Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What If Charles Manson Was Eating Fruit Loops on Your Front Porch?

Suicidal Tendencies are one of my all time favourite bands. I first heard ST on their "Feel Like Sh*t .. Deja-Vu/Controlled by Hatred" EP which is one of my favourite albums by them. I like them because their music is diverse, emotional, Mike Muir is charismatic and there is even a little spiritual side to them.

In fact "Lights Camera ... Revolution" is one of their more spiritual albums. And one of the most vulgar. I have never minded swears in songs and I feel Suicidal Tendencies use them well ... and often at times. However, the band hints at spiritual-ness on songs like "Give It Revolution" and "Send Me Your Money" with lyrics like ~We'll bow down to no other one, except The Father and His Son ~ and ~See my momma, she didn't raise no fool Cause you can't put a price on a miracle. Amen! ~

Nothing preachy, but thought-provoking. In fact, one of the things I love about ST are the lyrics. With a band name like Suicidal Tendencies you'd expect a really depressing tone, but the lyrics are often uplifting, emotional and positive. Mike Muir delivers the lyrics with one of the most passionate voices in metal. When he sings of pain, you feel it. When he sings of being cyco, I'm convinced. A very versatile and powerful frontman.

Add to Muir's conviction with equally passionate guitar work by Rocky George and Mike Clark and we get treated to some of the most melodic and moving thrash metal I've ever heard. With the thundering bass work of Robert Trujillo and the solid pounding of drummer R.J. Herrera and this is my ideal Suicidal Tendencies line-up.

"Lights, Camera ... Revolution" kicks off with what I think is the greatest ST song ever written. "You Can't Bring Me Down" is a piss fueled speedy thrash tune, aggressive and melodic. Mike's spitfire vocals are angry and powerful. "Get Whacked" and "Disco's Out, Murders In" are also fast aggressive thrash songs, albeit not as convincing.

"Alone" is virtually a thrash ballad switching from uber melodic chorus's and speedy, angry verses. A wonderful balance of passion and aggression. "Emotion #13" is a moving piece as well, though not as aggressive. "Give It Revolution" is slower and melodic with rage-filled undertones.

"Lovely" and "Send Me Your Money" are signature Suicidal Tendencies songs incorporating a funky groove to their thrash foundations thanks to Robert Trujillo. Both are super catchy with a biting satirical edge.

"Lost Again" is a mid-paced tune with crushing riffs and loads of aggression while staying melodic whereas "Go'n Breakdown" (my 2nd favourite song) is sheer crazy rage. The riffs are killer and Muir's vocals are loco. Lyrically, "Go'n Breakdown" is almost poetic with its over the top anger.

"Lights, Camera ... Revolution" is pretty much the peak of Suicidal Tendencies career. It was not all downhill mind you, but it leveled out with some inconsistency. It wouldn't be until "Suicidal For Life" that ST got crazy aggressive again. The album still holds up fairly well after 19 years. It was also a pinnacle in my early heavy metal years and will always be dear to me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sometimes The Days Seem To Go Slower ...

Memory Garden is one of my favourite bands and probably my favourite in the doom metal genre. On the bands 3rd outing "Mirage" the band continues with their crushing blend of doom with power/prog influences. "Mirage" is my first exposure to Memory Garden and is probably my favourite of the 3 albums I own.

Opening with "Prologue" a sludgy atmospheric piece which quietly and slowly narrates the first verse of "A Long Grey Day" as far as I can tell. "A Long Grey Day" blasts in with some pummeling riffs and Stefan's doomy vocals and a haunting atmosphere. As one of the best songs here "A Long Grey Day" starts the album off nicely.

"Hallowed Soil" adds a moving sombreness with it's layered guitars brooding progressive atmospherics. "Shade" , my favourite song here slows the pace some, bordering on balladry whilst not losing it's doomy core. Especially during the haunting bridge.

"Revelation" and "River Of Sludge" are heavy, darker tunes with killer riffs and brooding vocals. "River Of Sludge" is the slower of the two, oozing with melancholy. "Navigate" and "My Pain" are more straight-forward power infused doom.

The album closer "The Search" is an acoustically driven song, hauntingly melancholic and melodic. This kind of ends the album on a bit of a downer, but it's doom metal so I guess that's the point.

Overall, I spun this album loads of times when I first picked it up. It was really my first delving into the doom metal genre and honestly, a really good place to start. I've said it before (and I'll say it again after my review of their latest release "Carnage Carnival") Memory Garden are a highly under-rated doom metal band.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Black Sun ... Black Moon! Whispering Dreams Of Atlantean Spires.

What can one say about the brilliant and original Bal-Sagoth? This is a band that when people ask "What bands do you like?" I always throw Bal-Sagoth out there. I first discovered Bal-Sagoth when they released "Atlantis Ascendant" in 2001. I was intrigued by the album name and gave it a spin at the record store.

I was sold. Bal-Sagoth are one of the most unique bands in metal and I have yet to hear the likes of them anywhere else. I immediately went about tracking down their earlier albums and found them without too much hassle (which is good because it would 5 years before they released their 6th and final album of this hexology).

Each album is unique, yet all bear the signature Bal-Sagoth style of symphonic black metal narratives. Each album varies in quality too. I love "Battle Magic" and yet I wasn't blown away that much by "The Power Cosmic". Maybe it was the lack of lyrics and such, but I don't spin it as often as the others.
Their debut album "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is all the more special, because of it's blackened death metal base. This is the only album to feature Byron's deathly growl. he would stick with black metal shrieks and ominous narration for future releases.
"A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" starts off with the ambient instrumental "Hatheg Kla" which sets the a dark and brooding atmosphere. "Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires" begins the blistering blackened death metal assault. The eerie keys are prominent, but enhances the mood without sacrificing their brutality.
"Witch-Storm" and "The Ravening" are also speedy blackened death metal anthems that keeps the extreme in extreme metal to this album. However, that doesn't mean that the sprawling epics like "Into the Silent Chambers of the Sapphirean Throne (Sagas From the Antediluvian Scrolls)/Valley of Silent Paths" and the title track are not brutal. In fact these songs are pummelling, yet varied with quieter passages and orchestral interludes.
The title track "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is probably my favourite track here, and is one of maybe 3 songs that feature hints of the narrative extreme metal minstreling that would become a large part of the Bal-Sagoth sound. It also has some sweeping guitar melodies that are quite moving.
The album also has a good deal of crunch too as heard on the songs "Spellcraft & Moonfire (Beyond the Citadel of Frost)" and "Shadows 'Neath the Black Pyramid". Some real crushing death metal.
To truly appreciate Bal-Sagoth is to listen to Bal-Sagoth. It is a soundscape of haunting keyboards, heavy guitars and a brutally controlled drums and bass. The over the top barbarian themes and dark Atlantean mythology may seem corny, but the band possesses an extraordinary amount of charm and conviction which one cannot help but be sucked in and a part of.
Up next will be another review for Memory Garden. I will continue with Bal-Sagoth again in August.