Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sepultura's "Territory"

Today is just a one off post showcasing Sepultura's song "Territory".  I remember seeing this video as a teenager as I was just starting to explore heavy metal.  I thought this song was brutal then and 20 years later, this song is still one of my all time favourite heavy metal tunes.

This song was a single of their Chaos AD album (which in itself is a massive slab of sheer heaviness as virtually every song just crushes).  Sepultura at this point were branching out from their earlier death metal / thrash roots into a hardcore metal sound with a Brazilian flavour.

"Territory" is a fine example of that.  This song has a hardcore sensibility with a killer thrashy breakdown.  Mix that with a solid tribal rhythm and socially relevant lyrics and that's a recipe for a great heavy metal tune.  If you're not banging your head by the 2:30 minute mark, you clearly have no neck.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Slechtvalk - The Spoils of Treason & Twin Obscenity - The Usurper's Throne

Here is another double header of awesome heavy metal songs.  Today has a Viking Metal theme.  First off is Christian Black Metal band Slechtvalk and their Viking metal anthem "The Spoils of Treason".  Slechtvalk are essentially a melodic black metal band with Viking tendencies lyrically and some musically.  These two styles can be somewhat inter-changable.  What these two songs have in common is lyrical subject matter.  The perils of war during the middle ages.

Slechtvalk's "The Spoils of Treason" is a powerfully poignant tale of People's tired of war and go off in search of independence, only to become slave's to those whose help they sought for protection.  The melodic tremolo picking mixed with the atmospheric keyboards and Shamgar's haunting raspy vocals just oozes sorrow.  You can feel the pain these folk have suffered.  When the chorus comes in with it's deceivingly uplifting choirs is when the crushing sense of hopelessness washes over you.  Avery powerful tune.

The next song is Twin Obscenity's "The Usurper's Throne" (no clip available, sorry).  This is a slower melodic tune the reeks of melancholy.  The tale of a kingdom invaded and an old king dethroned.  The keyboards are haunting, the guitars are dark and the vocals are sickly.  This is just a downright bleek song.  Twin Obscenity are by far one of the most under-rated viking metal bands around, but alas they are no more.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Metal Church's "Metal Church & Sword's "The Trouble Is "

It's been a while since I've posted.  But I'm looking to get back into something.  I've been wanting to start running a series of posts showcasing what I consider awesome heavy metal tunes.  I'm going to stay away from most popular songs since they've been covered 'O' plenty.  I'm going to start with a double header.

The song that inspired me to start this series is Metal Church's eponymous song from their debut album.  I got into Metal Church late in the game, but I have no regrets.  The song Metal Church is 5 minutes of pure Heavy Metal glory.  From its dark atmospheric opening into it's killer signature riff through the trade off solos, drum fills and David Wayne's scratchy wale, this song is essentially perfect.  The true definition of Heavy Metal.

The next song I'd like to showcase is from the little known highly underrated Canadian band Sword.  I could pick any one of their songs for this since both of their albums are solid slabs of awesome heavy metal, but the song I tend to drift to is "The Trouble Is" off their sophomore album Sweet Dreams.  Many consider their debut Metalized the better album, but I heard Sweet Dreams first (bought the cassette for $0.50 at a bargain store) and wore that tape out long before I picked up a copy of their debut.  It's special to me.  "The Trouble Is" is a mid-paced melodic number that does not sacrifice heaviness or aggression.  The riff sticks with you and the chorus is crushing.  Add to that the gritty vocals of Rick Hughes ,who deserves a seat next to the other greats like Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford.  Rick spews his vocals with a venom seldom heard anymore.

Alright.  Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dirty Beloved "Brain Bleeder"

Ottawa based rock band Dirty Beloved are back with their third outing "Brain Bleeder".  An album best describe as darker and heavier then their previous efforts, "Brain Bleeder" oozes out of the speakers into your ears beating your brain until it bleeds out your ears.

