryan Leger's blitz on the kit. To put it bluntly, he's fast – the snares pop off like automatic gunfire, and the toms roll like thunderclaps. Double bass pedals almost heckle the guitars, sneering at them to keep up in the high BMPs. Despite their age, these guys still rock like like they're in their early 20's. The music, however, reads like a mature piece of assembled chaos.

Buckley's lyrics are still top-notch and some of the best in the genre. Direct and poetic with an urgent abrassiveness, he delivers line after line of memorable headpunchers like a new-age Shakespeare. "Idiot" cascades into a fiery ending as he cries, "All I want is for everyone to go to hell/it was the last place I was seen before I lost myself" before concluding "All I want is for everyone to come to hell/there we can be free and learn to love ourselves." It's a hypnotic delivery that should have fans clamoring for mic grabs at future shows.

In terms of substance, the album is a bitter acid eating into fine machinery. It's like scratching into sheet metal with a screwdriver - expect no catharsis in this half-hour blast of maniacal metalcore. Crank the stereo, crack a beer and mosh around your room. No one's going to judge you, especially with such a masterpiece destroying your ear drums. From Parts Unknown is a blast, so listen loud and proud because a decibel is only a unit of measurement.

Be sure to catch Every Time I Die all summer long on the Vans Warped Tour.

Tracklist:


1. The Great Secret
2. Pelican Of The Desert
3. Decayin' With The Boys
4. Overstayer
5. If There Is Room To Move, Things Move
6. Moor
7. Exometrium
8. Thirst
9. Old Light
10. All Structures Are Unstable
11. El Dorado
12. Idiot