Monday, April 25, 2011

Metal Maniacs

This is a blog posting I wrote for the online version of Metal Maniacs, a long-running American heavy metal magazine. I was sort of challenging myself to see how many new albums I could review in a month. It was not a healthy time. Hence, all the blue language.

Greg Pratt's Metal Heart Volume 7: See You In Hell, My Friends

This will be the last instalment of Metal Heart for a while. Or forever. As real life gets more and more demanding, I realize I cannot listen to 60 new metal albums every month and pretend to give them a fair shake. And while the Metal Maniacs paychecks did afford me the opportunity for insane debauchery and ludicrous amounts of social status, I will have to say goodbye to you, awesome readers. But not before I quickly list off a bunch of shit I got for free this past month under the guise of “reviewing” it “for Metal Maniacs.” (And R.I.P. to EARLY GRAVES vocalist Makh Daniels – you rocked, dude.)

It’s a good thing I like FUCK THE FACTS quite a bit. Because I do not like unedited live albums where I’m being told merch is available at the back of the room (what, on my pile of dirty laundry? Commiserating with the silverfish? Waking my kid up? IS THAT WHY MY KID WAKES UP CONSTANTLY? Because Fuck the Facts’ merch is at the back of my room? Jesus.) or that it’s really fucking awesome that I came out to support the band. Because I didn’t. I’m listening to the live album in my underwear, on my computer, totally alienated from the world. They might be playing down the street from me right now. Last time they played here I FORGOT to go see them. I got this release for free. I actually did not support this band in any way! But the singer thinks I did, so, fucking rights, sounds like it’s win-win for me. Anyway, despite the fact that their music is completely difficult to listen to, FTF are awesome, and this live album is actually really cool. “You guys are fucking awesome.” Is the singer talking to me? I’m half asleep, I’m almost naked, I’m pretty sure she does not think I’m awesome. And, man, I’ve been told “we have CDs at the back of the room” like, thousands of times in the flesh. It’s an underground music cliché. I don’t need to hear that when I’m trying to unwind. I do like that the singer is calling all the dudes in the audience “ladies,” though. Alright, joking around aside, I like this band and recommend anything they do, and this live album is actually really ass-kicking.

BITTER END’s Guilty as Charged is hardcore. On Deathwish Inc. Who woulda thought? The meatheadness of it all kinda reminded me of Biohazard. Which I kinda really liked.

Speaking of garbage that sounds really good (well, that sums up everything in this column, I guess), Montreal tech metallers BENEATH THE MASSACRE have a new EP out (Prosthetic Records). Shit’s got some French title I don’t feel like typing, but let me tell you, this is really, really good. Like, remember hearing Dillinger Escape Plan for the first time? This one made me enjoy technical metalcore again, and it’s been a long fucking time. Horns up, my Canuck brothers.

WITHERED also have a new one on Prosthetic, and it has a Latin title I don’t feel like typing, and it’s also extremely good. And extremely difficult, combining as it does death, black and ambitiousness all into one crotchety package. And they’ve never sounded better. Cool band, cool album.

Speaking of crotchety, ANAAL NATHRAKH’s The Codex Necro and When Fire Rains Down from the Sky Mankind Will Reap As It Has Sown (yup) have been reissued by Earache in a double-CD package in a nice little box, with bonus tracks to boot. I dig the shit out of this band, who are way noisy blackened grind. All their albums sound the same to me and, because I guess I’m not the toughest chap in the world to please, I like them all.

GODFLESH have also gotten the Earache reissue treatment, with a double-CD version of the classic Streetcleaner still sounding as miserable as ever. The bonus disc of live and demo versions is even more misery. But, that’s just drags-on-who-the-fuck-really-enjoys-live-and-demo-versions (seriously, man: who the fuck REALLY HONESTLY enjoys listening to garbage sounding demos and live versions of songs?) misery. Disc one is classic life-is-misery-so-here’s-some-weirdo-proto-industrial-metal misery. Which sounds even better now than it did then.

ACCEPT are always awesome, even when they have schmucks who aren’t fucking Udo behind the mic. (Uh, that’s “fucking” as an adjective, not a verb.) Blood of the Nations (Nuclear Blast) totally gave me a sweatpants boner, packed as it is of rad choruses, insanely solid guitar work and general awesomeness. Colour me surprised, but this one’s awesome. But, hey, I liked Russian Roulette too, so I suppose I’m a bit of an Accept apologist.

MANIAC BUTCHER’s Masakr (Negative Existence) is the first release from the “legendary” Czech black metal band after a 10-year hiatus, so you can bet some freaks are gonna be leaving the basement to go buy this. Or, more likely, not leaving the basement while they download it and Maniac Butcher somehow make even less money than they ever did before off their raw, no-frills black metal. These dudes pride themselves on no keyboards and no female vox, and you know what? We at Metal Heart can get behind that. And six songs, 30 minutes, some kind of animal squawking in the intro? We can also get behind that.

ADVERSARIAL’s All Idols Fall Before the Hammer HeH(Dark Descent Records) is a good example of Canadians playing metal that doesn’t sound overproduced or have melodic choruses. See, told ya we could do it! The demo-level production is a touch distracting, yes, but I dig the snare in a I-used-to-think-Chokehold-were-amazing kinda way. And the black/death tunes are totally acceptable, and way noisy. Especially with that jackhammer piccolo snare sound, which is somewhere between Lars St. Anger-era and some crap forgotten Struggle 7” or something. But, make that snare sound do blast beats and I’m stoked. So, I’m stoked. And, I’m stoked on our song title of the month: “In a Night of Endless Pain, War Came to Flood His Heart…”

THE CROWN’s Doomsday King (Century Media) blows my mind, mainly because I can not believe no metal band has used that album title before. Or maybe they have and both The Crown and myself are too lazy to check. Either way, hey, remember The Crown? Man, they used to be great. And, man, they still are. This album shows that these guys really were one of the trailblazers for death ‘n’ roll, and they can still lay down the goods. I kinda thought their last couple were stuck in the doldrums, but this one has some life to its death.