I've been chewing on the new album for a few weeks now and it grows on you.  The first thing I noticed was the amped up aggression.  Although I wouldn't call Dirty Beloved heavy metal, they do delve into metal territory at times.  You can't help but notice that right from the opening track "Priests Of Hiroshima" which happens to be one of the best songs on the album.  There is also a raw energy which is invigorating especially since this is their third outing.  Dirty Beloved have not lost their passion and continue to push forward with their sound.

The band is rooted in solid hard rock (check out the arena ready "Set it all Alight", but never restricts themselves to a single minded effort.  "Brain Bleeder" sees them throwing down some funk on the hooky "Slaves and Drones".  They brush with metal on the melodic "Karma Phala" , "Cause & Defect" and "Rise & Shine".  We even see a punk-like edge on "Mind Your Luck" which also features some delicious double bass pummeling.

Dirty Beloved steep their music in melody which gives lasting power to their songs and keeps you humming them long after listening to the album.  It's this quality that allows them to experiment without ostracizing their fan base.  It's also this sense of melody that makes me enjoy their ballads.  Here it's the haunting "No Guide", the well paced emotional centerpiece of the album.

I like this darker, heavier edge to Dirty Beloved (being a metal head at heart).  I can honestly say that the band has found their sound and still left room for surprises. 

Be sure to check them out on Facebook or at the band website

Monday, February 13, 2012

Voices Within The Walls

Before my extended break, I was drawn to explore bands featuring former members of Iced Earth while waiting for the new Iced Earth album. This time it's Charred Walls Of The Damned which features no less then 3 former Iced Earth members. Richard Christy, Steve DiGiorgio (Guest) and Tim "The Ripper" Owens. Each individuals involvement was not long lasting, but they have worked with Iced Earth.

I'll admit, I was not a huge fan of Tim Owen's time with Iced Earth (I'm a Matt Barlow supporter), but I can't deny Tim's talents. Therefore, when I had read some decent reviews on a new super group project with The Ripper, I decided to give them a shot. I believe Charred Walls Of The Damned is a perfect home for Tim Owens.

Tim's brand of gritty wails really shines with Charred Walls Of The Damned . I always felt he did not have the baritone sound that made Iced Earth unique. Looking back, he was a fine vocalist and the albums were solid, but here his voice is almost an instrument in itself and blends with the band perfectly. His soaring vocals and haunting melody lines brings this album to new heights.

Charred Walls of The Damned blend of classic metal, extreme metal and melodic power metal is brilliant. I remember listening to this album and enjoying it, but it sat to the side for a while until I started going through all my albums. I listened to it again and was thoroughly impressed. Richard Christy's brainchild is a wonderful blend of melody and brutality.

This is like extreme metal for classic metal fans. Christy's and DiGiorgio's work with Death seeps in with some blistering flourishes like on the opening track "Ghost Town" and "Darkest Eyes". Guitarist Jason Suecof doesn't have a large catalogue of work (mostly production credits) but his style of melodic and black metal like riffing works. Nothing super fancy, but very effective.

Songs like "From The Abyss" and "Voices Within The Walls" will stick with long after the album is over. Melodic without ever sacrificing their metal edge. This album is simply a benchmark in how to create perfect melodic heavy metal. At times I'm often reminded of Woods Of Ypres as for as the melancholic mood is concerned.

My biggest complaint is that this album is simply too short. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, I'm left wanting more. This was remedied come their follow up album (review to follow shortly). Overall Charred Walls Of The Damned is a solid effort from some metal veterans which does not feel like any sort of super group. This album flows well and the talent involved have a great chemistry. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Coming up, Charred's follow up album and the new Iced Earth album.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tyranny Response Team

This review should be about the new Iced Earth album, but alas, my local CD haunt had not received any copies yet and thus I am left to wait. However, while checking around about the new Iced Earth, I read about Jon Schaffer's solo project Sons Of Liberty. So while I was left without the new Iced Earth, I did pick up the Sons Of Liberty 2010 release "Brush-Fires Of The Mind".

The reviews of this album were middling, but I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. What I find interesting is the albums lyrical subject. He delves into concepts of Corrupt World Leaders, The Federal Reserve System and Big Business. Listening to this now with all the global economic turmoil and rallies like Occupy Wall Street and such makes this album all the more poignant.

"Brush Fires Of The Mind" cries out for a return to the values that the United States was founded on. Liberty and Free Humanity. How does this message hold up in this medium? Pretty damn good. Jon has already expressed his interest in US History with Iced Earth's album "The Glorious Burden", but I find the Sons Of Liberty "Brush Fires of the Mind" a far more interesting and passionate album.

The album kicks off with the epic "Jekyll Island" which sets a serious and aggressive tone for the album chalked full of conviction. The music here is not unlike what you'd hear from Iced Earth. In fact, Jon Schaffer's vocals sound like a poor man's Matt Barlow. The music wouldn't work for Iced Earth and I'm glad Jon chose to release it as a side project instead.

The music is mostly mid-paced with flourishes of speed and a moderate amount of groove, most notably on "Tree Of Liberty". There are no real ballads, but there are softer moments like the first part of "Our Dying Republic". This is my favourite song here with its melodic vocals and hooky chorus and still manages to bring in some metal towards the end.

Overall, this is a solid album and I would recommend it to fans of Iced Earth. I wouldn't say it is of the same caliber, but when taken in the vein of its intent (a labour of love for Jon Schaffer) then it is an enjoyable and important listen.

In this case, the message is the medium.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Troy Has Fallen ... The Happily Ever After ...

Whilst browsing my new local CD shop (The Beat Goes On) I stumbled across a Virgin Steele album. I had heard of the band, but often passed them up as just another symphonic power metal group along the lines of Skylark and Rhapsody (of Fire). The album was "The House Atreus Act I" the title intrigued me as did the song titles and since it was under $10, I decided why not.

Damn, did I miss the mark completely with this band. First off, Virgin Steele has been around a decade before the previously mentioned bands. Secondly, this album ain't your mother's Symphonic Power Metal. "The House Of Atreus Act I" is pure unadulterated heavy metal with symphonic flourishes to bring out the epicness of the story.

Think Manowar, if Manowar were a European Power Metal band. In fact, the singer David DeFeis is a dead ringer for Manowar's Eric Adams. Both bands came out around the same time, both from New York, so really, Eric Adams could be a dead ringer for David Defeis. I don't know. What I do know is that this album is solid Manowar style heavy metal and I love Manowar.

I feel like a tool for passing this group by for so long and now it's dang hard trying to track down there other albums (especially "The House Of Atreus Act II. This is a double album dammit!). The reviews I've read have been glowing and so they should be. This album is epic and heavy. It is 75 minutes of glorious Greek Mythology based music.

The story concerns the end of the curse of the House of Atreus. After the end of the Trojan War, Agamemnon travels home to his murderously plotting wife (seeking revenge for when Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphegenia) where much unpleasantness happens and Agamemnon is murdered. There is probably more to it then that, but I haven't explored the lyrics much.

What is really important here is the music. Concept albums or metal operas are hit and miss. "The House Of Atreus Act I" is a home run. Think of Manowar's song "Achilles : Agony and Ecstasy in eight parts" only more accessible and simply more epic. The metal songs are grand with biting guitar and soaring melodies interspersed with several interludes that serve as narratives without so much as being narratives. The album does indeed flow well.

For a concept album, I do feel the metal songs could stand on their own merits. This makes the album easier to take in, however, the glory of it all is to hear it as one solid musical journey. I do have to commend the band for their exquisite writing skills. To create a body of work like "The House Of Atreus Act I" that works on a whole, yet still have "radio" hits. That is not an easy task.

My favourite songs are the opener's "Kingdom of the Fearless (The Destruction of Troy)" and "Blaze of Victory (The Watchman's Song)" as well as the pseudo ballad "Gate Of Kings" which is dark and atmospheric with uber catchy chorus.

I cannot say enough good things about this album. If you like power metal this will blow your mind. If you like good Heavy Metal (like mid to late Manowar) this is right up your alley. Or heck, if you like music damn it, this album rocks!

Now to track down Act II ... sigh ...